At Close Range(7)

By: Laura Griffin


“That’s right. What about fibers or anything else inside the car?”

“I vacuumed up plenty of stuff from the floor mats and upholstery, but so far nothing jumps out as unusual.”

Dani glanced around the lab, feeling deflated. Bullets, tire impressions, fingerprints, and fibers—all amounting to nothing at this point. The car alone should have been a treasure trove of evidence, but she had no new leads. So much for lighting a fire under everyone.

“How long on that tire tread?” she asked Roland.

“Tomorrow afternoon, maybe?”

She scowled.

“What? I spent all morning on your slug and just got slammed with a shit ton of evidence from El Paso. You can’t always be front of the line, babe.”

“Help me out, Roland.”

He sighed. “Lunch tomorrow. That’s best I can do. You want something sooner, go hit up Scott.”

Dani found her way through a labyrinth of hallways and followed the sound of gunfire to the ballistics wing, Scott’s domain. He’d been working there as Delphi’s chief firearms examiner ever since a knee injury had forced him out of the SEAL teams. Scott was good at his job and had a knack for explaining ballistics to laypeople, so prosecutors liked to put him on the witness stand. He’d built quite a reputation for himself in his new field, but he was an adrenaline junkie and Dani knew he missed jumping out of airplanes and fighting terrorists.

Dani got a flutter in her stomach as she neared the firearms lab. Seeing Scott last night had been weird. Fifteen years she’d known him, and he’d always treated her like Drew Harper’s kid sister. And then for the past six months he hadn’t treated her like anything at all. He hadn’t said so much as a word to her since New Year’s Eve, when they’d shared a drunken kiss in the parking lot of a sports bar. Afterward had been one of those surreal Did that just happen? moments. They’d both been wasted, and Dani wouldn’t even have thought Scott remembered it except that he’d pointedly ignored her ever since.

Until last night.

Not that he’d said anything. But they’d been in close proximity for hours, and the memory had hovered between them like an electric charge.

Dani reached the firearms lab and peered through the window to see a man in tactical pants and a black golf shirt loading a magazine. She rapped loudly on the window, but he didn’t hear her because of his ear protectors. She waved her arms and he glanced up.

Young. Stocky. High and tight haircut. She didn’t recognize the guy, and he looked fresh out of the military. He walked over and opened the door.

“Is Scott around?”

“No, ma’am.” His gaze darted to the badge clipped beside her gun. “He went home for the day.”

“Home? It’s barely one.”

“He was here all night. Him and Travis. Some big murder case came in.”

“Is Travis here?”

“No, ma’am. He left, too.”

She gritted her teeth.

“You might try Smoky J’s. The barbecue place? They were talking about grabbing something to eat. They left ’bout twenty minutes ago, so if you hurry, you might catch them.”

• • •

Scott knew the instant she walked in. He’d had his eye on the door, half expecting her to track him down.

“Hey,” she said, dropping into the chair beside him.

“Hey.”

“We were just talking about you, Dani,” Travis said around a mouthful of food. “How’s the case coming?”

“It’s coming.” She looked at Scott. She wore her usual jeans, along with a lightweight blazer that covered her Glock 23. Her shiny dark hair was loose around her shoulders, and she’d obviously had a chance to clean up since last night. Unlike him.

“Want some lunch?” Travis nodded at his plate. “I’ve got more than I can eat here.”

She glanced at the barbecued ribs and winced, confirming Scott’s suspicion that she’d attended the autopsies earlier. “No, thanks. I’m checking in on that evidence.” She pinned her gaze on Scott. “You finished with those shell casings yet?”

“Yep.”

“And?”

“No hits.” He chomped into his brisket sandwich.