H Is For Homicide Page 39


Dolan smiled with no particular mirth. ’’You've already done the hard part. You've established a relationship with Bibianna, which is something we can't do.’’

’’What good is that? I thought you said she was finished with Raymond.’’

Dolan shrugged. ’’But he's not done with her. If Dawna managed to get word through to him, he's probably on his way up. Just stick with Bibianna, especially if he wants to take her back to L.A. with him. We want you on the inside.’’

’’Wait a minute. I ran into Dawna over at the CF offices. What if she remembers me?’’

’’Don't worry about Dawna. We'll keep her out of circulation.’’

I ran a hand through my hair, which was so tricked out with hairspray, it felt like a wig. ’’Oh, man, you guys are really nuts,’’ I said. ’’I don't know beans about undercover work.’’

’’We're not asking you to go in there cold...’’

’’Oh, that really sets my mind at rest.’’

He ignored that. ’’You'd be thoroughly briefed. We'd have backup in place, somebody who'd know where you were at all times.’’

I found myself looking from one to the other. I didn't trust them. I kept thinking there was a missing piece in here somewhere, something they were holding back. ’’Somehow I'm assuming you've tried it before.’’

’’Without much luck,’’ Santos said. ’’In this situation, we think a female could be effective. These guys don't credit women with much intelligence. You'd have some protective coloring despite the fact that you're not Hispanic yourself. Are you interested?’’

’’No.’’

Dolan put a hand behind his ear as if he hadn't heard right.

’’I'm not going to do it, Lieutenant Dolan. It's been ten years since I was a police officer, and even then, I never did undercover work. Forget it. I'm not trained for that stuff and it's too damn dangerous.’’

’’Sometimes it's the only option,’’ Santos said.

’’It might be your only option, but it's not mine.’’

Santos broke off eye contact. ’’You're looking at a year of county jail time on this battery. Assaulting a police officer is a felony. We can have your license pulled.’’

I stared at him. ’’So now you're going to threaten me? Oh, great. I love that. Well, guess what? I'm not going to do your dirty work. I don't give a shit about Raymond Maldonado.’’ I could feel the heat flash through my frame. ’’I hate to be bullied and I don't relish being beaten with a stick as the motivation for my behavior. You want a performance out of me, you better start someplace else.’’

Santos apparently intended to pursue the point, but Dolan made an impatient gesture, silencing him. ’’Let's just discuss it before you say anything.’’

’’The answer's no.’’

Again, the two men exchanged a look I couldn't quite read. It seemed clear they were working every angle in the book, which was laughable in my view because I wasn't going to yield.

Dolan sat forward in his chair and his voice dropped a notch. ’’One more thing you should know and then you can do anything you want. Your friend Parnell Perkins was one of Raymond's employees. We think Raymond killed him, but we don't have any proof.’’

’’I don't believe it.’’

’’Perkins's real name was Darryl Weaver. He was working for an insurance company down in Compton. Raymond was running all his claims through Weaver until the two had a falling-out. Weaver left Los Angeles and moved up here, changed his name, and went to work for California Fidelity.’’

Suddenly I understood why he'd passed Bibianna's file on to Mary Bellflower. He probably assumed that Raymond and Bibianna were back together, that Raymond would be on his trail if he didn't do something quick. The sight of Bibianna's name must have made his heart stop...

Santos came to life again, taking up the thread. ’’He came to us about a month ago and offered to cooperate. After he was killed, Santa Teresa Police Department ran the prints and notified us, which is why I'm here.’’

’’That's why you buried the homicide investigation,’’ I said, ’’to protect the larger one.’’

’’That's right,’’ Dolan replied. ’’We can't afford to have Raymond find out what we're up to. We haven't dropped the investigation, we're just pursuing it quietly.’’

The room was suddenly still. They let the silence accumulate. I took my time, stalling long enough to consider the implications. A little voice inside sang, Don't do it. Don't do it. ’’What's the timetable?’’ I said cautiously. I was hooked and they knew it.


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