Title: Corruption, Purity and Desire
Disclaimer: The Devil Wears Prada does not belong to me. No infringement intended to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. All characters are purely fictional. Thanks to various crime fiction for the inspiration behind the dialogue.
Summary: Two and a half years after leaving Runway; Andy Sachs is now working as an investigative journalist for a New York newspaper. Miranda Priestly continues her reign as The New York Fashion Queen, but under the surface the cracks are beginning to form. The unfortunate events of one cold winter’s evening force them to face the unrelenting demon that hides in the shadows. When do you run and when do you stand your ground?
WARNING: There are some scenes of violence and heavy language. If you are easily offended or squeamish I DO NOT suggest that you read this!
AN: RL and general muse abandonment have meant that this chapter took me a lot longer than I expected to. So thanks to all who have continued to stick with me throughout this epic journey! There is just one more chapter to go after this one. I know you all love a good cliff-hanger so please be sure to let me know if this hits the mark!
Beta: I need to say a huge thanks to my Beta punky_96 Without you buddy, this would still be sat festering away on my hard drive. You are amazing and undoubtedly the dearest friend one could have on the internet. I made some final tweaks before posting, so any remaining errors are all mine.
A/N2: Edited (03 Jan 2011)
Miranda felt the acceleration increase and the urgency in Spencer’s request as she reached for the seat belt and clipped it into the socket. “What’s happening?” She repeated, but much to her annoyance the question was ignored over the chatter of Spencer’s earpiece.
“This is Whiskey Sierra two-four-niner, moving west on 72nd Street at sixty miles per hour. Over.” Miranda watched her bodyguard intently as he fed his instructions and commands to both Roy and his radio. The car continued at the increased speed making sharp jerks, forward and side-to-side. The adrenaline soaked fear rushed through Miranda and she gripped firmly on to the handle above the door and tightly on to her cell phone.
After receiving what appeared to be another instruction in his earpiece, Miranda listened to Spencer relay his update into the radio.
“Affirmative. Hostile has been identified, Black Sedan on our tail, with no visible plates. Requesting support and immediate back up. Over.”
She spun around in her seat and looked out the back of the blacked out window, scanning the scene. There it was, the car like a huge Panther chasing down its prey, baring its teeth before it went in for the kill, just metres away.
Miranda opened her mouth to plead for an explanation but just as she was about to speak she was cut-off by the shout from the front seat.
“SHIT!” Roy cursed uncharacteristically. “Hold on, Miranda!” He shouted.
She felt the juddering force and the grind on the axel as the car mounted the high curb, narrowly avoiding the stationary car in front. She watched as Roy quickly manoeuvred back on to the road, the force slamming her back in her seat. She gripped the seat in front and strained to lean forward to look out the windscreen where she could see the busy crossroad up ahead, streaming with the early morning traffic.
“Spencer?” Roy shouted, looking for the guidance he needed to continue. His usual state of calm rippled with anticipation. If Miranda didn’t know her driver better she could have sworn that his voice was laced with hysteria.
“Punch it.” Spencer instructed without hesitation, his voice was low and strong despite the increasing chaos of the situation.
Roy sucked in a deep lungful of air and nodded resolutely. The 235 Horse-powered engine roared as he took Spencer’s lead and pushed the pedal to metal.
“My god.” Miranda cried out as every muscle in her body tightened in anticipation and she squeezed her eyes tight shut. ‘This is not going to be pretty!’ She told herself as her perfectly manicured fingernails involuntarily cut into her palm.
The first blow came from left and suddenly everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. Miranda felt the impact as the car’s velocity instantly changed direction and her internal organs felt like they were being thrown from one side of her body to another. Then came the spinning—the sensation reminded her of a wild fair ground ride she had braved as a child—as the car spun 180 degrees.
Another shout punctuated by the next impact came seconds later as the Mercedes was lifted like a toy from the ground. Miranda’s stomach lurched as the car flipped into the air and the sensation of weightlessness filled her body. She could hear glass shattering all around her, which only served to heighten the danger she felt. It was all out of her control, the only thing left to do was hold her breath and brace for the landing.
Moore observed his suspect from across the table. To the untrained eye, Eddie Curran was a wall of calm, but Captain Moore was no rookie, he could see the splintered cracks in the man, running all the way through to the core. So many things about him didn’t seem to add up and it gave Moore an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. The many victims—the innocent and the not so innocent—of this current case file, flashed through Moore’s mind as he looked the Editor up and down. ‘Maybe this man was innocent,’ he considered, ‘but then maybe not.’ One thing was clear; he had a job to do. He needed to understand how was Curran involved. Find out what was he doing here. To do that he would need to break through the cracks. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, but... Beatrice was counting on him.
The second floor interview rooms of the NYPD were notorious across the state. Small and poorly lit they held a lingering and gut turning stench of stale smoke. Designed to make the suspect feel smothered and trapped, it was often the undoing of both Criminal and newbie officer. Moore had become hardened to it over the years, it had become his territory, and he always had the home advantage.
Moore clenched his jaw and set his game face, in preparation for battle. He calmly flipped open the thick paper file on to the cold metal table and slowly began to thumb through the pages. Almost instantly, he felt the tension rise across the table as he deliberated over page after page of evidence.
“Look, what is this?” Curran drawled impatiently after a few minutes of uncomfortable silence.
Moore did not respond, he just continued to study the papers in front of him.
After another few moments of silence, Curran tried again. “You’re just sitting there man. Aren’t you supposed to be asking me questions?”
“What about, Mr. Curran?” Spoke Moore absently as he turned another page.
“I don’t know?” Curran sighed frustrated. “Tell me what the hell I’m doing here!”
Dragging out the tense air, Moore pulled out a group of prints and then paused once more to study them. After inserting another tactical pause, he tossed them across the table towards his suspect. The prints fanned out evenly on the surface and the images told the story of a gruesome crime scene.
“A young girl was shot.” He stated as he slid a picture of Andrea Sachs in front of the man, and kept his voice low and steady.
The image showed a limp and broken body, covered in blood. Her usually pale skin was now eerily grey and she had been strapped to an EMT’s gurney. There were a stream of wires and tubes covering every major area. The picture told a harrowing tale.
“What kind of a monster lets this happen?” Moore asked as he shook his head in disbelief. He pointed to another blood soaked picture from the scene and let his fingertip linger pointedly over the image. He heard Curran’s breath catch in his throat as he caught sight of the image. Capitalizing on the subtle shift of dynamic, he pushed his suspect. “What kind of monster sends a young innocent girl out to meet her death?”
Curran looked down at the pictures and scanned his eyes over the evidence.
Moore saw what he presumed to be guilt flash across the man’s face but the admission was quickly washed away as turned the pictures over and covered them with his large hands. He remained silent and simply fixed his cold stare to the white backing of the photographs.
“Did you know what you were sending her out to when you let her go? Or was she just cannon fodder?” He let the words hang there thick in the silence, observing how Curran swallowed hard and a vein in his temple visibly throbbed. Still, he did not look up from his fixed stare.
Moore revelled as he watched the cracks in Curran’s hardened exterior grow wider with every question. “Or maybe you are just another pawn in the game,” he pushed further, “they say jump and you say how high?”
Like a seasoned fighter dancing on his toes, Moore knew the one-two jabs were working, but he knew they would only get him so far. He knew he needed to get in a few left hooks and land a couple of sneaky uppercuts to really push this to his advantage. Shifting his weight and the weight of his questions, he threw his words like a fist.
“What’s it like to live your life in someone’s pocket? Is it worth it? How do you go home to your wife and children with all that blood on your hands? How do you sleep at night?” Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before Moore got his answer.
The scraping of the chair legs on the tiled floor sounded like finger nails moving down a black board as Curran lifted from his seat in anger. He slammed his hands on the table and scowled with dark eyes at the Captain.
Curran’s body was ridged with anger as Moore stared him down, unflinchingly. “You son of bitch.” Curran spat in distain, before he began pacing. “You don’t know shit.”
“Well why don’t you sit your ass down and tell me then?” Moore countered, folding his arms across his chest.
“Fuck you.” He retorted, continuing to walk three steps forward and three steps back.
Moore watched the man rub his unshaven jaw with the back of his hand and he caught the sight of pure exhaustion. “No, you’ve already done that to yourself.” He snarked and placed his large rough hands on to the cold grey stainless steel of the table and stood from his chair. Levelling his glare and his voice at the man, he pointed at the abandoned chair. “Now sit the fuck down!”
The order stopped Curran in his tracks and he returned to his seat. His stare settled on the back on the overturned photographs, the blank backing sheet however, offered no relief as the images were already burned into his brain. Flashes of the innocent girl’s broken body had been on a haunting loop for the past two weeks.
Moore let the silence hang in the room and continued to exude his dominance by standing over his sunken suspect. He returned to the evidence file. The slicing turn of the pages competed with the deafening tick of the clock; the tension was palpable. “Hmmm, this is interesting.” He offered cryptically. “You’re our very own Martha Stewart aren’t you? I wonder if that’s what your cellmates and your prison buddies will call you.” He watched as the bravado of the man began to fade. “Tax fraud, huh? If it’s any consolation, that’s how we got Capone. I’d say we’ve got enough evidence here to guarantee some hard time on the state.” It was as if every word was chipping away at the wall, slowly revealing the defeated man beneath. Moore could feel that he was close.
“Was it the money? Can you tell me that you were able to put a price on her pretty-little head?” Curran looked away as Moore held out another picture this time of the church where Andrea Sachs’ life had been saved. A sea of scarlet red shone up from the page where the camera had captured the pools of blood, which reflected across the marbled aisles. “Did you know that he would hunt her down? Like, she was nothing more than a dirty, rabid animal.”
“I didn’t do this!” Curran snapped again through gritted teeth. “I couldn’t have stopped it.” He almost whispered before sighing. His features softened and his mouth opened and closed repeatedly as if ready to spill his soul but something kept pulling him back into silence.
Moore saw an opening for compassion and appealed to the fragile man. “Tell me who did, Eddie. I know that you know what happened. If you help me out maybe we can talk about making some of these papers disappear?”
Curran took a deep breath; he knew when he was being played, but he still held a few aces up his sleeve and was intending on playing them all. He leaned forward toward the Captain, and clenched his jaw. “You’re too late.” He smirked. “You can’t stop it.” He looked up at the clock on the wall. “It’s too late. Now get me my fucking Lawyer.” He snarled and sat back in his chair folding his arms in defiance.
‘Fuck!’ Moore cursed internally, frustrated and disappointed at the forced halt to questioning. He gritted his teeth and smiled bitterly at the man, giving himself a split second to regain his steely composure. Curran’s words looped around in his head, he’d backed the man into a corner and tested the suspect’s strengths and weaknesses. Some guys caved under the pressure but some came out fighting, Moore was not entirely surprised to see that Curran was a fighter. The words concerned him, had they just been empty threats or were they filled with meaning? Moore couldn’t be sure.
Standing from his chair, he was careful not show his disappointment. He picked up the file and pulled out another set of prints; fresh images of the other bloody crime scenes that were associated with the corruption case. “I’ll just leave you with these. Maybe they’ll give you something to think about whilst I’m gone.” He threw the pictures on to the table and left the room.
Andy stared at her empty laptop screen, the cursor blinked in the top left hand corner waiting patiently for her to start typing. “Arrrrgggg!” Andy grumbled crinkling up her nose and slamming the lid closed. “Stupid thing!”
She moaned, not quite sure who she was calling stupid. She felt stupid that she had let Miranda leave before they had resolved their fight from the night before. In fact now she felt really stupid that she had even started it.
She looked around the room and her eyes landed on the soft rug, where just a few hours ago she had been wrapped in her lovers’ arms, lost in her eyes. Miranda had done so much for her; her generosity had been beyond belief and her love unquestionable. The pang of remorse gripped her heart like a vice and she wished that she could take it all back. She shook her head in frustration. ’”Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” She cursed behind clenched teeth.
Leaning back in the chair, she stretched awkwardly, and winced as the pull in her shoulder reminded her once again that she was not as invincible as she had once thought she was.
Andy rubbed her fingers gently over her shoulder, trying to sooth the deep burning sensation around the healing wound and took a deep breath before pushing her chair back to stand up from behind Miranda’s desk. She had made up her mind. She would have some breakfast and then work on what she was going to say to Miranda to fix the mess she had made.
As if on cue she felt and heard her stomach growl and she looked at the clock. ‘Time for breakfast.’ Andy confirmed, wondering where Juliana was. Normally the housekeeper, would have brought her a tray up by now or at least called to her. Andy tutted to herself. ‘God, I am getting lazy!’ She moaned again. ‘And, definitely over-indulging in self-pity.’ She tutted again before walking down the hall.
Leaning over the banister, Andy listened for any sounds from the kitchen. “Juliana?” Andy called out; waiting a few seconds but there was no answer. She rolled her eyes and began her descent of the staircase. “Juliana?” She called again. But there was still no answer. As she reached the bottom step Andy paused again to listen but it was silent.
Something didn’t feel right. The routine in the house had been the same everyday for two weeks. There should be music or a TV playing as Juliana moved around the kitchen. There should be radio chatter coming from the lounge where the Bodyguard sat between patrols of the house. Something wasn’t right.
She moved off the bottom step and walked gingerly along the hall towards the kitchen door. “Juliana? Are you there?” Andy felt her hand trembling as she pushed the door gently, her trepidation was suddenly overtaken by the fear of uncertainty as she met resistance. There was something blocking the door.
The three P’s. That’s what they taught the cadets in the academy: Preparation, Persistence and Patience. These were the keys to a successful interrogation. It took skill to be able to control the keys and not everyone was suited to it, those cops who didn’t make the grade spent their lives on traffic duty or worse still stuck behind a desk.
Sharpe had studied Moore throughout the morning, from behind the one-way glass. This was his forte, and she knew he would break this man… eventually.
It had taken over an hour for Curran’s lawyer to arrive; the wait had been a setback to the inroads that Moore had made. But now with the opposing counsel, Mr. John Ryks, Jr, fully debriefed it was time for Sharpe to join the interrogation.
Sharpe had met John Ryks, Jr, only once before as opposing counsel. He was highly successful and had recently made it as a Partner in his firm, Clifford, Chase and Avery. However, his tactics were not well respected in their professional circle and Sharpe had not been overly surprised to see him representing their suspect.
Curran had been given time to compose and gather his thoughts and now that his lawyer was at his side, he didn’t seem so fragile. In fact quite the opposite, he now had an air of ease and assurance about him that left Moore with quite a bitter taste in his mouth.
Sharpe sat down in her seat and pulled her body close the table. She sat squarely to face their suspect and mirrored Moore’s position, creating a united front. “Mr. Curran,” she began, “I would like to know how you became involved with this case.”
“I am not involved.” Curran answered.
“I’m afraid I have to disagree with you there. You see, I have it written in here…” Sharpe pointed to the closed file on the desk. “…in my efficient little report. That, you are a known associate of at least four of the officers who have been arrested for murder, narcotics and illegal weapons, the list goes on and on.”
“I repeat. I am not involved.” Curran answered coldly and turned to look at his lawyer who nodded in agreement at his response.
Moore knew that his suspect had been coached; he was a different man, calm and steady as a rock. He was disappointed in himself for not being able to break him sooner; now, he felt it would like starting over at square one.
“Do you recall how you became involved with these men?” Sharpe pushed her question again and laid out the pictures of the Officers, O’Hanlon, Corelli, Baum and Riley, neatly on the table.
Ryks, Jr, answered for the man. “District Attorney Sharpe, my client has already stated that he does not know these men.”
“Well that is odd, because I’ve got at least half a dozen witnesses who say otherwise.”
Curran did not respond to her statement, but Sharpe knew that it had stirred some emotion as she saw the corners of his mouth curl up slightly into what appeared to be a grin. She could only describe it as sinister as she felt a shiver run down her spine in response to his action.
“What about the money?” Moore asked as he picked up the file and thumbed through until he came to some sheets of paper that were highlighted with red marker pen.
“I’m sure I don’t know what money you are talking about.” Curran responded again dryly.
“Are you saying that these accounts do not belong to you, Mr. Curran?” Moore asked laying the papers in front of the man.
“I have never seen them before in my life.” Curran assured.
“For the record,” Moore spoke to the digital recorder, “please note that the interviewee has denied all knowledge of the bank accounts that were opened with two forms of his ID and his signature.”
“So what was the deal?” Sharpe interjected. “Was it money for stories, propaganda and power? You scratch their backs, if they scratch yours?” She paused and waited for a response.
“So which one of you is supposed to be the good cop and which one is supposed to be the bad one?” Curran smirked.
“Ah, that old chestnut.” She answered jovially before turning her head to Moore with a smirk. She let the smirk fall and she turned back to her suspect, applying venom to her words. “Neither one of us is going to play nice, Mr. Curran, not until you start telling us what we want to know. Now let’s start again. How did you get involved with the aforementioned men?”
Curran looked up at the clock on the wall and then back down into the faces of his interviewers.
“My colleague asked you a question.” Moore reminded his suspect firmly.
Curran looked up at the clock again before responding. “You’re too late.”
“We’ve got all the time in the world. We can keep you here for as long as it takes.” Moore added.
“But it won’t matter,” Curran stated cryptically. “You’re too late.”
There was a knock on the door and a uniformed officer entered the room and apologized for interrupting. He leaned in towards Sharpe and whispered to her so that no-one else in the room could hear. Sharpe stood up calmly and excused herself from the room.
“I wonder how much time you are going to get,” Moore pondered, stalling while his interview partner was out of the room. “I wonder how many of your fellow inmates will know who you are when you get in there. I don’t suspect you will be popular.”
Curran smiled a toothy grin and looked up at the clock again. “Really, Captain? How do you think you are you going to up hold a case without any witnesses?”
Ryks leaned into his client immediately to silence him. But the smile remained on Curran’s face.
Just as Moore was about to speak, Sharpe re-entered the room. Moore noticed the, ‘I’m pretending everything is fine, but everything is not fine’ look on her face.
“Captain Moore, would you join me outside for a moment please.” Sharpe requested, trying to steady the urgency in her tone.
Moore paused the interview and followed Sharpe from the room. Frustrated in halting their progress but equally curious as to what had made Beatrice so full of angst.
“He’s up to something.” Moore muttered with clenched teeth as soon as they entered the hall. “He’s playing us but he’s definitely got something to say?”
Sharpe took Moore by the arm and led him along the corridor away from the occupied interview room. “I think I know what.” She began to explain. “Dispatch received a call about twenty minutes ago reporting gunfire on 45th in Union City.”
“That’s over the river.” Moore stated, puzzled as to the relevance.
“Yeah, but what’s there?” She quizzed. “Or should I say who is there?”
Moore racked his tired brain for less than a second. “Jesus Christ, we’ve got a safe house there.”
“Yeah, the EMTs on the scene have confirmed that Maria Rodriguez was DOA.”
Moore exploded in anger. “THAT FUCKER!” He cursed, as he slammed his closed fist into the wall and began pacing. “He knew… he knew that there was a hit going down.”
“That’s not all, Bobby.” Sharpe sighed and ran her hand through her hair. “I’ve got them checking upstairs, but so far there has been no response from the other four locations.”
Moore stilled his angry pacing. “What about Sachs?”
Sharpe simply shook her head.
“Juliana? Juliana answer me!” Andy called waveringly as she pushed to squeeze her body through the small gap in the door.
Juliana was chest down on the floor; all Andy could see was blood everywhere. She knelt down at the house keeper’s side and felt the blood soaking into her jeans. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!” Andy chanted as she leaned over the lifeless body. Her shaky fingers slipped against the skin of the woman’s throat, desperately searching for a pulse. The pounding of her own heartbeat in her head made it hard to focus on any other sounds or sensations. But then it hit her, the true horror of the situation. She realized why she couldn’t find a pulse, why her fingers were covered in the thick wet blood. Juliana’s throat had been cut, she was dead.
Andy pulled her hands away in shock and scrambled back on her hands and knees until she felt the cold kitchen cabinet at her back. She closed her eyes and fought to control her breathing. ‘Calm down, calm down.’ She thought, before Miranda’s face flashed before her eyes. ‘She’s not here. I watched her leave, thank, God. When?’ She looked at her watch. ‘Ok, thirty minutes. I saw her leave with Spencer. But, who took over from Spencer in the house? Who is on duty today?’ Andy shook her head in frustration. ‘I don’t know!?’ She scolded herself internally, trying to shake her thoughts into order.
She lifted herself up slowly, trying not to slip on the soaked tile floor with her bare feet and then scanning her eyes over the kitchen counter for the house phone. To her dismay; it was no-where to be seen.
The reality of the situation washed over her, she had seen one too many slasher-flicks to know that she needed to get out of the house. But now as her body shook with fear, she knew that thinking it and doing it were two completely different things. Finding the courage to move was harder than she’d imagined it would be. Andy concentrated on her breathing and tried to sort her head into rational thought.
A creaking floorboard in the room above the kitchen, made Andy freeze on the spot. ‘Think!’ She screamed internally.
The house phones were normally situated in the kitchen, the lounge and the library. The closest exits were the front door and the basement. Everything in her brain was telling her to get out of the house, so now all she had to do was convince her body to move.
She pulled Juliana gently away from the door—which allowed her to move through more easily—and she paused to listen again for any sounds in the house, it was silent.
A wave of semi-relief washed over her as she laid her eyes on the front door, not twenty feet from where she stood. But then the dread flooded back in as she moved forward. Her feet were sticky from all the blood and the sound that her footsteps made on the wooden floor seemed one hundred times magnified in the silence of the house. Suddenly the twenty foot distance felt like twenty miles.
The front door, the door that had taunted Andy during the late night drop-offs in her tenure as Miranda’s second assistant. The fiddly, squeaky deadbolt and creaky floor boards that were hidden like landmines around the exit were all that stood between her and her freedom. She paused and took a deep breath, then not for the first time that morning she tried to convince her feet to move.
Suddenly the sound of footsteps on the landing above her, made Andy jump. She pressed her back firmly against the wall, hidden from the view over the banister and felt her heart sink like a stone in the sea as the sound moved closer. As the foot steps approached the top of the stairs, her heart was beating so loud and so fast that she could barely hear her own thoughts, Andy knew she had no choice but to hide.
Unable to bear the thought of seeing Juliana’s lifeless body again, she took a chance and headed straight to the lounge. Her shaking hands pushed the door slowly and tentatively she stepped inside.
Her eyes quickly scanned the room. “Thank God.” She whispered as she spotted the cordless phone on the coffee table near the window. Hurriedly she moved forward but froze suddenly as something else caught her eye. “Ohhhh…” She whimpered in a half sob, as the pure gravity of the situation began to take hold.
Andy now knew the answer to her earlier question. Jake was on security duty today. She knew this because he was lying before her on the carpeted floor, in a pool of his own blood.
Sweet Jake. He had spent the previous week at Runway, dutifully bound to the highly strung English woman. It was just yesterday that she had been laughing and joking with him as they had compared their Emily stories.
In that moment, she considered the fact that she might be dreaming, trapped in one of her hellish nightmares. She closed her eyes and begged herself to wake up.
A pained groan from the body on the floor snapped her back to reality. She gasped in hope as she realized that he was still alive. “Jake?” She whispered rushing to his side. “Can you hear me?” She cupped her hands around his face and forced him to open his eyes.
“Andy.” He wheezed. “We’re not in Kansas anymore, kid.”
“Where are you hurt?” She asked scanning over his body.
“You gotta get out of the house.” He instructed, fighting to stay conscious.
“I tried.” She answered as she ran her hands down his body searching for the injury. The first wound she found was to the shoulder, the second was to his right side just below his rib cage, both gunshot wounds. She had not heard the gunfire and the attacker was skilled enough to strike the two weakest and vulnerable points in Jake’s vest, seemingly with ease. “Tell me who did this.”
Jake shook his head. “I didn’t get a good look at him, I didn’t even see him until it was too late.” His breathing was shallow and forced. “Take my gun.” He insisted as he took her hand. “Call for help and then hide.”
“I can’t leave you here?” Andy pleaded.
“Do it!” He ordered.
She unclipped the holster that housed his 9mm semi-automatic pistol and gripped it soundly in her hand. “Tell me what to do.”
“It’s already cocked.” He reached out awkwardly and ran his finger along the side of the firearm and over the moveable clip. “Just remove the safety here and she’s ready.” He nodded at his weapon. “Now get us some help.”
Andy leaned over his body and reached to the coffee table for the phone. She pressed the call button and to her relief she heard the dial tone. “Oh thank you, thank you, thank you.” She chanted as she dialed 911.