A woman stood just inside the door. She was tall, slender, dressed in a purple skirt suit with a white man-tailored shirt. She walked into the room with an eagerness that made me knock about ten years off her age. She looked thirty, but she wasn't. Twenty-something and full of herself. Probably around my own age, but there was a shiny newness to her that I'd lost years ago.
Dolph stood, offering me a hand up. I shook my head. "Unless you want to carry me, I can't stand yet."
"Anita, this is Detective Reynolds," he said. He didn't sound entirely happy about it.
Reynolds walked around the edge of the circle as I had, but she was coming for a better view of me. She ended up on the opposite side from Dolph. She stared down at me, smiling, eager. I stared up at her, skin still jumping from trying to force my way past the circle.
She leaned down and whispered, "You're flashing the room, dear."
"That's why the underwear matches," I said.
She looked surprised.
There was no way for me to stretch my legs out without touching the circle again, so if I wanted to quit flashing the room, I had to stand up. I held my hand up to Dolph. "Help me up, but whatever you do, don't let me fall into that thing."
Detective Reynolds took my other arm without being invited, but frankly, I needed the help. My legs felt like spaghetti. The moment she touched me, the hair on my body stood at attention. I jerked away from her and would have fallen into the circle if Dolph hadn't caught me.
"What's wrong, Anita?" Dolph asked.
I leaned into him and tried to breathe slowly and evenly. "I can't take anymore magic right this moment."
"Get her a chair from the dining room," Dolph said. He didn't speak to anyone in particular, but a uniform left the room, probably to get the chair.
Dolph picked me up while we waited. Since I couldn't stand, it was hard to protest, but I felt like a damn fool.
"What's on your back, Anita?" Dolph asked.
I'd forgotten about the knife in the spine sheath. I was saved from having to answer by the uniform bringing one of the straight-backed chairs into the room.
Dolph eased me into the chair. "Did Detective Reynolds try a spell on you?"
I shook my head.
"Someone explain what just happened."
An unhealthy flush crept up Reynold's pale neck. "I tried to read her aura, sort of."
"Why?" Dolph asked.
"Just curious. I've read about necromancers but never met one before."
I looked up at her. "If you want to do any more experiments, Detective, ask first."
She nodded, looking younger, more unsure of herself. "I am sorry."
"Reynolds," Dolph said.
She looked at him. "Yes, sir."
"Go stand over there."
She glanced at both of us and nodded. "Yes, sir." She walked over to stand by the other cops. She tried to be nonchalant about it, but she kept looking over at us.
"Since when do you have a witch on the payroll?" I asked.
"Reynolds is the first detective ever with preternatural abilities. She got her pick of assignments. She wanted to join our squad."
I was happy to hear him call it "our" squad. "She said I didn't draw the circle. Did you really think I'd done that?" I pointed at the body.
He stared down at me. "You didn't like Robert."
"If I killed everyone I didn't like, Saint Louis would be littered with bodies," I said. "Why else did you drag me down here? She's a witch. She probably knows more about the spell than I do."
Dolph stared down at me. "Explain."
"I raise the dead, but I'm not a trained witch. Most of what I do is just," I shrugged, "sort of natural ability. I studied basic magic theory in college, but for only a couple of classes, so if you want feedback on a detailed spell like this one, I can't help you."
"If Reynolds hadn't been here, what would you have suggested we do?"
"Find a witch to undo the spell for you."
He nodded. "Any thoughts on who or why?" He jabbed his thumb behind his back at the body.
"Jean-Claude made Robert a vampire. That's a strong bond. I think the spell was to prevent him from knowing what was happening."
"Could Robert have alerted his master from this far away?"
I thought about that. I wasn't sure. "I don't know. Maybe. Some master vampires are better at telepathy than others. I'm not sure how good Jean-Claude is with other vampires."
"This setup took a while," Dolph said. "Why kill him like this?"
"Good question," I said. I had a nasty idea. "It's a weird way to do it, but this might be a challenge to Jean-Claude's control over his territory."
"How so?" Dolph had his little notebook out now, pen poised. It was almost like old times.
"Robert belonged to him, and now somebody's killed him. Could be a message."
He glanced back at the body. "But who is the message meant for? Maybe Robert pissed someone off, and it was personal. If it was a message for your boyfriend, why not kill him at Jean-Claude's club? That's where he worked, right?"