Toby Neal: Blood Orchids

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Toby Neal Blood Orchids
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    Blood Orchids
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    Полицейский детектив / на английском языке
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Blood Orchids: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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He doubled the blonde hank into a loop and tucked it in through the key ring, inserting the tail and tugging down so the hair hung secured by its own strands, and trimming it with surgical scissors so all the ends were aligned.

He lingered a bit over the black hair, brushing and remembering. It was too bad he’d had to get rid of Haunani, but when she’d showed up to their special spot with her friend, he just had to have them together. The photos brought his art to a whole new level, and he could remember his time with them anytime he wanted. He opened his drawer and looked in at the other key ring, lush with a rainbow of red, blonde, brunette and black hair.

That ring was full and the girls deserved their own-after all they’d given their lives.

He attached Haunani’s hair to the new ring beside the blonde hank and leaned back in his chair, trailing the hair down his arms, across his chest. He stroked it beneath his nose where he could inhale their scent-grass, girl, and sunshine.

That scent took him straight to his afternoon with them faster than jewelry, clothing, or even the photographs. As the criminologists said, he was evolving. He chuckled at the irony of it all, and closed his eyes again.

Chapter 3

Lei pulled into the detached garage of her little cottage. It had been a long day. The single-walled wooden structure built in the 1960’s-dark green with white trim-was characteristic of Hawaii plantation homes, right down to the galvanized tin roof that amplified the frequent Hilo rain to a percussion orchestra. Lei particularly loved the deep covered porch and the fenced yard where her Rottweiler could patrol during the day.

Keiki put her massive paws up on the chain-link gate and whuffled with joy. She’d bought the young, police-trained dog for security when she moved to Hilo two years ago, and in that time Keiki had become much more than a guard-she was someone to come home to.

“Hey, baby.” Lei rubbed Keiki’s ears. “Go around the back and I’ll meet you for drinks.” The big dog peeled off the gate and galloped around the side of the house as Lei unlocked the front door and let herself in, deactivating the alarm with a few keystrokes. Pono had teased her about her security measures since few people in Hilo locked their doors, let alone had an alarm system-but he’d backed off when she told him a little of her story. More than anything, she needed to feel safe in her home.

Keiki burst through the unlocked dog door. She skidded to a stop as Lei held up her hand. The dog plunked her hindquarters on the floor, grinning. Lei squatted in front of her and rubbed her wide chest.

“Good girl. Mama’s home.”

Keiki snorted, burying her nose in Lei’s armpit.

“Yeah, I know I’m ripe,” she said, getting up and dumping food into Keiki’s bowl. “You pour the wine and I’ll be out in a minute.”

The dog buried her nose in the bowl. Lei had grabbed a burger on the way home-food was not something she liked to spend time on-just fuel for the body. She went into the linoleum-floored bathroom and took the cowry out of her pocket, setting it on the sink as she stripped the filthy uniform off her lean muscular body, dropping it into the laundry hamper.

She’d picked up the smooth little domed shell with its ridged base at the beach the last time Aunty Rosario visited, and rubbing it was one of the ways she’d learned to manage anxiety. She stepped into the shower, luxuriating in hot water pouring over her petite frame, washing away mud and aches as she mulled over what was being called the Mohuli`i case.

She’d asked around about Stevens, the lead detective. He had a solid reputation, and as a seasoned big-city cop his experience was going to be important on a double homicide that was looking complicated and inflammatory. His partner, Jeremy Ito, was a local boy whose biggest case prior to the girls was a homeless guy beaten to death in a park.

It was a good thing Stevens was there to take the lead-South Hilo Police Department seldom had homicides, let alone this kind of case.

Lei scrubbed mud off her legs and out from under her short, unpainted nails, trying to keep her mind from wandering back to images of the drowned girls. Her eyes lighted on the note thumbtacked to the peeling drywall above the shower surround: Well-behaved women rarely make history. -Laurel Ulrich.

Haunani Pohakoa hadn’t been well behaved when Lei met her at the high school.

“I nevah going show you notting.” Her dark eyes flashed defiantly as she spoke pidgin English-thick as burnt sugar in the cane fields that spawned it, the language of choice among ‘locals’ in Hawaii. The dialect had evolved as the many races brought over to work the plantations learned to communicate.

“Open up the backpack,” Lei said. “Your principal called me and we already know you’re carrying.”

“Haunani, no give the officer hard time.” The principal, Ms. Hayashi, wore a muumuu over athletic shoes with a jangling bunch of keys on a lanyard around her neck. The older woman shook her head and the keys rattled. Per protocol, Haunani had already been searched in the library conference room by the principal and a teacher before the police were called. No one had answered at the girl’s parents’ numbers.

“I don’t have to,” Haunani insisted. Lei rolled her eyes. The girl shoved the backpack over abruptly, refolding her arms across a shapely chest that spelled out HOTTIE in rhinestones.

Lei opened the backpack. Inside a rolled up pair of socks were a baggie of pot and a glass pipe.

She pulled a plastic evidence bag out of the snapped pouch on her duty belt and put the marijuana and pipe in, labeling them with a Sharpie marker.

Pono stuck his head in the door. “What’s the story?”

“Got some pakalolo and a pipe here.” Lei held the bag up.

“All right. Let’s go.” Pono gestured. “We’ll try your parents again at the station.”

For the first time, a ghost of fear stole across the girl’s face. “I going be in so much trouble,” she whispered.

Lei took her by an elbow and escorted her past staring and gossiping students to the cruiser and put her in the back. She got in front and waited as Pono finished up paperwork with Ms. Hayashi, glancing in the rearview mirror to see Haunani curled up with her knees beneath her chin and tears tracking down her cheeks through dark makeup.

She felt a pang for the girl. She’d been that miserable once.

“It’s not going to be so bad,” Lei said. “You’re a juvenile so you’ll probably get community service or something.”

“It’s too late now,” Haunani whispered. “He’s going to be so mad I got busted.”

Lei knew what it was like to be abused-by a mother whose drug use ruled her life, by a father who’d abandoned her when he was incarcerated.

“We can help you.”

“No you can’t. Not that I want help from cops anyway.” More tears belied this statement but Lei couldn’t get another word out of her, and in the end no one answered at any of the numbers they called. Pono and Lei would have sent Haunani home with Child Welfare Services, but the worker said there was nowhere to put her.

Lei remembered Haunani’s stony stare as the teen walked out of the police station, thumbing her phone to call someone. It had seemed there was no one who cared about the girl-but now, with shower water cooling around her, Lei wondered if someone in Haunani’s life had been angry enough to kill her.

Lei rubbed the scars on the inside of her arms with a washcloth-thin silvery threads left from days when she’d been desperate to express her pain. She was glad to have those reminders of how far she’d come, and wished she could have shared them with Haunani somehow. Maybe it would have made a difference.

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