Scarred Love - Part III

Chapter Fourteen
After we finished out Subway sandwiches, we looked at the box. With gloves, box cutters, and a video camera, we, Zebrowski and I, opened the box. The wrapping had already been dusted, same with the box itself. They found a few prints on the wrapping but we think they belong to Cherry, myself and the post office. There were none on the box itself. I’d bet all the money I possess that there’d be no prints on anything inside. Knowing the sender, I wasn't sure I wanted to open it. But, if I were a cat I'’ be dead from curiosity by now.
Inside, I found an envelope among a bunch of bright red tissue paper. Olaf didn’t seem like the tissue paper type but I guess I didn’t really know him. My name was on the envelope in bold black letters. ANITA BLAKE I looked at Zebrowski. He gave me the go ahead while telling the camera what he was seeing. I held the envelope up to the camera while I opened it. I read it out loud.



I set the letter down and looked at Zebrowski. We stared at each other for a few seconds then he slowly reached for the tissue paper. He ripped it out and I looked inside the box. I couldn’t see it at first. My brain wouldn’t register. It looked like a steak in shrink wrap. Then suddenly it all came into focus. It was the heart in some airtight baggy. The world swam and I grabbed the table to keep from falling. When the world was steady I reached into the box and pulled it out. I described it to the camera.
“It smells like ammonia.” It did. That explains why Cherry and the others couldn’t smell the blood and muscle. I quickly placed it back in the box and left the room. Zebrowski followed.
“Jesus Anita. You know that guy?” We were both breathing a little too fast.
“Not personally Zebrowski! I met him while I was in New Mexico helping Ted Forrester and the local cops. I should have known. Damnit!”
“Anita, what he said wasn’t in the first letter. What was he talking about?"
“That’s not the first letter he’s every written to me. He left me one at a woman’s house in New Mexico. Zebrowski, he’s a serial killer. I should’ve known it was him. Those men were butchered. That’s what he does.” It reminded me of what I’d seen in New Mexico. Some of the bodies had been missing part. Essential parts. Organs. Limbs.
“Why didn’t you turn him in?” He was really upset. Not mad upset, but disgusted upset. He looked a little green.
“No proof. I don’t think he’s killed in this country, except now he has. But I didn’t have any proof. None.”
“What did that letter mean? Especially the end, hunt Death?” he sounded frustrated.
“I don’t know.” But I did. I knew exactly what it meant. I needed to get to a phone. It was time to give Death a call.

Zebrowski kept me for an extra hour questioning me about Olaf. How I met him, where. I lied. I had to. I had to protect Edward. I told him what I knew about Olaf aka Otto Jeffries. I told him that Otto was helping Ted as an ex-government employee. I told him that it wasn’t until near the end that we discovered what he was.
I met Richard in the lobby. He’d been sitting in the chair reading Outdoor Life. He stood up when he saw me coming.
“Are you ok? You look pale.” He put his arm around me and I let him. Not only did I let him, I leaned into him, trying to make the cold empty feeling go away.
“Just get me home. I’ll tell all once I’ve had coffee and a penguin in my lap.”
“That bad?” he was one of a select few that knew what it meant if Sigmund, my favorite stuffed penguin was involved. That he still remembered that sent a warm thrill through me, but it shouldn’t matter anymore. He’s not mine.

I ended up telling him on the ride home. I told him the truth about Olaf. At first he was mad at Edward for putting Olaf in the same house as me but he swallowed it. Best not piss me off when we were actually getting along.
“Is he going to come after you?” He glanced at me then back to the road. I couldn’t read his face. He was shielding so tight that I couldn’t read him that way either.
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I need to call Edward. He needs to be warned. But Richard, this is too much. First Belle Morte, then Olaf. I need a vacation.”
“This isn’t funny Anita. This is serious.” I hear anger in his voice. Funny thing was, I was being serious. I truly needed a vacation.
“I’m being serious Richard. I don’t know how much more of this shit I can take. Everyone has a limit and I think I’ve reached mine.” But the question was, what would happen if I went over my limit? That was the $64,000 question and I didn’t know the answer. I was fucked.

Chapter 15
After Richard took my jeep home with him, I called Edward. As always I got Edward’s answering service, “Edward, it’s Anita. It’s important.” I hung up. It didn’t need to be anything more than that. He would call when he got it.
In New Mexico, we had worked together. His alias, Ted Forrester, was a bounty hunger from Sante Fe, that specialized in monsters. Humans were to easy for him or so he said. The local cops down there loved good ol’ Ted. Ted was a ‘good’ boy. Edward was not. But we were working on what the press had deemed the “Mutilation Murders”. All the survivors had been skinned completely. Top to toes. No toll marks. No blade I could think of had been used. On top of that we found bodies chopped, well chopped isn’t the word, torn to bits is more like it, missing parts. The only thing Edward had see close to that was what Olaf did to his victims. So he’d brought Olaf in, then me. Olaf didn’t have a clue as to what did it, so Edward had called me. It wasn’t until later that we figured out the victims, the skinned ones, weren’t alive. Every single one of them were animated corpses.
I still had nightmares. It had no been a pretty sight. We hadn’t been in time. Edward and I had nearly died but in the end we got our bad guy. It’s supposed to happen like that right? Good vs. Evil and good wins every time? If that was the case I wouldn’t be worried about ever seeing my 30th birthday.
The phone rang, I yelped. I really need a vacation. Phones won’t hurt me. It was Edward.
“You rang?” He said, you could just hear the smile in his voice.
“Yeah, you remember when you told me if Olaf ever came to St. Louis to call you?”
“Yes.” Suspicion.
“Well, guess what? Here’s your phone call.” He was quiet for so long I said, “Did you hear me? Olaf is here.”
“How do you know he’s in town?”
“Let’s just say he didn’t exactly call me on the phone to catch up. He hacked up two men and he’s left me two letters. Edward he wants you. He wants to hunt you and he’s invited me to come along.” He was quiet again then finally said, “Are you going to accept his offer?”
“Edward! God no! We may not always agree but in some sick way, we’re friends. If I had to choose between him and you, I choose you.” He sighed, I think he sounded relieved.
“Good. I’ll catch a plane and be there tonight.”
“Whoa, wait. He wants to cut you to pieces and you’re just going to run straight to him?”
“Anita, do you think he could kill me?” He asked.
“No, you’d never give him the chance.” I answered. Edward was the scariest person I knew, but he was the best at what he did.
“Then don’t worry about it.”
“You’re one crazy son-of-a-bitch, you know that?” He laughed his good ol’ Ted laugh just to prove me right. A good deep belly laugh. Then suddenly he stopped. His voice went serious. Cold.
“I’ll call you with the flight times.” He hung up. I hated it when he did shit like that. If that was what I had to look forward to I’ll shoot myself here and now. Well compared to Olaf he was a saint. So I guess growing up to be Edward was only a problem but growing up to be Olaf was a nightmare. One that I may not live through.
With the way things were going, I wasn’t sure who I’d become.
There was only one person I knew who might have some clue to what’s wrong with me. I had the phone in my hand, I might as well call.
She picked up after a few rings. “Anita, it’s good to hear from you. How are you doing child?”
I smiled into the phone, “Marianne, I think I need your help again.” She laughed that rich, earthy laugh that I’d come to love. She was the Vargamor for the Oak Tree clan from Tennessee. Vargamor is a term for a pack’s wise woman or wise man, usually a witch but not always. Most werewolf packs don’t bother with them anymore. I’d personally only met two. Marianne and Nicandro Baco. Nicky had been the Vargamor for the Broken Spear Clan out of Sante Fe. I say ‘had’ because Nicky had been executed for Magical Malfeasance, using magic to kill. It carried an automatic death sentence, no court date, no judge, no jury. Just dead.
Marianne had helped me learn to control the munin, among other things. She knew about the vampire marks. She once explained that I was like a puzzle missing two pieces. JeanClaude and Richard were those pieces and until the holes were filled with what they were meant to hold, I was walking around with two gaping metaphysical wounds in my aura. Needless to say, those holes had been filled. Maybe a little too well.
“I’m always glad to offer assistance. What is it you need?” The laughter clung to her voice with a musical quality.
I told her everything that had happened, excluding Olaf. She didn’t need to know that. She was surprised when I told her what Belle had done. Wasn’t everyone?
“It sounds as if I need to look you over. I cannot leave Tennessee. Vern has me running around like the proverbial headless chicken. Is it possible for you to pay us a visit?” She asked. I sighed.
“Not right now. I’m working on a murder investigation.” I didn’t say, and I just happen to have a homicidal maniac in love with me, who wants me to help hunt down and kill a friend.
“Anita, you cannot run from this. Promise me you will come as soon as it is possible.” She sounded like a tired mother who’s been told her child is flunking math again.
“I know, and yes I promise to come as soon as I’m able.” We talked pack and pard business for a few more minutes then got off the phone with me promising to call her when I could finally leave.
I had one more phone call to make. I needed to call Zebrowski. Bu I wanted more coffee.
Nathaniel was in the kitchen. I remembered something he said the last time I saw him.
“Nathaniel, what did you mean I smell different?” When my mind had settled, it had puzzled me.
He stopped halfway to me, coffee pot in hand. “I shouldn’t have said that.” He looked like he expected me to yell at him. After all that had happened I just wasn’t angry, I was tired. Seemed to be a pattern lately. A vacation to Tennessee was starting to sound really good. Maybe I could leave early?
“I’m not mad at you. I just want to know why you said it.” He walked the rest of the way and sat the table. He motioned for me to sit. I did.
“It’s just that before, you smelt like wolves and vampires and something else. Now you smell like us.” His eyes dropped to the table.
“The pard. Anita, you smell like a leopard. When I’m near you I don’t smell pack or vampires. I smell pard.”
“Maybe I’m just spending more time with you guys and it’s rubbing off.” I said, trying to hide the growing panic.
“It’s not that and you know it. You don’t spend anymore time with us than you usually do.”
Micah walked in with Merle. I didn’t so much as seem them walk in, I smelt Micah. That masculine scent that had his name all over it. Our eyes met and something deep inside me clicked. I was walking towards him without realizing I had even gotten up. I wrapped my arms around him and rubbed my cheek along his. I needed to touch his skin. I craved it. I ripped his shirt out of his pants and felt better the moment my hands touched the flesh of his back. Still I craved more. I slipped my shirt over my head then balled my fists in his shirt and pulled. It fell away like water. I pressed my body to his and he gasped. His hands started rubbing up and down my back. I whimpered when he undid my bra. We separated long enough for it to fall to the floor. When enough of our skin was touching I could think again.
“It’s worse isn’t it?” I asked looking into those exotic green leopard eyes.
“Yes, it is. What are you?” His voice was raspy like what we’d done was more intimate than sex. I pressed closer and discovered him extremely happy to be there. I sighed into his neck and he shivered.
“I don’t know Micah.” He started purring. It vibrated through my whole body, leaving me warm, safe, content like a cat sleeping in a sun-warmed window. I wrapped that feeling around me and started to cry.
Soon another set of arms wrapped around my body from the back. I smelt vanilla, it was Nathaniel and he was purring too. I looked over at Merle and held my hand out to him. He looked a bit unsure but walked over and dropped to his knees in front of us, rubbing himself against our legs. Normally I would have been uncomfortable but today, right now, it felt right. It felt good, safe. It felt like home.
My whole body thrummed and I realized I was purring too. I should’ve been upset but I was too happy. It was as if I was there but I wasn’t. I should have been alarmed that I was purring. That vibrating happy sound coming from my throat just made me feel good. And I realized that at that point I belonged somewhere, here. I never knew that was what I really wanted until that point but it was. I was always different but now I belonged somewhere. I could share something. I should have run, screaming but I just stood there with my arms around Micah, Nathaniel at my back, Merle rubbing our legs, all of us purring and felt complete happiness. Something I’ve never had. Until now.

Chapter 16
“Blake residence.” It was Nathaniel. The phone must have rang but I hadn’t heard it. I looked over Micah’s body at the clock. It said 5:42pm. I’d only had a little over three hours of sleep. I needed it but it didn’t look like I’d get any more.
“Anita, it’s for you.” He handed me the phone then rolled back over.
“This is Anita Blake.” I yawned.
“Did I wake you?” It was Edward again.
“Yes you did, happy?” I grumbled.
“For now.” He sounded please with himself.
“Edward, I’ve only had 3 hours of sleep. I just got out of the hospital. If you have something to say just say it will you?”
“Why were you in the hospital?”
“Long story, tell you when you get here. What do you want?” Long story. Yeah and did I want to tell him? Hell no. He hated the monsters. I did not want Edward hating me. It was not healthy. I’d much rather have him on my side. Besides, not knowing what I was exactly, what was there to tell? Maybe I’ll just keep my mouth shut. Yeah, that sounded like a good idea.
“Well, that’s why I called. Can you pick me up from the airport?”
“What? Now?” I rubbed my eyes and ran a hand through my hair. It was a mess.
“No tomorrow. I can’t catch a plane until later tonight and I have a layover. I’ll be there around 10 in the morning. Can you pick me up?” He was hiding something from me. I could just hear the way his voice danced around it.
“What aren’t you telling me?” I asked.
“How do you know I’m not telling you everything?”
“Well for starters you like doing it to piss me off and I heard it in your voice.” I made my voice sound bored. It wasn’t hard.
“I’m not sure I like that.” He sounded cautious.
“Don’t like it. That’s your problem, not mine. Now tell me.”
“Say please.” He was back to sounding smug. The little shit.
“If I don’t?” I was starting to get angry. I knew that’s what he wanted, so I decided to play along.
“If you don’t, you know I won’t tell you and it will bug you to no end, so say please.” Was it possible for him to sound any more pleased with himself?
“Fine.” He knew me, what could I say? “Please.” I tried not to sound pissed but that’s hard when speaking through clenched teeth.
“Was that so hard?” Before I could answer he continued on, “I want you to pick me up and then take me to some public place. Doesn’t matter where just so long as it’s public, very public. I want Olaf to see me with you. Do you know a place where we can act like lovers?” He was serious now, like he wasn’t happy about this plan. To tell you the truth, neither was I. I had never had those kinds of thoughts about Edward, and until now I’d thought he felt the same.
“Lovers? Can’t we just act normal?”
“Anita, how many people are you sleeping with right now?”
“That’s none of your damn business Edward.” Now I was really pissed. I know he didn’t approve of JeanClaude but this was going just a little too far. Next thing I knew he’d be calling me a slut.
“I can tell you. The Master of the City JeanClaude, Micah, Nathaniel, the master’s second Asher, and one Richard Zeeman, junior high school teacher and alpha werewolf. As far as I know Micah doesn’t have a job but is living with you along with Nathaniel, who works as a stripper at Guilty Pleasures, a club JeanClaude owns. To my knowledge Asher doesn’t own any property nor does he hold down a job. My point is, if I can find this out, so can Olaf.” How did he do that? Who had told him? Who had spilled their guts, either in truth or the metaphor? I was quiet for so long he said, “Anita?”
“Actually, I”m not sleeping with Richard. Why are you telling me this?” He truly had me puzzled.
“Because Olaf would believe that we were lovers. He knows who you’re with, Anita. He might believe that I’ve come to be with you rather than just visiting.”
“So, what? We hang all over each other and then what?” He sighed.
“Olaf will be watching. He’s probably been watching you for a while now. But he’ll see us and...” I understood finally and cut him off.
“He’ll see us and get pissed. He wants me but I choose you instead, the one he wants to kill, his enemy. He’ll think you’re poaching on his land.”
“Exactly. He’ll get mad and hopefully stupid. I’m hoping he fucks up.”
“Jesus Edward. You want him to come to you.” I said the last softly. We were talking premeditated murder. We were talking about setting someone up to be killed. I wasn’t sure I was ok with that but you know what they say, kill or be killed. “What do you need from me?”

Chapter 17
I had made plans to pick Edward up from the airport and then take him to ‘Play Dead’ for breakfast. It was a new vampire restaurant. Kind of an oxymoron, vampires don’t eat but patrons could be served by vampires after dark. In the morning it would be nearly empty but I’ve heard they have good food. Besides, I’ve got the Master of the City, why would I need another vampire waiting on me? After breakfast it was off to my house where Edward would be staying. After all we must keep up appearances. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him being in a house full of shifters but I couldn’t think of anything better.
I still hadn’t told him what had happened to me. I was saving that for later, hoping he wouldn’t remind me. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
As for the rest of the evening? There was no way I’d be getting anymore sleep. There was also nothing else to be done, so I went to work. My real work. Raising the dead.
I walked through the doors of Animators Inc., and was greeted by Mary our day time secretary.
“Hi Anita, glad to see you’re over that flu. Was it terribly nasty? I heard you went to the hospital.” Flu? Nathaniel must’ve told Bert that. Good thinking. Bert always got nervous when I was ass deep in alligators. It wasn’t that he was concerned for my well being, he just didn’t want to lose his best money maker. Flu sounded better than metaphysical crap, so flu it was.
“Horrible, but I’m all better now. Hooray for modern medicine.” Hooray? I could lie perfectly when lives depended on it. I rushed on, “Is Bert still here? I’d like to have a word with him.”
She looked suspicious but said, “Yes,” I started for Bert’s door with her at my heels. “but he said he didn’t want to be disturbed.” I turned around and she almost ran into me.
“It’s okay. He’s expecting me.” I said.
“Oh, well why didn’t you say so?” She smoothed down her skirt.
“Sorry, I’ll remember next time.” I went through Bert’s door while she watched, then softly shut it in her face. I try not to upset her. She was usually on my side. I try not to ruin a good thing. But you know what they say about good intentions.
Bert looked up, then hurriedly shoved what he’d been looking at into a drawer. Porn? At work? Wouldn’t put it past him.
“Anita.” Oh boy, he looked pissed. Great, I could handle that. I looked forward to it. “You missed your appointment.”
“I was sick.” It was close to the truth.
“So I was told. If I’m sick, I still come to work. It’s called responsibility Anita.”
“Bert, the only thing you feel responsible for is your wallet. I was in the hospital. I was out cold. I couldn’t get up Bert. I didn’t even know what day it was.” That was the truth but it wouldn’t matter to him.
“Jamison took your place. He screwed it up, the zombie wasn’t raised and I'm now the laughing stock of my family.” He was gripping his pencil so hard his fingers were turning white. “Anita, you take more days off than anyone working here. Hell you take off more days than all of us put together.”
“What are you saying Bert?” I didn’t like the way this conversation was going.
“I’m saying that I’m tired of it Anita. I’m tired of you always being involved in something that takes time away from your job. You keep missing appointments and maybe you won’t have a job anymore.” I heard a crackling noise and looked at his hands. The pencil was in pieces but he didn’t seem to notice. His eyes were all for me.
I spoke calmly. With a blank face, as neutral as I could make it. Only my eyes showed what I felt. I showed him cold empty eyes. The same look I had when staring down the barrel of a gun. His eyes widened just a bit. “Bert, I’ve waited a long, long time to say this,” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I felt my power rise, felt it fill my body. I opened my eyes and met his. I let my power fill my eyes, knew when they changed. My senses intensified, hearing, smell, taste, touch and sight. I could taste his anger, smell it change to fear, see his pulse thrum against his skin, hear his breathing speed up. Over all of that I could touch him from where I stood, not with flesh but with power. I could feel him sitting in it like a fly on a spider’s web. What I said next came out harsh with a growling edge, “Take your money, take your appointments, take this job. I DO NOT NEED IT!” I screamed in his face. “I don’t want it! And when you find yourself with clients still asking for me, I hope that the money you love so much walks out that door and never comes back, because maybe then you'’l understand that money isn’t everything. It can’t warm you on the coldest night. What will you have then Bert? When there’s no more money? Nothing. And that is what you are to me, nothing.” I took a deep satisfying breath and said, “Bert, I quit and you can take that to the bank, you greedy son-of-a-bitch.”
He sat there, eyes wide, mouth hanging open, raw fear on his face while I walked out the door of his office and slammed it behind me.

Chapter 18
It was when I’d put the last of my office into a box that I began to wonder if I’d done the right thing.
I walked into what Bert called the Employee Lounge, which was really just a small kitchenette. I had one more thing to grab before I could leave. My coffee cup. I picked it up and just looked at it. It was black with big white letters that said, “Fuck Beer, Got Java?” Micah had gotten it for me and simply said, “It’s you.” I ran my hands over the letters and thought of Bert’s reaction when I’d brought it in. It brought me back to the reason I’d quit.
I went back to my office to grab my box. Larry was waiting for me.
“You really did it?” He looked ready to laugh.
“Yep. I really did it. I quit.” I put my mug in the box and picked it up. Larry held the door for me. Every member of Animators Inc. was standing in the lobby waiting for me. One by one they started clapping. I looked at Larry he had a huge ridiculous smile on his face and he was clapping too.
In the end it was Larry that had made me cry. He’d said something nice and mushy then hugged me. I would’ve been fine if he hadn’t hugged me. The whole time, Bert had stayed in his office. Nobody noticed or if they did they didn’t say anything. I’m not sure what would have happened if he’d have shown his face, but it wouldn’t have been good.
Sitting in my Jeep, with my box in the passenger seat, I didn’t know what to do. Did I go home? What would I do now? I had enough money in the bank to live off of for a few years. Animating paid good. Real good. But what would I do once the money had run out? I still got paid for helping the police. But I can’t count on people to be brutally murdered by some creature. It happened but not often enough to pay the bills.
I finally decided to go to RPIT Headquarters. Maybe if I had something to take my mind off it an idea would come to me. Nothing like murder to get your attention.
Even though it was well after 5 pm, and dark outside, walking into the squad room was like walking into a crowded bus depot. People coming and going. They never closed their doors. Most monsters wait until after dark to kill someone. It was like an unwritten rule somewhere. So because murder happened whenever and wherever, RPIT was always busy. They seemed to be the busiest around 3 am. It was only around 9 so I was hoping Zebrowski was around somewhere.
“Anita, can I help you?” I turned to see Detective Tammy Reynolds, Larry's love and the only witch the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team had on staff.
“Hi Tammy, Zebrowski around?” I asked.
“He’s around here somewhere. What’cha need?” She asked, then looked horrified, “You didn’t get another package did you?”
I laughed, I couldn’t help it. It made me feel a bit better, “No, just wanted to tease him for a while.” Just then Zebrowski walked around the corner. As always his suit was crumpled and wrinkled, it was slate blue, his shirt was white and his tie was blue and black. It matched for once. There had to be a mistake, somewhere. I looked at his feet. Yep, there it was. One black sock and one brown. He never fails. I should place money on it. “Speak of the devil.”
“Anita, hi. If you’ve got a body or part of one, stash it or keep it to yourself.” He smiled.
“Well, hello to you too. I’m fine by the way, thanks for asking. And no, I don’t have anything else for you. You got a minute or twenty?”
“Sure. I’ve got all the time in the world for you babe.” He gave me what must have been his ‘sexy look’. Of course it wasn’t sexy it was hilarious. I rolled my eyes.
“What are you all dressed up for?” He asked.
“I’m not. This is work clothes. I just came from the office.” I looked down at my own outfit. Black skirt, purple v-neck shirt, black blazer. The blazer was to cover my shoulder holster and my favorite gun. My Browning 9mm Highpower. It also covered my wrist sheaths and belly-band holster. The wrist sheaths carried one knife per arm. The knives I’d had custom made with the highest silver content possible. The belly-band held my firestar, backup gun. I also have a knife sheath that goes down my spine. My hair hides the hilt perfectly, but I didn’t think I’d be needing it tonight. I know Olaf was on the loose but if two knives and a bunch of bullets weren’t enough to stop him a bigger knife certainly wouldn’t. Thinking of Olaf, I remembered way I wanted to talk to Zebrowski.
I waved Zebrowski to go first then said, “After you snookums.” He laughed his way down the hallway towards Interview. He wiggled his butt just for my benefit and this time I did laugh. Zebrowski doing butt wiggles. Too funny.
Once we were seated he said, “What’d you wanna talk about?” He took a sip of his coffee.
“Well, I’ll have a lot of free time on my hands from now on. I quit my job at Animators Inc. today. Do you think you could use me around here?” I think he laughed but it was hard to tell. It sounded like a choked cough. He cleared his throat then said, “Are you kidding me? Anita, you know as well as I do that we’re undermanned. On top of that, we don’t know nearly enough about the monsters than we should. I’ll have to clear it but I’m sure the brass won’t have a problem with a Marshall and monster expert on the team. I’m sure we could put you to work.”
“Good, now tell me what you got on the murders so far. Maybe I’ll think of something else we can use against... Otto.” I had almost said Olaf.
“Can do.” He reached into his jacket and pulled out the little notepad that all cops carry. He started flipping through pages until he reached the right one. “Victim number one. Andrew Allen Murphy, age 29, worked at a bar just outside the district. Witnesses say they saw him walk into count Dracula’s club with a taller white gentleman. They weren’t really good on descriptions. Though one did say they think he was bald. That fit Otto’s description?” I nodded. “Ok, I talked to his family, his sister said he had come out of the closet just last year. The woman in the bathroom...” I interrupted him, “Back it up. He was gay? What does that have to do with it?”
“Yeah, his sister told me that he hung out at those bondage clubs. She said one of his ex-lovers probably did him in.”
“Maybe he really did enjoy what happened to him. Remember his face? He looked happy. I know of people like that. Who get pleasure from pain. Sick but true.” It’s true, one of my leopards likes that stuff. He doesn’t let it show when he’s around me though. At least not all the time.
“Seems Andrew frequented those clubs a lot. Maybe too much for his own good. He spent a month or two in the hospital last year. He was dropped off nearly gutted but wouldn’t tell anyone who had done it or why.” He said still reading from his notes.
“Ok, the woman?” I asked.
“Anne Janene Deveraux, 42. She’s an elementary school teacher. Says she was just out with her girlfriends for fun. Said she couldn’t get out of there fast enough but her dress got caught on something and tore.”
“That explains the noise Asher heard. What about our guy at the cemetery?” I stood and started pacing the room. Sometimes movement helped me think.
“He was 34, name Ivan Patrick Freely,” he started to chuckle under his breath, “he normally lives with his girlfriend here in St. Louis but they had a fight. He was hitch-hiking to his mom’s house the last time she saw him.” The chuckle changed to an outright belly laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“Come on Anita. I. P. Freely? Who would name their kid that?” He put his notebook down and wiped his eyes. I. P. Freely, poor guy, probably got teased as a kid.
I sighed, “I don’t know any of them.” I said.
“Anita, don’t you think that’s funny?” Zebrowski asked.
“No, I’m trying to be serious. Remember Dolph thinks I did this or did think.” He sobered up.
“You’re right. Laugh at it later. And no, none knew each other. So far we can’t figure out how they were chosen. We won’t get the chance either.” He did not look happy.
“Why not?”
“Since it’s not a preternatural crime we have to turn it over to the St. Louis PD.” I was about to ask who would be in charge when the door flew open. Dolph took up the whole doorway. You couldn’t see around him, he was just that big. And he was that pissed. His chest heaved up and down. He clenched and unclenched his fists like he ached to hit something. Or strangle it. Speaking through clenched teeth he said, “What is she doing here?” Pointing at me.
Zebrowski stood and moved between us. “Move Zebrowski, he’s mad at me, not you.”
“I don’t care who he’s mad at Anita.”
“GET HER OUT OF HERE!” Dolph roared.
“No. Anita may not follow all the rules but she’s good. She’s real good. She doesn’t let personal shit interfere with the job. So she’s not human anymore. Who gives a flying fuck!? It’s what makes her useful, and right now I’d rather have her at my back than any cop I know.” It was a major compliment coming from any cop, from Zebrowski it made me want to cry. He said the last looking directly at Dolph. He’d drawn a line in the sand with himself on one side and Dolph on the other.
Dolph looked at him, then looked to me. His gaze was hot with all the hated in his eyes. I knew he didn’t hate me, he hated what I’d become but wasn’t it one and the same? It was still me, still Anita but try telling that to the raging bull in front of us.
“Both of you, get out of the building. Get out now. I don’t want to see either of you any time soon.” He said carefully. When you’re that angry you’re either careful or you’re screaming. He gave us one last look then stormed off.
Zebrowski let out the breath he’d been holding in a great woosh of air and lowered his head. I touched his shoulder and said, “Thank you for what you said. You didn’t have to do that.”
He turned and looked at me. He just looked at me. Finally he said, “Yes I did. I meant every word. Now let’s get out of here before he comes back.” We did.


Post a Comment