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Cole frowned, tears running down his cheeks.
“There are so many things I want to talk to you
about, but we haven’t much time. You’ve been
dead for two years now and I’ve not brought the
person who did this to you to justice. I’ve tried
everything, sacrificing everything but my soul. I
failed you while you were alive; this is my last
chance at redemption.”
“Cole, you don’t have to do this.”
Cole looked at Maria with a fierce expression.
“Maria, please tell me what happened that night.”
Maria turned her back to Cole. After a long pause,
she finally spoke. “I can’t.”
“You can’t?!” Cole shouted. “Why not? Give me
something to go on! A description, an accent,
hair color, anything !”
Cole noticed that even though Maria was only a
ghost now, she was still capable of feeling
emotion. She sobbed to herself, conflicted on
what to do. She finally turned to him. “I can’t
because I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Hurt me? How?”
Maria hesitated. “That night, I was waiting for
you to get home. I heard a knock on the door,
thinking it was you, but it was someone else.
Someone you know.”
Cole’s blood boiled. “Someone I know? Who?”
Maria stayed silent, unable to look at him.
“Maria! There isn’t much time! Who was it?!”
She turned to him. “F-Frank Wallace.”
Cole instantly saw red, pacing back and forth.
Frank? Frank?! This entire time the son-of-a-
b—h was right under his nose?! Unthinkable!
How could he have missed it? The case! Frank
was in charge of her case! He’s been covering
things up since the beginning! Now that he has
Clair in custody, he thinks he can get away with
his crime forever.
Zafira stepped forward. “That isn’t all, is it,
“Isn’t all of what?” Cole said through his
clenched teeth. “What are you talking about?”
Maria stayed silent, sobbing amongst herself.
“Tell him!” Zafira shouted at her.
Maria shook her head. “Don’t make me do this,
“Tell him! He deserves to know!” Zafira
“Tell me what?” Cole inquired, looking at Maria.
Maria wept heavily. “The baby,” she whimpered,
Cole was struck dumb. Nothing in the universe
could have prepared him for those words. It was
not believable. No way would Maria cheat on him,
and with Frank of all people. Impossible!
Cole laughed maniacally. “I get it now, Zafira!
This isn’t Maria. This is one hell of a cruel joke
you played on me. The game is over.”
Zafira looked Cole in the eyes, her expression one
of complete sympathy. “That is Maria, Cole. She
speaks the truth. Whether you choose to accept
reality is up to you.”
“When I found out I was pregnant,” Maria
explained, “I took a strand of your hair to have a
paternity test performed. When I found out the
results were negative, I didn’t know what to do.
When Frank showed up that night, I told him
about the baby and that it was his. He became
furious, dragged me up the stairs, and tied me to
the bed. After that, I only remember pain,
gunshots, and then everything went black.”
Cole’s mind filled with rage, replaying that night’s
events in his head. The moment the sick f–k
found out she was pregnant, he decided to kill
her, but not before raping her first. He raped her,
shot her twice in the stomach, then ended her life
with a shot to the head. Being a detective himself,
Frank knew he could use ammonia to corrupt any
DNA samples of his sperm, which he found plenty
of in the cleaning solution under the bathroom
“How did you know she wasn’t telling me
everything? Did you know about this the whole
“Not the whole time,” Zafira explained. “I
stumbled upon it completely by accident when we
went after Antonio Santana. Antonio and several
police officers including Frank are on the payroll
of that s-x trade organization you’ve been
tracking. You were getting too close to bringing
their empire down like a house of cards. Antonio,
who was Travis Dunham’s right-hand man,
tasked Frank with the duty of keeping tabs on you
and, if need be, eliminate you. He came for you
that night but instead was met by Maria, who
then told him about the pregnancy. After the
murder, Frank told Antonio everything. They
planned to pin your murder on Markus anyway,
so pinning Maria’s death on him made no
difference. It gave them a clean getaway. That is,
until you got me involved.”
Cole’s anger mounted. “You knew this and didn’t
tell me? Why didn’t you f—–g tell me Zafira?!”
To Be Continued