Says It All
"I can't thank you enough for coming, Mr. Dark," Brett Maron was saying, when the door to his office opened and a petite, wispy, but strikingly beautiful young woman entered. Her deep blue eyes filled with sorrow and pain.
"Call me Jarod, please." He vacated his chair and offered it to her, watching a small smile flash, faintly.
"Jarod, my sister, Beckett. Beck, Jarod's going to direct the new video for us."
"I'm not sure that I want to." She placed her hand in front of her mouth, but it still didn't stifle the cry.
"Beck, you promised me… this is for him. He was really hyped about this song. After all, he wrote the lyrics, I just wrote the score."
"After this video is filmed, then I get to take a break and disappear for a while. I really need some time, Brett. Aurora and me. She needs her mother, and I need to spend time with my daughter. Just this morning she said dada…." The young woman got out the chair and walked to the window, her shoulders rounded as though pushed down by a heavy weight. "I'm sorry." Beckett turned and looked first at her brother, then at Jarod, then wiped the tears from her cheeks.
"No need to apologize, Miss Maron. If this isn't a good time, I certainly understand you not wanting to perform. Losing someone, it hurts." Jarod locked eyes with her. "But you have your brother and your daughter. Her name's very unusual, Aurora, for the dawn."
"No, Dante fell in love with the name after I dragged him to see the ballet Sleeping Beauty. Dante believed that all music was connected, and needed to be appreciated both separately and together. I'm rambling, forgive me. Brett, when do we start?"
"Day after tomorrow. I was hoping that you would go over your vision of this video with Jarod here, so that he knows what we want."
"Sure." The woman gave them both a weak smile, then turned to Jarod. "Do you have time now?"
"It's your money that's paying for my time, whenever you want." Jarod returned the smile and rose from his seat.
"Good, then let's get this over with." Beckett headed for the door. "Brett, tell Peter that after this album is done and the final video is cut, I'm taking a hiatus."
"What about the negotiations with Spin Disc, Beck? You know that Dante really wanted this. Anyway, when the press finds out, they'll accuse you of running away and hiding. And what about the band?"
"The press," she sneered, "are nothing but parasitic vultures. Hide, how can I? Everywhere I go there are reporters asking about Dante, and do I believe that he killed himself." She stormed out of the office, leaving Jarod standing there, stunned.
"Jarod, I'm sorry that you witnessed that, but….." Brett came from around the desk, running his hands through his hair.
"Don't apologize." Jarod smiled, putting the man at ease, when the phone on his desk buzzed. Brett walked back and picked up the receiver. "She's waiting for you in your office," he said as he hung up.
When Jarod walked into the office, he found Beckett staring out the window, looking at the view. She turned to look at him, a sheepish grin on her features tinged with sadness.
"Sorry about that, I promised you that we'd talk about music. Got any favorites?"
"All of them," he said, laughing when her smile widened. "Depends really -- rock when I'm driving, jazz when I'm thinking, and lately Tchaikovsky on Sunday mornings."
"Sucking up, Mr. Dark?"
"No, a friend of mine introduced me, and please, it's Jarod. You really don't want to do this video, do you?"
"Not really, but Brett's right, Dante put his heart and soul into this song. And…."
"What happened, Beckett?"
"I'm not sure myself. Dante had a meeting with Spin Disc, a new recording label. He called me from the car phone. God, he was so upbeat. They were offering us the moon. He really wanted to sign, and with our contract up at Sutton Sound at the end of the year, I was willing to give Spin Disc a chance. He was coming here to talk to Peter, to tell him that we weren't going to sign with Sutton again, that this would be their last album from the group."
"Did he make it to his meeting with Peter?" Jarod inquired.
"Yes, in fact it was during the meeting with Peter that Dante started to feel ill… he was a diabetic," Beckett explained. "He was going to meet Aurora and I after the meeting. The sitter was bringing her to Dante, I had a fitting for my dress." She closed her eyes tightly, but not before a tear escaped.
"Did he administer his insulin?" Jarod asked, coming to stand behind the woman.
"Peter said that he gave Dante his shot. Peter said that Dante was almost unconscious." She sighed deeply, and began to sob.
"How about we both take a break?" Jarod suggested. "I'll take the notes that you gave me and look them over at my place, and get back to you later." He escorted Beckett to the elevator, and then accompanied her to the garage, watching her get into her car. On the way back, Jarod flashed his ID pass through the infrared scanner.
"You going to be working late, tonight, Mr. Jarod?" the security guard asked. "Shift changes at five, and I like to alert whomever is on duty who we have in the building."
"You do that every night?" Jarod asked, a smile on his face.
"Yes sir, everyone needs to use their ID, which is logged into the computer. I also keep a written record of who comes and goes."
"The night that Dante Canetti died, were you on duty?"
"Yes, I was. I remember that night, because it had started to snow pretty heavily. In fact, I called Mr. Sutton to tell him that Mr. Canetti had just called; he was running late because of the weather but said to wait for him, it was important."
"When Mr. Canetti got here, how did he seem to you?"
"He came in whistling "Baby, It's Cold Outside," and I joked around with him about how I wanted to spend the winter in California. He laughed and headed up in the elevator. I rang Mr. Sutton to let him know that Mr. Canetti was on his way up."
"What happened next?"
"About an hour later, Mr. Sutton called down asking for me to call for an ambulance, said that Mr. Canetti had taken ill. He also asked me to get ahold of Beckett, so that she could meet them at the hospital. I told Mr. Sutton that Miss Lauren and the baby were on the way upstairs."
* * * * * * * * *
Miss Parker found Gabriel was standing in his crib, his eyes glued to the nursery doors. The nurse sat at her desk, working with a single-station computer. She stopped typing when Miss Parker entered the room, and looked up. "His bathtime is at 6:30 sharp, Miss Parker, and bedtime is at 7:30."
Parker picked the little boy up in her arms, delighting in the feel of his warm hands on her cheeks, his tiny features twisting to mimic the nurse. Parker had to stifle her laughter by brushing her lips across his forehead.
"Ready?" she asked, already knowing the answer. Right now she was going to forget about the files on her desk, and pamper herself with two of her favorite people, as she and Gabriel headed toward her office. The sound of The Nutcracker could be faintly heard from behind the closed doors, and Gabriel started to sway in her arms when he heard it.
Parker pushed open the door to find Debbie dressed in a pink leotard, with pale pink tights and ballet slippers that were scuffed and worn. The music flooded the room from an unseen source. It was haunting, lushly romantic, quiet at first and then building to a loud crescendo that practically shook the walls. She waltzed around the room, whirling until her skirt billowed; from the turns she leapt, conscious of nothing but the music. Parker watched as Debbie lifted her eyes upward, her face so full love and dedication, like a beam of light.
The music stopped and Debbie turned to Miss Parker and Gabriel, both of them smiling.
"Beautiful," Miss Parker said softly. "Absolutely beautiful."
Gabriel clapped his hands in delight, grinning at Debbie. As she curtsied toward them, Gabriel's movements stopped. Mr. Parker stormed into the office and glared at his daughter. Her smile immediately faded. The tension in the room was undeniable. Debbie stared at the wall, taking a step toward it as if trying to hide, and Gabriel wrapped his small hands around Miss Parker's shirt sleeve tightly. Mr. Parker's mouth was twisted in anger as he surveyed the room. "What exactly is going on here?" he growled at his daughter.
Miss Parker's chin raised defiantly. "I thought Gabriel would enjoy seeing some dancing."
"Do you know what time it is?" her father asked. "Your brother must be kept on a strict schedule."
"I didn't think one evening would hurt anything."
Swooping down, Mr. Parker pulled Gabriel from his daughters arms. "Obviously, you didn't think at all. I may have to re-evaluate your time with him." Striding from the room, he pointedly ignored the crushed look that crept onto Miss Parker's face, and his son's reaching out for her, whimpering "Mine" softly.
* * * * * * * * *
It was a cold and miserable night. Inside the office, time moved slowly as Jarod hacked his way into the computer files of Sutton Sound. He started with the contract that Charybdis had signed. It was a standard contract, no hidden clauses. The group would release two albums and once those albums were completed, the group was no longer under obligation to Sutton. Jarod continued to search the files, where he discovered the financial records for the company. The more he continued to dig, the more he learned that the company was turning a significant profit, most of which came from Charybdis. He sat back and closed his eyes, his fingers rubbing against his temples to ease the tension that was building. A knock at the door prompted him to close the laptop, before he called out to whomever was out in the hall.
"Jarod, burning the midnight oil are we?" Peter Sutton asked as he entered, taking a seat in the chair opposite Jarod.
"Yeah. Getting ready to shoot this video. Brett wants to start Sunday, seems it's the only time one of the sites is available."
"That's wonderful. How is Beckett handling this? I heard that she was in earlier; since Dante's death, she's been avoiding a lot of people." Peter looked away briefly, then took a deep breath. His eyes fell on a small black case that was sitting on Jarod's desk and he reached out to touch it, then picked it up.
"Isn't this Dante's?" he inquired.
"No, it's mine," Jarod replied as he watch Sutton open the lid slowly, his eyes widening in shock. "I'm diabetic, why? Was Mr. Canetti?" Peter dropped the case as though burned.
"Ummm, yeah. I rode to the hospital with him." Jarod noticed a fine line of perspiration breaking out on Sutton's forehead. "If you'll excuse me, Jarod, I have a meeting with a new group and their manager." Sutton rose from the seat and left the office.
Jarod sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. His eyes were gritty, as if he had gone too long without sleep. He leaned back in his chair. Patience, he thought. Reaching for the phone, he placed a rather important call, then left the office.
* * * * * * * * *
As Jarod walked down the corridors of the police station, now and then a voice barked or a door opened and closed hollowly. The sound of phones ringing came from everywhere at once, they never seemed to be answered. Snow drifted down outside the windows to add a touch of gloom. The corridor smelled strongly of Lysol and damp. It wasn't the first time he'd been in a police station, and it wouldn't be the last. He made his way to the door marked Records, which he silently entered. He located the cabinet that contained the file needed, took it and left, unobserved.
* * * * * * * * *
Jarod sat on the corner of the desk in Brett Maron's desk, toying with a Lucite paperweight. Brett watched this with interest as Jarod tossed the paperweight from hand to hand before he set it down.
"So what you're telling me is that Dante came here and met with Peter." The man shook his head. "And didn't leave this building alive because Sutton killed him. Jarod, give him an ounce of credit. Peter tried to help him, by giving him is insulin shot. Hell, he rode in the ambulance with him. He comforted Beckett until I arrived. I don't understand."
"Brett, I pulled the files. There was no insulin introduced into his system. His levels were low, and if he'd had a dose of his medication, he should have responded. And where's his insulin kit? It wasn't found in the office. Doesn't that strike you as odd? It does me." Jarod pushed the file in front of him across the desk for Brett to read. "I did a little digging. I found this in Peter's safe. I had the needle tested. This isn't insulin, it's a fetanyl analong, otherwise known as 'China White.'"
"China White?" Brett queried.
"It's a designer drug, Brett. It's lethal, and unless the doctors in the emergency room know what to test for, the patient is going to die."
"But why Dante? Jarod, I still don't understand, why him?"
"It had to do with the fact that Dante didn't want to stay here. He discovered that Sutton wasn't giving the band all of the monies it earned. He was growing rich off of you, but once the band left… In this business, making it isn't an easy road. A record company doesn't like to lose their winners, and Sutton was going to lose big time."
"I can't let Peter get away with this. I'm going to call." Brett leaned forward to pick up his phone, but Jarod reached out and put a hand on top of his.
"I have a better idea. Interested?"
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