Invasion of Justice (Shadows of Justice)(5)

By: Regan Black

"If you'd been alone, you'd be dead by now," Gideon said, joining them.

Petra looked at him, then away. The docks weren't any improvement. The bleak, dismal view left an impression she didn't want to cloud her senses later. The very air smelled of disuse and decay. "I need to get out of here."

"I'll drive you," Kincaid offered. "We're at the Ritz downtown."

"Nice. But no thanks. I'll take the el." As she walked the few blocks to the platform, her nerves got worse instead of better. Only after forcing herself through the security scanner and into the elevated train, did Petra realize the feelings weren't her own.

My sister.

Pushing aside the layer of anxiety, Petra smiled. Her sister hated the el. It was fascinating to discover such a detail about a person who'd been a figment of her imagination until an hour ago. Mentally, Petra reached out and waited for a reply. When nothing but emptiness returned to her, Petra sent out as much warmth as she could generate after the ordeal at the docks.

Once in her hotel suite, she wrote the first draft of her report and then ran through a brief healing meditation. When she felt restored, she put on her favorite music and sent herself in search of the sister she'd never known.

The incessant summons of her cell card brought her back before she'd made any real progress. The distinctive chirp told her it was another CRIA call. Maybe they'd found the victim in the lab at last.

"Petra Neiman."

"It's Kincaid."

The tension in those words brought her to full alert. "Let me guess. Genetics researcher dead by evisceration. Looks like suicide. Pretty fresh scene, I'd bet. It got funneled to me–"

"And you didn't report it?"

"CRIA ordered me here. I haven't had a chance to re–"

"Just shut up a minute."

She did. This sort of impatience didn't match with Kincaid's normally temperate personality. Something was very wrong. "You're scaring me."

"About time something did. Meet me downstairs in ten minutes."

The connection died as Petra deciphered their emergency escape code. She had five minutes to meet him in the south stairwell on the tenth floor. Having not bothered to find the landmark when she checked in, she wasted two minutes getting her bearings.

"Are we evacuating?" she asked, gasping from her mad dash up four flights.

"Not yet. Let's go for a walk."

He started back down and she followed him, restraining the urge to comment that they could've met at ground level. Except anyone listening to the call would've expected that. Petra knew if Kincaid was taking these precautions, there was a reason. She shivered, hoping it was a glitch and not a serious breach in CRIA security.

The stairwell opened into a street level alley. Kincaid helped her negotiate the smelly dumpsters and cluster of homeless men near the street. They merged into the foot traffic and walked for two blocks before Kincaid spoke again.

The tension simmering around him warned her she wouldn't like what he had to say.

"Nathan's been arrested. Apparently for the crime you experienced." He risked a touch to steady her when she stumbled at the news, but he released her quickly. "Why didn't you call me when you felt the scene?"

"I didn't want to believe it was real."

"Did you see the killer?"

She shook her head, forced herself to think logically. Her brother had nothing to do with this. Surely everyone knew better. This was just a formality.

"I was inside him. I felt his anticipation, even the blood on his hands. It wasn't Nathan."

"It was his retina."

"What?" Petra stopped, and was jostled by those around her. Fortunately, nothing stronger than irritation got through. She lowered her voice. "The security scanner's wrong. It can't be Nathan. What I felt was dark and vicious. Nothing like I've ever felt in Nathan."

"The deceased is General Hawthorne."

Petra gasped and began walking again. "I know they didn't always agree, but they were on the same team." She straightened her shoulders. She could do this. "When do we leave?"

"We don't. I'm leaving in an hour."

"But I can help you ID the real assassin."

"Not when I need you here. Not when it's personal. If you were there, you'd threaten the case no matter what you found."

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