The night was draped in shadows as Kate Mitchell pushed open the creaky door of her makeshift office. The neon sign flickered above, casting a dim glow on the worn-out desk cluttered with case files and half-empty coffee cups. The air was thick with the scent of desperation, a scent Kate knew all too well.
She had traded her detective badge for a private investigator’s license just a week ago. A fresh start in a city that chewed up dreams and spat out broken souls. Her phone buzzed on the desk, interrupting the silence.
“Kate Mitchell, Private Investigator. How can I help?” she answered, her voice a mix of determination and weariness.
“Kate, it’s Eddie Barnes,” a gravelly voice crackled through the line. Eddie Barnes, the local bail bondsman known for calling in favors. “I’ve got a skip trace for you. Interested?”
Kate leaned back in her chair, fingers tapping rhythmically on the desk. “Always interested, Eddie. Give me the details.”
“Alice Turner. Jumped bail on assault charges. Last seen downtown. I need her back, Kate, and fast.”
“Consider it done,” Kate replied, ending the call. She grabbed her leather jacket and locked the door behind her, heading into the night where shadows whispered secrets and danger lurked in every corner.
Downtown was a maze of narrow alleys and dimly lit streets. Kate’s footsteps echoed against the brick walls as she approached the seedy underbelly of the city. Neon signs buzzed above, casting a kaleidoscope of colors on the rain-slicked pavement. The city never slept, and neither did Kate.
She spotted Eddie waiting in the shadows, a heavyset man with a face etched by years of chasing down those who tried to escape the long arm of the law. “Took you long enough,” he grumbled, tossing Kate a grainy photograph of Alice Turner.
Kate studied the image — a woman with haunted eyes and a cascade of dark curls. A survivor, but one teetering on the edge. “Any leads?” she asked.
“Word on the street is she’s hiding out in the old warehouse district. A rat’s nest of trouble. You up for it, rookie?”