His Father’s Eyes – Snippet 09

“Sorry. You wouldn’t believe the traffic around the terminal.”

“Actually, I would.” She cast a glance my way. “Everything okay with Billie?”

“We’ll talk about that later.”

She led me toward the end of the gate area, past clusters of cops and agents. And as we walked, people paused in their conversations to stare at us.

Usually, Kona by herself was enough to draw gazes. She was tall and willowy, with dark eyes, the cheekbones of a fashion model, and short, tightly curled black hair. Her skin was the color of coffee, and she had a thousand watt smile, though it wasn’t in evidence today. But as many people were watching me as her; fallout, no doubt, from the Blind Angel case.

“You’re a celebrity,” she said.

“I’m a curiosity. The disgraced cop who solved one last case.”

She gave a low snort of laughter.

“Hold it, Shaw!”

I knew that voice. We both stopped. Cole Hibbard, the commander of the police department’s Violent Crimes Bureau, was striding in our direction, his face ruddy beneath a shock of white hair. To say that Cole and I hated each other did an injustice to the depth of our animosity. He had once been my father’s best friend, a colleague in the department. When my Dad’s mind went, Cole was the first to turn on him. When my mother and her lover were found dead, he was at the fore of those accusing my father of the murders. And years later, when I was on the force, struggling with the phasings and their effects on me, he was the one who pushed to have me fired and then forced me to resign in order to avoid that final disgrace.

“Who authorized you to call him in?” Hibbard asked, gesturing toward me but refusing even to glance in my direction.

“Sergeant Arroyo, sir.”

“Well, he didn’t clear it with me.”

“I’m sure he meant to, sir.”

“I don’t care what he meant to do–“

“Commander,” I broke in, “can I talk to you for a moment?”

Kona laid a hand on my arm. “Justis . . .”

“It’s all right,” I told her.

I faced Hibbard again. He stared daggers at me, appearing unsure as to whether he should be pissed or amazed at my audacity.

“I won’t keep you long,” I said.

I thought he’d refuse, but after a few seconds he gave a single jerky nod, pivoted on his heel, and walked to a bank of windows nearby.

“This is a bad idea, Justis.”

“Maybe. It wouldn’t be my first.”

I joined Hibbard by the window and gazed out over the apron and runways. Planes had been pushed back from all of the terminal three gates. They sat on the sun-baked concrete, motionless, abandoned, heat waves rising from their fuselages. The other terminals hummed with activity, and even as I stood there a jet raced down the nearest runway, its nose angling upward.

“What the hell do you want?” Hibbard asked in a snarl.

“Believe it or not, Commander, I didn’t come here to embarrass you or cause problems.” I kept my voice low, even, the way I would if I was trying to calm a cornered dog. “I came to help.”

“We don’t need your help,” he said.

“The head of your lead homicide unit, and your best homicide detective disagree with you.”

“Screw you.”

“You can send me away; we both know you have that authority. But for better or worse, I’m famous now — the former cop who brought down the Blind Angel Killer. If I leave, it’s going to raise questions. You’ll give your answers, I’ll give mine. How do you think that’s going to play?”

He said nothing. I had him, and we both knew that, too. In the weeks since I’d killed Cahors, a lot of people in Phoenix had been asking why I’d been forced to leave the department in the first place. More than a few had suggested that if they’d let me stay, the case might have been solved sooner and lives might have been saved, including that of Claudia Deegan, the daughter of Arizona’s senior U.S. Senator, and the Blind Angel’s final victim.

If Cole demanded that I leave the airport, and this case dragged on for more than a few days, he’d have real problems.

The truth was, I found the talk about me and my firing more embarrassing than gratifying. I took no satisfaction in seeing my former colleagues on the force second-guessed in this way, especially Kona. But I had slept better at night over the last month or two knowing that Cole had to have been squirming a little bit.

“Fine,” he said, the word wrung out of him. “Just stay the hell out of my way.”

“Yes, sir.”

He was striding away before I got the words out. I watched him go, then walked back to where Kona still stood.

“What did you say to him?”

“I asked him how he was going to explain to the press and his superiors why he had chased away from a crime scene the guy who killed Arizona’s most notorious serial murderer.”

“You are a piece of work, Justis.” She raised a hand to keep me from answering. “I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve it,” she went on, voice dropping, “but these days I have to confess to feeling a little sorry for Cole. With all that’s on our plate right now?” She shook her head, in a way that told me there was more going on in the homicide unit than I knew.

“Something else I should be helping you with?” I asked.

“I don’t think so. But just because you and I got rid of one wack-job, doesn’t mean there wasn’t another one waiting to take his place. Know what I mean?”

The one wack-job would have been Cahors. “You’ve got another serial killer?”

“That surprises you?”

“Not really.”

“We’re keeping it quiet,” she said, whispering now. “The patterns aren’t clear yet, and it may not be one guy. But inside 620, the pressure’s pretty high. And Hibbard bears the brunt of it. I’m not saying you should buy the guy a beer, but as much as he might hate you and your Dad, he’s also dealing with some shit right now. You know?”

I nodded. “If I see him again, and he doesn’t shoot me on sight, I’ll give him a break.”

“That’s all I’m saying. Come on,” she said, leading me toward a men’s room that had already been cordoned off with yellow police tape. “Our victim’s in here.”

We stepped into the rest room, the noise from the terminal fading to an echoey background buzz. A toilet in one of the far stalls flushed repeatedly, its automatic mechanism obviously malfunctioning, but otherwise no sound came from within the tiled space.

A body, covered with a white cloth, lay by a row of sinks.

I hesitated, but at Kona’s nod of encouragement I squatted beside the corpse and pulled back the sheet, revealing the body of a young man, his head shaved to blond stubble, his face pock-marked as if he’d had bad acne. He was dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt with the words “America for Americans” printed in block letters across the chest.

I didn’t need to search for evidence of what had killed him; it was right there in front of me, a shimmering blur slashed across his chest.

All spells left a residue, a glow tinged with color that no one but another weremyste could see. Each sorcerer’s magic was a different color, a different shade, and each faded at its own pace. The more vibrant the color, the more powerful the sorcerer.

But this residue was unlike any I had seen before. Most of the time, magic in this form reminded me of wet paint. It was brilliant and it gleamed, but it was opaque. Even the glow left behind by the spells of Etienne de Cahors, who was the most powerful conjurer I’d ever encountered, had those same basic qualities.

Not this spell.

Whoever had killed the kid lying in front of me had left behind a flare of power that had more in common with Namid’s sparkling clear waters than with the residue I was used to seeing. It had color — a deep, rich green that reminded me of early spring leaves — but I could see through the glow to the dead man’s shirt. More, the residue seemed to be alive; it shifted and swirled, like a sheen of oil on top of a puddle.