Sophia gently dragged her fingertips along the metallic walls of the West Private University HCP, savoring the coolness that danced up her fingers and into her palm. She sighed as the wall ended and her hand fell back to her side.
She didn’t get to have enough of these moments as the Hero Seraphim. She always had a million and one things to do, and savoring the moment was not one of those things. There were always bad guys to catch, paperwork to fill out, training to do, and a family to foster. Ever since Angela had come into her powers Sophia had found her the best teachers, the best supplies, and taken her own valuable time to study her daughter and map out her path to becoming a Hero.
Henry had played a large part in all of that.
A stab of pain lanced into her heart at the thought of her husband, partner, and best friend. <We should be walking this hallway together.>
The best things in Sophia’s life hadn’t happened out on the streets fighting supervillains, they happened in the hallways of this institution. She spent four years with some of the best friends and people she’d ever met, she met Henry here, she’d become a Hero here. Sophia’s daughter didn’t know but she’d been conceived on an alumni visit here.
<Not too far from here actually.> Sophia smiled but it was fleeting.
It was just another fond memory of this place that would be forever tainted. Because despite all the good that had happened here the most terrible thing imaginable had also happened.
Sophia passed the entrance to the library and another stab of pain radiated outward from her heart. She’d have to go in there eventually, but not yet. She wasn’t ready yet. And the Dean was waiting for her.
This wasn’t the first time Sophia had been called to the Dean’s office. She wasn’t always perfect. She’d gotten into trouble before, ironically with Henry in one of the broom closets. Of course, that trip had ended with an awkward talk on safe sex and the Dean giving Henry a handful of condoms and telling them, “Not in the HCP.”
<That’s what you get when you spend most of your Hero career in the sixties.> Sophia had liked the former Dean a lot more than the current one.
She couldn’t fault the DVA’s choice. Iron Giant was a legend. He had every right to be the Dean of an HCP. Sophia just didn’t think the man had what it took. Iron Giant had always been soft in her opinion, despite his name. She’d always found him too by the books, lacking improvisation, and he’d ended up fighting to a draw in his biggest career fight.
<And New York City paid for it.> Sophia wouldn’t bring that up though.
Seraphim might be strong, but she wasn’t in Iron Giants weight class.
The Dean’s office was exactly where she remembered it. Not much had changed in the twenty plus years since her graduation. Even the instructor offices looked pretty much the same. She caught the eye of a sad looking woman who was talking with a man wildly gesturing his arms.
When the other woman noticed Sophia a barrier sprung up in the doorway cutting off the man’s ranting. <Robin Kirk, Force Field.> She remembered. <Usually I left the names and faces to Henry. He was so good at that.>
Sophia had to stop at the Dean’s door for a moment to collect herself. But only for a moment.
“Come in.” A voice called out after a few brisk knocks.
She opened the door and walked in with her chin held high. She wasn’t some bereaved lover who needed to be pitied. She was the Hero Seraphim. She wasn’t weak, and she made sure everyone knew that.
“Sophia, thank you for coming on such short notice.” Dean Ditmar stood as she entered. “Please have a seat.”
<I forgot how tiny he was.> Sophia looked down on the Dean before nodding.
But he wasn’t alone.
A tall woman sat on the edge of his desk, her arms folded, and her red eyes clearly not attempting to hide her dislike.
“Reaper.” She shot the famous Hero a greeting.
“Seraphim.” Her greeting was equally as chilly.
In Sophia’s opinion, Reaper was the opposite of Iron Giant; so it amazed her that the two had been on a team before. Where Iron Giant was too soft, Reaper was too hard. She was too careless, and took risks that put other people in danger; and that didn’t even get into the substance abuse problems. Sophia knew people called her a bitch behind her back, but in her opinion Reaper was the queen bitch.
Even right now the instructor was sitting there with resting bitch face, her eyes hard and fixed on Sophia.
The Dean seemed to notice the frosty atmosphere between the two women and quickly took over the conversation.
“I would first like to offer my heartfelt condolences. Your husband was a fine man. We got to know him a little while he was in town, and the students in our program are better for it.”
The comment was meant to be caring, but it only made Sophia angrier. It was a reminder that instead of spending his last days with her Henry had spent them talking to a bunch of kids. The majority of which would never make it as a Hero.
“Thank you.” She couldn’t take all of the sting out of her reply, but she knew they’d just assume the rest of it was Seraphim being a bitch.
“If you don’t mind getting to the point of this meeting, Dean Ditmar. I am very busy finding my husband’s murderer.” She deadpanned.
The remark flustered the Dean, and even Reaper looked a little put off. “Of course,” he cleared his throat. “We called you here because of Angela.”
Despite how hard she tried to stop it Sophia couldn’t hide the sudden flash of fear from crossing her face. “Is she ok? Did something happen?”
“Angela is fine.” The Dean put his hands out in a calming gesture, which only succeeded in bringing on a new wave of anger. “We’re here to discuss her actions.”
“Angela had a ranking match this morning with the number one ranked freshman, Jason Cook.” Reaper stepped in and took over the conversation.
“I’m aware of the student rankings and my daughter’s competition,” she shot back, trying to cut to the point of this meeting quicker.
“There was an incident.” The Dean tried to put it delicately.
“Angela nearly killed him.” Reaper bluntly laid it all out on the table.
“Nearly…” Sophia waited to hear more, but no one said anything.
“Has the HCP really gotten that soft that they have to bring in parents every time something bad happens.” Sophia chuckled and waved her hand dismissively. “You both know that we live in an unsafe world, and as Heroes we put ourselves between that danger and the weaker humans.”
Her response got an eye roll from Reaper and a stern glare from the Dean.
“This isn’t the real world yet, Sophia. We are still in training, Freshman year training on top of that. Every student knows the rules and they know lethal force isn’t authorized.”
“And it appears lethal force was not used,” Sophia replied.
“Because I stepped in,” Reaper interjected. “If I didn’t she might have killed that boy and ended up being prosecuted.”
“Jason Cook is a good kid, a strong advanced mind, and has the potential to be a great Hero. Angela put that and her own future on the line when she stepped into that combat cell this morning.” The Dean was inferring something, but Sophia didn’t want to hear it.
So of course Reaper stepped in.
“Your daughter is not taking the loss of her father well.”
“Of course she isn’t,” Sophia snapped back, her eyes blazing with rage. “What teenager wants to lose her father like that, right in front of their eyes. What are you a moron?”
“Ladies, settle down please.”
Sophia didn’t even notice she was on her feet squaring off against the taller woman.
“We are here to discuss Angela’s future.” The Dean gestured for them to sit back down.
Sophia waited for Reaper to move before she did. Which got her another eye roll from the legendary woman.
“The problem we are facing is that Angela is suffering from the loss of her father, and we aren’t sure if the continued rigors of the HCP are mentally healthy for her. That’s what we’ve brought you in to discuss.” The Dean said it all calmly and seriously, but all Sophia heard was that her daughter might get held back.
All she heard was that her daughter might get robbed of her chance to become a Hero.
“This sounds like a conversation you should be having with Angela.” Sophia jumped back to her feet.
“We are going to talk with her about it, but we’d also like to discuss it with you, her mother.” The Dean’s tone was pleading as he gestured for her to sit back down.
<I’ve had enough of this.> Sophia did not take a seat.
“Angela is an adult, a grown woman,” the hint of a snarl crept into her voice. “She might have been a little overzealous and emotional from a recent tragedy, but she will overcome. She is a Martin; she was born to be a Hero. She’s been training for this since before your other students even knew what HCP stood for.” Sophia’s voice was just short of a yell now.
“Angela will make her own decisions about continuing in the program. She has my full faith and confidence that she will continue to excel. I take it from your earlier information that she won her match and is now your number one ranked freshman; so think carefully before you start considering she take a ‘leave of absence’.” The last three words came out with a bitter expression. Like she’d just bitten into a sour lemon.
The two HCP faculty sat their silently for a moment before the Dean nodded.
“Very well,” he turned to Reaper with an unreadable expression.
“Since your daughter did not use lethal force she cannot be expelled, but her brutality has drawn the attention of the staff. She is being ordered to see the school psychologist for the rest of the semester while also being placed on probation. If another incident like this occurs, then she will be expelled. Am I clear Mrs. Martin?”
The Mrs. Stung, but Sophia didn’t let anyone see it. “Crystal clear, Dean Ditmar. If that is all I have work to do.”
“That is all. Thank you for coming in on such short notice.” Judging by the Dean’s tone there wasn’t a lot of thanks going around at the moment.
“You’re welcome,” Sophia exchanged her own shallow pleasantry before heading for the door.
“Dean Ditmar,” she stopped with her hand on the doorknob. “As part of my investigation I am going to need to get into your HCP server room in the library. A review of my late husband’s research indicates that he spent some time there before the school’s winter break. You’ll find the proper DVA authorization paperwork in your inbox. If you could please get an administrator over there I’d like to begin immediately. Thank you.” Sophia didn’t turn to see their reaction, but she could practically feel the residual heat of Reaper’s anger.
<Tough.> Sophia thought as she shut the door behind her.
She didn’t care if the HCP staff, especially Reaper was inconvenienced by her investigation. They were her to train the next generation of Heroes. She was fine with that. But she was here to find the son of a bitch who killed her husband. She wasn’t her for justice, she was here for revenge plain and simple. She’d find who did this, deal with them personally, and then she’d likely leave Orlando forever and never return. This had once been a safe place for her, but it wasn’t anymore.
Before she knew it she found herself standing in front of the library doors again. Slowly she approached them and pulled. They opened on well-oiled hinges, not squeaking in the slightest.
The library was just as she remembered. The central row with other rows branching off on either side. The fascinating show pieces in nooks and crannies here and there. There was some new stuff since the last time she’d visited, and some old stuff had been moved to storage, but she didn’t pay attention to most of it.
She moved slowly toward the aisle, their aisle. She walked down it to the place where Henry had first kissed her so long ago, and where years later they’d made Angela. She reached under the wooden shelf, and totally lost her composure when she felt the carving in the wood.
She could tell the latest iteration had been done recently, not long before his death.
Slowly, Sophia slid to the ground, pulled her knees up to her chest and cried. Alone in the library where they’d kissed and made love, Sophia Martin said goodbye to Henry Martin.
There would still be a funeral later for friends and family, but it was a small closed casket affair. When you died in an explosion there wasn’t much left of you to bury. All the forensic teams found was a gallon of blood, shreds of his costume, and some bone fragments. Not even enough to be cremated.
Sophia let the tears flow freely. She let the sadness and anger overwhelm her. She pounded her fists repeatedly on the cold floor, and cursed everything from God to the man she loved for being so stupid.
Once her tear ducts were dry and got back to her feet, which perfectly coincided with the sound of footsteps approaching. She turned and pretended to check out some books. Her makeup was running and she looked like she’d been crying. She looked weak now, and she didn’t want anyone to see her like this.
“Mrs. Martin?” A soft voice asked.
“It’s Ms. Martin.” Sophia was glad her voice was strong and assertive again.
“Ms. Martin,” The voice corrected with confusion. “Ok…I’ve been assigned to set you up with an account on our server.
“Thank you, I’ll be with you in a moment.”
Sophia waited for the sounds of the footsteps to lessen with distance before she ran her hand under the carved wood one last time. “Goodbye, Henry.”
She gave the wood one last look, turned on her heel, and followed the footsteps toward the back of the room.
She had work to do.
“So what are we doing tonight?”
It was Saturday night and the women of townhouse 117 were sitting around the living room. Anika sat on one side of the couch while Becca lay across it with her head in the other woman’s lap. Kyoshi was on the floor, her back against the same couch Becca and Anika occupied, and Liz was seated on the other chair. She had her legs tucked under her butt, and was the one who had posed the question to the other women.
The only reply was the sound of crickets.
“Come on ladies,” Liz threw her hands in the air in exasperation. “We’re all strong, powerful, capable women. We’re not single but we can still mingle. We gotta show that we can have a night of fun together without the men around.”
“We aren’t having a pillow fight in lingerie.” Anika put her foot down.
“Of course we aren’t,” Liz waved the complaint aside. “That only happens in B movies and cheap pornos.”
“And with us someone would likely get hurt.” Kyoshi added.
The advanced mind had a point. Four Supers, one of which had super strength, and another super speed, intent on beating each other up with pillows was going to get bloody fast.
“What makes you think I was going to suggest a lingerie pillow fight?” Liz sighed, slightly less exasperated than before.
“Because we know you, Liz,” Kyoshi stated bluntly, but with a warm smile that dulled the blow.
“Fine,” Liz huffed. “No skimpy outfits. “How about we just all go out to dinner, my treat.”
That caught the other women by surprise.
Kyoshi, Becca, and Anika were typical college students aside from their super powers; and college students didn’t tend to have a lot of money. Sure they had enough to go out on the town every once and a while, but to take three other people to dinner was usually out of their budgets. Even Kyoshi, who was the most well off of the group, didn’t have that kind of cash lying around. The tall advanced mind didn’t have to worry about student loans, but that didn’t mean her parents were just forking over hundreds of dollars a month.
“Are you sure?” Anika looked more suspicious than worried about Liz’s financial status.
Anika had been working hard on her telepathy since getting back from Winter Break and it irritated her that she wasn’t able to get more than the occasional stray thought from Liz.
“Yeah sure,” Liz was already up and moving. “Get dressed up for a night on the town ladies. Let’s try to class it up a bit. I’ve got first dibs on shower.”
That led to a lot of groaning in protest, but eventually they all came to the same conclusion. A night out, away from all the recent madness, would be good for all of them.
A night out means something different in college than when you are a kid or an adult. When you’re a kid “night” begins when the sun goes down and usually only lasts a couple of hours until bedtime. When you’re an adult, especially if you have kids, night consists of the time period where night time activities take place. When you’re in college night time is controlled by the hours of the bars, and can last until well after midnight.
So when Liz and the rest of the Townhouse 117 women didn’t get out the door until nine o’clock it was just the beginning of a college night out.
Some had tried harder than others. Becca and Anika were both in jean, t-shirt, sweater combos. They’d gone for comfort. Kyoshi was aiming for the same thing but threw on a blouse and a nice jacket at the last second when she’d noticed what Liz was wearing. Liz had gone for a tight black mini-skirt and a matching black blouse with a deep V-neck that showed a good amount of cleavage. One wrong move and she’d probably fall right out of the shirt.
Kyoshi half expected Liz to pull out six inch stilettoes to go with the outfit, but breathed a sigh of relief when she came down the stairs in shiny, reflective black flats.
“What’s with all the black?” Becca, who tended to dress in a lot of color asked.
“We’re in morning aren’t we,” Liz shrugged. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t look hot.”
On top of offering to pay for dinner Liz also drove. They all piled into Liz’s car, a black Jeep, and peeled out on their way to downtown.
No one knew where they were going but Liz.
“Here we are.” Liz skidded to a stop at a valet stand outside a nice restaurant.
“Thank god,” Kyoshi practically jumped out of the passenger seat. “How the hell did you pass your driving test?”
They could still smell burned rubber in the air.
“You wear the right outfit,” Liz replied with an impish grin while she handed over a ten to the valet.
The restaurant was just as nice as the one Mason had taken Kyoshi to on their first date, so everyone but Liz felt immediately underdressed. Liz didn’t seem to notice their discomfort.
“I want the table in the back corner over there,” Liz pointed with on hand while slipping the host a twenty.
The man discretely took the bill with a cough and led them to the table Liz had bribed out of him.
“What’s with all the demands?” Anika asked. Her suspicions had grown when she’d seen the restaurant.
There was no way this was normal.
“I just wanted to be in the right place at the right time.” Liz replied, distracted, as she looked behind Anika.
“What are you…oh,” Kyoshi followed Liz’s eyes to a table on the far side of the restaurant. “I get it now.”
At a couple’s table, paying little attention to each other were Seth and Emilia Scarborough.
“What?” Becca turned around to look where Kyoshi was.
“Shhh, don’t give us away.” Liz grabbed a large menu and opened it to conceal her face. “You’re going to blow the whole thing.”
Everyone around the table relaxed, except for Liz. This wasn’t a spur of the moment night on the town. This was Liz looking for back up while spying on her man.
“Is there a reason Seth is having dinner with one of the SUBs?” Anika raised a questioning eyebrow.
“SUBs?” Liz only lifted her head enough so her eyes could peer over the top of the menu.
“Stuck up bitches,” Kyoshi explained. “We know Emilia from school and she is a grade A stuck up bitch.”
“Oh…I like that.” Liz grinned, but never took her eyes off Seth.
“Liz, what’s goin’ on?” Becca asked tentatively. “You know you can tell us, right?”
So Liz told them. She told them about her time in North Carolina with Seth’s family; which SUB also applied very well too. She told them how they didn’t think Liz was good enough for him, and how they’d set him up with Emilia. Apparently, she was of respectable breeding. She told them how Seth had to go on a date with her and sell it to his parents or they’d never leave him or Liz alone.
“So what’s your plan?” Anika’s demeanor had softened over the course of the story. “You going to walk right down there and whip out your knockers.” She pointed at Liz’s chest straining against her blouse.
“Are you worried about your two week…break?” Becca didn’t really know how to describe the awkward two weeks when Liz and Seth and been apart.
“Do you want me to read their minds?” Kyoshi offered.
“Don’t really have a plan. I am a little worried about our little hiatus, and you don’t have to read their minds.” Liz answered all of their questions.
“Ok, I won’t read their minds.” Kyoshi picked up the menu. “But I can tell you just from the feel around them that neither are enjoying themselves.”
“Good.” Liz hid her smile with the menu.
She never expected Seth and Emilia to fall in love or even have a relationship that caused Seth to break up with her. It was all just simple jealousy. Liz knew she was being a little possessive of her boyfriend, but taking into account her father’s disapproval of their relationship it was better to follow them around then having to live with herself if something bad happened.
“Good evening, my name is Timothy, and I’ll be your waiter today.”
Timothy looked like a grad school student who was working for some extra spending money. He also had a big smile on his face. It wasn’t everyday a guy got to wait on girls like them, or girls dressed like Liz.
“We’ll take four shots of vodka, Timothy.” Liz ordered. “Do you want anything?” She looked at the rest of the girls without any hint that this was a joke.
“Um…water for me thanks.”
“I’ll have an iced tea.”
“A beer please, something imported.” Anika shrugged when Becca gave her a hard look. “She said she’s buying.”
“Please,” Liz gestured at the table in general. “Eat, drink, and be merry. This is a thank you for entertaining my stalker behavior.”
“You can stalk anyone as much as you want.” Anika sighed after taking a sip of the German microbrew that Timothy had returned with.
After the cheap beer offered at college house parties it was like drinking liquid gold.
The girls couldn’t decide on anything so they ordered a bunch of appetizers and shared them to the point they were stuffed. Liz alternated her attention between her friends and Seth. For the most part he and Emilia just talked. There was the occasional laugh, which felt like a sword getting rammed in Liz’s gut, but other than that nothing of significance.
“I’m going to call him.” Liz suddenly declared.
“Don’t do it, Liz.”
Everyone agreed it was a bad idea, but a bad idea had never stopped someone before.
“I’ll be right back.” Liz got up and left despite more protests.
She wound her way to the back of the restaurant and found the restroom. It seemed empty when she arrived, but she opened all the stalls to make sure. She sat down on the couch, got out her phone and dialed the first number on her speed dial.
She tried not to chew her nails while it rung. <If he doesn’t pick up I swear I’ll…>
“Hey,” Liz released a breath she hadn’t realized she’s holding. “How’s it going?”
“It’s going fine.” Seth sounded amused. “Are you calling to check up on me.”
“Am I calling to…” Liz did her best to feign astonishment. “I completely and absolutely trust you Seth Abney. A relationship has to be built on trust.”
“Ok good, because I could have sworn…”
The door to the restroom pushed open and Seth stepped inside.
“…I saw you.” He hung up the phone and shook his head.
“Ah poppycock.” Liz groaned.
“Poppycock?” Seth raised and eyebrow and smiled.
“I’ve been thrown out of places like this before because of inappropriate use of the English language. So I have alternative ways to express myself.”
“And you went with poppycock?”
“It’s a perfectly good word.” Liz rambled, trying to regain her mental footing. She wasn’t used to being caught red handed. “It’s of dutch origin and actually means nonsense, but I think it works for this type of situation.”
Seth took two quick steps and grabbed her by the arm. “Just shut up and kiss me.”
The tongue tango that ensued would have progressed to the ripping off of clothing if another woman hadn’t walked in just then.
“Good heavens…” she beat a hasty retreat, and Seth and Liz had to come up for air.
Liz also had to tuck her boobs back into her blouse.
“Well they aren’t going to let me back in here again,” Liz frowned, but really couldn’t care less.
“Oh well?” Seth shrugged as he got himself to calm down.
“Hey, Seth,” Liz put her arms around him and held on tight.
“Can we go away again soon. It doesn’t have to be to the Caribbean again, or anywhere fancy. I just want to go away, just the two of us.” Liz didn’t like how it came out pleadingly, but it was her begging. “I just want to get away from all of this.”
Seth just smiled. He bent down kissed her passionately, and gave her ass a firm squeeze; eliciting a giggle on her part.
“Sure thing. Anything for my special lady.”
“Good.” She stared up into his magnificent green eyes for a second before shaking herself free of love’s spell. “Now get back out there. You’re neglecting the other woman. If she’s open for a ménage then we can talk about it, but other than that I want you home by midnight.”
“Of course,” he said it like it was the most natural thing in the world. “Tell the girls hi from me.”
With that Seth left the ladies room.
Liz spent another couple of minutes getting herself presentable again. She had to readjust all of her clothing. To hit that perfect line between looking hot and looking like a whore was something you couldn’t rush.
A man poked his head in, probably to see if any hanky-panky was going on in the bathroom. Liz paid the part of the upset female customer perfectly and got her bill comped, so she returned to the table with a smile.
“You were gone for awhile.” Kyoshi frowned and then looked her over. It didn’t take long for the advanced mind to put two and two together. “We really suck at stalking don’t we.”
“You’re a six foot seven half Japanese half German with platinum blond hair and curves to make any man weak in the knees. If you didn’t suck at stalking you’d have to be invisible.”
Kyoshi took the backhanded compliment as it was meant to be, with a smile.
“Let’s order another round of drinks. Timothy!” She called.
The waiter appeared looking a little nervous. Having their bill comped might affect his tips.
“Another round please,” she lifted an empty shot glass. “And send one to that dashing looking man right there.” She pointed across the room at Seth.
“And the lady?” Timothy asked nervously. Stuff like this could cause a commotion.
“Bring that stuck up bitch a refill of water.”
Timothy nodded and quickly walked away.
Liz eased back in her chair and smiled a truly happy smile. “This has been fun. What are we doing next?”
The computer logs were difficult to read. Sophia had never been the genius with this part of Hero work. When she interned the DVA did all the work, and when she teamed up with Hunter he did. Her job was to pound the enemy to a pulp.
<Hunter.> Sophia ignored the pang of sadness as she compartmentalized her thoughts.
She needed to focus on her work now, and that required her to think of things in a different light. She hadn’t just lost Henry. The Hero community had lost Hunter, a renowned Hero and one half of her team. That was what was hurting her now. Loosing Hunter would make her job more difficult, but she would persevere.
Sophia scrolled down through the log of every keystroke and mouse click that Hunter had made on the HCP computer. It was late on a Saturday. Usually she’d be at a marketing event, a fundraiser for various charities, or on a mission. Today was the latter. She was on a mission, maybe the biggest one of her career.
She knew that if she didn’t solve this case it would define her career.
<Woman can’t bring husband’s killer to justice. Hero lets partner’s murderer run free.> Despite her attempt to keep her thoughts under control she slipped up as the imaginary headlines ran through her mind.
It was difficult, and Angela acting out had only made it more so.
<How could she be so careless, so immature, so reckless?> Sophia continued to rant as she sat silently in front of the monitor.
It was trouble to piece together what the logs meant without the reports Hunter had filed. She’d finally received them and a picture was starting to form.
His prime suspect had obviously been Wraith, and he’d been obsessing over the young Supervillain ever since the Nevada armored car robbery.
Sophia saw why.
As a Hero with over twenty years of experience she’d stopped believing in coincidences long ago, and there was a chain of them here. The attack on Sprout, which Reaper reported was led by Hellgate. Since the notorious supervillain was presumed dead that report hadn’t gained a lot of traction in Washington.
Then there was the Nevada crime which happened to contain a WITSEC list that had Anika Kemps name on it. Since Kemps was almost abducted at Sprout that was something Sophia couldn’t overlook.
There was more information since then; the power outage and the interrogation of the Fist member all seemed to point to the same shadow woman who was tentatively ID’d as Wraith.
<Who are you?> That was the million-dollar question, and the answer everyone was looking for.
Sophia scrolled to the next page and clicked on the attached links.
Hunter had been looking for any connections to registered Supers with Wraith’s known abilities. He’d been trying to trace her to a possible relative or parent, but without any luck. The only person he’d searched was a Amelie Noel, and she’d died over eighteen years ago.
<And she did puppet shows at hospitals, not exactly a criminal act. What does that have to do with anything?> She clicked the jpeg and wished she hadn’t.
The poor woman looked like a carved pumpkin, and not in a good way.
<What the hell were you looking for, Henry?>