The weekend ended shortly, though I couldn’t tell you what happened in it. A shadow hovered over my shoulder the entire time.
By the time that Monday arrived, I hadn’t quite been able to shake it. But I was determined to walk into work with my head held high and my coffee close at hand.
Being away from Doc disquieted me, now more than ever.
Someone who was capable of great harm was among us, hidden.
It scared the hell out of me, and I wasn’t even a civilian.
I parked and headed inside, head bowed against the wind. The rain still hadn’t let up, and it hadn’t helped my state of mind.
At the door, I noticed several of my coworkers already at work. Luna wasn’t there; she was probably at home, sleeping off her long night.
I walked to my desk and sat down, shrugging my jacket off and hanging it on the back of my chair.
The room was abuzz with low chatter, and as much as I wanted to join in, I had work to do.
I was a little behind, and for a while, it was just my work and my coffee; it was pretty easy to block out.
But when lunch time rolled around, that was a different story.
I went to the fridge in the break room and pulled out my food, leftovers from the night before.
I’d intended to go back to my desk and eat there, maybe call Doc. But I was intercepted near the door by a colleague.
“Hey, Ella! You hear anything about the new case? The whole town’s talking about it!”
There was only one person who could refer to something horrific with such relish.
The junior police officer, fresh out of trade school, as green as could be: Kit Mensch.
“I haven’t heard much, no,” I fibbed, shrugging my shoulders and sitting down at the table. There was little to no chance of me returning to my desk, so I might as well suck it up. I opened my container and began to eat, thoughts swirling in a frenzy in my head.
It was as if the universe were determined to nudge me toward this mystery, not away from it. The irony wasn’t lost on me.
“It’s awful, of course,” Kit replied, though his smile could’ve fooled me. Any opportunity to learn more on the force and he jumped feet first, without looking. “I hope they can find whoever is responsible. If…” He trailed off. It didn’t take a genius to hear what he wasn’t saying.
If the poor kid is dead.
I smiled wryly, taking another bite of food to avoid answering. If Kit knew better, he wouldn’t say such things. The Captain often took meals in his office, the better to pore over files. But nothing of that sort could be said within his earshot.
For my part, I was glad that he hadn’t chosen to join us that day. I was still steamed over being booted off the case, before it had even begun. It wasn’t fair. He’d had no right to do that.
He didn’t even know how I was already invested in it, a mean little voice in my head pointed out. Maybe he thought that I couldn’t handle it. The thought made me nearly crush my fork in my grip.
I caught myself just in time. Here I was, judging the rookie for being unprofessional, and I was about to let anger rule my head. I knew better than that. Or at least I should have.
Talk about being off balance.
“What do you think happened?” Kit asked, giving me a nudge. Underneath his usual smile and bravado, he was worried. He was unusually pale, and he drummed his fingers against the table, restless. He looked about as sick as I felt.
“Can I plead the fifth on that one, pending more information?” I asked in turn, and he smiled for real this time, nodding.
I finished my food, unable to manage more than a few bites.
“I’ll see you later, Mensch,” I said, putting the container back in my bag in the fridge.
I made a beeline for my desk again, eager for more work and some distraction.
But once again, it was not to be.
The Captain’s door opened, and he walked out, standing on the threshold to his office.
“Officer LeVaux? Can I see you in my office for a moment?”
The chief was a tall, thin man with a dark, curly goatee and olive skin covered in tattoos, though he often wore long sleeves to hide them. He’d been my boss for over three years now, and we’d never stopped butting heads. He said that I was a cop with sharp instincts, but much too reckless. It could get me, and my brothers and sisters, killed.
But I didn’t care about his approval or anyone else’s. I had to do my job and I wasn’t able to ignore my hunches, regardless of proof.
It was an unorthodox method, but so far it had worked for me. And what was the point of fixing something that wasn’t broken to begin with?