Those warm gray eyes suddenly went as cold as a winter sky. "Cut the bullshit, and just tell me what you know."
I widened eyes at that. "I've told your fellow officers everything I know, Detective O'Brien, honest."
She gave me a look of such withering scorn that I should have wilted in my seat and confessed all. The trouble was, I had nothing to confess. I didn't know shit.
I tried for honesty. "Detective O'Brien, I swear to you that I just noticed that I had a tail today on the highway. Then I saw that the same two men were outside where I was in a different car. Until I saw them the second time, I was willing to believe I was being paranoid. But once I knew they were following me, I wanted them to stop doing that, and I wanted to know why they were following me in the first place." I shrugged. "That is the absolute truth. I wish I knew something to conceal from you, but I am as much in the dark on this one as you are."
She closed the file with a snap and hit it sharply on the desk as if to settle the papers inside it, but it looked like an automatic gesture, or an angry one. "Don't try batting those big brown eyes at me, Ms. Blake, I'm not buying."
Batting my big brown eyes? Me? "Are you accusing me of trying to use feminine wiles on you, Detective?"
That made her almost smile, but she fought off the urge. "Not exactly, but I've seen women like you before, so cute, so petite, you give that innocent face and the men just fall all over themselves to believe you."
I looked at her for a second, to see if she was kidding, but she seemed serious. "Whatever axe you're grinding, find someone else's forehead to sink it into. I have come in here and told nothing but the truth. I helped get two men off the streets that were carrying firepower with armor-piercing, cop-killing ammo. You don't seem very damned grateful."
She gave me very cold eyes. "You're free to leave anytime, Ms. Blake."
I stood, then smiled down at her, and knew my eyes were as cold and unfriendly as hers. "Thanks so much, Ms. O'Brien." I emphasized the Ms.
"That's Detective O'Brien," she said, as I'd almost been sure she would.
"Then it's MarshalBlake to you, Detective O'Brien."
"I earned the right to be called detective, Blake; I didn't get grandfathered in on some technicality. You may have a badge, but it doesn't make you a cop."
Jesus, she was jealous. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I would get nowhere rising to the bait and fighting with her. So I didn't. Bully for me.
"I may not be your kind of cop, but I am a duly appointed federal marshal."
"You can interfere on any case involving the preternatural. Well, this one doesn't involve the preternatural." She gazed up at me, face calm, but still showing signs of anger. "So have a nice day."
I blinked at her, and counted, slowly, to ten.
Another detective came striding up. He had short curly blond hair, freckles, and a big grin. If he'd been any newer to plainclothes, he'd have squeaked when he walked. "James said we caught some sort of international super spy, is that true?"
A look passed over O'Brien's face, a look of near pain. You could almost hear her thinking, shit.
I grinned at the other detective. "Interpol came back with a hit, huh?"
He nodded eagerly. "The German guy is wanted all over the place, industrial espionage, suspected terrorism . . ."
O'Brien cut him off, "Go away Detective Webster, go the f**k away from me."
His smile faltered. "Did I say something wrong? I mean the marshal here brought them in, I thought she . . ."
"Get away from me, now," O'Brien said, and the growl of warning in her voice would have done a werewolf proud.
Detective Webster walked away, without saying another word. He looked worried, and he should have. I was betting O'Brien carried grudges to the grave, and made sure everyone paid up.
She looked at me, and the anger in her eyes wasn't just for me. Maybe it was for the years of being the only woman on a detail, maybe the job had made her bitter, or maybe she'd always been a grumpy-grumpy girl. I didn't know, and I didn't really care.
"Catching an international terrorist in these days and times could make a person's career," I said, sort of conversationally, not really looking at her.
The look of hatred in her eyes made me want to flinch. "You know it will."
I shook my head. "O'Brien, I don't have a career in the police department. I don't even have a career with the Feds. I am a vampire executioner, and I help out on cases where the monsters are involved. Me having a badge is so new and so unprecedented that they're still arguing on whether we'll have rank as federal marshals, or be able to move up in rank at all. I'm not a threat to your promotion. Me taking credit won't help my career a damn bit. So help yourself."
Her eyes toned down from hatred to distrust. "What's in it for you?"
I shook my head. "Don't you get it yet, O'Brien? What did Webster say, international spy, industrial espionage, suspected terrorism, and that's just the top of the list."
"What of it?" she said, hands clasped over the file folder on her desk like she was shielding it from me, as if I'd snatch it and run with it.
"He was following me, O'Brien, why? I've never been out of the country. What does an international bad ass like this want with me?"
She gave a small frown. "You really don't know why they were following you, do you?"
I shook my head. "No, and would you want someone like that following you around?"
"No," she said, and her voice had softened, was uncertain. "No, I wouldn't." She looked up at me, eyes hard, but not as hard as they had been. She didn't apologize, but she did hand me the file folder. "If you really don't know why they're after you, then you need to know just how bad a man you've dug up . . . Marshal Blake."
I smiled. "Thank you, Detective O'Brien."
She didn't smile back, but she did send Detective Webster for fresh coffee for both of us. She also told him to make a fresh pot, before he poured our cups. I was liking Detective O'Brien more and more.
His name was Leopold Walther Heinrick. He was a German national. He was suspected of almost every large crime you could think of. And by large I mean not petty. He wasn't a purse-snatcher, or a con artist. He was suspected of working for terrorist groups worldwide, mostly those with a decided Aryan bias. It wasn't that he'd never taken money from people that weren't out to make the world safe for bigots, but he seemed to prefer to work with them. He'd been linked to espionage that specialized in helping paler people either stay in power or get power over people that were less pale.
The file contained a list of known associates, with pictures of some of them. A few of the pictures were the equivalent of mug shots, but most were grainy faxes of surveillance photos. Faces in profile, faces caught dashing to cars, into and out of buildings in distant countries. It was almost as if the men knew they were being photographed, or feared they would be. There were two faces that I kept coming back to--two men--one in profile wearing a hat, and the other a blur of face staring out at the camera.
O'Brien came over to stand beside me, looking down at the two pictures that I'd laid side by side on the edge of her desk. "Do you recognize them?"
"I'm not sure." I touched the edge of the pictures, as if that would make them more real, make them give up their secrets.
"You keep coming back to them," she said.
"I know, but it's not like I know them-know them. More like I've seen them somewhere. Somewhere recent. I can't place them, but I know I've seen them, or two people very similar." I peered down at the grainy images, gray and white and black, made up of little dots, as if the fax was a copy of a copy of a copy. Who knew where the original had come from?
O'Brien seemed to pick up what I was thinking, because she said, "You're working from faxes of bad surveillance photos. You'd be lucky to recognize your own mother in these."
I nodded, then picked up the one with the big dark-haired man in it. He was about to get into a car. There was a generic older building behind him, but I wasn't a student of architecture, it told me nothing. The man was looking down as if watching his step off a curb, so I didn't have a full front view even. "Maybe if I could see a front shot. Or did they send us all they had?"
"They sent me all they had, or that's what they said." The look on her face said she wasn't sure she believed that, but she had to act as if she did. "They're pretty worried that more of Heinrick's friends might be in the states. We're going to be giving a stack of these photos to the patrol cops, with orders to follow and report, but not to apprehend."