Home > Brimstone Bound (Firebrand #1)(11)

Brimstone Bound (Firebrand #1)(11)
Author: Helen Harper

I couldn’t stop myself. ‘You don’t care that some poor person was killed right on the edge of our territory?’

For the first time I saw a flicker of emotion on Fred’s face. ‘Of course I care. But if it was a supe that did it, then the supes themselves will find the perp and deal with him – or her. If it was a human, CID will take the case from us. There’s nothing for us to do. There never is.’

I ground my teeth together and counted to ten. ‘I’ve lost my phone,’ I said. ‘Is there a landline I can use?’

Liza shrugged. ‘Over on that desk. Your temporary Supe Squad warrant card is there as well. It arrived this morning.’

I nodded my thanks. She dropped her gaze back to her magazine and Fred slumped back into the sofa. So much for London’s finest.

I found the phone under a pile of papers on the desk near the window and picked up the warrant card. The number was the same one I’d been given when I entered the Academy, but the symbol was different: the card was emblazoned with a small red crucifix on the bottom and a silver crown at the top. The card still had ‘Trainee’ stamped across it in big red letters. So much, so different. I slipped it into my pocket. At least I now had some form of ID.

I tapped my mouth thoughtfully, picked up the receiver and dialled my own number on the bizarre off-chance that my murderer would answer. It didn’t take long to hear the click that told me my phone was turned off. Oh well – it had been a long shot. I glanced at the helpful list of numbers taped to the desk. It was time to get creative and call someone else.

‘Hi,’ I said into the receiver, as soon as the operator answered. ‘I’m looking for one of your detective trainees, Molly Brigant. I need to speak to her urgently.’

‘Who is calling?’

I glanced over at Liza’s name tag. ‘Liza Faulkner at Supe Squad.’

Liza’s head snapped up and she frowned. I gave her a vague smile.

‘One moment please.’

‘What are you doing?’ Liza hissed.

I covered the mouthpiece with my hand. ‘I told you,’ I said. ‘I’ve lost my phone. I need to speak to my friend as soon as possible, and using your name seems the best way to go about it. It’ll be fine.’

‘Why don’t you use your own damned name?’

Because at least one person believes that I’m dead and, right now, I don’t want to dissuade them from that belief.

‘You’re more likely to be put through,’ I told her.

The expression on Liza’s face put me in mind of sour milk. Fortunately, I didn’t have to continue explaining myself because Molly came on the line. ‘Hello?’ she said uncertainly.

I breathed out. Praise be. ‘Molly, it’s me.’

‘Emma? What on earth are you doing calling me? I was told it was someone else.’

‘I’ve lost my phone. Long story. Look, I need to ask you a favour. It’s important.’

‘Go on,’ she said, confused.

‘A woman was killed at St Erbin’s Church last night. It’s just on the edge of Soho. I need you to find out whether CID has been tasked with the investigation, and what details they already have on the murder. In particular, if there are any suspects. I know you’re busy, but I wouldn’t ask if I had any choice.’

Molly let out a short laugh. ‘Right now I’m reading a manual on search and seizure regulations. I could do with the distraction. I’ll nose around. Let me see what I can find out and I’ll get back to you.’

‘Thank you so much.’ I read off the Supe Squad number and she noted it down.

‘Anyway, how are things with you, Ems? You sound different. Is Supernatural Squad really all that horrific?’

‘Honestly, Molly? I couldn’t even begin to explain. Don’t tell anyone you’ve spoken to me.’

‘What? Why?’

I couldn’t give her a quick answer, so I played chicken and pretended I’d not heard her before I mumbled a farewell and hung up.

‘We won’t get the case,’ Fred said. ‘There’s no point looking into it.’

‘It won’t do any harm.’ I wrinkled my nose. ‘What’s Tony’s number?’

‘Are you going to call him and pretend to be me again?’ Liza asked. The corners of her mouth turned down disapprovingly.

No, I didn’t want him to know I was in the office. ‘Why don’t you call him? Find out where he is.’ I paused. ‘And don’t tell him I’m here.’

Her eyes narrowed. ‘What exactly is going on?’

‘Please, Liza?’

She watched me for a moment. ‘You’re very strange.’

I couldn’t disagree. ‘Will you call him?’ I persisted.

She threw up her hands. ‘Alright.’ She reached for her mobile, fiddled with it for a moment then held it to her ear. ‘His phone’s turned off. It’s not ringing.’

I swallowed. ‘Is that normal?’

‘No.’ She jabbed another set of numbers and tried again. ‘He’s not picking up his home phone either.’ She looked at me. ‘What aren’t you telling us?’

‘Nothing. Do you have his address? If he doesn’t show up, I’ll nip round to his house and see if he’s there. Maybe he’s just not picking up the phone – although he’s probably at CID, like Fred said. The thing is, I’ve got some paperwork that needs signing off.’

It was clear that Liza didn’t believe me. ‘You seem like a nice person, Emma, and I’m sure if Tony were here, he wouldn’t mind you knowing where he lives. But until he tells me otherwise, I don’t feel comfortable passing information on. I can give you his mobile number if you want to call it again later. He might pick up in an hour or two.’

She was loyal; that was a tick in both Liza and Tony’s favour. It didn’t particularly help my cause, but I knew that I couldn’t argue with her.

‘Okay,’ I said. ‘I’ll take his number for now and wait here until he puts in an appearance.’ I gave her a brief smile to show there were no hard feelings.

Liza scribbled it down on a scrap of paper. ‘Is this his only mobile?’ I asked.

Fred shrugged. Liza pursed her lips. ‘He probably has another phone. We’re supposed to have separate ones for work and home. But I don’t know what the other number is.’

I rubbed my arms. Without my own phone to compare the records, I couldn’t tell if this number matched the one on the text message that had lured me to the graveyard. It wasn’t like I possessed a photographic memory, more’s the pity. Had Tony taken my phone after the attack so that it looked like I’d been mugged – and so he could also delete his text?

‘What’s going on, Emma?’ Liza folded her arms and frowned at me.

I avoided her gaze. I had to come up with something to explain my odd behaviour and my obvious anxiety to them. I certainly couldn’t tell them the truth – I barely believed it myself – but I had to give them something.

‘The reason I’ve been sent here on rotation is because I fucked up. This is my last chance to make things right or I’ll be out on my ear and I’ll never make detective.’

Even Fred perked up at that.

‘I think I’m onto something that will turn my fortunes around,’ I continued. ‘In fact, it’ll turn all of our fortunes around.’ My murder was probably enough to get Supe Squad shut down for good, so in that sense I wasn’t lying. ‘But I don’t want anyone to know what I’m up to. So if anyone comes looking for me, no matter who they are, can you tell them you’ve not seen me? I know it’s a big ask and that—’

‘Yeah,’ Fred said. ‘No problem.’

Liza pursed her lips but then she nodded. I must have looked surprised because she explained, ‘We’ve been where you are. If this is what you need, Emma, we’ll do our best. I didn’t give you Tony’s address out of respect for him. I can extend the same courtesy to you and stay mum on your behalf too. You should know that the only people who’ve escaped Supe Squad in the past have either died or retired – but hope springs eternal.’ She gave me a meaningful look. ‘Sooner or later, you’ll need to tell us what’s really happening. We don’t know you well enough to trust you completely.’

‘I’ll tell you everything as soon as I can. I promise.’ I lifted the receiver to make one last call. I knew this number by heart, and I also knew that at this time of day it would go straight to voicemail. Big brave policewoman, that was me.

‘Hi, Jeremy. I’m going to be away for a couple of days for a work thing. I’ll be too busy to get in touch and I’ve lost my phone, so don’t call. Look after yourself and don’t eat too much junk food. Big kisses.’ I put down the receiver.

Liza was watching me. ‘I hope you know what you’re doing,’ she said.

I smiled confidently.

I didn’t have a fucking clue.

***

Tony declined to show up. As I waited, my tension grew with every passing minute. To pass the time, I Googled ‘resurrection’ and ‘supes’, and searched the police database for any similar attacks on women. I came up short on every front.

I checked my pulse every twenty minutes or so, and every time it was still there. Liza caught me on more than one occasion but, while her eyes clouded with deepening suspicion, she didn’t utter a peep.

We were only interrupted once, when an American tourist who’d lost his wallet dropped by to see if it had been handed in. Unsurprisingly, it hadn’t been. As the bloke with the twang from the Southern states wouldn’t give Fred any more information to go on about where he’d last seen it, there was little we could do.

‘He was probably in one of the vamp strip joints,’ Liza said disdainfully.

‘There are vamp strip joints?’

   
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