"Someone really did that?"
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Heath shook his head muzzily and tried to look in the direction of the voice. His body wouldn’t do what he wanted it to. He couldn’t even get his eyes to open.
The voice was high and reedy, with a sardonic edge to it. “‘Eath? Wake up, mate.”
Heath’s eyes half-opened, much more slowly than he meant them to. “Turn off your field, Colin,” he said thickly. His brain felt like it had been packed in pancake syrup. “Right fucking now.”
Immediately, without any feeling of transition or mental shift in gear, the world operated at full speed again for Heath. His eyes opened all the way, and he looked around. He was sitting on the armchair in his living room. Someone had put a blanket around his shoulders. A pale, skinny man in a shabby gray overcoat smiled down at him. It wasn’t an unkind smile, but it was gentle without being warm. Its owner was balding, with a scraggly beard that might merely have been the result of half a week without shaving, a receding chin, and a vaguely worried expression. The combination made him look harmless and a little pathetic.
To the casual observer, the Englishman appeared to be what Heath’s old department chair, a relentlessly condescending Boston Brahmin, would have called a “poor thing.” That carefully constructed impression only ever lasted until one looked past the Greyhound’s anxious expression and met his cold blue eyes, which most people only ever did once; he rarely gave anyone the chance to underestimate him a second time.
“Sorry,” Colin said, shrugging his shoulders apologetically. “Dominic said you’d been coming off benzos, and I thought it’d be best for my ‘ealth if you didn’t wake up in an ‘urry.”
Heath got to his feet and stretched. “What time is it?”
The toilet flushed, and the bathroom door opened. “Five a.m.,” Clorox said, strolling into the living room. He’d hung up his car coat. Under it he wore a tight, long-sleeved black tee shirt that showed off his physique and a glossy black leather shoulder holster. It held a blued-steel Walther PPK with a suppressor screwed to the muzzle.
“You smell like a weekend at the Kentucky Derby with ‘unter Thompson,” Colin said in an amused tone, wrinkling his nose theatrically. He dug a pack of Marlboro Lights out of the pocket of his overcoat and shook one into his hand. “Will we be payin’ a visit to ‘ooever maced you?”
“Don’t smoke that in here, Colin,” Heath said without rancor. His skin still burned, but he felt better for having… “slept” wasn’t the right word for what Colin must have done to him, but “switched off” was close enough to sleep to have made a difference, and he was grateful. “Outside. And I was the one with the mace.”
“Who’d you spray?” Colin asked, his eyes twinkling with merriment.
“The Ghost’s daughter’s pimp,” Heath deadpanned, his eyes scanning Colin’s face to see how he’d react.
Colin burst out laughing, a high, inhuman sound. Heath didn’t take offense; he knew there was no merriment in it, only astonishment.
The Englishman regained his self-control. “Good ‘eavens,” he said, his eyes wide. “I am always impressed by the lengths Americans go to when they want to pull off a truly elaborate suicide, but I ‘ave to say, taking advantage of Daryl Carver’s daughter is on another level entirely. Someone really did that?”
Heath nodded. He didn’t feel like talking about Lisa. “Yep,” he said. “You eaten?”
“I could eat,” interjected Clorox. “Your refrigerator ain’t got nothing but leftover takeout food in it. Looks like mine did after my divorce.”
“I rented one of those enormous pickup trucks that get eighteen gallons to the mile,” said Colin cheerfully. “There’s a twenty-four hour diner down the road that looked more or less empty when I drove past it, and I for one am looking forward to wrapping myself around an institutional steak dinner.”
Heath got a hoodie and his garage jacket out of the closet and pulled the second on over the first. “Do me a favor and don’t burn the neighborhood for me until I’ve had a chance to arrange for alternate living quarters,” he said sourly to Colin. “I’ve been out on the town with you before.”
Colin smiled innocently and put a cigarette between his lips.