Case 15: Killer Photo

I will always love them.

The famous song “Come To Me” played through the gold colored I-pod earphones in a man’s ears as he walked down the street. He wore sunglasses and a hood, so his face could barely be seen. He looked in different directions and then turned a corner leading to Kurosagi’s complex. He looked at the complex and then removed his glasses revealing his aquamarine eyes.

Inside Kurosagi’s complex, Hatori was in a corner decorating a small Christmas tree that he bought with his hard earned money. He hummed “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” as he placed golden ornaments on the tree.

The door to the kitchen opened revealing Kurosagi with a tray of Chocolate chip cookies. She saw the tree in the corner and asked, “What is this?” Hatori glanced at Kurosagi and said, “Well Christmas is coming up and I thought the office could use some Christmas cheer.” Kurosagi sighed.

“I guess, but I don’t usually celebrate it.”

“You don’t celebrate Christmas?” asked Hatori. Kurosagi placed the cookies on her desk and sat in her chair.

“On Christmas I have to go somewhere.”

“Where?”

Kurosagi looked at Hatori with a serious look and said, “That’s none of your concern.” Hatori was filled with confusion as he watched Kurosagi eat her cookies.

They suddenly heard a knock on the door. Hatori glanced at the door and said, “It’s open.” The door opened revealing the man in the hood. Hatori smiled at the man and asked, “Do you need something?” The man removed his hood revealing his long blonde hair. Hatori’s eyes widened for he recognized the man that stood in front of the door: Matthew Avelino, the famous model of “Love Pop.”

Matthew approached Hatori tossing his long hair behind his back. He looked Hatori up and down and asked, “Aren’t you that news writer I met a long time ago?” Hatori nodded and stated, “I quit the agency, so now I work here.” Matthew smiled and said, “Well at least I got some eye candy while I’m here.” Hatori felt a chill run down his back.

Matthew looked around and asked, “So where is this famous detective I heard so much about?” Matthew saw Kurosagi eating her cookies at her desk and scoffed. He pointed at Kurosagi and asked, “Why is there a little girl here? It would be better to have a little boy.” Hatori sighed and said, “That little girl is Kurosagi.” Matthew paused in his actions and then looked at Kurosagi more closely. Kurosagi glanced at him wiping the crumbs from her dress. Matthew gasped.

“I thought Kurosagi was supposed to be an old hag,” exclaimed Matthew. Kurosagi groaned and said, “New comers are all the same when they react, but you are the first to call me a hag.” Matthew was completely bewildered as he stared at Kurosagi. Matthew sighed and said, “How can such a little girl solve the case?”

“What case?” asked Kurosagi. Matthew crossed his arms and said, “I’m not telling you anything unless you show me proof that you are Kurosagi. There is just no way that you solved the murder of Dahlia Dale.” Kurosagi frowned. She placed her half eaten cookie on a plate and jumped down from her chair. She looked Matthew up and down and then crossed her arms.

“You are nineteen-years-old and judging by the color of your eyes and hair, you might be from England. You have a Filipino last name, so your mother might be from the island Philippines. Your father is most likely the foreigner because studies have shown that sons usually look more like the father. Judging from the angle of your fingers, you play piano on your spare time and you write with your left hand. I can tell because there is a callous on your left index finger. You also mentioned Dahlia Dale and you are playing her songs on your I-Pod, so you are most likely her fan. Am I correct?”

Matthew was struck speechless. He broke the silence when he smiled and said, “You really are a detective.” Kurosagi smirked while Hatori chuckled. Hatori knew that Kurosagi only knew some of the information because she had read the information the police had gathered when it concerned Dahlia’s case.

Kurosagi pushed a strand of her short hair out of her face and asked, “So are you going to tell me what case you have brought for me to solve?” Matthew nodded and yanked a folder from the inside pocket of his coat. He held it to Kurosagi and said, “This is the case.”

Kurosagi flipped the folder open and frowned. Hatori went to Kurosagi’s side and asked, “What is wrong?” Hatori looked into the file. Hatori’s eyes widened. Inside the folder was a murder file with a picture of Julie Lawrence, the famous photographer of “Love Pop.” Hatori looked at Matthew and asked, “Lawrence-San was murdered?” Matthew nodded.

“She was found dead in her second apartment. She was shot in the head,” explained Matthew in a low tone. Kurosagi read the file over and added, “The murderer is still not found. The police thought that her husband was the murderer, but he was removed from the suspect list because there was no motive for murder.”

“Did she have life insurance?” asked Hatori. Kurosagi nodded and stated, “If she died, her husband would get one million dollars, but they have more than that and her husband has a job as an architect and gets more money than her. There was also no trace of an affair on his part.”

Matthew bowed his head to Kurosagi and said, “I really need you to solve this case. I can’t work until Julie’s murderer is caught.” Kurosagi shut the folder with one hand.

“I can help solve this case, but I need a payment and I am expensive,” stated Kurosagi. Matthew pulled out his checkbook from his coat. He wrote into one of the checks quickly and handed it to Kurosagi. Kurosagi looked at the amount and smirked. She held the check up to Hatori, while looking at Matthew.

“The deal is done.”

Hatori looked at the amount of the check and gasped. The check was worth five million dollars.

Kurosagi grabbed her bag from under her desk and a cookie from her plate. She looked back at Matthew and said, “I need you to take me to Lawrence-San’s body.” Matthew nodded and began to walk out of the office with Kurosagi and Hatori behind him.

They walked out into the street and headed north. Hatori glanced at Matthew and noticed that Matthew was wearing the glasses and hood again.

“Why are you dressed like that?”

Matthew adjusted his glasses and stated, “I can’t let outsiders know who I am or else I won’t be able to travel around freely.”

“Then why don’t you drive around in your car?” asked Hatori. Matthew frowned and admitted, “I get car sickness.” Hatori chuckled and said, “Kurosagi also…”

Hatori wasn’t able to finish his sentence because Kurosagi had kicked his shin. Hatori gasped in pain and limped as they continued to walk. Matthew looked at them bewildered, but then placed his earphones on. He smiled as he listened to one of Dahlia’s famous songs.

“You really like Dahlia’s songs, right?” asked Kurosagi. Matthew nodded and said, “I admit that I don’t like girl singers, but her songs are full with life.” Matthew closed his eyes and added, “‘Come to Me’ is my favorite.” Matthew opened his eyes with a sad smile.

“I only met her once, but that was enough to…”

Matthew blushed. Kurosagi saw this and chuckled. She patted Matthew’s leg and said, “You liked her, right?” Matthew’s blush grew deeper. He clenched his hand and said, “I just respected her for being a professional when she worked. Besides, I only like men.” Kurosagi chuckled and asked, “Then what about Lawrence-San?”

“She was my friend. She was the one who helped me with my career. She also helped me when I was depressed.”

“Depressed?”

Matthew nodded and added, “I was devastated when I heard that Dahlia was murdered by her agent the day after her concert and began to drink. Julie was the one who comforted me and got me back on track.” Kurosagi noticed a tear at the corner of Matthew’s eyes and sighed.

“Don’t cry, I already made a promise to find her murderer,” said Kurosagi. Matthew nodded fighting back his tears.

After what seemed like hours, they arrived at the morgue where Julie’s body was being kept. They entered through the glass doors and saw that the front desk was completely empty. Matthew pressed the bell on the desk repeatedly until a co-worker arrived. The co-worker had messy hair as he greeted them.

“I came here to see Julie Lawrence’s body,” said Matthew. The co-worker cleared his throat and said, “Her husband requested that no one should see her right now until the funeral.” Matthew groaned and said, “Her murder is still being investigated, so she can’t be buried yet.” The co-worker gulped.

“I guess you weren’t told, but the murderer already came forward.”

Matthew’s eyes widen. Matthew grabbed the co-worker by the collar and demanded to tell him who the murderer was with anger in his eyes. Hatori pulled Matthew away from the co-worker. Kurosagi went to the co-worker and asked, “Is this true?” The co-worker nodded and said, “He turned himself in today.” Kurosagi frowned and tuned away. She looked at Matthew and Hatori and said, “Let’s go.” Hatori nodded and began to drag Matthew out.

When they were outside of the morgue, Matthew finally managed to slip from Hatori’s grasp. He glared at Kurosagi and asked, “Do you believe that her murderer just came forward?” Kurosagi sighed.

“I won’t know until I go to the police station.”

“Do you know which police station?” asked Hatori. Kurosagi nodded and said, “If he turned himself in today then he would be at the closest station to the apartment where Lawrence-San was murdered.”

“Why there?” asked Matthew with crossed arms. Kurosagi smirked and said, “Because that’s where the file for the murder would go first.”

Kurosagi began to walk down the path with the murder file opened in her hands. Kurosagi, Hatori, and Matthew suddenly heard a car beeping at them and looked to the side. Matthew cringed when he saw a red Mustang rolling to the side. Matthew hid behind Hatori making Hatori confused. The car window rolled down revealing Velton, Bremen Station music producer. Velton looked different from how he looked when Hatori and Kurosagi first met him for his Mohawk was no longer his hair style. His hair was now straight that reached just above his shoulders. Hatori became stiff, while Kurosagi didn’t seem to care. Velton saw Matthew hiding behind Hatori and frowned.

“I know that’s you, Matthew,” said Velton. Matthew glanced at Velton and greeted him with a shaky voice. Velton stopped his car and stepped out. He walked pass Kurosagi and then yanked Matthew from behind Hatori. He dragged Matthew toward the car and said, “Why is it that the superiors always put me in charge of trying to retrieve you when you disappear? I have a life too you know.” Matthew struggled in Velton’s hold. Matthew managed to break free from Velton and grabbed hold of Kurosagi.

“I refuse to work until I know who murdered Julie,” said Matthew. Velton groaned and finally took notice of Hatori and Kurosagi. He pointed at Hatori and asked, “Aren’t you that reporter?” Hatori nodded and said, “I quit being a reporter in order to work as an assistant of Kurosagi.” Velton gasped and looked at Matthew.

“You hired Kurosagi to work on the case?” asked Velton. Matthew nodded. He showed Kurosagi to Velton and said, “This is Kurosagi.” Velton and Kurosagi stared at each other. Velton sighed and said, “You must be desperate to think that this child is Kurosagi.” Matthew groaned and wailed that she was Kurosagi. Velton shook his head still not convinced.

Kurosagi sighed and said, “I am Kurosagi, the great detective.” Velton patted Kurosagi’s head and said, “Don’t go along with his fantasies.” Kurosagi could tell that it would take a lot more for Velton to be convinced, so Kurosagi smiled and said, “You’re right mister, my name is Emi and I’m a new talent.” Matthew and Hatori looked at Kurosagi in confusion.

“A new talent?” asked Velton. Kurosagi nodded and said, “I hope to be one. Mr. Matthew wanted to introduce me to the company, but he said that he needed to go to the police station first because of a case.” Velton crossed his arms and said, “Well it is nice to have new talents, but it isn’t that easy and he can’t bring you to the police station.” Kurosagi began to tear up making Velton gasp and Hatori and Matthew’s eyes widen.

“But Mr. Matthew said that he needed to know who murdered his friend or he won’t be able to show me his true talent. I really want to see,” whimpered Kurosagi. Velton sighed and patted Kurosagi’s head.

“Don’t cry. I’ll take you to the police station, but when Matthew gets his answer we go back to the studio, understand?”

Kurosagi nodded with a bright smile. Matthew leaned toward Hatori and asked, “Is Kurosagi an actress?” Hatori sighed and whispered, “She said she used to be one, but I’m not quite sure.”

Velton leaned toward Kurosagi’s ears and asked, “Why was Matthew saying that you were Kurosagi?” Kurosagi giggled and said, “It’s a secret.” Kurosagi glanced back at Hatori and said, “Right, Mr. Detective.” Hatori pointed at himself with confusion written all over his face. Velton stared at Hatori and chuckled, thinking that Hatori was the actual detective.

They went into Velton’s car. Velton started the engine and then drove down the road toward the police station Matthew mentioned. Matthew covered his mouth trying to prevent his car sickness from taking over. Kurosagi on the other hand was throwing up into a barf bag with Hatori rubbing her back. Velton glanced back at Kurosagi and Hatori through his rear view mirror.

“Does Emi get car sick too?” asked Velton. Hatori nodded and added, “She doesn’t like people to know.” Velton nodded. Velton looked at Matthew and gasped when he saw that Matthew was turning paler. Velton held his hand to the back and asked for a barf bag from Kurosagi. Kurosagi tossed him an empty barf bag. Velton held it to Matthew and said, “Use this.” Matthew took it and immediately began to throw up into it. Velton gagged.

They soon arrived at the police station, “Parker Police station,” which was the closest to the crime scene. Velton stopped the engine and immediately ran out gasping for air. Matthew staggered out of the car with a full barf bag in hand. Kurosagi was carried out of the car by Hatori, who held at least three barf bags.

Velton looked at Matthew, who was throwing away the barf bag as the color in his face returned, and asked, “Why can’t you control your nausea and why didn’t you tell me sooner that Emi was car sick too?” Matthew cleared his throat and admitted that Kurosagi didn’t tell him. Velton sighed and glanced toward Kurosagi, who was being placed down by Hatori.

“Are you all right, Emi?” asked Velton. Kurosagi nodded with her small hand against her forehead. Matthew walked toward the police station and said, “I want to see if that bastard is really in there.” Velton’s eyes widen and asked, “Are you telling me that Julie’s murderer came forward already?” Matthew nodded with seriousness in his eyes.

“If he’s in there, I will definitely make him regret killing Julie.”

Matthew ran into the police station. Kurosagi glanced up at Hatori and said, “You better run after him. I have a feeling that he might do something he’ll regret.” Hatori nodded and ran into the police station.

Kurosagi walked pass Velton and said, “We should go in too.” Velton nodded and walked to her side. Before they went into the police station, Velton looked at Kurosagi and asked, “So are you trying to become a model like Matthew?” Kurosagi nodded and flashed a smile at Velton.

“Am I cute enough?” asked Kurosagi in her sweetest voice. Velton found himself blushing. He cleared his throat and nodded.

“You could be on the front page of a magazine.”

Kurosagi giggled.

Velton and Kurosagi walked in and immediately saw Matthew trying to rush down the hall with Hatori and two other policemen holding him back. Velton sighed and said, “Can you enter the police station like a normal person?” Matthew glared at Velton and screamed, “The police say he is here, so I am going to beat him to a pulp!” Velton shook his head and looked at one of the policemen.

“He was close with the murder victim, so I’m sorry for his outburst in here,” apologized Velton. The policeman nodded and said, “I can understand that, but we still need to prevent him from harming the guy.” The policeman frowned and added, “He’s going to be executed for the murder anyway.” Velton nodded.

Kurosagi clenched her fist. She walked to Matthew’s side and glanced up at him from the corner of her eye. Kurosagi held up her hand mouthing an apology. Hatori saw Kurosagi about to stab her fingers into Matthew and immediately covered Matthew’s mouth making Matthew muffled gasp. Kurosagi stabbed two of her fingers into Matthew’s leg. Matthew screamed through Hatori’s hand, but to others it just sounded like more of his angered outbursts.

I need you to calm down Avelino-San.

“What? How come I can hear your voice in my head and why did you stab my leg?”

This is just a secret of mine. I needed to do this so the police and Velton-San don’t hear us. Do you understand? Tell me in your head.

“I understand, but this hurts too much.”

I apologize for that, but I need you to listen to me. I need you to calm down and distract Velton-San, while I speak with the murderer to see if he is telling the truth.

“I’ll do it, so please remove your fingers from my leg!”

Kurosagi yanked her fingers out and hid her blood covered fingers with her other hand. Hatori released Matthew’s mouth. Matthew had tears in his eyes as the pain radiated from his leg. Kurosagi gasped and said, “Mister Matthew’s leg is hurt.” All eyes were on Matthew, who staggered to a chair with tears in his eyes. Velton walked to Matthew and said, “He must have hurt himself in the struggle with you guys.” Velton crossed his arms at Matthew and began to lecture him on why he needs to keep control of himself. Matthew whimpered as he pressed a handkerchief on his bleeding leg. The police also began to gather around Matthew trying to help with his wounded leg.

Hatori looked at Kurosagi and asked, “Did you really need to use that secret on him?” Kurosagi nodded and added, “He needed to calm down anyway.”

While the police and Velton were distracted, Kurosagi and Hatori went down the hall.

“Do you know where the guy would be kept?” asked Hatori. Kurosagi nodded and stated, “He would be in a holding cell for now before he is transported to the jail house where he will be given a court date.” Kurosagi frowned and added, “If he came forward willingly then he will be found guilty immediately.”

Kurosagi and Hatori stopped in their tracks when they saw a policeman sitting near the holding cell. Kurosagi sighed and said, “There’s no need for me to keep my secret around this man.” Kurosagi approached the policemen and flashed her bureau badge in front of his face.

“I need to speak with this man in the cell,” said Kurosagi. The policeman examined the badge and then nodded. He pulled out the cell key and handed it to Kurosagi.

“Don’t take long,” he said. Kurosagi nodded and began to unlock the cell. She glanced back at Hatori and ordered him to go in with her. Both Kurosagi and Hatori entered the cell making sure to close the door behind them. At the corner of the cell was a man in ragged clothes and pure white hair with black marks. Kurosagi approached the man and asked for his name.

“My name is Nicholas. I never had a last name.”

“Did you kill Julie Lawrence?”

Nicholas gripped his head and said, “I killed her.”

“Why?”

“Because she had a wonderful life and I didn’t. It wasn’t fair, that’s all I can think of.”

Kurosagi frowned. She suddenly noticed a bulge in his pocket and asked, “What’s in your pocket?” Nicholas pulled out a camera lens.

“The police forgot to take this from me.”

“What is it for?”

Nicholas smiled and said, “It’s to help focus the camera to make the images clear. I spent a total of fifty dollars for this.” Kurosagi stared at the lens and asked, “Do you have a camera?” Nicholas shook his head.

“Then why did you buy the lens?”

Nicholas eyes widened and became riddled with confusion. Kurosagi looked closely at Nicholas’s face. She placed a hand on his cheek and sighed.

“Let me ask you again, did you kill Julie Lawrence?”

Nicholas clenched the lens in his hand and said, “I don’t know. I woke up in a dumpster with blood on my hands and I heard about Julie’s death, so I thought that I…” Tears began to escape from Nicholas’s eyes.

“Would I kill her? She was…”

“She was your daughter, wasn’t she?” finished Kurosagi. Nicholas looked at Kurosagi with wide eyes. Hatori gasped and asked, “Are you sure?” Kurosagi nodded and said, “I remember the facial features of Lawrence-San when I saw her before. He has similar features to her.” Nicholas lowered his head.

“She is my daughter. I gave her up for adoption when her mother died. I became broke and have been living in the streets. I found her when I found one of her feature magazines. I bought the lens to give to her as a Christmas present.”

“Did you see Lawrence-San that day?” asked Kurosagi. Nicholas nodded and said, “I only saw her for a moment before I blacked out.”

“Is that why you thought you were the murderer?” asked Hatori. Nicholas nodded and cried into his hands. He cried his heart out saying Julie’s name repeatedly. Kurosagi petted his head and then left the cell with Hatori. Kurosagi looked at the policeman next to the cell door and said, “I’ll prove that he’s not the murderer, so keep him here for now.” The policeman nodded and watched her walk off down the hall with Hatori.

“Do we go back to the body now?” asked Hatori. Kurosagi shook her head. Kurosagi pulled out her phone and said, “I’ll have Noda examine the body. I’ll try to solve this case without the clues.” Hatori nodded.

Kurosagi could hear the ring tone from the other end and then it was replaced by the sound of Noda’s voice.

“Noda speaking.”

“Noda.”

“Kurosagi, are you calling about work or do you want to come over?”

“Act like an adult Noda.”

“All right. By the tone of your voice this is work related, so what do you need?”

“I need you to get a hold of Julie Lawrence’s body and examine it for any evidence.”

“I can do that. I’ll let you know if I find anything.”

“Thanks, Noda.”

“No problem and come over to pl…”

Kurosagi hung up the phone before Noda could finish his sentence.

When Hatori and Kurosagi reached the front of the police station, they saw Velton bandaging Matthew’s bleeding leg. Velton looked back at Kurosagi and Hatori and asked where they had been.

Kurosagi smiled and said, “I needed to go to the bathroom, so Mister Detective took me.” Velton looked at Hatori, who just nodded. Velton sighed and said, “All right, but we better head to the studio. Matthew has a photo shoot and then we have to get ready for the Christmas party.”

“Christmas Party?” asked Kurosagi. Velton nodded and added, “We have it every year.” Kurosagi nodded. Velton looked at Matthew and added, “We are going whether you like it or not.” Matthew frowned and nodded.

Velton thanked the police and began to leave the police station with Matthew using his shoulder as a support. Kurosagi walked to Matthew’s side. Without Velton noticing, she parted the bandage from the top and slipped her fingers back in the wound on Matthew’s leg. Matthew cringed.

Avelino-San?

“Do you seriously have to communicate with me again like this?”

I apologize, but I have to tell you that man they have in there is innocent.

“Innocent?”

That’s right. The murderer is still out there and I will find him.

“All right, so please remove your fingers. I am really in great pain here.”

Kurosagi removed her fingers from Matthew’s leg and wiped her fingers clean on Hatori’s black shirt. Hatori sighed knowing that it was a hopeless cause to tell Kurosagi not to use his shirt to clean her fingers. Velton helped Matthew into the car and made sure to give Matthew a barf bag. Velton looked at Kurosagi and Hatori and said, “When we reach the studio, I will need you two to sign-up at the front desk.” Kurosagi and Hatori nodded.

As they began to enter the car, Velton finally noticed that Kurosagi wasn’t wearing any shoes. He pointed at her feet and asked, “Where are your shoes?” Kurosagi lifted up her right foot and said, “I have a pair in my bag, but I don’t really need them.” Velton sighed and patted her head.

“Put on your shoes when we reach the studio OK,” said Velton. Kurosagi nodded. Kurosagi climbed onto the car with Hatori. Velton got into the driver seat and began to drive hoping that the two car sick people would be able to hold up.

When they reached the studio, it became more apparent that it was close to Christmas. There was a large tree next to the studio that was filled with different Christmas ornaments. Christmas lights decorated the studio and Snowmen were at the corner of the revolving doors up front.

They all excited the car. Matthew and Kurosagi both looked sick, while Hatori and Velton looked at the studio.

“The studio really went all out for the Christmas season,” commented Hatori. Velton nodded and added, “Well Christmas is a busy day for stars because their work load increases to please the audience for the Christmas season.” Velton looked at Matthew, who was still limping and finally regaining the color in his face.

“Let’s go in,” said Velton. Matthew shook his head.

“I don’t want to,” complained Matthew. Velton groaned and tried to yank Matthew inside, but Matthew grabbed a lamp post refusing to let go just as Kurosagi was finished slipping on her shoes. Kurosagi sighed and went to Matthew’s side. She smiled at him and said, “I need you to work your best Mister Matthew.” Kurosagi lifted up her fingers. Matthew gasped and immediately released the pole allowing Velton to drag him inside. Kurosagi sighed and said, “Avelino-San needs to work like normal or this could affect his career.”

“So you are concerned about his career?” asked Hatori. Kurosagi nodded and added, “I think Lawrence-San would want that and I also think that something in her work place might lead me to the real killer.” Kurosagi walked into the studio with Hatori. They signed in from the front desk and then immediately began to follow Matthew and Velton, who were entering the elevator.

When the elevator door closed in front of them, Matthew leaned against the wall clenching his pain throbbing leg. Velton looked at Matthew with concern in his eyes and said, “I know your leg hurts, but you still need to model for the Christmas poster.” Matthew frowned.

“I know that, but I really don’t want…”

Matthew gasped when he saw Kurosagi’s devilish smile with her fingers heading toward his wounded leg. Matthew was beginning to sweat as he muttered, “I’ll try my best to model.” Velton nodded even though he could tell that Matthew was not telling him something.

Hatori sighed and leaned toward Matthew’s ear.

“Kurosagi needs you to do your job so she can get some clues of who really murdered Lawrence-San,” whispered Hatori. Matthew nodded and muttered, “Why didn’t she tell me that sooner?”

The elevators doors opened revealing an eight-year-old boy with short black hair in a white school uniform. Velton stared down at the boy as he exited the elevator with the others and asked, “Why are you here young man?”

The boy tried to get his words out, but no words came out. He saw Kurosagi and burst into a bright smile. He ran to Kurosagi and embraced her making her gasp.

“Kurosagi!” he cheered. Kurosagi’s eyes widened. Hatori immediately yanked Kurosagi from the boy and demanded who the boy was. The boy smiled and said, “Don’t you recognize me?” The boy paused and then chuckled.

“Of course you wouldn’t,” said the boy. The boy held a hand to his chest and said, “My name is Lucille Khan. When you guys met me my name was Lucille Arikawa, remember now?” Hatori thought a while and remembered the case that involved a Kurosagi look alike named Lucille Arikawa.

“What happened to your face?” asked Hatori in surprise. Lucille chuckled and said, “I had reverse surgery. It just didn’t seem right for me to look like a girl. This is my real face.”

Velton and Matthew looked at Hatori and asked, “So you know this boy?” Hatori nodded and said, “Ku..I mean Emi and I met Ari… I mean Khan-Kun a few months back concerning his case with a murder.”

“So he’s a client of yours?” asked Velton. Hatori nodded. Lucille raised an eyebrow and pointed toward Kurosagi.

“Isn’t she Ku…”

Kurosagi covered Lucille’s mouth with a smile on her face and said, “Nice to see you again, Lucille-Kun. If you forgot, my name is EMI.” Lucille blinked in confusion wondering what Kurosagi was talking about. Kurosagi mouthed something to Lucille with seriousness in her eyes.

Lucille could read her lips and realized that she was under cover. Lucille nodded and pulled Kurosagi’s hand away from his mouth. Lucille rubbed his mouth and said, “Nice to see you again, Emi.” Kurosagi nodded with a giggle.

Velton cleared his throat loudly getting their attention.

“I’m sorry to be rude, but Matthew needs to go to the photo shoot area and I need to get back to the music station to decide on the Christmas selections quick,” said Velton. They all nodded. Lucille suddenly gasped and asked, “So Matthew Avelino is here?” Velton nodded.

“That’s great. I was about to go to the front to wait for him,” said Lucille.

“Why you?” they all asked. Lucille scratched the back of his head sheepishly.

“Because I was chosen to model with him,” said Lucille sheepishly. Kurosagi smirked and asked, “So you’re a model now?”

“Not officially. Some photographers found me on the way to school and decided that I was perfect for the Christmas poster. I love idols, so I agreed.”

Velton sighed and said, “Well then hurry up to the photo shoot.” Lucille nodded. Velton glanced back at Matthew and said, “This boy will take you to the photo shoot, so I’m going now and make sure to watch over Emi. I don’t want her getting lost.” Matthew nodded and watched his friend run down one of the halls.

Matthew tried to walk forward, but lost his footing because of his wounded leg. Matthew cursed under his breath as he clenched his pain throbbing leg. Hatori sighed and looked toward Kurosagi.

“You should heal his leg, Kurosagi,” said Hatori. Kurosagi nodded and yanked a strand of hair from her head. She knelt next to Matthew and said, “Please remove the bandage.” Matthew frowned.

“There is no need for you to talk through me now that Velton left,” whined Matthew. Kurosagi gave him a light slap on the cheek.

“I’m going to heal your leg, Avelino-San,” stated Kurosagi. Matthew groaned and began to remove the bandage. Lucille cocked his head to the side and asked, “What is Kurosagi doing?”

“She’s going to heal his leg and please don’t tell anyone,” stated Hatori. Lucille nodded. Kurosagi pulled out her sewing kit from her bag. She flipped the case open and removed a needle. She looped the strand of hair through the eye of the needle and then looked back at Matthew, who had the bandage completely removed showing the finger sized wound on his leg. Lucille gasped and asked, “How did that happen?” Matthew frowned pointing an accusing finger at Kurosagi.

Kurosagi grabbed his leg and pushed the needle through the flesh of the leg. Matthew was about to scream, but Hatori covered his mouth. Hatori leaned toward Matthew’s ear telling him not to scream and to keep still. Matthew nodded. Kurosagi sewn the wound shut with her strand of hair. She broke the hair by the end to remove the needle and then the wound on Matthew’s leg vanished along the stitches as if they were never there.

Matthew and Lucille stared at the healed leg with wide eyes. Matthew pointed at his leg and asked, “How did you do that?” Kurosagi wiped her needle clean and placed it back in the sewing kit, which she then placed back in her bag.

“When a strand of my hair is sewn into the skin, it will heal along the stitches as if it were never there,” explained Kurosagi. She looked at Lucille and Matthew seriously and warned them not to tell anyone. Matthew and Lucille nodded.

Kurosagi stood up to her feet and adjusted her bag on her back. She looked at Hatori, Matthew, and Lucille and asked, “Shall we?” They all nodded and began to walk down a hall completely different from Velton’s.

Kurosagi looked around the hall and sighed.

“Is this photo shoot taking place in the same area as ‘Love Pop’ pictures are taken?” asked Kurosagi. Matthew nodded and asked, “How did you know?”

“I met Julie Lawrence during one of my cases when she was taking pictures for ‘Love Pop’ magazine. She was a true artist in her work,” stated Kurosagi. Matthew smiled and nodded. Hatori looked at Kurosagi knowing that she was referring to the case of the murdered singer.

They reached the door to the photo shoot, but before Matthew could open the door, a voice that could compete with a roaring audience in a Super Bowl stadium emerged from within the closed door. Matthew covered his ears and exclaimed, “What the hell was that?” Lucille chuckled and said, “That might be Juliet.” Matthew’s eyes widened.

“That annoying little brat is here too?” asked Matthew with his voice shaking. Lucille nodded and added, “The theme of the poster was ‘Innocent Christmas Dreams’ so it had to have kids in it.” Matthew groaned. Kurosagi chuckled and asked, “So you dislike Sanders-Chan?” Matthew nodded.

“She’s a spoiled brat and always steals my food when she has the chance and sabotages my clothes. She’s the devil incarnate,” muttered Matthew. Kurosagi sighed and said, “Well you need to work with her, so let’s go in.” Kurosagi opened the door before Matthew could stop her with a desperate look in his eyes.

When the door was opened, it revealed the whole photography staff preparing the cameras and the Christmas setting. Kurosagi saw Juliet wearing a green Christmas dress near the set with Jennifer Avez trying to put blush on Juliet’s cheek. Kurosagi looked back at Matthew and said, “They look almost ready for the photo shoot.” Matthew inched back saying, “I don’t want to work with that little brat.” Kurosagi sighed. She looked at Hatori and said, “Can you please drag Avelino-San in?” Hatori nodded and grabbed Matthew from behind. Matthew began to kick and scream as Hatori dragged him into the photo shoot area.

Lucille chuckled and looked at Kurosagi.

“Is him working related to the case you are working now?” asked Lucille. Kurosagi nodded and added, “I need him to work also because I don’t want him to lose his job.” Lucille smiled.

“You’re kind, Kurosagi.”

Kurosagi held a finger to her lips and said, “The name is Emi, Lucille-Kun.” Lucille nodded and sighed.

“Of all the names to choose, you choose my idol: Emi.”

Kurosagi giggled and walked into the photo shoot area.

Matthew was immediately grabbed by Jennifer when he was in the room and forced into a dressing room with him yelling out objections. Hatori wiped the sweat off his brow and said, “Avelino-San really is a difficult man.”

“Hey,” stated a high pitched voice. Hatori looked to his right side and saw Juliet glaring up at him with her arms clenched to her side.

“Sanders-Chan?”

Juliet nodded and pointed at Hatori.

“You’re that reporter that was with Dahlia right?”

Hatori nodded. Juliet groaned and said, “If you were with her, you should have protected her better and maybe she would be alive.” Hatori waved his hand in front of him and stated, “I wasn’t even there when she was murdered.” Juliet pouted.

Juliet then pushed a strand of stiff hair behind her ear and asked, “So why are you here this time? Were you ordered to do a report on Matthew?” Hatori shook his head and added, “I’m not supposed to tell you.” Juliet’s glare seemed to grow more serious. She gripped the pant leg of Hatori making him gasp.

“Are you Matthew’s new boyfriend?”

Hatori blushed and shook his head. Juliet growled demanding Hatori to tell her the truth. Hatori spotted Kurosagi, who was next to Lucille looking at him. Kurosagi smirked and said, “I had no idea that Ogami-San fancied Avelino-San.” Hatori’s blush grew deeper and screamed, “That’s not true!” Lucille and Kurosagi chuckled.

Lucille suddenly heard someone call his name. Lucille looked back at Kurosagi and said, “I have to get into costume.” Kurosagi nodded and watched Lucille run off to one of the other make-up artists. Kurosagi approached Hatori and yanked him away from Juliet. Juliet looked at Kurosagi and demanded who she was.

“My name is Emi: I will be modeling with Mr. Matthew in the future,” stated Kurosagi in an innocent tone that made Hatori give out a sigh. Juliet glared at Kurosagi and yelled, “I refuse to believe that. Matthew is my…”

Juliet stopped in her words and turned red to the cheeks. Kurosagi smirked and asked, “Do you like Mr. Matthew?” Juliet scoffed at Kurosagi and began to walk off still red. Kurosagi chuckled and stated, “She’s such a child.”

Kurosagi urged Hatori to kneel to her, so she could whisper in his ear.

“I need you to speak with the staff to see if you can get any information concerning Julie Lawrence.”

Hatori nodded and then began to walk off.

In a matter of minutes, Matthew walked out of the dressing room wearing a red sweater, black pants, and red boots. His hair was combed back and in a ponytail. The frown that he wore before was replaced with a professional smile.

Matthew was ordered to sit in front of the snow covered set as if he were on a throne meant for kings. Juliet entered the set next and Kurosagi could immediately tell that Matthew was trying to fight back a frown as Juliet sat in his lap. Lucille entered the set next wearing a smaller version of Matthew’s Christmas attire. Lucille was ordered to lean against the set with his arms crossed.

The photographer was revealed to be a photographer from the states. His name was Oliver Cross, age twenty-seven, a famous photographer called specifically for the Christmas season. Oliver fixed the camera lens as he examined the scene of the photo shoot. Oliver sighed and said, “I need you three to keep still as I take the photo.” All three of them nodded.

Oliver pressed the button upon the camera taking the picture. He ordered Matthew, Juliet, and Lucille to move in different positions as he took multiple pictures. As he took the pictures, Matthew began to show a face of weakness. Kurosagi noticed this and sighed.

Kurosagi took in a deep breath and began to sing “Noel.” All eyes fell upon her as she sang the Christmas classic. Matthew listened to the song and felt himself begin to smile. Oliver saw this and took the picture. Oliver smiled and looked back at Kurosagi, who was still singing.

“Please continue to sing, young lady,” said Oliver. Kurosagi nodded changing the song to “Silent Night.” As Kurosagi sang, the photo shoot continued and Hatori continued to speak with the staff.

Hatori poked the shoulder of Jennifer, who seemed to be in a trance as she listened to Kurosagi’s voice. Jennifer gasped and looked at Hatori.

“Do you need something, sir?”

Hatori nodded pulling a miniature notebook from his back pocket. He pulled out a pen and pressed it against the blank page of the notebook.

“Can you tell me what you know about Julie Lawrence before her death?” asked Hatori. Jennifer nodded and said, “She was a talented photographer. Any picture she took seemed to have a life of its own.”

“Anything else like did she seem to have a change of attitude the day before her death?”

Jennifer nodded and looked downcast.

“She did look depress especially when she took Matthew’s pictures for the magazine. She also looked sick to the stomach when it was time for the morning shoots.”

Jennifer clenched her arm with a tear at the corner of her eye.

“I still can’t believe she’s gone,” said Jennifer with her voice beginning to crack. Hatori patted her back telling her not to cry. Jennifer nodded wiping her tears away. Jennifer looked at Hatori and asked, “Why are you asking about Julie?”

“It’s for work,” stated Hatori and then walked toward the next person. Jennifer seemed like she was about to cry again, but when she heard Kurosagi’s angelic voice, she smiled with a hand to her heart. Hatori found himself smiling when he noticed that Jennifer’s look of hurt changed to one filled with comfort.

Hatori looked toward Kurosagi as he walked away from Jennifer and noticed that a sort of aura seemed to surround her very being as she sang. Hatori then began to wonder exactly how long Kurosagi had sung before she became a detective, but his thoughts were interrupted when he remembered that he needed to get as much information on Julie Lawrence.

Kurosagi changed the song to “White Christmas” as her gaze fell upon Hatori, who approached a random male employee. She smirked as she sang; proud that Hatori was doing his best for the case.

Hatori pressed his pen upon the page of the notebook in his hand and asked the man concerning Julie Lawrence.

“I haven’t worked with Julie Lawrence much before she died, but I know that there was a rumor going around the studio concerning her.”

“A rumor?”

The man nodded and added, “There was a rumor that she was having an affair with a model.”

“An affair, why would a rumor like that go around?”

“Well she always has contact with the male models, so rumors like that go around once in a while.”

Hatori thanked the man for the information and went to a different employee. Surprisingly, the employee only knew about the rumor. Hatori frowned asking more employees, but it was always about the rumor of the affair.

After the photo shoot, Kurosagi finally stopped singing and sighed. All the employees clapped for Kurosagi thanking her for singing for them. Kurosagi nodded as a reply to their praise. Matthew pushed Juliet off his lap making her gasp and went to Kurosagi. He kneeled in front of her and asked, “Why did you start singing during the shoot.” Kurosagi smirked and poked Matthew’s forehead.

“I needed you to have some Christmas spirit to do the shoot, Avelino-San,” stated Kurosagi. Matthew didn’t know why, but he felt his cheeks begin to heat up. Juliet frowned at the sight and ran at Matthew and Kurosagi. She yanked Matthew away from Kurosagi yelling, “Keep away from Matthew!” Matthew gritted his teeth and was about to pull his arm away from Juliet, but Kurosagi grabbed his other arm making him fall still. Kurosagi glanced at Juliet and giggled.

“I need to stay with Mr. Matthew, so move along now Juliet-Chan,” said Kurosagi and then stuck her tongue out. Juliet gritted her teeth as she released Matthew’s arm. She extended her hand at Kurosagi ready to slap her, but Hatori immediately grabbed her hand and glared down at her.

“Don’t you dare hurt her,” warned Hatori in a strict voice. Juliet groaned and slapped Hatori’s hand away. She turned away from them filled with anger. Lucille approached them and asked, “Is something wrong?” Kurosagi shook her head and stated, “Juliet-Chan was just tired.” Juliet pouted as she began to walk away. Lucille sighed. He suddenly heard one of the employees calling him and looked back at Kurosagi.

“I have to change out of these clothes, but if you need me…”

Lucille pulled out his phone and pointed it at Kurosagi’s bag. A ringing emitted from her bag. Kurosagi opened her bag and pulled out her cell phone. She flipped it open revealing a number that she had never seen before upon the phone screen. Lucille winked at her and added, “Just call me by that number.” Lucille closed his phone and then ran toward one of the employees with a smile on his face.

Kurosagi sighed saving the number on her phone. Hatori and Matthew looked into her phone and asked, in unison, “How does he know your number?” Kurosagi shut her phone and stated, “Utsuho must have told him how to use his phone like a remote.”

“A remote?”

“An exchange of numbers in a different way. You can also call it the hacking way.”

“I thought your phone can’t be hacked?” asked Hatori remembering Terry’s words. Kurosagi chuckled and added, “It can’t be hacked, but there are exceptions, especially when it won’t be harmful.” Hatori nodded in understanding, while Matthew grew confused.

Matthew heard someone call his name and groaned.

“I have to change out of these clothes and then I will be free until midnight.”

“Why midnight?” asked Hatori. Matthew crossed his arms at Hatori and asked, “How can you not know?” Hatori was filled with confusion as Matthew went to one of the employees. Hatori looked at Kurosagi and asked, “What was he talking about?”

“At midnight, there is a concert filled with idols. The idols entertain the guests and then light lanterns for the coming of Christmas. It’s the Christmas party Velton-San mentioned. It happens when there are five days until Christmas. This is a tradition, so I’m surprised you don’t know about it.”

Hatori turned red feeling embarrassed that he had forgotten even though he had lived in Japan for years. Kurosagi then tugged at the edge of his shirt making him look at her.

“So what did you learn?”

“Well the makeup artist told me that Julie Lawrence looked depressed before her death and would get sick during morning shootings.”

Hatori rubbed the bridge of his nose and added, “The other employees only mentioned about a rumor about Julie Lawrence having an affair, but it is only a rumor, so there’s no absolute proof.” Kurosagi smirked thanking Hatori for the information.

Matthew approached them again in the clothes he was wearing before he entered the dressing room and asked, “So what now Miss. Detective?” Kurosagi giggled making Matthew raise an eyebrow.

“How about we go to restaurant for you to eat and then we can discuss the new details?”

Matthew nodded. They were about to walk out of the studio, but Oliver grabbed Hatori’s hand making Hatori look at him.

“Do you need something?” asked Hatori. Oliver smiled and looked toward Kurosagi.

“Is she your daughter?”

Hatori blushed and glanced at Kurosagi wondering if she wanted to still pretend or not. Kurosagi noticed Hatori’s gaze and nodded. Hatori looked back at Oliver and said, “Emi is my daughter, why do you ask?”

“Well I wanted to get your permission to have her in my next project for another edition of ‘Love Pop’ magazine.”

Hatori’s eyes widened and asked, “Why?” Oliver gazed at Kurosagi, who stood next to Matthew, and said, “She has the perfect body structure to be a model and her wonderful voice like an angel would make her immediately famous, so what do you say?” Hatori glanced at Kurosagi again looking for an answer. Kurosagi shook her head.

Hatori looked back at Oliver and stated, “I have to say no to that. Singing is only her hobby.” Oliver sighed stating that it was a disappointment. Oliver released Hatori allowing him to leave with Matthew and Kurosagi.

When they were out of the photo studio, Kurosagi thanked Hatori for keeping control of the situation. Hatori nodded, but then noticed that there was sadness in her eyes. Hatori was going to question her about her look, but Matthew blocked his view. Hatori decided that it wasn’t the best time to ask.

They went to the elevator, but before Kurosagi could press the button, the elevator door opened revealing a man. The man seemed to be around his thirties. He had a neatly trimmed black beard; sky blue eyes; gelled hair that reached above his shoulders; and a thin figure. The man excused himself as he walked pass Hatori and Kurosagi, but glared at Matthew. Matthew frowned as the man walked past him. Kurosagi noticed the frown and asked, “Do you know that man?” Matthew crossed his arms with furrowed brows.

“Of course I know him. His name is Kevin Lawrence, Julie’s husband.”

“Why would he be here?” asked Hatori looking in the direction Kevin went.

“Most likely to get the things she may have left in the studio to use for the funeral,” stated Matthew. Matthew clenched his fist and added, “He’s the only guy I really hate.”

“Why do you hate him?” asked Kurosagi.

“Well he made Julie cry before and ever since she started taking my pictures he has treated me badly,” whined Matthew. Kurosagi chuckled as she pressed the button for the elevator. She pushed Matthew and Hatori into the elevator and walked in herself. She looked at Matthew as the elevator door closed and asked, “Does the rumor have something to do with you?”

“What rumor?”

“Well there was a rumor going around that Julie was having an affair with a model. Could the model be you?”

Matthew blushed and yelled, “We weren’t that close!” Kurosagi chuckled just as the elevator door reopened. Kurosagi waltzed out with Hatori and Matthew behind her. She looked back at them and said, “Let’s talk some more in the restaurant, shall we.” Hatori and Matthew both nodded.

They went to the closest restaurant in the area. Matthew and Hatori ordered lunch specials, while Kurosagi ordered a salad with chocolate cookies with whipped cream on the side. While the waitress prepared their orders Kurosagi began to speak with Matthew again.

“In the elevator you say that you weren’t that close with her, right?”

Matthew nodded and added, “We were just friends.”

“Do you think that maybe Julie thought differently?”

“What do you mean?”

“Maybe Lawrence-San wanted to have more than friendship with you.”

Matthew shook his head.

“Julie knows my interests, so I think she wouldn’t even try,” stated Matthew. Hatori pulled out his miniature notebook and flipped it to the front page.

“According to the makeup artist, Julie Lawrence looked depressed before her death and it was usually during your picture sessions.”

Matthew looked at Hatori with wide eyes.

“Are you implying that I was the reason she was depressed?” asked Matthew.

“Ogami-San is just saying that maybe she liked you more than just a friend, but couldn’t tell you because you ARE interested in guys.”

Matthew’s hands were shaking.

“Do you think she killed herself because of grief?” asked Matthew with wide eyes. Kurosagi shook her head.

“It does sound that way, but if that was the case then whom placed Julie’s father outside. Someone wanted him to take the fall and I doubt a dead body can do it.”

Hatori nodded in agreement and added, “We need more information to solve this case.” Matthew nodded, his form still shaking.

The minute their food arrived, Kurosagi’s phone began to ring. Kurosagi pulled her phone out and answered it.

“Kurosagi speaking.”

“Hello Kurosagi.”

“Noda, did you manage to get the body?”

“Straight to the point as usual. I have her body and I already examined it.”

“Did you find anything?”

“I have. I nearly cried.”

“Why would you cry?”

“Well Lawrence-San was pregnant before she died.”

Kurosagi’s eyes widen.

“Are you sure?”

“Well there are indications of a pregnancy and I do see the underdeveloped fetus. If her corpse continued to deteriorate then the indications of a birth would have been hard to find.”

“Can you tell who the father is with the fetus alone?”

“I can, just hold on a bit.”

Kurosagi could hear Noda leaving the phone behind. She glanced at Matthew and Hatori with the phone to her ear.

Before she could say a word to Hatori and Matthew, she heard Noda pick the phone up again.

“I used the DNA machine to find the father and I have to say that I might have found the reason for her death as well.”

“Why is that?”

“Well the father is not her husband.”

“You sure?”

“Positive, so her husband might have killed her.”

“That’s a good hypothesis, but then who is the father?”

Noda spoke the name of the father of the unborn child. Kurosagi smirked and thanked Noda before hanging up the phone. Kurosagi placed her phone in her bag and glanced at Matthew, who was eating his meal silently.

“Did you know that Julie Lawrence was pregnant?”

Matthew nearly choked on his food. He managed to swallow and looked at Kurosagi with wide eyes.

“She was pregnant?”

Kurosagi nodded. Hatori was just as surprised. Kurosagi then pointed at Matthew and asked, “Are you sure you two were just friends?” Matthew nodded and asked, “Why are you asking me this again?”

“The baby that Julie carried wasn’t her husband’s. The child was yours, Avelino-San,” stated Kurosagi. Matthew gasped dropping whatever silverware was in his hands. Matthew covered his mouth muttering that it wasn’t possible.

Hatori looked at Kurosagi and asked, “Is that right?” Kurosagi nodded and added, “I don’t know when, but Avelino-San and Julie Lawrence got together at some point and that’s when she got pregnant. Do you know when that time happened, Avelino-San?” Matthew shook his head muttering that he doesn’t know with tears in his eyes.

Matthew suddenly gasped and said, “I was drunk when she comforted me months ago. Did she do something else while I was out of it?” Kurosagi smirked.

“You seem to remember a bit, so maybe I’ll be able to see it,” stated Kurosagi. Matthew clenched her hand from across the table.

“So you can see my memories too?”

“What if I say yes, would you believe me?”

Matthew nodded and stated, “After you spoke through my mind, I’ll believe anything.” Kurosagi nodded and took one bite out of one of the cookies on her plate and some of her salad. She then leapt off her chair and told Hatori to pay for the food. Hatori nodded and paid for the food realizing too late that Kurosagi had a money card that could have paid for their meal.

Kurosagi, Matthew, and Hatori left the restaurant. Kurosagi dragged Matthew into an alleyway making him confused. Kurosagi urged Matthew closer making him kneel in front of her. Kurosagi yanked a strand of hair from Matthew’s head making him flinch.

“Why did you do that Miss. Detective?” asked Matthew rubbing his head. Kurosagi showed the strand to Matthew.

“I can see your memories by eating a strand of your hair. Whatever you see, you will not reveal to anyone else, understand?”

Matthew nodded. Before Kurosagi could put the strand in her mouth, Matthew grabbed her hand making her look at him.

“Is there a way for me to see too?”

“There is, but why do you want to see?”

“I need to know, I need to see clearly how Julie really felt about me,” stated Matthew with a voice filled with emotion. Kurosagi smirked and nodded.

“I’ll let you see, but you might not like the method,” stated Kurosagi. Matthew smirked and said, “I’m ready for it.” Kurosagi nodded. She glanced at Hatori and said, “Don’t freak out Ogami-San.” Hatori raised an eyebrow and suddenly remembered Kurosagi’s method of sharing a memory.

Before Hatori could yell out objections, Kurosagi placed the strand of hair in her mouth and pulled Matthew to her. She connected her lips with Matthew’s making Matthew gasp. He felt her tongue in his mouth and began to try and pull away, but Kurosagi refused to separate. She closed her eyes as she kissed Matthew.

Calm down and let the memory form, Avelino-San.

Matthew stopped struggling and closed his eyes. Matthew could hear the passing cars, but then it was replaced with Dahlia’s “Come to Me” song. An image of Matthew’s room appeared around him. Matthew looked around and said, “This is my room.” Matthew saw his image in a mirror. His past self was wearing pink pajamas and holding a bottle of beer. Matthew saw the bottom of a bottle as he drank the beer.

“Why did you die Dahlia? You still had so much potential.”

“This is when I was still depressed about Dahlia’s death. That means that Julie should come in soon.”

At that moment, Julie walked into the room. She approached Matthew and kneeled in front of him.

“Matthew I need you to get it together. The company has threatened to fire you if you don’t get back to work,” said Julie. Matthew’s hand pushed Julie away.

“I don’t want to go back to work. Everything I see reminds me that Dahlia is gone.”

Julie approached Matthew again and said, “I know her death has upset you, but you only met her once, you shouldn’t let her death affect you this much.”

“It’s not fair that she died. I want to see her again.”

Matthew could hear himself crying. Julie reached out to him and then he could see her eyes at close range. Matthew blushed and covered his mouth.

“I remember now. I was drunk, so when she kissed me, I saw her as Dahlia and…Oh dear Lord. I really did hurt Julie. I thought she just spoke with me to comfort me, I didn’t think that I actually did that to her. I’m so sorry Julie.”

The memory faded into the darkness just as Kurosagi removed her lips from Matthew and fell back. Matthew opened his eyes with his hand over his mouth. Hatori ran to Kurosagi’s side trying to help her to her feet. Kurosagi glanced at Matthew and asked, “Do you understand how Julie felt about you now?” Matthew nodded with a blush on his cheek.

“She loved me more than just a friend, but she kept the baby a secret because she knew that I was interested in guys.”

Tears ran down Matthew’s cheeks like a water fall.

“Did someone kill her because of me?” asked Matthew as he began to cry with his hands against his face. Hatori looked at Kurosagi and asked, “Don’t you think that the murderer could be her husband?” Kurosagi nodded and added, “But we still need proof.”

Matthew suddenly gripped Kurosagi’s shoulders with tears still in his eyes and said, “Do whatever it takes to find the real murderer. I will never forgive that bastard for taking two lives.” Kurosagi nodded and asked, “So are you ready to follow me into the darkness?” Matthew nodded.

At around nine o’clock at night, Matthew was in the park sitting on a bench by himself. He heard footsteps approaching and glanced up. Julie’s husband, Kevin, was approaching Matthew from near an oak tree. He stopped in front of Matthew with a glare in his eyes.

“Why did you call me here bastard?” demanded Kevin. Matthew smirked as he stood up from the bench. Matthew tossed his hair behind his shoulders and asked, “I want to know why you are so eager to bury Julie when the murderer isn’t found yet?”

Kevin scoffed and said, “The murderer already came forward.” Matthew shook his head and glared daggers at Kevin.

“The one who turned himself in is confused. He is not the murderer,” said Matthew. Matthew pointed at Kevin and added, “You’re the one who killed her.” Kevin crossed his arms with a raised eyebrow.

“I did no such thing. There was no reason for me to kill her, remember?”

Matthew chuckled and said, “You did have a motive.” Matthew held a hand to his chest and said, “She was pregnant with my child.” Kevin gritted his teeth his form shaking.

“You think the police wouldn’t have figured it out. She got pregnant with my child, so you had a reason to kill her, so just admit it,” urged Matthew. Kevin punched Matthew in the face sending Matthew flying to the ground. Matthew placed a hand to his cheek as he glared at Kevin. Kevin stood his ground with hatred in his eyes.

“This is why I hate you. You always jump to conclusions. You never care about anyone but yourself, but Julie still loved you.”

Kevin clenched his head as tears began to fall from his eyes.

“It’s true I knew about the baby. I knew that the baby wasn’t mine, but I would never kill her.”

“So you are still denying that you killed her?” asked Matthew as if his voice was about to break. Kevin tried to kick Matthew, but Matthew managed to dodge.

“I didn’t kill her! She was already dead when I found her. You can ask the police. I have a motive now, but I also have an alibi. At the time of her death, I was at the studio with the staff helping with the preparation for the Christmas concert for tonight. There are witnesses!”

Matthew’s eyes widen. At that time, Matthew was also at the preparation. He vaguely remembered Kevin at one of the sets painting it red. Matthew clenched his head puzzled.

“That’s right then who killed Julie?” asked Matthew completely puzzled. Matthew suddenly heard a cock of a gun and the next thing he knew, a stream of blood splattered over him. Matthew’s eyes widen as Kevin gasped with a gaping hole in his throat. Kevin clenched his throat as he fell to the ground before Matthew. Matthew stared at the body shaking.

“Who…?”

Matthew looked ahead and saw Jennifer standing near a tree holding a gun with two hands. Matthew pointed at Jennifer his form still shaking.

“Why are you here?” asked Matthew. Jennifer pointed the gun at Matthew with a crocked smile.

“I heard that Kevin was going to be here. I never expected that you would be here too, Matthew,” said Jennifer. Jennifer approached Matthew, the gun still pointed at him.

“You know Julie liked you very much, but you always managed to make her sad. Her husband was the same.”

Jennifer stopped in front of Matthew chuckling.

“I just wanted her to be happy.”

Matthew gulped and asked, “Did you kill her?” Jennifer chuckled with a tear slipping from her right eye.

“It was an accident. I went to her apartment to kill Kevin. I didn’t know he was still at the studio and that Julie came home early. I saw an old man at her door and knocked him out. Julie saw what I did and said that I shouldn’t have hurt him because he was her father. A man like that couldn’t be her father. I told her that I wanted to make her happy, but she rejected my kindness and told me about her pregnancy and one thing led to another and then my finger slipped. Julie was gone. The old man became my scapegoat all because I put blood on his hands and managed to dump him outside.”

Jennifer began to chuckle as tears continued to flow from her eyes.

“I never wanted to hurt her. Julie was my world. I can’t take back what I did, but at least I can complete what I wanted to do in the first place. I got to kill her abusive husband and now…”

Jennifer aimed the gun at Matthew’s head.

“I get the chance to kill the man who made my Julie suffer.”

Jennifer was about to pull the trigger, but a needle emerged from the tree above Matthew and impaled her hand. Jennifer screamed as she released the gun. The gun fell to the ground as Jennifer gripped her hand that was throbbing in pain.

Out of the tree: jumped out Kurosagi and Hatori. Hatori stared at Jennifer in disbelief.

“So she was the murderer?” asked Hatori. Kurosagi nodded and kneeled next to Matthew and Kevin. She flipped Kevin over revealing that he was still alive, but barely clinging to life.

“I did think Kevin-San was the murderer, but when he started to speak I realized that there had to be someone else.”

Kurosagi glanced at Jennifer, who was crying nonstop from the pain in her hand.

“She was the only one who gave decent information to you, so it made me think that maybe she always watched Julie when she was alive. She was also probably the one who spread the rumor of the affair to break Julie and her husband up, but these are just assumptions.”

Kurosagi pointed at the fallen gun and added, “The gun that Jennifer-san has is the proof needed to prove that Lawrence-San’s father is innocent. The gun’s bullet will match with the bullet found in Lawrence-San’s body.”

Kevin clenched Matthew’s leg making Matthew flinch. Kurosagi looked at Kevin and said, “I can save you, but promise not to interfere with Avelino-San’s life.” Kevin nodded still clenching his bleeding neck.

Kurosagi ordered Hatori to pull out her sewing kit quickly from the bag. Hatori did as told and tossed it to Kurosagi. Kurosagi caught it and flipped it open. She pulled out the right sized needle, while also pulling out a strand of hair from her head. She looped the strand through the eye of the needle and then began to sew the wound in Kevin’s throat shut. Kevin tried to scream, but his voice wouldn’t let him. Matthew covered his mouth as the smell of blood invaded his senses.

When Kurosagi sewed the wound completely shut, the stitches vanished along with the wound. Kevin clenched his healed throat with wide eyes. Before Kevin could speak, Kurosagi stood up. She told Hatori to put away her sewing kit as she began to approach Jennifer, who was curled up on the ground crying still clenching the hand that was impaled by the needle like hair.

Kurosagi held her hand at Jennifer’s form with a glare.

“Kevin-San’s words helped shed light on you and the gun is the proof of the murder. The pieces of the mystery have been assembled, now fall into the darkness, Jennifer Avez.”

Jennifer was overcome with fear as she looked into Kurosagi’s red eyes. Jennifer screamed forcing Matthew and Kevin to cover their ears shaking.

At midnight, the Christmas party took place. Matthew leaned against the wall of one of the buildings as the celebration commenced. Matthew looked downcast.

“Avelino-San?”

Matthew looked to his side and saw Kurosagi standing beside him. Matthew sighed and asked, “What do you want?”

“I just wanted to tell you that Kevin-San is doing fine in the hospital and that Jennifer Avez will be tried for the murder of Julie Lawrence. Julie’s father was also set free and will be staying at a shelter for the homeless until he can find a proper job. Isn’t that good news?”

Matthew frowned. Kurosagi smirked and asked, “Did you really want to kill Julie’s murderer?” Matthew clenched his fist.

“I did want to kill that bitch, but that would never bring back Julie,” said Matthew. Matthew seemed close to tears. Kurosagi chuckled.

“It’s funny. You don’t know that you really love the person until that person is no longer in your life,” stated Kurosagi. A tear managed to slip from Matthew’s eyes.

“Maybe I always did love her, but now it is too late,” muttered Matthew, his voice beginning to crack. Matthew clenched his head with tears falling from his eyes.

“First Dahlia and now Julie, how come the ones I realize I love always die on me?” asked Matthew. Kurosagi sighed and suddenly noticed Hatori in the distance being hit on by multiple girls. Hatori had a look of desperation as he tried to avoid the swarming girls. Kurosagi chuckled and said, “Ogami-San seems to need my assistance.” Kurosagi looked at Matthew, who was still crying. Kurosagi patted his leg making him look at her.

“Cheer up and continue your work. I bet that’s what Julie would want for you now,” said Kurosagi. Matthew frowned and inched away from her.

“Of course I’ll continue to work and don’t touch me. There might still be blood on you,” said Matthew. Kurosagi chuckled and said, “Well touching is essential for a model.” Kurosagi walked away from Matthew toward Hatori to “save” him from the swarm of girls.

Matthew watched her walk off. He suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder and gasped. He looked to the side and saw Velton.

“Velton, when did you get here?” asked Matthew.

“Just now. Where did Emi-Chan go?” asked Velton. Matthew chuckled and stated, “She decided not to join the modeling industry and went back home with her father.” Velton sighed and said, “That’s a shame.”

“Excuse me?”

Velton and Matthew looked forward and saw the talented dancer, Tien Noriko, standing before them. Matthew smiled at Tien and asked, “Do you need something Tien-San?” Tien laughed uneasily knowing that Matthew was gay. Tien cleared his throat and asked, “Do you by chance know Kurosagi?”

“Kurosagi?” muttered Matthew nervously. Tien nodded and blushed.

“I overheard Velton-San at the studio saying that you hired Kurosagi for a case.”

Velton crossed his arms and stated, “That was a joke that Matthew told me.” Tien sighed and said, “That’s disappointing.”

“Do you know Kurosagi?” asked Matthew. Tien nodded and said, “I met her by chance during Dahlia’s case.”

“Dahlia’s case?” asked Matthew. Tien nodded and added, “It’s surprising that Kurosagi resembled her so much.” Matthew’s eyes widened. Tien bowed to Matthew and Velton and wished them goodbye and apologized for bothering them before running off.

Velton scratched the back of his head and said, “I wonder what Tien was talking about?” Matthew remained silent as he thought back at Kurosagi. He remembered her singing voice during the shoot and what she told him before leaving him: “Touching is essential for a model.” Kurosagi’s face in his memory turned into Dahlia. Matthew covered his mouth in shock wondering if it was possible that the Dahlia he knew was really Kurosagi.

On Christmas day, Hatori woke up from the sofa and stretched up. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and stood up. He headed to the bathroom and began to undress. He was down to his boxers when he heard the draining of water. He looked toward the tub and saw Kurosagi stepping out and reaching out for a towel. The water glistened off her small body and silk like hair. Hatori’s eyes widened. Kurosagi smirked as she wrapped the towel around her wet body.

“Did you turn into a pervert, Ogami-San?” asked Kurosagi. Hatori gave out a quick scream and backed against the wall. He shook his head and said, “I thought the bathroom was empty.” Kurosagi chuckled and leaned toward Hatori making his heart race.

“I guess the Christmas air makes you wake up early,” said Kurosagi. Kurosagi walked pass Hatori and said, “Get washed up.” Kurosagi closed the bathroom door behind her leaving Hatori alone in the bathroom. Hatori clenched his head in exasperation. He walked toward the tub and was about to fill it until he caught sight of washed up blood at the corner of the tub. He touched it and looked toward the bathroom door.

“Why is there always spilt blood when I wake up in the morning with Kurosagi?” Hatori asked himself.

When Hatori was done in the bathroom, he walked out and was surprised to see Kurosagi not in her small white dress, but a small green Christmas dress with a red ribbon in her hair and red shoes on her feet. Hatori pointed at Kurosagi and asked, “Why are you wearing that?”

“Is there a rule that I can’t?” asked Kurosagi. Hatori shook his head. He saw Kurosagi pick up a vase of red carnations from her desk and asked, “What are you doing with those?” Kurosagi frowned and glanced at Hatori.

“I need these flowers for my errand today.”

“Errand?”

Kurosagi nodded and added, “I need to go to them.” Hatori blinked in confusion. He saw her heading to the door and opened the door for her. Kurosagi walked through the door and suddenly stopped in her tracks. She looked at Hatori and asked, “Are you doing anything today?” Hatori shook his head.

“I usually go on a date with Aoi, but I can’t do that this year or the many years after that,” said Hatori as sadness consumed his voice. Kurosagi sighed and said, “You can come with me if you want.”

“Really?”

Kurosagi nodded and added, “You do want to know all my secrets anyway.” Hatori smiled and followed Kurosagi out the door.

They walked through the streets, which was filled with laughing people enjoying the Christmas day. They walked until they reached a park that was filled with laughing children. Hatori looked around the park and asked, “Why are we here?” Kurosagi remained silent as she walked forward.

Hatori followed her steps until they reached what looked like a shrine with a rose shaped fountain behind it. Kurosagi kneeled in front of it and placed the carnations before it. Hatori looked at Kurosagi and asked, “So you leave the flowers here?” Kurosagi nodded. She went to the fountain and cupped some of the water from its spout showing how clean the water was. She spread it over the shrine washing away any dirt that was on it. She pulled out a cloth from her dress pocket and began to wipe it down. Hatori watched this and realized that the shrine was really a grave stone.

“Is this a grave?”

Kurosagi nodded.

She wiped the dirt off the words on the grave stone revealing two names: Michael and Mikan Suwa. Kurosagi touched the two names.

“These two were my parents.”

“Parents?”

Kurosagi nodded.

“They died a long time ago on Christmas and were buried here.”

“So you clean their grave every Christmas because it’s their death anniversary?”

Kurosagi nodded. She clenched her hand against the grave stone.

“I protected their grave for so long. This grave is my only connection to them.”

Kurosagi seemed like she was ready to cry, so Hatori kneeled behind her and embraced her.

“You can cry, Kurosagi,” said Hatori. Kurosagi frowned and pushed Hatori away.

“I’m not going to cry, Ogami-San,” said Kurosagi. Hatori sighed thinking that Kurosagi looked fine. Kurosagi finished cleaning the grave and stood up. Hatori peeked at the gravestone and saw that their time of death was on the year of 2019. Hatori’s eyes widen realizing that Kurosagi’s age could be in the thousands, but he was still not sure.

“Ogami-San, let’s go,” said Kurosagi. Hatori nodded and followed Kurosagi.

Hatori cleared his throat as they walked and asked, “Are you doing anything on New Year’s Day?” Kurosagi shook her head.

“Why do you ask?”

“Well New Year’s Day is my birthday and I usually celebrate it with Aoi, but…”

Hatori clenched his hand trying to get his words out. Kurosagi smirked and said, “I’ll be honored to spend your birthday with you.” Hatori smiled and nodded. Kurosagi held Hatori’s hand making him surprised.

“It’s such a coincidence that my birthday is on the same day as yours,” said Kurosagi. Hatori gasped and asked, “Really?” Kurosagi nodded and added, “You can wish me happy birthday on New Year’s Day, but I won’t tell you my age.” Hatori sighed expecting that to be her answer. He clenched her hand gently as they walked.

“Can I finally get a decent room for my birthday?”

“We’ll see.”

Hatori had learned many secrets in that year of being Kurosagi’s assistant, but there were more secrets to uncover in the following year.

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