Home > Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)(9)

Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)(9)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

“So why am I here?”

“You’re here,” I said right back, tilting my head up to meet his eyes, “to ask me if you really saw a werewolf last night.”

He broke first, turning away. Probably he was a little embarrassed. “Look,” he said, leaning back against the van again and holding out empty hands, “can we start over? My name is Jesse Cruz. I’m a police officer with the Southwest Homicide Division of the LAPD. And you are?”

“You already know who I am.” He made a little head motion at me, indicating that I should play the game, and I rolled my eyes. “I’m Scarlett Bernard. I’m a freelance housecleaner.”

He reached out his hand, and I reluctantly shook it.

“I’m guessing that you don’t actually clean any houses,” he said.

I just shrugged.

“Look, can we go somewhere and talk? Obviously I have a lot of questions.”

“There’s somewhere I have to be right now.”

“No problem,” he said. “I’ll ride along.”

“That’s not happening,” I said shortly.

“You know, I may not be about to arrest you, but I can certainly make your life harder. Like following you to your next engagement.”

Oh. Crap. For a moment, I considered trying to lose him, like in the movies, but he was trained in evasive driving and I wasn’t. I checked my watch. “I need to make a call first.”

“Fine.”

I pulled out my cell and gave him a pointed look, but he just shook his head. Not going anywhere. Rolling my eyes again, I tossed him my keys and climbed into the van before he could object. He frowned at me through the window, but didn’t open the door.

I dialed Dashiell, who picked up on the second ring. “It’s Scarlett. I’m going to be a little late.” In a low voice, I explained about the cop.

Dashiell hissed into the phone. “What does he know for sure?” he demanded.

I thought about it, watching as Cruz paced a short route back and forth in front of the van. “At this point, it would probably be difficult to convince him that there’s no such thing as werewolves.”

“That’s it? Nothing about vampires?”

“No. Although, one often follows the other, at least according to the movies. Can you press his mind?”

There was silence on the line for a moment. “No. Too much time has passed. That technique exists to erase a few minutes or a simple memory of a person. He has been walking around with this knowledge for nearly twenty-four hours. I can’t take it away without causing telltale damage.”

“What do you want me to do?” I asked. I was trying to be helpful, so as not to remind him that this was technically all my fault.

“I will get someone to take care of him.”

My breath caught in my throat, and I felt very unfamiliar pangs of conscience poking at me. I know I spend most of my time concealing other people’s crimes, including murders, but I had never actually known about someone’s death in advance. Besides, I was the one who’d been too slow to get to the crime scene, and I was the one who’d been stupid and left the garbage bag. This guy was just doing his job. I thought about his face when that werewolf had changed. Without really meaning to, I imagined him having a family—kids, even. I looked back up at Cruz, but I couldn’t see his left hand to look for a wedding ring. “But this kind of thing has happened before, right?” I argued. “And then you just pay him off or whatever?”

There was a growl of warning in his voice now. “It has happened, but each time, it has been so much simpler to just remove the obstacle. Besides, I am not convinced that your policeman will be willing to work with us.”

To my own surprise, I heard myself pushing. “Dash, I know that I’m not your favorite person right now, but I’m respectfully asking for you to let me try to fix this. I think I can get through to this guy. Let me tell him the history. If that doesn’t work, you can always kill him later.”

Dashiell was quiet again, and I waited, glancing out the window at the cop in question, who was glaring at me with his arms folded across his chest.

Finally, Dashiell said, “All right, Scarlett. I’ll let you follow your instincts on this matter, but I still need you here. And if Officer Cruz tells even one person about the Old World, I won’t be killing just him. That’s not a threat, Scarlett. It’s a promise.” And he hung up the phone.

I leaned forward and rested my head against the wheel. Not. Good.

Cruz opened the passenger door next to me, and I jumped. “Well?” he said. “Let’s go.”

I shook my head. “I have permission to fill you in on some stuff, but you can’t go with me tonight.”

He held up my keys, letting them jingle. “You sure about that?”

Crud. Way to think ahead, Scarlett. I held out my hand. “Give me the keys.”

He shook his head, looking mulish. “I’m risking my job just by letting you walk around free. I’m not leaving until I get some answers.”

It probably wouldn’t be a great idea to Tase the nice police officer. I ran through my other options—get out of the van and run, call the powerful angry vampire to reschedule, or just take the damned cop with me. While I was thinking, Cruz rolled up his jacket sleeve and looked pointedly at a silver Fossil watch.

“Fine,” I sighed. “Here’s the deal. You can come with me, and we’ll talk on the way, but when we get there, you will stay in the car.”

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