Home > Dream Man(13)

Dream Man(13)
Author: Linda Howard

Dane snorted. “As far as I can tell, a psychic is just a psychotic with a couple of letters missing.”

“All right, all right.” Bonness still looked unhappy, but he flapped his hand at them in dismissal. “See what you can find out about her.”

Trammell was right behind him as they walked back to their desks. “What the hell’s the matter with you?” he muttered to Dane’s back.

“Whaddaya mean? You think I should have pretended to believe her?” “No, I mean you had a hard-on the size of a goddamn nightstick, and you were standing so close, you were about to poke her in the belly with it,” Trammell snapped.

Dane turned and glared at his partner, but he couldn’t think of any excuse to give. He didn’t know what had happened, only that from the minute she had turned those dark blue eyes on him, he’d had a boner so hard a cat couldn’t scratch it. He was still twitching. “Hell, I don’t know,” he finally said.

“If you’re that horny, partner, you’d better get the itch scratched before you get around her again. Either the lady’s very familiar with a knife, or she hangs out with someone who is. I wouldn’t want any of my body parts sticking out to draw her attention.”

“Stop worrying about my sex life,” Dane advised grimly. “We need to find out all we can about Marlie Keen.”

It had never made her angry before. Marlie was used to mingled disbelief and derision, but she had always felt an almost desperate need to make people believe, to convince them that she could help, that her claims were true. She felt no such need where Detective Hollister was concerned. She didn’t give a damn what that Neanderthal thought, assuming he was capable of such an advanced mental process.

Maybe it was because she had dreaded going to the police so much, with the full knowledge of how this could disrupt her carefully built life. Maybe it was simply that she had changed. But when he had been so insultingly dismissive, she had felt nothing but anger. She certainly wasn’t about to stay there and plead with him to believe her. She was already late to work, damn it, and though she had called in, she resented it that she had gone to so much trouble for nothing. She had put herself through the ordeal of recounting what she had seen, and that big jerk had called it bullshit!

Her movements were jerky as she negotiated the heavy traffic, and with sheer force of will she made herself calm down before she caused an accident. She had dealt with jerks before, many times. He was nothing new, except for the way he had moved so close to her, trying to intimidate her with his brute size. She had had to steel herself to face him, to allow him that close. He had used his masculinity as a weapon, knowing that any woman would feel threatened by a strange man looming over her like that, especially a man who looked as if he were hewn out of wood and ate nails for breakfast. In any good cop/bad cop routine, his looks would automatically make him the bad cop. No one in his right mind would expect leniency or consideration from that man.

She had almost panicked when he had moved so close. In her mind, she could still feel the heat his body had generated, overpowering the small space that had been between them. Furiously she wondered if he would have done that if she had been a man; her instinct said no. That was a tactic that men used only on women, the threat of touching. Odd that something so simple, so basic, could also be so frightening.

She shuddered. She couldn’t have borne it if he had touched her. She would have bolted like a total coward.

As late as she was, it was difficult to find a parking space at the bank where she worked. She had to circle the lot three times before a departing customer left an open slot that she managed to get to before someone else did. Then she sat in the car for several minutes, taking deep breaths and trying to achieve some sense of calm. She stared at the bank building, finding comfort in its solidity. Her job was such a nice, safe, passionless one, in accounting. She had chosen it deliberately, when she had moved here. Numbers didn’t bombard her with thoughts and feelings, didn’t ask for anything from her. Their qualities never varied; a zero was always a zero. All she had to do was align them into columns, feed them into a computer, keep track of their credits and debits. Numbers were always neat, never messy like human beings were.

And it felt good to support herself, even though she knew she didn’t have to. The small house she had made into a home had been bought outright for her, when she had decided that she wanted to live in Florida, on the opposite end of the country from Washington. Dr. Ewell would have arranged for her to receive a check each month, had she wanted; she hadn’t, preferring to finally stand alone, without all the support systems of the Association. Even now, all she had to do was pick up the telephone and tell Dr. Ewell that she needed help, and it would be provided. Though it hadn’t been his fault, hadn’t been anyone’s fault, Dr. Ewell was still dealing with his guilt over what had happened six years ago.

She sighed. She was paid by the hour; every minute she sat there was being deducted from her paycheck. Resolutely she pushed Detective Hollister out of her mind and got out of the car.

“Hey, doll, found anything interesting yet?” Detective Fredericka Brown, who answered only to “Freddie,” patted Dane on the head as she passed behind his chair. She was a tall, lanky, endearingly plain woman, with a habitually cheerful and amused expression that invited smiles. It was tough for a woman to be a cop in general, and a detective in particular, but Freddie had fit right in. She was blissfully married to a high school football coach, size huge, who looked as if he would tear limb from limb anyone who caused his Freddie the least upset. Freddie tended to treat all of the other detectives as if they were the teenage boys on her husband’s team, with a disconcerting blend of light flirtation and motherliness.

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