A/N: This is the second part of a two-part story. The first part, Guilty, is posted on the 'M' rating page for one scene at the very end of chapter 10. It is not graphic in any way and I probably could have gotten away with a 'T' rating, but in keeping with the rules set forth on this site I chose to err on the side of caution and rate the story 'M' for the subject matter. The scene can be skipped (it begins with Vanessa waiting at the bus stop and runs through the end of that chapter) and you'll still be able to follow the story. However if you don't read that story, Joe's back story in this one won't make much sense.
Again, I apologize for the multiple POV changed. This was written before I knew any better. :-/
Thanks to everyone who read Guilty. I hope you enjoy the second half of the story.
Gotta give a heads up to my sometime writing partner, Cherylann Rivers, who has just posted her first story Hardy Boys on this site and it is AWESOME! Go check out Fire and Ice – you will LOVE it! :)
Disclaimer: I don't own them. If I did would be independently wealthy instead of working for a living.
Twenty-three year old Joe Hardy was led to a police cruiser and placed in the backseat. A Bayport police officer leaned in and fastened Joe's seat belt, then spoke briefly with Detective Con Riley before getting behind the wheel. As the car pulled away, Joe looked out the window at his brother, Frank. With both his brother and father, Fenton Hardy, believing he had just murdered a man in cold blood, he had no idea where to turn for help. He would be allowed one phone call when he got to the police station.
'Who do I call? The family lawyer? Mom? Vanessa?'
He knew he needed to call their lawyer first, but he also wanted to talk to his fiancée, Vanessa Bender, as soon as possible. He did not want anyone else trying to explain to her what had just happened. Leaning his head back against the seat, Joe felt tears sting his eyes. He thought back to the night Vanessa's Jeep broke down.
'Why did I wait so long to ask her what happened? If only I had asked her right then…we could have gotten his fingerprints. It would have been over. She never would have been…' A few tears slid down his cheeks. 'None of this ever would have happened. This is all my fault.'
Joe opened his eyes and stared at the wire screen separating the front and back seats. He could not believe that three short weeks ago his biggest worry had been where to go on his honeymoon.
Frank Hardy had watched in disbelief as his younger brother was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser.
'Murder? Joe?!' Three weeks ago he would have thought it impossible. Even now he had trouble believing it, despite what he had seen with his own eyes. Had Joe's hell bent need for revenge really driven him to murder Vanessa's rapist?
"I didn't kill him, Frank! I didn't!" Frank kept hearing Joe's anguished voice in his head. Could it have happened the way Joe said it did?
'But I know what I saw. Why would the guy kill himself? There was no guarantee he would even be found guilty. It doesn't make any sense. Joe must have killed him…'
Frank could still see the look on Joe's face as he was being handcuffed and read his rights. He had been devastated by what he considered yet another betrayal by Frank.
'He's always counted on me. I've always been there for him.' He felt a cold emptiness in the pit of his stomach. 'What's happening to us? How could we have grown so far apart in such a short time?'
"Frank." He felt his father's hand on his shoulder. "We need to get down to the station."
"Dad, did he really do it?" Frank asked.
"I don't want to believe it either, but I know what I saw."
Frank had been hoping his father had come up with something – anything – to explain what they had both witnessed. He didn't want to believe his younger brother had killed someone in cold blood, no matter what the circumstances.
"Could it have happened the way Joe said it did?"
Before Fenton could respond, Con Riley and Police Chief Ezra Collig approached.
"I'm sorry," Con addressed them both. "I had no choice." He held his hands out apologetically and shrugged his shoulders.
Fenton simply nodded. His eyes followed the Medical Examiner who had arrived a few moments earlier and was slowly circling the body. Every so often she would bend down to get a closer look at the body or something on the ground that caught her eye.
"Where's the murder weapon?" she called out, causing Frank to wince. An officer dutifully produced the paper bag containing Joe's gun. With gloved hands she looked inside, giving it a cursory glance. "And the suspect?"
'He's not a suspect!' Frank wanted to scream. 'He's my brother!'
"He's already been read his rights and taken to the station," the officer who had supplied Joe's gun replied
"I see." She looked around at everyone who was milling about, her eyes stopping on Con. "Detective, would you like to tell me exactly what happened here?"
Fenton took Frank by the arm and steered him towards the car. "They can take care of this without us. I want to get down to the station before they start questioning Joe. I don't want him to say anything without a lawyer present." He thought about Joe's hair trigger temper and shuddered at what he might say if provoked.
They drove in silence for a while before Frank spoke. "Should we call Mom? Or Vanessa?"
"No. We don't really know what to tell them yet."
Frank turned to look at his father. "Joe's been arrested for murder. We both saw him do it."
"I know but I want to talk to him first. Maybe there was something else. Something we didn't see that could prove his innocence."
Frank nodded, suddenly hopeful. 'Maybe there was something else. Something we couldn't see…' Every last trace of hope disappeared when he realized what that really meant.
"Dad," his voice shook. "Do you understand what that means?"
Fenton looked questioningly at his son.
"His word isn't enough for us anymore," he whispered. "Now we need proof to believe him."
After arriving at the police station, Joe was led into the booking room. His pockets were emptied, the contents recorded and placed in a plain, manila envelope. He was then fingerprinted and had mug shots taken. His blood-stained shirt and jacket were confiscated as evidence. After being searched, he was allowed to change into a Bayport Police Department T-shirt and led to an interrogation room.
"You can make one call." The young officer pointed to the phone on the wall and took a seat at the table.
Joe picked up the phone and punched in a number. It rang three times before someone answered.
"Sam, it's Joe. I need help…"