Four claw marks, straight and deep. Jeremy could tell where the tips had grazed the skin and where they’d hooked in to tear. Hailey’s hand shook over the girl’s body, and she pulled it away. “The spacing is about right,” she said.
“But you can’t be sure.”
She shook her head. “I’d have to take impressions and make a model to be sure, but…” Her eyes were haunted. Jeremy didn’t have to look inside Hailey’s mind to know she was thinking about all the ways she could have done this. Innocent until proven guilty was his policy. Hailey’s seemed to be the opposite. She was staring down at the grisly aftermath of a vicious attack, and in her mind, that was evidence of guilt.
Hailey believed herself to be dangerous, and the scientist in her wouldn’t let her accept anything less than cold, factual proof to make her change her mind. Jeremy couldn’t give her that. All he could do was play devil’s advocate and make her see the other side.
“Let’s think this through,” he said, when he probably should have kept his mouth shut. He couldn’t stand the sight of Hailey the way she was now, as though she was drowning. She looked as much a ghost as the dead girl on the table. Jeremy wanted to shake her up, make her angry, make her fight. Anything but this meek acceptance.
It had been a mistake to bring her. She never should have had to see this. He should have stuck to the plan and taken Hailey directly to Torrey.
And reckless. Because what he really wanted to do was shove the drawer back out of sight, take Hailey into his arms and tell her everything would be all right. He wanted to kiss the color back into her lips and feel her breath return. His job was to bring Hailey back to Torrey, not to be her caretaker. He told himself it was all just a pretense to calm her down so he could get her onto the shuttle.
Except it was becoming difficult to see where pretense ended and reality was supposed to begin. Jeremy cleared his throat and dragged his gaze away from Hailey’s downcast eyes to the matter at hand. “This girl is five feet, seven inches tall, about a hundred and twenty pounds—”
“It doesn’t matter,” Hailey said. “It doesn’t matter how tall she is, or how much she weighs; whether she knew karate, or had a weapon. She never would have seen it coming. Doesn’t take much to take prey down. And once you get that far, it doesn’t take much to keep it there.” Her voice was hollow as she spoke. She still wouldn’t look at him.
Jeremy pulled the white sheet back up to cover the girl’s face and break Hailey’s stare. “How do you know that?”
Hailey tapped her temple. “It knows. So I know.”
“Instinct,” he guessed.
Hailey nodded. “Or memory.” She put her hand over the girl’s forehead. “I remember seeing her. She was wearing a green glitter wig and four-inch platform shoes. She winked at me. Said she loved the hair.”
Jeremy took her hand and pushed the drawer back into the wall. “Look at me,” he said.
“What if I killed her?” She was losing it; her mind starting to shut down. He had to break her out of it somehow; this was killing him.
“Stop,” he ordered. “Look at me.” If she went into shock, he’d never get them out of here before someone started asking questions.
She slowly raised her gaze.
“You sensed something last night. Do you remember that?”
Hailey frowned. “Vaguely.” That blank look began to fade. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. Still not enough; she was still too close to the edge. Jeremy pushed.
“Try harder. Think back. It was something you recognized.” If he could just get her to focus on something else…
“I guess. What does it matter?”
He wanted to probe more, ask the things that had been bothering him about this case for a while now. But the window of opportunity slammed shut when he felt the ME decide to butt in. Jeremy let go of Hailey’s hand and put a step more distance between them when the morgue door opened.