“This article is from the Boston Herald,” I said, though my determination was starting to waver. “Are you saying it’s a lie?”
“I’m saying I’ve never heard of those boys, and that Tom wasn’t working on a kidnapping case with me.” Captain Randall’s voice was firm. “Look, Chandler, I know you’re upset that he’s gone, but there’s nothing more to do than move on. If you’re not going to do your job, the door’s there. Otherwise, take your paperwork and get out of my office.”
“I—” I clamped my lips together, choosing my words carefully before the Captain really did give me the boot. “Sir, I would appreciate it if I could at least take a look at the file regarding Tom’s death. I just don’t believe he died in a fire.”
“You’ll get your files tomorrow,” he said. “Today, you’re to finish that paperwork and get familiar with the way we do things around here. Just because you’re here to work on Tom’s case—a case which I don’t believe needs further investigating, by the way—doesn’t mean you won’t be expected to help out the department as needed. Have I made myself clear?”
“Crystal,” I bit out.
He turned back to his computer. “Good. You’re dismissed.”
I gnashed my teeth against the protest bubbling up in my throat, knowing that if he turned back to look at me again, it would be the last time he ever did. So instead of pushing the matter, I grabbed my stack of paperwork, then headed out into the bullpen to find a seat.
The sooner I did that, the sooner I could figure out why Captain Randall was lying to me, and what really happened to my fiancé and those missing kids.
The bullpen here was a quarter of the size of the one back at my old precinct in Chicago. It was a rectangular space separated from the sergeants’ offices by a wall that was high enough to shield the cops that sat at their desks typing reports, but low enough that you could easily peer over the top to check on them if you wanted to.
As I walked through the area, searching for my desk, I caught sight of a man on his hands and knees next to his desk, muttering curses under his breath as he pawed at the scratched tile floor. He was a stocky guy with short, wavy brown hair, dressed in a pair of black slacks and a button-down blue shirt. I could tell he was a detective by the shiny detective’s shield winking at his belt, not far from the gun holstered at his side.
“Hey there,” I said, approaching him cautiously so as not to startle him. I didn’t need him banging his head on the desk or something. “Need some help?”
The man raised his head, his dark eyes narrowing as he took me in. I pegged his age at around forty from the weathered lines in his square face. “You’re Brooke Chandler?”
“Yeah. You know my name?”
“Of course. I’m Guy Baxter.” He gestured to the tile. “One of my contact lenses popped out, so if you wouldn’t mind helping me look for it…”
“Sure, of course.” I crouched beside him, then carefully began scanning the area.
“While we’re here, guess I’d better give you the basics about me,” he said as he resumed hunting for his contact lens. “I’m forty-two, twice-divorced, no kids, and a workaholic. There might not be as much crime here in Salem as there is in Chicago, but I’ve been working at this precinct for ten years now, and anybody here can tell you, I prefer to burn the midnight oil. I hope you can keep up with that.”
“Sounds perfect,” I said, shrugging my shoulders. I was going to need him to help me out since I technically didn’t have any jurisdiction here, so the more available he was, the better.
“You Catholic?” Baxter asked.
“Huh?” I turned to look at him with a frown.
“The cross on your neck.” Baxter’s eyes fixed on my chest, and I realized the chain I’d tucked beneath my turtleneck had somehow slipped out and was dangling forward. “I assumed you were religious.”
“Oh.” I touched the tiny silver cross, and emotion welled up in my chest so fast that tears actually sprang to my eyes. I pushed them back, along with my feelings, and returned my hand to the ground. “It was my fiancé’s. He gave it to me a few months before he came out here.”
“Oh, yeah. Tom Garrison.” Baxter’s tough-guy face softened a little with sympathy, and he nodded. “I never got to meet him, but I heard he was a good cop. Anyway, my brother is a priest, and he runs the Gateway Church off Liberty Street, so I figured I’d say you should stop by there.”
“Oh, well, thank you.” I smiled. “Maybe I will sometime.”
My hand brushed against the sticky plastic of the contact lens, and triumph rushed through me. But before I could say anything, a vision burst into my mind, and I sucked in a breath.
Standing right here, just on the other side of this desk, was my fiancé. And he was talking to Detective Baxter.
The vision was gone as quickly as it came. Anger rushed through me, and I whipped my head to the side to confront Baxter. “Are you sure you’ve never met Tom?”
“Sure as the ground beneath my feet.” Confusion filled Baxter’s eyes as he narrowed them. “Why?”
“I—” The words caught in my throat, and I pressed my lips together. What was I going to tell him, that I’d just seen a vision of him and Tom talking together? He’d say I was crazy, and anyone else would believe the same. My ability wasn’t normal, and as far as I could tell, Baxter was a regular guy.
But if that was the case, then why was he telling me he’d never met Tom when the vision I’d had clearly indicated otherwise?
“Never mind,” I said quickly, then plucked the lens from the tile and held it out to him. “Here’s your contact.”
“Great. Thanks.” Confusion morphed into relief as he took it from me, then rose. “I’d better go and wash this off.”
I stood with him, and just as I got to my feet, another detective passed by us on the way to his desk. On a hunch, I reached out and snagged him by the elbow, pulling him to a stop.
“Hi,” I said, flashing him a smile. “I’m Brooke Chandler, the new detective in town.”
He smiled back, the annoyance melting from his oriental features. “Bobby Yan. Nice to see a new face here.”