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.“Atropa belladonna is the best-known poisonous nightshade, but there are other varieties, such this one, carasonno.It was first cultivated by botanists who wanted to use it as a sedative without the hallucinogenic effects.They managed to breed out the hallucinations, but in doing so they sent the toxicity through the roof.This bottle probably cost her five hundred dollars on the black market.”“What kind of death is it?” she asked, looking back at the body.“It doesn’t look painful.”“It’s not.You become calm, even serene, and drift off to sleep; then your heart stops.It’s quite peaceful—in fact that’s why it’s been impossible to eliminate from the market even though it’s damn near impossible to grow.It’s generally used for euthanasia and suicide.If you just want someone dead, you don’t spend half a grand on poison, you spend twenty on belladonna.But if you want a gentle death, you find a carasonno dealer.She planned her death, probably for weeks.”“But why? I don’t understand.”“And we probably won’t until we find these people, including the one she was trying to protect.” He straightened and said into his Ear, [Sage, I need a forensics team at these coordinates immediately.I’m classifying this as a homicide.]“But you just said—“[Forensics team is en route, ETA ten minutes.]Jason took Sara by the arm and dragged her out of the room, back into the cold night.He informed Detective Lawrence that the SA was officially taking over the investigation—the Detective looked relieved at that, and by the time the SA forensics people had arrived APD was leaving.Sara kept back as she’d been told, watching Jason coordinate things at the scene, and didn’t say anything else until he had beckoned to her and they were on patrol again, walking away from the building and leaving the cleanup in the team’s capable hands.Before she could even ask, he said, “This is strictly off the record.”“Okay.”“Even in the SA, suicides get pushed under the rug whenever possible.Someone kills herself, the evidence she did so is right there, case closed.We have plenty of unsolved murders and ongoing crimes to devote our resources to.But if I call it homicide, the investigation continues.We get her dealer, we find her coven, we find out if that other woman is in danger and if the group is doing anything illegal.If it’s all part of a murder investigation that cuts the time and paperwork in half and it means I don’t have to spend the next two weeks persuading Ness to get me warrants.”He looked at her squarely, his expression and tone both deadly serious.“You, however, are under no circumstances allowed to do that kind of thing, and if I catch you violating case protocol you’ll be fired.Understood?”“Understood.What makes you think I won’t go blabbing to Ness about you dodging the rules?”A grim smile.“You’re still just enough afraid of me--and smart enough--not to do something so stupid.”“You know, somehow I don’t think I’ll be tempted.”“Good.Now, since we’ve lost an hour and a half we need to trim off part of our route; I think we’ll leave East Austin for Thursday and finish up here, then head back to base.”They took a shortcut through the park, and Sara’s mind was full of what she’d seen—she was frustrated, not knowing what had happened to that woman or even who she was.She understood that cases weren’t solved at the scene, but that didn’t make it easier to just walk away and mentally shift back to walking around the city looking for trouble.Suddenly, Jason stopped walking and stood stock-still in the middle of the sidewalk.Sara nearly ran into him, and there was just enough ice on the concrete that she slipped and had to grab his arm to keep from landing on her ass.Without commenting he basically picked her up and righted her with one hand.When she started to thank him, he shushed her.His eyes swept the park, from the stand of oaks twenty feet away to the homeless guy sleeping on a bench, and she saw one hand pass beneath the lapel of his coat.Dread closed around her throat as he drew and cocked his Beretta.[There’s something out there,] he said.[Stay close.]She was more than happy to; for once, she wanted to be in as near proximity to a gun as possible.Whatever he was hearing, if it had him on alert, it probably wasn’t good.A moment later, there was a flicker of movement in the trees, and several things happened at once: a shadow among the oaks resolved itself into a person who stepped out onto the sidewalk in front of them; Jason aimed his weapon at the person’s head; and the person slowly raised his hands, saying something…something Sara didn’t understand at all.Jason replied commandingly in the same language, and the stranger obligingly came forward, out into the street lamplight where they could see him.Sara’s mouth fell open.Silver, white, and grey hair fell down around his shoulders; a strand on either side had been pulled back and braided so that his pointed ears were visible.He regarded them through long-lashed, pale lavender-grey eyes that brought to mind a shadow on snow, from a high-cheekboned, almost feminine face [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]