No flippin’ way. There was a body. She walked right up to it and snapped a few pictures from different angles, narrowing her eyes at the strange elongation of the guy’s face, and the dark bluish-black liquid that ran off his body and pooled in the snow. What the heck was that, oil?
Sophie cringed at the familiar, gruff voice and turned, seeing Detective Harris stalk toward her. “Harris,” she greeted. Dammit, she’d thought she’d be here longer than a few minutes before the jerk saw her.
“What are you doing here? You know you can’t get this close.” He lifted his hands up as though he was going to herd her like some sort of cow back to the police line.
“Freedom of the press.” She shrugged, lifting her chin a degree. She refused to back up a single step. She was not a heffer, thank you very much.
“Freedom, my ass—”
“I’ll handle it from here,” another officer said.
She turned toward the newcomer and smiled as Harris’s partner strolled up to them with a shake of his head that was directed at her.
“Detective Larkin. Nice to see you.” She lifted her camera again and snapped a picture at Elongo-Face without even looking through the viewfinder. No need. She was pretty sure she nailed it.
He cocked an eyebrow at her, though she knew damn well he found her charming. Why wouldn’t he? “Right. Listen, you’re disrupting a crime scene and we’re pushing everyone back anyway.”
“Disrupting? Me? Nuh uh, I’m just minding my own business. I promise, I haven’t even approached any dead bodies that have cops around them. Just this guy so far, and he was all alone over here.”
Larkin shook his head warningly. “Sophie. I’ve known you a long time. Your Dad and I—”
“Nuh uh, not tonight, Larkin.” She shook her head, not wanting to hear about how close he and her dad had been when her dad was still alive. They’d been partners in crime, keeping the good city of Newark safe behind their shiny badges. She reached into her bag and extracted her voice recorder. “Can you give me a report on what’s going on here?”
“No more than what I’m sure you heard on your radio. Put that thing away.” He reached for it and pushed it down as Detective Harris sauntered off to speak with other police officers, all of which were tense as they kept guns trained on the house. Even Larkin kept his hand on his gun, even though it was still holstered. It was then that she noticed that he kept himself between her and the house. “Listen. This isn’t some quick story that I can help you out with. This is serious, Sophie. And if I let you get in harm’s way I wouldn’t be living up to the promise I made on your dad’s headstone.”
Sighing, she clicked off the recorder and dropped it into her purse again. “I’m just really trying, you know? I’m up for a promotion.”
“I know,” he smiled kindly, but with an air that he was still keeping an eye-and-a-half on the house. “I heard you were up for it. Put in a good recommendation for you too.”
That was a surprise. “What’s going on? Off the record.”
He eyed her silently for a minute before he released a slow breath. “I can’t say.”
“Come on. Don’t make me sit here all night.”
“Stubborn as your old man.” A sympathetic smile appeared. “Off the record, we haven’t gone in yet, but we have a team on the way. There were…violent sounds inside. It’s gone silent since then, but we have no idea if it could be a hostage situation.”
“Another one?” Jack-freaking-pot.
“Yeah.” He wasn’t nearly as enthused. Not that she was enthused. She hated violence. But this could be just what she needed for a certain promotion and, even better, raise.
“Have you gotten out the xylophone—”
Yep, as soon as she’d said it, she knew she’d called it the wrong thing. Damn, she needed another shot of Buzz-Be-Gone. “Whatever. You know what I mean.”
“No, we haven’t. We’re working on getting a visual. If you’ll just go back to the street and stay on the other side of the tape, I’ll get statements together and I promise I will talk to you if I get clearance. I just need you to go where it’s safe.”
Larkin looked exhausted. No doubt this new development was nerve-wracking, especially after what happened at the Children's Hospital in Newark. The police had been cautious then as well, and an even bigger disaster had struck, which had rocked the entire state of New Jersey. Investigations were still going on, and a lot of families mourned those lost, hoping and waiting for some kind of answer.
“Deal. Just give me two minutes.” Sophie stepped around him, heading toward the house. She couldn’t help but take a few more pictures of another body that was in front of the home, despite the detective’s attempt to stop her. From this view she had a nice angle of the house as well, with two windows behind the body—one of which was broken. Holding the viewfinder to her eye, she snapped one picture, then another.
Something moved in the background as her camera snapped a picture. She quickly zoomed in for a better look, focusing on the windows. She snapped another pic without even realizing she’d moved her finger. Sophie lowered the camera, unable to rip her gaze from the unbroken window.
There'd been a man peering through a gap in the curtains. In that split second of seeing him as her flash went off, she'd noted black and blue, spiked hair, and wide frame. And if she wasn’t mistaken, she’d seen blood on his face before he’d dodged out of her view.
Detective Larkin stood next her, so close that her shoulder brushed his arm. “What’s wrong?”
Her eyes never left the window, even though she couldn’t see that deadly apparition anymore. “There are definitely people inside. Or, at least one person.”
“You saw someone? Where?”
“In that window. He’s gone now.” Hitting the view button on her camera, she pulled up the last picture she’d taken, holding it for Larkin to see. Yep, right there. The man’s eyes reflected back at her in the picture. Coupled with his large build, spiky hair, and blood streaked face, he looked a good deal more than merely frightening.
Detective Larkin cursed under his breath and gripped the radio at his shoulder. Speaking into it, he informed the station that there was confirmation on people inside. The crunch of snow under his boots alerted her that he’d hustled over to other cops, where he told them to watch for movement in the windows.
Sophie pulled the memory card out of her camera. There was no way in hell was she giving that up if they seized her camera. She removed the card and stuck it in her pocket, all while keeping her eyes trained on that window.
She willed the man to return to the window so she could catch another peek. It hadn’t been his hair or the blood that smeared his face that had captivated her. There was something in his eyes that took her breath away, that made her feel as though she’d never forget the way they looked. His eyes hadn’t just reflected back at her in that picture. They’d been that way when she’d seen him in the window, when there’d been no flash at all.
It was almost as if they glowed.
© Copyright Katalyn Sage