“Oh, he’s definitely not dead.” The way Murrell lounged made it seem as though he were simply relaxing at a friend’s house, not quite at home but with people he knew wouldn’t or couldn’t hurt him. I ground my teeth.
“How do you know?” Alex asked from his seat beside me. Alex was more affable and the fact that Murrell seemed inclined to talk to him made Alex the best candidate for good cop. So I had decided to loom menacingly, arms crossed in a way that emphasized my muscles as I leaned against the wall behind and to the side of Murrell. Keeping myself in his periphery and at his back would make him nervous and more willing to talk to Alex’s friendly face. At least that was how it usually went. He’d kept his relaxed but muted demeanor for the past week. The weekend trip for Ryan’s birthday ended yesterday and I fully expected to hear about Keelan trying to push his way into the precinct again. The sooner Murrell was dealt with the better.
Murrell lifted one shoulder, tilting his head toward it in a shrug that exposed his jugular, then let it fall. It was an irritating mix of submission and insubordination.
I slammed both hands on the table between Alex and Murrell allowing enough space between my palms to lean down, elbows jutting to the side, putting myself at Murrell’s eye level. I’d seen his jaw tense for a moment, proving he wasn’t quite so relaxed after all. I nodded my head to the photos of the body that never made it back to the morgue. “Paul Winter talked to you two days before you escaped.”
Murrell, for his part, didn’t recoil or even blanch. Instead, he seemed rather obsessed with pushing my buttons. A lazy smile consumed his features as he leaned forward, settling his chin on one of his hands. If there’d been more chain connecting the cuffs, I could imagine him putting his chin in both hands to further fray my tolerance. “If you suspend your prejudice for a minute, you might learn something. Say pretty please.” I narrowed my eyes. “Or maybe Keelan-”
I hadn’t even been aware my hand had formed a fist by the time it connected with his jaw. His head snapped back and he spat a wad of blood on the table where it rolled like molasses toward the end of the table that was just a hair lower. Alex started from his chair and shoved me back against the wall.
“No, you’re right,” Murrell grinned, teeth smeared with his own blood. “He probably already knows.” I growled.
Alex slammed his arm into my chest again, recalling my attention. “Pull it together,” he snarled.
Alex watched as I leaned in the corner by the mirror to minimize temptation. Maybe I should’ve left the room, but that was too far from temptation. This time when I crossed my arms, it was to hold them still. I didn’t know why I felt like an IED with a rusted spring, but I’d been feeling more restless as the hours ticked by. Alex turned back to Murrell. “So. You wanted to tell us something?”
“You’re no fun.” Murrell’s face made a irritated moue.
“By all means,” Alex said spreading his arms, “continue to act out. Let’s see how pretty your face is tomorrow.” Murrell ran his tongue along his teeth apparently sucking the blood away; when he opened his mouth to speak there were only hints of darker read lining the white bone.
“As you wish. Doesn’t bother me either way. Twinks love scars.” He winked at Alex, causing the usually calm alpha’s jaw to tick. Murrell’s focus shifted to the mirrored wall behind us, admiring the rip his lip had taken and checking his teeth.
I opened my mouth ready to tell him off as a woman in a navy blue skirt suit walked in. “Hello,” she nodded at each of us respectively, ending on Murrell. “I’m Learza from the Regional DA’s office.”
Her very name had weight as it belonged to one of the most infamous of shifter races. Dragons each possess one name. It’s not that they don’t have familial names or that they use the historical ‘son’ or ‘daughter of’ either. The first one or two syllables are familial following the alpha line while the last part denotes the individual themselves. In this case ‘Lea’ was her family name and ‘rza’ her given name. The two are never separated. It’s like announcing where you’re from as well as who you are to anyone you meet, and the Lea clan were one of the oldest. Alex stood as she took the seat beside his, waiting for her to indicate he could sit again. He didn’t.
She sat a briefcase on the table and without even looking up said, “Thank you gentlemen, I’ll take it from here.”
“What?” and “Excuse me?” erupted from Alex and I nearly in unison. Murrell was our suspect, our collar.
“Riley. Lovett.” My eyes found the source of the voice and the look the Captain gave was nothing short of a command. I sighed stiffly through my nose and could practically hear Alex’s teeth protest the grinding he was putting them through, but there was nothing we could do.
My last glance of Murrell was of him leaning back in his chair. His hands, where they lay folded on the table, were as close to him as the chain would allow and his eyes were fixed on Learza warily.
“What the hell, Cap?” Alex demanded as I shut the interrogation door. He just pressed his lips together, glancing behind Alex and I, and signaled us to follow. I turned to see two men, both wearing nice suits. The taller man with a faux-hawk went into the viewing room while the smaller man, descriptive insofar as he was nondescript, entered the interrogation room itself. As soon as the door to his office closed, the Captain let out a growl of his own.
“Captain?” I asked, concerned. “I thought we were holding him for the FBI.” They should’ve picked him up within a day or two of his capture, but I hadn’t been ready to look a gift horse in the mouth. Maybe I should’ve.
“Why is an ADA from the Yellowstone Pact here?” Alex asked. “Scratch that, why is a Lea dragon here?”
Captain Thurgood looked between us for a moment before responding. “Remember that great white?” We nodded. “He was undercover Sentinel.” The Sentinels were like the inhuman version of the FBI. It had been created when Yellowstone, and it’s subsidiaries, was acknowledged as a territory of the United States. Although this relegated them to lesser political status within the US, they were given more autonomy and operated more like a completely separate but allied country than a territory.
“So Murrell wasn’t lying about Avery?” Alex asked.
“I don’t know.” He glared at the door as if he could see through it and several walls into the interrogation room. “But we can’t afford to offend them while we’re trying to join them.” When he looked back at us, his eyes were stony. “They’re taking over the operation and I’m officially telling you to stay away from this. Understand?” He looked between us pointedly.
“Sir,” I said with a nod as Alex said, “Yessir.”
Outside, Alex paused, pursing his lips. “So what are we really going to do about it?”
“Chase collected his bounty, right?” I smiled and wondered for a moment what it must look like in the red light of the setting sun. “Think he’s still in town?” If my smile looked anything like Alex’s at that moment, it was no wonder officer Yang gave us a wide berth on her way to her car.