Home > The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10)(11)

The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10)(11)
Darynda Jones

“Oh, you do now. I forgot to tell you.”

“Charley,” she said with a gasp. “You’re subscribing me to porn magazines?”

“Only one.”

Before she protested too much—because the girl loved man parts as much as I did—the door opened, and two men walked in. Men with man parts, most likely. Coincidence?

I decided to pour all my energy into the art of making coffee as Cookie saw to our guests. We hadn’t had much action since we’d gotten back, so I doubted it was a potential client. They were probably selling vacuum cleaners or Ping-Pong balls or toothpaste. Wait, I needed toothpaste.

Fingers crossed.

Cookie stepped to the threshold of our adjoining door and announced the fact that there were two men in her office who’d like to see me immediately. If possible.

It was all very formal, very professional, like we were a real business again.

A giddy sensation rushed through me. I turned on the Bunn, hurried to sit behind my desk, and nodded to Cookie. “Show them in, please, Cookie.”

“Right away.”

Sadly, the first guy through the door was a jerk ADA named Nick Parker. No idea who the other guy was, but how great could he be with a friend like Nick Parker?

I stood but didn’t offer my hand in greeting. Nick didn’t take offense. He wasn’t about to offer his, either. He didn’t seem to like it when I proved people he was trying to prosecute innocent of the charges he filed against them. And I’d only done it to him once. Man could hold a grudge.

“This is Charley Davidson,” he said to his friend, an older man with an aging suit that had seen perhaps one too many decades.

For him, I held out my hand.

“This is Geoff Adams,” Parker said to me, and if the feeling of utter desolation weren’t enough to bowl me over, taking his hand and having that emotion injected straight into my heart via a handshake came close.

They were both upset, actually, but Mr. Adams was more so. Devastation had shredded him from the inside out. Someone had died. I’d have bet my last nickel-plated Glock on it.

“Please, sit,” I said, gesturing for them to do that very thing.

I sat as well and then took in Nick Parker, wondering if he was playing me. It was hard to get past the emotions of the older man, but I felt several coming from Nick the Prick, a nickname I’d given him the first time I met him. He’d ordered a drink from me. We were at the bar when my dad owned it, and he knew damned well I wasn’t a server. Yet, he snapped his fingers at me, an arrogant smirk on his face. I’d been itching to break those fingers ever since.

“What can I do for you?” I asked as coldly as I could.

Nick eyed me a long moment, then looked at Mr. Adams. Sensing he’d have to take the reins, he cleared his throat and said, “Mr. Adams’s daughter was murdered last week, and the main suspect is her boyfriend, a freelance artist named Lyle Fiske.”

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Adams,” I said as I jotted down names with a pink pen I’d stolen off Cookie’s desk.

I seemed to repel pens. I could never find one when I needed one. Unfortunately, I did not repel the departed, as was evident by the Asian woman—the one only I could see—who seemed very irritated with my desk lamp, if her tone was any indication. I could hardly blame her. That lamp was always causing problems.

I focused harder on the potential clients sitting before me. Another wave of grief crushed Mr. Adams, slicing into me as well, as though I were made of butter. I clenched my fist around the pen but didn’t block the flow of energy. I needed to feel everything they were feeling. Clients often lied to me. They often lied to themselves, so I rarely took offense.

But those lies, the ones that were so rehearsed the speaker believed them himself, were harder to detect. While the grief Mr. Adams suffered was painfully real, raw and cutting and visceral, I also caught a hint of guilt wreaking havoc on his frayed body. It shuddered through him with every breath he took, like an undiagnosed form of pneumonia rattling his lungs.

I didn’t know the case personally. I’d been out. But I did hear a smidgen of it on the news a couple of days ago.

“So, you want me to make sure the boyfriend goes to prison for the rest of his natural-born life,” I said.

It wasn’t a question, but Parker shook his head, anyway. “No. Lyle didn’t do this. He couldn’t have. We want you to do the exact opposite. We want you to prove his innocence and find who did this.”

I hadn’t expected that. I leaned back in my chair and tapped the pen on my chin. “Why don’t you think he did it?”

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