button. "Yeah?"
Dead silence. Then he realized the mute button must not have
engaged the first time. "Shit." He pushed it again. "A little
unfinished business," he said breathlessly into the receiver. "If
you know what I mean."
    "Get your ass over to 2315 Mulberry Street on
the northwest side."
    Detective Irving. A pissed-off Detective
Irving, but then Irving was always pissed off about something.
"What have you got?" Ellis could be called in on anything from a
hit-and-run to undetermined death.
    "You'll see when you get here."
    Which meant it was something Irving didn't
want to talk about over the phone, in case the call was
intercepted. "Homicide?" Ellis asked, playing dumb.
    "Just get your ass over here."
    Ellis and Irving had never gotten along.
Irving was so damn serious and had an attitude that rubbed Ellis
wrong. And Irving had trained at Quantico. He wasn't FBI, but he'd
still spent time in the FBI Academy program. It was a tough,
eleven-week course for law enforcement officers from all over the
world. Ellis had applied too, only to get passed over year after
year. He asked Irving to put in a good word for him, but Irving
spouted some bullshit about making it on his own merit. Ellis had
hated the bastard ever since.
    In the bathroom, Ellis flushed the rubber
down the toilet, then got dressed. Since it was the middle of the
night, most technicians would have shown up at the scene in
anything they could throw on. Not Ellis. He always wore his suit
and trench coat. No matter what. No matter how hot or how cold the
weather, no matter if it was day or night.
    He was double-checking the items in his
technician's case when he remembered the blonde. He glanced up to
see her pouting at him from the bed, the sheet pulled up to her
waist, her breasts large and unnaturally round and high.
    "You have to leave." He pulled a twenty from
his billfold and tossed it on the bed. "Call a cab."
    At first it seemed that she was going to say
something. Then she pressed her lips together and snatched up the
    He made a helpless gesture with one hand,
shrugging his shoulders at the same time. "Hey baby, that's the way
it is."
    Reminding her of his important occupation
softened her. "Did somebody die?" she whispered.
    His eyes were on his open case, mentally
cataloging equipment. Powders: white and black metallic. Brushes.
Magnetic pencil Forms. Camera. Film. Flash. Black Magic Markers.
Paper evidence bags. Then there were the things that weren't issue,
that he'd added himself. Baggies. Flashlight. Measuring tape.
Tweezers. Scissors. Extra dress shirt. Black cloth for photo
backdrop. Surgical-paper shirt and pants and shoe covers.
    He was always adding to his collection.
    "Homicide," he said, snapping shut the case,
experiencing some satisfaction at passing Irving's veiled
information along to a total stranger.
    "Oh my God," she said with a mixture of awe
and horror, pulling the sheet up over her breasts.
    "Get up. Get dressed," he said.
    "Why can't I wait here until you come
    Now that the sex was over, he wanted her out
of there. "You don't want to be here when I get back," he said.
"You don't want to see me when I get back."
    Her eyes grew big and her collagen lips
formed a circle. "Will you have blood on you? The victim's blood?
Like on your shoes or something?"
    "Maybe. I never know. But it's more my frame
of mind," he said, injecting his voice with a touch of pathos,
wondering why he bothered when he didn't give a shit about her.
"I'm just really . . . down after spending a few hours at a crime
scene. I need to be alone. You can understand that, can't you?"
    The truth was, he didn't feel anything. He
never had. Never. No, that wasn't exactly true. He sometimes felt a
sense of disgust—not directed toward the killer, but the victim.
Somehow, it always seemed they got what they deserved.

Chapter 13
    A phone rang out in the darkness, making
Ivy's heart race in sleep-drugged panic. At first she thought she
was home, in St.

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