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Ashley Gallagher

The Home of a Star

Gallagher did not bother responding to the woman’s jabs. He knew where his respect laid, and it was not with the likes of her. Rather, he let Cal take the reigns. At the mention of Emerald, however, his eyes flickered up to her with a newfound interest. He masked his investment to the best of his ability. “Belle of the ball, you say? What do you know about her?” Better yet, what did this mysterious man know about her that had him so transfixed? If he was the killer, Ashley had been right to remove Emerald from her usual haunts— but again… if he was the killer and had had his eyes on her both nights, why was she not dead yet?

And the fact that Emerald was looking at him too… He thought deeply, scratching his scruffed chin for good measure. Questioning her would be his next move if he disregarded all bias— but he’d questioned her before. Was she keeping something from him? He waited for Danielle’s response, but was on edge. He had had enough of this place and wanted nothing more than to go home and burn a pot of coffee. Perhaps also pry a little more information out of his beautiful stowaway.

Ashley Gallagher

The Home of a Star

Ashley stared down the starlet, watching as she melted from one personality to the next effortlessly. Successful indeed. He was almost thankful for the cold, haughty demeanor she now wore— as a sudden contempt rose in him. He had little patience for those who thought they were above others simply because of money or fame. One particular statement made his blood boil beneath his skin. It surprised him, this emotion he didn’t often feel, defensiveness. He felt as though she was baiting him, though how could she know?

Regardless, he took the bait. “You speak of the showgirls as if your profession isn’t one and the same, Miss.” He uttered coldly. “I see no difference between what you do and taking your clothes off for people with power and money. Showgirls, at least, don’t pretend it is glamorous.” He raised his brows, “Feel free to correct me.” He had the information he needed from her, or all that he figured she’d give him. He was sure she’d just continue to play with him like a cat and its mutilated mouse. He stood, abruptly, brushing the the wrinkles out of his trousers. “Your alibi was unnecessary, you don’t seem to be the type to rip eyes out or shove flowers into fresh, warm corpses like some gruesome florist.” He eyed her over. “You haven’t the spine. I will ask you one more question.”

He dropped his cigarette onto the floor and stamped it out with the tip of his shoe, molesting the expensive carpet with the ash and heat of the still smoking butt. She’d just pay someone to clean it up. He leveled her with a piercing gaze, but kept his tone casual and almost friendly. “Did you see anything out of the ordinary, or suspicious?”
Ashley Gallagher

The Home of a Star

Ashley wondered if Lovegrove was trying to imply something or if he really harbored the thought that Ashley was a shit detective. He knew Cal was lying to him about something, but to his frustration he simply couldn’t deduce what. The other detective was barely keeping his cool composure that Ashley was used to. It had begun directly after the club. He eyed Cal with a sidelong glance, tucking his thumbs into the waistband of his pants casually as the man spoke to the desk clerk. Perhaps Lovegrove was sweet on a dancer there. Tragic. Ashley just hoped it wouldn’t interfere with the investigation.

A small tendril curled out of his mind like black ink spreading through water, the thought of Smith slowly forcing its way into his consciousness. He pushed it out, slamming the metaphorical door in its face. He had to put that away for now, he needed to be in his best mind.

Ashley sifted through the case in his mind as Cal rapped on the door, and was in no way prepared for the gentle face that answered. She was an angel, fallen from heaven and trapped in the thick gunk that was New York. Her face was that of a renaissance painting, the ones just trying to capture the sublimation of such a beautiful human woman. He fancied he could even see her wings, draped over her lovely shoulders in a delicate fall of ivory feathers. She was beautiful. Ashley was speechless. He shook his head out as the angel invited them into her home, and attempted to regain his focus. Focus, Ashley, damn it!

He scrubbed a weary hand across his forehead as he took a seat, politely declining the scotch, temptress though it was. The woman was clearly distressed, but Ashley made a point to remind himself she was an actress, and a successful one at that.

In a sudden unwanted wave, her face took over his mind, but it wasn’t her beauty that he saw. The woman he saw before him was suddenly a horror, her beautiful lips hanging open as blood dripped from them. In place of her lovely gems for eyes were two roses, shoved in unceremoniously, organic sludge framing them and escaping from the sockets. Her locks of strawberry blonde hair were matted with blood and bone shards, her delicate hands now claws as they curled and contorted helplessly in death.

It was the slip of reality he needed, and his mind was cleared. “Let’s start with some basic questions uh…” He paused to look at his pad, momentarily forgetting her name. “… Miss Raymond. What was your business at the Carousel Club?”
Ashley Gallagher

The Home of a Star

Ashley listened wordlessly. Cal seemed on edge, teetering more than Gallagher was used to the cool and collected cop doing. He said nothing about it, best way to blow your power through knowledge was to let others on that you had it in the first place.

"I don't have any dirt on her. From what I understand, she's a mysterious character, but as far as the NYPD can tell, she's clean as a whistle,"

"She'd be the first then, not many in the spotlight stay clean in the shadows. Not when its so easy to get away with whatever you want." Again his mind shifted to Emerald. He shook his head abruptly, he had to be on alert in this questioning and thinking about her would only stray him from the path to the truth. She was a problem for another day.

As Cal parked, Ashley worked to hide his astonishment at the grandeur of the apartment complex. It was larger than life and beautiful to boot. Ashley had long since gotten over his resentment for the rich, he had no envy for their lives. When you had so much, it meant that much more you could lose. "Are you kidding?" He quipped, "I didn't know a starlet lived in my apartment complex. I'm surprised I haven't seen her around the erm... spa." He chuckled. "Lead the way, Lovey. You seem to know more about her than I do. Try using that sweet talk of yours and loosen her lips a little, would ya'?"
Ashley Gallagher

Club Carousel

“You know the way, Cal?” Ashley ducked into the passenger seat, admiring the beautiful machine with a quick glance-over.

As they made the drive, Ashley went over what they knew. 10:20 PM, Danielle Raymond, both nights. The first murder took place later, sometime between 2-3 AM, the second one took place closer to 10:30-11 PM, Emerald found the body when she got off work, which was 11:30.

Emerald. Ashley had to put his lingering suspicions of her to bed for the moment, they would only distract him now.

“So she’s a… what’d you call her? Starlet, Hollywood Leading Lady? I’m not big on films. Tell me about the broad. I want to get as much information as possible. What do the uh…. eh… tabloids say? She got a good public presence? Any dirty laundry slip?” He stroked his chin thoughtfully. “And what would a woman, a rich woman anyway, be doing at the Carousel Club? If you’re not there for the girls you’re there for the crime.” He paused, “She like girls?”

It was mostly just a stream of incoherent conscience, but he supposed he had to cover all of the bases.
Ashley Gallagher

Club Carousel

"Sounds like we're going to have to question this 'Danielle Raymonde', Detective Gallagher. I know, I know...Popping your Hollywood-leading-lady-chat cherry isn't so attractive when it's done in police procedure. But take what you can get."

"Shall we take my car?”

Ashley grumbled, gazing over the names in the ledger one last time before shoving his hands in his pockets. “Never heard of her, but if you insist.”

He thought on Cal’s car, and the idea of taking a spin in it was somewhat unappealing. He couldn’t hide the green under his collar at the thought of it— she was beautiful, and expensive, far more expensive than anything Ashley could afford. Nonetheless it beat taking Cal for a ride in his clunker.

Ashley agreed mutely and headed for the door, only to be interrupted by a pair of eyes from across the club. Behind one of the large curtains curiously peered two hazel hues that met his briefly before disappearing into the depths of what he assumed was backstage. “Go on ahead, wait in the car.” He called over to Cal before taking long strides to where he’d seen the woman disappear.

He ducked behind the wings of the stage, revealing a set of rooms filled with costumes, mirrors, lights, and makeup. There was no one present, save for one lone figure seated at a vanity.

Trying not to spook the young woman, Ashley cleared his throat as he approached. Even still, a small, surprised shudder ran through her. “You’re not allowed to be back here.” She whispered softly.

“Gonna’ have to speak up dear, can hardly hear you.”

She said nothing, simply leaned forward as a shaky hand applied ruby red to her lips. He figured she was a dancer there, she was pretty. Dark, exotic features with long caramel hair. Her figure was draped and concealed by a robe, but it hinted at the easily desirable curves that would win her plenty of dough in this line of work.

“Going to be straight with you here,” He began roughly, “I’m here to investigate the murder, you look like you’ve seen a ghost, there somethin’ you can tell me?”

She snapped her lipstick shut with a sudden and sharp pop before turning to look at him. She offered a soft hand. “You may call me Pizazz.”

These names. Ashley nodded nonetheless.

“Now I didn’t see anything suspicious that night, but I will tell you that my… colleague, Emerald, disappeared promptly afterwards. She didn’t show up for work today and that is incredibly uncharacteristic.”

Great. Useless.

“I will look into that, ma’am. But I wouldn’t worry too much, it seems everyones a little turned off from the club at this time.”

She made a face. “Yeah, but I know Emerald. If there’s trouble abound, she’s waist-deep in it. She acts ignorant, but nothin’ goes on in this club without her being in the know. If you’re looking for leads, she’s where you want to look.”

Ashley nodded slowly, digesting the information. “Right, thank you… Pizazz.”

He turned, steadily jogging to the entrance.

Was Emerald hiding something?

Gilded Heights Apartment Complex, Room #67

Emerald perused the Detective’s apartment as if it were a museum. Museum Ashley. It spoke lengths about his habits, dishes stacked high in the sink, bedsheets strewn about, dust collecting in a thin sheen atop lots of general clutter. Every so often she would check the locks. Check the door, check the window. She would undo all of them just to peer out into the hallway, then do them all up once more.

She wished she was working. Her mind was quiet when she was dancing. Hell, she might even be safer in front of a crowd of people, all eyes on her. She had half a mind to march right down to the Carousel with that thought, but she stopped realizing business at this time of day and in these circumstances would be deader than the chopped up girl in her apartment.

So she sat, neatly setting herself amidst the mess of bedsheets with an ominous creak of the frame, and waited.
Ashley Gallagher

Club Carousel

“They’ll listen to you before they listen to the guy on suspension. I want you to walk up to that lovely hostess and ask to see their books. Get a list of all tenants on the nights of the two murders and let’s cross-reference them.”

Ashley eyed the woman in question, before setting a sidelong glance upon Cal. "I don't know, you were always the charmer. All that wit and that scheming smile, women love a man they know will break their hearts. Hell, you could probably wink and she'd tell you any shady business you wanted to know."

Nonetheless, Ashley stood, brushing his trousers off with a sweep of his hands and making his way towards the hostess. She was preoccupied with... something, her pencil scratching quickly across the paper before her. As he approached her eyes flickered up from the task and met his with a neutral stare.

Most women at clubs like these had a charade, a bubbly, promiscuous personality they wear for the men who passed through, but the gaze he held was genuine -- tired, but genuine. It seemed she was waiting for him to speak.

"Hello ma'am." Ashley almost winced at the cold, professional tone he had taken. Sometimes it was too easy to slip into his job. With a considerable effort to sound gentler, though it probably sounded more forced than anything, he continued. "I'm going to need to take a look at your books." He slipped his badge across the small table and it almost seemed as if she flinched upon seeing it. Her gaze hardened and she crossed her arms.

"What for?" Her voice was harsh, inelegant.

Ashley could have rolled his eyes. He refrained and sent a shifty look in Cal’s direction, a small part of him wishing the man would step in. Ashley had never been good with women. “My apologies, miss. I’m Detective Gallagher, Vice, and the information in your logs is critical for our case.”

She smirked, but complied. “You Vice boys, rolling in here like you’ve got a handle on crime. Thinkin’ you’re the first to sniff drugs in this club.” Her tone was teasing as she ducked down below her table, pulling out what appeared to be a large ledger and sliding it across to him. “Don’t let me get in your way, take a peek.”
Ashley Gallagher

Outside the Smith Residence

Ashley avoided Michelle's gaze on his trek back to the car, but he felt it boring holes into him all the same. He focused on the squelching of the freshly watered lawn beneath the soles of his shoes. The interior of the '47 Chevrolet was quiet following the clang of the shutting door. Upon further inspection, he found Emerald asleep next to him, only slightly disturbed by the sudden noise. He gently reached over and brushed a stray lock of ebony hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear. The small action was comforting in its own way, steadying his nerves.

The sputter of the car as it rumbled to life woke her, and the next time he looked over he was met with curious, green eyes. "Everything alright, Detective?" She inquired with a delicate yawn. He briefly wondered if she practiced yawning, if only to obtain one so gentle and feminine. It was a ridiculous thought and he shook it free with a gruff grunt.

"Fine." He lied. She accepted it and cast her gaze back out the window, ruby lips pursed.


Gilded Heights Apartment Complex, Room #67

The door puttered open with a creak. “I didn’t clean,” He grumbled, though it was clear by his tone that he didn’t truly care. “Wasn’t expecting company.”

Emerald swept into the apartment with the tap of her heels slipping the gloves from her hands and giving the place a once-over. It was quaint, dusty, cluttered, and so undeniably Ashley. At least, the little bit of Ashley she knew. He hung back by the door like a haunting ghost, a silhouette backlit by the dimly illuminated hallway.

“Clean for me? Wouldn’t think of it.” She trilled with a falsely sweet tone. The humor was easy, it masked the fact that fear still clung to her spine like a spindly spider, crawling up, down and around within her. She didn’t see the body, didn’t let herself, but she almost wished she had. It would have prevented the pure cruelty of her own imagination, spinning up creative depictions of the gore that no doubt lay splayed out across her apartment.

She appreciated the offer of a place to stay, she really did, but she did not feel safe here. She wasn’t even safe in her own apartment. She wrapped her arms around herself, turning to face the detective. “The apartment of a bachelor if I ever saw one.”

He let out a ‘hmph’ of what she suspected might be agreement and finally entered, gesturing about with a sweeping arm. “Bedroom, bathroom, kitchen. Make yourself at home.”

“You’re leaving?” A pit of something akin to panic settled in her stomach. She wasn’t ready to be alone.

“I’ve got to work this case, the faster I catch the killer the faster you can get your life back. You’ll be fine.” His tone was final, but unconvinced.
“If he got into my apartment he can get into this one. — What if he comes here looking for you? You’re related to the case!”

“He’s only ever killed at night, Emerald. I doubt he would be stupid enough to break into an apartment complex in the bright light of day. I’ll be back before dark.”

It was a fair point. Who would be stupid enough to commit such an open murder?

“If I take you with me, you’ll only be more involved.” He added, and she knew he was right.

“Fine, fine. Go do your detective work. I’ll wait here.”

“Thank you.” He expelled with an exasperated breath, heading back for the door.

Ashley Gallagher

Club Carousel

The club was dead. There was nothing else to say about it. It was a hollow shell of what it was supposed to be. Even the lights seemed dimmer and drier than before. It didn’t take him long to locate Lovegrove, seated alone in the middle of the club.

Ashley had always thought he looked powerful, but even moreso now. It was as if the empty table were his throne, and the club his kingdom. It made him nervous, on edge as he approached the man and slid into the seat across from him. “What’d I miss, Cal?”
Ashley Gallagher

Smith Residence

"It's a long shot, but unless you have any other evidence, it's what we have."

Ashley mulled over this statement for longer than necessary, thinking on it as if he were peering over the edge of a steep cliff. He thought of Emerald, of the information she could possibly-- rather, no doubt reveal. He then thought of Alison, the girl brutally murdered with only the faintest of connections to the original crime. If he brought Emerald any deeper...

The soft brown eyes of Detective Smith seemed to creep into the back of his mind, wrinkled at the corners, lips forming witty words forever silenced. Ashley thought on the navy coat he would never again see draped over the back of his desk chair, he thought on the boy who would grow up without a father. He could bring justice to the man, to his friend, he had to, with no limitations.

And yet as he examined Calvin with a neutral eye he found himself lying as fluidly as water through a spout. "I've got nothing, Cal. The Club is our best shot. I gotta make a stop if you don't mind, forgot some papers at home. You finish up here with the Coroner, I'll meetcha'."

If he was being completely honest, he wasn't sure how he felt about working with Lovegrove. He had only slightly abrasive memories of the man, enough to temper his trust. You could never truly trust anyone from Ad Vice, Ashley had learned. Hell, he hardly even trusted himself. The faster you learned that, the longer you'd last. Nobody was your friend. Smith was an exception, and he was dead.

Ashley worked a cigarette from his pocket, offering a curt nod to Lovegrove before departing. He caught the Coroner's assistant in the hall... Tiffany, he believed her name was? "Go ahead and tell the Coroner we're wrapping up and moving on. Give the family some peace-- But don't let them in just yet." He swallowed, lighting the tip of his cigarette with a shaking hand. "I don't think she's quite ready."
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