Darkfever / Page 9

Page 9


I entered the station through a tall wooden door set into a deep, high stone arch and checked in with the receptionist. “I’m MacKayla Lane.” I got right to the point. “My sister was murdered here last month. I’d like to see the detective that handled her case. I have new information for him.”

“Who’ve you been working with, luv?”

“Inspector O’Duffy. Patrick O’Duffy.”

“Sorry, luv. Our Patty’s out for a few days. I could set you an appointment with him on Thursday.”

An appointment on Thursday? I had a lead now. I didn’t want to wait three days. “Is there another inspector I could speak to about this?”

She shrugged. “Could. But you’ll be having the best of luck with the one who worked her case. If it were my sister, I’d be waiting for Patty.”

I shifted impatiently from foot to foot. The need to do something was burning a hole in my gut, but I wanted to do what was best for Alina, not what was the most immediate. “All right. I’ll take an appointment on Thursday. Do you have something in the morning?”

She put me down for the first appointment of the day.

I went to Alina’s place next.

Though her lease had been paid up through the end of the month—nonrefundable—I had no idea how long it might take to sort through her things and get everything boxed up to send back to Georgia, so I figured I’d better start now. I wasn’t about to leave a single shred of my sister four thousand miles from home.

There was police tape over the door, but it had been cut. I let myself in with the key Inspector O’Duffy had mailed to us in the small package of personal effects found on her body. Her apartment smelled just like her room back home, of peaches-and-cream candles, and Beautiful perfume.

It was dark inside, the shutters drawn. The pub below hadn’t yet opened for the day, so it was quiet as a tomb. I fumbled for the light switch. Though we’d been told her place was thoroughly ransacked, I wasn’t prepared for it. Fingerprint dust was everywhere. Everything breakable was broken: lamps, knickknacks, dishes, even the mirror set into the mantel above the gas fireplace. The sofa was sliced, cushions torn, books ripped up, bookcases smashed, and even the drapes were shredded. CDs crunched beneath my feet when I stepped into the living room.

Had this been done before or after she’d died? The police had offered no opinion on the timing. I didn’t know if what I was seeing was the by-product of mindless rage, or if the killer had been searching for something. Maybe the thing Alina had said we needed to find. Maybe he’d thought she had it already, whatever it was.

Alina’s body had turned up miles away, in a trash-filled alley on the opposite side of the River Liffey. I knew exactly where. I’d seen the crime-scene photos. Before I left Ireland, I knew I would end up in that alley, saying my last good-byes to her, but I was in no hurry to do so. This was bad enough.

In fact, five minutes in the place was all I could stand.

I locked up and hurried back down the steps, bursting from the narrow, windowless staircase into the foggy alley behind the bar. I was grateful that I had three and a half more weeks to deal with the situation before her lease expired. Next time I came, I’d be braced for what I would find. Next time I came, I’d be armed with boxes, trash bags, and a broom.

Next time I came, I told myself, as I dragged a sleeve across my cheek, I wouldn’t cry.

I spent the rest of the morning and a good part of a drizzly afternoon holed up in an Internet café, trying to track down the thing Alina had said we needed to find—a shi-sadu. I tried every search engine. I asked Jeeves. I ran text searches in local online newspapers hoping for a hit. Problem was, I didn’t know how to spell it; I didn’t know if it was a person, place, or thing, and no matter how many times I listened to the message, I still wasn’t sure I understood what she was saying.

Just for the heck of it, I decided to hunt for the odd word the old woman had said last night—too-ah-day. I had no luck with that, either.

A few hours into my frustrating search—I shot off several e-mails too, including an emotional one to my parents—I ordered another coffee and asked two cute Irish guys behind the counter who looked about my age if they had any idea what a shi-sadu was.

They didn’t.

“How about a too-ah-day?” I asked, expecting the same answer.

“Too-ah-day?” the dark-haired one repeated, with a slightly different inflection than I’d used.

I nodded. “An old woman in a pub said it to me last night. Any idea what it means?”

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