"You do seem to have more than your share of cuties, but I meant the one with violet eyes."
I'd have bet money that she knew exactly what Nathaniel's name was. "He stayed home today," I said.
She laid the stack of folders down on a desk, not her own, and pushed back her hair from her face. There wasn't enough of her dark hair to push back. It looked like an old gesture from when she'd had longer hair. The short, barely below-ear-level cut really didn't flatter her face. But the face was still good, triangular, with delicate bones that framed her smile nicely. I'd never really noticed, but she was pretty.
Did Nathaniel ever want to date, just date? Not the dominance and submission stuff, but like dinner and a movie. Someday I'd have the ardeurunder control and wouldn't need a pomme de sang,right? That had been the plan. So Nathaniel should like--date. Shouldn't he? If I wasn't going to keep him, he should date.
I had a headache starting right between my eyes.
Detective Arnet almost touched my arm, but stopped in mid-gesture. "Are you alright?"
I forced a smile. "Looking for Zerbrowski."
She told me what room he was in, because she didn't know she wasn't supposed to. Hell, I wasn't even sure she wasn't supposed to. Technically, this was part of the investigation that Dolph had wanted my input on, so I had a right to be there when they questioned suspects. In my head it all sounded logical, but a little desperate, as if I were trying way too hard to convince myself.
I went up on tiptoe outside the door, so I could look in the little window. Television will make you think that all police interrogation rooms have huge one-way mirrors that take up almost an entire wall. Very few departments have either the budget or the space for that kind of thing. Television uses it because it's more dramatic and makes camera work easier. It seemed to me that real life is dramatic enough without big windows, and there are no good camera angles, only pain. Or maybe I was just in a rotten mood.
I wanted a quick peek into the room to make a hundred percent sure I had the right place. Jason was at the little table, Zerbrowski was sitting across from him, but what got me flat-footed, was that Dolph was leaning against the far wall. Zerbrowski had said he was on leave for a couple of weeks. Had Zerbrowski lied to me? That didn't feel right. But what was Dolph doing here?
I gave one sharp knock on the door. I waited, steeling myself to be calm, or at least to look calm. Zerbrowski opened the door a crack. His eyes looked surprised behind his glasses.
"This isn't a good time," he said. He tried to tell me with his eyes that Dolph was in the room.
"I know Dolph's here, Zerbrowski. I thought he was supposed to be on leave for a few weeks."
Zerbrowski sighed, but his eyes were angry. Angry at me, I think, for not slinking off and making things worse. Making things worse was one of my specialties; Zerbrowski should have known that by now.
"Lieutenant Storr is here because he is still head of the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team, and he brought this suspect to our attention."
"Suspect? Why is Jason a suspect?"
"You don't want to do this in the hallway, Anita."
"No, I don't, I want to come in the room, so we can all talk like civilized human beings. You're the one keeping me out in the hallway."
He licked his lips, and almost turned and looked at Dolph, but fought the urge. "Come in," he lowered his voice to a whisper, "but stay on this side of the room."
I followed Zerbrowski inside and went where he motioned so that I ended up with the table between me and Dolph. It was almost as if Zerbrowski didn't trust what Dolph would do.
"You are not letting her sit in," Dolph said.
Zerbrowski squared his shoulders and faced Dolph. "We asked her to help us on this crime scene, Dolph."
"I didn't," he said.
"Actually, yeah, you did," I said.
Dolph opened his mouth, then closed it in a tight thin line. He hugged his arms so tight, it looked like it hurt, as if he didn't trust what his hands would do if they weren't wrapped around something. There was a look of such rage in his eyes. He usually had some of the best cop eyes I'd ever seen, empty, gave nothing away. Today his eyes gave everything away, but I didn't understand where the anger was coming from.
Jason was sitting at the end of the table, trying to seem as small and inoffensive as possible. Since he's not much taller than I am, he was doing a good job of it.
Zerbrowski shut the door and sat on the side of the table close to Dolph, leaving me the chair farther away.
I didn't sit. "Why did you pull Jason in?"
"He has defensive wounds on his body consistent with the crime."
"You don't actually believe that Jason was involved in that," I searched for a word, "slaughter,do you?"
"He's a werewolf and he's got defensive wounds," Dolph said, "if he didn't rape our vic, then he raped somebody."
"You're here to observe, Lieutenant," Zerbrowski said, but his face said plainly that he would have rather been anywhere than sitting here, telling Dolph to mind his own business.
Dolph started to say something, then stopped himself by force of will alone. "Fine, fine, Sergeant, carry on." Those last two words held more heat than a forest fire.
"Wait," I said, "did you say rape?"
"We found se**n at the first murder site," Zerbrowski said.
"The crucifixion?" I asked.
"No," Dolph said harshly, "the woman who was ripped apart."
"Semen doesn't mean rape at a scene like that, just that he enjoyed himself. It's sick, but it doesn't necessarily mean true sexual contact. I saw the body, there wasn't enough left of her to know whether he touched her like that, or not." I had a thought, an awful thought. "Please tell me you don't mean the head."
Zerbrowski shook his head, "No. Scattered over the scene."
It was almost a relief. Almost. "So why did Dolph say rape?"
"There was a little more left of the second female vic," Zerbrowski said.
I looked at him. "I don't remember being notified about a second attack."
"You didn't need to know," Dolph said. "You were right, I called you in on the first one, but I didn't make the same mistake twice."
I ignored Dolph as best I could and looked at Zerbrowski. He mouthed, "Later."
Fine, Zerbrowski would fill me in when we had some non-Dolph time. Fine, great. I couldn't do anything about the psycho shape-shifter we had running around town, not right that second, but I might be able to do something about the current disaster.
"What did Jason say when you asked where he got scratched up?"
"Said a man doesn't kiss and tell," Zerbrowski said, "even I thought that one was lame."
I looked at Jason. He shrugged, as if to say, what was I supposed to say. He knew me well enough to know I wouldn't want him talking out of school. He was right on that. I so didn't want Zerbrowski and Dolph to know. Hell, I didn't want anyone to know. But my embarrassment wasn't worth Jason getting locked up.
I sighed, and spoke the truth. "The scratches aren't defensive wounds."
"He's cut up, Anita, and we got the Polaroids to prove it," Zerbrowski said. "Dolph noticed some scratches at the first scene. They're gone, but now he's got fresh wounds."
"I cut him up." My voice sounded bland, because I was fighting to sound bland.
Dolph gave a sound that was more snort than laugh. No words were needed to say he didn't believe me.
Zerbrowski said his out loud, "Shop it somewhere else, Anita, we're not buying."
I raised the sleeves on my shirt and showed my own healing scratches. "When I was afraid I'd hurt him more, I scratched myself."
Zerbrowski's eyes went wide. "Jesus, Blake, you always this rough?"
"You'll never find out Zerbrowski."
"If that was a yes, then I'm okay with that." He almost touched some of the deeper scratches on my arm, then stopped and almost touched the scratches on Jason's arms. "I hope the sex was good."
Jason looked down at the tabletop, and did his best impression of an aw'shucks look. He managed to look coy and pleased with himself all at the same time.
"That's answer enough," I said.
Jason flashed me a grin that made his baby blues sparkle. "Whatever you say, mistress."
I gave him a very mean look, that didn't dim his enjoyment one bit.