Wilding Nights
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200 pages
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Description

Homicide detective Allison Goodnight has a big problem. A rogue werewolf killed the victim in her latest case. She knows the signs; she is a werewolf, too. Her whole family is. It is urgent that she close this case without revealing the killer’s nature before humans’ racial memory of her kind awakens. But her new partner Zane Kerr is watching her with unnerving intensity. He is disturbed by her secretive behavior on this case. And when the description of a woman seen with the victim matches a number of Allison’s relatives, he has to wonder if she is trying to protect, not catch, the killer. He is determined to find out. Which could be fatal for him. If he learns too much, Allison may have to turn killer herself to protect her people.

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Publié par
Date de parution 08 septembre 2010
Nombre de lectures 12
EAN13 9781773628424
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0032€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

WILDINGNIGHTS
by LeeKillough
 
Digital ISBNs
EPUB978-1-77362-842-4
Kindle978-1-77299-211-3
WEB978-1-77362-843-1
 
Amazon Print978-1-77362-844-8
 

 
Copyright 2012 by LeeKillough
Cover art MichelleLee
 
All rightsreserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reservedabove, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in orintroduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any for, orby any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, orotherwise) without the prior written permission of both thecopyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
Chapter One
 
Tuesday
The victim hadbeen a young man with thick dark hair and brown eyes, possibly goodlooking, once well dressed. His death changed all of that. Themauling of his face left just one eye intact, and dislocated hisjaw so that it gaped open as though in a last desperate scream.Below it, from neck to groin, his polo shirt, leather blazer, andtrousers had been shredded on the way to ripping open his belly.Beneath the blind stare of empty windows he lay in the rubbish,weeds, and charred fragments of beams littering the guttedwarehouse . . . draped with the bloody tatters of cloth, flesh, andballooning loops of entrails.
Standing wellback from the body to let the Criminal Identification techs examinethe area around it, Allison Goodnight eyed the carnage. SergeantBob Carillo’s comment when the call came in to Crimes AgainstPersons — “Hannibal the Cannibal must be in town; we have achewed-up corpse on Lavaca with only human footprints around it.” —warned her what to expect, but seeing it still felt like a kick inthe gut and left her filled with horror for the victim’s terror andchilled to the bone by the possible repercussions.
“A hell of away to start the day,” Janice Tran said as she photographed coinsscattered off to the side of the body. “It’s hard to believe ahuman could do this.”
Unfortunately,Allison reflected grimly, none probably had . . . despite thewholly human appearance of the barefoot prints intermittentlyvisible amid the trash, weeds, and the victim’s shod tracks.Clearer prints, long and narrow, with long toes, overlaid eachother in the sandy soil around the body, but those leading to arear doorway had been mostly obliterated by the vagrant who came inthat way to investigate what he said looked like a pile of clothes.Allison frowned at the hunter’s tracks. Why go barefooted?
“Tall dude,judging by the size and the length of the stride,” Janice said.
Guaranteed tobe six feet or over. Allison closed her eyes and drew in a longbreath, sorting through the stew of odors around her: Arenosa Bay’sfishy and diesel scents, brine on the sea breeze coming over thebarrier island from the Gulf, smoke that still lingered in theblackened bricks around her, the peppery smell of plants that hadtaken root in the building, the pungent odors of the body’s bloodand intestinal contents. Even the Ident techs contributed the odorsof their skin, soap, deodorant, and powdered latex gloves. So manyscents. She opened her eyes, grimacing. Too many scents.
Outside,footsteps scuffed away up the street. The vagrant who found thebody leaving, his verbal statement taken. Allison noted the sound,as she did the cries of the gulls wheeling above the bay, withoutletting it break her concentration.
Nor did themale voice that snorted, “Not a hell of a lot a help there.”Officer Lindsay, the uniformed officer securing the crime sceneperimeter.
But the flatMidwestern vowels that answered him — “At least he reported thecrime instead of walking all over the scene and picking the victimclean.” — did break in. Zane Kerr’s voice jarred after so manyyears of John Garroway’s mellow drawl.
Allison forcedher attention back to odors. A deeper and slower second breathproved no more helpful than the first. She needed to be closer tothe footprints for any hope of identifying the hunter’s scent.
Lindsay’s voicerattled on. “And speaking of clean, Zane my man . . . you’relookin’ fine this mornin’ for your first day inInvestigations.”
“Second.”
Lindsaychuckled. “Still . . . you wear a suit pretty good for a white boy.I guess I can quit worryin’ that you desertin’ Patrol is gonnadisgrace Arenosa’s Finest sartorially. But I got to ask whose deskyou assed on to get stuck with the Iron Maiden first off.”
She headed forthe footprints at the building entrance. Ident had finished withthat area.
“There’snothing like jumping in with both feet and learning homicideinvestigation from the best.”
In over hishead, if he only knew.
Hitching up herslacks, Allison crouched beside a barefoot print not overlying thevictim’s. She touched one edge lightly. The soil felt gritty underher fingers, too loose and sandy to pick up. Her nose would have togo down to the print.
Red and thelight blue of a uniform shirt moving into her peripheral visionmade her look up. Lindsay and Kerr stared at her from the sidewalkoutside, Kerr all shoulders and flaming hair. With his expressionthat mixture of curiosity and fascination she caught on his faceevery time they worked out at the same time in the gym at thePolice Training Center, or he served as uniformed assistance at hercrime scenes.
Allison sworeat herself. The long partnership that blinded John Garroway to herquirks had made her careless. She needed to watch herself, andfocus Kerr’s attention elsewhere. She lifted her brows at him.“Haven’t you started canvassing for witnesses yet?”
Only when heturned away and headed for the yellow barrier tape did she returnher attention to the footprints.
 
* * *
 
Lindsayfollowed Zane under the tape, grinning. “You got your marchingorders straight now?”
Much as heliked Lindsay, Zane felt a flash of irritation. “Well, she is thelead investigator and me the rookie.”
And of coursehe should have starting looking for witnesses as soon as PreacherJohn left. He wished he could watch Allison work, though, to seehow she and Garroway racked up their astonishing record of solvedcases.
He still hardlybelieved his luck in working with her. Aside from her investigativereputation, she had intrigued him from the first time he saw her inthe police gym after joining the department. Even discovering thathalf the officers in the department came from the same family andshared her build and coloring had not lessened his fascination. Apale blonde sylph over six feet tall would have caught his eye inany case, but a curious sense of recognition and a kind ofelectricity crackling around her had transfixed him. Even twentyfeet away from her, waiting his turn at the climbing wall, the hairon his body prickled. Sweat soaked her cropped hair, but the wayshe ran effortlessly while male officers on adjoining treadmillsstrained to keep pace with her, Zane found himself with the crazynotion she sweated from the effort of restraining herself.
After workingwith other officers in her family, he always wondered about that.In contrast to her, they all seemed such adrenaline junkies . . .opting for Watch Three or One on steady shifts rather thanperiodically work days, charging headlong into dark alleys andbuildings without drawing their weapons, avid for hard foot chasesand other physically demanding effort. T-shirts some wore at thegym epitomized their attitude: If you’re not living on the edgeyou’re taking up too much room.
The firstencounter with Allison, however, all that lay in the future and hespent the rest of his workout and drive home searching his memoryfor a clue why she seemed familiar.
Recognitioncame in the middle of the night, jerking him upright in bed. Ofcourse. Tall, willow slim, fair, almost-silver eyes. She looked theway he always pictured Tolkien’s Elves in Lord of the Rings.
Now he workedwith her. Working, she looked twice as elegant in those grey or iceblue silk slack suits she always wore. But he wished he knew whatshe expected to see in that footprint. Or was sight the sense sheused? As a uniformed officer at a crime scene, he once heardGarroway joke that the way she knew a guilty suspect as soon as shewalked up to him, she must be psychic. Maybe very intuitive, Zanereflected. She was left-handed and he remembered his psychologyclass in college discussing the high correlation between lefthandedness and pattern recognition. She took notes the way he readLeonardo DaVinci — also left-handed — did . . . writing backwardsand right to left. Or maybe, considering the way she touched thatfootprint, her talent was — what was the term for sensing detailsabout people through touching things they had? Psychometry. Itsounded fantastic, of course, but that line from Hamlet echoed inhis head: There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, thanyou have dreamed in your philosophy. And Mr. Spock said that theuniverse would always be bigger and stranger than they couldimagine.
Lindsay’s gruntrecaptured his attention. “She’s a senior investigator, too. Beenin Crimes Against Persons the ten years I’ve been on the job. Butshe don’t look any older than you. It’s like she went straight toInvestigations from the academy.” His brows arched. “I wonderhow.”
The implicationsharpened Zane’s irritation. “I’m more concerned with learning whatsomeone dressed like our victim was doing in thisneighborhood.”
As Lindsayreturned to his post at the barrier tape, Zane crossed the street,eyeing the building facing him. Like many others along this side ofthe bay, it had probably been a cotton or grain warehouse in thedays Arenosa aspired to become a major port. Then whoever took itover when the cotton, grain, and sulphur shipping went north toGalveston subsequently went bust as well and it, like so manybuildings in the area, became abandoned.
Abandoned butnot empty. All kinds of human driftwood washed up in the South Bay:the jobless and destitute, illegals in search of the promised land,runaways who equated Gulf Coast with an easy life in the sun . . .and individuals who had just checked out of society, or sunk underthe weight of drug and alcohol addiction. Some squatted in thisbuilding, he knew. He just needed to find one willing to admit toseeing or hearing anything last night.
A face peeredbetween the boards nailed across a second floor window. It duckeddown almost immediately. Not fast enough to avoid being recognized,however.
“Blue! Blue,come here!”
Footstepspounded away inside. Grinning, Zane sprinted up the street andaround the corner to the alley. Sometimes the flight impulse proveduseful. Certainly preferable to Blue holding up inside, where evena squad of searchers might never find him. Zane ducked into thecover of a chained door under a fire escape. When a scrawny figurein grimy, outsized desert camos dropped off the fire escape, Zanesprang for the shirt collar. “Stick around, bro.”
Blue squealedas Zane’s grip jerked him to a halt, then went instantly into awhine, cringing inside the shirt. “I ain’t done nothin’.”
Zane ticked histongue. “Easy, partner. Today I don’t care about that crack pipe inyour pocket. I just want to know what went down in the street andthat building opposite last night.”
“I didn’t seeor hear nothin’.” But Blue’s eyes twitched sideways behind thegreasy hair falling over them, and he shivered.
Zane proddedhim toward the end of the alley. “Tell it to DetectiveGoodnight.”
 
* * *
 
Crouched overthe tracks again and leaning down within inches of them, Allisondrew in a breath. There. Now she had it. After another breath, shepushed to her feet, swearing silently. Despite the body’s injuries,she had clung to the hope that she might smell a human. But thefeet that left these tracks and this scent had branched off thehominid root before Cro-Magnon ever emerged. A volke wasresponsible for this atrocity. One of her people.
Or ashistorical humans and modern mythology called them . . .werewolves.
To her relief,the scent belonged to no one in the Arenosa clan, and the lack oftrace elements from the local environment also ruled out anyone inthe surrounding area. Still, little as she wanted someone she knewresponsible for this carnage, it would have closed the caseblessedly fast. But all she could identify was a trace of sexpheromones that established the hunter as female, in estrus.
But who isn’t?Allison reflected wryly. Full moon coming on Friday with the clan’sSpring Gathering this week end. Four days at the hill country ranchwithout a human for miles.
She shook offthe surge of anticipatory heat. The hunter must be young for thepheromones to linger this long, maybe twenty or twenty-one, in oneof her early cycles. That or she had repressed her sex drive for along period and built up its intensity.
“It is creepy,isn’t it?”
She glancedover at Phil Castenado spooning plaster into one of the hunter’sfootprints. “Excuse me?”
He pointed tothe tracks. “Weren’t you looking at these? Only toe prints of thevictim’s shoes — he’s running for his life — but the killer’salmost flat footed.”
Just lopingbehind him, taking her time . . . enjoying the terror of hervictim. Who the hell are you, cousin . . . butchering humans in myterritory and jeopardizing the safety of my clan!
Immediateawareness of volke might have faded from humans, but they had notbeen forgotten.
“Humans haveracial memory, too,” her grandmother Honora warned her years ago.“Only, where ours prepares our children for what Shifting will be,humans carry fear and hatred of us. Look at their antipathy towardleft-handedness. Somewhere deep they remember the old competitionfor food and territory, and that despite outnumbering us becausethey breed like rabbits, we’re superior.”
The image ofGreat-grandmother Thérèse flashed in Allison’s head, sole survivorof a clan slaughtered after a killing like this betrayed theirpresence to the human villagers. Her jaw tightened. Damn if shewould let that happen here! “How soon before we have access to thebody?”
“Any minutenow. Call the wagon.”
Returning hercell phone to her jacket pocket after contacting the morgue, sheheard Lindsay laugh outside. “Good hunting. I hope you don’t haveto put him on the stand, though.”
“I didn’t seenothin’,” another voice whined.
He sounded likea prize. She stepped out onto the sidewalk to see for herself, andsighed. A prize indeed. He stank of unwashed skin, soiled clothing,and rotting teeth. “And this is . . .”
Kerr said,“He’s called Blue.”
“SometimesTweaker Blue,” Lindsay added.
A crackhead.Probably no use. “Blue, what can you tell us about last night?”
He shrankinside his shirt. “Nothin’!”
A lie. Feraleyes avoided hers.
Kerr pulled hisbillfold from a hip pocket and fished out a twenty dollar bill.
Blue came onpoint.
“There’s a deadman in this building.” Kerr pulled the bill between his fingers,making it crackle. “You didn’t hear him screaming, or see the guychasing him?”
Blue staredhungrily at the twenty, watching every movement. “Okay, yeah . . .I heard him. And I seen him. But it wasn’t no dude chasinghim.”
Allison forcedherself to remain relaxed despite a shot of ice through her. “Whowas chasing him?” It would be nice to question Blue alone, exceptdoing that might arouse unwelcome curiosity in Kerr andLindsay.
“Wasn’t a who.”Blue hunched his shoulders. “I thought at first it was one of thosefucking monster dogs you run through here at night. But therewasn’t no cop with it and . . .” He licked his lips. “I seen thismovie once about this giant dog running around in England killingpeople. This was like that . . . coal black, huge fangs, eyes likefire.” The acid reek of his fear assaulted Allison. His voicedropped to a whisper. “Straight outa fucking Hell.”
Beyond him,Lindsay’s eyes rolled.
Good. Shewanted the others in a state of disbelief. “What time wasthis?”
Blue scowled.“Hell, how do I know. I got no watch. It was dark.”
Lindsay shookhis head. Wasting your time, the gesture said.
Kerr, though,eyed Blue thoughtfully, toying with the bill. “Did you notice ifthe police watch had changed?”
Good questionto ask, Allison reflected.
Blue’s gazefollowed the twenty. “Yeah, it had. Officer Gary-fucking-Goldendrove by a while before.”
After eleven,then, since her fellow volke came on duty then, working Watch One.“Was the trolley still running?”
A sneerflickered in the feral eyes. “It don’t never run this side of thebay.”
Not fordecades, though the tracks remained from the days it carriedpassengers to the train depot and deep water piers. Now it justlooped down North Bayside Boulevard and up Avenue A. “You can stillhear the bells from here.”
The billcrackled between Kerr’s fingers.
Blue almostsalivated. “Yeah, okay . . . I guess I remember hearing them.”
After elevenand before two-thirty, then. The one car operating this time ofyear made its last run half an hour after the bars closed. If Garyremembered what time he drove down Lavaca that would narrow thetime even more.
Blue’s voicereturned to a whine. “I don’t know nothin’ else. Can I go?”
Kerr glanced atAllison. She tried to think of another time indicator, andremembered the fire sirens she heard around one while running inthe park with her family. “Do you remember fire sirens lastnight?”
Kerr waggledthe bill. Blue’s eyes squinted with the effort to think. After aminute he nodded.
“Did you hearthem before or after you saw the Hellhound?”
“After.”
Which probablyused up what he knew. She let him leave.
Watching Bluescurry away though the rag-tag group of on-lookers they had begunattracting, Kerr shook his head. “The Hound of the Baskervilles.Not much help.”
Lindsay’s lipcurled. “His brain’s fried. He buys into that monster K9 unit shit,too. I can’t figure where these people come up with it.”
Allison bitback a smile. Where indeed, when so many of Arenosa’s officers hadthe capacity to do what she had enjoyed . . . shout, “I’m turningloose the dog!” then Shift and charge in herself.
The morguewagon nosed through the on-lookers. Lindsay lowered the yellow tapeto let them past. As the wagon halted, Dr. Laura Pedicaris, whoalong with Dr. Neil Hertzel divided her day between their pathologypractice and playing medical examiner, climbed out the passengerside. “Morning, Allison. What do you have?”
Allison pointedher the building.
Pedicaris eyedKerr on the way. “That the new kid on the block?” She gave Allisona wink. “Nice. Don’t I remember that hair from somewhere?”
“You’ve onlybeen seeing it in uniform for the past six years,” Kerr said.
Pedicarisgrinned at Allison. “First thing you need to do is break him of thesarcasm.” She headed into the building, with Allison, Kerr, and twostretcher attendants following her. “It’ll be odd having Garrowaysitting in the Investigations Lieutenant’s office instead ofrunning around with you. I’m surprised you’re not taking his placeas squad sergeant.”
Take on abuttload more paperwork? “Bob Carillo is welcome to the job.” I’drather eat ground glass, she told Garroway privately after the morepolite refusal she gave Captain Estevez when offered thepromotion.
Pedicarisstopped short at the body’s feet. “Oh my.” Circling him, she pulledon latex gloves. “He isn’t one you want to stumble over with a fullstomach. Not much question about the cause of death anyway. Hefought it. Defense wounds.” She started to pick up a savaged hand,but the arm did not move. After feeling her way up the arm, shetried the joints of a leg. “Full rigor.”
“He diedrunning for his life,” Allison said.
“Oh, in thatcase . . .” Pedicaris shrugged. “Violent exertion depletes ATP inthe muscles, brings rigor on faster,” she told one of the stretcherattendants. “Plus he looks in good physical shape. Presentcondition aside. That speeds it up, too.” Muttering under herbreath, she continued her examination, poking fingers into themutilated flesh, peering at loops of gut, inserting a thermometerinto the liver to check body temperature. She rolled him over andpulled the remains of his trousers and undershorts down below hisbuttocks then shirt and jacket up to his shoulders for a look atthe darkened skin on his back. Finally she straightened. “Okay . .. lividity indicates he’s lying where he died. Time of deathroughly between eleven and three. I’ll know better when I have himon the table. His stomach’s still intact so I’ll be able to tellyou the what and when of his last meal, too. Anything else you wantto know right now other than my opinion that you should be verycareful arresting this psycho?”
“Why any morethan usual?” Kerr asked.
“Because youmight lose body parts. This guy has jaws I don’t believe.”Pedicaris stripped off her gloves. “He bit clear through that rightwrist — almost took off the hand — and through some ribs on theright.”
The eyes of theIdent techs and stretcher attendants widened.
Kerr smiledwryly at Allison. “Except for the footprints, that could almostmake you believe in Blue’s Hellhound.”
She stared backat him. “Except for the footprints.”
As though thefootprints had any relevance to what Blue saw. Shifting involvedenergy and perception, no actual shape changing, despite how itappeared. Her people had always known that from seeing theirfootprints, long before the invention of photography proved it.Instead, they changed power output . . . going supercharged,kicking into a hyper-adrenaline rush accessible on demand andsustained for as long as they wanted. It affected perceptionbecause the Shift’s enveloping energy field registered on the brainas: Big Powerful Dangerous Life-form. Which human minds in thevicinity interpreted as a shape fitting that criteria for theobserver. That could be any dangerous predator, but from thecultures of Europe and the Russian steppes where they evolved, BigPowerful Dangerous Life-form had come to North America usuallymeaning . . . wolf.
Allison pulledon latex gloves. “We don’t need a Hellhound to explain this. We’veall witnessed or been on the receiving end of the phenomenalstrength of subjects pumped on adrenaline or feeling no pain . . .psychotics . . . junkies high on PCP.” Steering their thoughts thatway might make the trauma less astonishing. Sitting down on herheels, Allison started through the dead man’s pockets. All right,sir, help me find her. Tell us all you can about yourself.
“Hellhound?”Pedicaris said.
“It’s just whata local crackhead claims to have seen chasing the victim,” Kerrsaid. “A giant dog, coal black with huge fangs and blazingeyes.”
The attack leftthe hip pockets intact. In one Allison found a billfold.
Pedicariscocked a brow. “But if it turned human in here, surely we’re nottalking Hellhound but werewolf.”
It had beeninevitable that someone say the word. Allison kept bent over thebody. “In either case, we’re talking nonsense.”
“Besides, itwasn’t a full moon last night,” Kerr said.
Allison smiledto herself. Oh, the glorious fallacies of myth. The moon neithercompelled nor controlled Shifting. It did intensify the huntingurge, of course — a bright moon meant better light to hunt by — andhelped trigger early Shifts. Her first time had been under aglorious Harvest moon. “Kerr, glove up and help.”
They returnedthe victim to his back and searched the intact pockets of theleather blazer. Finding keys, a comb, handkerchief, and a squirttube of breath freshener.
Kerr opened thebillfold. “At least we have an ID. According to his driver’slicense, he’s Alexander Vincent Demry, age thirty-one, of 1432Dolphin. The physical descriptors match the victim. The photograph. . .” He peered from it to the body. “. . . is moreproblematic.”
While thestretcher attendants zipped Demry’s remains into a body bag andloaded him in the wagon, Kerr carried the billfold outside andspread its contents and those from the jacket on the hood ofLindsay’s patrol unit. The keys included one for a BMW, so Allisonused the unit’s computer to check for vehicles registered to Demry.The query came back on a silver BMW Z4. She had Dispatch issue aBOLO on it.
Kerr shook hishead. “A Laguna district address, expensive sports car. Until lastnight Demry was doing all right in the world. But then, sharksusually do.” He tapped a business card from the billfold.
It declaredAlexander Demry, J.D., a member of the law firm of Caffey, Schroer,Wentz, and Glass.
Lindsay tickedhis tongue. “I thought you’d got past the bitterness by now. But .. .” He cocked a brow at Allison. “. . . I guess divorce is reallyhell when your father-in-law is a lawyer and your soon-to-be ex isstudying—”
“I’m sure she’snot interested,” Kerr said.
Lindsayshrugged and went silent.
In addition tothe driver’s license and business cards, it held two hundred incash; a couple of credit cards and gas cards; a medical plan card;Red Cross blood donor card; a membership card for the Anson-BauerHealth Club; a packaged condom. And a card listing his blood typeand the names and phone numbers of his doctor, dentist, and peopleto call in case of emergency. Those included a John Glass with twolocal numbers — one matching the law firm number — and Richard andJulia Demry with a Dallas area code.
Kerr frowned atthe backs of the driver’s license and Red Cross card. “He has theorgan donor box checked and was one unit shy of being aneight-gallon blood donor. A shark with a social conscience.”
“A Boy Scout,too.” Lindsay pointed at the breath freshener and condom. “He’sprepared.”
The condom andnaming a firm partner to be called for emergencies suggested Demrylacked a significant other. Leaving him vulnerable to sexualenticement, perhaps. Is that how you lured him here, cousin?
Allison punchedthe law office number into her phone. Before making the effort totrace Demry’s movements, she wanted him officially identified.
But theanswering voice informed her Mr. Glass had not yet come in. Sheleft her name and phone number, requesting Glass call her as soonas possible.
Lindsay shookhis head. “You want his boss to identify him? I don’t think evenhis Mama would know him.”
Kerr pointedout the dentist’s name on the phone numbers card. “At least thereare dental records to compare to his teeth.”
She should haveKerr contact the dentist for those records. What else? She ranthrough a mental checklist of tasks useful to the case but keepinghim out of her way. For the clan’s sake, she had to find the hunterfirst. For Kerr’s sake, too. If he found her, he risked becominganother victim.
Eyeing theeffects, she saw an ideal job for him — useful, necessary, andguaranteed to keep him safely occupied for hours. “We need tocontact acquaintances about where he might have gone last night.His cell phone’s missing, but maybe he has a land line at home anda phone book on it.” She tossed Kerr Demry’s keys. “See if his nameis the only one on the apartment lease and water and power bills.Talk to neighbors. If you can verify he lives alone, go in andsearch for physical and digital address books. If you can’t verifyhe lives alone, write up a warrant for them and find a judge tosign it. I’ll finish here and catch a ride back to the LEC withIdent, then visit the dentist and bring the lawyer down to themorgue for the identification.”
Kerr nodded andheaded for their car.
 
* * *
 
Pulling awayfrom the crime scene, Zane gave in to the grimace he had beencareful not to show Allison. With all that running around to verifyDemry lived alone, it might be afternoon before he startedsearching the victim’s place. He felt tempted to just go on in. IfDemry had a roommate or significant other, surely they would havebeen listed on the emergency number card. On the other hand, beingon this side of town already, with the Law Enforcement Center andcourthouse between him and Demry’s neighborhood, he had another,safer shortcut. After all, he did want to make good inInvestigations.
Driving towardSouth Bayside Boulevard, enjoying the fact that while Impalas andCrown Victorias made up Patrol’s fleet, investigators droveCamaros, Zane fished out his cell phone punched in Crimes AgainstPerson’s number.
While the phonerang, he ran down all the windows to increase the air flow into thecar. The temperature might be reasonable today, but humidity, asalways, boosted the heat index. Not that he had a right to complainwhen he had chosen to live here . . . as his mother never failed toremind him when he called home.
“I don’t knowwhy you thought you had to leave Kansas City just because we wereangry about you divorcing Susan.”
Angry? Theywere angry when he quit law school barely a month into his firstyear and applied for the police academy — “wasting the intelligenceand ambition” that let him finish prep school a year early and earnhis bachelor’s degree in three years. Walking out on Susan a yearlater brought something more akin to a nuclear meltdown. Never mindpointing out their incompatibility. She hated his chosen career,his friends, and his taste in books, and was no more interested inhaving kids than his mother had been, let alone the gang of them hedreamed about.
The move toArenosa not only put a comfortable distance between him and theiroutrage but he liked the department better than Kansas City’s . . .small enough to know everyone yet somehow supplied with the coptoys of a large department, even an infrared-equippedhelicopter.
At some pointhis mother always said, “I really don’t understand moving to theTexas coast with your coloring. You’re remembering to wear sunscreen and a hat, aren’t you?”
“Yes, Doctor,”he always assured her. His Stetson sat ready on the passenger seat.With physicians for parents, and his father as red-haired ashimself, he had been indoctrinated early about the horrors ofsunburn and melanoma.
SergeantCarillo came on the line. “Kerr? What’s up?”
Asking a favorof a new boss might be a bit presumptuous, but they wanted to findthis maniac as fast as possible . . . right? “Allison will bebriefing you soon. It’s ugly. But we have a tentative ID of thevictim and keys to his apartment. Allison wants me to search it outfor an address or phone book, either paper or electronic, and wantsme to ask if you’ll put a warrant in the works. I’ll be comingdowntown shortly.” After he checked one place for Demry’s car.
“You’ll haveyour warrant.”
Whatever reasonbrought Demry over here, if he drove himself, perhaps he parked atthe Hilst Basin. They lighted their quay and parking lot andmonitored it with video cameras . . . a result of past vandalism toshrimp boats owned by Southeast Asians who came here after the warin Vietnam. The Basin might even have been Demry’s destination.Although it provided mooring and repair services primarily forcommercial boats like the shrimp fleet and charter fishing boatsbased here, and even an occasional large vessel, the Basin also hadslips for a few pleasure craft. Not that Zane expected someone ofDemry’s affluence to use Hilst’s utilitarian facilities . . .bypassing the amenities of the Coronado Yacht Club or the marinasalong the north side of the bay. But he might have a friend on atighter budget.
 
* * *
 
Standing insidethe barrier tape, Allison made eye contact with the on-lookers inone sweep. Since the removal of the body, the number had dwindled.“Were any of you in this area last night and saw or heardanything?”
No oneanswered. A few heads shook. Two pairs of eyes skidded away fromhers and their owners, both clearly street people, remembered otherpressing business.
Allison broughttheir sneakaway to a halt with a piercing whistle. “I have somequestions.”
Slowly, asthough dragged by the force of her crooking finger, the pairtrudged back. She took them aside one at a time, ignoring theirreek of soiled clothing and unwashed skin. Both denied witnessinganything last night . . . even when pressed.
After lettingthem go, she called Carillo to give him an edited-for-humans reporton the situation.
“Kerr wasn’tkidding about this being ugly,” he said.
Allisonfrowned. “When did you talk to him?”
“A few minutesago when he called in your request for a warrant to search thevictim’s apartment.”
He wentstraight for a warrant? Moves like that could put him ahead of heron the hunter’s trail. She better watch him. Something else neededwatching, too. “We’ll need a plan for dealing with the media.They’ll go crazy over this.”
“Shit yes,”Carillo said.
“I suggest thePublic Information Office withhold mention of cannibalism and theextent of mutilation. Fortunately, the Sentinel’s mole in thedepartment didn’t consider a body in the South Bay worth callingin.”
“Thank God forsmall favors. I’ll get together with Garroway and see what hethinks.”
Afterdisconnecting, Allison stepped into the building and moved to acorner well out of earshot for more private calls. Then she punchedin the number for her grandmother’s studio at home. As not onlyhousehold alpha but the Arenosa clan chief, Honora had to be toldabout the hunter.
“We have aproblem, Baba,” she said when Honora picked up.
Honora swore asAllison explained. “Big problem. That poor man!”
“How manyoutsider females are in the area?” Newcomers usually hunted upHonora as soon as possible in order to establish contact with thelocal clan. No one wanted isolation in a sea of humans.
“I’ll have tocheck. If we’re dealing with a rogue, she may be avoiding us, andif this is a juvenile, the lack of restraint tells me she issomehow on her own and may be unaware how to make contact locally.But I’ll check my records and spread the word to all the alphas tocontact you or me with the names of outsiders they’re awareof.”
Everyone in theclan would understand the danger. If this hunter let the waxingmoon control her hunting drive, she would be going after newvictims. More humans would die. Maybe volke, too, if humansremembered their old rivals. Allison’s head echoed with theimagined shrieks of her great-grandmother’s clan trapped andburning to death.
 
* * *
 
Pulling intothe Hilst parking lot, Zane spotted a stocky figure in shirtsleeves and loose trousers sauntering across the concrete hisdirection. Captain Zviad Kakashvili. Zane honked and waved. “Goodmorning . . . dobrahye ootrah. Off to play chess . . .chahmatih?”
The Georgianbent down to peer into the car and as always, grinned at Zane’sRussian. “Da. Beating Fernando Silvas. Da svedanyah.”
Watching thecaptain walk away, Zane saw the down side to his transfer . . .losing the daily contact with people like Kakashvili, who alongwith their stories — comic, touching, tragic — endlessly fascinatedhim and enlivened the shift. He stared down the parking lot pastthe Basin offices, toward the Russian freighter moored at the deepwater piers . . . hull rust-streaked, the big cranes on her deckidle, reduced to perches for the seagulls wheeling and cryingoverhead. Three years ago the Fyodora Kuzetcheva had limped up thechannel past Lacabra Island for repairs that Hilst would make morecheaply than Houston. Only to become stranded when they could notpay the docking fees that accrued during repairs. While she satwaiting for the owners to send the necessary money, fees continuedto accumulate. They transferred the cargo and most of the crew toanother Russian ship within the year. Only Kakashvili remained . .. waiting, he had told Zane with a fatalistic shrug as the two ofthem struggled along in broken English and Zane’s spotty Russian —acquired from one of the au pair girls in his childhood — for theday the owners gave up, sold the vessel, and pocketed what remainedafter paying their debts. In the meantime, Kakashvili used the milethe INS permitted him to wander from the ship to spend his days atthe Anchorage, playing chess with beach bums and retired sailorswho lived in the waterfront hotel and bar.
Zane cruisedthrough the parking lot twice to make sure he did not overlook theBeamer, but he spotted no BMW sports car among the trucks and carsbelonging to the Basin personnel and shrimp boat crews.
Over the Basinoffices, the blue Hilst company flag with its white H and trawlersilhouette flew at half mast in honor of the Old Man, CharlieHilst. A good guy, Charlie, Zane reflected. Down to earth, for allhis money. At the funeral yesterday, had they managed anything likethe Viking send-off he always said he wanted? Heading on downtown,Zane hoped Charlie’s wife at least spread his ashes at sea.
At the head ofthe bay he passed the ferry landing, where a surprising number ofpeople for this time of year stood waiting. One led a saddled horseand a handful carried birders’ cameras and binoculars, or towelsand beach totes. The rest must be members of the film crew shootingon the barrier island and had chosen to ride the ferry out ratherthan drive around the far north end of the bay to the bridge there.Beyond the ferry landing, the serpentine of Cotton River Parkstretched away west and waterfront South Bay becametourist-oriented North Bay. North Bayside Boulevard curved alongthe water, lined on one side by a string of hotels and the tracksfor the outer half of the trolley loop and on the other by narrowparking lots, the quay, and piers where sailboats and sport fishingboats bobbed invitingly in their slips.
Zane turned upNorth Parkview Drive to the Law Enforcement Center . . . a trefoilgrouping with the squat, broad proportions of petroleum storagetanks. Tanks with plenty of windows, however, except for theCorrectional Unit. The fourth floor of the Law Enforcement Unit,which Investigations shared with the administrative offices of thePD and Sheriff’s Department, enjoyed great views of the park andbay. Like something out of science fiction, a wave of his ID casepast the lock on the rear entrance opened the door for him, thereader detecting the code in his ID card even through the leatherfolder.
As promised, upin the office Carillo had the warrant ready for him, and minuteslater Zane was back in the car headed through the Market districtinto the Laguna neighborhoods. Commerce gave way to affluence. Notthe level reflected in the mansions along Laguna Drive, where theouter bay and intracoastal waterway separated the mainland fromLacabra Island, but apartments and condos up-scale enough toproclaim their owner’s prosperity. Demry lived in an hacienda-stylegarden complex probably built in the thirties . . . white stuccowalls, deep porches shaded by palms, quarry tile floors and barreltile roofs. Zane rang the bell, and when no one answered, used thekey.
Inside, Demry’staste ran to ultra-modern, the furniture angular and metal edged,relieved only by the sybaritic touch of a multi-colored goatskinrug in front of the fireplace. Not somewhere that invited Kerr tokick off his shoes and kick back.
Staring aroundas he tucked his sunglasses in his breast pocket, he realized whatreally bothered him about the room. No books. He grimaced.
Some newspapersand law journals sat in a neat stack on a shelf under one end tableand a couple of jazz magazines and a monthly guide to Austin nightlife lay on the sofa table along with, yes, a Kindle, but theshelves flanking the fireplace held only an assortment of sea birdscarved from driftwood, wire and carved sculptures of jazzmusicians, photographs of shore birds and wild flowers, and smalloil paintings of lighthouses and seashore scenes. All of it galleryquality, to Demry’s credit, not tourist tchotchkes.
Still . . . noreal books? Susan, too, had considered bookshelves served onepurpose, to display her art glass.
In sharpcontrast to the furniture, an old-fashioned leather briefcase withthe scars and patina of long use sat on the floor by the end tablewith law journals. Going through it — finding no address book —Zane pictured it being handed down from his father or grandfather,and Zane liked Demry for carrying it. A cordless wall phone hung inthe kitchen, but a card taped beside it listed only a pharmacy andcar dealership in addition to the same emergency contact numbers asin his wallet.
Up a hall offthe living room, a bedroom overlooked the central pool and gardenarea . . . furnished with an acre of neatly made bed and awall-length dresser with the section under a large flat-screen TVturned into shelves for a DVR, CD/DVD player, Xbox console, and theCDs, DVDs, and games to use in them. He flipped through the CD’s.Mostly jazz except for a little easy listening and new age, whilethe DVDs and games to action adventure. Drawers in the bedsidetables contained only sex toys and other supplies for entertainingfemale guests.
The bathroomcounter sported a generous but not extravagant array of skin careand personal hygiene products. And the walk-in closet held only amoderate-sized wardrobe, the labels telling Zane that Demry chosequality over quantity. So, maybe a shark but not a clotheshorse.
Next Zane trieda door across the hall.
Bingo. A homeoffice. At the far end a desk sat under a window, flanked by a filecabinet and table with a photocopier on top and shredderunderneath. The desk itself held a closed laptop, phone with ananswering machine, and a Rolodex. On the way across the room, heglanced over the shelves of law journals and law books lining thewall between door and desk. To his surprise, one whole section ofdealt with copyright and trademark. Interesting. He never imaginedArenosa’s legal business supporting such a specialty.
A quick checkfound no messages on the answering machine. The phonebook on thephone listed fifty-seven numbers . . . most with personal names —some just the first name — as well as the usual service numbers:doctor, dentist, plumber, house cleaner, health club, stock broker,power outage number. Should he call just the personal numbers withlocal area codes, or all of them, because the non-local codes mightbe cell phones?
Due diligencesaid all. So . . . make himself comfortable. Zane hung his coat onthe back of the web-fabric desk chair, loosened his collar and tie,and settled into the chair.
As he reachedfor the phone again, however, it rang. The caller ID said:Patricia.
Zane answered,but before he could speak, an exasperated female voice said, “Alex,I can’t believe you’re still home! I tried there as a last resort.Have you forgotten you’re taking the Aguilar deposition in fiveminutes? Mr. Torrance—”
Zane broke in.“I’m sorry, Mr. Demry isn’t here.” He pulled his notebook and penfrom his shirt pocket. “This is Detective Kerr with the ArenosaPolice—”
“Police!” Hervoice rose. “What are you doing at his apartment?”
He dodged thequestion with one of his own. “May I ask who I’m speaking to?”
“PatriciaOrmand, Mr. Demry’s secretary.”
Secretary. Thatcould be helpful. “Ms. Ormand, do you happen to know what Mr.Demry’s plans were last evening? Was he going out somewhere?”
She tookseveral seconds to answer. “How do I know you’re a police officer?Has something happened to Alex?”
Zane’s cellphone played Bad Boy. “Hold just a minute, please.” He hit the Mutebutton on the phone and answered the cell.
“How are youdoing?” Allison asked.
“I was about tostart through the names on his phone, but Demry’s secretary justcalled here and before she gives me any information she wants proofI’m the police, and to know what I’m doing here and where Demryis.”
“Tell her,without giving details. And give me her number. The lawyer hasn’tgotten back to me so I may have to use her to identify thebody.”
He put Allisonon hold and went back to make this a bad day for the secretary. Thefew notifications he had made always felt brutal. “Ms. Ormand? I’mso sorry to have to inform you that Alex Demry was found dead thismorning.” He overrode her gasp to say, “I know this is a shock but,please, what can you tell me—”
“Found there?What happened!”
Her chokedvoice told him to forget useful answers right now. “No, not here.My partner, Detective Allison Goodnight, will be coming to youroffice presently and can give you more information. I’d like topass your number on to her.”
Once she gaveit to him and disconnected, sobbing, he relayed it to Allison.“What’s happening at your end?”
She pausedbefore answering. “I called Gary Golden. He says he drove downLavaca twice, the first time about a quarter after twelve, thenagain around one-thirty.”
That narrowedDemy’s time of death to between twelve-fifteen and one o’clock.Assuming Blue’s statements could be trusted. “Do you have thedental records yet?”
“Yes.”
“And we’vequeried Austin and NCIC about other killings like this?”
Allison paused.“I have, yes.”
Her of coursetone brought a rush of heat up Zane’s neck to his ears. He winced.A fine impression he must be making, sounding as if he questionedwhether she knew what to do.
“Both Austinand NCIC came back negative.”
“Is there anysign of the car yet?”
“A unit spottedit in a parking lot at Sailfish and B.”
Just up fromAvenue A, where bars, fine dining, and fast food restaurants mixedwith tattoo parlors, boutiques and shops selling souvenirs andbeachwear. Most of the city’s entertainment and visitor-orientedbusinesses in one eight block stretch, anchored on the west end bythe pseudo-pueblo of Mercado Square. Demry must have gone out forthe evening, then. Where . . . and with whom? “Shall I check outthe car and the A?”
“No. We’llcanvass later, when we have a better chance of finding people whowere there yesterday evening. I’ve already arranged to bring thecar in for processing. Not that I expect to find anything. I doubthe drove it to South Bay.”
Zane agreed. Hedid not see the killer returning the car to a populated area andwalking away from it in bloody clothes.
“You go aheadwith the calls.”
That should useup his day. He sighed. Welcome to Investigations.
While the firstnumber he punched in rang, he eyed Demry’s computer, and as ananswering machine picked up, opened the computer and pressed thepower button. Hoping it was not password protected. E-mail had anaddress book, too.
He left amessage on the answering machine. The next number gave him a busysignal.
By that timethe computer finished booting. It asked him to touch the scanwindow or enter a password.
Hell. At leastit gave him a choice, for all the good that did. Then on a hunch,he flipped through the Rolodex. The fingerprint scan worked onlyfor Demry. There was surely a password for a tech when the laptopwent in for service. Maybe he would get lucky and find it filed theRolodex.
Zane generallyfelt lucky. It kept him in one piece running around Kansas City onhis own as a kid. It had certainly protected him that summer he wasten and tried to hitchhike to his grandparents in Seattle.
But . . . hefound no password under Computer, or Log-on, or PW. None of thecards, in fact, had what looked like a password. Until he reachedthe V’s, where the first card, labeled Vault, bore just a six-digitnumber.
Vault? Such asa password vault?
Zane opened thetop drawer of the desk. Shallow trays held the same assortment hehad at home: pens, rubber bands, paper clips, several pads ofsticky notes, a small stapler and box of staples, a roll of stamps,magnifying glass, measuring tape, and two rings of keys. One ringhad each key tagged — file box, folks, storage, office, Jan, Carl,boat, gun cabinet — the other bore a single tag for the entirering, with a large question mark.
Zane had tolaugh. He had mystery keys, too. Where did those things come from .. . breeding in the darkness of the drawer?
The drawer heldno password vault, however. Nor did the side drawers. Envelopes,business cards, printer cartridges, letterhead stationery, andprinter paper, yes, and in the top drawer a box with half a dozenflash drives — three shaped like a sports car, Superman, and askeleton. Whimsy Zane liked. Curiosity wanted to check the contentof the flash drives . . . but for that he needed the computer andeven if he found a password, he doubted his warrant covered theflash drives.
Time to try thefile cabinet.
The key ringhad no file cabinet tag and the file box key was the wrong shapefor the lock. Maybe he gave the key another tag for security. Zanetried gun cabinet since the apartment contained no gun cabinet.With no luck there, he tried them all.
Boat opened thefile.
The back halfof the partitioned top drawer held a camera and accessories, thefront a checkbook, two boxes of new checks, and a zipperedclamshell sized to hold a pocket camera.
A camera caseup front instead of with the other camera gear?
He unzipped it.And grinned. Behold, a password vault.
Powering it on,he typed in the numbers from the Rolodex card.
Nothing. Thescreen still read: Enter a PIN number.
He reversed thenumbers.
The screen litup, presenting options that included View, which brought a list ofnames. He paged down it to Computer. That gave him a password, butthe long alphanumeric mixture — carefully typed into the laptopsince he knew he had only a limited number of tries before thecomputer locked up — brought a snippy message to try again. Shouldhe, or consider this might be for his office computer? He opted forgo on through the list for another likely entry.
To his reliefthe password under laptop let him in.
Keeping thevault handy while he connected to the internet, he used it to findthe ID and password for Demry’s e-mail.
That opened onhis In-box. The date/time indicated the first eight on the firstpage had arrived overnight. The last three arrived yesterday. Nonehad been read. On the second page a single message had been read,one that arrived at two in the afternoon.
The From columnlisted Coolflute@texnet.net as the sender. Subject: invitation.Zane clicked on it. Coolflute wrote: thought you might beinterested I’ve got a gig there this month, opening tonight at fiveto midnight, hope you can come. tonya.
Had Demryresponded? Yes. A message in Sent Mail read: I’ll be there.
Zane regardedit with satisfaction. So Demry came home from work, opened hise-mail, and after reading this one decided to take Tonya up on herinvitation. But . . . where was Tonya opening at five to midnight?And why such an odd, and oddly specific, time?
Seconds laterhe sighed in disgust at himself. He had let the lack of capitalsthrow him. Sure enough, the club listings in the yellow pages of aphone book on the bookcase had an ad and listing for a club namedFive To Midnight, showing silhouettes of double bass and saxophoneplayers along with the announcement. Live jazz nightly; Cool soundsuntil the wee hours; open mike nightly. Located at Sailfish and A.One block from where Demry parked his car.
Next question:since it appeared likely Demry went to the club, had he met hiskiller on the way, while there, or leaving it? Perhaps the killer,Demry, and Tonya made up a triangle . . . although the tone of thee-mail and From giving her e-mail address, not her name, soundedmore like a message from a casual friend than a lover. Unless theywere former lovers and she resented being a “former”, so maybearranged for the other man to exact her revenge. Did she know hewas psycho?
He opened thecomputer’s address book. Coolflute’s entry had only the address,nothing in the nickname or name spaces, making it likely anautomatic entry made when he replied to her e-mail. A searchthrough the phone’s phonebook turned up no Tonya. If the name wasshort for a given name like Antonia, that did not appear as anentry either. The Rolodex had no Tonya, with or without theCoolflute e-mail address. Nothing to indicate an intimaterelationship.
Yet theyobviously had some kind of relationship, and she might be the oneof the last people to see Demry.
Luckily he hadone way to reach her . . . the club.
He looked upthe club again and called the number. When an answering machinepicked up, he disconnected without leaving a message. If she wereinvolved, he did not want her warned about police interest in her.It would be better to confront her in person.
For now . . .back to the phone canvass.
Chapter Two
 
In the waitingroom of Caffey, Schroer, Wentz, and Glass, Allison handed her cardto the law firm’s receptionist. “I’d like to speak with—”
“Go right onback, Detective. Third door on the left.”
She strode upthe hall. Had Glass not bothered to return her call because heassumed she would show up asking for him?
Maybe . . .because she remembered the distinguished, sixtyish man behind thedesk very well from their encounters in court. A voice for thedefense trying to skewer her on cross examination. Full ofinsinuations about personal police agendas and questions of hercompetence and character.
He waved hertoward a chair. “Allison Goodnight. If you’re on the case, thatanswers half my question. Now I just need to know how Alex Demrywas murdered and when we can expect an arrest. Mrs. Ormand came tome in tears earlier. The other detective wouldn’t tell heranything. But don’t tapdance with me. I’ve known Alex since he wasborn.” He leaned forward, his elbows on the desk, stare boring intoher. “I want to know what’s going on.”
Even being onthe receiving end she always admired his artistry, but in the timeit took her to sit down, Allison decided to apply that human adageabout sauce for the goose and gander.
“Exactly what Icame to tell you, Councilor. Which you would know if you hadbothered to return my call.” At his blink of surprise, she added,“I left a message with your receptionist.”
His gazeflicked toward a pile of message forms on his blotter. Quickly, hethumbed through them, and near the bottom of the stack, paused.“This doesn’t say anything about Alex being dead.”
“You wouldprefer I left a message saying I need you at the morgue for theformal identification of an associate?”
Anger flashedin his eyes at her sarcasm, but after a moment, he shook his head.“No.” He paused. Regrouping? The defense attorney eyes bored intoher again. “You still haven’t told me what happened.”
She toldhim.
After oneintake of breath, his courtroom face slammed on, leaving her toguess at what he might be feeling. At the end of her recitation, hesat silent for a minute. “It had to be a madman or drug-crazedjunkie. No one could hate Alex that much.”
“Demry’slibrary suggests he specializes in trademark and copyright law. Didhe handle other kinds of clients, too?”
“You’rethinking someone who went to jail blamed Alex?” Glass shook hishead. “He never took criminal cases. He took depositions andhandled some contract work but otherwise just copyright andtrademark. And while he lives here — because he likes Arenosa — hisclients were almost always in Austin or Houston.”
“We have toconsider all the possibilities.” She stood. “Shall we go?”
 
* * *
 
At the morgue,the attendants had arranged the stretcher with the best side ofDemry’s face toward the viewing window and managed to wedge the jawalmost into normal position, but Glass stared through the windowfor a long time, granite-faced, before speaking. “That’s Alex. Ifyou need further proof, his secretary will know his dentist’s name.You’ll also find an old fracture of his left tibia that he brokeskiing when he was fifteen.”
On Allison’sother side, Pedicaris nodded, confirming they had already foundthat on x-rays.
Glass turnedfrom the viewing window. “After I’ve talked to his parents I’ll letyou know about arrangements for the body. Meanwhile . . .”Courtroom iron slid back into his voice. “. . . I expect to see thepolice department sparing no effort to find the monster that didthis!”
Oh how human,assuming himself superior, with the power to coerce her intogreater effort. “Councilor, save your alpha posturing for someoneit will impress. I’m already giving this case top priority. If youwant to be useful, spread the word through your firm that we needto trace Mr. Demry’s movements last night.” She handed him a halfdozen cards, then turned her back on him. “Laura, will you bestarting the autopsy soon?”
“Any minute.”The pathologist gazed past Allison, watching Glass leave the room.“You sure slapped him down.”
Allison dug ahandful of cashews from a package in her jacket pocket. “I’m justestablishing the proper pecking order. I’ll be back in a fewminutes.”
Heading acrossto Communications and Records in the adjoining Law EnforcementUnit, she reflected that she should really be out interviewingnon-clan volke. But it was also important to know what the bodyrevealed about the hunter.
From the crimescene Allison had arranged for not only the queries to Austin andNCIC that Kerr asked about but a second set for suspects with volkedescriptors — both male and female to hide her interest in females.And she requested a computer search of their own records forcomplaints over the past two months involving animal killings andwild animals stalking or chasing citizens.
If the hunterwere juvenile, this kill did not come on her first Shift. They allhad to master of the new energy level first. It had felt sowonderful to finally, finally, break free of the everydaylimitations of her body . . . to experience for herself the powershe tasted before only in her dreams. Exult in it. Except at firstit had been all power, no control. She kept overshooting turns,misjudging distances, falling all over herself . . . and could onlywatch in chagrin while every deer or wild pig she picked for atarget at that Gathering scrambled away unharmed. Learning tocontrol the power took practice, as the other clan members kepttelling her while giving reassuring hugs and reminiscing abouttheir own initial clumsiness. If the hunter practiced locally, shehad to leave signs of it.
Communicationshad already informed her of hits on the descriptor queries andAllison read the messages standing at the desk. The one from Austinand six of the seven from NCIC were on males, no help . . . butNCIC had one female FNU, LNU — first name unknown, last nameunknown — sought as a material witness in the Februarydisappearance of a man in Coral Gables, Florida. Allison frowned.That witness might have nothing to do with her hunter. Still, shecould not afford to ignore any possibilities, and requested detailsfrom Coral Gables.
Then shehurried back across to the morgue, reaching the autopsy room asPedicaris finished tying on her gown. The body, its scents mixedwith that of the disinfectant used to clean it, smelled even morepungent here than it had at the crime scene. The overhead fanspulling contaminants from the room did little to reduce theodors.
Pedicarispulled on surgical gloves. “Our Y-incision is almost superfluous onthis one.” The left side of the rib cage moved like a trap door asshe lifted it outward. “Talk about cracking open a chest. I neverwant to meet this guy, not even with bars between us. Ready,Jeff?”
She began goingover the skin, noting each bruise and wound and dictating thedetails into the overhead mike while her assistant took photographsand marked the location of the lesions on a body diagram.
Allison leanedagainst the counter running along one wall and flipped through thecomplaints printout as she listened to the monologue.
Despite thenumber of incidents Records found for her, they lacked the patternof escalating severity she expected to see with a juvenile volke.And more incidents occurred in February than in the past few weeks.Allison doubted anyone knew how long it took for the localenvironment to affect personal scent, but if an outsider had beeningesting local food and water since early February, her scentwould reflect that by now. Most of the incidents had also occurredon the western edges of the city, which made Allison considercoyotes the likely culprits. Patrolling on foot in her uniformdays, she met a number of the animals wandering into town . . .some so bold they refused to move out of her path until they readher scent.
She tucked theprintout under her arm. If the hunter were a juvenile, she hadhoned her hunting skill somewhere else.
Rubber solessqueaked on the tiled floor. A male scent overlaid by that ofwintergreen identified the newcomer even before she glanced around. . . Dr. Neil Hertzel.
The pathologiststarted to greet her, but broke off, staring at Demry’s body. “Sonof a bitch. That takes me back.”
His tone raisedgoosebumps on Allison. “To where?”
“My days as amedic in Vietnam.” He pulled a couple of pink lozenges from thepocket of the lab coat covering his scrubs . . . popped one in hismouth and held the other out to Allison. “Having my butt saved by atiger.”
The lozengeshattered between Allison’s teeth, but she barely noticed itspungent sweetness filling her head.
Pedicarisglanced around. “By a tiger?”
Hertzel smiledwryly. “Normally our unit’s patrols were pretty safe. We had thisbuck sergeant named Dove with a genius for sniffing out Charliebefore he found us. Build and coloring like yours, Goodnight. Araving lunatic. He loved being in country. He’d started his sixthtour when I went. He’d always take the point . . . ghost off intothe jungle ahead of us, and when we caught up with him later he’dbe sitting there by a neat row of bodies with their throats cut ornecks broken, saying some Vietnamese prayer for the dead over them.‘Worthy opponents must be treated with respect,’ he’d say. It wassurreal.
“But this onetime the NVA got behind us. Several men went down before we couldfind cover and return suppressing fire. It was deafening for acouple of minutes and then suddenly the jungle behind us kind ofexplodes. I thought we must be surrounded and were done for, thenout into the middle of us springs this monster of a tiger. Thefuckingest tiger I have ever seen! A nightmare. I’ve never beenthat scared before, even trying to load wounded in a chopper whileunder file. I almost crapped myself. But the tiger ignores us. Justheads for Charlie. I remember feeling this big blast of heat as itwent by. There’s crashing and shooting and screaming. Theneverything went dead quiet. When we got up to check it out, thebodies looked like this one . . . eviscerated, throats torn out,arms and hands bitten off.” He shook his head.
“Jesus,”Pedicaris’s assistant said. “One tiger did that?”
One Doveperceived as a tiger . . . because that was the Big PowerfulDangerous Life-form everyone expected in the Asian jungles.
“He was one bigmother of a tiger,” Hertzel said. “But the weirdest part was, inthe middle of the slaughter stands Dove, who I thought was off theother direction. He’s covered with blood — not his because he hasonly minor wounds in an arm and thigh — picking his teeth with thepoint of his Ka-bar and looking like someone who’s just had anorgasm.”
Allison enviedhim. She imagined the rush . . . legitimately hunting humans . . .pitted against quarry prepared for the game — armed, clever, tough— and stalking you.
Hertzel shookhis head. “Dove says, ‘Some fun, huh? Sorry I smelled them too lateto keep them off you, but at least I got here in time to give thecoup de grass to a few the critter didn’t finish off. How aboutbreaking for grub? I’m starved.” Hertzel rolled his eyes. “Beaucoupdinky dau, as the locals would say . . . absolute fucking madman. Idon’t think the hair on my body laid back down for an hour.”
It amazedAllison that Hertzel saw no connection between Dove and the tiger.All hail the age of reason and science. He might never link themunless some event forced him to change his view of reality. Sheneeded to make sure no such event occurred.
Allisonarranged her face into appreciation of the story. “That’sincredible. But I doubt our victim met a tiger on LavacaStreet.”
“Or a werewolf,either,” Pedicaris said. She and the assistant laid the body flatagain. “The bite marks have the dental arch of a human, not acanine.” She picked up her scalpel, then stopped and leaned closeover the chest, peering at one site, then another. “Damn. Didn’tnotice that before.”
Allison forcedherself to remain relaxed against the counter. Pedicaris need nothave seen anything dangerous. “Notice what?”
“This anomalyin the bite marks. Neil, take a look.”
Shit. Allisonstraightened, laying the printout on the counter. Physicalsimilarity let her people blend with the human population. Butdifferences existed . . . and those included teeth. “I’d like tosee, too.”
Tying on masks— Hertzel the one he pulled from his lab coat pocket, Allison onefrom a drawer under the counter — they moved to stand on eitherside of Pedicaris.
The pathologistpointed her scalpel at an arc of marks on the skin above one rawedge of flesh. “It’s a good imprint of some maxillary teeth, right?Both middle incisors, right lateral incisor, right canine. But wecome to the first premolar and only the lateral side leaves animpression.”
Hertzel eyedher. “Yes. His tone said: and your point is? They all knew amultitude of factors affected bite marks, starting with the angleand the amount of pressure applied.
Allisonbreathed slowly, waiting to see how close this bullet came to thetarget.
Pedicarisfrowned at the bite mark. “Deep as the bite is, the medial side ofthe premolar should make an impression too, so I thought maybe hefractured the tooth in the course of biting through the forearm andribs.”
Hertzel nodded.“A possibility.”
“For one tooth,yes, but check out this other bite mark.” Pedicaris pointed withher scalpel. “Now we have the left maxilla, and the imprintincludes both its premolars. And on both of them only the lateraledge shows. I don’t see him fracturing three teethidentically.”
Not abull’s-eye maybe . . . but she hit the edge of the target.Uncomfortably close.
Hertzel bentdown until his nose almost touched the bite marks. “They’re sharperthan I’d expect even fractured premolars to be. Jeff — excuse me,Goodnight, but I need you out of the way — let’s have morepictures, concentrating on the premolar imprint. We’ll blow them upand see what that can tell us. I think I also see tooth marks on arib there. Photograph that as well.”
Allison movedback from the table. New anger at the hunter hissed through her.The bullets kept coming closer. A blow up of the imprint couldidentify “sharper” as not fractured teeth at all but conical cuspslike those found in carnivores. Which could start them thinkingabout the tiger and the werewolf wisecrack. Allison’s mind raced.The body was not the only site she had to worry about for bitemarks.
“Let me runover to the lab and check Demry’s leather jacket.”
“Right!”Pedicaris nodded. “I remember seeing bite marks on it. Maybe one ofthem shows the premolars.”
Allison hopednot.
Minutes later,on the Ident side of the floor, she tapped on the shoulder of atech peering through the lens of a magnifier lamp at a sweater. “Ineed to see the clothes from the Lavaca Street murder.”
Corinne Yeolooked up. “Wet or dry?”
“Wet.”
Yeo yelled,“Janice! Where’d you put the clothes from your murder!”
From anotherroom came: “Hesston’s conference room.”
Allison raisedher brows. “The stuff from the Lost Creek stabbing isn’t dry yet?We arrested the nephew on Sunday.” Garroway’s last hurrah as adetective.
“Those, yes.”Yeo pulled a key ring from the pocket of her lab coat as theyheaded up the hall. “Now there’s a whole washer load of clothesspread over two conference rooms. We look like a tenement.”
Washer load.“Another Mr. Clean burglary?”
Yeo nodded.“This time he threw in the whole contents of the victims’ hamperalong with his own clothes. Left wearing black palazzo pants and agold mesh tank top from the daughter’s closet.” Yeo unlocked thedirector’s conference room. “You know the drill. Keep the doorclosed while you’re in there. Don’t touch anything you don’t haveto. Close the door behind you when you leave.”
Pulling on apair of latex gloves from a box outside the door, Allison nodded.Inside, the conference table sat against the back wall with thechairs on top of it. An assortment of clothing lay draped overtheir backs and on folding wooden laundry racks set up on the floor. . . all drying before Mr. Clean’s clothing was separated from hisvictim’s laundry and packed in evidence bags. Theintestinal/fecal/blood smells from the Demry crime scene hung inthe air. After a couple of sniffs to track the scent, she found theleather jacket stretched across the far end of a rack it sharedwith the rest of Demry’s clothes and — separated by a strip of neonorange tape — socks and boxer shorts from the Mr. Clean wash.
Inch by carefulinch, she went over it. Tears at the end of the right sleeve markedwhere the hunter bit through Demry’s wrist, probably as he raisedit in defense. The lapels were ripped, too. Around each site longscrapes on the leather marked other bites, but none with anydefinite impression of the teeth. Only the right shoulder showed aclear bite mark . . . upper incisors and canines penetrating justin front of the shoulder seam, the rest of the bite to the rear.Allison visualized the action . . . the hunter springing on herprey’s back and sinking her teeth into the jacket. While the teethhad bitten almost through the leather, leaving clear impressions ofupper and lower incisors and canines . . . they left only a hint ofconical premolars, and nothing as far back as carnassial teeth.
Allisonreturned to the autopsy breathing easier.
“Oh, well,”Pedicaris said when Allison reported on the jacket. “Update on thisend — your psycho likes organ meat. He ripped out the victim’sheart and I guess took it with him. Victim’s stomach is emptyexcept for liquid . . . which isn’t coffee.”
“Alcohol?”
“That’s myguess. We’ll see for sure. We’re running a blood alcohol level andtox screen on him.”
“Good.” Allisonchecked her watch. “I have to go. If you come across somethingearth-shaking, let Carillo know. Otherwise I’ll wait for thewritten report.”
Before headingto the car, she ran up to the office to shove the printout and theAustin and NCIC responses on the descriptor queries into a drawerand check for messages. One lay beside the phone . . . brief, justthe name and phone number.
Carilloappeared in the doorway of his office. “How’s it going?”
She shrugged.“Unremarkable autopsy. Victim’s car located but in the North Bay soit isn’t likely to help us. Kerr’s canvassing the names on thevictim’s phone and Rolodex.”
“How’s hedoing?”
Being moreefficient than she wished. Not something she could say aloud. “He’sbubbling with enthusiasm.” Stuffing the message into her coatpocket, she headed for the door.
In the car, shecalled the number. It reached Meredith Silver, who knew of anoutsider visiting another household.
“We met him ata cookout this past weekend,” she said. “They’ve invited him toattend the Gathering with them, so he’s still in town.” She paused.“I have to say, though, he didn’t strike me as a rogue.”
And he was thewrong sex for the hunter. Allison reassured Meredith of that.
Starting downthrough the five names Honora had given her, she reached the firsttwo immediately and arranged meetings with them.
The firstoutsiders belonged to a household, which made them a poor candidatefor including the hunter. The pair of sisters had come to Arenosathrough a job transfer last month, bringing along the mate of oneand the other’s seventeen-year-old daughter. Five minutes ofconversation with one sister while checking the scents in the housecleared them as suspects.
Her nextappointment fit more of the hunter’s criteria . . . a female whocame into town on Friday and lived by herself on a cabin cruiser atthe Macklin Marina, making no contact with the local clan beyondone introductory call to Honora.
Approaching theboat’s slip on the pier off North Bayside, Allison found a femalein a micro bikini and wraparound sunglasses stretched on chair onthe rear deck. “Fiona Church?”
The womanturned her head languidly. “Yes. You’re Goodnight? What can I dofor you?”
Allison vaultedthe stern rail, alert for the other’s reactions. “I’m hunting anon-local female who butchered a human last night.”
Church wentbonelessly submissive in the deck chair. “I didn’t do it.”
Allison took adeep breath, analyzing Church’s scent while gulls screamed overheadand water slapped the hull. It smelled nothing like the hunter’s.She relaxed, though wanting to snarl in frustration. “Okay.”
Normal bodytone flowed back into Church. “When did it happen?”
“Sometimebetween twelve-fifteen and one.” Allison sat against the gunwale.“It’s possible she picked up her victim in a bar. What do you doevenings?”
Church smiled.“Burglarize businesses to test their security systems. Currentclient, the GM Jewelers chain of stores. Last night, after casingtheir store in your mall that afternoon, I broke into the mall tomake sure I can get to the store.” She snorted. “You need to tellthe owners their night security is a joke. Then I went for a run onthe barrier island and frightened the goats living out there.Tonight I see if I can break into the store itself. If I see orhear anything useful in the meantime, I’ll let you know.”
“Thanks.”Allison handed her a card.
Heading back upthe pier for her car, she punched the next number on Honora’s listinto the phone.
 
* * *
 
Zane pushedaway from Demry’s desk, stretching. What ever made him want tobecome a detective? He had anticipated wearing out shoe leathercanvassing the area around crime scenes for witnesses, not sittingin Solitary with a telephone. Thanks to the ubiquity of cellphones, he had managed to reach most of the phonebook numbers andsome of those in the Rolodex. But no one he reached, or who calledhim in response to messages he left, had seen Demry last night.
It left himfeeling weary, stiff, and discouraged. Despite entertaining himselfduring the calls by going through the rest of the file cabinet . .. where he discovered folders of what appeared to be familyphotographs; candid shots of slim, country-club looking women; andphotos of local landscapes, short birds, and wild flowers thatincluded copies of those on the fireplace bookshelves. EstablishingDemry as a decent photographer. Plus he found a folder with coloredprofessional head shots of Demry in 8 x 10 and 5 x 7 sizes. Thosewould be good for showing around. Before locking the file cabinet,he dropped two of the smaller photos in a pocket of his coat.
His stomachsnarled.
A glance at hiswatch explained why. It was after two o’clock.
He calledAllison. “I’ve been all the way through the phone’s numbers andsome in his Rolodex. So far no one I’ve talked to knows Demry’smovements last night. It’s all written down.” He had used the wordprocessing program on the computer to list the names, numbers, andcall results as he went. Now he printed out the list. “I have onepossible lead. Checking Demry’s laptop for the address book on hise-mail account, I saw an e-mail he received yesterday inviting himto the jazz club Five To Midnight that evening. He sent anacceptance. Since I’m finished here, I can visit the club beforecoming back to the office and retrying the numbers that didn’tanswer.”
“What club andwho invited him?”
The whip crackin her voice startled him. What bit her? Maybe she really waspsychic and catching some vibe. He read her the message and Tonya’se-mail address.
After a moment,Allison said, “She’s a musician?”
Her skepticaltone surprised him. Did Tonya’s profession not match the vibe?After they had this psycho in custody maybe she would explain. “I’mwondering if the invitation was a setup.” He explained his triangletheory.
“It’s worthchecking out.”
The last pageof his list fed into the printer tray. “How’s it going withyou?”
“Dead ends. Andthe autopsy didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.”
Zanedisconnected with a grimace of frustration. She spent her dayrunning into dead ends but he had no idea what leads she followed.How did he avoid covering the same ground? What approach would bebest . . . remind her that he could not read her mind the wayGarroway probably did, or ask the lieutenant to clue him in abouther moves?
Debating thequestion, he shut off the computer and readjusted his collar andtie. Coat? No. It went over his arm.
Leaving thehouse and locking the door behind him, sunlight and humidityengulfed him. This time when he started the car he switched on theair conditioner before heading downtown to the jazz club.
Avenue A bannedparking since the trolley tracks down the center left room for justa traffic lane on each side. But Zane stopped in front of Five ToMidnight — half on the sidewalk — long enough to climb out and readthe poster in the Live! Nightly! window beside the door. It saidnothing about a flutist named Tonya, however, only held aphotograph of four men in turtlenecks clustered around a doublebass and identified as the Malcolm Neery Quartet. Testing the frontdoor, he found it locked but heard piano music inside. In thealley, the fire door stood open, a liquor distributor truckoutside. Zane parked behind it and fished one of Demry’s photosfrom his coat on the passenger seat.
Inside, a cool,dim hallway stretched toward the sound of the piano. In a room offto his right a man in a white bar apron and another with thedistributor’s name on his shirt counted liquor cases. Zane pushedhis sunglasses up on his head and rapped on the door casing, thenwhen the men turned toward him, pointed to the badge on his belt.“I’m looking for information on Tonya, one of the musicians.”
The man in theapron grunted. “Talk to the boss, Jack Reed. In at the piano.” Heresumed counting cases.
Zane followedthe music past restrooms into a space more brightly lighted than itever was at night. The bandstand stood against the side wallopposite a circular fireplace in the middle. He threaded his waybetween tables toward it. The pianist, middle-aged and balding,played with total concentration, leaning low over the keyboard ofthe baby grand, but Zane could not tell if the man played well ornot. The music sounded like I-don’t-know-where-I’m-goingnoodling.
Then a threadof melody amid all the riffs caught his ear and he listened inamazement.
Zane said, “Inever knew jazz included variations on themes by Salieri.”
Reed broke offand swiveled around on the stool. He eyed Zane while reaching for acoffee mug sitting on top of the piano. “You recognize it?”
Zane smiledwryly. “Between five years of piano lessons and my parents’ idea offamily time being to haul me along to concerts and operas theywanted to see, yeah.”
After a swallowof coffee, Reed smiled back. “Salieri’s fitting, don’t you think?The interpretation of him in Amadeus, anyway. I dream of possessinggreat talent, but all I can do is recognize it in others . . . andgive them a venue to express themselves.” He gestured at theclub.
Zane lifted hisbrows. “The world also needs people who can recognize talent andwill give it a chance.”
The smiledflickered again. “Are you looking for a chance?”
“No, forjustice.” Zane tapped his badge. “I need to contact Tonya. A friendof hers was attacked last night. He might have come here during theevening.” He handed Reed Demry’s photo.
After a glance,Reed returned it. “Sure . . . the lawyer. Was he badly hurt?”
“Killed, I’msorry to say.” Zane laid the photo on the piano and pulled hisnotebook and pen from his shirt pocket. “Do you know what time heleft, and whether he left alone or with someone? And may I havecopies of any credit card receipts?”
“Killed?” Reedgrimaced. “That’s too bad. I’ll look up his credit card receipts. Idon’t know when he left. He came in about nine. At least, that’swhen Tonya knocked on the office door and asked please could I giveher lawyer a table by the bandstand.” He smiled. “Nothing’s toogood for him as far as she’s concerned. But I suppose he’s entitledto her hero worship after saving her music . . . and earned specialtreatment for taking the case pro bono.”
Ah . . . shehad been a client. And Demry worked for free, or a very reducedfee, and won. Not much motive there for her killing him. Unless thefee included sex for services and she had a jealous boyfriend whofound out, or whom she told. On the other hand, winning her casemeant someone lost. How hard might that someone have taken it?
Reed said,“Tonya will know when he left. I’ll get her phone number for you.”He started to stand, then stopped, his gaze jumping past Zane.“You’re in luck. Here she is.”
Zane heard therap of boot heels behind him and turned to see a woman coming outof the hallway. He reconsidered the sex-for-services scenario. Anoversized peasant blouse and gypsy-bright broom skirt accentuatedher stocky build, and the helmet style of her dark hair drained thecolor from an otherwise pretty face. Not that size kept women frombeing sexy — he had enjoyed flings with a couple of big women — butthe country-club women in Demry’s photo collection suggested Tonyawas not his type.
“Hi, Jack. Ithought I’d practice here for a couple of hours.” She set acarryall-sized canvas purse on a table by the bandstand, then aninstrument case labeled T. Mixon in large white letters. “Maybeyou’d like to accompany me?”
“There’s adetective to see you,” Reed said, and went back to noodling on thepiano.
She blinked. “Adetective? To see me?”
Zane listenedand watched closely for her reactions. She sounded, and looked,genuinely surprised. “I’d like to ask you about Alex Demry.”
“Alex?” Hereyes widened. “I don’t understand.” She opened the instrument case.Fingers surprisingly long and thin for Tonya’s build made Zanethink of spider legs as she assembled the flute. “What kind oftrouble can Alex be in?”
“Someoneattacked him last night after he left here.”
“Attacked!” Sheflung her head up. “Oh, my god! Is he hurt?” Her distress soundedauthentic. The tense lines of her body and face agreed with hervoice.
All of it madehim confident she knew nothing about Demry’s murder. Just to besure, he said, “I’m afraid he’s dead,” and waited for herreaction.
She sucked in asharp breath. “NO!” The arachnid fingers clamped convulsivelyaround her flute. “How? What happened?”
If she werefaking, she deserved an Oscar. “We’re trying to find out. Do youknow what time Mr. Demry left here last night?”
Tears welled inher eyes. “Sometime between eleven-fifteen and quarter to twelve.After I finished my set at eleven I sat with him and visited untilthe band started their set.” Her fingers slid into position on theflute keys and began rhythmically pressing them in time to thepiano music. Zane doubted she noticed either the instrument or heractions. “Then I went out in the alley for a cigarette, and endedup having two because I hadn’t smoked all night. After that I hitthe ladies’ room. When I came back into the club there was someoneelse at the table.”
“He didn’t tellyou he was leaving?”
She shook herhead. “I thought he wanted to hear the cuts from Neery’s new CD. Hewas interested enough to text information about it to himself.”
On the missingphone. Had he lost it running from the killer or did the killertake it? Maybe because Demry made a note on it about him? “Tell meabout this case he won for you . . . something to do withcopyright, was it?”
For a secondshe stared at him. “Do you think that’s why he was attacked?”
A note ofcaution had entered her voice. He gave her a bland smile. “We haveto check all the possibilities.”
The piano hitthe opening notes of the Dragnet theme . . . dum, de, dum, dum.Playing clearly did not require all Reed’s attention and he hadsharper hearing than Zane anticipated. Taking Tonya by the elbow,Zane steered her to the far side of the fireplace.
She shook herhead. “I can’t imagine killing anyone over—” She frowned at theflute, turning it in her hands. “I do a lot of improvisation.Surfing the Internet one night I landed on the website of a guywho’d come up to me at Jamming — that’s a club in Austin — going onabout how much he admired my work and wanted to produce a CD withme. He had worldwide contacts that would give me globaldistribution, he said. But I’d never heard of him and thought hewas trying to hit on me. So I told him thank you but no thanks. Buthe kept bugging me . . . sitting right in front of me while Iplayed, and when I took a break, he’d pitch all over again. He gaveme the creeps, so I said, look, what part of no don’t youunderstand? Leave me alone. But the homepage of his website lookedterrific so I let it load . . . and the music playing on it wasmine!” Color darkened her cheeks. “It was one of the pieces I’dimprovised at Jamming!”
If he stole itin retaliation for his CD plan being turned down, Zane reflected,he could be the kind who struck back when angry. The question washow violent he might become. “What’s this guy’s name?”
“LionelManning.”
Zane wrote itdown. “What does he look like?”
She pursed herlips a moment. “Oh, he’s about six feet, skinny, and in histwenties or early thirties. Shaggy brown hair. He wearsglasses.”
Zane keptwriting. “And he lives in Austin?”
“Just aminute.” She handed him the flute and dug her phone out of her bag.The arachnid fingers played across the screen, then she handed itto him in return for the flute. “There’s his address and phonenumber. I e-mailed him, and after I found his address and phonenumber on the internet, I sent him snail mail demanding he take themusic off his site or pay me for the use and post someacknowledgment that it was mine, not his.

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