At Close Range(9)

By: Laura Griffin


“Yeah? Well, congrats, Danno. It’s a big case. The DA’s all over it.”

“Already?”

“You bet your ass. It’s an election year.”

She shook her head and looked away.

“What?”

“You guys are vultures.”

By “you guys” she meant lawyers, and Scott didn’t disagree. But at least Drew worked for the prosecution. He’d been with the DA’s office since graduating top of his class at UT law.

Drew nudged Dani’s elbow. “What are you so touchy about? This is a headline grabber. It could make your career.”

“Jesus, Drew.”

“What?”

“Show some respect,” she said. “These people haven’t even been dead twenty-four hours.”

Drew shot Scott a What’s with her? look, no doubt pissing Dani off more.

She slid back from the table and stood. “I’ve got to get back to work.” She gave Scott a pointed look, and his pulse quickened. “I need those test results, ASAP. If you get anything at all, call me.”

“When I get something, you’ll be the first to know.”





CHAPTER 3




Dani swung into the driveway and stared at her darkened house. Her front-porch light was out and her hedges needed trimming. Not exactly a shining example of home security, but she’d been going full speed at work and hadn’t had time for anything else.

She grabbed her grocery bag and got out, glancing up and down the block at the familiar cars. Pretty quiet, even for a Monday. Only a few dog walkers out and a guy on the steps of his porch drinking a beer and talking on his phone. He lifted his bottle at Dani, and she gave him a wave.

She let herself inside, stepping over the pile of mail under the mail slot—ads, mostly, and a bunch of bills she didn’t want to think about. She scooped everything up and dumped it atop the sealed cardboard box beside her door.

Another stack of unopened mail greeted her in the kitchen as she dropped her frozen pizza on the counter and switched on the oven. She stripped off her jacket and holster and checked her phone for anything from Scott on the ballistics tests.

No battery left. She plugged the phone into the charger and debated whether to call him for an update. He’d said he’d let her know as soon as he had anything, but maybe he’d gotten sidetracked.

And maybe she was just looking for an excuse to call him.

She thought back to New Year’s Eve. One kiss, and her skin still flushed at the memory—which was nothing short of embarrassing. She couldn’t stop wondering what it meant to him, if anything.

Scott had been back in Texas four years now, and she’d seen him with plenty of women, but never the same one twice. The only thing that seemed to hold his attention was his job. She’d spotted his truck in the Delphi Center parking lot on weekends and evenings when she’d stopped by to deliver evidence, which probably shouldn’t have surprised her. He’d always been a hard worker.

Scott and Drew had started hanging out the summer after Scott’s mom died from breast cancer. Scott had a special talent for showing up at mealtimes, and Dani’s mother never blinked an eye, just set an extra place at the table and kept the food coming. It was the same summer Scott and Drew got jobs on a house-painting crew, and for three months they’d walked around with sunburned noses and flecks of paint in their hair. Scott would turn up at the breakfast table when Dani hadn’t even known he’d spent the night, and he and her brother would wolf down pancakes before heading out to paint houses or blow their hard-earned cash at the movie theater.

Scott had been quiet that summer, but it was a different sort of quiet from now. She’d sensed a change in him since he’d come back from combat. A fundamental shift. He seemed apart from everyone, even when he was in a room filled with people. Something about him was darker and more somber now, and Dani missed the playful glint in his eyes and the way the corner of his mouth would tick up whenever he teased her.

She shook off the memory as she slid her pizza in the oven. Another gourmet meal in her new kitchen. One of these days she was going to have to unpack and get organized.

The doorbell rang, and she glanced at the clock. She went to check the peephole and was surprised to see Ric. The look on his face had her yanking open the door.