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 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: October 21, 2020      Views: 16
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Chapter 24 of the book Pewter's Homecoming
Emily, Janice, and Phillip leave.
"Chapter 8 - Present" by teols2016
Five years later, a closed homicide gets a second look.

Previously in "Pewter's Homecoming":

Marcy Sellers starts her junior year as a new student at Pewter Public High School in western Texas. She meets Lily Harvey, who shows her around. A few weeks later, both girls are attacked. The police quickly arrest a suspect, but, five years later, Roland Davis, a lawyer from Dallas, is given a chance to review the case.

Roland woke to the sound of the shower running in his hotel room's small bathroom. Rubbing a palm against his throbbing temples, he evaluated his surroundings.

He hadn't consumed enough Scotch to be considered drunk the previous evening and he was grateful not to deal with a full-blown hangover, even though his head still ached.

He'd gone to bed with Emily, now knowing her as Emily Winters, who had appeared likewise lucid. Surveying his room, he saw she'd gathered her clothes and taken them into the bathroom with her. Pulling on his boxers and pants, Roland considered if she was regretting their tryst. He wasn't. The brunette was beautiful, smart, and passionate. He'd had worse one-night-stands.

They'd talked after having sex. Roland explained his reasons for coming to Pewter, some of which Emily had already surmised based on rumors spreading through the town. The specification of him having been drafted into representing Andrew Mooruff was a new tidbit.

In turn, Emily told him about attending Ohio State University and studying business administration. She described how she'd grown up in Pewter and lived with her mother, who was battling pancreatic cancer.

"I don't think I'll stay here forever," Emily confessed, "but right now, she needs me."

The bathroom door opened, and Emily emerged, dressed in her slacks and blouse from last night. She paused when she saw Roland was awake.

"Morning," she said.

"Morning," Roland returned, wondering if she'd been planning to slip out while he slept. Glancing at the clock on the nightstand, he saw it was 6:17.

He looked back at Emily and noticed she was surveying his still-naked upper torso. He smiled at her.

"Now who's looking?" he teased.

Emily released a slight chuckle as she retrieved her shoes. She leaned against the dresser as she pulled them on.

"Sorry to run out like this," she said, straightening up again. "But I've got to get home. I have to drive my mother to El Paso."

Roland nodded, figuring it had something to do with her mother's cancer ... probably an oncology appointment.

"I'll see you around," Emily said, plucking her purse off a chair and walking towards the door.

"I'd like that," Roland said. "I'll call you."

He remembered exchanging numbers with her before she'd decided to come up to his room.

As she was about to open the hotel room's door, Emily paused and looked back at Roland.

"Do you really think he's innocent?" she asked. "Do you really think he didn't kill those girls?"

Roland sighed. Work was starting early that day.

"I have doubts," he explained. "As long as they're nagging me, I can't just stop looking around and asking questions."

Emily nodded.

"Good luck," she said and left.

* * *

At a quarter to seven, Roland was showered, dressed, and ready for the day. Heading towards the lobby, he was in good spirits. While his hook-up with Emily was intended to be fun, a break from the seriousness surrounding his business in Pewter, he realized he wanted to see her again. For one thing, he didn't even know her last name.

Arriving at the lobby, he noticed a different young man was now on duty behind the reception desk. That was perhaps a good thing. As professional as the employee had been the previous night, there was no telling what he might let slip this morning if given the chance.

Roland made his way over to the coffee station and began preparing a cup for himself. He'd found a couple of aspirin in his luggage and they were starting to work. Now, he needed a caffeine boost.

He was stirring his sweetener into the brew when Janice and Phillip arrived.

"Morning," Roland said, moving aside as he fitted a lid onto his paper cup.

Neither of them responded or moved towards the coffee station. Roland raised an eyebrow.

"Everything okay?" he queried.

Janice sighed.

"We're going home," she declared with Phillip nodding in agreement.

"What?" Roland asked. "Why?"

Janice lowered her voice to a whisper.

"We're sure you know why," she said. "Yesterday's near-car accident illustrated how people feel about us being here. Yes, there are things we need to look into about this case, but we can do that in Dallas."

"There's no reason for us to stay here," Phillip added. "Not where we're not wanted. What happened with that girl's brother proves it."

Roland sighed. He'd have never guessed they were so shaken by Gabriel Harvey's actions the previous afternoon.

"Are you sure about this?" he asked.

They both nodded.

"I'm guessing you already have a flight booked," Roland said.

"This afternoon," Phillip confirmed. "Out of El Paso."

Roland sighed again. There was no point in arguing.

"I'll drive you to the airport," he said.

* * *

The three spent the morning in their individual hotel rooms. Janice and Phillip checked out at 12:30. The group then sat in the lobby, eating sandwiches from a nearby deli before heading to the airport in El Paso.

"You won't go home with us?" Janice asked from the front passenger seat.

"I've got something else to do," Roland replied. He had his own flight booked for the next morning.

He fished a sheet of paper out of his pocket and passed it to Janice. On it was a list of names.

"Look up these people when you get back to the office tomorrow," he instructed. "I want to know what's happened to them in the past five years and where they're living now."

He'd done some research himself that morning, but he hadn't had enough time for more.

Janice took the paper and nodded without a word. From the backseat, Phillip didn't react.

* * *

After dropping Janice and Phillip off at the airport, Roland cruised through El Paso, unsure of what to do with his free time. He thought about looking for Emily. Maybe he'd stake out some oncology clinics and hospitals, but the tactic made no sense and came off as a bit creepy as Roland repeated it in his head. He decided against it.

He stopped at a convenience store for a bag of chips and a Mountain Dew. He ate and drank as he continued driving and reviewing what he knew. Problem was that the facts he had were independent pieces that weren't quite linking up to one another. He was missing something important ... maybe more than one thing. Making his problem more infuriating, Roland didn't know what he was missing or where to look for it.

He wasn't quite sure why he was flying to Baltimore the next morning, but he figured he had nothing to lose. Maybe he could get a few answers out east.

The book continues with Chapter 9 - Before Homecoming. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
These chapters are, for the most part, divided into 3 sections: "Before Homecoming", "After Homecoming", and "Present". There will be a couple exceptions to this structure in the last few chapters. The "After Homecoming" section also has the largest time shift throughout the chapters,.

Pewter is a fictional town in fictional and rural Alter County in western Texas.

Cast of characters:

Marcy Sellers: a new student at Pewter Public High School,, starting her junior year. Was raped and left comatose in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Lillian "Lily" Harvey: a junior at Pewter Public High and a cheerleader. Was raped and murdered in the girls' locker room after the Pewter Homecoming game.

Andrew Mooruff: custodian at Pewter Public High. Convicted and sentenced to death for the locker room attack. Awaiting execution on Texas's Death Row.

Roland Davis: corporate attorney and former NFL player who is assigned to work pro-bono on Andrew Mooruff's appeals.

Janice Cooper: junior associate assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Phillip Decker: paralegal assigned to assist Roland in reviewing Andrew's case.

Emily Winters: server at Gately's.

Feedback, specifically suggestions for additions/subtractions/alterations, is always welcome. Enjoy.
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