After leaving the police station, Legacy called Carrie. After her conversation with Officer Diaz, she’d pretty well decided that she was heading to the hospital at some point to check on Amanda. The need to see her didn’t make sense, after all, the bitch had stolen from her. Still, Legacy had felt compelled in some way. Now she wasn’t sure. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that her anger no… the rage she’d been spewing towards Amanda had been suddenly redirected after her “discussion” with Detective Mike Smith. What kind of a basic name was Mike Smith anyway, she thought. The flush she’d felt when she’d first gotten a look at him was now replaced with an entirely different sort of heat.
“Hellllllllller?” Carrie drawled, finally answering the phone.
Legacy ignored the weird salutation, mostly because she was on a mission and barely noticed. “Where are you?’ she demanded.
“Hi to you too. At P & P…gettin’ drunk… correction… bein’ drunk and carbing it up with David.”
Carrie’s dreamy, intoxicated laugh was enough to snap Legacy into the present. “What? Why?”
“I dunno. Oh, cuz he was bein a butthole and you should come over here and..”
“I was not,” David protested, loudly… “lemme have the phone.”
“You were being a little bitch,” Carrie insisted and returning to Legacy, “he was being a little bitch but e’rything is fine now. Come hang with us.”
Legacy sighed. She really needed to talk this out. She was seriously contemplating going to meet Amanda’s parents and didn’t know if she needed to be talked out of it or into it. “I’m heading your way. Could you maybe sober up? I’m coming from the police station and I need your advice; David’s too.”
“Oh my God,” Carrie sat up straight, suddenly very, very sober. “Are you okay.
“What?” David demanded, popping his head up.
“I’m fine. I went in on my own to… I don”t know… be helpful, I think. This whole thing has gotten stupid.”
“What now?” Carrie asked, already annoyed for her friend. That’s how it was. She didn’t need the details to be irritated on Legacy’s behalf. Call it co-dependency, call it loyalty, call it whatever, but they were united, especially when shit went down.
“This stupid, hot cop had me followed.”
“Followed, who, What?”
“Followed is an exaggeration, never mind. I’ll be there in 20. Drink some water and I’ll fill you in when I get there.”
Legacy clipped through the crosswalk, though the Don’t Walk signal flashed its warning. This was New York, after all. Don’t Walk was a suggestion, really and so long as the crowd bustled along, you bustled with it or got trampled. 11 blocks later though, the adrenaline wearing off, Legacy got her bearings and summoned an Uber. She was heading in the wrong direction anyway, just stomping her anger away.
You don’t know me but I know you. Detective Smith’s first words to her echoed in her head. She sat quietly mulling over the last hour in her mind while her Uber driver attempted to make conversation. Legacy ignored her as best she could, her mind elsewhere.
‘Miss Price,” Detective Smith continued. “Do you know a man named Ho-Win Huang?”
“No, I don’t,” Legacy had replied weakly. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“You may know him as Howard. He runs a small shop on West 38th.”
Legacy laughed. Partly at learning that Howard had Americanized his name and at the assumption that his “shop” was small.
“First of all, Howard Huang’s ‘shop’,” she hissed, making air quotes with her fingers, “is far from small. The building may not be huge but I’ll have you know that he has an apartment at Central Park West. His neighbor is like, Bob Costas or something. His “small shop” supplies the biggest names in fashion all over the world. I’d name drop if I thought you’d have any idea who any of them were.” She looked him up and down with pretend annoyance. Insults were her playful way of flirting but Detective Smith didn’t seem to want to play along.
“My apologies. I didn’t mean to offend you or your friend. As for Mr. Huang’s impressive address, he’s closed up shop and skipped town.”
“No, he hasn’t.” Legacy argued. “He goes to China several times a year, and to Paris, and to the jewelry shows. Why are you so interested in him anyway and what does that have to do with why I’m here?”
“According to your statements, Amanda Van Dreisen approached you at a coffee shop, also on W. 38th?” He was all business.
“No, I was having coffee and sketching at a… hold on… do I need a lawyer, because Officer Diaz said that… and how the hell…”
“Oh, God no.,” he softened his tone. “No. Again, you have my apologies. Officer Diaz says you’ve been very cooperative and out of courtesy, she wanted me to fill you in.
“Okay,” Legacy crossed her arms in an attempt to look tough but mostly to hide her pounding heart. “But, I’m not in trouble?”
“No,” he smiled genuinely. “Listen, did it ever strike you as odd how you and Amanda just happened to bump into one another that day?”
“Not really. She was always an opportunist. I figured it was just a coincidence that she capitalized on. Am I wrong?”
“We’re not sure how Mr. Huang is involved but it’s clear he did have something to do with your coincidental meeting that day.”
Legacy sat up straight.
“What do you mean… is Howard in trouble?”
“I don’t think you’re understanding me. Howard Huang threw you to the wolves. The reason Ms. Van Dreisen found you that day was because he called her and told her you were there.”
“Why?” Legacy started to tear up. No. She was not going to cry, not here.
“That we haven’t figured out. His phone number was repeated in her phone records, we questioned him about her attack, and it all came out.”
“Again, I ask why? He’s rich. He can’t possibly need the money like she did. There’s got to be some mistake.”
“Well, there may be. He’s actually not a concern of ours any longer. It lead to a dead end in this investigation and as Officer Diaz mentioned, we’re fairly certain we know who was behind her assault.”
“Then why tell me all of this?”
“We just thought you’d want to know. We don’t know if or how Mr. Huang was involved. We don’t know why he was helping Ms. Van Dreisen. No laws have been broken that we can tell so we won’t be pursuing any further but if he returns, you may want to think twice before trusting him. We’re pretty sure that his involvement with her is completely isolated and has nothing to with her assault.”
“You’re pretty sure?,” Legacy raised her eyebrows. “Pretty sure? We’ll that inspires confidence. Am I in danger?”
“I wouldn’t worry about that.”
“That doesn’t answer my question.” her voice became shrill. She’d only came down here to help and to make sure she was cooperative, lest they think she had something to do with the whole mess.
“Ms. Price, we had a tail on you for a few days and I can assure you that there is no need for concern. It’s likely that whoever did this to Ms. Van Driesen, has no idea who you are. If I were you, I’d put the whole thing behind you. Let us handle it.”
“Tailed?,” Legacy knit her brows together angrily, slowly processing what he’s just said. “You mean you followed me?”
“Yes,” he confirmed, an uncomfortable flatness to his voice. “We’ll not me. But an officer kept up with you for a couple of days… to make sure…”
Angry tears sprung to Legacy’s eyes. “Of what? You can’t just follow people around. Invade my privacy. That’s not… this is not okay?” She felt sick.
“Ms. Price… I’m very sorry… but…”
“No, you aren’t!”
“You’re angry and I understand…” he started. “You have to understand, Amanda can’t speak for herself right now. You were the only person we knew of who might have known something. The more time we lose, the colder the case gets.”
“But I don’t know anything. I told you that!” She was yelling and suddenly wondered to herself if there was some law against yelling at a police officer. She was “pretty sure” there wasn’t but steeled herself anyway.
“We know,” he said quietly, “And now whoever did this, may actually get away with it.”
“That isn’t fair.”
“No, but it happens,” he said, sounding resigned.
“Can I go?” Legacy asked, her stomach queasy and her head pounding.
“This is my card,” he extended a small card toward her. “if you have questions or you think of anything else…”
Legacy stood to leave without accepting the card. “Detective Smith?”
“You can call me Mike,” he smiled genuinely, nudging the car towards her once more.
It only made her angrier. Yanking the card from his hand and shoving it in a pocket, she seethed. I think you’re right. I’ll leave this in your capable hands. I’m out. Go follow some actual criminals.”
Tears stinging her eyes, she brushed past him and out the door. She rushed wordlessly passed Officer Diaz on her way out. Feeling stifled, Legacy took a deep inhale to calm herself when she hit the street, only to have her nostrils assaulted by fresh horse shit from a nearby mounted officer’s horse. She needed to get as far from this place as possible.
“Hey, girl, you alright?” her Uber driver snapped her fingers, jolting Legacy back to the present. “Whoa, where’d you go, sister?’
“I just spaced, I guess,” Legacy laughed, embarrassed. “Oh, we’re here. Thanks” She jumped out of the compact car, making a mental note to give her driver a 5-star rating and a tip as soon as she sat down.
Inside Pinots & Pies, Legacy headed in the direction of Carrie’s laugh. She rounded the corner to find Carrie trying to well, for lack of a better term, deep throat a breadstick and David was laughing so hard he had tears streaming down his face.
“Should I come back?”