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It took Jane several seconds to get her bearings as she stared incredulously at Kit.
“I figured you’d be surprised to see me,” Kit said, closing the door. Jane attempted to sort out the scene in silence. Kit looked down and saw the handheld phone Jane had thrown in anger. She picked it up and placed it on Jane’s desk. “That must have been what I heard hit the door.” Kit dropped her tapestry satchel against the lone chair reserved for clients. “Your face looks much better. I told you that Arnica works.”
“What in the hell is going on here?” Jane said, regaining control of her domain.
“Are you going to offer me a seat?”
Jane searched valiantly for words to match her confused thinking. “We talk outside the meeting and…what? What is this?”
“I guess I’ll offer myself a seat,” Kit replied, pulling the chair away from the desk and plopping her round frame into the cushion.
“Wait just a goddamned minute!” Jane said, coming to her senses.
“Sit down and I’ll explain everything to you,” Kit replied succinctly as she removed a series of envelopes and folders from her satchel.
A bolt of anger erupted inside of Jane. “No! I will explain it to you! You don’t follow me from a bar to my private turf outside an AA meeting and talk to me as if you’re one of us and then just waltz in here! That was sacred territory last night!”
“I understand and respect that,” Kit said in earnest.
“The fuck you do!” Jane yelled, feeling terribly exposed and vulnerable.
“Hell, I don’t care if you’re a recovering alcoholic! That doesn’t make you less of a person in my eyes. Frankly, it makes you more human. If you were all bravado and no vulnerability, then you couldn’t work from your heart, and I know you work from your heart. Last night, it was imperative for me to look into your eyes and really see you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You do the same thing with others before you agree to form a relationship.”
“Excuse me?” Jane said, in a semimocking tone.
“You did it with me last night! You looked into my center. You felt who I was.”
“Let’s not play games, Jane P. Time is of the essence, and I don’t have any desire to fill that time with bullshit.”
“Get out!” Jane ordered Kit, pointing toward the door.
Kit dug her backside into the chair and flipped her long, salt-and-pepper braid over her shoulder in a defiant thrust. “No! I’m not leaving until you hear my petition.”
“If you don’t move your ass out of that chair—”
“What are you going to do, Jane P.? Take a pool cue and knock me across the forehead?” Kit let that statement sink into Jane’s ears.
Jane was dumbstruck. Kit had somehow witnessed the fiasco at The Red Tail the previous night. Grabbing a small digital clock, Jane slammed it on the desk. “Five minutes and then you’re out of here!” Jane sat down.
“Do you believe in fate?”
“Do I believe in fate?” Jane repeated with a wicked edge.
“Yes or no, Jane P.”
“You just chewed up twenty seconds of your time with a dumb question.”
“Oh, you’re going to play tough with me?”
Jane tapped the back of the digital clock. “Four and a half minutes, Kit.”
Kit angrily slapped the clock off Jane’s desk, sending it against the wall. “Scratch the badass cop act! That’s not who you really are!”
“You don’t know who the fuck I am!”
Kit sat forward. “Yes, I do! I followed the Emily Lawrence story very closely this past summer,” she said, referring to the high-profile homicide case that had propelled Jane’s name into the public eye. “I was fascinated by the case and the way you so deftly solved it. When I found out you were going to be on Larry King Live, I taped the show.”
“What are you, a detective groupie?”
“Far from it. I’m deeply interested in any story that deals with a child and a murder. I saw you on Larry King’s show. I looked into your eyes and I saw a kindred spirit. You can stiffen your back and say ‘fuck you’ until the cows come home. I know it’s all a comfortable front to hide your pain and disarm stupid people so they don’t see how sensitive you really are.” Jane cringed at Kit’s backhanded compliment. Having her vulnerability exposed skewed her normal leveraging capabilities. “I don’t want you to think I’m sucking up to you, because I don’t suck up to anyone. Now, I do need to get to the point of my visit. It’s a matter of life and death and time is running out.”
Jane didn’t know what to make of Kit’s disturbing appeal. “Life and death?”
“I assume you’re aware of the breaking national news story of the moment?”
Kit removed the Denver Post from her satchel and slid it toward Jane. “Charlotte Walker, age twelve, kidnapped from her hometown in Oakhurst, California.”
Jane stared at the photo of the hazel-eyed child. “What about it?”
“I think I know who has her,” Kit replied in a shaky voice.