Endings & Beginnings

K. Lorraine
Reading Room Free story
Taken from the
Mia Perez Series


Chapter 1


The Celebrity had been Toby’s home for two years. He was in Mexico and anchored her a few miles off the coastline of Cozumel, Mexico.

Time wasn’t a luxury for Toby; it was merely an inconvenience. If he ran short of supplies, or he had completely run out of booze. Toby took the dinghy into town. He’d stock up on essentials and spend the next few days on an endless drunk in backwater bars.

Toby loved Mia more than life, but love was not true if it was not returned. Had she forgiven him yet? Had she really ever loved him? And his biggest question was, did he love alcohol more than Mia?

He drove around until he found a bar. Tobias knocked back his last swallow of beer and then had the bartender call a cab for him. He left his Harley unattended in the lot. He couldn’t care less if someone took the bike or stripped it down for parts.

He told the driver to take him to a dump motel near the bar where he started to check in under an assumed name. Despite the attempt to hide his identity, the clerk recognized the American movie star. Tobias didn’t think he needed a disguise. He had been at sea for several months. His hair had grown long and the sun added more blonde highlights. His skin was brown from the sun. And his facial hair was more than a five o’clock shadow.

The clerk said, “Wait a minute, sir, I think a package came for you.

“A package, I think you are mistaken.” Toby said.

“Sir, a woman left it here. She said that you’d drop by and get it. She specifically said it was imperative that Tobias Callan get it ASAP.”

Tobias opened the package in the privacy of his room. But there wasn’t anything included except a movie. And it did not even have a title. He slept off his drunk and in the morning he couldn’t remember where he’d left his Harley.

His mind started racing. The room began to spin around him. He tried to stand up and walk to the phone. He fell to the floor. But before he lost consciousness, his last thoughts were of Mia.

He awoke on the floor. Drool ran down his chin and left a dirty spot on the soiled carpet. He could not free his mind from the videotape. But when he tried to stand up, he lost his balance and fell to his knees. “How long has it been since I’ve eaten?” Toby said out loud.

He crawled to the phone and grabbed it from the nightstand.

“Front desk.” The man’s voice said.
“This is Toby Callan. Send up two scrambled eggs, four pieces of toast and a pot of coffee.”

“Yeah, right, Mr. Callan. Do think a dump like this has room service?”

Toby hung up and called a diner close by. He ordered the same breakfast, but added. “I want a half gallon of orange juice too. Throw in a few bacon strips. I’m extra hungry. Deliver it to room 205 at the flea bag motel two blocks away. Get it here in ten minutes and I’ll give you an extra fifty dollars.”

“Buddy, I don’t doubt you’re hungry. Coming down off a high brings on the munchies. But, I doubt you have five dollars let alone fifty. Come in person, show me the money and you’ll get fed.” The phone went dead…

Okay, he thought. I’ll take a shower and drink some hot water. That should shake me out of this hangover.

But, he got sidetracked. He watched the tape over and over. He thought, it must be Isabella, or then maybe it was Mia who opened the package. And then sent the movie back in disgust. They were the only two people who knew about the videotape and would connect him to Mexico.

The moon’s light shone in patches over the still water and mirrored itself back like a glass marble wall.

Mia’s scream came from inside her head. She was talking with Ashton, but he was dead… I’m not hooked on pain medication. She thought. This money is about a sex tape that Isabella swears she will release to the media. Ashton, will you please do this for me and courier the money to Mexico? You know Toby would help me.

Her nightly encounters with the same dream never left her. She screamed out loud when she realized Ashton was dead. Mia awakened from the dream in terror and then knew it was only a dream. But the dream convinced her that Ashton had died because she sent him to do her bidding.

Berta came running into the bedroom.

“Mia, is everything all right?”

She shook her head NO and pleaded for Berta to give her a sedative. Mia’s doctor instructed Berta to give her nothing stronger than an over the counter sleep aid. Mia’s screams were violent. But, Berta gave her two of the sleeping tablets and a glass of water. Mia finally swallowed the pills and succumbed to sleep.

In the morning, Mia asked Berta to make arrangements to get the Perez plane readied to go to Mexico City. She then reached for the phone on her bedside table and dialed Toby’s cell phone number. She hoped that he hadn’t changed his private phone number during his absence. She hoped that he was close to a cell tower. The phone began ringing.

“Yeah, who is this?” The man’s voice said slurring his words.

“Toby, are you there? Is that you? It’s Mia.”

“My God Mia, how did you find me?”

“Toby, are you okay?”

“Other than dealing with a strong hangover, yeah, I’m just fine. Are my girls all right? Are you okay?”

“Yes, Toby, I know that I’ve been only thinking of myself. We are all okay.”

“Toby, I hired a private detective a few days ago. He found the Celebrity moored in Cabo. I tried your old cell number hoping that you had not changed the number.”

“God, Gidget, it’s good to hear your voice. I’m not in Cabo. I’m in Cozumel. I left my boat behind and rode my Harley here. But, why the hell did you call?”

“Toby, I need to see you. I have rented a villa just outside of Mexico City. I will leave in a few hours and fly there aboard the plantation private jet. Will you please come to the Villa Tropical Isle soon?”

“But Gidget, it’s too dangerous for you here. Why do you need to come to Mexico?”

Tobias Callan’s heart was beating fast. He’d never allowed a woman to intimidate him. He still loved her. But, what was she so desperate to talk about? There were so many questions to ask her and would he get the answers that he wanted to hear?

“Yes, of course Mia. I will be there ASAP.”

Toby had located his misplaced motorcycle from his last drunk. He found it in the parking lot of a back street bar. In a way, it surprised him that the bike was still there. It had a few minor repairs needed before he could leave for Mexico City.

But, first things first. He went back into the bar and ordered up a man’s size plate of food. He didn’t care what it was. As long as it stopped the gnawing in his gut.The trip to Mexico City was long and dangerous.

He drove up the winding driveway to the guard shack at the Villa Tropical Isle. He was at the entrance of the gated villa. An armed guard stood in the doorway.

“My name is Tobias Callan, and I would like to see Senorita Mia Perez. She is expecting me.”

The guard rang the main house. A familiar voice answered the guard, “Yes, send Mr. Callan to the house.”

Toby walked up the long driveway. He kept one eye on the rifle pointed at his back. He couldn’t believe how nervous he was. In fact, it surprised the hell out of him that Berta allowed the guard to open the gate. She held a huge grudge about his inconsistent feeling about Mia and the girls.

He was at the front door and took a deep breath before ringing the bell. Berta opened the door. She motioned for him to enter into the foyer.

“Senorita, Mr. Callan is here!”

“Berta, please send him to me right away. I’m expecting him.”

Berta pointed in the direction where Toby would find Mia. She winked and said, “Good luck.”

He thought to himself, Berta had not changed much except she had aged, as do we all.

There wasn’t any warm hello. Mia seemed anxious. Her tone of voice seemed strained.
“Thank you for coming Toby. You left Rio several months ago. Why didn’t you call?”

“I don’t know Mia. I couldn’t wrap my head around everything. I’d lost my only brother. I saw my kids for the first time. I just couldn’t free my mind from the guilt. Mia, I sailed as far as Tijuana, where I spent a lot of time in bars drinking. I went to Cabo San Lucas when I found the courage to face the truth. Mia, I came to turn myself into the Mexican authorities. I need to tell them that I killed my brother.”

“No, Tobias, you aren’t to blame, I am. I sent Ashton to Mexico with a large sum of money. I’m the one who’s at fault.”

“Sweetheart… I would never allow you to go to jail for any crime. I would always confess and do the time. Gidget, I hold so much guilt in my heart for Ashton’s death. Sweetheart, you are the only one who understands my pain.”

“Toby, it has been a long time and our parting wasn’t under the best circumstances. I’ve asked you here to help me, and to tell what you know about your brother’s death.”

“Yes, Toby, I asked Ash to go to Mexico City. Isabella said she needed your help, but we couldn’t find you in time. Ashton went in your place. I gave him a lot of money, but I didn’t know why he needed it.”

This was just the beginning of lies Mia would tell him.

She told Tobias that she had not heard from Ash in several days. She wondered about the silence. And then, she received the telephone call from the Mexican police.

Senor Francesca, Bella’s father, had directed the Policia to contact her. It was known that she knew the Callan brothers.

The police asked Mia for Toby’s whereabouts, but all she could tell them was to look for his boat the Celebrity. His favorite place to hide away was in the South Pacific Islands.    She wiped away the tears that wet Toby’s face. And he struggled to find the words, “Gidget, did you bring Isla and Ixora with you to Mexico City?”

“No, Tobias, the girls are at the plantation. I promise you that they are safe and well cared for.”

Toby held her close, and breathed a sigh of relief. Toby felt relieved that Ashton had been there for Mia, but there was a sadness that he just couldn’t shake.

He thought about how we pass through life only once. He had chosen to run from love and replace it with a selfishness about destroying his brother’s life. Toby felt the pang of guilt caused by this selfishness.

Mia looked into his saddened eyes and her insides melted. She felt his pain. The separation from his family throughout those estranged years must have been tough. But they weren’t lost years. She learned that a broken heart heals through personal growth.

She gave way to the knowledge that faith would intervene and see them through. She believed in her heart that they would overcome any obstacles. And they would live beyond the lost kisses.

Mia had forgiven herself for the truth that she kept from Ashton. And now, there were new secrets she held from Toby. She had finally forgiven herself for the despair Toby felt when she refused his proposal.

She thanked Ashton in the silence of her heart. Through death, he released her heart to love Tobias. But the darkness overshadowed her. Would she ever be free to love, the only remaining Callan brother… the man she had loved for a lifetime?

The weight of Mia’s urgent phone call to see her at the villa was on his mind. Tobias had not yet asked Mia if she was the one who sent him the sex video. Should he have walked away?


Chapter 2

An Unsolved Mystery

“Mia, you knew that I was in Mexico. Why did you have to come?”

He knew that before they could have a future together, they had to solve the mystery of their past.

Mia didn’t understand why Toby felt responsible for Ashton’s death. He also felt responsible for Isabella’s murder too.

“I needed to tell you that I haven’t been truthful. Toby, do you know the name of the detective who is in charge of Ashton’s death?”

“Honey, I’m sure that I would’of learned this on my own. I would’of called you with anything I’d found. But, no, I don’t know the detective’s name.”

“I know his name,Tobias. I’ve missed you and I needed to be here with you. Can you try to understand how I feel? My children’s father is dead. I need to be part of the investigation.”

Toby’s spiritual energy had led him back to the ocean and the solace he felt there. He was hopeful that his return to the sea would have freed him from the guilt. He had a well-kept secret that spanned two decades.

But, there was even more to come. The police investigation of Ashton Callan’s death continued in Mexico City. It had been months since Isabella Francesca and Ashton Callan died.

Detective Rudy Gonzalez was in charge of the investigation. He had pieced some facts together. He figured this was a double homicide. He had always thought that something linked the deaths. And he was going to prove it.

Detective Rudy had proof that Ashton Callan met with Isabella Francesca for lunch. They met La Guamanian restaurant in the afternoon. The day that he died.

He planned to learn what they talked about. Detective Gonzales interviewed some of the staff at the restaurant. The maître de said, “I overheard part of the conversation. I didn’t know who the man was until it came out in the newspaper. His name was Ashton Callan. Of course, everyone knows Miss Francesca.”

“Can you remember what they were talking about?”

The young woman replied. “Mr. Callan said to stop providing Mia with narcotic pain medications.”

Gonzalez, then asked, “Did you hear anything else?”

“Detective Gonzalez, I’m ashamed to admit that I eavesdropped longer. I couldn’t believe that Mexico’s own favorite singer would sell drugs.”

“And then, Bella said to Senor Ashton. I need your help. I need money because I stole the money that Senorita Perez gave me to pay for her pain medication. And the banditos demanded that I pay them pronto. Otherwise, one or both of my daughters would become sex slaves as the payment.”

The detective rested his elbow on the table. He traced his lips with his pointer finger and grumbled. “Uh huh, okay Senorita, you have been helpful and, uh, I have one more question. I hope you can answer.”

She nodded. “Si Senor, I will do my best.”

“Do you remember if anyone was paying attention to the couple? I mean more than usual. Due to Isabella’s celebrity status I mean.”

The young woman’s eyes looked upward, indicating that she was thinking back to that day. Her face lit up like a shooting star.

“Si Senor, I think so. When Senior Callan stood up, he placed a lot of money on the table. And then he walked away. It looked like one of the men started to follow Isabella. I think the other man followed Mr. Callan. It looked that way, but I can’t be sure. I do remember that they did not leave the restaurant together.”

“Was it a lot of money, or a big Tip?”

“Oh, sir, it was a big tip.”

The rule of thumb of a detective was, most witness accountings were not accurate.

Detective Gonzalez appreciated the helpful information. But his only regret was the maître de could only say, “Sir, the men were average looking Mexican men. I think about thirty, or forty.”

She didn’t remember any unusual scars or tattoos. Something that would stand out as different.

But, the woman remembered something about a car she heard drive away. She remembered looking toward the window. She saw the letters JYLYN on the rear plate. The car that stood out.

Gonzalez was curious why she would notice the license plate.

“Sir, I noticed because the letters spelled out my son Jaylyn’s name.”

“Miss, that could be helpful if you can remember if it was a Mexico or U.S. plate.”

A big smile lit up her face. “Si Senor, it was U.S.”

The detective ran the U.S. partial plate on a silver car. The car was a 2005 Chevy Impala. But, it was gone from the parking lot near the La Guamanian restaurant on the date in question. A motorcycle was also there with American tags. He immediately put out an A.P.B. All points bulletin — on the license plate JYLYN 599.

He also wrote down the tag number for the Harley. The car belonged to Americans from El Paso. And it was stolen.

Detective Gonzalez focused on the stolen car. He didn’t bother to check out the motorcycle. The car was soon found beneath an overpass by police officers on a routine patrol in the area.

Detective Gonzalez had the car towed to the police impound lot. From there, the car went to the forensic garage.

His gut told him an interesting fact. There was a connection between the death of Isabella Francesca and Ashton Callan. The car was a strong piece of evidence to a possible double homicide.

Later, the forensic report showed that the vehicle was clean. It was a pleasant surprise that a trace of blood was on the cigarette lighter. But, it wasn’t a surprise that the cigarette tray was empty of any butts or ashes.

Rudy figured that Ashton Callan met with Isabella for lunch. He went to persuade her to stop providing Senorita Perez with pain-killing narcotics.

The detective didn’t have any idea who Senorita Perez was. He only knew that Ashton Callan had a fender-bender soon after leaving the restaurant.

Detective Rudy went to the impound yard himself to look at the car. The Impala had a dent in the rear bumper — driver’s side. And the police report supported that the minor collision was more than a hit and run accident.

Gonzalez connected the dots. He figured that it was a warning from the two Mexican restaurant patrons to back off. And, if he didn’t, there was more to come.

The detective was now determined to join the two murders. The local drug ring known as the Los Banditos were mean S.O.B’s.

He went back over the accident report. A wave of calm came over Detective Gonzalez.

An eye witness had described a car that pulled out of the restaurant parking lot.

According to the tire tracks and skid marks, the car made a right hand turn. The tracks continued in the same direction of Ashton Callan’s car.

Forensics showed that a few blocks away, the subject’s car pulled alongside Callan. That’s when a single shot shattered the passenger side window.

Callan’s car accelerated forward onto the sidewalk to avoid any more crossfire. But then it hit a light pole. Tire tracks found behind Callan’s car matched the skid marks.

This was when another bullet shattered the rear window of Ashton Callan’s car. Only this time, the bullet lodged in the back of his head. The shell casings and the broken windows were the only evidence. But, was certain that a drive-by shooting happened.

What’s the motive for wanting Ashton Callan dead? Rudy mumbled. What kind of savages am I dealing with?

A month later, there wasn’t any progress on who the shooters were. Once a man becomes a cartel leader, he’s tagged with an alias. And Los Banditos was the gang that came to mind.

Rudy thought, can we catch this man? He shrugged his shoulders in tacit understanding.

His thought was. No one has ever been able to photograph him. The only lead was that Los Banditos had medical knowledge.

The lab came out with its report. The blood found in the cigarette lighter belonged to Isabella Francesca.

Detective Gonzalez knew that he was on the right track. He was right that the blood evidence would be the determining factor. The person driving the Impala, had come in contact with Miss Francesca. But, was it during or shortly after she died?


Chapter 3

The WHY in Murder

Detective Gonzalez sat in front of the house. He read the police report of Miss Francesca’s death. The report contained details about evidence found at the crime scene. Gonzalez couldn’t prove it, but he was sure that Isabella was in Ashton’s car sometime during the day.

The singer’s private home was now sealed by the yellow POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS crime tape. He pulled back a section of the tape and used a pass key to enter the crime scene. It was obvious that the police and a forensic team searched the scene.

udy questioned if he would find anything of importance missed by previous searches.

The crime scene was not sanitized yet. Dried blood was still present on the floor in the front room. The room was tossed. The contents of her desk were strewn on the floor as well. And the books from the bookcase lay scattered about.

Rudy picked up a scrapbook. He wasn’t sure why he thought about picking it up except that his gut told him to do it.

Detective Rudy tucked the book beneath his arm. He closed the front door behind him and resealed the crime tape. He sat in his car and rifled through a few other items he had taken from Isabella’s bookshelf. Unfortunately, he found nothing in the stuff, so he tossed them into the back seat.

Rudy cleaned out his car with the stuff from the crime scene. He picked up the scrapbook. While leafing through the pages, lo and behold, he found a page torn from a movie magazine. It was interesting that a handsome man held a much younger Isabella in his arms.

The caption read, A Broadway Star is Born. The name of the young man was Tobias Callan. Gonzalez had finally made an association between the Callan brothers and Isabella Francesca. It was now his job to figure out what Ashton Callan’s involvement with the singer was. And what was the connection in getting him and Isabella Francesca killed.

He poured himself a stiff drink of Scotch, neat. He sat in his favorite leather chair and retrieved the article he found in the scrapbook.

He questioned. Who are the Callan brothers? He picked up his laptop and Googled Tobias Callan. Rudy began reading a summary about the man’s Hollywood career. The article stated that Tobias Callan’s career started in high school.

The young man made sure that he had the lead role in every school play. Tobias Callan also sang in all the high school musical productions. He wasn’t an especially good student, but the guy did have talent.

Rudy had his first Aha moment of several yet to come. The article mentioned that Tobias Callan was an avid motorcycle rider and he owned a Harley. He wrote a reminder to himself. He needed to run the American tag on the Harley he noticed in the La Guamanian Mexican restaurant.

Detective Gonzalez continued reading the article. Toby and Bella Francesca were high school sweethearts. After graduation, Toby left California to move to New York City and pursue a life on Broadway. Isabella went to New York with him because she didn’t want to lose Toby. It was an off again, on again, tumultuous love affair for years. Toby was an upcoming talent and he finally landed a role in an off-Broadway play.

Isabella supported them by waiting tables. She had aspirations of becoming a star too, but the best she could do was getting a job as an extra in a chorus line. On occasion, Toby arranged a spot for her as a back-up singer. By then, Isabella was pregnant and the tabloids sensationalized it.

Isabella gave birth to twins and he loved his girls, but Toby’s career came first. Isabella left Toby and took the girls to live in Mexico City with her family.

Toby saw them maybe a few times a year. The brief encounter with the twins satisfied him, but he didn’t have any interest in being a father to them. He never became serious with anyone after Isabella.

Detective Rudy discovered that Toby never married Isabella Francesca either. The article portrayed that the couple had a ‘love at first sight’ teenage tryst.

The story concluded with a quote from Ashton Callan. “Toby wasn’t the most responsible person on the planet and his career always came first. Tobias Callan’ life was all about show business. And his acting career took off when he was around twenty-three. Don’t get me wrong. I love my brother. But Tobias has always put himself above anyone else and he tends to float from one pretty starlet to the next.”

Detective Gonzalez Googled Ashton Callan. It was a surprise to see that the younger Callan brother had quite the reputation too.

At the age of twenty-two, Ashton Callan graduated from Cal-Tech. He was smart too. He had a PhD in Seismology and Earthquake Engineering. At this young age, Ashton was already a noted seismic expert. He was also a renowned author of several books. Ashton Callan was a well-liked professor at a southern California University.

Ashton Callan played sports in high school and college. This earned him a football scholarship to Cal. Tech. The sandy blonde, blue-eyed athlete picked up the nickname ‘Ace.’ Ashton liked sports, but academia came first in his life.

Ashton worked out daily. He especially enjoyed swimming and jogging whenever he could work it into his schedule. ‘Ace’ Callan was an Alumnus and he also lived close to campus. This gave him campus privileges.

One of the privileges was to swim at the Olympic size pool. It was at the campus pool where he happened to meet Mia Perez.

Rudy continued to read the on-line story and it got interesting. The lovely Brazilian, Mia Perez, attracted him. Miss Perez became paralyzed in an automobile accident.

This intrigued Rudy. He wanted to know more about the young woman, so he Googled her next. He learned that Mia Perez had been in critical condition due to an alcohol related auto accident. A life support machine kept her alive for three months.

The doctors held out little hope for her survival. But a doctor named Robert Chase performed several back surgeries. The surgeries were to repair the damage to her spine.

The online report stated that it was a long and painful recovery, but Miss Perez was grateful to be alive. The piece also included that Mia Perez later married Dr. Chase and they had a daughter named Lourdes.

The detective continued reading. He came to the part in the article that stated that Tobias Callan was the Emcee who crowned Mia as Miss Junior Brazil. Detective Gonzalez slammed his fist down hard on the table.

“It’s you, Mia Perez, I’m sure that you are the missing link between the Callan brothers.”

Detective Rudy Gonzalez was on the trail to solving the mystery of the double homicide. Rudy got a good night’s sleep and began fresh the next day.

First on his agenda was to locate Miss Perez. He let his fingers do the walking and Googled Mia Perez.

Mia Perez was the only child of Senor Juan Perez and his wife Lucia. Mia received a cultural based education in her homeland of Brazil. As part of her pageant winnings, she continued her education in southern California.

Senor Juan Perez was an aged man with traditional values. He had planned to pass the family coffee business on down to a son, but, the family never had a second child. So, Senor Perez educated a daughter instead as his future heir to inherit the family fortune.

Mia’s mother preferred to send her daughter to an American college. She wanted Mia to find a wealthy American husband.

Charles Santiago was a handsome twenty-five year old man from Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The Santiago and Perez families had been acquaintances for many years. It was tradition for a wealthy family to pass down its money to future generations.

The two family heads made an agreement. Their children, Charles Santiago and Mia Perez would marry. This union would blend their coffee fields together. They would become the largest coffee bean enterprise in South America.

The marriage was to happen after Mia finished the last phase of her Brazilian education. But the marriage did not happen. A severe car crash killed Charles Santiago, who was driving the car, and it crippled Mia.

Rudy became interested in Robert Chase. He was the brilliant Los Angeles surgeon. He was the doctor who performed the initial surgery on Miss Perez.

The accident caused the young woman’s paralysis. Dr. Chase was a thirty-five year old Chief of Neurosurgery. It seemed that he crossed the ethical doctor-patient relationship barrier. He became involved with Mia Perez. Dr. Chase and Mia married. But the marriage didn’t last long, regardless that Miss Perez gave birth to a daughter.
Detective Gonzalez’s system was to line up the possible suspects. They all had motives to want Isabella Francesca and Ashton Callan dead.

Suspect number one. Tobias Callan was a drug user and involved with the Latin singer, Isabella Franesca. Ashton and Tobias were brothers. The brothers were in competition for the same woman… Mia Perez.

Motive: introduction of Mia to narcotic pain relievers. And get Miss Perez hooked up with Isabella Francesca. With Ashton out of the picture, Tobias would have Mia completely to himself.

Suspect number two – Dr. Robert Chase; treated Mia and initiated her dependency on drugs.

Motive: Rudy could not find a link between Dr. Chase and Isabella Francesca. But, the doctor did have a tie with Juan Perez who did know Isabella and Ashton. Senor Perez passed away. But, he could have introduced Dr. Chase and Miss Francesca on one of his many Brazilian visits. Robert Chase may have confronted Isabella either in Brazil or Mexico. That’s when he insisted she stop providing the narcotics to Mia. Perhaps, the doctor wanted to reunite with his former wife, Mia. Maybe he wanted Ashton Callan out of the way. The doctor was a jealous man. Murders have happened on a lesser motive.

He may have also wanted Ashton Callan dead. Their daughter Lourdes, stood to inherit the vast fortune. But, it was Robert who would inherit the CEO position of the coffee dynasty. Lourdes was still a minor. So it seemed that the doctor did have more to gain. With Ashton Callan dead; money, power and Mia Perez were strong motives.

Detective Gonzalez didn’t have much solid evidence, but in theory, it worked. Rudy even thought that Mia Perez was a viable suspect. But he wasn’t ready to point an accusatory finger at her just yet. Although, he did want to question the woman about the men in her life.

Rudy found the reminder to check out Tobias Callan. Did he own a Harley? He pulled the crumpled piece out of his shirt pocket and smoothed it. He could still read the tag number. He phoned the Mexico City PD. The owner registration belonged to Tobias Callan, Malibu, Calfornia.

Detective Gonzalez asked the desk sergeant. “Has anyone seen the American actor, Tobias Callan and his Harley around here lately?”

The answer was. “I’ll check with Border Patrol to see when the American motorcycle entered the country. Maybe something will pop.”

Border Patrol found nothing on surveillance cameras. They issued an A.P.B. on the motorcycle. The Harley appeared in Mexico City at the Zona Rosa Hotel. The hotel was in the ‘wealthy Colonias’ of Lomas de Chapultepec.

Detective Rudy Gonzalez showed his badge to the desk clerk and asked for Callan’s room number.

“Detective, I don’t want any trouble on my watch. Senor Callan is in room 500 on the top floor.”

Detective Gonzalez, put his badge away in his pocket. He walked over to the elevator, pushed the button and stepped into the elevator car. Room 500 was at the furthest end of the corridor. The detective knocked on the door. Tobias put his eye against the peephole and saw the badge.

“What do you want?” Tobias Callan asked.

Rudy was a short, stocky, native Mexican man. He was wearing a crumpled trench coat.

“My name is Detective Rudy Gonzalez and I’m just here to ask you some questions.”
“About what?”

“Come on Tobias, I’m not here to interrogate you. But if you don’t open the door and invite me inside, I’ll use the pass key. I’ll let myself in… now you don’t want that, do you, Callan?”

The door opened.

“That’s more like it Tobias, friendly cooperation is what I’m all about.”

Tobias sat down on the sofa, and ran his fingers through his hair. He started laughing.

“What’s so funny Mr. Callan?”

“Did anyone ever tell you that you resembled Lieutenant Columbo? He’s an American TV detective you know.”

“Yeah, Callan. More times than I can remember. Now, let’s get down to business.”

“You know Detective, I’d like to believe all the stuff they teach you in church… about souls and heaven. You know; all that stuff. Well, if there is a heaven, then I know Ash and Bella are up there. That’s why you’re here… am I right detective?”

“Yeah, Toby, that’s right, I‘m here to talk to you about them.”

“Detective Gonzalez, do you think they can see us, maybe even hear us?”

“Yeah, maybe… why do you ask?”

“I… I never got to tell them goodbye. There’s a lot I never got to tell them.”

“Like what, Toby? Why not tell me. Maybe I can help.”

“Like I’m sorry that I got Mia involved in some bad stuff.”

“Mia Perez? Are you referring to her?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“Toby, why don’t you tell me about the bad stuff. I can help you… you know.”

Tobias clenched his teeth; his face reddened as if to express anger. “I don’t know.”

“Yes, you do Toby. I guarantee you when you get it off your chest, you’ll feel a lot better.”

His voice escalated… his fist clenched.

“What do you want from me?”

“I want you to tell me what you know. Toby, you can do this… you know that I’m right.”

“Yeah, I know you’re right.”

Toby took a deep breath and stared into the detective’s eyes.

“Gonzalez, I think Isabella got caught up in some money problems that she couldn’t get out of. And it was me who helped her get into trouble.”

“How, Toby?”

“Gonzalez, I first need to tell you why I am here in Mexico City.”

Yes, Toby, I’d like to know why you are here in Mexico.”

“I came here to kill someone.”

“Who, Tobias, can you tell me who? You don’t have to kill anyone you know, because I can help you. I can arrest him if you tell me who he is and what he’s done.”

“Gonzalez, he deserves to die because he had Ashton and Isabella killed.”

“Maybe so, but I need proof before I can arrest this person. Let me do my job, Tobias.

o one needs to get hurt.”

“Do you know for sure, Toby, that this person handled two deaths?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure.”

“Okay, Toby, I believe you and now I need you to give me his name and tell me why you believe he is a killer?”

“Did you know that Dr. Robert Chase was one of the top neurologists in Southern California? And he works at the American, British Cowdray Hospital in Mexico City? Huh, Rudy?”

“Well, Toby, yes, in fact, I do know a little about Dr. Chase. He was once married to Mia Perez and Mia is the woman you’ve loved a long time. And no, Toby, I didn’t know the doctor had hung his shingle in Mexico City. So tell me, why should Dr. Chase interest me?”

“I think you should ask Mia.”

“Tobias, I thought you were going to tell me everything that you know. And why you came to Mexico to kill, I’m guessing, Dr. Chase?”

“I don’t remember saying I came here to kill the doctor. I said I was going to kill someone.”

“You’re right Toby, you didn’t say it was the doctor who you planned to kill. But, you did make me think that he was your target.”

“I changed my mind Detective. I’m not going to say anything more. You have some leg work to do. I will tell you that Lourdes Chase is a Candy Striper at the hospital and so was Isabella. I suggest that you check out their friendship and maybe what you learn will fill in some blanks about the doc.”

“You don’t like him much, do you Tobias?”

“You have keen insight. I don’t like him much.”

“Toby, I want to know about Lourdes and I especially want to know how Miss Francesca knows Dr. Chase?”

“Ask Mia… I’m sure that she knows more than me. And if you aren’t going to arrest me, then get the hell out.”

“No Mr. Callan, I’m not going to arrest you, but I am going to put you under house arrest. I’m going to be your worst nightmare because I want to know your every move. Have a good day, Tobias Callan. You can be sure that I’ll be back.”


Chapter 4

Detective Gonzalez and Nick Starks

Rudy Gonzalez knew that Mia Perez had another house in Los Angeles. Its name was, Castlewood. He had gone there, but she wasn’t there. The gardener sent him on the run back to Mexico City.

Mia had called Tobias and asked that he come to the city and help convince Dr. Chase to change her pain medication. She had rented a villa near the city. Her plan was to stay as long as it took to get the medication through legal or illegal methods… she didn’t care.

In the meantime, Detective Gonzalez impounded Toby’s motorcycle. His detective nose was on the trail to connect Tobias Callan with Isabella’s death. He sent the bike to the Ministry of Public Security impound yard. This was a secure police facility in Venustiano Carranza.

He was unaware that Nick Starks had boarded a plane in San Diego. He was en route to Mexico City to see Mia Perez without her knowledge. Berta had called Nicholas to inform him that Tobias Callan was back in the beauty queen’s life.

Nick was still in love with Mia. It had been eight years since he kissed her that one last time in the Rio Chapel. He loved her as much today as he did then.

Detective Gonzalez was in the midst of investigating the double homicide. But he was in the dark about another man in the life of Mia Perez. Two taxis arrived at the Villa Tropical Isle gate a few minutes apart.

The men stood together on the stoop and reached for the doorbell at the same time. The bell chimed a few times and Berta opened the door. Sh grabbed Nick, pulled him into the house and hugged him hard.

She shut the door, ignoring the other man who was still outside. She looked especially tired. He immediately became concerned about Berta’s welfare. Nick had aged well and in Berta’s eyes, he was the man who loved Mia without placing conditions on her.

The doorbell chimed again and Berta commented as she reached for the door handle.
“Good grief, what is this… Grand Central Station?”

She knew another man was on the porch. Under the circumstances, she didn’t want any disruption for Mia’s reunion with Nick. The bell chimed over and over. It surprised her when she opened the door. Tobias was standing beside a forty- something, funny little man. The odd little man wore a wrinkled tan off the rack suit. Over his arm was an equally crumpled trench coat.

“I know you,” pointing at Toby, but “Who the hell are you and what is your business here?”

The man reached into his breast pocket and showed his badge to Berta and Tobias. “Ma’am, my name is Detective Rudy Gonzalez from Mexico City and I’m here on police business. I’m investigating the deaths of Isabella Francesca and Ashton Callan. I would like to ask Miss Perez some questions about her connection to Tobias Callan and Ashton Callan. Is she available? I won’t take much of her time.”

Berta chuckled, and said, “I swear. You are the Mexican version of the American TV homicide Detective Lieutenant Columbo. ‘Great,’ she snapped.

“Detective Gonzales, you won’t be talking to Miss Perez anytime soon. She is ill, and I’m not going to allow you to talk to Missy for any reason. Especially questions about this man.”

She pointed a finger toward Tobias. She knew Nick was standing behind her. She turned around…

“Nick, the girls tried to talk to Mia, but she refuses to allow any of us in her room. The cook takes a food tray in for our princess and leaves before she can throw it at her.”

Berta snickered. “Nick, please go to her. She just sits alone crying about the pain.”

Berta chuckled a little more. She grabbed the detective’s arm. “And you come with me. We’ll see if you can use your humble way and disingenuous demeanor to wiggle out answers from me. But, I do know some stuff about Ashton. I’ll do my best to satisfy your curiosity. Otherwise, I’ll be showing you to the door. I can’t help you much about Isabella, but you go ahead and ask those questions too. You never can tell what information I have stored in this head of mine about the Callan brothers and Missy too.”

The detective looked puzzled. He wondered why this Berta woman compared him to a Detective Columbo from the United States. He just shook is head and thought, Americans, who can figure them out? But, I am going to look up this Detective Columbo.

Toby started to say something to Berta. She just sneered at him. “As for you, Mr. Callan, who loves his boat more than Mia, I thought you’d skipped out on the princess again. It’s too bad that you don’t sink your boat with you on-board.”

Ouch! The detective thought. There’s no love lost between these two characters.

Berta called out to Nick as he started to walk away. “Oh Nicky, and don’t bother to tell Mia that the gigolo is here. She’s better off without that junk he’s been feeding her.”

Woah! What have I stumbled on? Detective Gonzalez thought.

Nick absorbed all the drama. “I’ll go upstairs and see if Mia will talk to me.”

Detective Gonzalez raised an eyebrow and his eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“Tobias Callan, you have some explaining to do. I suggest that you stay close by me, because I intend to question you along with the housekeeper. There’s a problem here. And I intend to get to the bottom of it.”

Nick opened the door. She was watching Ashton’s twin girls Evee and Ellee splashing around in the pool. Nick walked to Mia, bent down and hugged her. He kissed her on the cheek, but she didn’t react to him at all.

“God, sweetheart, I didn’t know things were this bad.”

She averted her eyes and whispered, “Nick, I am glad you are here, but why? It’s been eight years since I jilted Ash and Toby.”

He pulled her close and she collapsed into his arms.
“Sweetheart, I came as soon as I heard about Ashton’s death and I will stay as long as you want me here.”

She had broken his heart once, and he questioned, had Tobias come to Mexico to get her back? Nick hugged her again. “And you still light up my life Mia, but tell me why Tobias Callan is in town?”

She didn’t answer, and the silence was deafening. “Okay, Mia, then at least tell me, how long has Toby been here?”

“Not long Nicky, maybe a few weeks I guess. I asked him to come. But he left a couple of days ago, and he wouldn’t tell me where he was going.”

“Well, honey, Berta didn’t want you to know. He’s downstairs with a detective from Mexico City.”

A pained expression flashed across her face. She was tense and anxious about something. She seemed worried that danger was coming, or maybe she was in imminent danger. Had Tobias gone to Mexico City to get drugs for her? Was he arrested by the police? Was it Robert Chase, who turned Toby into this detective?”
Wow, that was a lot of questions and she avoided answering them.

“Nicky, did you know that Toby always said that we had a love that was beyond so many lost kisses?”

Nick held her close to him. He wanted to scream out. Mia, I am here. Not like so many of the men who left you.

“I love you Mia Perez. I’ve loved you since the day we met in your hospital room. I even laughed when Dr. Chase told me to watch out for your flirtatious and infectious smile.”

He shook the thoughts from his mind as he stroked her back. He just held her in the silence for a long time.

He remembered the man downstairs who was talking to Berta. “Honey, have you ever heard the name Detective Rudy Gonzalez before?”

The question startled her. “I didn’t know Toby was back, and why do you ask me this about a detective, Nicky? No, I don’t think I have heard the name before. Why is a policeman here, and why is he with Tobias?”

This was just another lie so well disguised.

The questioning agitated her. He stroked Mia’s arm to help calm her.

“I don’t exactly know, but he did say that he had a few questions about Ashton and Isabella. Berta told the detective that she might be able to answer them. All I know is, she sure wasn’t going to allow him to upset you.”


Downstairs, the detective had settled himself in an easy chair. He began questioning the housekeeper about the Callan brothers and Miss Isabella Francesca. He wanted something clarified.

Detective Gonzalez asked, “Is it all right if I call you Berta or would you prefer something else?”

She grinned from ear to ear, “Detective Gonzalez, Berta is fine. Besides, it’s been so long since anyone has called me anything but Berta. Otherwise, I doubt if I’d answer them.”

The Detective’s expression soured. “Berta you said something that intrigued me.”

“Yeah, Detective what might that be? I spout off all the time.”

“What did you mean when you said. ‘She’s better off without that junk he’s been feeding her.’ And the ‘he’ was Tobias Callan.”

“Detective, do you live under a rock? Don’t you know anything about Toby’s former drug habit? And his connection to black market junk? Hey, why do you think you found him in Mexico City?”

“Well, Berta, I must have been sleeping during briefing that day.”

His glance averted from Berta to Toby.

“So tell me Tobias, are you still connected?”

Toby rolled his eyes and his body posture was loose. The Detective’s question didn’t seem to warrant an answer. He just shrugged it off.

Detective Gonzalez tapped his foot a few times. He was losing his patience with Tobias Callan. He jotted something down in his notebook.

“Okay Tobias, I’ll play your little game for a while, but sooner or later, you will answer my question.”

The Detective averted his glance back toward Berta. “Miss Berta, would you by any chance know the name of Ms. Perez’s attorney’s name?”

“Hell yes, Detective, just give me a second and I’ll get you his business card. Wouldn’t our celebrity boy cough up the name?”

Berta stood and left the room only to return a few minutes later. She handed Detective Gonzalez a card. The name printed on the face of the small white business card was Ernesto Herrera, Esq. The detective flashed Berta a fake smile and took the card.

“Berta do you mind telling me the name of the man you sent upstairs to see Mrs. Callan?”

She looked the Detective square in the eyes.

“ I do indeed mind you asking me, and especially why he is with Missy. Nick Starks is a family friend and that’s all you’re going to get from me.”

Rudy Gonzalez had to try and squeeze another tidbit of information out of Berta.
“Ma’am, is Dr. Robert Chase still part of Mrs. Callan’s life?”

Her patience was running thin. “Now listen here Detective Gonzalez, if you don’t mind.”

Her facial expression changed from being okay with getting grilled to anger.

“Would you please follow me, because the front door is this way. I’ve given you enough information. Now skedaddle.”

“Well Berta, every little detail is always helpful in an investigation. So, before I go, Ma’am, do you know if either of the brothers owned a motorcycle?”

Berta’s smile was almost evil as she looked at Toby. “Yes, sir, Detective. I know for a fact that Toby had a Hog. It was a pretty thing, and he usually kept it on his boat, the Celebrity. That way, he would have transportation when he wandered around from one island to the next.”

Rudy looked toward Tobias. “Mr. Callan, I expect a direct answer from you. Is your boat moored somewhere around here?”

Berta answered this question without hesitation.

“Yes Sir, the boat just arrived not long ago. Something that Missy wanted her lawyer to get done ASAP. He loved that darn boat as much as he loved Missy. But I gotta tell you. I don’t know where she might be. I’d suspect in the water somewhere in Mexico.”

“I’m assuming that Missy is a pet name you call Ms. Perez.”

“That’s right Detective. Along with your royal highness and the beauty queen.”

Detective Gonzalez eyes shifted toward Tobias Callan. “Tell me, where is this boat?”
“It’s moored in Cabo San Lucas.”

“Why did Ms. Perez have her lawyers get the boat back to the states from somewhere in the Indian Ocean? Why didn’t you sail her back?”

“Hell if I know… I would suppose that it was Mia’s bloodhounds. She sicced them to find me.”

“Did they find you Toby?”

“Yep, they found me shacked up with an island girl drunk out of my gourd over Ashton’s death. The next thing I remembered, I was on the Perez jet with a man who spoke little English. I found myself back at the Malibu beach house and a note that said my boat would arrive soon.”

Rudy Gonzalez was just about ready to wrap up his questioning when Toby said. “Not to change the subject, but Gonzalez, you know for a fact where my bike is. And you know that I removed it from the boat in Cabo and rode it to Mexico City. So, what’s the curiosity about? You have my bike and you’ll soon have my boat impounded.”

Berta scowled at Toby, walked to the door and opened it. “Detective Gonzalez, I told you to skedaddle. And take this piece of garbage, Tobias Callan, out with you!”


Chapter 5

The Burden of Proof


Detective Rudy Gonzalez took Tobias Callan back to his hotel. He put round the clock surveillance on the man.

It had taken three months for Toby’s boat to reach Newport from Victoria, Seychelles. The boat had arrived as Berta said. The Celebrity moored in a Malibu slip owned by Tobias Callan.

According to the marina records, Tobias Callan stayed aboard the sailboat a few days. And then pulled out of the harbor. His sea plan indicated that he was sailing to Cabo San Lucas.

Detective Gonzalez had earlier become acquainted with Dr. White, Ms. Perez’s psychologist. But because of patient confidentiality, she couldn’t divulge anything about Mia Perez. Dr. Cotter, the hospital administrator, only stated that Dr. Chase had left the hospital a year ago. She believed that he took a job in Mexico City, and Lourdes was with him.

Rudy learned that Mia had left the Brazilian family business in the capable hands of Joel Manudo. The chain of command would change when Lourdes Chase turned twenty-one.

Rudy was also aware that a monthly gift of Perez coffee, was actually a cover for the Oxycodone. Some unnamed doctor ordered it hidden in the coffee. He had the shipment delivered to Castlewood, in Los Angelas. His suspicions were the mystery man was the infamous Razor Blade.

He put two and two together. He figured Ernesto Herrera notified Mia when the Celebrity was back in Malibu. But Toby hadn’t arrived yet. So she had asked Senor Herrera to fly to California with her and take her aboard the boat.

The Detective figured she wheeled herself over to Toby’s Harley. A leather strap held it fast to the wall. The bike must have brought back memories of the first time when Toby took her for a ride.

Another assumption was that the ride scared her. She was a paraplegic after all. But he was sure that Toby took care in keeping her safe. He loved her. So, he made some kind of safety harness.

His scenario seemed to fit the kind of Romeo and Juliette love that they had had for years.

Ashton had sacrificed his life for the woman he loved. But, she didn’t love him. She loved Tobias. He was the Callan brother who she belonged to. Anyway, Rudy figured this was how Toby felt.


Chapter 6

The Puzzle Pieces Start to Fit


Detective Gonzalez found Lourdes Chase working in Mexico City. She was now a young woman of nineteen. Rudy Gonzalez had done his homework. He made the connection that she was the daughter of Dr. Robert Chase and Mia Perez.

She was working as a Candy Striper at the ABC Medical Center in the City. Dr. Chase was one of the top neurologists. Gonzalez was also able to establish a connection between Dr. Chase and Ernesto Herrera. He had the business card for the Perez family lawyer.

A chat with the family lawyer produced some valuable information. Lourdes was to take over the family business when she turned twenty-one.

In the meantime, the Chief Operating Officer was Joel Manudo who Ms. Perez had appointed. Dr. Chase wasn’t happy about the appointment. It seemed that he was anxious to assume the role of CEO. Lourdes Chase had three years before his daughter reached her twenty-first birthday.

Detective Gonzalez made an appointment this time to see Miss Perez in person. He wasn’t going to allow Berta to get around fabricating another deception. The beauty queen couldn’t nap all day. And what about this illness? What was wrong with her? He drove back to the villa. And once he showed the guard his badge, he opened the gate without hesitation.

Rudy rang the doorbell. Berta opened it and ushered him out on the veranda where Mia was at. Finally, the door opened for him to question her.

Extending her hand, Mia said, “Olla, Detective Gonzalez. I am Mia Perez, please sit here beside me.”

Detective Gonzalez showed Mia his badge only because it was police procedure. She was as beautiful and polite as he thought she must be. It was obvious that Mia Perez was a beauty queen, and a royal princess.

“Would you like some ice cold tea detective?”

“Thank you Miss Perez, tea does sound good.”

Berta left to get the refreshments. And the detective didn’t waste any time in starting his interrogation.

“Ms. Perez, do you understand why I am here?”

She nodded, “Yes, Detective, and I will do my best to answer your questions.”

“Ma’am, do you and Dr. Robert Chase have a daughter named Lourdes?”

Mia nodded, yes.

Nick joined them and sat beside Mia. Tears welled in her eyes when she looked at him.

“It’s okay Mia. I think you should tell Detective Gonzalez everything that you might know. You want to find out what happened to Ashton and Isabella, don’t you?”

“Yes, Nicky.” She stammered, “b – u – t,” and then she didn’t finish her thought.

“Mia, how old is Lourdes?” Detective Gonzalez asked.

The nervous tension was obvious in Mia’s over-blinking and the fluttering of her eyelashes.

“She is nineteen, but she will be twenty in a few weeks.

“Okay, Ms. Perez, this is how it works. I’ll tell you what I know, and you can fill in the blanks. Deal Mia?” Rudy asked.

Mia didn’t speak, but she nodded, yes.

“Ms. Perez, you have a drug habit. Don’t you?”

She nodded… yes.

“You sent Ashton Callan to Mexico City with a large sum of cash to buy illegal drugs for you. Am I right?”

Mia, again nodded yes.

The detective followed up. “Mia, this is what I think happened. Why don’t you nod, if you agree.”

She nodded, yes.

“Ashton arrived at Isabella’s home to try and talk her out of taking the money you had sent. This money was to pay off her debt to the drug Lord and buy pain killer drugs for you. Is that correct Mia?”

She began to sob and Nick cradled her in his arms. Nicky, should I call my lawyer before I answer any more questions?”

“Sweetheart, do you think that you need a lawyer? Do you have anything to hide?”

“No, Nicky, but I don’t want to get anyone into trouble.”

The detective asked, “Who, Mia, who don’t you want to get into trouble? Think about it this way. It looks like you are in a lot of trouble.”

Mia looked scared.

“Nicky, I’m afraid that they might hurt me.”

The detective asked, “Mia, why are you afraid of Dr. Chase and Tobias Callan?”

Her face flushed pink, and her answer was short. “For getting me started on using pain medication.”

“Well, Mia, Tobias is not my main concern right now. I know that he contacted Isabella Francesca and asked her to reconnect him with some bad guys that he knew. The purpose of his inquiry was to buy the drugs that you needed to stop the pain. He was doing this out of love. It’s wrong, but he just wanted to help you.”

“Yes, Detective Gonzalez. Tobias did that for me.”

“Mia, I don’t think this happened. But, I do think that Tobias learned Dr. Chase was practicing medicine in Mexico City. So he went to the doctor to force his hand. Am I even lukewarm, Ms. Perez?”

She looked straight into Nick’s eyes.

“Sweetheart, if you know the truth… you need to tell him.”

“Yes, Detective, everything you said is true.”

“But there’s more Mia. Am I right?”

“I guess so, Detective Gonzalez.”

Nick seemed concerned with the line of questioning.

“Mia, have you seen Robert?”

“Answer the question Mia”. Detective Gonzalez asked. “Have you been in contact with Dr. Chase recently?”

It was gut wrenching for Nick. He interrupted the Detective’s questioning. “Mia, why have you gotten yourself involved with these people?”

“Mr. Starks, I believed Tobias Callan when he said that Mia knows more than she was willing to tell anyone. I didn’t mention that I was going to get a court order to search Callan’s boat.”

Nick scowled and his words were stern. “Mia talk to me. Please tell me what this secrecy is about? Why did you ask me to drive you to the marina?”

Mia sniveled, “I can’t Nicky. I just can’t.”

“Please listen to me Mia. You have to stop saving Toby’s hide. I’m saying that he is unstable, and he has caused you so much pain. Please, sweetheart, let me help you. And I’m sure that Detective Gonzalez wants to help you too.”

“Ms. Perez, Mr. Starks is right. The more you tell me about what links the two murders, then I’ll have a better chance to catch the killers. You want this. Don’t you Mia?”

“Yes, Detective. I want to know why Ashton had to die. I will do my best to tell you what I know.”

“Thank you Ms. Perez. It’s the right thing to do.”

“Shortly after Toby’s sailboat arrived in Malibu, I had Ernesto Herrera take me to the marina. I needed to go aboard for a personal reason. I knew Toby well, so I knew he would have written entries in a diary while he was at sea.”

Nick questioned, “Why Mia. What was so important to you in Toby’s diaries?”

“I wanted to find the book to learn the name of his island girlfriend. I saw Toby’s motorcycle and I laid my face upon the seat of the bike. I could hear the rumble of the engine and the vibrations surge through my body. I began to caress the bike’s seat and that’s when I felt something tucked beneath the seat. I removed the piece of paper that was in the book. I unfolded the note and read the words written upon it.”

“This is good, Mia”. Rudy Gonzalez said. “Please Mia, tell me what Toby wrote on the paper.”

“Nicky, I can’t. I’m scared.”

“Princess, I promise you that I won’t judge you. If it is something that will help the police, then you must tell us.”

“Okay Nicky. I read through Toby’s diary and learned some things I wasn’t expecting to find. Toby had discovered the truth about Ashton. The truth was in his father’s Will. But the facts hadn’t come to surface until Tobias stumbled across the document in some old papers. Ivan Callan had fathered Ashton through an illicit romantic interlude.”

“Mia, you didn’t answer my question. What was on the piece of paper?”

“Nothing Nicky, he used it as a bookmark.”

This was another well told lie.

“How do you think this is important for the police to know?” Nicholas asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe Toby wanted to reread his entry. Maybe he knows more than he wrote. All he wrote was Kathleen Black was Ashton’s mother’s name. He wrote an entry that said, Ashton went to live with the Callan family when he was nine. And the boys were never told they had the same father, but different mothers.”

“Okay, Mia. I will look into Kathleen Black. Is there anything else that Tobias wrote down?”

“Only that Tobias had put a lot of thought into their uncanny resemblance during the time at sea. After learning of his brother’s death, everything made sense. But, it didn’t make sense to me.”

“What do you mean Sweetheart. What didn’t make sense?”

“Toby wrote. Divine Intervention led him to the remote Seychelles island. His exact words were, “A quirk of fate will lead me back to Mia.”

“Toby also wrote that Ashton knew the truth about the twins paternity. But, Toby never believed that Ashton was their father. Toby had taken me to the boat to make love to me. I swear, Nicky, nothing happened.”

“Okay, Miss Perez, I believe your story. But this is about something more than kinship or paternity. I want to know how much of this story is really about illegal drugs?”

“Yes, detective, you are right. There is more to the story. Isabella was desperate for money. She had stolen a lot of cash from the drug dealer. But, I don’t know him, the dealer, I mean. I swear that I don’t know his identity. Isabella pleaded with Ashton to ask me for help. She needed money… a lot of money. She said that Toby was going to get hurt if I didn’t give her the money.”

“So, Mia. There wasn’t anything that Tobias wrote in his journal. I mean, about drugs, money or killing anyone?”

“Detective Gonzalez, it is true that Ashton came to Mexico to see Isabella. I ask him to give her the money to pay off her debt and buy some pain medication for me. No, Detective, Toby didn’t write anything about drugs, or killing someone.”

“Okay, Mia… I believe you, and all this rings true, but this is really about the videotapes. Isn’t it?”

Nick about blew a gasket. “What the hell is he talking about Mia? What videotapes Mia? For God’s sake… tell me sweetheart. What is this all about. Did you have something to do with killing Ace and Bella?”

She turned a ghostly white. He saw terror on her face. Then the Detective said, “Tell me Mia. What was on these tapes?”

Her throat was dry and scratchy. Her face reddened and her muscles tensed.

Nick’s face twisted into a scowl. The detective’s questions were harsh.

“What tape, Mia? Tell me what does a videotape have to do with Ashton and Isabella, especially about their deaths. Mia, please tell us. Is Tobias involved in these deaths?”

“I don’t know Nicky, and I don’t want to know. In the journal, Tobias also confessed to having a videotape made of me when I was younger. I swear that I didn’t know anything about that this tape existed. Nicky, Toby gave me a package after I called off my marriage to Ashton. He told me never to open it until he was dead. And then, Isabella sent me a blackmail note along with a videotape. I watched them both. Toby’s tape and Bella’s tape. They were the same. I had my suspicions, but I kept it to myself. I’m sorry that I didn’t say anything until now. I was afraid what Isabella said about hurting Toby was true. Can you understand why this scared me? Ashton was dead, Isabella was dead and would I be next?”

“What was on this videotape Mia?” Nicholas asked in concern.

“I told you. It was just some stuff. I don’t know Nicky, I guess that I was drunk or maybe drugged. Toby was doing a lot of stuff at that time in his life and then, I guess he just did some stuff with me. Please don’t ask me anything more, Nicky, it is too personal and embarrassing.”

“Sweetheart, people don’t just die, because of stuff. Did the film expose you in a sexual way?”

The picture was almost complete. Detective Gonzalez had pieced some more of the puzzle together. He suspected the lowlife, Razor Blade, showed up at the house to collect his money from Isabella. But, I think she was already dead. And he couldn’t find any money. He tossed the place. So, the next best thing was the tape. He knew what was on the tape. After all, he and Isabella knew one another. And he could get a lot of money from you Mia. He didn’t find the tape though. Since you had two tapes in your possession. Right Mia?”

“Stop pummeling her Detective. Mia isn’t lily white, but she didn’t kill Ace or Bella.”

“I’m sorry Mr. Starks. But, I will get her to come clean. She’s hiding something else.”

“Mia, I want the truth. Ashton Callan knew about the tapes. Didn’t he? The tape was leverage for getting more money. Ashton didn’t get the CEO job at the plantation. He was jealous about his own brother. Tobias was a man who had everything that he wanted. Am I right?”

“Mia, don’t say anything more before you talk to your lawyer.”

“Okay, Nicky.”

Rudy Gonzalez canvassed the neighbors. He found an old woman who called herself the neighborhood snoop. She had seen a car with rental plates on it and even wrote down the tag number. Detective Gonzalez ran the plate number and it turned out to be Ashton’s rental car.

Gonzalez figured that Razor did his own canvassing too. He pried the information from the old woman. So, Razor, put the word for a hit man out on the streets. Ashton’s car was not far away from the Francesca murder scene. The hit on Ashton Callan was out, and Razor didn’t care about the method of death. It was a viable theory anyway.
A hit and run accident was a good way to get rid of an American tourist without many questions asked. The police would have overlooked the homicide, except the car hit a light pole. The airbag inflated, but the impact wasn’t hard enough to kill. That’s when the kill shot hit Callan in the back of the head execution style.

The officer at the scene of the accident indicated in his report that Mr. Callan’s wallet was intact. But a large sum of money was not found in the car. It was obvious that this was a gang killing. It was a mob hit. The bullet hit the back of Callan’s head. There was more to his death than just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Medical Examiner did the usual autopsy. There wasn’t any need to run a gun residue test on Callan’s hands or clothes. The police found a gun at the crime scene. Tests proved it belonged to Miss Francesca. Rudy did return to the morgue to see Dr. Jorge Ramirez. He ordered a gun residue test done. He wanted the hands of the Callan corpse tested for GSR.

The Detective’s suspicion was correct. The test proved Ashton Callan had handled the gun. And he must have fired it. Rudy Gonzales had the fingerprints run on the weapon. There was a positive ten point match with Ashton Callan. This linked Isabella’s death with Ashton Callan, but what was his motive?

Detective Gonzalez returned to the crime scene and did some role playing. He supposed that Isabella was happy to see Ashton. But when he delayed handing the money over, she backed up to her desk and slid the drawer out. Inside the drawer was a snub nose revolver. She pointed it at Ashton pleading. “Please don’t make me kill you Ashton, but my life will be over if I don’t give Razor Blade his money by the end of the day.”

So the next move had to be, that Ashton Callan walked toward Isabella also pleading. “Please Bella, you can have the money when you give me the tape. That’s all I want. Just give it to me.”

Rudy could mentally visualize her shaking her head no. She probably said, “I don’t have it. I sent it to Mia as my insurance policy.”

And just at that moment, Callan lunged for the gun and tried to pry it from her hands. He wasn’t aware of it in the scuffle. But the barrel of the gun had turned toward Isabella’s abdomen. He squeezed the trigger and the gun fired. Isabella slumped into Ashton’s arms. He could tell that she was dead. He laid her down onto the floor and left.

Rudy sat down on the sofa and began writing his notes. To clear his name from killing Bella, he needed to find the hoodlum known as Razor Blade. He wasn’t sure what he would do when he confronted the man. Whichever way the chips fell, he knew it wasn’t going to be good.

Ashton was in possession of five hundred thousand dollars. He didn’t know how much of the cash belonged to the drug dealer. He planned to buy the drugs that Mia needed to ease her pain.

This was when Detective Gonzalez did some more digging. He waded through the rubble that the police forensic team left behind. In his earlier search, he took anything he could use as evidence. But this time, Rudy found a brown paper wrapped package under a pile of clutter. The address belonged to Dr. Robert Chase at the medical center. The return address was Miss Isabella Francesca.

So Isabella had dubbed the tape. She intended to blackmail him. He was beginning to think that Isabella was in over her head. She was a desperate woman who got involved with some bad people.

The evidence was lining up in perfect order. Ashton showed up, they argued, and he shot her by accident. Rudy took the box home with him and opened the parcel. Inside, he found a videotape and a blackmail note written in her own handwriting.



THE Final story
In the Mia Perez Series

Angst or Wrath

Angst or wrath is an intense emotional response. Often it’s a violation of one’s basic boundaries. Nick was showing the signs of “settled and deliberate” anger. It was a distinct reaction to the perceived deliberate harm inflicted on the woman he loved.

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