"They requested you personally," Chief Park stated, tapping on her desk to turn off the news channel. "I’m not sure how the news knew you had been brought in already. I only just got the call."
She held up a yellow folder.
"I know how much you like your notes so I had these printed out." She smirked at Casey. "Billed to your account, of course."
Casey took the folder and flipped it open, eyes scanning the top document.
"Local scientist, huh? Worked at Rockefeller." Casey grimaced. "That’s going to make things difficult."
Chief Park frowned.
"You going to be able to handle it? I know your history with that place."
She snapped the folder shut.
"I’ll be fine. It’s the director that’s going to be the problem."
Park arched an eyebrow at her.
"You two cross paths before?"
Casey didn’t answer.
"Look, Adler, I know you’ve got your own opinions on these cases. You’ve made no friends in this department, I can tell you. About the only thing protecting you is your experience." She leveled a finger at the Interpol agent. "That’s not going to help you with this case. These people are connected. Powerful."
"I’ve dealt with power types before."
"I know and it hasn’t always gone well, despite what you may think," Park said. "Just heed a little advice, will you? Investigate the case. Don’t go digging for things that aren’t there."
"You know full well I only go after what is there. And if it leads to something else, I go there."
The chief shook her head.
"Just be careful, okay? Some of the people involved in this one. They can end your career."
Casey nodded once.
"Thanks, anything else?"
Park eyed her for a moment, then shook her head.
"I’ll be taking Vee with me when I go," Casey added as she turned toward the door.
"I assumed as much. Good luck."
The door slid shut behind Casey, leaving her staring at a video announcement board opposite the Chief’s office. Several upcoming outings flashed across the screen, as well as a reminder about a team resiliency meeting coming up the following week. For a department that hardly every does anything serious, you have a lot of those she thought to herself.
"Case, did you see the news?" Vee asked, walking toward her down the hallway.
She nodded and turned the other direction.
"Let’s go look at the scene."
"How did they know you were coming?" Vee asked.
"Someone must have tipped them."
Vee and Casey walked to her office in silence. Out of the corner of her eye, Casey could tell her partner had more to say. Her head turned to Casey, mouth opened then snapped shut. Something was on her mind. "I bet I know what’s on your mind, too, Vee," Casey thought to herself.
Once the door slid shut, the two women faced each other in the small office. Vee’s lips pursed as her eyes squinted.
"Out with it Vee," Casey blurted.
"You going to be okay with this?"
"Someone is dead, Vee," Casey said, holding up the yellow folder. "I’ll be fine."
Her partner stepped closer.
"This is your mother we’re talking about," she whispered.
Casey’s jaw tightened.
"I’m fine, Vee."
The woman stared at Casey for several heartbeats. Her eyes darted back and forth, looking at each of Casey’s eyes. Her mouth slipped open then shut.
"Vee, I’m a professional. There’s a woman dead and I’m needed."
"I just worry about you, Case," Vee said, stepping close and putting a hand on her shoulder.
Case tensed, her nostril flaring.
"I know, I know, we’re at work," Vee muttered, stepping near. "I don’t care. I’m your friend. Probably the only one you have."
Casey glanced at her partner’s arm.
"It’s time we checked out the crime scene."
Vee smiled, letting her arm drop.
"Good, it gives me an excuse not to go home tonight."
The blonde shrugged.
"Just tired of hearing comments about my career and my age and how it’s past time I joined the community and did my part."
"So, dinner after?"
"We’re about to go see a dead body and you’re already thinking of dinner?"
Casey chuckled as she grabbed her notepad and pen and walked toward the door.
"Helps me think."
The pair walked down the hallway toward the exit. Casey thumbed through the file as Vee followed along in silence. As they approached the door, a voice called out to them.
"Vee, here’s that file you asked for," Officer Staton said, holding up her tablet.
Casey’s partner paused to hold her own up and receive the transfer. She nodded once she had it and turned to follow Casey. She hadn’t made it two feet when she stopped dead in her tracks.
"What is it?" Casey asked.
Vee looked up at her partner.
"You’re not going to believe where Helen Pratt was interning at."
Casey’s eyes narrowed, but she didn’t say a word. Vee held out the tablet so she could see the name on the screen.
Rockefeller Center for Genetics.