Home > Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)(8)

Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)(8)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

Molly “woke” up when the sun went down at six thirty, and we ordered Chinese and watched reruns of Friends for a few hours. Molly gets a huge kick out of things like eating, going to the bathroom, and just generally pretending we live in a bubbly sitcom universe where nobody is undead. I get that, and I was definitely in the mood to hang out in bubbly sitcom land for a while.

At ten, I went upstairs to shower and change. When I came back down, damp hair darkening the back of my shirt, Molly eyed my jeans and green T-shirt with what could only be described as a foreboding disdain. “That’s what you’re wearing? You’re not going to change?”

“Molls, I thought you liked me the way I was.” When she didn’t smile, I looked down at myself. “What? The T-shirt’s from Banana Republic.”

“Scarlett”—she sighed and shook her head—“he’s the most powerful person in the city, for crying out loud. At least find pants without holes. And brush your hair.”

I looked down and spotted the small hole worn in the knee of my jeans. Whoops. “Spielberg’s got more power,” I grumbled, but I went back up to my room and dug out a pair of khakis. After a moment’s thought, I also swapped my Chuck Taylors—one of the most popular shoe brands on the market, which helps when I have to leave footprints—for my good boots. I tugged the elastic band out of my messy ponytail and picked up my brush from the nightstand. When it was finally neat, I twisted it up into a smooth ballerina bun and secured it with a rubber band and bobby pins, turning my head back and forth to check my handiwork in the mirror. Good enough. Sometimes I consider chopping my hair down to a nice manageable three inches, but I would miss it too much. It’s less useful and more confidence-boosting, like Superman’s cape.

Besides, it’s just like my mother’s hair.

By eleven, my stomach was doing nervous backflips, the way it always does when I butt heads with Dashiell. To be fair, though, I should have seen all this coming quite some time ago. I’d gotten overconfident with eight months of nonemergencies, and then I’d let this smack me down hard. Of course Dashiell was upset. I took my Taser off the charger (although it really only works on vampires while they’re close enough to me to be human, it makes me feel better to bring it along when I can), picked up my keys and wallet, and stuffed everything into the various pockets of my olive-green canvas jacket, which looks like something an investigative journalist would wear in a political thriller. Molly calls it my “coat-o’-nine pockets.” Then I went through the back door and into the autumn night.

As LA neighborhoods go, West Hollywood is fairly benign after dark. Molly’s house is the unchanging oasis in an area that has developed around it for decades, crowding her in with restaurants and bars that have gone through various stages of hipness. At this point, there are only four other residences on Molly’s street, and the neighborhood is mostly frequented by a middle-aged, upper-middle-class crowd that goes to bed before eleven.

I went through the teeny backyard in about six steps and closed the decorative gate behind me (vampires don’t worry too much about security), breathing in the cool, congested LA air. It smelled pleasantly of concrete and hamburgers and car exhaust. Molly’s property has a single-spot carport next to the back door where she parks her Prius. I have to pay a small fortune to keep my van in the big parking garage down the street. The garage was mostly empty by the time I got there, and I kept my head down and walked quickly and purposefully down the wide, empty pavement to my van on the lower level. When I glanced up, though, I realized that someone was leaning against my hood. My hand went toward the pocket with the Taser. As I got closer, though, he pushed himself off and turned to face me, hands tense and ready at his sides. I recognized the handsome cop from the clearing.

I paused, standing twenty feet away. I briefly entertained the thought of Tasing him and running. Then I shrugged to myself and kept going. If he had the van, he knew who I was. Where was I gonna go?

“You’re under arrest,” he said briskly, as I walked up.

I snorted. “Bullshit.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re not here to arrest me. You came alone, you waited for me to come to you, and you haven’t even identified yourself. Besides, you know damn well that I didn’t kill those people.”

“How do I know that?”

I sighed. “Is this, like, a cop test? Because it was done by someone a lot stronger than me. Because I had no weapon, and I wasn’t covered in blood. That much carnage, there’s no way the killer could stay clean.”

“There’s still plenty I could arrest you for. Obstruction of justice, accessory after the fact, tampering with a body...”

“Ha. You found me how? Prints? I was in the park earlier that day, and I forgot a garbage bag. The worst thing you’ve got on me is littering. Besides, I have at least three people who’ll swear I was somewhere else.” That wasn’t completely true, but if push came to shove Dashiell could probably arrange something.

He stepped closer now, into my personal bubble. He smelled like Giorgio Armani cologne and oranges, and his caramel skin was reddening.

“At any rate,” I continued, “that’s not why you’re here.”

He loomed over me, trying to intimidate, but I didn’t take a step, didn’t even lean back. I was on my way to see the cardinal vampire of Los Angeles, who was very angry with me. The B-team cop didn’t exactly have me shaking in my boots.

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