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Aspiring actress, Natalie Little, has been murdered, and it’s up to Detectives Kimble and Carter to solve the case. Their prime suspect is Keith, Natalie’s married lover, who is witnessed threatening to kill the promiscuous woman if she ever went public about their affair. LAPD is able to apprehend Keith, but with no solid evidence, they only can hold him for twenty-four hours without officially charging him.

As the detectives interrogate Keith and dig deeper into the investigation, two more suspects are thrown into the mix, including a female ex-lover who is nowhere to be found. Detective Kimble believes they have their suspect in Keith, while Detective Carter believes someone else is in play.

It’s a murder that can only be solved by understanding Natalie’s life as both detectives explore the world she was a part of and the people she affected the most. The twenty-four-hour clock is ticking as Detectives Kimble and Carter work to find solid evidence against their prime suspect, Keith, or figure out who else is responsible for the death of Natalie. Is the right man in custody? Only time will tell.

Chapter 1

The Death of Natalie Little

In a neighborhood just inside the Inglewood area of Los Angeles, a small apartment complex is inundated with police presence as they have the area taped off investigating a murder in the early morning hours. Homicide Detectives, Kimble and Carter, pull up to the scene, parking just outside where the area is taped off. They quickly exit their vehicle and make their way through the small group of people who have gathered outside to see what all the fuss is about.

Kimble yawns as he scratches his head while looking around the area. He hasn’t had his coffee yet, so early mornings like this are a struggle. He and his wife also just returned from a trip to Las Vegas, so he figured he would take it easy for the day, hoping and praying he wouldn’t catch a case. Carter is more energetic; as she smiles and greets officers as they walk towards the apartment in question.

“How can you sit here and smile like that?” Kimble asked his partner. “It’s like five in the mornin’. Too early for this shit.”

“When you live a kid free and marriage free life, you enjoy these little moments,” Carter replied as the two arrive outside of the apartment. “Besides, you’re just old as shit. Just ‘cause you’re grumpy doesn’t mean you need to take it out on the rest of the world.”

Kimble frowned as he and Carter walked into the apartment. Several forensic officers were there maintaining the crime scene as they looked at a body lying dead on the ground.

“So, what we got?” Carter asked one of the forensic officers.

“We have a Ms. Natalie Little, age twenty-eight, stabbed multiple times,” the officer responded. “No signs of forced entry but there are signs of a struggle with bruises on her right wrist and left ankle. I’m placing the time of death around two this morning, but I won’t know for sure until I get the body back into the lab.”

Carter crouched down next to the body and checked out the wounds that had the carpet stained with blood. Kimble smiled as he notices Natalie’s beauty. From his point of view, she was a nicely figured woman. Although her makeup was smeared on her nice caramel skin, he could tell there was beauty behind it.

“Nice piece of ass,” he said, causing Carter to look at him and cringe.

“Really?”

“Hey, I got eyes,” Kimble said with a smirk. “I can’t help it if she’s a piece of ass. What a waste.”

Carter shakes her head as she rises up and starts looking around the apartment.

“Anything else you can tell us?” She asked the forensics officer.

“Not much right now. I need to confirm, but I believe she has had sex within the past twenty-four hours,” the officer said. “I heard they may have had witnesses saying something about an argument between her and a male earlier, but you would have to check with the responding officer for that.”

Carter nods her head as she and her partner make their way outside of the apartment.

“No forced entry, so you know what that means?” Kimble said to Carter who seemed offended by his words.

“I’m not some fuckin’ rookie,” she fires back. “I know what it means.”

“Alright, take it easy,” Kimble responded with his hands up and a smirk on his face. “Just making sure we’re on the same page here.”

Kimble loved to press his young partner’s buttons when he could. She was the best in the academy, and although he respects her, he knew what she represented. Departmental budget concerns have been all over the news, and veteran officers like himself were offered buyouts to make way for the younger, more affordable officers. Carter is only twenty-six and has already made a name for herself by solving a couple of cold cases. They wanted to keep her on full-time in that department, but she chose the Homicide Division to continue her career. It was a dream of hers to become a homicide detective, and she jumped at the chance when she was offered the post. She’s cute, which always drew extra attention at the precinct, but being able to outsmart her colleagues brought her respect, which is tough for a young, black female to achieve.  

In contrast, Kimble was old, gray, and less motivated. Back in his day, he was one of the top homicide detectives, closing more cases than any of his peers. He was the celebrated officer back then, but now he’s lost most of his interest just waiting on that retirement age. Still, he loves to irritate his partner just to remind her that he’s seen it all and done it all.

The two detectives locate the responding officer who is just outside the gate of the apartment complex.

“Hey. I heard you might have someone who can bring light to some of this?” Carter said.

“Yeah, apparently our victim here had an argument with a lover of hers,” the officer responded. “Took place early this morning. One of the witnesses had a video they took from their window just inside the complex. I had them text it to me. Check it out.”

Both Carter and Kimble look at the officer’s phone as they observe Natalie and a guy arguing with each other. The video isn’t crystal clear, but the sound is exceptional as you can make out what the two are arguing about. They pick up the name Keith as Natalie pleas for him to come back inside. They also pick up that he’s married as he threatens to kill her if she made his wife aware of their interaction with each other. Kimble chuckles to himself as Carter looks on amazed.

“Well, I’d say we have our first suspect,” Carter said as the video ends. “Are they willing to let us use that video, or do we have to get papers for it?”

“They were cool with it,” the officer responded. “We spoke with several other folks in her building and apparently, this is a normal thing with her.”

“It’s a normal thing for her to get killed?” A sarcastic Kimble asked.

“No. What I meant is she’s always having some sort of domestic disturbances,” the officer explained. “It’s why we found the body when we did. Someone who was witnessing the argument called it in. I got here, knocked on the door and didn’t get an answer. Got with the super of the complex to let me in and there she was. A waste if you ask me.”

Kimble smiles as he looks towards Carter, who rolls her eyes with disgust.

“Alright, make sure that video gets to me,” Carter ordered. “Let me know if you hear anything else.”

Kimble smiles as he and Carter walk back into the complex and back into the apartment to check out the murder scene. Carter notices the smile on Kimble’s face as the two overlook the forensic team photographing the scene.

“What are you so happy about?” She inquired.

“Open and shut case,” Kimble replied ecstatically about their situation.

“Open and shut?”

“Hell yeah! I mean, all we need to do is ID this Keith prick, work him a little bit, and we’re done,” Kimble explained. “I mean, we got lucky! We coulda’ pulled a project murder or something crazy like that. Our clearance rate is in the green right now but get one of those ‘who done it’ cases, and we’d be in the red at the drop of a hat.”

Carter rolls her eyes as she continues to watch the forensic team do their jobs.

“Always about the numbers with you,” Carter said to her partner. “I mean, God forbid we do a little work every now and then.”

“A closed case is a closed case. Who cares how we did it?” Kimble said. “Listen, I’m gonna head in and check out the surveillance in the area. You need me for anything else?”

“Nah, I’m good. I’ll wrap things up here and meet up with you back at the office,” Carter responded.

Kimble nods his head as he can tell his partner is a bit disappointed. She loves the tough cases, but this murder was seemingly anything but. He makes his way out of the apartment feeling happy that he and Carter actually caught a break.

***

Inside of the Homicide office located in the Pacific Area Division for the West Bureau, Kimble is sitting in his cubicle with his feet kicked up on his desk fast asleep. The area is pretty quiet with several other detectives sitting at their work stations, making calls or working on their computers. Carter walks over to Kimble’s corner cubicle and is disgusted when she notices her partner is fast asleep. She slams her fist on the desk, startling Kimble, causing him to wake up, looking around until he notices Carter standing next to him with her arms folded.

“Really?” She said with a hint of attitude.

“It’s been a long week, damn,” Kimble said as he gets himself together. “I ain’t a spring pup anymore. Vegas took the life outta me, you know. Anyway, you got anything else on our girl?”

Carter frowns before informing her partner on what she’s learned.

“Nothing much really. Confirmed time of death at two am, confirmed sexual intercourse about an hour or so before that. They also noticed another bruise on her lower back. Ran through the files on the previous dispatched calls and learned that she had a girlfriend, Jazmine, who she was with prior,” Carter explained. “Apparently the two kept getting into it. Patrol had to separate them on the last call which was about five months ago. I tried contacting Jazmine’s apartment, but the complex said that she moved out a few months back with no forwarding address. There was also a dispatched call with her and a previous unnamed boyfriend, but that was so far back that I doubt that’s even a lead. That’s what you call police work. What, pray tell, have you done?”

Kimble chuckles as he logs into his computer and shows Carter a driver’s license photo of Keith Leggett, which surprises her.

“That’s our Keith?” She asked.

“Would be one hell of a coincidence if it wasn’t,” Kimble said as he pulls up some surveillance videos. “Didn’t get anything on the block, but I checked both of the street entry points where there were cameras and ran down any cars driving down those roads after two. I ran the license plate of them all, and this one was the only Keith in the bunch.”

Carter nods her head, impressed with the lead.

“Looks like the old man may know a thing or two after all,” she joked as she takes a seat next to him. “So, we have an address?”

“We have one better,” Kimble bragged. “We have a work address. He works at some big downtown real estate firm. He’ll be at work later today. I say we pick him up there.”

“Why? We have his home address. We can just take him now,” a puzzled Carter suggests.

“True, but this also gives you time for you to go work your girlfriend angle,” Kimble pointed out. “I mean, you never know.”

Carter looks at her partner with suspicion in her eyes.

“You’re just trying to go back to sleep, aren’t you?” She deduced, causing Kimble to laugh.

“Yep, so if you’ll excuse me,” he responded as he kicks his feet back up on the desk.

A defeated Carter gives up as she rises from her chair and walks off, leaving Kimble alone to catch up with his sleep.      

***

Later that day, Kimble and Carter are sitting in the car outside of Keith’s job waiting to catch a glimpse of their suspect. Kimble is eating a bag of chips, which annoys Carter who is on the phone trying to hear amidst the bag’s crumpling noise and chomping coming from her partner. After a few moments, she hangs up the phone with a look of disgust in her eye.

“How can you eat that shit?” She asked an unsuspecting Kimble.

“What’s wrong with chips?”

“It’s the type of shit that has you looking like you,” Carter replied.

“Well, I can’t get around drinking that green gob that you drink all day,” Kimble fired back. He balls up the bag and opens his window to toss it out much to the surprise of Carter.

“I swear I gotta get another partner,” she said as she leans back in her chair.

Kimble chuckles as he continues to survey the area.

“Any word on your girl?” He responded, referring to Jazmine.

“Not a damn thing,” a frustrated Carter responded. “I mean, who can just disappear like that? No forwarding address for anything. Her name isn’t pinging on anything right now.”

“Who knows, maybe she’s dead too,” Kimble joked.

“Are you serious right now?” An offended Carter responded. “Why would you possibly say that?”

“Hey, you’re the one that said she can’t be found. She’s either dead or in Cuba by now. Either way, it’s a dead end,” Kimble explained.

Carter nods knowing Kimble is right. Without a lead on Jazmine, the only suspect they have at the moment is Keith, who suddenly appears walking out of the building. He’s a handsome, well-built man, wearing his standard business suit, well-groomed with a goatee that’s perfectly trimmed. Carter is impressed, as he looks nothing like he does on his license.

“There he is,” Carter said, pointing him out to Kimble.

“Alright, let’s do it,” he said as both detectives get out of the car and quickly approach an unsuspecting Keith.

“Keith Leggett, my name is Detective Carter, and this is my partner, Detective Kimble. We were wondering if we could have a moment,” Carter said to a confused Keith.

“Um, sure,” he said. “What’s this about?”

“We’re here to discuss your relationship with one Natalie Little,” Carter said which sends chills down Keith’s body.

Both Carter and Kimble notice how Keith’s mood changed as they share a quick look with each other.

“I think it might be better if we talk about this downtown,” Carter said.

“Downtown, wh… what for?” Keith said nervously.

“You know why,” Kimble said, trying to gauge Keith’s reaction.

“I… I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I think this conversation is over,” Keith said as he tries to walk off.

Kimble cuts him off, quickly slams him on a nearby car, and begins to cuff him much to the surprise of Carter.

“You’re under arrest for the murder of Natalie Little. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used in the court of law,” Kimble recites as he lifts Keith from the car and begins to search him for any possessions.

Kimble continues to read him his rights as he leads the businessman back towards his vehicle. Carter is stunned as she looks on in disbelief but follows her partner as he loads Keith into the back seat. 

***

Back at the Homicide Division, Keith is sitting alone in the interrogation room as Carter and Kimble argue just outside of the room.

“What is the point?” Carter exclaims. “We don’t have anything on the man! You realize he can sue us for unlawful arrest. What were you thinking?”

“Look at him! It’s clear he’s guilty! Just look at the way he’s acting,” Kimble pointed out.

Carter looks in the two-way mirror and notices how Keith is looking around nervously. While she didn’t agree with Kimble’s method, even she had to admit to herself Keith looks like he’s hiding something. Carter sighs as she nods her head in agreement.

“We need to get a confession, or all bets are off,” she said. “I hope you know what you’re doing, old man.”

A smirk enters Kimble’s face.

“Just watch. I may learn ya’ somethin’. Since I’m already the asshole here, you can play good cop,” he responded before he and Carter walk into the interrogation room with a frantic Keith.

“Officer, look, this is a big misunderstanding,” Keith spits out. “I didn’t kill her! I didn’t know she was dead until you told me! I don’t know why-”

“Save it, Mr. Leggett,” Kimble said with a scowl as he stands across from Keith. “We know about everything, including all your late-night meetings with Ms. Little. Don’t make things worse by lying to us.”

Keith sighs as he continues to try to convince the officers he had nothing to do with Natalie’s death.

“Look, she was a friend of mine, I’ll admit that,” Keith responded. “It’s true we met plenty of times to discuss career opportunities, job training programs, and stuff like that. You gotta believe me, I was like a mentor to her! I was-”

“Fucking her brains out,” Kimble interrupts, making Keith even more nervous.

Carter and Kimble take a seat across from Keith who lowers his head with shame.

“Now why would you try and hide that from us?” Carter asked. “I mean, unless you were trying to separate yourself from the crime.”

“No! I wasn’t trying to… look, you don’t understand,” Keith stutters, causing Kimble to chuckle.

“Oh, there it is,” he said, mocking his suspect. “I mean, Carter, I thought we had the right guy. We don’t understand, he said, so this must be a mistake. I mean, we’ve never had a perp in the history of this department to tell us that we don’t understand. Most of the time, they just walk in and say they’re guilty. I’m sorry, Mr. Leggett. Sorry for wasting your time, you’re free to go.”

Keith looks on with confusion until he realizes he’s being mocked.

“I’m not trying to run game here,” he responded. “I’m just saying, I didn’t do anything wrong!”

“Keith, you don’t mind if I call you Keith, do you?” Kimble once again mocks. “We have video evidence showing you leaving the crime scene around the time of death! We also have evidence showing you two arguing where you specifically said you were gonna kill Ms. Little! I mean, what we have here is what we like to call an open and shut case. I can literally go into court, drop my dick on the judge’s forehead, and still get a conviction!”

Carter looks at Kimble strangely before taking out a few pictures from a folder she has in her possession of Natalie’s dead body from the crime scene to show Keith, who is mortified by the display. He looks at the stab wounds and becomes queasy as he pushes the photos away.

“Look, Keith, it doesn’t look good for you right now, I’m not going to lie,” Carter said as tears start flowing down Keith’s face. “It looks like a crime of passion in our eyes, but maybe it’s something else. Whatever you say now can be the difference between prison time and the death penalty. Just tell us what happened, and I promise you I’ll do my best to help you.”

“Crime of passion? What are you talking about?” Keith replies. “You don’t… you know what, I think I need a lawyer. I didn’t kill her. I would never do anything to harm her. Please, contact my lawyer.”

“That’s fine,” Carter said as she collects the pictures. “It’s certainly your right to have a lawyer present, but I’m telling you now, he’s not going to be able to get you out of this. Now, I’m willing to help you out here, but once lawyers get involved, all bets are off.”

“Help me?” Keith asked with a look of defeat in his eyes. “Christ, how can you help me? You won’t even listen to me.”

“Okay, tough guy. Humor us,” Kimble responded as he gets comfortable in his chair. “Why were you trying to avoid telling us about you and Ms. Little’s affair?”

Keith grabs his head in frustration as he struggles with his words.

“I… I didn’t want my wife to find out about it,” he explains. “She doesn’t know anything about me and Nat.”

“She does now,” Kimble lies, which stuns Keith and confuses Carter. “We interviewed her before coming in here. Needless to say, she didn’t take it too well.”

“You… you told her?” A broken Keith stutters. “How… how could you do that? Do you know what you just did?”

“Yeah, we told her!” Kimble shouts. “It’s our fuckin’ job! We are detectives, and as such, it’s our job to detect shit!”

Carter sees her partner is going too far and tries to calm the situation.

“Kimble, calm down,” she said.

“Fuck calm down!” Kimble snaps back, surprising his partner. “I despise pieces of shit like this who can’t keep his dick in his pants, and who’s so afraid of his wife finding out about his fuck buddy that he kills his girlfriend? Come on, Carter, don’t tell me you’re feeling sympathy for this prick?”

Carter shakes her head as she waves her partner off. Kimble acts as though as he’s enraged before getting up from his chair and frantically pacing the room as though he’s trying to calm down. Keith’s emotions catch up to him as a few tears start to stream from his face once again. The fact that his wife knew about his indiscretions hurt his soul as Carter notices his mood.

“Look, Keith, I know this is hard right now. What you do right now in these next moments will be the most important thing you’ll ever face,” she said, trying to calm her suspect down. “The only way we can help you is if you tell us the truth right now. No bull shit.”

  Keith takes a deep breath as he nods his head with agreement. Kimble takes as seat once again as all eyes are on Keith.

“We did have a big argument, a really bad one, but when I left her apartment, she was still alive,” he explains. “You have to understand, when we first met, we both knew what would come from this. At least I thought we did. It wasn’t supposed to go any further than sex, that’s all.”

Carter nods her head as she takes out a pen and pad from her pocket to document Keith’s words.

“Let’s start from the beginning. How did you two meet?” She asked, awaiting an answer.

Keith sighs once again before going into the story of his and Natalie’s first meeting.

SNEAK PEEK

Copyright 2017 by Major Key Publishing LLC

All rights reserved.

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