Home > Downpour (Greywalker #6)(2)

Downpour (Greywalker #6)(2)
Author: Kat Richardson

Nan nodded. “I’ve worked with him.” She stopped talking and studied me a moment in silence. The wisps of blue and yellow energy that always coiled around her office stirred a cold draft and I shivered. “Tell me about this other case.”

Relief spread through me: She hadn’t decided to take a hard line with me about her own case taking precedence, at least not yet. I took a sip of my cold coffee and returned the cup to the table with care before I looked back at Nan. “Sometime in late 2005 or early 2006, a Lake Crescent–area resident named Steven Leung and his 2001 Subaru Forester disappeared. He was sixty-seven years old, retired from the Clallam County assessor’s office, widower, two surviving daughters. A witness claims Leung was killed in a car fire on East Beach Road and the details he provided point to vehicular homicide. I can’t find a record of any similar accident in that area in the past ten years, but the telling thing—the thing that persuades me this isn’t a hoax—is that all information about Leung just stops by April 2006. There’s nothing. It’s as if the man stepped off the planet and no one cared—not even his survivors, who never filed a missing person report.”

“Could Leung have moved out of state or entered some kind of medical care?”

“There’s no forwarding address for him so far. Even if he was in a nursing home all this time, his mail would have to go somewhere. There’s no death certificate or record of cremation or burial in Clallam, Kitsap, Pierce, or King County and no record of his car being sold or the registration renewed by anyone. There’s no release of interest to indicate he’d transferred ownership to a wrecking yard or charity, either. The only other lead I have is that the witness said something about an area called ‘Blood Lake.’ It sounds like a local place-name, but I didn’t have time to look for it before this meeting today.”

“I don’t find this missing person case that’s five years cold particularly compelling.”

She didn’t ask what I wasn’t telling her; she just fixed her commanding gaze on me and waited. I wasn’t sure how to persuade her; I couldn’t say that I had it from the ghost himself that someone had done him in and that there might be a lot more to the situation than a simple disappearance. I made up my mind and leaned forward.

The motion made me wince as the muscles in my back and abdomen pulled unevenly. I still hadn’t rebuilt all the tissue destroyed by the passage of a .45-caliber bullet through my middle and I didn’t move as fluidly as I once had. “I think it’s murder, Nan. You know that every delay in pursuing something like this lowers the chance of solving it. And yes, I know it’s five years old already, but how long should anyone have to wait for justice?”

She studied me for a few long seconds before she replied. “Are you sure you’re in condition to pursue an undetected homicide?”

“Am I in shape to chase down an unprosecuted corporate malfeasance complaint?”

Nan gave it some thought. “All right. Chase Shea for a few more days while you work your case, just to see where it leads. If you turn up enough to justify continuing, so be it. If not, I’ll expect you back on my pretrial work immediately. In the meantime, call Feldman and brief him on the malfeasance case to date and get him to work before you leave town.” She stood up and took the report file off the table. “Is there anything further on this witness?”

“Not from me.”

“Good. I need a report Monday.” She turned and strode out, which was pretty much the only way Nan walked. She was disappointed, but she didn’t give any outward demonstration. She never showed an emotion outside the courtroom that I knew of, and I wouldn’t have been able to guess what she was feeling if I hadn’t had the ability to see the colors of energy that cling and swirl around most people.

Auras and energy lines didn’t seem as blazingly bright or vibrantly colored to me as they had before I was shot. But they’d been getting a little out of hand by then anyhow, and I was just as glad that—except around Lake Crescent—the colors had faded a bit and I no longer heard a constant, inescapable singing and whispering in my head. It made me feel more human to know there were limits to what I could do and see.

There had been moments during that last, horrific investigation when I’d felt I wasn’t all that human anymore at all. The power to sink to the grid itself and to move the threads of magic, to tear them apart and push them around with impunity, had been too seductive, too alien. I’d have been just as glad to have lost that, though I hadn’t really checked the limits of my abilities yet. As I’d been warned, dying without direction had been like slamming a fist down on the magical Reset button. I believed I’d reverted to a lower, weaker state of interaction with the Grey or at least something on a less godlike scale. That was fine by me.

I gathered my papers and headed back to my own office to track down more information on Steven Leung. Outside, the February sky was the dull color of an old galvanized bucket, but it hadn’t yet begun to rain and if I walked as briskly as I could, I’d make it back to my office dry.


It’s amazing how much information resides in databases and on Web sites if you know where to look and how to pry. I do a lot of my investigative work from my computer or in records offices while someone else pokes their specialized electronic beast for me. Even a lot of my Grey work has clues and trails through the world of electrons flying through the void of cyberspace. Steven Leung, strangely, hadn’t left much trace in the cyber world. He was survived by two adult daughters and had been predeceased by a son and a wife. He owned a house out in Port Angeles—or what was listed as Port Angeles, since the postal district covered most of the northern end of the Olympic National Park and unincorporated towns nearby. The property records showed the house was still in his name and someone had, apparently, been paying the taxes. It was too late in the day to catch up to the Clallam County payroll office to find out whether his retirement was still being paid out, but I’d have been willing to bet it was. Assuming the ghost I’d seen was not some spectral joker jerking my chain, it looked as if something quietly dreadful had happened to Steven Leung.

I paused in my electronic prying to call Dave Feldman to bring him up to speed on Nan’s case. Since the case was a little complicated, the conversation took a while and I’d just finished faxing a lot of documents to Feldman when someone knocked on my office door. It was late in the afternoon, the glow of rain-diluted neon and the dregs of sunset creeping in through my tiny window, and I thought I should be a bit more careful than I had used to be and not just open the door willy-nilly.

I called out, “Just a second,” as I watched the last of the pages crawl through the scanner and fall into the pile below. I gathered up the papers and refiled them before opening my door. I didn’t like to risk confidential files being in sight of other clients, and although I didn’t have any more appointments on my schedule for the day, clients and my neighbors in the building did sometimes drop in without one.

Cops are particularly fond of making unannounced visits, so I shouldn’t have been too surprised to see Seattle PD Detective Rey Solis in the hall. I had a lot of respect for him, and we’d worked together a few times, but we weren’t friends and the messy ending of our last encounter hadn’t helped that.

At five foot ten plus boot heels, I’m taller than the taciturn Colombian, but he never seemed to care. I glanced down at him and didn’t smile. “Hello, Solis. What can I do for you?”

“I’m seeking information. May I come in, Ms. Blaine?”

“Is this going to be the sort of information that leads to subpoenas?”

“I’m tying up loose ends of the Kammerling case, largely for my own curiosity.”

“But not entirely.”


That left me with the option of being rude or taking a risk on the other direction of his curiosity. I didn’t feel that I owed him anything, but I didn’t see any upside to annoying him, so I stood back and waved him in. “You might as well sit down and ask what you came to.”

He gave me a small nod and entered while I closed the door. I noticed that he stood next to the nicer of my two client chairs and let his gaze wander over the scarred oak faces of my filing cabinets and shelves and across the computer-burdened surface of my desk. The moisture on his coat didn’t run and puddle onto my floor, so I guessed the rain had started only a few minutes earlier. He patted the chair absently and took off his coat before sitting down with a satisfied grunt and a nod.

“What?” I asked, taking my own seat again.

“Your office is very . . . Raymond Chandler.”

I found myself grinning; I’d read all those books, too. “I am from Los Angeles.”

“The file cabinets are antiques?”

“No, just heavily used. I got them cheap and refinished them.”

He gave me a curious glance.

I shook my head. “I don’t think you really want to talk about my office decor.”

He inclined his head—my point. “I have been wondering what you’re currently working on.”

“I can’t discuss my clients’ business.”

“Broadly speaking. Have you had any more of your . . . odd cases?”

I gave half a smile and shook my head, although the timing did give me pause to wonder what he was after. Whenever my Grey investigations have crossed his normal ones, he gets . . . annoyed. But I didn’t have anything running yet that could have pinged his radar, and I didn’t think there was much left from the previous case, either, no matter how awful and freakish it had been. And so far as I knew, Solis had no sense of the Grey and wouldn’t have any idea that I’d seen creepy and disturbing things at Lake Crescent. “You know, Solis, this is getting to be a habit with you. But, no. Just paperwork business. Some pretrial work, a missing person search, financials, the boring, bill-paying stuff.”

“When did you return to work?”

“Five or six months ago, but not full-time until recently.”

“Why the delay?”

“Getting shot is not like in the movies.” I noticed I was running one hand through my shortened brown hair—I’d had it cut to my shoulders again in the hospital so it didn’t turn into one giant, greasy mat—and forced my hand back down to the desk.

He nodded as if he knew.

“Have you ever . . . ?” I asked.

“Sí,” he replied, and raised two fingers. “Twice.”

“Then you know . . . how it hurts, how everything just seems to be so much harder than it should be. . . .”

“And you regret what happened.”

“No,” I replied. “I don’t think I could have changed it.”

“What about William Novak?”

That startled me, but I only frowned and blinked at him. “What? What about him?”

“Your missing person is not William Novak, then?”

“No. Is he missing?” Of course I knew he was, and I knew what had happened to him. But the uncanny fate of my ex-boyfriend wasn’t something I could tell Solis. Will wasn’t exactly dead, but he wasn’t with the living, either, and I would never be able to explain it to Solis or damn near anyone else. I hadn’t killed him; that was for certain.

Solis cocked his head to the side and regarded me like a crow considering where to jab its beak into an unsuspecting mouse. “I would have expected Michael Novak to bring the case to you. But since you may have been one of the last people to see William, perhaps not. . . .”

I sat forward and studied him. “Will is missing and you think I have a connection.... Why?”

“It is a strange coincidence. Several, in fact.”

“William Novak was my ex-boyfriend. I hadn’t had contact with him in almost a year before my trip to London.”

“But he seems to have followed you home from London and sought you out several times.”

“He did contact me, but he was acting a little weird and I asked him to stop. I didn’t see him after that.”

“Are you certain?”

“Yes. We met twice and I think he called me once. But that was all.”

“His doctors and his brother think he was obsessed with you.”

“Will?” I made myself laugh and tried not to think about the past few times I’d seen him. “Will wasn’t the obsessing type. He was pretty easygoing. If something wasn’t working out for him, he stopped doing it. That’s why we ended our relationship—he didn’t like my job, and I wasn’t going to change it. There wasn’t any rancor; it just didn’t work out. Neither of us had any problem with that. The last time I did see him, he was sick. As I said, he acted a little strange, and I thought he wasn’t well enough to be out of bed. I told him to go home. So far as I know, he did.”

“When was that?”

I shrugged and gnawed my lower lip, thinking. The days after I’d returned from London had passed in a frenetic daze of scrabbling to figure out what was happening and then to put a stop to it. It was hard to sort out how much time had elapsed between one terrible thing and the next. “I’m not quite sure.... Maybe forty-eight hours before I was shot?” I’d written most of it down after the fact, trying to understand it all better, but I wouldn’t show that document to Solis; he wouldn’t like it and I didn’t want to relive it.

Solis tapped a knuckle absently against his lower lip. Then he stood up and unfolded his coat, keeping his eyes on me the whole time. “William Novak’s DNA was found at the Queen Anne gymnasium.”

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