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Tsuritama

Daughter Of The Dragon Princess(10)

By: Nina Croft



Mal ignored him. He’d put in another call and hopefully, soon the order would come down that he could take the girl and they’d be out of here.

“Let me see your arm,” Cole said.

“It’s okay.”

“Yeah, I can see that, which is why I want to look at it. Come on, indulge my curiosity.”

He turned and displayed the nearly healed wound.

Cole whistled. “What are you?” he asked again.

“A fast healer.” He hoped that would be an end to the conversation, but no such luck.

“You know, that sort of thing could go a long way to explaining how a man could be hit over the head with a very heavy object and within an hour there’s no sign.”

“Really?”

“One day you’ll tell me, right?”

“Sure, I will.”

“Yeah, then you’ll have to kill me. Come on, let’s get in there and find out what our little beauty queen knows. My bet is—absolutely nothing.”

She sat hunched on one of the hard plastic chairs, her fingers tracing patterns on the table in front of her. As they entered, she glanced up, her gaze darting between them, lines of strain etched around her mouth and eyes. Cole dragged out the chair opposite her then studied her, a frown forming. “Has anyone brought you a coffee?

“No.”

“You want one?”

She gave a glimmer of a smile. “I would murder for a coffee right now.”

“Perhaps not the most diplomatic answer considering where we are. But I’ll be right back.”

When the door closed behind him, she turned her attention to Mal. “Why is this happening to me? You know, don’t you?”

Mal shrugged. Yeah, he knew. But what could he say? Because your mother was a sad, bitter woman brought to the end of her tether by a cold, arrogant mate who cared for nothing but himself? That your father was an evil bastard who took advantage of her. It wouldn’t help her to know those things. She just needed to do as she was told, fulfill her destiny, and maybe she would survive. Though she might come to wish otherwise.

But he wasn’t telling her anything until he was sure she wasn’t in league with the Conclave. Oh, she appeared innocent enough, but that meant nothing.

***

It looked like she was back in the crazy world.

Lily rubbed her eyes and glared at the man lounging against the wall, arms folded across his chest. Maybe if she nagged enough, he would get annoyed and reveal something. She opened her mouth, but at that moment, the detective returned and she clamped it shut again.

He was juggling three coffees and carrying her handbag under his arm. After dumping the bag on the table, he handed that man a coffee, then put a second down in front of Lily before sinking onto the seat opposite her.

“We’re not charging you with anything but you have the right to a lawyer.”

“No. Just get it over with.” And then what would she do? Where would she go? Home had hardly proved to be a safe haven.

Cole picked up the handbag, reached inside, and lifted something out. Lily was unsurprised when he held up the gun with his thumb and finger, careful not to leave prints on the dull, black metal. “Is this yours?” he asked.

Lily stared at the gun with revulsion. “No. It’s his.” She swiveled in the chair and scowled at the man leaning against the wall. His face remained impassive.

“Mal?” Cole asked.

“It’s not mine.”

Rage welled up inside her. “He’s a fucking goddamn liar. Why are you listening to him? Why is he even here? He broke into my apartment, held me at gunpoint, and you do nothing.” Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to calm down. “At least tell me who he is.”

Cole shrugged. “His name is Malachite Smith. He’s a government agent.” He quirked an eyebrow. “So you can see, Ms. Palmer, why we are a little skeptical about your story.”

Lily stared at him. “A government agent? Are you sure? How do you know he’s not lying?”

“I’ve known Mal a long time,” Cole said. “I’ve worked cases with him before. Unfortunately, I don’t know you.”

Lily had no clue what was going on. If he was a government agent, what did that mean? Why would the government be interested in her?

“Right,” Cole said. “Tell me what happened tonight.” He reached forward and pressed a button on the desk. “Interview with Lily Palmer, of 115 Beacon Way, Balham. Go ahead.” He nodded to Lily.

She went through it slowly, trying to get everything straight in her head, starting from when she had woken up and first seen Mal. She didn’t mention the strange sense of recognition. She didn’t want Cole to think she was crazy. Even if she was.

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