"Kee, you have to wake up," a man's familiar voice echoed with a sob. "Wake up, I've lost your mother, I can't lose you too..."
Keetlyn jolted upright from her sleep, eyes wide, heart pounding. She slowly closed her eyes and let herself fall back onto the pillow. Not that dream again, she thought.
Stretching her arm out, she pulled at the tasseled curtains, revealing the brightening sky. The beams of sunlight radiated her room: the tarnished wooden closets, rectangular Persian rug, and her treasured oil canvas paintings hung upon the pale green walls. By her bed was a hanging bell which she lazily rang.
"Keetlyn," the heavy British accent of her father's voice came from below. "Are you awake yet?"
"Yes, Dad," Kee yawned and jumped out of the feather mattress. Within moments of her reply, her maids, Elizabeth and Marie, were in the room. Elizabeth carried an armful of corsets, jewelry, and dresses. Marie immediately began to arrange the bed.
"Quickly now, Miss Keetlyn," Elizabeth handed the clothes off to Marie and took up a hair brush. "Your father wishes for you to head outside the moment you are suitably dressed."
"Did he give a reason?"
"Not a word," Elizabeth had already brushed Kee's dark red hair through- given that she had done this for nearly a decade- and began to help Kee undress out of her nightgown. "Any color you wish to wear today, ma'am?"
"Well, if we're going outside, we'll be having tea at Miss Goodwill's parlor," Kee thought aloud. "Dad would have...purple." After a pause, Elizabeth shook her head.
"You've lived here for seven odd years now and still you haven't let up your American accent," Elizabeth clucked. "Marie, did you catch what she blabbered about?"
"Non, madame," Marie replied, then picked out a pale purple corset. "Peut-etre, elle a dit violet?" Kee smiled.
"Goodness, I'm surrounded by foreigners!" Elizabeth exclaimed and took the matching garments. Within half an hour, Kee was walking down the staircase clothed in the very elegant, up-to date, and fashionable s-curved dress. She wore a just-as-fashionable feathered hat and held a bejeweled purse.
"I'm always astonished at how much you look like your mother, Kee," Chief Inspector Alexander Lestrade greeted his daughter with a quick hug. "Nothing like your ferret of a father."
"Ferrets are adorable, Dad!" Kee laughed at the comparison that everyone made towards her father, and tiptoed to kiss his cheek. Yes, her reddish hair, green eyes and fair complexion was due to her mother's genes.
"Well, let's hurry on to Miss Goodwill's; no doubt she's waiting for us," Lestrade ushered Kee out of the house, and down the courtyard pathway.
Waiting there was another Scotland Yard inspector, Tobias Greyson. He had a muscular physique with broad shoulders; and under his Scotland Yard officer hat, you could barely see his flaxen colored hair. The two partners were rivals despite him being more than a decade younger than Kee's father.
"Good 'morrow, Kee..tlyn," Greyson gave Kee a small and formal bow before helping her up unto the hansom behind him.
"Don't you dare, Greyson," Lestrade hissed under his breath, icy blue eyes glaring at his partner as he himself climbed into the carriage. Greyson pulled at his uniform collar, hesitating, and followed in after his fellow Yardie.
The ride to the Goodwill estate was swift and silent. Lestrade exited first to take Miss Goodwill's welcome, though he gave a sharp glance at Greyson before continuing on ahead. As Greyson helped Kee down, she felt a slip of paper run down the sleeve of her dress. Greyson tapped the tip of his bowler hat, winked, and then offered his arm.
Kee gave him a slight nod and took his hand, barely containing her excitement at the thought of working on another case.
New York City, 2016
Police Chief Ben Fredrick entered the waiting room outside the ER. The nurse at the counter gave him a sympathetic smile, a routine morning greeting. He looked down at his watch, and saw the hour hand reach six. He slowly walked down the empty hallway and into the elevator. He clicked the number 17 on the dial pad; the oh-so-familiar whir of the ascent calmed his nerves.
There weren't many rooms this high in the hospital, but he knew where he was going. He slid the police pass into the entrance lock and stepped into the room. He walked over to the side of the bed and sat down on the seat next to it.
"Kee, you have to wake up," the police chief's voice had immediately begun to waver. "Wake up, I've lost your mother, I can't lose you too..." He took his daughter's cold hand and put them into his.
Seven odd months ago, his wife and daughter had been driving their way to Kee's graduation rehearsal when a drunk driver had crashed into them, killing his wife and the drunkard that had hit them. Though she was the sole survivor, Kee had fallen into a coma with no sign of making progress.
The dim light from the sun peeped into the stark white and soft blue room.
"God, Kee, you look so much like your mother," Ben whispered, a hand gently passing through his daughter's hair. "I should have been there with you and your mother..." His voice trailed off and he sat in silence. The one time he decided to not drive his daughter and wife to the rehearsal, this happens. The sliding of the door brought Ben to stray from his guilty conscious.
"Chief?" A young NYPD officer had entered the room. "It's seven thirty." Ben looked at his watch and true enough, nearly two hours had gone by. The rookie walked over to Ben, a hand on his shoulder.
"I know what you're going to say, Lockhardt." Ben said quietly. "That she can hold up on her own."
"And you have to believe that, sir," The dark haired officer replied. "Let's head to the station." Ben nodded, and slowly got up. After giving a quick kiss to his daughter's forehead, he walked out, Lockhardt following.
"Sir, I think I dropped something," Lockhardt pretended to search his pockets. "Think I left it back in the room." Too overcome with his grief, Ben didn't notice the blatant lie.
"Go ahead, I'll get the car started." He replied walking towards the elevator.
Lockhardt sprinted back to the room, and with his police pass, he entered. As he neared Kee's side, his heart began to quicken. He looked down at the motionless teen, and sighed.
He remembered that day, the day she had gotten into the car crash. Just moments before that happened, he had received a text from her; she had casually asked if he would go to the prom with her. He hadn't seen the message until after the crash had occurred, and the news was circling around the police station.
"Yes," he whispered, a faint smile on his face.
Once she was seated at Miss Goodwill's parlor with a cup of tea nearly done, Kee kindly asked the patroness for the Goodwill's famous eggs Benedict. As expected, Kee watched the lady exit as she knew that the woman always watched over her chef's cooking when it came to the traditional recipe. With no one in sight, Kee took out the scrap of paper Tobias had handwritten to her:
Case #8- string of robberies
The Adrian Bohr Calvin Diamond was stolen Monday, 14th of August, 1906
Witness: Quincy Rhodes, Student of Tallahassee University- exchange graduate from Florida, USA
Within seconds, Kee noticed the alphabetical pattern of the stolen goods and the names of the witnesses. And one thing Kee knew for sure was that there is no such thing as a coincidence. A smile on her face, she continued to read on.
Kennel of the only eight Franz Gilbert Hounds abducted Wednesday, 16th of August, 1906
Witness: Victor Wilhelm Xavier, of Yorkshire Zoology.
However, so engrossed in what she was reading, she didn't hear the light clicks of Miss Goodwill's heels.
"What have we got there, Keetlyn?" the thirty five year old bachelorette put down the tray of steaming food and leaned over, her blond strands of hair just barely tickling Kee's nose. Quickly, Kee flipped the paper over.
"You made that real quick," Kee said, referring to the meal Miss Goodwill had brought.
"Well, I figured that since you always ask for it, I had it ready for you," Miss Goodwill sat down on the settee across from Kee. "Now, what's this business of you hiding that piece of paper?" She eyed Kee, waiting.
"Oh, it's nothing, really," Kee cursed herself for slipping up. And now she needed an excuse, given that that Miss Goodwill would already assume that it was a love letter.
"What charming gentleman has the ability of catching my Keetlyn's eye?"
Kee smiled weakly at the woman across from her. She had noticed nearly a year ago that Miss Goodwill had forcibly been put onto her, almost as if she tried to be a motherly figure. Kee saw the way Miss Goodwill looked at her father, and vice versa. As much as she wanted her father and Miss Goodwill to be happy, she could not be happy with a mother that wasn't the one who had died seven years ago.
"No one, but I know who has yours," Kee replied and grinned, attempting to switch the pressure away from her.
"Oh, posh," Miss Goodwill waved her hand, slightly blushing. "Eat up."
"I've warned you several times already, Greyson," Lestrade told his partner as they rode back to the house. "You don't go near my daughter."
"I think we should focus on the matter at hand." Greyson replied. "It's quite a puzzling case."
"Hah, yes, to an inexperienced inspector it would seem so," Lestrade smirked. "I have already developed who might be the suspects."
"There is no correlation to the robberies, to start," Lestrade said, enjoying himself. "Merely a coincidence that they happened to be a exactly two days after the other-"
"And the witnesses?"
"What of them?" Lestrade scowled, disliking the interruption.
"They are both students."
"Yes, with one from the United States. Now why would an American student have anything to do with the robbery?"
Greyson shrugged. He thought there'd be a connection. He'd have to check back with Kee, she always had a great perception for connecting coincidences. That meant he'd have to stall the case until he got word from her.
"Let's have a go at your theory," Greyson leaned back to avoid the lurching movements of the carriage.
"Yes, now to the suspects..." Lestrade emphasized his hypothesis. "The first suspect is the jeweler of the lost diamond. He clearly wants the insurance he'll receive from the stolen item."
It seemed reasonable, but if Greyson learned anything from a certain private eye, it was that the simplest crime was the most sophisticated.
"Is there any evidence to put him to the theft?"
"Why, of course! The rich devil sputtered like a nervous chipmunk," Lestrade replied. "Proves he's hiding something from us."
"He said that it was his first robbery," Greyson looked back at his interview with the portly jeweler on his little note pad. "Quite worried about his business reputation because of it. I would not place it exactly as evidence..."
"Details, details. His innocence shall be proven at my estate," Lestrade rubbed his hands together. "We will see how he acts around the jewels I have laid about in the parlor." Greyson raised a brow at his partner. He supposed this was why Kee had to leave the house in such a hurry.
"And the other suspect?" Greyson continued. "Are we to invite him into your property as well?"
"Not a 'he', but a she; Miss Trenton to be exact," Lestrade huffed at Greyson's joke. "Her motive is the same as the jeweler's. Having a litter of the purest bred dog stolen would fetch a sum equal to our misplaced diamond."
"And how will we prove her guilt?"
"That's your job, Greyson." Lestrade began to exit the carriage that had stopped in front of his home. "I've cornered the jeweler and you'll get her. I heard she's quite...how do the Americans put it...quite the cougar."
The hansom lurched into motion once more before Greyson could respond. Sighing, he leaned back into the seat. He was not going to face this Miss Trenton on his own. He needed Kee.
After finishing her meal, Kee excused herself and went out to the gardens near the entrance of the Goodwill estate. She sat on a cold, stone bench and leaned forward, closing her eyes.
Two robberies. Two student witnesses. Only one possible connection...
"Kee?" The soft whisper shook her out of her thoughts. Kee opened her eyes to see Greyson sitting next to her on the bench.
"What the hell, Tobias..." She said, startled. "How long have you been there?"
"No more than five minutes," he replied, just as startled at her outburst. It had been more than that, but he continued instead with, "You seemed so calm, I did not want to disturb you."
Turning to face him, she pointed at the little note he had given her.
"There has to be a connection. I know it," Kee said to him. "We just have to find it."
"Your father suspects-"
"Oh, I know who he's gonna arrest. He thinks for the most simple way of solving anything," Kee interrupted with a smile. "Like any other Scotland Yard detective."
"What do you suppose we do, then?" Greyson asked. "We both know the suspects are innocent."
"What's today's date?"
"Why, it's the 17th," Greyson tilted his head in confusion. "Have you an idea?"
"Not exactly, but if I'm right, we'll have a robbery tomorrow," Kee smoothed down the piece of paper on her lap. "The problem is-"
"Excuse my interruption, Kee, but how do you know there'll be another?" Greyson wondered.
"Don't you see the two day pattern?" Kee said, her voice genuinely surprised. "Whoever is doing this, has a very serious OCD."
The look on the detective-inspector's face made Kee sigh.
"OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder," Kee explained. She didn't remember where she had learned this-she just knew it." And it means that our criminal here is very organized and intelligent. Nothing can be misplaced, nothing too early and nothing too late."
"And the alphabetical lettering gives you this notion?" Kee nodded at Greyson's words. He was getting sharper at his observations. "This will make an obstacle for us, if our man is very tidy with his actions."
"Yeah, but we'll mess it up." Kee smiled. "But I think you wanted me for something other than a polite visit."
"Well, yes," Greyson's cheeks colored a bit. "It's one of the suspects. I have to question her..."
"You've never backed down from meeting a lady before," Kee tilted her head. The coloration of Tobias' face deepened. "What's so wrong now?"
"You shall see when we meet her."
New York City, 2016
Lockhardt stared at the seven month old text message from Kee. She had had the guts to ask him out to her prom...would her last moments before the car crash been easier on her if he had replied?
At first, he had only befriended Kee to get her father's notice, rookie that he was. But he had grown to feel something for her, something Kee seemed to have for him from the day he became an officer three years ago.
"Lockhardt!" Chief Ben Fredrick called, breaking him from his thoughts. "I want you to show these four cadets the gun room. Get them to improve their aim." He then grumbled something about the published statistics of damage NYPD officers dealt during shoot-outs.
"Yes, sir," Lockhardt stuffed his phone into his pocket before greeting the new recruits with a grin. "Lieutenant Sheridan Lockhardt, at your service."
"My dear, come in!" The unmarried woman in her mid fifties seemed to have have her eyes only on Greyson, ignoring Kee. "How may I help you, good sir?"
"Inspector Greyson, ma'am," he said as calmly as he could. "I wish for just a bit of your time."
"No, no, please, I have all day," she smiled but it quickly diminished. "It's about that infernal theft isn't it?"
"Yes, it is, Miss Trenton," the retriever pup in Miss Trenton's arms howled above Greyson. She hushed the little dog. "Around what hour did the robbery occur?"
Kee didn't pay attention to the suspect's answers, more on how she answered them. She wasn't averting her gaze, and she wasn't trying to face the exit. This woman was innocent.
As Kee passed an empty fenced section of the kennel, probably where the stolen breed resided, she continued to look at the pets. One of the hounds there nudged her hand. She saw the name on the cage he was kept in: Toby. By the look of his long ears and droopy face, she was sure he was a bloodhound.
"Please don't touch him," Miss Trenton said sternly. "He's a special fellow, and he is not for adoption."
Kee had noticed his cage was more larger and spacious compared to other dogs of his size. More importantly, bloodhounds were known to be excellent trackers. Kee nodded her head toward Toby's cage as she looked at Greyson.
"What makes him 'special', Miss Trenton?" Greyson switched his questioning as he took notice of Kee's hint.
"He's got a sensitive nose that one," she answered, though Kee knew she withheld something.
"Do you mind letting me see him?" Greyson cautiously asked.
"Of course not, move girl," Kee frowned at the rude woman but did as she was told. Greyson gave her an apologetic look as he moved past her. The moment the cage door opened, Toby ran off to place his chin on Kee's feet, tongue lolling near the floor.
"My, the hound's got a liking toward you," Miss Trenton said, obviously displeased.
"Do you mind if we...I take him for the investigation?" Greyson said. "I assure you he'll be in good hands."
"Yes, please, do whatever it takes to get my pups back!" Kee almost felt pity for the woman despite her rudeness when she heard the earnest care and worry in the woman's voice.
When they had left the kennel (with much dismay to Miss Trenton), Kee took out a dog toy she had borrowed from the empty fenced area and let Toby sniff it. He tilted his head. The scent was familiar but old outside the kennel, but his 230 million olifactory receptors were better than that. He gave a bark and bounded away. The two immidiately took after the bloodhound.
"Where will he take us?" Greyson said between breaths.
"To our OCD friend I hope!" Kee replied, wary of the stares she was receiving.
"Wait," Greyson paused, taking Kee's arm. "If we're going to meet the one behind this, it's best you not come."
"Tobias!" Kee harshly whispered. The bloodhound was no longer in sight. "We don't have time for this!"
"The criminal may be dangerous. You're not to go anywhere near him," Greyson continued. "Go back to-" Loud barking erupted from ahead. Freeing herself from Greyson's grip, Kee hitched up her dress and followed the barking.
With Greyson right behind her, the two saw Toby barking at an automobile. A finely dressed man with spectacles waved his walking stick angrily at the hound.
"Sir!" Greyson ran up to him and grabbed his wrist. "What have you in there?"
"It's...it's not mine.." He knew his hesitation had given him away. No, it was that blasted dog that had stopped barking and jumped onto the car. However, it also meant that someone had noticed his patterns; his carefully placed and lettered clues. But it wasn't time for him to get caught, no, not yet.