Dani Hayward, P.I.: The Joshua Franklin File
Author:Ellie Smith

    Chapter 1


    “She said hername is Dani Hayward.”

    Chief HaroldLindsay scowled down at the paperwork that was scattered across thedesk in front of him. How was he going to get his monthly reportsfinished if he kept being interrupted? "Alright, send her in,"he grumbled then slammed the receiver down just as the door to hisinner office opened. The slender brunette who stood in the doorwaywas nothing spectacular to look at. Her non-descript heart-shapedface was free of make-up. Mousy brown hair that was parted in themiddle, hung straight to a point several inches below her shoulders.The jeans and dark blue sweatshirt she was wearing were faded and theoversized black handbag she carried had seen better days. Hal Lindsaymet the woman's brown gaze. There was something in the depths of itthat intrigued the Kensington Heights Police Chief. He motioned to avacant chair in front of his desk. "What can I do for you MissHayward?"

    "It's not whatyou can do for me Chief Lindsay," the woman replied beforeperching on the edge of the chair. She sat the handbag upright on thefloor beside her chair. "It's what I can do for you."

    The police chief'sbushy gray eyebrows met above discerning blue eyes. "I don'tunderstand."

    Dani Haywardextracted a thin black wallet from her hip pocket, flipped it openthen laid it on the desk amid the stacks of papers. "I'm new toyour city. I've rented an office in the Schwartz Building."

    The Chief studiedthe Private Investigator's identification card with a scrutinizinggaze. "We already have an overabundance of Private Investigationfirms in Kensington Heights Miss Hayward."

    "Not thatspecialize in the area I do."

    "Oh?"brought his eyebrows and gaze upward skeptically. "What area isthat?"

    "I specializein unsolved police cases, particularly those that involved homicide."

    "I see."Hal Lindsay leaned back in his chair. Kensington Heights was fastbecoming the most infamous city in the state for unsolved crimes.Even though his detective division did their share of solving casesthere was always a percentage that ended up at the wrong end of theproverbial dead end street. That number was growing each year.However, Dani Hayward did not need to know that. Lindsay shifted hisfocus back on the brunette. "What makes you think we have anyunsolved cases?"

    "Come now,Chief. I’ve seen the latest crime statistics.”

    Dani Hayward hadobviously done her homework. But the fact still remained, she was aP.I.; little more than a too-nosey civilian in Chief Harold Lindsay'sbook. "Alright," he admitted uneasily. "So we’ve gota couple of unsolved cases. But I can't open those files to you,they're police property."

    "You could ifyou gave me access."

    She was cutting himoff at every turn. Harold Lindsay was not used to that, especiallyfrom a P.I. "What do you get out of this? You must know we don'tpay to have our files dissected by an outsider."

    "Reimbursementcan come in many forms," the woman relayed in a tone that sentthe Chief's eyebrows downward. "The satisfaction of knowing theguilty party has been brought to justice is more than enoughpayment."

    An odd way oflooking at it for a P.I. but one not unfamiliar to the man who hadworked his way up through the ranks of the small town policedepartment. It had been his reason for choosing a law enforcementcareer. "Do you have a specific case in mind?"

    Her head swung. "Ifyour department has exhausted every possible way of solving the casethen it's acceptable to me."

    Hal Lindsay frownedinwardly. What was it about this woman that intrigued him? He studiedthe brown eyes again and saw the same glimmer that had first caughthis attention when he had seen her standing in the doorway. It wasalmost as if she knew something he didn't. "How long have youbeen interested in this specific area of investigation Miss Hayward?"he asked with more than idle curiosity.

    "Myidentification states that I have been a private detective for tenyears." The woman's tapered eyebrows knitted into a discerningfrown. "Which, I am sure, was one of the things you noticed whenyou were memorizing the information on it." Dani rose and pickedup her wallet. She pulled a business card from it and tossed thewhite rectangle on the desk before she picked up her handbag."There's my card. My address and phone number are on it."She strode to the door and pressed her hand onto the doorknob beforeglancing over her shoulder. "When you decide you want some ofyour oldest cases solved and the good name of Kensington Heightsrestored to what it once was, give me a call." Tapered browsdescended in silent warning. "But don't wait too long. Yoursaren't the only unsolved cases out there." She left the officebefore Lindsay could respond.

    Harold Lindsaystared at his closed office door as he wondered what made DaniHayward think she could solve cases his own homicide division had notbeen able to unravel. He looked at the business card and realizedwhat it was that had caught his interest. There was an air ofauthority about her. She was very sure of herself, and of herability. "Maybe too sure," he muttered as he reached forthe phone.

    The phone on theother end of the line was answered after only one ring. "Davis."

    "Chuck, thisis Hal Lindsay."

    "Well,"the voice on the other end of the phone drawled. "How long hasit been?"

    "Three years,"the Chief gave the answer he had only seconds earlier determinedhimself. "Since I called you about the Hutchins’ case."

    "Right. How'dthat turn out?"

    "He got twentyto life."

    "Good. I'mglad the jury saw through his story."

    "Chuck,"Lindsay switched tracks. "I need a favor."

    "Name it."

    "Could you runa check on a P.I. for me?"

    "You think yougot a bad apple?"

    "Nah, I justwant some information." Chuck Davis did not need to know thereal reasons for checking on the newest Private Investigator inKensington Heights. "For my records," he added as anafterthought.

    "What's thename?"

    Lindsay relayed theinformation he had seen on the woman's ID card.

    "Got it. I'llcheck it out and get right back to you."

    It was almost anhour before the Chief's secretary announced that Chuck Davis was online two.

    "Hi Chuck.They must have been busy up there today."

    "I wish thatwas the reason," was the gruff reply. "I've been on thephone trying to get information on your mystery lady."

    Harold Lindsayfrowned. "You mean she's not a P.I.?"

    "Oh she's aP.I. alright," Davis confirmed. "And has been, in goodstanding, for the last ten years. But that's all I could get. Icouldn't find anything else on her."

    "Nothing?"The furrows on the man's forehead deepened.

    "Nope.Usually, I can get all the information I want with one phone call toa friend in D.C. When he hit a dead end I called another friend whohas a higher clearance."

    "And?"the Chief prompted when the man on the other end of the line didn’tcontinue.

    "I got thesame thing from him. They have no statistical information on her, noteven a state of residence."

    Harold Lindsay hungup the phone with a disgruntled sigh. He was no further ahead than hehad been. "Well," he said, a slanted smile curling hismouth as he picked up the business card and reread the information onit. "There's more than one way to find out about you." Hishand jetted to the phone again, this time dialing only two numbers.

    "CaptainThompson." The tenor voice on the other end of the line was asolid one.

    "Jerry, comeup to my office a minute."

    "On my wayHal."

    The Chief wasstaring out the window when, two minutes later, his office dooropened and a tall, silver-haired man entered. Lindsay met the snappygray eyes that still held the dedicated glint thirty years in thedepartment had not been able to diminish.

    "You wanted tosee me Chief?" the newcomer inquired as he eased the doorclosed.

    Lindsay returned tohis desk and handed over the woman's business card. "Ever heardof this lady?"

    Jerry Thompsonexamined the nondescript card. "No. Should I have?"

    "Not likely.She says she just got into town."

    "We needanother P.I. around here like we need another hole in the head,"the Captain grumbled, silently recalling the trouble he'd had withgung-ho gumshoes over the years.

    Harold Lindsayrelayed what Dani Hayward had told him during their short meeting andthe lack of information Chuck Davis had found.

    "Sounds likewe've got a mystery lady on our hands."

    The Chief steepledhis fingers thoughtfully. "What have we got in the way of oldcases? Something we've investigated the hell out of."

    "I'd say theFranklin case would be the one we worked the most."

    "Ah yes,"Lindsay recalled the eight-year-old case. "The Franklin kidchanged his alibi and sent us right back to square one."

    "I still thinkhe had something to do with it," Thompson sniffed disgustedly."But more than fifty witnesses, including the judge's son, sawhim at the racetrack that evening."

    The corners ofHarold Lindsay's taunt mouth twisted devilishly. "I wonder howfar Dani Hayward would get with Jeremiah Franklin.”

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