She froze hearing his voice and the menacing tone that filled the air. Turning slowly, she faced Stephen bravely pushing away the childhood chill that always surfaced when he came around. "Minding my own business."
"In Kasey's place? How did you get in here?" he asked suspiciously.
The boxes in his hands indicated he was there to clean the place up. "Kasey gave me a key the last time I saw her. She said with Pete dead she didn't like being the only one with the key. How did you get yours?"
Out the box he pulled a female's purse and her heart raced a little. Kasey's purse?
"How did you get her purse?" she had to ask.
"That's none of your business," he sneered and moved past her to the picture she had just placed back on the mantel. "Why are you here?" he demanded to know.
"I was looking around. She was my friend. I wanted to know what happened. I have a right to know."
"You have a right to leave out before I forget I was reformed and finish what was started a long time ago, woman," he growled.
"I don't scare as easily."
He stepped so close, she could smell the cologne he wore sending her senses into a flurry. "You sure about that?"
"All I want is the truth, Stefan-"
His arm shot out so fast, she didn't register his moves until his mouth was covering hers drawing her response just as quickly and when he moved away cursing, she was left catching her breathe. "Leave before..." his voice was strained as he had his back to her.
She gathered her equilibrium. "I wanted to help you-"
Jode grabbed her purse and went out the door only pausing at the doorway to look at his stiff back as he clutched the mantel for support as if it was holding him from doing what he really wanted to do. She was almost tempted to stay to see what he would do to her, but Jode knew she'd be crazy to test him like that.
What was it about her that seemed to make him lose control? She wondered as she drove to one of Kasey's familiar spots. And how, after so long away from each other, she still had that affect on him?
Before going inside, she unfolded the piece of papers after tucking the small silver key some place safe in her car. On the first piece of paper was hard to read handwriting - chicken scratch of several phone numbers and then the initials AT and beside it was 411. This was confusing in itself, but the second sheet of paper was exactly what she was looking for all day. Kasey's list.
1. Pack items needed for trip
2. Inform Hessa about decision
3. Go to clinic
4. Leave letter for Jaye and deliver to Pam
5. Deliver rest of Pete's stuff back.
6. Go to AT to make sure stuff is there.
7. Tell Jode where property is. She'll know what to do!!!
8. Be free!!!
It was Kasey's writing and Jode was positive this was the last thing to do list Kasey had made for herself. Why would Kasey need to hide it from everyone and why was a piece of paper with this list? The only thing it had in common was the letters AT. What they had in common was a mystery to Jode.
She went into the hangout and upon asking Kasey's party friends about Pete, they were able to let her know what happened to Pete.
He was a drug runner for Alphonso Knight, a big time drug dealer of heroin on the Westside of Detroit. Alphonso had been trying to ease into the eastside, but Dwight Montgomery, another high rolling dealer who owned the big money spots on the eastside didn’t like sharing the limelight.
For years, Montgomery and Knight have taken pot shots at each other and it seemed a losing battle for Knight until he received some political backing. Since then, Knight began to slowly wipe out Montgomery's territory one block at a time.
According to the story, Pete had a large responsibility to get three quarters of a million dollars over to Knight by midnight from doing pickups all weekend long. Somehow, Montgomery's men found out about the pickup and stuck Pete up for the money. Pete gave them something better - the next hit on Montgomery, but when he gave the money over to Knight a quarter of the money was missing. Pete said Montgomery's men took it. Those men were dead in less than twenty-four hours, but Montgomery was able to avoid the sting.
Andrea Parker who was pregnant by one of Montgomery's men went to Knight to let him know Pete told about the hit and Pete also took the money for himself.
For three days Pete was tortured slowly to confess. Alphonso wanted his money, but Pete kept to his story that Montgomery's men took it and beat him down about the tip.
They made a tape of Pete's death and sent it to Kasey, but no one else saw the tape except Kasey because the tape mysterious disappeared according to Kasey.
Jode remembered Kasey's first phone call and it had to have been around the time Kasey saw the tape.
Alphonso killed her for the money? That wouldn't be a reason to kill someone in Alphonso's nature when he could make more money by having them work to pay it off with interest.
It wasn't hard to forget Alphonso Knight from the past. He used to hang out with Stephen in high school before Stephen was sent away.
Stephen use to deal drugs in a gang called the Knight Brother's headed by Alphonso. They worked most with dime bags hitting the downtown and suburb clubs. Once Stephen got out of military school, he still served five years in prison for being the driver in a vehicle of a drive by. The judge dealt harshly with him because who Stephen’s father was and also Stephen wouldn't admit who the shooter in the car was, but everyone suspected it had to be Alphonso.
Alphonso always thought it amusing at how Stephen went out of his way to pester Jode.
# # #
While pondering the past, Kevin Allen, a very good friend of Jode from college came by her home to see if she was okay. He was also the CEO of her Internet Company and while she was away he pulled rank in running the business.
After going over the company's business he questioned her about what was troubling her.
Kevin, with his connected low cut beard and moustache, had been a trusted friend since college. They'd dated very briefly, but enjoyed their friendship so much and decided to put that part of their relation on the back burner.
He had a nice natural friendly face, with a soft brawny body of 5'8. He was more of a mental man cut for the office with a manicure every week to match his beautiful hands. He worked out a bit, but he wasn't cut like Stephen.
Why she was making comparisons against that jerk to Kevin? Kevin was sweet, thoughtful, smart, and he cared a lot for her. He wouldn't hurt her. He was safe to be around. Kevin was everything that Stephen was not.
Jode told him the gist of everything, delighted to pour out her troubles to him.
He knew this was very important to her. "Find that tape and you have something on Knight, won't you?" he asked
"Find the tape with Pete's confession and I could blackmail Montgomery to help me out too. Both men would want it."
"Who do you want to give it too?"
She shrugged. "I'm finding out much too much stuff at once, with nothing to do with it."
"What about the money you gave Kasey? You think she actually bought drugs?"
"No. Kase was serious in her need to go away, but there are no receipts around the house. No proof of any kind. It's as if someone didn't want me or anyone else to know about what happened to her or what she was doing."
"You said something about her leaving a list?"
She took out the paper and showed it to him, explaining, "Kase always made things to do. Ever since I've know her. She may have changed over the years, but whenever she had tasks or appointments, she would write down what she had to do in order to complete the job."
He studied the papers. "No idea what those initials could be?"
"Who is Hess?"
"From her friends, Pete's mother and someone told me that she would probably know about Pam and Jay. Hess knew a lot about what her son did, but she was crippled and could never stop him from his life of crime."
"So you think Stephen could be apart of Kasey's death?"
"He had the purse and he wouldn't tell me where he got it from. I think I have a right to know these things."
"But it was in bad taste to accuse him of being apart of her death."
"If you knew Stephen like I knew Stephen, then it wouldn't be in bad taste. All fingers point to him, Kev."
Her frustration concerned him and he decided to change the subject for a moment. "What did you cook, Jode?"
She warmed them up the broccoli and chicken she had made yesterday. They laid out on the comfortable white rug in front of the fire in the front room. Most times they spent all night together talking about nothing. Their relationship was platonic and they didn't want more from each other.
"So what about this brother? I sense a lot of hostility coming from you when you speak of him."
"What about him? He's a big horrible bully and I believe he had something to do with Kasey's murder, but I don't have definite proof.”
"Her own brother, Jode? I know you harbor some animosity for this guy that you don't want to discuss, but to go so far to say he did this-"
"My judgment of people does not affect my justice," she said heatedly.
Kevin snorted. "You forget you can't give me a load of bullshit." He poured two glasses of wine. "Keep it simple and start from the beginning so I can understand."
She'd never talked about the past events with Stephen. Not even to Kasey - although Kasey sensed something was not right and that Jode was terrified of him. Recounting the past now seemed almost embarrassing because she had let it go so far, but Kevin listened with an open mind and heart as he always had in the past.