To help a friend, a relative of her ex, Patricia ends up playing hostess on a tacky show. To make matters worse, her cop boyfriend Christopher feels compelled to take her to his latest crime scene as a form of therapy. Couldn’t she focus on her writing instead? Writing is the only constant in her life, after all. With no family but for a couple of odd friends whose past company gave her plenty of reasons to hate cops, she enjoys losing herself fin her characters’ lives. Thus, setting up house with the Big guy feels like a momentous step. As if her life wasn’t complicated enough. Understandably, she’s somewhat deferring their house shopping. Surely, the infuriating man doesn’t expect her to move into a porn palace without a single café in the vicinity! All she wants lately is to work on her book and forget about everything else, murders, exes, and jobs, hers and his included.
Chris can tell ghosts from her past still rattle Patricia. As a tough, no-nonsense, chief homicide detective, more bent on getting results than following the law, he feared nothing. Then he met her, and now fists and knot keep him up with worries. Old friends, corpses, dirty cops, part-time jobs make for a challenging relationship.
As they were in the middle of a discussion, he’s called to a crime scene and bring Patricia. Think of it as therapy, Angel. At the site, a bodiless leg dangles from a butcher’s shop sign. A riddle tattooed on the thaw skin taunts them. Another sicko roams in the city. Do not get involved, Angel.
“It looks funny,” she said from six steps back.
I didn’t have to wait long now, did I, for your damn curiosity to bring you closer? Her observation mode (her fucking research as she called it) had activated. “It’s a limb hanging from a butcher’s sign, Babe. What do you expect?”
“I meant the skin. It looks weird.”
He motioned the medical examiner over. The med guy never said anything unless he had had his hands on the body for a couple of hours, but he did venture a few educated guesses. “Unofficially, it’s possible the appendage was drained.”
“Emptied of its blood. And frozen. That would explain its shape and colour. Now gentlemen, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to the leg officially since, after all,” the man concluded, “that’s why you called me here, and in this weather, the thing is rapidly decomposing.”
At that, Chris caught her scrunching her nose and frantically batting her eyelids. Had she been breathing through her mouth the whole time?
“How long is it going to stay there?”
The men shrugged. “As long as it takes.” Therapy, Princess.
Time to bring her closer. With his hand on the small of her back, he pushed her gently. Three steps forward, she froze again and dug in her heels. They were close enough now for the remnant to smell even if they were downwind. He smiled. This crime scene tour was fucking therapy for both of them. He might even consider having her back at the office, handcuffed to her desk, though, but back nonetheless.
“What’s that black dotted line on the thigh’s inner side?” She wanted to know. Still too far to see clearly, Princess?
“A tattoo. A riddle.”
Was she or wasn’t she going to take another step? He hid a grin and waited. Your call, Pussycat. When she fished out her phone, he gave her a silent count of five before stepping in front of her.
Allowing her to research the leg might be a form of healing for her, but it was far from soothing for him. She put the phone back in her pocket, then started frowning, swallowed hard, a sure sign her imagination was going into high gear. Therapy was over. He drove her home. “I want your word you won’t leave town, Pussycat.”
“Really, Big guy,” she smirked and rolled her eyes heavenward. “Why would I−”
“Fine. I promise I will stay in town.”
She didn’t leave. She didn’t need to. There were plenty of places to run off to in the city, wasn’t there?