☾ h a p t e r 3
Running out of the room was probably not the best course of action Zara could have taken, regardless that things had settled down in there and they had been dismissed.
It came naturally; something, she hated to admit, that was due to her being an Omega. In school, other than learning about the different dynamics and their roles, they also studied about Omegas that came before them. They were vastly different from how they were now.
Back then they had been more timid, submissive to all, especially an Alpha. All they had cared for was to be mated and to give birth for their mates. Zara shuddered at the thought of that.
No way in hell would she ever be able to devote the entirety of her life to doing that.
Over time they evolved, growing a backbone and being able to stand up for themselves – to some extent. Omegas were still physically the smaller of the three.
Not that that had been something that had stopped Zara from joining the force.
“Detective, wait up.”
Her steps quickened when she heard Nate get closer, but he made her come to a sudden stop when his body brushed beside hers and he stepped right in front of her.
“Hey,” he said, looking down at her and locking eyes. “Can I speak to you for a moment?”
Looking around, she saw the stares of the other officers as they stood in the hall that led to the elevators.
Zara, overcharged by her nerves and high with leftover fear from what had transpired, took a small step away from him. She gave him a terse, “Sure.” She started to walk back to a secluded corner where there were no more prying eyes and ears.
Standing there, feeling his body heat as he neared her, made the wild fantasies playing in her mind come to life.
The small spark of lust that had rushed through Zara in the briefing room came back with a vengeance. A blush spread across her skin when she saw his nostrils flare as he sniffed the air around them.
Nonchalantly she asked, “What did you want to speak to me about?”
He kept sniffing the air, a low grumble rumbling at the base of his chest. Her chest felt heavy, need coursing through her at just the thought of them being held in his hands.
The space between them hung in silence, blocking all other noises from the outside of the bubble that had formed over them.
“Detective Sanders,” she asked. It seemed to snap him from the daze he was in, shifting his attention back to hers.
“Sorry.” Moving closer, Nate placed his hand on the wall behind her, effectively blocking any chance of escaping. “I wanted to ask if you were—”
“… The only Omega currently in the force?” she finished for him, already feeling the burn of disappointment run through her.
Everyone who had arrived for the new team had asked that question, shocked to learn that there was someone other than an Alpha or the occasional Beta working in law enforcement.
They had made their intentions clear by giving her a look of distaste when they found out that she was with them in the team. Especially after knowing that she will be out on the field with them rather than sitting behind a desk.
“No. That was not what I was going to ask.” He snapped, his forehead creasing as he glared at her.
She stumbled back, the wall pressed against her as she stared back at him wide-eyed. He growled in displeasure when he saw her move away from him, shifting his body forward, as if to follow, before stopping midway.
A look of confusion took hold of his face, his body tensing for a few seconds before he moved back from crowding her in.
Trying, but failing to calm her racing heart, Zara cleared her throat to break the resumed silence. “What?”
“I was not going to ask that,” he continued. “I wanted to ask if you were free to show me the areas where the bodies were found. I feel it’s always better to have two pairs of eyes instead of just one.”
Driving towards the first crime scene, the stifled quietness in the car made Nate’s shoulders tense. After her weak reply and the awkwardness that followed, Zara had agreed to show him and led him to one of the vehicles housed by the department.
He didn’t know the city of Allura too well but, checking the map on his phone, he saw that they were heading towards the lake that divided the city in half. The lake in itself was the statement of the place — he had learned while doing a little research on his flight over — attracting thousands in the summer.
Those hot months made visiting the waters a tempting invitation to all, the cool water a refreshing place to use either for swimming or for other activities such as canoeing or sailing.
As they got near, he could see from his spot a yellow strip of tape billowing in the air.
“That’s where we found the first body.” Zara pointed towards the tape. “What exactly are you looking for?”
“Something that might have been missed when the scene was being investigated.”
Scoffing at his remark, she parked the car. “Nothing was missed, detective. I can assure you of that.”
He gave a small chuckle as he got out of the car. “We’ll see about that.”
Heading to the site, he could see they were getting closer to the shoreline of the lake. The area was partially still blocked off to the public, although some areas were disturbed.
Walking ahead of him, Zara stopped at a spot that almost hit the water. “This is where we found her body.”
Running his eyes around the area, Nate zeroed in on the dried blood that still painted the sandy ground. “You didn’t get to finish at the briefing.”
“I’m sure you saw the pictures already and read a summary of the accounts on what we had found at the scene. Her body was in a suitcase. Or at least parts of it. Upper torso and hands were the only things in there.”
Walking a few steps further away, she pointed to the next tape, a yard or so away. “We found her head buried over there by those sandhills.”
Moving her pointer finger to the west of their current place, she marked another yellow tape. “Her legs were buried there.”
“What about her lower body?”
She turned her head towards the body of water. “At the bottom of the lake, wrapped in rope with cinder blocks tied at the end to make sure it stayed down and didn’t float up.”
“Who reported it?”
Still staring at the water, he saw her face scrunch up when the smell of lake water drifted to them. “A jogger,” she responded. “He usually takes this path every morning with his dog and didn’t notice anything unusual until he hit this area and saw the suitcase.
“He said it was weird to find it in a place like this since it’s a private area of the lake, one that he has clearance from the owner to go through. His dog started acting weird too, pulling at the leash to get closer to it.”
Taking her eyes off the water, Zara turned her gaze back to the bloody ground ahead of them. Nate moved closer to her, noticing a small shiver shaking her shoulders as the biting wind blew at them.
Her scent enveloped his body as the wind carried it towards him, the honeysuckle smell tempting him to run his nose along her neck.
“When he saw the blood pooling around the suitcase, he quickly dialed the department and reported it. We came as soon as we could.”
Forcing himself to move away from her, he quenched his lust for the female before him and refocused on the area around them. There was nothing that caught his eye as he scanned the land, noting it looked practically the same as the pictures.
“When was the tiger swallowtail found?” he asked.
“At the M.E.’s office. With her jaw broken in, the forensics team on site didn’t think to open it. Gabi, our chief examiner, thought otherwise. She found the dried butterfly in the vic’s mouth.” Her voice boomed behind him as he scuffed at the dirt beneath his shoes.
Moving to where the legs had been buried, nothing popped out at him except for a bottle cap lying a few paces away.
“She found it rather strange how intact it still was considering it was practically jammed at the back of the victim’s throat. Thought that at least the wings would have fallen off.”
Listening, he walked away and went to the edge of the water, the cold biting at his cheeks and frosting the warm puffs of air he was breathing out through his nose.
“Look,” she said as she walked up beside him, “nothing was missed. We searched the place throughout for days, turning over every single grain of dirt and sand along the way.”
With an irritated sigh, she placed her hands on her hips and kept her face away from his, “there’s nothing to find. Let’s head back and –”
Confused at the beat of silence that followed her cut off tirade, Nate turned his head around, about to ask her what was wrong, when he saw it.
A white rose with red stains on it, was half buried in the sand a hundred feet away, the form in perfect shape despite the strong wind ruffling its petals.