Thursday morning, Madison sat by Drake as he picked at his breakfast. Even though he had slept, he was still pale. The bruise on his face was a livid bluish purple against his pale skin. He refused to look at her or at Elijah. Both he and Elijah had retreated back into silence. She held back a sigh. Tomorrow would be a week since Andie was first killed. She could’t believe that only a week had passed. She felt like a different person. She knew she would have to answer for taking Elijah to exchange with the killer and for the killer escaping. She knew Hal would also want to take responsibility for what happened, but she wasn’t going to let him. She had her account of the events ready to go. She just had to convince Hal to go along with it.
The door opened, and Madison turned to see who it was. Hal was standing at the door. Drake sat up a little straighter.
“Hal,” Madison said. “This isn’t a good time. Drake isn’t..”
Drake spoke in a quiet voice.
“I invited him over.”
She turned back to Drake.
“When you went down to the cafeteria to get Elijah some breakfast. Madison, there’s something I need to tell you. I tried to tell you last night. If I don’t do this right now, I’ll lose my nerve.”
“Okay, Drake, but I don’t understand what Hal is doing here.”
“I need someone who is impartial to hear what I have to say.”
Hal had taken out his little notebook and a pen. Clicking the pen, he began to read Drake his Miranda rights.
“Hal, what are you doing? Drake is not a criminal.”
She noticed Elijah’s eyes darting from Hal to Drake. He looked scared. Drake noticed him, too.
“Elijah,” he said. “Would you do me a favor and go see how the deputy in the hall is doing? He’s probably lonely.”
Elijah frowned and began to shake his head. Drake caught his eye, and suddenly Elijah relented as if Drake and he had shared a silent message that only they could understand. Elijah walked to the door and went into the hallway. After making sure that the deputy would keep an eye on Elijah, Madison shut the door. Hal finished reading Drake his rights.
Keeping his eyes on Hal, Drake began to speak.
“You found that old couple, didn’t you?”
“I understand you wish to give a statement. You understand your rights?”
Drake nodded impatiently.
“I waive my rights.”
Madison began to get a horrible feeling.
“Drake, you’re a victim. You can’t be held responsible for…”
Drake cut her off.
“I am responsible, Madison. You need to hear me out.”
Drake began to talk about what had happened yesterday when he went to his meeting. As Madison and Hal had surmised, the meeting was a fake. The suspect had hit Drake in the back of the head and driven off with him in the back of his Pacifica. Drake never even saw him coming. When he’d come to, the man had been pulling up to the old couple’s cabin. Holding a knife on him, the man had forced Drake into the cabin. Madison didn’t want to hear what came next.
“You have to understand what happened. That monster gave me a knife. I knew I had to make a choice. If I wanted to live, I had to kill that couple, so I did it. I knew that what I was doing was wrong. I could have turned the knife on myself. If I had done that, then he wouldn’t have been able to bargain for Elijah. I could have turned on him. If he killed me, then, again, he wouldn’t have me as his bargaining chip. I could have tried to kill him, and get away. I have to be honest. It didn’t even occur to me to do any of those things. In my mind, it was the couple or me. I chose me. I wanted to live. I slit that woman’s throat while her husband watched, and then I killed him.”
Hal took a deep breath, and closed his notebook. He looked at Madison.
“You know what I have to do, Madison.”
She started to beg for Drake’s life. She would do anything to keep him safe, and she thought maybe she could convince Hal to keep this between them. Looking into Hal’s steel gray eyes, she realized that he had already crossed the line for her. Drake took her hand and squeezed it.
“I’m sorry, Madison. I wasn’t strong enough when I needed to be. You need to let me do this. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I let you cover this up.”
She kissed Drake’s hand. He wiped a tear that had escaped from her eye and was trickling down her cheek.
“You never cry. Don’t cry for me now.”
She nodded and swiped her eyes with her hands.
“What happens now, Hal?”
“I’ll come get him once he’s released from the hospital. I’ll book him. With a crime like this, I won’t be able to just send him home. Do you understand that, Drake? You’re going to have to sit in jail. Before you can post bail, there will have to be a hearing. You’re going to need a lawyer.”
“I want this all done by the book. I don’t want any cover-ups or plea deals.”
Hal raised his hand.
“We’re not going to cover this up, but you need to consider your options. Consider Madison.”
Drake nodded miserably. “I am considering her. That’s why I needed to get this out in the open.”
“Drake, you don’t need to worry about me. I can take care of myself.”
“You’re already in trouble over this. You don’t think I noticed that you brought Elijah to exchange for me?”
“I wasn’t going to exchange him. It was a trap, Drake.”
“I know that, Madison, but you and I both know that, if I weren’t involved, you never would have even contemplated doing something like that.”
Madison had to agree with Drake. She always ran things by the book. She followed the letter of the law to ensure that the cases she built would be air-tight when they went to court. She realized that she hadn’t been thinking clearly since this whole nightmare began. She shouldn’t have even volunteered to foster Elijah. That was a huge conflict of interest. She had been surprised when CPS had allowed him to stay with her.
Hal stood up.
“I’m going to head into the department and start the paperwork.”
“All right, Hal. Thanks for everything,” Madison said.
Drake laid his head back against his pillow.
“I need to be alone for a while, Madison. Maybe, you should take Elijah home and get some rest.”
Madison wanted to protest, but she could tell that Drake didn’t want her around right now. And he was right. Elijah was probably exhausted. She kissed him softly on the lips.
“I’ll be back in a little while.”
With his eyes closed, Drake nodded. When she left Drake’s room, she noticed that Kurt had just taken over for the morning shift. She didn’t stop to talk to him, but merely nodded and motioned for Elijah to follow her. She assumed that Hal had filled Kurt in on Drake’s new status. Kurt was no longer guarding a victim, but a self-confessed murderer. Kurt nodded back at Madison with courtesy, but his eyes were cold.
When she and Elijah emerged into the harsh morning light, she wondered if she should take the department’s SUV, but realized she was still the Sheriff. She would turn it in when she resigned, but she needed to get home. Elijah climbed into the passenger side while she went around to the driver’s side. Letting the engine idle, she turned to Elijah.
“Do you think he’s gone?”
Elijah nodded solemnly.
Elijah nodded again.
“He won’t come back for you?”
Elijah shook his head.
“Because you refused to go with him.”
Elijah nodded, again.
“Okay. Let’s go home.”
She drove slowly up their long tree-lined driveway. She hadn’t seen a battered Jeep anywhere along their route. She was reluctant to call for a unit to watch her house, but when she pulled up to her house, a deputy was already parked in front. As she pulled up to her garage door, Randy and Larry got out of their SUV and came over to her window.
“Good morning, Sheriff. We’re still looking for the suspect. Hal sent us over to keep an eye on things so you could get some rest.”
“When was the last time you and Larry got some rest, Randy?”
“Oh, we both got a few hours of sleep last night after we finished with the last crime scene. We’re fine.”
She started to pull forward but stopped.
“Call me Madison.”
He looked a little confused, but nodded. She pulled her SUV into the garage and shut the door. After securing her vehicle, she and Elijah went into the empty house.