Justice Delayed(4)

By: Patricia Bradley


Perfect.





1


18 YEARS LATER

Andi Hollister flipped her wipers on high. It was a lousy night to be on I-240. The early April thunderstorms that swept across Arkansas earlier in the day were now taking dead aim on Memphis. A cloud had swallowed the setting sun, making it seem much later than six o’clock.

She took the airport exit and gripped the steering wheel as her Corolla hydroplaned, sending the car sliding toward the outside of the curve. A second later, the tires regained traction, and she blew out a breath. At least she’d lost all the traffic heading in to the FedEx Forum for the first game of the Final Four.

This was the first time in years that the University of Memphis Tigers had made it to the finals of March Madness. The town was crazy, traffic was crazy, and now the weather was crazy. Her cell phone played “Rainy Days and Mondays.” Treece. If Andi didn’t answer, Treece would call out the National Guard. She pressed the answer button on the steering wheel. “Hello, Ms. Rogers.”

“Where are you?” The drumming rain practically drowned out Treece’s voice.

“Almost to the airport.” The two of them had worked together since after college, when they both went to work for WLTZ as reporters, Andi reporting the weather and Treece the traffic.

Andi slowed as she approached the terminal, searching for the entry to the short-term parking garage. Lacey had said to wait for her at the Delta checkin area, that she would find her.

“I don’t feel good about this,” Treece said. “You don’t even know this woman or if she’s actually Lacey Wilson. It could be someone pretending to be your sister’s old roommate.”

Andi lowered her window, rain dripping off her car onto her arm as she punched the button for a parking ticket. She took the ticket the meter spit out. A dark SUV appeared in Andi’s mirror, almost on her bumper.

“Are you still there?” Treece asked.

“I’m trying to get into the short-term garage,” Andi said as the arm lifted and she pulled forward inside the garage. She followed the arrows to the fourth level, looking for a parking spot. “And I’m not in any danger—what could go wrong with a hundred TSA agents around?”

She spotted an empty space and wheeled into it.

“You have to ask that after the trouble you get into?”

“That was three months ago.” Treece was referring to when she ruptured a disc in her back while climbing a fence to video a pit bull chained outside in the cold weather with no shelter.

“I am not talking about three months ago, I’m talking about two weeks ago when I taped you interviewing that gang leader, and he lost his temper. If Reggie hadn’t insisted on coming with us—”

“Interviewing him seemed like a good idea at the time.” Until Treece’s cop boyfriend had to twist the gang leader’s arm behind his back after he blew his top and threatened her. The Memphis police lieutenant hadn’t liked Treece videoing Andi’s segments after that. “Even you thought it’d be a good story.”

“After that episode, my perspective is a little different. You have to be more careful.”

“I’m trying to change, but investigative reporting comes with risk. I hope you’re not thinking about changing fields,” Andi said.

“No, at least not yet.”

“Good.” Treece had been her friend since grade school, and while she was a good reporter, she was also the best videographer the station had. Andi tossed the parking stub on the dash before unhooking her seat belt. The SUV inched by her car, and she tried to see the driver. Isn’t it against the law for windows to be tinted that dark?

“What’s going on? You’re not meeting this woman inside the garage, are you?”

“No. We’re meeting at the Delta checkin, and don’t be such a worrywart. I need to do this. She promised answers about my sister. How could I say no?” Andi had so many unanswered questions about Steph and her life just before she was killed, and it wasn’t a topic anyone in her family talked about.

“I hope she tells you more than she did the last time you two met.”

“Yeah, me too.” Andi had met Lacey for lunch once before, thinking the woman might share information about Steph, but she’d talked around every question Andi asked.