Shadow’s Blade – Snippet 18
Since my conversation with Amaya the previous night, I had been debating whether I should share what I’d learned with Kona. Professional ethics dictated that I tell her nothing. The same way attorneys maintained a privileged relationship with their clients, PIs were bound morally, if not legally, to keep private our conversations with the people who hired us. And if that had been the only consideration, this would have been an easy decision. But Kona was trying to solve a murder, and had brought me in to help her. I couldn’t be positive that Gracie Davett had killed the man in the restaurant, but I would have bet every penny Jacinto was paying me that there was only one weremyste mom with an eight year-old daughter and five year-old son running around the Phoenix metropolitan area right now.
It occurred to me that I’d found my out right there: Amaya was paying me. He had hired me, not the Trejos, so technically I wasn’t violating any trust by sharing information about their daughter. But that felt like a cheap way around the problem. In the end, I decided that telling Kona was simply the right thing to do.
Neither of us had spoken a word since her last remark, but before I could act on the decision I’d made, she said, “We did get one break. I think we have a line on the magical mom.”
“Is that right?”
“This morning a guy came in to report that his wife and kids are missing. The husband and wife are separated and he thinks she’s taken the kids out of the city in violation of their separation agreement. Now technically that would be child abduction, and he’s willing to press charges in order to get the kids back.”
“Yeah, I’m sure he is.”
I didn’t mean to say it aloud, and judging from the silence on the other end, Kona understood that.
“You have something you want to share?” she asked after a pause.
I sighed. “Gracie Davett, right? NeÃ© Engracia Trejo?”
“And you know this because . . . ?”
“I was hired by Gracie’s parents last night. They’re worried about her. They’re convinced that Neil’s been abusing her. They don’t know if he’s hurt the kids, too, but they think it’s possible.”
“When were you planning on telling me this?”
“Truthfully? I had just decided to when you brought it up.”
I could imagine her nodding.
“All right then.”
“You can’t be considering helping this guy, Kona. He’s been beating his wife.”
“We have no proof of that.”
“How much proof –”
“Hold on there, Justis,” she said, talking over me. “Yes, she has been admitted to the hospital on three occasions in the past eighteen months with odd injuries. A dislocated shoulder, a broken wrist, and a severe sprain in her elbow. And twice the ER physicians who treated her reported seeing other injuries as well. Scrapes and bruises, some on her limbs, and some on her face and neck.”
“Sounds like abuse to me. How much more evidence do you need?”
“You know full well how much more. Abuse is hard to prove. I shouldn’t have to tell you that; you were too good a cop for too long a time to be as naÃ¯ve as you sound right now. She’s denied repeatedly that he ever hurt her, and as incriminating as some of those injuries were, none of them was conclusive enough to convince any of the attending physicians to take action. They had a break-in at their house not that long ago. You want me to arrest him for that, too?”
I didn’t answer. She was right: Proving abuse without the cooperation of the victimized spouse was next to impossible.
“I should also tell you,” she went on after a tense silence, “that as far as we can tell the kids have never shown up in an ER, except for one time when the little girl had an appendicitis.”
“Well, I suppose that’s something,” I said. “What are you going to do?”
“My job.” She sounded exasperated; I wasn’t making this any easier for her. “She’s wanted for murder. I have witnesses who say that she killed two men.”
“Oh, yeah. John Doe number two died overnight. We still don’t have a name for either one of them, by the way.”
I wondered if Saorla was listening to this phone call, laughing at our ignorance.
“Anyway, the woman’s wanted for murder. And now she’s in violation of her custody agreement. That’s two strikes against her. I don’t have any choice in the matter, Justis. I have to find her, and one way or another, she’s probably going to jail.”
“Judging from what she did to those guys in the Burger Royale, I’m not convinced you’ve got a jail that can hold her.”
“Well, that’s what I want to hear.”
We lapsed into another silence. At this point if my life, I felt little residual loyalty to the PPD, but I didn’t like the idea of pitting myself against Kona.
“You asked me a minute ago what I was going to do,” she said. “I think I’m the one who should be asking that question of you.”
“I have paying clients,” I said. “They want their daughter and grandkids back, and they don’t want them anywhere near Neil Davett.”
“Right. I had a feeling you’d say something like that.”
“No, I get it. You have a job to do. But so do I, and anyone who gets in my way and helps this woman is going to be on the wrong side of the law. You understand what I’m telling you?”
“All right then. I guess I’ll be talking to you.”
“Right. Bye, partner.”
It wasn’t the most awkward conversation I’d ever had with Kona, but it definitely made the top five.
I closed my phone and looked back at Billie. She was wide awake, propped up on one elbow, her eyes on me, her expression grim. Her brown curls spilled over her bare shoulder, and she had the blanket and sheet pulled up almost to her neck.
“That didn’t sound so good,” she said.
“A magical vampire?”
“You combine that with the wereowl, and I think you could pitch this to a Hollywood agent.”
At least she was able to joke about it.
“I should probably get going,” I said. “This woman I’ve been hired to find is pretty hot right now. I need to get to her first.”
Billie’s eyebrows went up. A grin crept over my face.
“‘Hot’ meaning a lot of people are after her. It’s an investigative term.”
“Right,” she said, sounding unconvinced. But she was smiling and she caught my hand in hers before I could get up. “I had a nice time last night.”
I leaned over and kissed her. “So did I.”
She gave me a little push. “Okay, go find this hot woman you’re after.”
“I’ll do my best.”
I showered, dressed, grabbed an apple from the fruit basket on her counter, and was out the door well before eight o’clock. The air had grown cool and the sky was a clear, deep blue. Perfect autumn weather and a fine day for a drive into the desert.
But even after I was in the Z-ster with the engine running, I sat staring out the window, watching as Billie’s quiet neighborhood came to life. I had no idea how to find Gracie Davett, and I was all-too conscious of the fact that Saorla was probably watching my every move from her magical perch, wherever that might be. The last thing I wanted to do was lead her and her weremancers to Gracie and the children.
In the past, I had used spells to keep Saorla from listening to my conversations. Perhaps I could keep her from tracking me, as well. The problem was, doing so would tick her off, and she would take out her anger on Billie and my dad, both of whom would be appalled at being used as leverage in that way.
But thinking of my dad gave me an idea.
I pulled away from the curb and drove back to my place in Chandler to pick up a change of clothes and a new toy I’d bought myself with some of the money I’d been earning. It was a Sig Sauer P938 Edge, a new back-up weapon that fit far more comfortably into an ankle holster than my bulky Glock ever had, and more comfortably in my hand than the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 I’d been using as a backup for the past several years. The S&W wasn’t a bad weapon — far from it. I liked it at first, but I’d never gotten to the point where I truly felt at ease with it. The trigger pull was too long, and thing just didn’t settle right in my hand, and so I hadn’t been willing to rely on it. My new Sig Sauer . . . well, let’s just say that it was love at first sight, literally.