I was sitting in a straight-backed chair in Jean-Claude's office at Danse Macabre. My hands were cuffed behind me. They hadn't let me wash the blood off my right hand, and it had dried to a nice tacky substance. I was used to having dried blood on me, but it was still uncomfortable. The uniformed officers had taken the other knife and found the Seecamp in my purse. They had not found the big knife in the spine sheath. It had been a sloppy search to have missed a knife longer than my forearm, but the uniform that did it had at first assumed that I was another victim. It had shaken him to find out that the pretty little woman was a murderer. Oh, excuse me, alleged murderer.
The office had white walls, black carpet, a desk that looked like carved ebony. There was a red lacquer screen with a black castle done high on top of a black mountain. There was a framed kimono on the far wall, scarlet with black and royal blue designs. Two smaller frames held fans: one white and black with what looked like a tea ceremony painted on it, the other blue and white with a flock of cranes. I liked the cranes best, and I'd had plenty of time to make a choice.
One of the uniforms had remained in the room with me the entire time. They'd drunk coffee and not offered me any. The younger uniform would have uncuffed me, but his partner had pretty much threatened to beat the shit out of him if he did it. The partner was grey-haired with eyes as cold and empty as Edward's. His name was Rizzo. Looking at him, I was glad I'd put the gun on the floor before he came into the room.
Why, you may ask, wasn't I at the police station being questioned? Answer: The media had bayed us. Four uniforms had been enough to control traffic and keep the media from mobbing anyone--until they smelled a breaking story. Suddenly, there were cameras and microphones everywhere, like mushrooms after a rain. The uniforms had called for backup and barricaded the murder scene and the office. Everything else had fallen to the cameras and microphones.
There was a homicide detective standing over me--looming, actually. Detective Greeley was just under six feet tall, so broad-shouldered he looked like a big square. Most black people aren't truly black, but Greeley was close. His face was so dark it had purple highlights. His close-cropped greying hair looked like wool. But black, white, or brown, his dark eyes were neutral, secret, cop eyes. His gaze said he'd seen it all and hadn't been impressed by any of it. He certainly wasn't impressed by me. If anything, he looked bored, but I knew better. I'd seen Dolph get the same look right before he pounced on someone and tore their alibi apart.
Since I didn't have an alibi, I wasn't worried about that. I'd told my story before they read me my rights. After Greeley mirandized me, all I'd said was that I wanted a lawyer. I was beginning to sound like a broken record, even to me.
The detective pulled a chair around so he was sitting facing me. He even hunkered down trying not to be so intimidating. "Once we get a lawyer in here," Greeley said, "we can't help you anymore, Anita."
He didn't know me well enough to call me by my first name, but I let it go. He was pretending to be my friend. I knew better. Cops are never your friends if they suspect you of murder. Conflict of interest.
"It sounds like a clear-cut case of self-defense. Tell me what happened, and I'll bet we can do a deal."
"I want my lawyer," I said.
"Once we involve a lawyer, the deal goes out the window," he said.
"You don't have the authority to make a deal," I said. "I want my lawyer."
The skin around his eyes tightened; otherwise he looked the same, unmoved. But I was pissing him off. Couldn't blame him.
The door to the office opened. Greeley looked up, ready to be angry at the interruption. Dolph walked inside, flashing his badge. His eyes gave the briefest of flicks to me, then settled solidly on Greeley.
Greeley stood up. "Excuse me, Anita. I'll be right back." He even managed a friendly smile. He was putting so much effort into the act, it was almost a shame I wasn't buying it. Besides, if he was really being friendly, he'd have taken the cuffs off.
Greeley tried to get Dolph to step outside, but Dolph shook his head. "The office is secure. The rest of the club isn't."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Greeley said.
"It means your murder scene, complete with victim, is being flashed on national television. You ordered that no one was to talk to the press, so they've been speculating. Vampires run amok is the choice rumor."
"You want me to tell the media that a woman attached to a police squad is being charged with murder?"
"You have three witnesses that all say Ms. Smith pulled her gun first. That it was self-defense."
"That's something for the assistant district attorney to decide," Greeley said.
Funny how when he was talking to me he could make a deal. Now that he was talking to another cop, suddenly the ADA was the only one who could make a deal.
"Call them," Dolph said.
"Just like that," Greeley said. "You want to cut her loose?"
"She'll make a statement after we get her and her lawyer down to the station."
Greeley made a rude sound in his throat. "Yeah, she's real hot for her lawyer."
"Go talk to the press, Greeley."
"And tell them what?"
"That vampires aren't involved. That it was just bad timing that the murder happened at Danse Macabre."
Greeley glanced back at me. "I want her here when I get back, Storr. No disappearing act."
"We'll both be here."
Greeley glared at me, all his anger and frustration filling his eyes for a second. The friendly mask was gone. "Make sure you are. The brass may want you in on this, but this is a homicide case, mycase." He shoved a finger at Dolph, not quite touching him. "Don't fuck with it."
Greeley pushed past him and shut the door firmly. Silence thick enough to walk on filled the room.
Dolph pulled a chair up in front of the desk, next to me, and sat facing me. He clasped his big hands together and stared. I stared back.
"The three women say Ms. Smith pulled her gun first. She ripped your purse off, so she knew where your gun was," he said.
"I flashed it a little too much tonight. My fault."
"I heard about you joining the show out there. What happened?"
"I had to police the show a little. The woman didn't want to play. It's illegal to use preternatural powers to coerce anyone into doing something they don't want to do."
"You aren't a policeman, Anita."
It was the first time he'd ever reminded me of that. Usually, Dolph treated me like one of his people. He'd even encouraged me to simply say I was with his squad so people would assume I was a detective.
"You kicking me off the squad, Dolph?" My stomach was tight as I asked. I valued working with the police. I valued Dolph and Zerbrowski and the rest of the guys. It would hurt more than I wanted to admit to lose all that.
"Two bodies in two days, Anita, both of them normal humans. That's a lot of explaining at headquarters."
"If they'd been vamps or some other creepie-crawlie, everyone would look the other way, is that it?"
"Picking a fight with me isn't your best bet right now, Anita."
We stared at each other for a second or two. I looked away first, and nodded. "Why are you here, Dolph?"
"I handle the media a lot."
"But you're letting Greeley talk to the press."
"You've got to tell me what's going on, Anita." His voice was quiet, but I knew by the tightness around his eyes, the way he held his shoulders, that he was angry. I guess I couldn't blame him.
"What do you want to hear, Dolph?" I asked.
"The truth would be nice," he said.
"I think I need a lawyer first." I wasn't going to spill my guts just because Dolph was my friend. He was still a cop, and I had killed someone.
Dolph's eyes narrowed. He turned to the uniform still leaning against the wall. "Rizzo, go get some coffee, black, for me. What do you want in yours?"
Coffee was coming. Things were looking up. "Two sugars, one cream."
"Get some for yourself, Rizzo, and take your time."
Officer Rizzo pushed away from the wall where he'd been leaning. "You sure about this, Sergeant Storr?"
Dolph looked at him, just looked at him.
Rizzo held his hands out in a sort of push away gesture. "I don't want Greeley riding my ass about leaving you two alone."
"Get the coffee, Officer Rizzo. I'll take any heat that comes down."
Rizzo left, shaking his head, probably at the stupidity of plainclothes detectives. When we were alone, Dolph said, "Turn around."
I stood up and offered him my hands. He uncuffed me, but didn't pat me down again. He probably assumed Rizzo had done it. I didn't tell him about the knife they missed, which would piss him off if he found it later, but hey, I couldn't let the cops confiscate all my weapons. Besides, I didn't want to be unarmed tonight.
I sat back down, resisting the urge to rub my wrists. I was heap-big-vampire-slayer. Nothing could hurt me. Yeah, right.
"Talk to me, Anita."
"Off the record?" I asked.
He stared at me, eyes flat and unreadable, good cop eyes. "I should say no."
"But," I said.
"Off the record, tell me."
I told him. I changed only one thing: that an anonymous call had alerted me to the contract on me. Other than that, it was the absolute truth. I thought Dolph would be happy, but he wasn't.
"And you don't know why someone would put a contract out on you?"
"For that kind of money, with a time limit on it, no."
He stared at me, as if trying to decide how much truth I was telling him. "Why didn't you tell us about the anonymous phone call earlier?" He put a lot of stress on the word anonymous.
I shrugged. "Habit, I guess."
"No, you wanted to hotdog it. Instead of hiding out, you came here and played bait. If the hitter had used a bomb, you could have gotten a lot of people hurt."
"But she didn't use a bomb, did she."