Home > City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1)(6)

City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1)(6)
Author: Kelley Armstrong

She nods. This is just part of the routine for something that should never become routine. How to stay alive when your ex wants you dead.

“With any luck,” I continue, “it’ll take him a while to track your home or work address, and if he really is on business, he won’t be here long …” I catch her expression. “He’s already found you.”

“He—he stopped by the office. The usual crap. He just wants to have coffee, talk, work things out.”

“And then?” I say, because I know there is an and then. In public, Graham plays the besotted ex-husband. But as soon as no one is around …

“He waylaid me in the parking garage.”

I reach for her wrist, and she flinches. I push up the sleeve to see a bracelet of bruises.

“Goddamn it, Di!”

She gives me a whipped-puppy look.

“Graham showed up at your office and you didn’t call me? You walked into the goddamn parking garage—”

“Don’t, Casey. I feel stupid enough.”

Her eyes fill with tears, and that’s when I really feel like a bitch. Blame the victim. I hate it so much. But Diana never seems to learn, and I’m terrified that one day I’ll get a call that she’s in the morgue because she gave Graham another chance and I wasn’t there to stop her.

“He’s going to do it one of these days,” she says, wrapping her hands around her glass. “You know he is.”

I don’t want to follow this line of thought, because when I do, I think of Blaine and how easy it was to kill him. I fear that one day I’ll decide there’s only one way to protect Diana.

“I’ve been researching how to disappear,” she says.

“What?” I look up sharply.

“We could disappear. You and me.”

I don’t ask why she includes me. The last time she ran, I joined her because she needed me and I had no reason to stay where I was. Nothing has changed. I have a furnished apartment I’ve never added a picture to. I have a lover whose last name I’ve never asked. I have a sister I speak to three times a year. I have one friend, who is sitting in front of me. I do have a job I love. But that’s all I care about. My job and Diana. The job is replaceable. Diana is not.

“Let’s just focus on keeping you safe for now,” I say. “Graham will go home, and then we can discuss how to handle this long-term.”

I put money on the table and catch Kurt’s eye as he deals with a drunk. I mouth, “Tomorrow.” He nods. Smiles. Then I turn to Diana and say, “Drink up, and let’s go.”

Four

I’m at work the next day, trying not to worry about Diana. Of course, I do. I’ve felt responsible for her since we met, back in tenth grade. She’d just moved to my district, and I spotted her in the cafeteria with her tray, looking like a rabbit about to dine among wolves. I’d waved her over to join me and my friends, and she never left.

I keep thinking about Graham being in town. About the other times he’s tracked her down and what he did. Got her fired. Trashed her apartment. Beat the shit out of her. And, the last time, tried to run her down with his car.

“Detective Duncan?”

I look up from my desk. It’s Ricci, a new detective from Special Victims.

“Are you, uh, busy?” he asks.

I resist the urge to glance at the piles of paperwork on my desk and say instead, “What’s up?”

“Got a, uh, victim in hospital and she’s … She won’t talk to me. My partner’s off with the flu and she said I could ask you.”

What he means is that he has a rape survivor refusing to speak to a male detective. Our division is small enough that the lines aren’t drawn in permanent ink.

When I hesitate, my partner, Timmons, leans over. “Boy’s giving you the chance to escape paperwork for a few hours and you’re arguing? Go. I’ve got this.”

Ricci fills me in on the ride. The young woman kicked out her addict boyfriend a week ago. He came back for his things … and took what didn’t belong to him, raping her. Then he strangled her. Or that’s the story given by her roommate, who spotted the ex fleeing the scene. The victim herself insists it was a random home invasion.

As I listen to the story, I try not to think of Diana. I still send her a text, reminding her that she’s supposed to order takeout for lunch and not leave my apartment.

I know the rules, Casey, she replies, and I mentally hear her add, I’m not a child. As an apology, I tap back a note that I’ll grab her a chai latte on my way home.

We arrive at the hospital and take the stairs to the room, which is being guarded by an officer I don’t recognize. He whispers to Ricci, “You aren’t supposed to take anyone else in there. Doctor’s orders.”

“Constable Wiley, this is Detective Duncan,” Ricci says.

I shake his hand. He stares a little too long and then covers it with a laugh that’s a little too loud as he says, “Guess the force doesn’t have height restrictions anymore, huh?”

“They haven’t in years,” Ricci says. “That would be discrimination against gender and race.”

He slides me a look, as if expecting a pat on the head. He’s referring to the fact that I’m also half Asian—my mother was Chinese and Filipino.

“Is Ms. Lang …?” I wave toward the room.

“Uh, right,” Ricci says, and grabs the door for me. As we walk through, he whispers, “Thank you for doing this. I really appreciate it. Maybe we can grab a drink after shift?”

   
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