Today's Reading

A rumble broke the stillness, and they all turned to see a white van with the words forensics unit on the side rolling up to the crime tape, its tires stuttering on the cobbles.

Its cold, bright headlights swung across the cluster of investigators, lighting up the scene like a film set.

They all saw the body in the same instant. The young woman lay sprawled on her back on the uneven cobbles. She was African American, slim and slight. She wore a black top with a knee-length skirt. Her legs were at an odd angle.

Harper couldn't make out her face from where she stood but one thing was certain—this was no gangbanger crime.

Lifting his camera, Miles fired off a rapid series of shots.

Harper stood on her toes to get a better look. Something about the woman was familiar.

Beside her, Bonnie made a stifled shocked sound. "Don't look at the body," Harper said.

But Bonnie didn't look away. Instead, she leaned against the crime tape, pushing hard enough to make it bow.

One of the uniforms pointed his flashlight at her disapprovingly. "Hey you—get back."

Harper turned to ask her what the hell she was doing. The last thing she needed was for Bonnie to piss off the cops. Things were bad enough with them already.

But the complaint died on her lips. All the color had left Bonnie's face.

"Oh my God, Harper," she said, staring at the body in the street. "I think that's Naomi."


Before Harper could tell her she was wrong—she had to be wrong, it didn't make sense and they couldn't see the body properly from here—the uniformed cop beat her to it.

"Did you say you know the victim?" He raised his flashlight, shining it on Bonnie's face.

Her pupils shrank to pinpricks in the harsh light.

"I think...maybe." Her voice was unsteady. "Her shirt—does it look like mine?"

The cop shined the light on her black T-shirt. Across the front, it read, the library: from beer to eternity.

He was young. They always put the young ones on the late shift. He hadn't yet learned to hide his thoughts. Harper could see the truth in his face.

She squinted at the body in the distance.

Was that really Naomi? It couldn't be, could it?

She'd only been working at the bar a few months, but Harper knew enough about her to know she was an unlikely victim. Bookish and a bit shy, she eschewed the short skirts that Bonnie preferred. Amid the crowds of art students that favored the bar, with their brightly colored hair and eclectic clothing, she'd seemed quite conservative. In that way, she stood out. That, and the fact that she was gorgeous, with high cheekbones, cat-shaped eyes, and a perfect figure.

She never seemed to try to be noticed, but everyone noticed Naomi. Who killed a girl like that?

"Stay right here," the cop ordered, swinging his flashlight to take in all three of them. "None of you moves."

He ran across to the official cluster.

A moment later, the detective Harper had noticed earlier broke loose from the group at the foot of the stairs and walked toward them with the uniformed cop.

She was dark-skinned, about forty years old, no taller than five foot four. She wore a simple, navy suit with a white blouse. Her hair was short and no-nonsense straight. She ducked under the crime tape with the ease of an athlete.

"Which one of you thinks you know the victim?"

Detective Julie Daltrey's tone was crisp and official. Her eyes skated across Harper's face without a flicker of acknowledgment that she'd known her for years in her distant expression. That they used to gossip and joke at crime scenes like this one.

Hesitantly, Bonnie raised her hand. "Me."

Harper watched as Daltrey took in Bonnie's blue-streaked ponytail, her miniskirt, and her black work T-shirt.

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