Rubbing her eyes, Briar forced them to stay open as she looked at Dante’s folder over again. It was all too convenient, and if she hadn’t been there herself, she would have believed Dante to be guilty as well. But he wasn’t. He couldn’t be. At the time of Jane’s murder, Dante was with her and Mr. Smith.
Briar was his alibi.
However, it did not matter much. Even with her father as the Chief of the police department, he didn’t want to hear it. Her father made up excuses for her, calling it a delusion, a coping mechanism for her best friend’s death. According to him, Briar could not handle Jane’s passing, so her mind made up a story to keep her occupied while trying to find the ‘real’ murderer.
Briar had been outraged with the claim, but she couldn’t deny that all of it was a lie.
Looking at the sketches made by the medical examiners, she tried to remember as many details as she could. It wasn’t a pleasant sight, but she had to if she wanted to find the real killer. Narrowing her eyes at one particular drawing of Jane’s neck, Briar found something amiss. She was fairly certain Jane was wearing a necklace that day and hadn’t taken it off when Briar left her in the cabin to rest.
An uneasy weight settled in her chest, but she ignored it to the best of her ability. There was no use in feeling regretful now. What happened, happened. No way of turning back time. No way of saving her.
Briar had seen many deaths. With her father being the Chief, she was often granted special treatment at the station. Her father did not approve of most of the things she did, but she had proven herself useful multiple times when they believed to have struck a dead end. Briar would offer them a fresh pair of eyes. But for this case, it seemed as if they weren’t interested in her perspective. Everyone wanted Dante behind bars, and now they had the perfect excuse to do so.
Despite the deaths she had come across, however, this was the first case where she knew the victim on a personal level.
Sitting back in her father’s chair, Briar sighed. She needed to talk to Dante. How lucky she was to have a prideful man as a father. Every opportunity he had to puff his chest he took and tomorrow was no exception. Having caught the most hated vampire in London, he had to flaunt it to Briar before Dante would be sent off to a highly secured prison outside of the city.
The perfect chance to talk to him, and if he answered her questions correctly, break him out that same night.
Briar held her chin high as she stepped inside the station. Although she had come here many times before, most of the men still looked down on her. Following her father, she gave him a curious look when he headed for one of the offices instead of the cells. Adjusting his hat, he knocked on the slightly ajar door that had ‘Detective’ written on it.
“Detective Graveward,” he called before stepping inside. “Do you have a moment?”
As Briar stepped inside, her eyes fell on the tall man she supposed was Detective Graveward. Light, chestnut hair revealed itself as he took off his hat, placing it on his desk. He smiled politely as he made his way to greet my father, but nothing about the gestures seemed genuine.
“To what do I owe the pleasure, Sir?” he asked, crossing his arms as he rocked back on his heels.
Chief Blakewell gestured to Briar. “Meet my daughter, Briar, you’ll be seeing her around the office quite a bit.”
“The famous Miss Blakewell.” Taking a step closer to her, Detective Graveward looked her over. “I’ve heard your name pass in the hallways. Seems like you got quite the reputation.”
“Can’t say the same about you,” Briar said, tilting her head with a smile that mimicked the Detective.
Bowing his head, he chuckled. “Apologies, the name is Clyde Graveward.”
“He’s our new detective starting today,” her father continued to explain. “He also happened to be on the same train as you were and was quick to deliver us Dante before he could escape.”
“Can’t say I remember seeing you there.”
Graveward waved his hand, turning away from the pair to lean against his desk. “There is no need to feel guilty, Miss Blakewell, the woman mind can be inaccurate when it comes to traumatic events. Wasn’t the victim a close friend of yours? My deepest condolences.”
Pressing her lips into a thin line, Briar forced herself to smile. “Thank you, Mr. Graveward. Perhaps you’re right, and I was actually hoping you could help me jog my memory. You see, Jane, the victim, had been wearing necklace before her murder, but I couldn’t find it in any of the sketches, neither do I remember seeing her wear it when her body was found.”
“Please, call me Clyde,” he said, dismissive of her question. “Where I’m from we aren’t too strict on formalities. As for the necklace, she could have taken it off, it is nothing.”
Biting her tongue, Briar asked, “Where are you from, then?”
Clyde seemed to hesitate for a moment. “Welsh.”
“How interesting,” she mumbled, turning back to her father. “Shall we see Dante now?”
Chief Blakewell smiled, the corners of his mustache lifting with his lips. “Of course.”
“Careful, he bites,” Clyde called after them, followed by a chuckle.
Rolling back her shoulders, Briar kept my gaze ahead. Jane would never take off that necklace, that Briar was positive of. Jane, Rena, and Briar shared the same handmade necklace, a token of their friendship. Reaching for her own, she instantly calmed as the cold stone pressed against her palm. Briar’s stone was lilac, attached to a silver chain with a complex design of twirls and spins in which the stone rested. Jane’s had been a light blue, and Rena’s was burgundy red.
Briar lifted her skirt as they walked down the steps to the cells, the cold stone challenging her to shiver. It reeked of feces and decay, but Briar refused to cover her nose. The sooner she got used to the smells the better. She’d been here many times before, but it still took her a moment.
In one of the few tiny cells sat Dante. A cot barely fitted between the two walls, but Dante didn’t seem to mind the small space. Chief Blakewell banged against the bars, but Dante didn’t react. His eyes were cast to the floor, his messy hair falling over his face.
“Show some respect, you scum,” Chief Blakewell called, banging once more on the bars.
Briar caught his arm. “Can I have a moment alone with him, Father?”
His shoulders relaxed, though concern painted his face. “Are you sure, my Dear?”
Briar nodded, releasing his arm to hold her own. “It will help me grieve.”
“Alright, then.” He squeezed her shoulder before turning away. “Don’t get too close.”
When his steps had faded Dante started to chuckle, startling Briar a bit. “What?”
“You’re quite the liar,” he said, lifting his head and meeting her gaze. Tilting her head at him, Briar was surprised by how much dirtier he looked compared to three days prior. Strand of hair looked more like rope as they rested on his cheek, more green than white. Messy stubbles started to line his jaw. Two fangs gleamed in the dim lantern light through his open mouth, his lips as dry and chipped as they were before. But his eyes, they were clear as day and focused on her and her alone.
“And you didn’t kill her,” Briar stated, stepping closer to the bars despite her father’s warning. Dante stood from his cot, his eyes narrowing.
“Do you know who did?”
He shook his head. “I have no memory of what happened, they drugged me quite heavily.”
“There was a man with you, he called you your friend.”
Dante scoffed. “I have no friends, only allies. In any case, I’m guessing he is our murderer.”
Taking another step, Briar asked, “Why were you on that train?”
“I don’t remember getting on,” Dante returned, following her example. “I only remember leaving London, but that’s as far as my memory goes.” He raised a brow. “Satisfied?”
“Mostly.” Giving him one last look over, Briar stepped away. “I’ll be back tonight.”
She started for the stairs as he called after her, “Tonight?”
“I’m going to catch the real murderer,” she said, gripping the railing as she stopped, glanced over her shoulder. “You’re my best lead so I’m going to break you out.”