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.I doubted that some hyena had escaped from the zoo to rampage in a suburban bathroom.I let the bone drift back into the water, slowly, easing it down, because for some reason I really didn't want it to splash on me.I turned away from the bathtub, walked carefully to the doorway, stripped off the gloves, threw them in the sack that Zerbrowski held open for me, leaned against the doorjamb, removed the booties, threw them into the garbage sack, stepped out of that awful room, and kept walking until I hit the bedroom.The air seemed cleaner, more breathable here.Zerbrowski followed me out, and it was Merlioni who said, "She did it, didn't she?""Yep."Merlioni made a sort of crowing sound."I knew it, I won."I looked at him, then at Zerbrowski."I'm sorry, what did you say?"Zerbrowski didn't even look embarrassed when he said, "We had a bet going on whether you'd actually fish around in the tub."I sighed and shook my head."You are all such unmitigated bastards.""Unmitigated, ooh," said Merlioni, "if you use big words to insult us, Blake, we'll never figure it out."I looked back at Zerbrowski."It's a shape-shifter.I don't know if it's the same one.The first vic was done in her bed.Was the second?" He nodded."This was in the bath, and there's at least two bodies cut up in the bathtub.""Why two?" Zerbrowski asked."Because the pile is too damn high to be only one woman's body, especially since he ate parts of it.""You say 'he,' like you know."I shook my head."I don't know, but I'm assuming male, because you don't find many women willing to do this kind of shit.It happens, but it's rare.""We actually got a witness that the woman who owns the house and another girlfriend were seen entering the residence at about 2 A.M." Zerbrowski had his eyes closed, as if he were quoting."They appeared drunk, and there was a man with him.""You have a witness?" I asked."If the man who brought them home is the shape-shifter, and not part of what is in the bathtub, yeah."I hadn't thought about that."He could be in the tub.By the way, why is the water so deep, why isn't the overflow valve working?""Our rookie says a piece of body has been stuffed into the valve."I shivered."No wonder he freaking threw up.""I lost on that one," Merlioni said."Lost on what?" I asked."Most of us bet you'd be sick.""Who bet I wouldn't be?"Zerbrowski cleared his throat."Me.""What did you win?""Dinner for two at Tony's.""What did you win for me fishing in the tub?" I asked Merlioni."Money," he said.I shook my head."I hate you all." I started for the door."Wait, we got one more bet," Merlioni said, "who was the chickie on the phone when Zerbrowski woke you?"I was about to let loose a scathing comment, when a voice from the door stopped me."Haven't seen anything this bad since New Mexico?"I turned to find my favorite FBI agent in the doorway.Special Agent Bradley Bradford smiled and offered me his hand.55Bradley was with the Special Research Section; it was a new division set up to handle preternatural crime.We'd last worked together on some very gruesome murders in New Mexico.I took his firm handshake and gave one of my own.He smiled, and I think we were both actually glad to see each other.But his gaze swept the room until he found Zerbrowski."Sergeant Zerbrowski, you must be living right."Zerbrowski moved towards us."What do you mean, Agent Bradford?"He held up a slender manila folder."There's a store across the street from the club where the two women went to last night.The store got robbed last year and put in a very nice surveillance system."All the joking was gone; Zerbrowski was very serious all of a sudden."And?""They caught a picture of a man matching the neighbor's description with the two women last night.They walked right past the store window." He opened the folder."I took the liberty of getting a still made.""And passed it to all of your men," Merlioni said."No, detective, this is the only copy, and I brought it here first."Merlioni looked like he would have argued, but Zerbrowski cut him off."I don't care who solves this, as long as we get this guy.""I feel the same way," Bradley said.I didn't exactly believe Bradley.Last time we'd talked, his little division had been in jeopardy of being disbanded, and their cases given back to the Investigative Support-read Serial Killer-Unit.Bradley was one of the good guys, he really did care more about solving crimes than career advancement, but he also cared about his new unit.He felt strongly that the feds needed one.I agreed with him.So why was he handing over the only copy of the picture? Sharing made sense, simply giving it to us didn't."What do you think, Anita?" he asked me.I glanced down at the photo.It was black and white, pretty good quality actually.Two women were laughing up at the tall man in between them.The brunette on the left matched some of the pictures downstairs.I hadn't asked the name of the woman who owned the house.I hadn't wanted to know.Not knowing had made it easier to go into that bathroom and paw through the remains.The other woman looked vaguely familiar."Wasn't the woman in a group picture downstairs? It looked like it was taken at a party.""We'll check," Zerbrowski said."What about the man?" Bradley asked.I looked at the man in the picture.The man that might be our killer or might be at the bottom of the pile of bones in the bathtub was tall, broad-shouldered.Straight brown hair was pulled back into a long ponytail that one of the women was tugging on, playing with.The face was high cheek-boned, handsome.He wasn't like Richard handsome, but they reminded me oddly of each other, both tall, both broad-shouldered, both classically handsome.But there was something in this man's face even through the film that creeped me out.It was probably knowing that the two women were only hours away from being butchered.It was probably my imagination, but I didn't like the look on the man's face when he glanced up and spotted the camera.I realized that that was what the look was, why it looked strange."He spotted the camera," I said."What do you mean?" Zerbrowski asked."Look at his face, he didn't like being on film.""He probably knew what he was going to do to them," Merlioni said, "don't want to be seen with the vies before the murder.""Maybe, probably." I kept looking at his face, and I thought it was familiar."Do you recognize him?" Bradley asked.I stared up at him.His face was empty, guileless, but I didn't believe the innocent look."Why would I?""Well, he is a shape-shifter, if he's our man, I thought you might have seen him around."Bradley was lying, I could feel it.Even I wasn't tactless enough to accuse him of it to his face, but I was saved from having to come up with something to say by my cell phone ringing.I'd kept it with me today, hooked on the back of my belt, just in case Musette and company didn't go quietly out of town.Call me silly, but I just didn't trust them."Hello.""Is this Anita Blake?" It was a woman.I didn't recognize the voice."Yeah.""This is Detective O'Brien."Strangely, with all the vampire politics and the new murder I hadn't given much thought to the internationally wanted terrorist Leopold Heinrick."Detective O'Brien, good to hear from you, what's up?""We identified the two pictures you pulled.""Really, I'm impressed, the photos weren't that good.""Lieutenant Nicols, you met him once, he picked them out."It took me a second to place the name."The lieutenant that was in charge at Lindel Cemetery.""Yeah, that's the one.He picked out the same two pictures that you did, and since the two of you have only met once [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]