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Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 15

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Isabel parked the unobtrusive rental beside a small Ford with a dented rear bumper, and they both got out. She went immediately to the room in front of the Ford and knocked quietly.

The door opened. “What, no pizza?”

“I forgot,” Isabel said apologetically, stepping into the room.

“You owe me one. Hey, Chief,” Paige Gilbert said. “Come on in.”

“We’re just concerned,” Hollis told Ginny quietly.

The younger woman shifted a bit in her chair at the conference table, then said, “I appreciate that. I really do. But I’m fine. In a few more months, I’ll have enough saved to move out on my own.”

“And until then?”

“Until then I’ll just stay out of his way.”

“Like you did last night?” Hollis shook her head. “You’ve had enough training to know better, Ginny. He’s mad at the world and you’re his punching bag. He won’t stop until somebody makes him.”

“When I move out-”

“He’ll go back to beating your mother.”

“I didn’t tell you that.”

“You didn’t have to.”

Ginny slumped in her chair. “No. It’s textbook, isn’t it? He’s a bully who beat her up until I got old enough to intervene, and now he hits me. When I’m not fast enough to stay out of his reach, that is. Usually, he’s so drunk he passes out or knocks himself out trashing the house, at least now that he’s older.”

“Your mother?”

“I haven’t been able to talk her into leaving him. But once I’m out, I think she’ll go live with her sister in Columbia.”

“And what will he do?”

“Go down the drain, probably. He hasn’t had a regular job in years because of his temper. He’s stupid and sullen and-like you said-mad at the world. Because, of course, it’s not his fault that his life sucks. It’s never his fault.”

“It isn’t your fault,” Hollis said. “But when he goes too far and assaults someone else, or drives drunk and causes an accident, or does something else stupid and destructive, you’ll blame yourself. Won’t you?”

Ginny was silent.

“You’re a cop, Ginny. You know what you have to do. Press charges, see that he’s locked up or forced into some kind of treatment program, or whatever it takes to defuse the situation.”

“I know. I know that. But it’s hard to…”

“To take it all public. Yes, it is. Maybe one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But doing it will take away his power. It’s his shame you’ll be showing the world, not yours. Not your mother’s. His.”

Biting her bottom lip, Ginny said, “It’s mostly the guys here that I think about. I mean, I took the training, I know self-defense, and still he hits me. So what’re they going to think? That I’m some weak little girly-girl who needs them to protect me all the time? I wouldn’t be able to take that.”

“You might get that reaction at first,” Hollis admitted. “Not because they think you aren’t capable, but because they wouldn’t have become cops if they didn’t want to help people. Protect people. Especially one of their own. But you’ll show them, in time. Earn another marksman’s medal or another belt in your karate classes, and they’ll notice.”

“How did you know-”

“A little birdie told me.” Hollis smiled. “Look, the point is that you have friends. And they’ll be supportive. But this is not the time to back off, to avoid taking action against your father. With this killer on the loose, everybody’s on edge and in full defensive mode. If your father pushes anybody the wrong way, he’s likely to provoke a situation with a tragic outcome.”

“You’re right.” Ginny got to her feet and managed a smile. “Thank you, Hollis. And thank Isabel for me, will you? If you hadn’t said something, I probably would have let this go on, and God knows what might have happened.”

“You have friends,” Hollis repeated. “Including us. Don’t forget that.”

“No. No, I won’t. Thanks.” She went quietly from the conference room.

Hollis sat there frowning in silence for a moment, her gaze fixed on the bulletin boards covered with photographs and reports, then reached for her cell phone and punched in a number.

“Yeah.”

“I know this isn’t a good time,” Hollis said, “but when you’ve finished up there, ask Rafe about the McBrayer household, will you? He might know just how volatile Hank McBrayer is, how dangerous.”

“She’s going to press charges?”

“I think so. And I have a very bad feeling about how he might react.”

“Okay. Keep her busy there, if you can; she might feel the need to go confront him before she takes official action.”

“Shit. Okay, I will. Oh-and we’ve got a small lead on Kate Murphy; after the latest round of radio announcements asking for help, a witness came forward to report he thinks he might have seen her getting on a bus the day she disappeared. We’re checking it out.”

“Good. It’d be nice to know we aren’t looking for another body. Yet.”

“I’ll say. How’s it going there?”

“I’ll fill you in when I get back.”

“That bad, huh?”

Tense is the word I’d use. Talk to you later.”

“Is who going to press charges?” Rafe asked as Isabel ended the call.

“Tell you later.”

He frowned at her. “I am not tense.”

Isabel lifted both brows at Paige.

“He’s tense,” Paige said.

Rafe, sitting on one of the two rather unsteady chairs near the front window, rubbed the back of his neck and stared at the two women warily. “I’m still trying to deal with you being a fed,” he told Paige. “And the fact that you’ve been here longer than Isabel.”

Isabel shook her head. She was sitting in the other rickety chair, both of which faced Paige, who sat on the bed. “I’m still pissed at Bishop for that part of it. All the time I was arguing with him about sending me down here, and he already had an agent in place-and had sent her here right after the first murder, even before you asked for a profile.”

“Not much gets past him,” Paige reminded Isabel. “Neither of them has said, but I get the feeling he and Miranda keep an eye on any investigations that might even possibly involve any of the killers in our cold-case files. Hell, Kendra probably wrote a program for them purely to do that-scan all the police and law-enforcement databases looking for specific details or keywords.”

“He might have told me,” Isabel said.

“And he might have told Hollis why she was supposed to make sure Rafe knew you understood Latin. Of course, if he had, then she might have been self-conscious about what she was doing, and Rafe might have picked up on the wrong part of the conversation, and you might never have had to bring him to me to find out if he’s psychic because he’d be dead.”

“If my vote counts,” Rafe said, “I vote we let Bishop continue to do things his own way.”

“Okay, point taken. But Hollis is right: one of these days, one of us is going to have to sit down and have a long talk with Bishop and Miranda about the philosophical and actual consequences of playing God.”

“Later,” Rafe said. “Can we please do what we came here to do and find out what’s going on inside my head? How do we find out, by the way? And does it involve something unspeakable like… chicken entrails?”

“What have you been reading?” Paige demanded.

“Well, since nobody offered me a copy of the psychic newsletter…”

Isabel frowned and looked at Paige. “Isn’t that a joke Maggie uses sometimes?”

Paige nodded, her gaze thoughtfully fixed on Rafe. “Yeah. He’s very plugged-in. Aside from Beau, I’ve never met anybody else who could do that. He’s sort of picked up the rhythm of the way you talk too.”

“Yeah, I noticed that.”

“Ladies, please.” Rafe was beginning to look profoundly uneasy.

“Oh, you’re psychic,” Paige said matter-of-factly.

Rafe had braced himself to be told that, but the abruptness and utter calm of the disclosure threw him more than a little. “You don’t have to touch me to make sure?”

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