Unscrewed(10)

By: Lois Greiman


Graystone grinned, but his eyes were hard. “Now, here’s something new, Bjorklund. They don’t usually lawyer up before they’re charged. When did you last speak to him, Ms. McMullen?”

“Listen,” I said, “I know my rights.” I didn’t really, but I was starting to consider reading up on that. “And I’m fully aware that I don’t need to address any questions until—”

“When?” he gritted, and stepped up close. His eyes were silver blue in the eerie lights of the cruisers. Fog shivered past. The crowd behind me seemed eons away, leaving me alone in a sea of uncertainty.

“Just a couple hours ago,” I said.

His expression didn’t waver, but his eyes flashed in the surreal lights. “Bjorklund!” He grabbed the younger officer’s arm, drew him close, murmured something short and quick.

“But—”

“Get your ass in there and do it.”

Then Bjorklund was gone.

“Is someone dead?” My words came by themselves. No thought processes involved.

“How long have you been his attorney?”

My attention snapped to him. The lights on the cruisers turned crazily. The world whirled with it. “What?”

He narrowed his eyes, a freight train slowing down, taking stock. His gaze didn’t shift, but he seemed to assess me just the same: the filmy blouse, the ridiculous skirt, the heels. He gave me his friendly face and drew a careful breath. “What’s your given name, Ms. McMullen?”

“Christina,” I said. What had happened? Where was Rivera?

“And your relationship to Mr. Rivera, Christina?”

Good question. Excellent question. “I’m a psychologist,” I said, straightening to my full height, just over six feet in the silver-bowed Guccis. “I’d like to see him.”

“You’re his psychologist?”

I had a friendly face, too, but I wasn’t about to waste it on him. “Is he in trouble?”

“Has he ever spoken to you of a Ms. Martinez?”

The name rang a tinny little bell in my brain but I couldn’t recognize the tune. “Not that I can recall.”

“She was…” He paused a second. His eyes gleamed as they skimmed toward my cleavage. “…a friend of his, too.”

The world felt suddenly cold.

“She was also the senator’s fiancée,” he added.

“I don’t…” Reality was a hard glacier pressed up against the world I wanted to have. “Was?”

Something feral gleamed in his eyes. “Was,” he repeated.

The earth seemed to be dropping away from me.

His gaze slipped lower, down my exposed legs to the little bows at my ankles. “Were you on a date, Christina?”

“What’s going on?” It was all I could manage.

“I’d like to ask you a few questions if—” he began, but at that instant hell exploded inside the house. Something shattered. Someone yelled.

And suddenly Graystone had a gun in his hand. He spun around and sprinted up the walkway to the house.

I went with him. I don’t remember ascending the front steps. Don’t remember passing the threshold. But suddenly I was there and no one stopped me. Like a feather on Graystone’s coattails.

The air smelled of taut nerves and melted chocolate.

The entry seemed hollow and empty. Marble clattered beneath my heels. The living room was vaulted, arched stucco doorways, Persian rugs, crowded with people. Lieutenant Jack Rivera lay facedown on its pale hardwood floor. Two men dug their knees in his back. His forehead was bleeding, a bright stain of crimson over crusted black, but he never saw me. His eyes glowed with rage. Veins stood out like swollen tributaries in his dark forearms.

I didn’t realize until sometime later that I had pressed my back up against the rough plaster of the wall behind me.

“Get the hell off me,” Rivera snarled, like a wild animal netted but not yet tranqed.

“Calm down. Just calm down.” The nearest standing cop had a gun trained at Rivera’s head. There was a bruise developing over the officer’s left eye. Another uniform was wiping blood from his nose with the back of his hand.

“What the hell’s going on here?” A man entered beside me. I cranked my head to the right, taking him in in strange blurps of frozen time. Big man. Black. Huge hands. Tired eyes. “Graystone?” he queried.

The blocky suit stepped forward. “Dispatch got a call at nine-twelve. Said there was trouble at this address.”

“Who called?”

“Don’t know that yet, sir.”

“Christ!” The big man’s gaze, thunderbolt-fast and midnight-dark, snapped to Rivera’s.

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