The shadows played on the wall, swaying back and forth as if they’d come to life. For centuries, the civilized were taught to not believe in monsters, but she knew damn well they existed. The horror they wrought upon the innocent was unspeakable in sane company. Images of them always came home to roost at night when she was alone.
Her chest tightened, and she looked toward the prescription bottle she always set out on her nightstand. The sleeping pills had been a big help when she couldn’t shut her brain off after a case, but until last week, she’d been trying to wean off them. But as the muscles in her body begged for sleep, her mind still ran wild. Her skin tingled as if the shadows watched.
Clicking on the light, she reached for the bottle and took out one pill. Taking it felt like failure, but she knew she’d be good to no one if she were exhausted.
Kate swallowed the pill whole and with a deep sense of resignation lay back on the pillows. It took another thirty minutes for her mind to slow and her eyes to close, and when sleep reached out a welcoming hand, she accepted it even as she promised herself that next time she would not need the pills.
Mazur pushed through the front door of his house. The place was as he’d left it, fairly neat and tidy. There were a few pairs of Alyssa’s socks that she’d discarded without thought the last time she’d spent the night. He never could bring himself to pick up her shoes because when he saw them he thought of her.
As he unclipped his gun, handcuffs, and badge and put them in the top drawer of his credenza by the front door, he studied the pictures always waiting for him in the entryway. There were pictures of his brothers and his mom in Chicago and another of him holding Caleb and Alyssa.
As he moved down the hallway, his phone rang. It was Alyssa. “What are you still doing up, kiddo?”
“I can’t sleep.”
He shrugged off his coat, switching the phone to his other ear as he did. “Why’s that? Everything okay with Mom?”
“She’s on a conference call to New York.”
He checked his watch and frowned. The kid should be asleep. “How did the math test go?”
“I don’t know.”
He sat on the edge of his bed and kicked off his shoes. “Sure you do.”
“Like a ten out of ten.”
“Catch the bad guy yet?”
“Not yet. But I’m working on it.”
“Still working with the Fed?”
He chuckled. “The Fed?”
“I keep up with the lingo. What’s he like?”
Since Alyssa was eight or nine, she’d asked questions about his work. At first she worried about his safety and the late-night hours. His answers were always honest, if not measured. In the last year or two, she’d become curious about the cases. “She’s interesting. Smart. Dedicated and a little quirky.”
“Quirky in a good or bad way?”
“What’s her name?”
“Dr. Kate Hayden.”
“Let me check her out.” Alyssa typed on what he suspected was the laptop he’d given her last year. “Wow, she has dealt with some real bad guys.”