It was 3 in the morning when Brenda Leigh Johnson's phone rang.
As usual, she bolted upwards and picked up her phone. It was Lieutenant Provenza.
"Yes Provenza," she said groggily.
"911 call came in," said Provenza. "A neighbor said she heard screaming coming from the apartment next to her. When she went out to investigate, she was intercepted by a man wielding a knife. He grabbed her and held her at knifepoint and told her that if she called the police, his people would take her out too. He forced her back into her house and took off. She waited until she was sure he wasn't coming back and dialed 911. Crime scene investigators are already on the way. The address is in Venice, I'll text it to you."
"Okay Lieutenant," said Brenda. "I'll be right over." She hung up and looked over at Fritz who had just woken up.
"Fritzy, I gotta go," said Brenda. "Late night stabbing, possibly gang related."
"Okay," said Fritz and promptly fell back asleep.
Brenda got dressed in her usual jacket and skirt and drove over to the address Provenza texted her. By the time she got there, there were already police cars present. It was a multi-family house with three apartments. She parked, got out of her car and walked over to Provenza, Andy, Julio, David, Mike and Buzz.
"Fancy seeing y'all this late at night," said Brenda. "Let's get a look at the crime scene."
"Wait Chief," said Julio. "We have a survivor."
Brenda turned towards them. "Who?" she said.
"Victim's daughter," said Mike. "She's only seven. She'd probably feel more comfortable talking to a woman."
"Okay then," said Brenda. "You all, start looking for evidence. From the sound of the eyewitness, it might be gang or drug related. The victim could have been hiding something from the attacker, so look for any signs of ransacking. Or the attacker might not have found it, so tear the apartment apart. I'll go talk to our young survivor."
Brenda walked over to a police car where a young girl was sitting inside. She looked at the officer standing outside and the officer nodded. Brenda opened the door and sat in the seat next to the girl.
"Hi," said Brenda gently. "My name's Brenda and I'm a detective. What's your name?"
The girl paused for a second. Finally, she softly answered "Kate."
"What a nice name," said Brenda. "Kate, just so you know, you are completely safe with us. We are not going to let anything happen to you."
Kate let out a nod.
"Listen Kate," said Brenda. "I know you are feeling really sad and scared right now. And you have every reason to feel that way. I'm going to stay with you and please tell me if you need anything."
Tears started to form in Kate's eyes. "I j-j-just really w-w-want my mom," she said and started to cry. Brenda reached her arms out and Kate went right into them. Brenda held Kate for several minutes, comforting her as she cried into her jacket. When the tears lightened up, Brenda released Kate.
"Kate," said Brenda. "I need to go talk to my detectives. I will be right back though."
Brenda stepped out of the car and walked into the apartment.
"Haven't found any red flags so far Chief," said Andy. "Forensics is trying to piece together how the stabbing took place."
"Okay," said Brenda. "And our other witness."
"She's with Julio and Tao giving her statement," said David. "She apparently wants police protection."
"Okay," said Brenda. "The daughter, Kate, is in no place to talk right now. She's been through a horrible ordeal and needs rest and comfort. Are there any relatives?"
"None," said Provenza. "We couldn't find any relatives in her contacts or her address book."
"Well in that case…" Brenda began.
"Did Kate seem to feel comfortable around you?" asked Buzz.
"Why yes," said Brenda. "I offered her a hug and she went right in.
"Maybe you should take her home for tonight," said David.
Brenda sighed. "I just don't know how Fritz will react. Me just bringing home a girl who's been through hell and back and how she'll react to him too."
"He'll understand," said Provenza. "And if she feels comfortable with you, she should be fine around Fritz."
Brenda nodded. "Okay," she said. "I'll see you all tomorrow morning."
Brenda went back outside and told the officers that she felt it would be best that Kate stay with her for the time being, as she had felt comfortable around Brenda and there were no other relatives. They agreed and Brenda signed emergency custody papers.
Brenda then went back into the car. "Kate," she said. "You're going to come home with me okay?"
"Okay," Kate said softly.
Brenda and Kate got out of the car and walked back to Brenda's car. They drove back to Brenda's house.
"Do you like cats Kate?" said Brenda.
"Well I have a little kitten named Joel," said Brenda. "You can play with him."
They walked inside and sat on the couch. Brenda got Joel for Kate and she started to play with him. Brenda saw a slight smile begin to form on her face.
Eventually though, Kate began to cry again, and Brenda held her as she lay down. She soon dozed off to sleep.
After she was sure Kate was asleep, Brenda, still with Kate in her arms dozed off to sleep as well.