How far along is she? What groom? Dylan asked.

That’s all on you, Co. Galloway hugged the boy. You’re a great student.

As Danny opened the way in, he couldn’t process what he was looking at. Walls were stained with something, the pink-flowered paper marked with . . . brown handprints? That was when he saw, through the haze, the body spread-eagled on the bed. The wrists and ankles had been tied to the posts and there was a red gag in the mouth.Then again, the older woman appeared to have been gutted like a deer. Very recently. There was no meaty smell of anatomy, however. The stench of the fire was too loud in his nose.

Danny spoke into his communicator. Second victim, bedroom. This is a murder scene.He forgot to ID himself, but he didn’t care. He went over. The old woman was staring through sightless eyes in terror at the ceiling overhead. Her loose skin was like folds of pale felt pooling under her arm pits, at her neck, on either side of her bony thighs.He wanted to cover her up. Find a sheet or a blanket and give her some dignity. This was a crime scene, however.

What the fuck. Moose came in and stood next to him. So that’s what was cooking when the fire started.You know, I like unusual women.

As Charles Ripkin spoke, his eyes focused on Anne’s prosthesis. Tell me, how did you lose your arm?

He already knew the answer, she thought. He had to have researched her.I’m sorry. That was the wrong thing to do, and from now on, I’m not going to let you down.

Me? You’re not going to let me down? Don Marshall stopped again and frowned. Wrong way to look at this. Someone died in that fire you blew off so you could make a trip to the vet’s. A crime against property was committed, and in the course of it, somebody died. Maybe it was a vagrant. Hell, it probably was. But they had a mother and a father or they wouldn’t be on the planet. What you fail to understand is that this job you think is a step down from your calling, your passion? It’s actually justice at work. Unless there was faulty wiring involved—which is impossible because the grid to that block was shut down two years ago—someone walked in there, set a fire, and let the structure burn to the ground. I can’t make you care about helping the police find that criminal. I can’t wake you up to the fact that this work you no doubt consider a desk job is critical to making people safe. But what I will do is boot you out of my department if you don’t prove to me you’re worthy of my standards. You had your calling. This is mine. Are we clear?Anne swallowed hard. Yes, sir.

Now, get back in that car, and go back to that site, and try to do the job the taxpayers of this city are paying you for. And remember, you’re a probationary employee for the next ninety days and I can fire you without cause or notice.Mr. Marshall nodded to the parking lot. G’head. G’on now.

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