The women's locker room at the precinct was nearly empty when Anna Niskinen strode in, blinking away the early morning sunlight which accompanied her from the outside. She nodded to a couple other girls as she entered, gave another a playful high-five, and turned the corner at the third row of lockers and saw her partner sitting on a bench about halfway down, her back to Anna.
Jenny was just finishing buttoning up her blues when she heard Anna enter behind her. Anna was like that: even when saying nothing she made an "Entrance." Without turning, Jenny said, "Mornin'."
"You'd better hurry; Hiller's looking for us both."
Anna plunked herself down on the bench next to Jenny and said, "Okay," then popped open her own locker, "What'd you do this weekend?"
"I went to my aunt's place on the Cape and did crossword puzzles on the beach."
"That's it? No dinner, dancing, and guys -- not necessarily in that order?"
Jenny stood and adjusted her collar, "Nope. I prefer to relax on my weekends off, and guys are just... too high maintenance for me."
Anna dressed in about three seconds and chuckled, "That's cuz you're a control freak."
She was just finishing her top button when a heavy-set rookie named Fernandez poked her head around the corner of the lockers and actually knocked on the metal, "Hey you two, Hiller wants to see you, like now."
"Got it. Thanks, chica," and to Jenny, "are we about to get chewed out? Cuz I gotta tell ya, that's a pretty crappy way to start my week."
Jenny shook her head, "Not that I know of. Let's go see the boss."
Chief Luciano Hiller's office resided on the third floor of the cube-like police station. "The penthouse," Anna chuckled as she pressed the top elevator button and watched the doors slide shut in front of her. When they opened at the third floor, the two girls were greeted by a tall redhead with a short skirt and a tweed jacket.
"Candace!" Anna stepped from the elevator as the redhead stepped past them with a smile.
Jenny asked, "How'd your brother do in that charity bowling thing on Saturday?"
Candace rolled her eyes and answered, "Terrible."
"Ohhh. How bad?"
"Like, dead last?"
"Couldn't have gone worse," Candace laughed as the elevator doors began to close, "the mascot did better than him."
Hiller was in a considerably less jovial mood when they knocked on his open door, "Eaton! Niskinen! You're late!"
Anna and Jenny shared a quick look, Uh-oh, before Anna looked at her watch and said, "No we're not, Chief. We --"
"Sit," Hiller pointed directly at the two empty chairs in front of his desk.
As Jenny and Anna took their seats, they spied a stranger in the room. He was young, with long hair, and a perpetual smile etched on his lips. He wore an off-the-rack navy suit, and his arms were casually crossed at his chest as he watched the girls enter.
"Ladies," Hiller motioned toward the man, "meet Jack Ecklund."