Erik and Lady Maritza descended back down the stairs with neutral looks. Lady Maritza motioned for her two guards to follow her as she walked out of the house. The woman didn’t even so much as look at Anne or the others as she stormed out. Erik was just glad she was gone. Damn nobles always managed to screw up an operation.
“The others gave you the basic history?” Erik asked. Anne nodded. “Good. Lady Maritza is going to help us smuggle you out of the city. Apparently your fellow cops are looking for you.”
“What do you mean, smuggle me out?” Anne asked.
“We need to get you back to Avalon to figure out why the Dark Towers want you so badly,” Erik answered.
“No,” Anne said, gripping her pistol tighter, “I’m not going to let you take me.”
“Are you insane?” Erik asked, exasperated, “Do you remember the monsters you fought at the warehouse? Do you want those things popping up in the city looking for you? We can protect you in Avalon.”
“I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got a serial killer running around out there,” Anne said, “Unless it was one of those monsters doing the killing, I’m not going to leave until I’ve caught the bastard.”
“Erik, stop,” Samantha said. Then she turned to Anne. “If we can help you find this killer of yours, will you consider coming back to Avalon with us?” Anne thought it over for a moment, and then nodded.
“Good, then might I suggest that Kurt take you home so that you can call your people,” Samantha said, “He can also take the night watch tonight.”
“Night watch?” Anne asked.
“Anne, you’re going to need one of us nearby in case Arem tries again,” Samantha said. “Kurt can watch you tonight. One of us will meet you in the morning to discuss these murders of yours and see how we can help catch the killer.”
“What am I supposed to tell everyone?” Anne asked.
“You’re smart. You’ll come up with something,” Veronica said, walking over to Anne. The small woman touched Anne’s head and murmured a string of sing-song words. Anne felt a rush of heat that dissipated quickly. “There, that should help.”
“Detektivin, if you will follow me,” Kurt said, with a low bow. Damn it. On anyone else, the gesture would have been cheesy. The German just pulled it off with a dashing charm.
Anne followed Kurt back out of the house. He led her over to the garage and opened the passenger door of a beige sedan with a flourish. Anne smiled.
“You know, I can open the door myself,” Anne commented as she sat down in the car.
“You’ve had a very bad night,” Kurt said, “Please allow me to try and make it a bit better.” He closed the door and walked around to the driver’s side. Anne leaned back in her seat. A very bad night? That was an understatement.
“Where would you like to go?” Kurt asked as he climbed into the car, “Home? Your office? The hospital? Dinner?” There was a slight mischievous glint in his blue eyes as he said the last word.
“Home, I guess,” Anne said, pushing down a long-forgotten flutter in her stomach. Damn it, this guy kidnapped her. I don’t care if he is pretty to look at. And the accent is kind of cute. No! His employers want to take me to another world.
“I am truly sorry that you are involved in this, Detektivin Hearst,” Kurt said. Anne could sense something more in his words than a simple apology.
“Who?” Anne asked, guessing.
“Meine Mutter und mein Vater” Kurt answered quietly, “Sorry, my mother and father. I was four.” Anne could see an intense pain in Kurt’s eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Anne said, reaching out to Kurt’s shoulder.
“We all have our personal tragedies,” Kurt said, “They help make us what we are.” The pained look was replaced by a knowing one. Anne suddenly felt very uncomfortable. How much did these people know about her? Did they know about that? From the look in Kurt’s eyes, they did. Kurt must have read her expression, because he quickly turned away. “I’m sorry, Detektivin.”
“So what should I tell my superiors?” Anne asked, quickly changing the subject.
“Simple is best,” Kurt answered, “Elaborate stories tend to have holes that others can open and unravel the whole thing.”
“Yeah, my mom was always–” Anne stopped, “Oh my God, if my mom thinks I missing, she’s going to be out of her mind.”
“Calm down, Detektivin,” Kurt said, “Think this through. Your mother will soon know her daughter is fine. Better to concentrate on how you are going to explain tonight’s events.”
“You don’t know my mother,” Anne said.
“I know that she raised a remarkable woman,” Kurt said. Anne’s cheeks heated at the unexpected compliment. “I think she’s stronger than you would like to give her credit for.”
“Maybe,” Anne said, not ready to accept that idea.
“Why did you go to that warehouse?” Kurt asked.
“I don’t know. Something about this case. I just needed to see the murder scene again,” Anne answered. A concerned look flittered across Kurt’s face. “What?”
“Something pulled you to the scene?” Kurt asked. “Remember to tell Samantha when you see her tomorrow. It may be your own instincts, or it could’ve been someone luring you into a trap. At any rate, begin with you going back to the scene of the latest murder.”
“I went back to the scene,” Anne began, “Then I was attacked. It would explain some of these injuries and my smashed radio.”
“Do you know who attacked you?” Kurt asked.
“No, I can’t remember,” Anne said, “I just remember you.”
“Well, that’s a pleasant thought,” Kurt said, “What do you remember about me?”
“That you found me outside the docks and offered to help. All I could think was getting home,” Anne said.
“Why not the hospital?” Kurt asked.
“Because I’m stubborn,” Anne answered, “I kinda have a reputation for that.”
“Well, that should work. Good thing too,” Kurt said.
“Why?” Anne asked.
“Because we are about to get pulled over,” Kurt answered. An instant after he spoke, brilliant blue and red lights erupted around them. It wasn’t just one police car. The entire area was suddenly swamped with police.
“This should be fun,” Kurt said.