Sacrificial Muse (A Sabrina Vaughn Novel)
you can think of anything else, let me know.”
    She turned and started for the elevator but stopped when another question occurred to her. “Hey, you ever see that reporter from The Sentinel lurking around down here?”
    “You mean Jaxon Croft? Sure, he’s here most days, sitting in one of those chairs, like he’s waiting for something to happen. Why?” Anderson said, nodding his head toward the few dozen chairs grouped together in the middle of the lobby.
    She looked. A few people scattered here and there, but none of them were Croft. “No reason. Do me a favor—you got my cell number?”
    “I do,” he said, holding up the fat contact binder that they kept behind the counter.
    “Great. If he shows up, call me right away,” she said, waiting for him to nod before she turned and headed for the station lot. It was a long shot. She had no idea if Croft was even involved, but he was as good a place to start as any. She was going to find him, and if he knew anything, he was going to give her some answers.

    The Sentinel billed itself as the one San Francisco newspaper that still fought for truth in a city filled with political back-scratching and First Amendment oppression. It’d started out in a cramped rental space above a liquor store in the Haight-Ashbury district, but having your star reporter’s pet project go national pulled in a lot of revenue. They were still in the Haight, but The Sentinel was fighting for free speech in relative style these days.
    Sabrina pulled up in front of The Sentinel’ s brand-new ground-floor offices and fed the meter a few quarters before doing a quick scan of the cars parked nearby. None of them belonged to Croft. She briefly considered heading back to the station, but what was there for her to do? Pack up her paperclips? Instead, she crossed the sidewalk and pushed the door open, stepping into the belly of the beast.
    “Can I help you?” the receptionist said, only half turned away from the computer screen she was glued to.
    “Yeah, I’d like to speak to Jaxon Croft,” Sabrina said, taking a perverse sort of pleasure when the woman finally looked and saw who was standing in front of her.
    “Jax—Mr. Croft isn’t here,” the woman said, her brown eyes sharpening with alarm. Picking up her phone, she pressed a button and cupped her hand around the receiver, murmuring something into it before setting it back down.
    Sabrina stared down at the squirming receptionist while footsteps snapped down the hall. Someone cleared his throat, and she looked up. “Mornin’, Ms. Vaughn, I’m Jared Little—”
    Seriously? Sabrina looked at the man in front of her. He easily weighed three hundred pounds. “Don’t care. I want to talk to Jaxon Croft.”
    His jowls shook with indignation as he hitched up his pants. “Look here, Inspector—we’re well within our constitutional rights to print—”
    “Still don’t care. I just want to talk to Croft. That’s it,” she said, already bored with the conversation. Croft wasn’t here. She didn’t know much about him, and she liked him even less, but she was certain that the man who had the balls to confront her in her own kitchen wouldn’t send this walking coronary to fight his battles.
    Little straightened his neck, forcing his double chin to clone itself. His watery pig eyes darted toward the front desk. “You didn’t tell her?”
    The receptionist shrugged, dividing a confused look between the two of them. “No. You said if anyone came looking for Mr. Croft, to call you … so I called you.”
    “Tell me what?” Sabrina said.
    Little looked at her, a pudgy hand rubbing the back of his fleshy neck. “Croft quit about a week ago. He came back from that trip to Texas, waltzed in here, packed his shit, and left.”
    Sabrina stared at the man in front of her for a moment. “You mean the trip he took to my hometown to dig up more dirt on me?”
    Little’s face went as red as his hands. “Look, I didn’t even know he

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