Fragments II

“I’ve got a lead.”

She scrubs a hand across her face. She is paler than usual, and I can tell she has lost weight. The dark smudges beneath her blue eyes cannot be hidden with make-up.

“You have had leads before.”

She glances away, flinching a little at my tone. I should be nicer; she has not slept well in a very long time.

I have not slept well in longer.

“Yeah, well, this is real. Not some kid playing pretend like last time. I made sure. Before I came here.” Now she holds my gaze and I see a glimmer of the old Lindy Crow, the indomitable force of nature that slit my throat with no hesitation ten years ago.

I nod, thoughtful. I believe her. “Would you like a drink?”

I do not bother to hide my smile when I see the fear flit across her features. “Of what?” she asks. Trying to sound casual.

Standing, I smooth imaginary wrinkles from my silk gown. Her eyes stay on my hands. The thin black robe I pulled on earlier has fallen open. I tap a crystal tumbler with my fingernail and she breaks from her reverie. “I’m having vodka, darling. Shall I mix you a double?”

“No. Uh, no thank you.”

“Nothing at all, then? Are you sure?”

The crystal catches the lamplight and sparkles. Lindy watches me pour myself a drink with naked want. She wets her lips and replies, “Water. Just water.”

Full glass in hand, I move from the silver service cart to my desk, a carved mahogany monstrosity that I refuse to part with. I buzz the kitchen downstairs where I know Shay is camped out in front of her laptop. “Please bring our guest a bottle of water. The door is open.”

Lindy says, “I have photos.” She reaches into her cross-body bag and fishes out a white folder covered in smeared fingerprints and ink doodles. She places the folder in the middle of the low, oval table between us. The table’s silver and pearl inlays also sparkle in the light. Once Lindy had marveled at the opulence of this room, jokingly calling it the queen’s receiving chamber.  The thick white carpets, the opalescent touches, the silver candelabra, the gentle scent of roses, all give the room a royal air. The French doors leading to the master bedroom are ajar. Lindy cannot help but glance into the darkness beyond.

I take the folder and remove the photos. I parse through the stack slowly. Some are grainy images taken from a security camera. Others are blurred shots from a cell phone camera. I hold onto the clearest image and let the rest fall to the table.

There she is, my pet. Caught under a streetlight at dusk. A knit cap is pulled over her blonde hair, and the collar of her navy blue trenchcoat is flipped up. She has watched too many silly spy movies. There is a nondescript stocky looking fellow standing next to her.

“Who is this man?”

“I don’t know yet. But – see that, on the back of his hand? I know that symbol. I know where to find him.” …

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