Home > City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1)(7)

City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1)(7)
Author: Kelley Armstrong

I really hope you’re not hitting on me in the hospital room of a rape survivor, I think, but only murmur something noncommittal. Then I tug back the curtain around the bed and—

It looks like Diana.

It isn’t, of course, but that’s the first thing I think. I see a blond woman wearing pink barrettes that, for a moment, look like pink-tipped hair. Her face is purple and yellow and swollen. A ring of bruises circles her throat. She wears a cast on one arm, has one leg raised, not unlike me twelve years ago.

I imagine Diana here, in a hospital bed, like me and like this girl, beaten and left for dead, and I realize I can’t keep ignoring Graham. I owe it to Diana to make sure she never ends up like this.

Then I push that aside, and I see this girl. Only this girl. Our eyes meet, and there are traces of defiance in hers, but only traces, as she clings to that, as if refusing to turn in her ex is her choice. As if he doesn’t have her so terrified she can’t see any other option.

I move to her bedside, lean over, and whisper, “Let’s make sure he never does this again,” and she starts to cry.

I bang on Graham’s hotel room door.

“Casey,” Graham says as he opens it, grinning like I’ve brought his favourite takeout. “You found me. I was hoping you would. Come on in.”

As I enter, I put my back to him. That’s my way of saying he doesn’t scare me. Only once I sit on the couch do I face him. Graham Berry. Forty years old. Looks like he should be the spokesmodel for some high-end law firm, all white teeth and perfect hair and chiselled jaw. I can still hear Diana’s excited whisper. “Oh my God, Case. You have to meet him. He’s gorgeous, and he’s brilliant, and he’s charming, and he asked me out. Can you believe it?”

I wanted to, because Diana deserved some good in her life, having gone through a string of abusive losers since high school. Except she was right—it was hard to believe a guy as outwardly perfect as Graham Berry was madly in love with Diana. That’s cruel, isn’t it? But there’s a dating hierarchy, and though you can move up or down a notch or two, when you’re attracting the attention of someone a half-dozen rungs up? You need to ask yourself why.

In Diana’s case, the answer is that Graham sees the same thing her loser exes had—her deep vulnerability and eagerness to please. Like my parents, Diana’s set a higher standard of expectation than she could reach. Unlike mine, hers vented their displeasure in more than words, and she’d spent her childhood convinced she deserved every beating she got. That made her the perfect target for Graham’s particular brand of sadism.

“You look good, Case,” he says, those white teeth glimmering.

“Knock it off. We both know I’m not your type.”

“Mmm, not so sure about that.” He walks over and sits on the coffee table, right in front of me, so close our knees brush. “How about a deal? You give me a night, and I’ll go home happy. I’ll let you bring the handcuffs. We can arm-wrestle for who wears them.”

“If I ever got you in handcuffs, Graham, I don’t think you’d like where it ends up. I want you to leave Diana alone.”

“Oh, I know, but Diana doesn’t really want me to leave her alone. I’m wearing her down.”

“If you hurt her—”

“I never hurt her. Not against her will, anyway. You’ve got me all wrong, Casey. You always have. I love Diana, and if our relationship is a little unconventional, well, that isn’t a crime.”

He smiles. I know exactly what that smile means—that if I’m wired and trying to entrap him, I’ll catch nothing. He’s so damned careful.

“I want you out of town,” I say.

“Mmm, you make a very sexy sheriff, Casey. Shall we set a time, then? High noon or pistols at twenty paces?”

“It’s well past noon. Let’s say six. Or …” I open my bag, take out a file folder, and drop it beside him on the coffee table.

He opens it. And he stops smiling.

“Britnee Spencer. Sister of one of the boys you coached in basketball while you were with Diana. You went over to give him some private lessons and ended up giving her some, too. In a whole different kind of sport.”

“Who told you—?”

“I’m a detective, remember? She was fifteen. That makes it stat rape, and I have what I need to see charges pressed. The evidence is in there. Keep it. I have copies.”

“This is bullshit,” he says. “She told me she was eighteen.”

“You can explain that to the police. Six o’clock, Graham. Better pack fast.”

As I drive, I grip the steering wheel to stop my hands from shaking. I haven’t threatened Graham with that file before because it’s 50 percent bullshit. When Diana left Graham, one of the reasons was that she suspected he’d fooled around with Britnee. Last year, when Graham found Diana’s last number and started harassing her, I’d contacted Britnee … who’d told me to go to hell. If I did take the case to the police, she’d deny everything.

When my phone rings, I look down to see Private Caller, and I’m sure it’s Graham calling my bluff. I steel myself and hit Answer on my Bluetooth.

“Detective Duncan? It’s Stefan.” A pause. “Stefan Ricci?” His voice rises, as if he’s uncertain of his own name.

“Yes?”

“I want to talk more about the, uh, victim interview. You brought her right around, and I …” A strained chuckle. “I have no idea how to do that. I mentioned drinks earlier, and I didn’t get a chance to ask again, so I’m asking now. I just finished my shift. Can I take you out? To talk about, uh, your interview techniques.”

   
Most Popular
» Nothing But Trouble (Malibu University #1)
» Kill Switch (Devil's Night #3)
» Hold Me Today (Put A Ring On It #1)
» Spinning Silver
» Birthday Girl
» A Nordic King (Royal Romance #3)
» The Wild Heir (Royal Romance #2)
» The Swedish Prince (Royal Romance #1)
» Nothing Personal (Karina Halle)
» My Life in Shambles
» The Warrior Queen (The Hundredth Queen #4)
» The Rogue Queen (The Hundredth Queen #3)
romance.readsbookonline.com Copyright 2016 - 2020