to prefer using other means to get the things she wanted. Judging by the way she’d prospered, it was a reasonable guess that she was pretty good at that.
The look on her face was haughty, her eyebrows lifted like a distant pair of birds in flight. And then she looked down at the floor, and her whole expression changed.
Although…I wasn’t really certain what to, during those first few seconds. Her face didn’t seem sure what shape it wanted to take. As if a dozen different emotions were clashing across it, disbelief and denial at one end of the scale, fright and anger at the other.
Partly she was confused, and I gave her that. But it seemed to me like she was trying to choose what to show the rest of us.
She finally decided. Her mouth contracted and her eyes grew very wide.
She came hurrying forward with tears welling up in her eyes. And was practically touching the corpse, when Saul grabbed her gently by the shoulders.
“Let go of me, you imbecile!”
She lashed out at him, catching him on the cheek with her long fingernails. But Saul hung on, moving his grasp down so that her upper arms were pinned to her sides.
“This is a crime scene, Miss,” he told her. “I’m genuinely sorry, but you can’t do that.”
She seemed to think it over, and then quieted down. Her chest was going like a bellows, but no more tears came spilling out. Looking at her carefully, I could see her cheeks were barely wet.
The forensics guys were both watching the scene unhappily, as was Hugh Williams, who’d come stumbling along behind her. Cassie hadn’t even moved. She was still standing by the glass, her arms folded in front of her. And by the steadiness of her gaze, I could see she wasn’t impressed by the woman either. But then, Cass generally has little time for wealthy folk and their petty antics.
Millicent stared around at us.
“Who’d do such a thing?” she blurted. “He was such a well-loved man.”
Saul let go of her and straightened his tie. A spot of blood had appeared on his cheek, but he just ignored it. In fact, he looked as solemn as an undertaker. People tend to forget that dealing with not merely death, but bereavement, is a major part of a cop’s job.
“I know,” he nodded quietly. “And I understand how you must feel. We’re going to do everything we can to get to the bottom of this.”
Which didn’t seem to reassure her even a tiny bit. Her eyes took on a fiery glitter, venom creeping back into her voice.
“You’re treating this like a normal case?”
It was the first time in ages I had seen Saul look so flustered.
“We’re giving it top priority, Miss Tollburn. You have my word.”
“And where are the others? Vernon? The McGinleys? He was one of theirs! Why aren’t they here?”
Which was not police business, but Saul still felt obliged to answer.
“The judge was here earlier. He alerted us, in fact. You know perfectly well—Miss—that we have an understanding with the adepts in cases like this. If there’s nothing supernatural involved, then it’s up to my department and to no one else. And there seems to be no magic here.”
“You’re treating this as commonplace? The death of the most revered man in this entire town?”
“I know. Again, I’m sorry.”
She took a step back, something happening to her features once again. Softer quivers played across them, the small muscles working by themselves. And I thought I saw a strange glint in her piercing gaze. Then her face rearranged itself until it gave away precisely nothing. The dampness of her stare was like a pane of opaque glass. And when she spoke again, her tone was mollified.
“All right, then. I understand your position and respect it. But can I stay a little while, at least?”
I saw Cass jut her lower lip out. And Saul looked extremely doubtful.
“To be honest, it would be much better—”
“Yes,” she cut him off. “I know what the procedure is. But my Poppy and I were very close, and