Jake picked up the ringing phone. “Campbell."
“Was it torched?" the caller said.
“Does it point to you?"
“Uh, huh. He's making this too easy."
“Great. How much time do I have to wrap this up?" He wanted to be done before any investigation began. Cops could ask too many questions and he'd be caught. Not a good scenario.
He heard her shift in her chair, silk murmuring against silk. “Maybe a month. I think we can do it in that time."
“Yeah, probably. We only need to prove what else he is doing besides his involvement in Blue Light. I can do that, I'm sure."
“Just be careful."
Jake always thought bad things happened in threes. If so, he wondered what would round out the trio.
The arson counted as number one. Tim Hagerty on his doorstep might be number two. They'd parted as friends when he left, but a lot of years passed since then. Jake had spoken to him for the first time three weeks prior to his return to Biggin Hill. In fact, he wouldn't be back except for Tim's offer.
“Tim, come in."
“Just wanted to see how you're settling in."
Jake led Tim back to his kitchen. He didn't know what to expect of this visit. Or what to think about it. “Beer?"
He opened two imports and handed one to his old friend. Silence ensued as Jake took a swig.
“So, you glad to be back?"
Jake frowned. “Not sure yet"
Tim sat on a metal chair and placed his beer on the table. “I know it's only been a few weeks."
“Not much has changed."
“Not much does in a small town. A few more houses built. That's about it."
Jake sipped his beer. “It feels right to be back here."
“Does that have anything to do with Chelsea?"
The sound of her name kicked his heart's beat off rhythm. “I haven't really talked to her."
Tim's eyebrows shot up. “No? I would have thought she'd be your first stop."
Jake rubbed the back of his neck. “I'm not sure I'm on her A-list."
“True, considering how you left."
A stab to the heart. Was Tim after Chelsea? His hand found his chest. “Ouch."
Tim shrugged then lifted his beer. “Truth hurts."
His friend had never been the most tactful person. “So what's your interest in her?"
A grin broke out on his face, or a leer. “What any red-blooded American male would want."
“Really?" His heart hurt. “Does she return the interest?"
Tim retained some unrequited love for Chelsea when they'd been younger. So the torch still burned.
“I think she plays it close to the vest."
Jake couldn't deny that when it came to men, Chelsea didn't broadcast her feelings. At least she hadn't to him. Maybe she hadn't felt anything for him.
Tim drained his beer. “So very, but she's a woman. She can't help it. But, where would we be without them?"
“Mm." What would Chelsea think if she knew this guy wanted to mark her like territory?
“Oh. While I'm here, how's the investigation going?"
“The arson this morning?"
“Can't say. We're looking into it."
Tim stood. “Heard it was just like the last fires. Oh. Sorry, buddy. I forgot you had been a suspect in those."
A shrug shook Jake's shoulders. “No, biggie."
“So, you can't tell me anything?"
“Uh, no. It's the Prosecutor's game, now."
“True. Well I better get going."
Tim walked to the front door and paused by it.
“Thanks for stopping by," Jake said.
“Sure thing. Wish I could stay, but Chelsea's waiting."
Jake didn't grimace, but he could have from the pain in his chest. “Sure."
He stared out the front door for awhile after Tim left. Was he lying about Chelsea, too?
Chelsea stood next to Brad and stared at the damaged front door to the squad building.
“You can't find anything missing?" A young police officer scribbled notes on a pad of paper.
To her surprise, she didn't recognize him and she knew most of the force.
“Is there anything you'd like to add?" he asked.
Chelsea looked at Brad who shook his head.
“No, can we go through it again and call you if we discover anything?" she asked.
“Sure." He tucked his pad in a pocket, nodded at them and climbed into his patrol car.
Chelsea wiped sweat off of her face. “Let's get inside and look around. Did he dust for prints?"
“Yeah. We can go in."
He held the door for her. She paused on the threshold feeling violated. Someone had been here without her permission.
“Did he have any ideas?"
Brad turned on the lights. The power company restored power a few hours before this. “Nope. He wondered if you'd turned anyone away recently that might want to get us back."
She snorted. “We're not being overrun with volunteers at the moment." She took a deep breath and wiped sweaty hands on her denim shorts. “I'll take this side. You take that one?"
“How will I know if something is wrong? I don't spend a lot of time in here."
The tones indicating a call went over the speakers.
“Guess I'll get to this later." Chelsea frowned wanting to be sure the place hadn't been touched.
“Biggin Hill PD to Biggin Hill First Aid Squad, a report of difficulty breathing at Twenty-one Main Street."
Chelsea looked at her partner. “That's Sarah's place."
Her adrenaline surged. Always did when she knew the person.
Pulling blue coveralls off a rack in the bay, she put them on. She slid behind the wheel of the duty rig and started it. Brad opened the bay door and then called them in service on his portable radio.
“Biggin Hill dispatch, are the medics in service yet?" she asked.
“Negative. They are out on a call. There's a firefighter on scene."
Punching the buttons for lights, Chelsea put the truck in gear and pulled out of the bay. Brad jumped in after closing the door.
“Think you remember how to go on a squad call?"