I considered facing Keith now, but I shook my head. Joseph and I were both going to be feeling the effects of the energy work, and I didn’t want to face Keith while fighting the exhaustion and the mania that often followed magical efforts.
I turned to follow Joseph and we slipped out the door with the remaining crowd. I let Joseph take the lead as we headed back to the car, with my mind drifting over what I’d just experienced. I paid just enough attention to my surroundings to not get run over when we crossed the street against the light and tail Joseph to the parking lot.
When we got to our car, I felt a jolt of anger and frustration. We were blocked in by another car. The rage crashed over me before I could get a hold of my emotions.
“Dammit! This is why I have sudden urges to pull a gun and start taking out idiots!” I moved around the vehicles to take down the license plate number so we could call the police about it. I imagined keying the car for good measure.
“Freeze! Put your hands where I can see them!”
I stopped dead, shock and fear running down my limbs and washed away the rage. I tried not to think about how often a minority of cops in Indy got a little carried away with their jobs. At least, I hoped it was a cop. It sounded like a cop thing to say.
I held my arms out, slowly raising my hands to the side. I saw Joseph doing the same from the corner of my eye.
A slightly sweaty, middle-aged man dressed in a cheap, charcoal gray suit stepped into my field of vision. This guy screamed detective, with his crooked tie and spare-tire belly. The thin, graying hair slicked into an uneven part topped off the look.
He held out his badge in his off hand, but the gun in his right hand is what held my attention and made my throat dry up. In fact, I was working up to new levels of terrified. I don't often get a gun pulled on me.
I cleared my throat, trying not to squeak the words. “What can we do for you, Detective...?”
The man edged up to me and lifted my shirt hem a few inches to check my waistline for weapons. Then he moved to do the same to Joseph before he answered. “You Nicola Crandall?”
I raised my eyebrows. Asking for me by name? Not a great sign. My pulse galloped while I focused on not showing my fear. “Yes, sir. What is this about?”
The detective angled his head to talk to Joseph, keeping his gun on me. “And who are you?”
Joseph lifted his chin. He was pretty good at bravado, though I could see the sweat on his brow. “Joseph Andress.”
The detective paused, the gun wavering as if he wanted to move it to point at Joseph now. “How do I know that name? You in trouble a lot, Joe?”
“No, sir,” Joseph said with a barely concealed sneer. He didn't like people calling him Joe. “It's Joseph. I have a show on the local radio station. And I write for the newspaper once in a while.”
The detective seemed disappointed by Joseph's answer. “Huh.” He turned back to me. “Well, you need to come with me, Ms. Crandall.”
“Am I being arrested, detective?” I looked the man in the eye, despite the nerves that seemed to be turning my muscles into jelly. He was definitely the type who used bully tactics people, not for pleasure but out of insecurity about his own capabilities. “I would like to know the charges, if I'm being arrested.”
The detective frowned. He seemed to be thinking it over. His eyes fell on the gun in his hand and, as if he'd forgotten he'd pulled it out, he hurried to put it back in his shoulder holster. “No, you're not getting arrested. We need you to come in for questioning.”
I lowered my hands, just slow enough to not spook him. “Questioning in regards to... what?” I crossed my arms over my chest and lifted my chin.
The detective scowled. “In regards to a case, Ms. Crandall. Now, come with me.” He reached for my arm.
I dropped my arms and stepped back, only slightly, to avoid his grasp. “If I'm not being arrested, then I can go to the station in my own vehicle and at my own convenience, so long as it is within a timely manner.”
The detective's hands clenched into fists and he blew out a breath. “Yeah. That's right.” He tried to stare me down for a moment, but I didn't blink.
The detective snorted in disgust and reached for his wallet. He dug out a business card that had seen better days and flicked it at me. It took more will power than I thought I had at the moment, but I didn't flinch as the card hit my cheek and fell to the ground.
I watched him fume for several seconds before I bent over to pick it up. I kept my motions slow and calm, hoping he wouldn’t notice how much my hands shook.
“Well, Detective...” I read the name on the card, “Brett Ames.” I looked back at his face, refusing to hide from eye contact with him. “It just so happens that I am relatively free this afternoon. Shall I ask for you, specifically?” I managed a small smile that I didn't think was too shaky.
Detective Ames sneered at me. “Yeah. I should be at my desk all day.”
It wasn't my fault. I’m just so used to using sarcasm as a shield. Plus, he opened that door wide and begged me to walk through it. So, I did. I gave him a head-to-toe look, smirked and replied, “I have no doubt of that.”
Probably not the smartest move of the day.
Detective Ames snarled wordlessly and got into his car.
“You are gonna pay for that one,” Joseph said, quietly moving up beside me as we watched the unmarked car drive away.I nodded and let out a shaky breath that was just a hair from becoming a whimper. “Don't I know it.”