Pool of Crimson
Author:Suzanne M. Sabol

chapter 7



God Damn, I was tired. Four hours of good sleep just wasn’t enough to face the cops first thing in the morning. Jade was way too chipper for 8:00 a.m., and the place was too noisy. The precinct was filled with people talking and laughing, while printers beeped and the phones rang constantly in a loud wail. The noise bounced off the walls and back again, bouncing around the room with the sense of organized chaos.

Officer Hamlin met us at the elevators, then escorted us through the maze of desks to a conference room at the end of the hall. One wall of the conference room was all glass, looking out over the sea of desks and people moving frantically from one point to the next.

Jade and I sat at one end of the long table. The uncomfortable steel chairs complete with army vinyl green cushions originally upholstered in the 1970’s that now had nonexistent padding. The cold metal beneath the cushion chilled my ass through my jeans as I waited.

“Would you ladies like some coffee?” Officer Hamlin asked in a harsh but strictly professional voice.

“Sure,” Jade squeaked out.

“Yes. Please,” I said quickly and a little too briskly.

He smiled, a quick upturn of the corner of his mouth, then departed.

“So do we mention the Ahrima ...” Jade started to say before I could put my hand on her forearm to stop her. Her bright green eyes focused on me in confusion and she scrunched her brow. I jerked my chin toward the two-way mirror on the far end of the conference room. I didn’t think they were taping our conversation or even watching us, but I wasn’t about to take that chance either.

She nodded her understanding, then sank back in her chair, quiet. Neither of us spoke again until Officer Hamlin reentered the room after a suspiciously long wait.

“Here you are,” he said with a soft expression for Jade and a quick questioning glance in my direction. He sat adjacent to Jade in the same uncomfortable putrid green upholstered chairs. He didn’t seem to mind, but I sure did. The chairs were damn uncomfortable.

Officer Hamlin turned his eyes to me.

“Thank you, Ms. Sabin, for all the detailed information you provided after the accident. It was ... helpful,” he said, a hint of sarcasm in his voice as he opened a manila folder in front of him. I swallowed a mouthful of the coffee from the white Styrofoam cup he’d given me, ignoring his tone. I hesitated for a moment as the smell of stale burnt coffee hit my nose. I needed something to open my eyes. Coffee was coffee, at least, that’s what I told myself. I shrugged and took a sip, then cringed at the bitter, cheap, burnt liquid as it hit my tongue then oozed down my throat like tar.

I grimaced, then mentally cursed as Officer Hamlin glanced from the paper in the open manila folder to me.

The soft click of Jade’s phone echoed in the large conference room as she snapped a picture. I hadn’t even noticed her pulling it out.

Officer Hamlin glared at her, then pointed to the picture of a cell phone with a bright red X over it.

“Sorry, Derek,” she said sheepishly as she batted her eyes at him and he let her infraction slide. Damn, she was good.

Jade cleared her phone’s screen quickly and clutched it tightly in her grip.

She’d taken a picture of something and filed it away before Officer Hamlin could ask to see it. What was she up to?

Officer Hamlin pinned her with a hard, chastising look before returning his attention to me. “I’m sorry, the coffee tends to sit for a while if no one’s paying attention,” he said with an apologetic smile.

I put the Styrofoam cup on the conference table and pushed it away. I didn’t want to forget and accidentally take another sip. I don’t care how much my body needed caffeine; I wasn’t about to drink drain cleaner. No way, no how.

“No problem but you could warn a girl,” I said with a casual, friendly smile as Jade clicked the sound off on her phone and snapped another picture. Officer Hamlin turned to Jade and glared again, his face turning a deep shade of red.

“Jade, how’ya feelin’?” he asked casually, ignoring the phone still in her hand.

“I’m good, really. I got some stitches in my leg and a few bumps and bruises but other than that, I’m fine,” she said with a bright smile and a twinkle in her green eyes. Christ on crutches that’s useful. I wish I could do that.

“I’m glad to hear it,” he said, shutting that friendly demeanor back behind the façade of his cop face. “Now,” he said in a harsh voice as he cleared his throat. “Can you tell me what happened?”

Jade dropped her iPhone into her purse, then ran through the exact same description I’d given him two days ago, albeit with a bit more flair, but it was the same story nonetheless. He wrote every word down like they were gold.

When she got to the point where Officer Hamlin was already on scene, he looked up at her and closed the manila folder. “Thank you. We’re investigating your lead with the partial plate Ms. Sabin gave us for the white Charger. There are, however, quite a few in the system. It might take us a while to go through them all,” he said, a canned apologetic expression on his face.

Jade took in every word with a reassuring smile, as if she trusted him.

I didn’t.

I didn’t like the possibility that someone could be out there, waiting to take a shot at me again. I really didn’t like the fact that someone could be out there waiting for Jade in order to get to me, and all the while this guy was keeping everything close to the vest to be a hero for Jade.

“Now, wait a minute,” I started, hostility thick in my voice.

Jade’s gentle hand fell easily on my wrist. The contact of her warm hands on my bare skin stopped my words. I looked down. Her fingers were rich and tanned like the rest of her, a direct contrast to my alabaster skin. I turned to snap at her but found the same cautious look in her green eyes that I’d given her earlier. I closed my mouth. I turned angry and resentful eyes back to Officer Hamlin. I’d asked her to trust me, and now she was asking for the same courtesy. It was the least I could do.

“Thank you so much for all your help, Derek,” Jade said sweetly as she pulled her hand back from my wrist. “We’ll wait to hear from you.” She stood with a smile on her sultry lips, which brought Officer Hamlin to his feet.

“Let me walk you out,” Officer Hamlin said, moving to the conference room door and holding it open for us. Jade put her hand on his arm and turned her eyes up to him with a shit-eating grin playing at the corner of her eyes. Shit, she’s good. If I didn’t like her so much, I might hate her. “Derek, is there a restroom?” she asked cheerily.

“Yes, straight ahead and make a right at the elevators.”

“Great! I’ll meet you at the elevators, Dahlia.” She shot a warning glance over her shoulder at me as she walked through a maze of desks sashaying through the desk, swaying her hips and catching every male’s attention as she moved.

Officer Hamlin walked with me to the elevator. Neither of us said a word. The silence between us became heavy and uncomfortable as we finally reached the elevators.

“How do you know Jade?” he asked.

“So, did you see that game last night?” I asked at the same time.

“What?”

“Nothing,” I said with a laugh in my voice. “It wasn’t important, only drivel to fill the awkward silence,” I admitted.

“Not many people would admit that,” he said with genuine humor in his voice.

“I’m not most people.” I slung my bag back up onto my shoulder.

“I gathered that by the description you gave me. Eye witnesses can be hit or miss most of the time, but you were very specific.” His eyes searched my face, as if he were seeking an answer that was just out of his reach.

“So, how do you know Jade?” he asked again. There was something in the way he held his shoulders that made me antsy. He cared more about Jade than he let on.

“We’re friends,” I said curtly. It wasn’t his business how I knew Jade, and I didn’t like his tone. What was I supposed to say? I met Jade while searching for the use of a magical amulet I found while killing a vampire in a back alley? He’d think I was crazy. It wouldn’t be the first time. I’d learned a long time ago to keep my mouth shut.

“She’s never mentioned you,” he said with an interrogating glare. Don’t pull bad cop with me, buddy. You won’t like what you get.

”Does she tell you about all of her friends?” I asked with the same sharp attitude.

He stared at me, his mouth gaping open in astonishment. I guess he wasn’t prepared for me to stand up to him and push back. “I take it from your silence that’s a no,” I bit out. I wasn’t in the mood for his bullshit, and he’d used up all my goodwill.

Jade came around the corner and smiled at both of us, completely unaware of the tension sparking the air like static.

“You ready to go?” she asked as she hit the down button for the elevator.

“Anytime you are.” I was more than ready to leave.

The metal doors opened, and we both stepped inside. I gave Officer Hamlin one last hard look.

Surprisingly, he was looking at me instead of Jade. He nodded once, curtly, as the doors closed.

“So, what the hell?” I asked.

Jade removed her phone from her bag and handed it to me. I checked out the picture, bright and clear on the screen. “You took a picture of the list,” I said, astonished and impressed, then noted her self-satisfied smile.

“I took a picture of the list,” she affirmed. “We should be able to enlarge it and see if we can find the white Charger that ran us off the road. Derek doesn’t plan on helping us.”

“Nicely done,” I said as the elevator pinged and the doors opened to the lobby. A smile pushed the corners of my lips up to match her pleased smile. The bitch that ran us off the road was not going to get away from me. “Let’s get started.”





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