Home > Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)(14)

Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)(14)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

Will’s voice was gentler. “She’s been dead for almost six months, Scarlett. And she wasn’t able to work for a long time before that.”

He was referring to my mentor, Olivia. She was the only other null I’d met, and had trained me on crime scene cleanup. Then she and I were partners for four years before cancer took her life. You can be completely bulletproof when it comes to spells and vampire bites, but not even nulls get a free pass from the big C.

Supernaturally insignificant or not, LA is at least a two-person area for cleanup, and every single person on the patio knew that I should have swallowed my feelings and found a replacement for Olivia the day I took over from her. At the time, though, I’d just been through a horrible shock. Besides, I was in no place to trust a new partner, after what I’d been through with the first one. Everything I’d had, really, was because of Olivia.

And everything I had lost, too.

I set my jaw stubbornly. I get crabby when I’m clearly in the wrong. “You can’t just put an ad for a null on Craigslist. There are, what, five or six of us in the world? We don’t exactly have an employment office.”

“We know,” Will said patiently. “But in all likelihood, there are more of you than that. It’s just hard for nulls to find out what they are.” This is true. Most likely, plenty of nulls live and die without discovering their ability. “Besides,” Will continued, “you don’t absolutely have to be a null to do the work that you do.”

Crap. There went my best excuse.

“It just helps. And it’s safer.”

“So here is what we’ll do,” Dashiell said. “I have put out some feelers, trying to track down another null. If that proves too difficult, we will perhaps try one of the witches.” Vampires can’t really do my job, since a) they get distracted by blood, and b) they’re dead during the day. I do get the occasional daytime crime scene. “In the meantime, though, Will has graciously offered one of his wolves to help you. You will begin training him immediately.”

“One of the wolves? That’s not a good...” I started, but then swallowed it. These two are my bosses, I reminded myself. I didn’t really have a choice here, and protesting would just make me look whiny and unprofessional. Olivia wouldn’t have liked that, I thought sourly. I looked over at Will. “Who is it?” I felt a fleeting hope that he had nominated Caroline.

But Will and Caroline both glanced over to Eli. Oh, no. Shit, shit, shit. My one-night stand—well, okay, three-night stand—could not be my apprentice. “I’m not sure that’s the best idea,” I said carefully, without looking at Eli. Nobody needed to know that we’d slept together. I was not about to turn this into a supernatural telenovela.

“Is there a problem with Eli that we should know about?” Will asked pleasantly.

“No—”

“Then I think he’s the perfect candidate. Obviously his schedule can be flexible.” Since, you know, Will is his boss.

“But will he be all right around dead bodies?” I asked, trying not to sound desperate. “He’ll be working by himself eventually, and I’m told the smell can be very distracting.”

“Eli used to be a paramedic,” Will replied easily. This was news to me, though I’d never really considered Eli’s life before he changed. “He says he’ll be fine.”

Was this Eli’s suggestion? Did Will already know about Eli and me? Maybe. Will didn’t miss much. But he might have just not cared, or maybe he was playing a deeper game here, trying to get me to actively participate in the search for nulls. Crafty Will. He looks like a church deacon, but I’ve long suspected he could be ruthless if he needed to. I was definitely going to have to get to the bottom of who had put Eli’s hat in the ring, but that could wait. For now I just had to suck it up.

“Sounds good,” I managed, and the mood in the courtyard relaxed just a little.

The meeting broke up, and everybody started to leave. I was about to head back to the van and Cruz, who I’d almost forgotten about, but I had an idea. I pulled Will aside—not that it mattered, because everyone on the property who was ten feet away could hear like a bat, with the exception of Cruz and me—and asked him if he had any pictures of the wolves in human form.

“Pictures?” he asked blankly, tilting his head to one side. “Maybe we do. Why do you ask?”

I told him about the bodies, the wolf in the clearing, and the cop. I didn’t mention that he was out in my van at the moment, because Will might feel obligated to inform Dashiell. “I never saw the guy properly, but I think Cruz did. If I could show him some pictures, we could figure out who it was, see if he saw or smelled anything there.”

I could see Will’s metaphorical hackles going up. “Are you suggesting that one of my wolves may be responsible for this?”

I shook my head. “No. Definitely not. Or at least, not this wolf. If one of the wolves did kill those people, he’d have no reason to leave and then come back to the scene. I honestly think that this wolf was just running in the park, smelled the bodies, and came to see what it was. I just want to ask if there’s anything else he noticed.”

“But you’re also pretty much asking to out this wolf to a police officer,” Will objected. “And me along with him.”

“Will, you didn’t see what happened. It was...It was awful. And a lot of things depend on finding out who did it.”

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