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CHAPTER ONE

“AM I UNDER ARREST?”

Mitch glanced at the kid draped on the wooden bench in the squad room. “What did the officer who brought you in say?”

“Can’t you just answer a freakin’ question?”

Mitch sighed. Insolent punk.

“No, you’re not under arrest. But if you don’t keep your mouth shut, I could probably find a reason to keep you here.”

Burning brown eyes held his. “Yeah, well you’ve already done enough damage. What’s a little more?”

“A record of arrests doesn’t look good, Battaglia.”

The boy settled down, and Mitch finished typing his report into the computer. When he was done, he set it to print and leaned back. Linking his hands behind his neck, he stared at the young man who was headed for trouble. Mitch had seen too many others in New York City, and in Long Island suburbs like this one. “Who do you think took the scalpels? Since you contend you didn’t.”

Battaglia raked a shock of thick black hair off his brow. “I don’t know. There were lots of people in the operating room. Other orderlies, janitors, the guy to pick up the anesthesia stuff. Hell, maybe some nurse on crack took them to sell.”

Mitch eyed the kid’s jacket, lying on the bench next to him. The Blisters was printed in large capital letters on the back, surrounded by exploding fireworks in vivid red. Blood red. “You sure you didn’t take them? For the next street fight? I hear scalpels are the newest weapons of choice.”

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