Anna Dressed in Blood / Page 69

Page 69

I wish I could get closer, that I kept a spare press pass in the glove compartment or had the money to keep a few cops in my pocket. As it is, I’m lingering on the edges of the press crowd, behind the yellow tape.

I don’t want to believe that it was Anna. It would mean that man’s death is on my hands. I don’t want to believe it because it would mean that she’s incurable, that there is no redemption.

As the crowd watches, the police exit the park with a gurney. On top of it is a black bag that should normally be shaped like a body but instead looks like it’s been stuffed full of hockey equipment. I suppose they put him back together as well as they could. When the gurney hits the curb, the remains shift, and through the bag we can see one of the limbs fall down, clearly unattached to the rest. The crowd makes a muffled noise of disturbed disgust. I elbow my way back through them to my car.

* * *

I pull into her driveway and park. She’s surprised to see me. I’ve been gone less than an hour. As my feet crunch up the gravel I don’t know whether the noise comes from the dirt, or from my grinding teeth. Anna’s expression changes from pleased surprise to concern.

“Cas? What’s the matter?”

“You tell me.” I’m surprised to find how pissed I am. “Where were you last night?”

“What are you talking about?”

She needs to convince me. She needs to be very convincing.

“Just tell me where you were. What did you do?”

“Nothing,” she says. “I stayed near the house. I tested my strength. I—” She pauses.

“You what, Anna?” I demand.

Her expression hardens. “I hid in my bedroom for a while. After I realized the spirits were still here.” The look in her eyes is resentful. It’s the there, are you happy now? look.

“You’re sure you didn’t leave? Didn’t try to explore Thunder Bay again, maybe go down to the park and, I don’t know, dismember some poor jogger?”

The stricken expression on her face makes the anger leak out through my shoes. I open my mouth to pull my foot out of it, but how do I explain why I’m so angry? How do I explain that she needs to give me a better alibi?

“I can’t believe you’re accusing me.”

“I can’t believe that you can’t believe it,” I retort. I don’t know why I can’t stop being so combative. “Come on. People don’t get butchered in this city every day. And the very night after I free the most powerful murderous ghost in the western hemisphere, somebody shows up missing their arms and legs? It’s a hell of a coincidence, don’t you think?”

“But it is a coincidence,” she insists. Her delicate hands have formed balled-up fists.

“Don’t you remember what just happened?” I gesture wildly toward the house. “Tearing off body parts is, like, your MO.”

“What’s an ‘MO’?” she asks.

I shake my head. “Don’t you get what this means? Don’t you understand what I have to do if you keep on killing?”

When she doesn’t reply, my crazed tongue plows ahead.

“It means I get to have a serious Old Yeller moment,” I snap. The minute I say it, I know that I shouldn’t have. It was stupid and it was mean, and she caught the reference. Of course she would have. Old Yeller was made in like 1955. She probably saw it when it came out in theaters. The look she’s giving me is shocked and hurt; I don’t know if any look has made me feel worse. Still, I can’t quite muster an apology. The idea that she’s probably a murderer holds it in.

“I didn’t do it. How can you think so? I can’t stand what I’ve already done!”

Neither of us says anything else. We don’t even move. Anna is pissed off and trying very hard not to cry. As we look at each other, something inside me is trying to click, trying to fall into place. I feel it in my mind and in my chest, like a puzzle piece you know has to go somewhere so you keep trying to push it in from all different angles. And then, just like that, it fits. So perfect and complete that you can’t imagine how it was without it there, even seconds ago.

“I’m sorry,” I hear myself whisper. “It’s just that— I don’t know what’s happening.”

Anna’s eyes soften, and the stubborn tears begin to recede. The way she stands, the way she breathes, I know she wants to come closer. New knowledge fills up the air between us and neither of us wants to breathe it in. I can’t believe this. I’ve never been the type.

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