Home > Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)(7)

Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)(7)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

When the detective in charge finally dismissed him, Jesse headed back to the precinct, and straight to the lab.

Jesse had first met Gloria “Glory” Sherman, the lead forensic pathology technician, at an event for the public high schools in the county. Glory had given a speech on career opportunities in forensic science, and Jesse was there as Officer Friendly. They’d struck up a friendship, and once, he’d even brought Glory and her two kids to see the film set where his mother, a makeup artist, was working. Jesse liked Glory’s no-nonsense kindness, so he made a point to say hello and deliver the occasional Starbucks. There are some people you just want on your side.

“Hey, Glory, you here?” he called, scanning the cluttered tables and shelves. Suddenly, she popped up into view, stretching to her full five feet one inch. Her face looked stressed and thin, and she’d jammed her glasses on top of her head so she could rub her eyes. “Were you, like, taking a nap on the floor?”

“Funny. Just cleaning up a spilled beaker.”

“Blood?”

She smiled. “Apple juice. What’s up?”

Jesse entered the lab and pulled the garbage bag out of his jacket pocket, handing it over. “How long would it take you to lift a print off this?”

She pulled on new surgical gloves and took the bag over to the three hundred–watt bulb on her desk lamp, sliding the glasses back down onto her nose. “Well, they’re latent, obviously, but pretty strong. Even with your elimination prints, it shouldn’t take long. But I’m backed up with this park thing.” She raked her fingers through silvery-blonde hair, looking tired.

“Has that evidence come in already?”

“No, it’s still being processed—”

“Then could you maybe just do this quick first? Please?” He gave her his best pleading look, and she sighed.

“What is it, exactly?”

“It’s a...personal project.”

She looked skeptical. “What, like your neighbor is a litterbug, something like that?”

“Something like that, but, Glory, I swear I wouldn’t bring this to you if it wasn’t important. Really.”

Glory checked her watch, and Jesse could see her relenting. “I’ll give you an hour, while they finish compiling all the evidence from the park. If I haven’t gotten a match by then, you’re going to have to wait.”

“Thank you!” He bent at the waist to kiss her cheek, which just caused her to grumble.

“You owe me. You’re going to take Rob and Natalie to the batting cages next Saturday.”

“It’s a deal,” he promised, leaning against a lab table. Everything in the room was solid and purposeful, and being there helped ground him again, made the memory of the werewolf seem like some kind of hallucinogenic side effect of the shock. But it wasn’t, his brain insisted. Jesse ignored it.

Thirty-seven minutes later, Glory called his extension. Jesse rushed down to the basement lab, where Glory was already checking in new evidence from the park, a pleased grin on her face. “I’ve got your girl,” she said smugly. She handed over a printout with a mug shot at the top. The girl was a few years younger, but it was her. Her green eyes and pretty face glared out from under that pile of dark hair, daring the photographer to do something.

“Scarlett Kaylie Bernard, now twenty-three. She was arrested last year for arson, burning down a shed in the suburbs. The DA didn’t press charges, which is a little weird—usually they at least plead out. Anyway, that’s her.” She gave him a suspicious look. “Now tell me I didn’t just use department resources to look into your blind date.”

“No, no, it’s definitely important,” he assured her. He thanked Glory and headed back to his desk to think about his next move.

Chapter 4

My dreams were full of blood—splattered over trees and twisted, ripped limbs. This time I was in the middle of the clearing, not just on the edges, and the blood was all around me, 360 degrees of it. It crept toward me, threatening to ooze its way up my legs and onto my clothes, all the way to my face and down my throat. I woke up shivering, the blankets tangled in my legs.

I spent most of the day sleeping, watching TV, and avoiding my cell phone. Dashiell, Kirsten, and Will all had specialized ring-tones, so it was easy enough to ignore everything else. When I finally checked the little screen late that afternoon, Eli had called three times, probably wondering where I was. Whoops. I had sort of forgotten all about him. I’d also missed a call from my brother, Jack. That was a surprise—Jack and I don’t talk much. He still lives in Esperanza, the little town ninety minutes east of LA where we both grew up. Jack wanted to be a doctor, but when our parents died he couldn’t swing medical school, so now he works as a laboratory technician at Esperanza’s only clinic. We avoid each other by unspoken mutual agreement—him because he feels guilty about not taking care of me when Mom and Dad died, and me because, well, I was responsible for their deaths.

So why would he be calling me? I decided I would put off finding out. I’m brave like that.

Just before sunset, I pulled on my gym clothes and took off for my daily four-mile run. I can’t be attacked by supernatural forces, but I can sure as hell be chased, and I bruise and break bones just like any other human. I’m just not a gun-carrying, karate-knowing, kick-ass kind of girl, so I lift weights a couple of times a week, and I run every day. Not that I’m one of those go-getter Nike kind of runners, either. I actually kind of hate it, but it’s the only real responsibility I have.

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