Today's Reading

"Your name, please?"

"Bonnie Larson," she said, after a fractional pause. Daltrey wrote this down in a small notepad.

"Who do you think that is?" Daltrey gestured with the notepad to the body on the ground.

Bonnie's throat worked. Her hands clenched at her sides.

"I...I thought...I mean, I think it's Naomi." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "Naomi Scott."

Daltrey had been a cop a long time. Her expression gave nothing away as she wrote something else and then raised her eyes to meet Bonnie's again.

"What can you tell me about Naomi Scott?"

Bonnie blinked. "I don't..."

"Anything you know," the detective encouraged her. "Who she is, where she works, how old she is."

"She works with me at the Library," Bonnie said, uncertainly. "We're both bartenders. She's at school during the day. Law school."

Daltrey made a note.

"Please," Bonnie said, her voice faltering, "tell me it isn't her."

The detective paused, as if deciding what to say. When she spoke, though, she delivered the news quickly and she didn't sugarcoat it.

"I'm sorry to inform you that identification found on the victim indicates that it is Naomi Scott."

"Oh my God." Bonnie reeled back, taking the news like a blow. Her blue eyes filled with tears.

"She can't be dead," she pleaded, looking from the detective to Harper. "She was at work tonight. She was fine. She's only twenty-four. What happened?"

Daltrey focused on Harper.

"This is off the record, you got me?"

Harper nodded, although she was taking mental notes of everything that was said.

Daltrey turned back to Bonnie.

"She was shot." Her tone was almost gentle. "Is there anything you can tell me about her? Did she tell you she was scared of anyone? Did she have any problems you can think of?"

But Bonnie was numb now. In a kind of shock.

She shook her head. "I don't know. I don't think so."

Tears spilled over, running down her cheeks. "I have to tell her dad."

"We'll take care of that," Daltrey said, quickly.

She turned back to Harper. "Did you know the victim, too?"

"Only a little. I saw her at the bar tonight. She left an hour or so ago. She said she was going home."

"She live on River Street?" Daltrey asked.

"I don't think so."

The detective snapped her notebook shut and glanced at her watch. "Okay. I need both of you to come down to the station and give me a statement."

Harper's heart sank.

"Could we come later?" she asked. "I've got to get my story in first.

And there's not much I can tell you..."

"I don't care about your story." Daltrey cut her off. "This is homicide, McClain. Either you get to the station under your own power immediately or I will have you both taken there under mine. Am I clear?"

There was no point in arguing.

"We'll go straight to the station," Harper agreed, glumly. "I'll meet you there," Daltrey said.

She ducked under the crime tape and headed back to the body. When she was gone, Harper turned to Miles.

"You heard all that?"

He nodded, concern in his eyes. "You want me to call Baxter?"

Harper let out a long breath. The last thing she wanted was for him to call the city editor and wake her up to tell her Harper wasn't at the scene of a murder in the center of the tourist zone because it turned out she'd been talking to the victim an hour ago.

But that was exactly what he had to do.

"Yeah." She rubbed her forehead. The tequila she'd drunk earlier was transforming into a nice little headache.

"She's not going to like this," he warned her. "She finds out you left, she's going to be pissed."

But Harper was already leading Bonnie away. She threw her answer back to him over her shoulder.

"What's new?"

This excerpt ends on page 11 of the hardcover edition.

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