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Emily sighed heavily as the division lieutenant signaled to her across the noisy precinct room. Her desk overflowed with files needing her attention. Somehow, she didn't think he was about to help her clear it off.
Most files she was working on involved paperwork. She admitted to herself it had been thoughtful of her colleagues to make the first weeks of her return after the hiatus a bit easier. After all, recovering from a gunshot wound wasn't child's play. But she was getting bored with parking ticket follow-up and presenting crime-proofing demonstrations to service clubs.
The lieutenant beckoned to her again. Emily jumped to her feet, pasting on a smile.
She decided he had something more on his mind than another lunch meeting–he always left the assignments for those little gems sticky-noted to her desk lamp while she was at lunch or on break. She jogged to the waiting officer, noticing at the last minute he held a stack of files in his hands.
Oh, no, not more paperwork.
Emily stopped in front of the grey-haired veteran. "Hey, lieutenant, you got some work for me?"
Her sultry, sexy voice didn't match her no-nonsense approach to life. Still, it had proven useful. It was her just-out-of-bed tone that had established her reputation on the phone sex sting organized by Yorkton Police the year before. But it also led some men to assume she was less intense, intelligent and committed to criminal justice than she was.
If that was a man's first blunder, it was the only mistake she allowed. Emily didn't give second chances to men who saw her long legs, trim body and wavy, shoulder-length auburn hair as hermain attributes and best traits. She didn't make a production out of dismissing men who only saw the physical. It was nothing more than a fact of life and that's how she treated it. They weren't worth her time.
"Yeah, Emily," Lieutenant Axworthy said. "I've got some files here I need you to look at."
"Sure thing. Can they wait 'til this afternoon, sir? I've got the mayor's wife's parking ticket coming up in court this morning. I'm supposed to be there if I can."
"I'd rather you send the information over with Rodriguez. These files need your attention right away. Frankly, I don't think anybody else can work on this the way you can, Evans." Emily didn't miss the tension or the sense of urgency in Axworthy's voice.
"Okay, sir, what've you got for me?"
"I know this might be tough for you to listen to, but I want you to hear me through." He looked down at the stack of files he was holding. "Come on into my office." He led the way to his tiny cubicle and shut the door behind the young detective.
"Is this something new?" Emily was confused. Why hadn't her commander just dropped the files onto the stack already accumulating on her desk?
"Well, yes and no. The cases span the last few years. For a while, we didn't suspect there was a connection among them. I mean, cases like these are so tough on the victims and their families, sometimes they aren't even reported."
Suddenly, Emily knew what her lieutenant was leading up to and why he wanted her to listen to all he had to say. She swallowed hard, forcing herself to remain silent although the urge to object was almost irresistible.
"Sometimes women don't want to report this kind of a crime and I can't say I blame them. Lord knows, I've always thought the tests to collect physical evidence were difficult enough for the victim to handle. And even during the smoothest investigation, the case can take on a life of its own." He paused. "I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, am I?"
"This is a sexual assault case, isn't it, sir?" By now Emily's heart was pounding madly in her chest.
She remembered too well flying to New Orleans to identify her sister's body in the cold, stainless steel morgue of the downtown police station. She recalled the bruises in sullen relief against the stark white of Rowena's naked body. No place on her sister's slim body had been immune to her attacker's brutal rampage.
"It is, Emily. I'm forming a task force and I want you to be at its head."
Copyright © 2002 by Jeannette Abbott