Home > City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1)(4)

City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1)(4)
Author: Kelley Armstrong

He listened, nodding, an overly concerned expression on his face, as if I were an elderly aunt detailing my medical woes.

When I finished, he said, “You’ll heal, then. That’s good.”

“Good?” I stepped toward him. “I almost died, Blaine. I had to drop out of police college. I’m told I’ll never be a cop. That I’ll never move fast enough. I might never think fast enough.”

Another long pause. Then, “I’m sorry this happened to you, Casey. I gave you a chance to run.”

“No, I let you run. You did, and you never even called for help.”

“That’s not how I remember it.” He pulled himself up straight, ducking my gaze.

“No?” I said. “Does this refresh your memory?”

I took the gun from my pocket.

I’d envisioned this encounter so many ways. All those nights, lying in a hospital bed, fantasizing about it, I’d realized I didn’t want him to break down and beg forgiveness too quickly. I wanted to have to pull the gun. I wanted to see his expression. I wanted him to feel what I’d felt in that alley.

Now I pointed the gun at him, and he blinked. That was it. A blink. Then his lips twitched, as if he was going to laugh. I think if he had, I’d have pulled that trigger. But he rubbed his mouth instead and said, “You’re not going to shoot me with your training weapon, Casey. You’re smarter than that.”

“Did I mention I had to drop out? This isn’t my training weapon. Now, I want you to think hard, Blaine. Think back to that night, and tell me again that you let me run.”

“Oh, I get it.” He eased back. “You want me to confess on some hidden tape so you can—”

I yanked off my jacket. It wasn’t easy. My left arm was still in a cast and my shoulder blazed with the simple act of tugging off clothing. But I got it off, and I threw it at him.

“Check for a recorder. Pat me down if you want. I’m not taping this. It’s for me. I want to hear you tell the truth, and I want to hear you apologize.”

“Well, then you’re going to have to pull that trigger, because I don’t have anything to apologize for. We ran and you must have doubled back.”

“For what?” I roared. “What in fuck would I double back for?”

“Then they must have caught you. You were too slow—”

“I did not run! You know I didn’t. I grabbed him, and you were supposed to pick up the gun he dropped, but you ran. Like a fucking coward, you ran and you didn’t look back, and I nearly died, and you never even called the goddamned hospital to see if I was okay.”

“You are okay. Look at you. Up and about, waving a gun in my face. Well, actually, I’m not sure I’d call that okay. I think you need help. I always did. You’re fucked up, Casey. I bet a shrink would say you have a death wish.”

I went still. “What?”

He shifted forward, as if he’d just remembered the missing answer in a final exam. “You have a death wish, Casey. What normal girl wants to be a cop? Does that martial arts shit? We get mugged in an alley, and I’m trying to play it cool, and what do you do? Grab the guy. Hell, thank God I did run, or I’d have had the shit beat out of me, too.”

I hit him. Hauled off and whaled the gun at the side of his head. He staggered back. I hit him again. Blood gushed. His hands went to the spot, eyes widening.

“Fuck! You fucking crazy bitch!”

“We were not mugged,” I said, advancing on him as he backed up, still holding his head. “You were selling dope on some other guy’s turf. Apparently, you knew that. You just didn’t give a shit. I grabbed that guy to save your ass, and you ran. You left me there to die!”

“I didn’t think they’d—”

“You left me there.”

“I just thought—”

“Thought what? They’d only rape me? A distraction while you escaped?”

He didn’t answer, but I saw it in his face, that sudden flush right before his eyes went hard.

“It was your own fault if they did rape you,” Blaine said. “You couldn’t leave well enough alone. Now give me that—”

He lunged for the gun. I shot him. No thought entered my head as I pulled the trigger. It was like being back in that alley.

I saw Blaine coming at me. I was already pointing the gun at his chest. So I pulled the trigger.

The end.


“And he died?” the therapist says.

I swing my legs over the side of the couch and sit up. Her expression is rapt, as if she’s overhearing a drunken confession in a bar.

“And he died?” she prompts again.

“I called 911 on his burner phone. By the time I got through, he was gone.” No, not gone. Dead. Use the proper terminology, Casey. Don’t sugar-coat it.

“What did you tell the operator?”

“Dispatcher,” I say, correcting her automatically. “I said I heard a shot, and I raced over to see two men fleeing the scene. One had a gun. I gave descriptions roughly matching two of the guys who beat me. I said I was going to follow them to get a closer look. She told me not to, of course, but I was already hanging up.”

“You thought it through.”

Her tone should be at least vaguely accusatory. Instead, it’s almost admiring. She’s been abused in some way. Bullied. Harassed. Maybe even raped. She’s fantasized about doing exactly what I did, to whoever hurt her.

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