Danny was exhausted, dirty and sore, everything hurt including her hair, but despite her exhaustion and strong desire to just go home take a shower she was following a smiling Franky out of the shiny glass and metal elevator and into a large plush lobby with a white marble floor, dark wood paneling and tinted glass partitions. The lobby screamed money and class and Danny felt a little ashamed of her dirt stained jeans and the dirt and blood stains on her blouse sleeves.
Franky as if sensing her discomfort gave her a quick smile. “I think you look fine, but if you’d like I can bring you a clean t-shirt if black’s okay.”
“That would be great.” Danny replied giving Franky a quick smile.
“No problem doc, I’ll just take you to the boss and then go get it for you from my office.” Franky lead Danny past a lobby with several black leather chairs and a coffee table, and then down a short corridor to stop before a double wooden door with Liam Cherevin owner and CEO painted in bold gold letters on it. Franky gave a quick knock and then opened the door without waiting for a reply.
Danny followed Franky into an a huge well lite office that was easily as big as her entire condo. Directly in front of the door was a huge L-shaped desk of dark oak with two lap tops on it and three large monitors, running the length of the office and behind the desk was a bank of floor to ceiling windows with built in blinds, on her right was a dark leather sectional with a coffee table. On the other side of the sectional was a ten foot long oval desk with six black leather chairs around it, standing beside the table was Liam looking handsome in a light blue dress shirt and dark midnight blue slacks.
Liam saw Danny and gave her a huge smile as he set down several paper plates on the table then quickly came towards her his eyes focused on Danny.
“Thank you Franky you can have the rest of the night off and all of tomorrow morning.” Liam said as he stood before Danny to examine her from head to toe , he caught Danny’s right hand to gently lift it and frown at the scratches and abrasions covering it.
“Thanks boss, Doc I’ll get you that shirt and be right back.” Franky gave Danny a nod and hurried from the office leaving Danny and Liam alone.
Liam took in Danny’s disheveled appearance, her normally neat hair was a tangled mess, there were scratches and abrasions on her cheek, neck, wrists and hands. The sleeves of a white shirt that showed beneath a police t-shirt were dirty and stained with blood, all evidence that Danny had experienced something terrible, but what was most telling was the sadness and pain in her eyes.
Liam pulled Danny against him wrapping his arms about her and pressing her tightly against his chest, she resisted for only a moment then relaxed against him her head coming to rest on his chest. Lord she was tiny, her head just coming to the middle of his chest but she was a soft warm armful and she felt so right pressed tightly against him. Even his lion seemed to purr in contentment at her being there, further evidence that she was his mate.
“I’ll get your shirt dirty.” Danny murmured against Liam’s hard chest. It felt odd and wonderful to be held so tightly, Liam was one of the only people she’d ever met that she could touch or hold without seeing and felling their thoughts and emotions. Part of her wanted to let Liam just hold her forever to just stay in his embrace and let the world fall away, but she couldn’t she had a murder to catch and she’d learned the hard way never to trust anyone for they always brought you pain in the end.
“I can have it washed, besides you are more important than a shirt, I saw the news, I heard you saved a woman’s life.” Liam replied, feeling Danny stiffen. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Yes but not yet.” Danny reluctantly pulled from Liam’s embrace as the door opened and Franky stepped into the office.
“Here Doc clean shirt and a first aid kit.”” Franky held a cellophane wrapped bag and a white plastic box out to Danny who took them with a smile.
“Thank you, what do I owe you?” Danny asked.
“Nothing, Boss here buys the shirts for me in case I get messed up at work.” Franky gave Liam a nod. “ Have a good night Doc and I just want to say I thought you were all right before but now you are one cool lady, have a good night.” Franky gave Danny a grin then stepped from the room closing the door after her.
Danny looked down at the shirt in her hands then up at Liam. “Do you have a bathroom, I need to wash up before we eat.”
“Yes, right here.” Liam walked to the back of the room, he pressed a switch Danny hadn’t seen and the wood paneling slid sideways to reveal a door which he opened for Danny.
“Wow very sharp, I’ll be just a few minutes.” Danny said forcing a smile as she stepped through the door.
“Take your time, I have to put the rest of the food out.” Liam said with a smile. “I hope your hungry I might have ordered too much.”
Despite what she’d seen Danny was famished. “I could eat a horse, I’ll be quick.”
Danny stepped into the bathroom flicking on the overhead lights before shutting the door behind her. The bathroom was huge with a shiny tan marble floor and a huge tan double sink, there was even a shower stall big enough for two and a Jacuzzi bathtub big enough for three in the corner. Danny set the first aid kit , the shirt and her small purse down on the counter before pulling off the white police t-shirt and then began unbuttoning her blouse, wincing as her abraded fingers worked the small buttons.
Danny pulled off the shirt and held it up to inspect it noting the blood stains and a long rip on the left side, Danny sighed in annoyance the blouse was one of her favorite and had cost her thirty dollars, expensive on her strict budget. Well she could get the stains out with peroxide and stitch up the rip, it wouldn’t be perfect but she could still wear it around her place.
Danny carefully folded it before lying it atop the police t-shirt and turning on the water and began to wash gritting her teeth in pain as the soap burned in her cuts and scrapes. She watched in detachment as dirt and dried blood was washed down the drain as she scrubbed herself clean she felt not only cleaner but lighter as if the water was washing away some of the horror she’d seen today. Danny looked at herself in the mirror and frowned seeing scratches and tangled hair, the fact that Liam had looked past her haggard messy appearance and hugged her had to mean something, but she wasn’t sure what yet. Perhaps Liam truly liked her for her and didn’t care what she looked like, if that was true it would be wonderful to have a man think she was pretty and special but Liam had yet to say anything, on the other hand he did want to see her every day. Danny shook her head in self-disgust, don’t read too much into Liam’s actions and don’t get your hopes up she thought, just enjoy every day as it passed and let the future take care of itself.
With a nod to herself in the mirror Danny pulled on the black t-shirt and then reached for her purse to take out her comb and attack her messy hair.
Liam finished setting out the plates, cups and food trying not to stare at the closed bathroom door or count the minutes till Danny came out. He’d felt a strange jumble of emotions when he’d seen Danny a few minutes ago, angry, concerned and relieved. That he was developing strong feelings for Danny was abundantly clear, but should he act on them or just let nature take its course. He didn’t want to scare Danny away by coming on too strong to early, but he also didn’t want to lose her from inaction.
The bathroom door opened and Danny stepped out, her hair was neat and pulled back from her face in a long pony tail and she was wearing the black t-shirt that accentuated her curves.
“Sorry I took so long.” Danny said stepping up to the table and setting down her things on one of the chairs before the table.
“No, not at all hope you’re hungry, I might have ordered too much.” Liam replied with a smile.
“I’m famished and it all looks delicious.” Danny looked at all the food covering the table before giving Liam a quick smile. “Could I bother you for a little help, I need to put a bandage on my left arm and I can’t do it by myself.”
“Of course.” Liam said coming around the table towards her.
“Great I left the first aid kit in the bathroom.” Danny was relived Liam had said yes, the five inch long scratch on her left forearm had stung horrible when she’d washed it and then taken several minutes to stop bleeding, the last thing she needed was a stupid infection from a scratch.
“After you.” Liam motioned for Danny to precede him into the bathroom.
Once inside the bathroom Liam spotted the first aid kit on the counter and snapped it open as Danny came up to him.
“Now let me see this scratch?” Liam said as Danny turned and lifted her arm for his inspection.
Both of Danny’s forearms and the back of her hands were covered in abrasions, bruises and scratches but the scratch in question was long and an angry red color. Liam frowned as he examined it and then reached for the bottle of disinfectant in the kit and a cotton ball.
“Were you attacked by a wild cat or something?” Liam asked as he poured disinfectant on a cotton ball and catching Danny’s arm began to dab at the scratch which was oozing blood.
“Umm no.” Danny replied through gritted teeth. “I sort of crawled through about ten feet of brambles, wild roses and thorn bushes and then had to pull a rope tied to a stretcher through where I’d crawled.”
“Ah, did it this have something to do with saving that woman?” Liam inspected the scratch and satisfied it was clean dropped the cotton ball and reached for the largest bandage in the kit. “This is almost deep enough for stiches, you’ll have to watch it.”
“Yes and thanks .” Dany tried not to flinch as Liam covered the scratch with a bandage. “ I was walking the scene and realized that there had been a survivor, that she’d gone out a window into the back yard, I.” Danny paused not sure how to explain how she’d known how to find the woman. “Well you’ll think I’m crazy but I have sort of a sixth sense at times, and I just knew I’d find her alive and in the forest. I saw this huge wall of briars and brambles and knew that she was hiding inside them, part of it was a hunch and part it would be where I would go and hide if I had to in a hurry.”
“So you crawled through them to look for her and discovered where she was?” Liam demanded using a fresh cotton ball to dap antiseptic on several deep scratches on Danny’s neck.
“Yes sort of I knew I’d find her in the brambles and I was right, she was unconscious and in a bad way so I yelled for my partners to get help. I crawled back out to where the others were, they couldn’t get through the brambles they were all too big, so the paramedics tied a rope to a metal stretcher, then I crawled back to her and pulled the stretcher through the brambles to this little area she was in. I got her on the stretcher, then crawled with the free end of the rope back to the others so they could pull her out.” Danny replied in a rush.
Liam paused the antiseptic soaked cotton ball hovering over Danny’s neck as he took in all of what Danny had said.
“That was very brave of you, how is she doing, I’m guessing she is at the hospital.” Liam said as he returned to dabbing at the scratches on Danny’s cheek.
“Yes, she’s under police guard at the moment. My partner went to check on her and she is awake and responsive, she gave him a partial statement but wants to talk to me tomorrow morning.” Danny replied.
“You have a partner?” Liam finished cleaning Danny’s scrapes and threw the cotton balls in the trash, feeling oddly jealous that Danny had a partner.
“Well he’s not really my partner, his name is detective Dickerson, I work with him and his partner Detective Barrett frequently and I’ve known detective Dickerson for years.” Danny stepped back and gave Liam a quick smile. “Thank you for the first aid.”
“You’re welcome.” Liam replied as he washed his hands and mentally noted the names Danny had mentioned. He would have Artie look into the detectives she’d mentioned, not because he was jealous, no not because of that but because he wanted to know if they would be a threat. “The food is ready.”
Liam opened the door of the bathroom and held it open for Danny to follow him out, he stepped up to the table and pulled out one of the chairs for Danny.
“I have ginger ale and iced tea.” Liam pulled a cup from out of a plastic bag on the table and filled it with ice from a large metal ice bucket in the center of the table.
“Ginger ale please, everything looks delicious.” Danny’s stomach growled loudly and she blushed. “ Sorry I never did get lunch, I don’t know which to pick.”
“No worries.” Liam poured Danny a glass of ginger ale and set it on the table before her. “As to selection how about half a sandwich of each that way you can see what you like.” Liam opened several aluminum boxes on the table revealing sandwiches. “Let’s see this is chicken and this is the lobster roll and this is the crab cake.” Liam pushed the boxes towards Danny so she could take what she wanted.
“Thank you.” Danny grabbed a plate and took half a lobster roll and half a chicken salad sandwich to start. “I’ll start with these.”
“And now music, I’m partial to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennet myself.” Liam stepped up to the coffee table and lifted the remote.
Danny watched in fascination as a huge flat screen television lifted from the cabinet across from her and immediately flickered to life, a moment later the sound of Frank Sinatra singing “ My Way” filled the air as his image appeared on the screen.
“My father loved Frank Sinatra he was his favorite to dance to so Frank is good with me.” Danny said as Liam rejoined her at the table.
“To dance too?” Liam asked as he grabbed a plate and a crab cake sandwich.
“Yes my father had been a ballroom dance champion before he married mom, he said Frank Sinatra’s timing was perfect and he use to use him for all there foxtrot routines.” Danny said.
“Ah that’s why you are such a good dancer.” Liam said with a smile.
“Maybe, why don’t you tell me about your day. You said you had work to do, did you get it done?” Dany asked not wanting to talk about her past.
“Yes thanks I did. I had to submit a bid for a redevelopment project in Riverbend to convert three river side warehouses and a dock into a business center and two apartment buildings and the dock into a marina for pleasure boats. The project would take at least two years to finish and cost close to a billion dollars, with my company making a minimum of ten million dollars in profit.”
“Wow.” Was all Danny managed to say as she carefully took a bite of the lobster roll and thought she was in heaven as butter and lobster assaulted her taste buds. Danny quickly swallowed and gave Liam a smile. “That’s a huge amount of money, I hope you get the project.”
“So do I, it would mean a lot of jobs for a lot of people as well as revitalization of a very run down area.” Liam pushed bag of chips towards Danny as he grabbed a second chicken salad sandwich. “We even have a plan to bring back an old section of disused rail line that ran to the warehouses, run commuter cars from the center to three stops in town and of course back so that people living at the center could easily get into the city and vice a versa.”
“Do you have any drawings or mock ups I’d love to see your designs.” Danny said giving Liam a nod of thanks as she opened the back of chips.
“Yes, you’d like to see them?” Liam asked in is disbelief, none of his past females had shown any interest in his work.
“Of course, if it’s not a problem.” Danny took a dainty nibble of her chips though she was ravenous, she didn’t want to eat like a trucker in front of Liam.
“No, no I have them on my computer.” Liam finished his sandwich in three bites, wiped his hands clean on a paper napkin before crossing the room to his desk.
Danny took a long drink of her ginger ale watching Liam, admiring how he looked in his dress shirt, after a moment the television flickered and Frank Sinatra was replaced with a computer rendering of two huge warehouses and two mammoth cranes.
“This is what it looks like now, and this is what it will look like after I’m finished.” Liam said and the image changed to two light tan buildings with tinted windows and roof garden overlooking a large park and a marina with boat slips and a restaurant.
“That’s amazing you’re a great designer.” Danny said and saw Liam smile.
“Thanks, Keith designed the park area.” Liam replied returning to the table with his lap top.
Over the next twenty minutes Liam and Danny ate while looking at images of Liam’s drawings and plans and discussing his ideas for the huge remodel. Danny had suggested that Liam add balconies on the sides of the buildings overlooking the river, a play park behind the buildings and a walking track along the water front to make the buildings more attractive to people with children. Liam had written down all of Danny’s suggestions and happily discussed them with her.
Liam finished his second piece of cake and flipped off his lap top and smiled at Danny her ideas had been good and he’d liked her input, if things went as he hoped moving forward he’d be asking her for even more input on his ideas in the future.
“Before I forget the museum opening has been pushed back to next Saturday, I’m hoping you will come. The museum is in Carson city and will take about an hour and a half to drive there.” Liam paused watching Danny’s reaction. “ There will be a party with cocktails and appetizers, it starts at seven, so I thought I could pick you up a bit after three so we could take our time driving, near the museum is a great steak and sea food restaurant, we could eat a leisurely meal and be there for the start of the party. I’m hoping you say yes, I lent the museum many artifacts from my private Sumerian collection and I’d love for you to see them.”
Danny washed down her last bite of carrot cake and wondered just how rich Liam was that he had a private antiquities collection.
“Yes, I’d love to come.” Danny replied thinking quickly about what she could wear, unlike some women her close selection was pretty small, her money went to her education or travel expenses to further her education not clothes and shoes.
“That’s wonderful.” Loam replied with a smile.
“You wouldn’t happen to be able to read Sumerian cuneiform would you?” Danny asked.
“Yes, I’m a bit rusty but why do you ask?” Liam stood to begin cleaning up the empty paper plates and sandwich wrappers.
“I need you to promise not to share this with anyone but , well it will be easier to show you.” Danny pulled her phone out of her purse and flipped it on, then pulled up the first picture she’d taken of the circle and star after the coroner had taken the first girl’s body away.
Liam took Danny’s phone and squinted at the images. “Can you send them to me, I could pull them up on my lap top?”
“Of course, just don’t share them with any one.” Danny took back her phone and quickly sent Liam the photo’s she’d snapped.
Liam selected the first image Danny had sent him and sent it to his television, the image filling the screen to show a star within a large circle. Liam frowned at what he saw, the image looked oddly familiar and touched lightly at his memory. “It is an offering to Nergal, the god of war, pestilence and destruction.” Liam turned his head to read all the inscription his frown deepening. “It is asking him for not only favor but to open a door or portal, where is this from?”
“The first victim was lying in the middle of it, the other victims were lying in similar circles with the same writing around them.” Danny rose to walk towards the giant screen television and pointed at the lowest star point where a faint round depression could be seen in the shag carpet. “There were also these depressions at the points of each star, obviously something heavy had been placed at each point. I thought the victims were offerings to Nergal but I wanted a second opinion.”
“You were right they were, how many victims were there?” Liam asked feeling his stomach twist at what Danny had seen earlier that day.
“Five total, three young women all roommates in the first house and then a mother and her teen age daughter in the neighbor’s house.” Danny paused as she fought the sadness and horror that threatened to over whelm her. “The killers left the father and teenage son alive, they were both badly beaten and then tied up and shoved into their basement. In his preliminary statement the father said the family was awakened by screams around midnight and when he went to investigate two large men in all black attacked him, forced their way into his home and then beat him and his teenage son to unconsciousness. They woke hours later in their own basement still tied up.” Danny paused. “ In some ways it was a blessing they were unconscious so they didn’t hear what happened to their loved ones.”
Liam felt sympathy for this faceless man, to have lost his wife and daughter in such a horrible way was stomach churning. Even after all the millenniums he had lived he still felt empathy for such loss, unlike some of his brethren.
“ Have there been any other killing like this?” Liam demanded and saw Danny shake her head.
“No, I’m not sure what to make of it. The other cops on the task force think it’s Satan worshipers because of the stars and the fact the victim’s blood was used to make the symbols, but I’ve never heard of Satan worshipers praying to Sumerian gods.” Danny sighed feeling exhausted both mentally and physically as the day’s events caught up with her.
Liam nodded. “I admire you, when you told me you were a profiler I didn’t think you work was so grizzly shall we say, I admired you for what you do. I don’t many women that would be brave enough to do such a job.”
“Thanks, I have my reasons, and your right it can be pretty unnerving at times.” Danny replied and was touched when Liam reached across the table to take her hand in his and give it a squeeze.
Liam wanted to know more, wanted to ask Danny what her reasons were but he could see she was tired and hurting and didn’t want to push the issue. “It’s still early and I’ve finished my work, how about a movie? The couch is pretty comfortable, there is a Bing Crosby marathon on channel eight, or we could watch one of those chick movies on channel five or channel three is having a John Wayne marathon.”
“John Wayne, I love John Wayne.” Danny replied thinking that despite her exhaustion she needed a distraction before she went home and she wanted to be near Liam even if it was just for a few more hours.
“You like John Wayne?” Liam asked in disbelief.
“Yes, why wouldn’t I? Tough macho guy, without trying to be tough or macho, not to mention ruggedly good looking. And the fact his characters always tried to do what was right, even if it wasn’t easy.” Danny replied.
“John Wayne it is.” Liam picked up the television remote and pressed a button and the screen changed from his layout for the complex to the beginning of “the Quiet Man.”
“Oh, I love this movie.” Danny said.
“Great sit down I’ll finish cleaning up and join you.” Liam said.
Danny hesitated for a moment. “You sure you don’t want help?”
“No, I’ll just throw out the plates and put the leftovers in the fridge. Go sit down you look exhausted.” Liam nodded towards the plump leather sofa.
Danny gratefully nodded then sat in the middle of the sofa easing back to get comfortable. Liam quickly finished cleaning up the remains of their dinner, then joined Danny on the sofa, cautiously slipping his left arm about her. After a moment Danny pulled his arm about her and leaned against him her head resting against his chest.
A sense of peace and rightness settled over Liam who kicked off his shoes and swung his feet up on the coffee table before him as he settled in to enjoy the movie and Danny’s presence.
They had been watching the movie for about ten minutes when his phone rung and Liam mumbled a curse at the interruption. “Sorry I have to get that.” Liam hated disturbing Danny who had curled up against him, but she nodded and sat up allowing him to jump to his feet and step up to the table where his phone lay.
Liam starred at the screen for a moment not recognizing the caller but as one of Galen’s captains and an enforcer in the day guard he often got calls from one of his brethren in other cities or even countries. He slid on his phone just before it went to voice mail.
“Hello this is Liam.”
“Yes, hello this is Xena Angelos from A & S shipping I just finished looking over your proposal and would like to discuss it with you.” Said a rich female voice.
Liam frowned annoyed at the interruption as well as the fact this faceless female was using his private number. “I just sent them a few hours ago.” Liam replied.
“Yes I know but I’d really like to discuss them, some of your ideas are marvelous.” The woman replied.
Liam frowned he was annoyed at the interruption and that this woman had spent so little time going over his proposal that had taken hours to prepare, but he badly wanted the contract. He looked over at Danny who gave him a tired smile and a nod as if saying he should take the call.
“All right Ms. Angelos I have a few minutes now I was actual in conference with someone.” Liam looked over at Danny and saw her smile and nod
“I’m sure however it is won’t mind waiting.” The silky female voice replied further irritating Liam. He fought down his irritation and with a last nod to Danny stepped from his office into his secretaries area to finish the call.
What was supposed to have been a quick call turned into an hour long grilling an appointment to meet with Ms. Angelos or Xena as she preferred the following afternoon. Liam was to be picked up at the airport by her private helicopter and then be flown directly to her corporate center where he would meet with her to discuss his designs and ideas to turn the three warehouses into a corporate center and upscale apartments. Xena had been annoyed when she’d asked for Keith to come to the meeting as well and Liam had said that wasn’t possible. Keith hated to meet with clients and enjoyed his privacy far too much to ever attended business meetings.
Liam flipped off his phone and dropped it back into his pocket annoyed that he’d lost the time with Danny and wondering how he could make it up to her. He stepped into his office and stopped in his tracks, Danny was curled up on his sofa and fast asleep.
Liam shook his head and stepped closer seeing her sneakers neatly placed on the floor besides his shoes, her feet were child sized compared to his size sixteen’s and asleep she looked so young and childlike her face innocent and angelic but Liam knew after what’d she’d seen in her job she was far from innocent.
Liam knelt beside her and did what he’s he’d wanted to do since he’d met her stroke her hair, he smiled it was even silkier than he’d imagined. Danny murmured in her sleep and with a sigh of regret Liam pulled back his hand as she woke abruptly.
“Oh, I’m sorry I fell asleep.” Danny murmured pushing herself up and running her hand through her hair.
“Don’t apologize, I just finished my call. I was going to apologize to you for being gone so long and ruining our date.”
Danny shook her head. “It’s okay its business right.”
“Yes, I have to meet with the client tomorrow afternoon so I won’t be able to see you for lunch but how about dinner afterwards, any place you like.” Liam eased onto the sofa as Danny stretched like a cat.
“How about something simple like Chinese and then a walk in the park after wards.” Danny leaned forward to slip back on her shoes.
“That’s all you want? Chinese and a walk in the park?” Liam asked thinking he’d gotten off easy.
“Yes, just that.” Danny replied.
“It’s a deal. While I’d love to spend more time with you I can see your exhausted, let me drive you home.” Liam said and saw Danny nod.
“I’d like that, hopefully no more dead bodies tomorrow just a nice normal day.” Danny said easing to her feet as Liam stepped into his shoes then grabbed his suit jacket from off his office chair.
“Sounds good.” Liam held his hand out to Danny and was pleased when she slipped her tiny hand in his and then wrapped her hand about two of his fingers. As Liam switched everything off and led her out of his office the sense of rightness again came over him as well as a sense of home, soon he would tell Danny everything and then he would make her his, he only hoped she understood and didn’t run. He and Keith had waited several lifetimes for a woman like her and he didn’t want to wait much longer before he could call her his own, before he understood what it felt like to truly be loved by a woman and to love one in return.