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CHAPTER 3 - ZYR

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August 10 | Before Daybreak

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August 10 | Before Daybreak

Who had done this to Aurie Edison? I stared at the black new moon of another lunatic night, pondering the case. Police-tape cordoned off the gruesome stain in front of Century Luxe Hotel. Crime Scene Unit was making a clean sweep. Yellow evidence markers followed a scattered trail of vehicle pieces.

My partner and I were interviewing witnesses, but half the spectators had found better things to do. The crime scene was already hours old. The place crawled with reporters. I dodged a videographer and made my way to Detective Tegan Stoney.

The smell of coffee and mouthwash that clung to her confessed the predawn hour. It was four a.m. after Saturday night. I had a keener nose than most, so I picked up on the good time she'd been having before she got here. Not my business. We both had been called in for this.

"Don't all the cameras make you feel like we're filming Law & Order?" I asked.

"Complete with our own sexy leading man," she said.

"Love your sense of humor."

"I was talking about Mayfield." Tegan grinned as she pointed at the barrel-chested former Marine crossing the hotel drive toward us. Captain Mayfield's salt-and-pepper buzzcut was ashigh and tight as his personality.

"What have we got so far?" the middle-aged black man called out.

"Hit-and-run," I said. "Nothing that normally warrants this level of hoopla."

The captain confided quietly when he reached us, "Yeah, NOPD wants this case closed fast. The victim is the daughter of Emily Leigh Edison of Metairie, better known as—"

"Nannette Baudelaire, Academy Award-winning director of five Best Pictures," said Tegan. She smiled at my surprised demeanor. "And her new movie Gracious Fury is projected to make that six. It's opening next month."

"Somebody Googled," I accused.

"Actually, I'm a fan."

Mayfield asked her, "Did you know she summers in New Orleans?"

"Not until now," Tegan admitted. "According to her spokesperson—who I was on the phone with a moment ago—the daughters were raised here, but few people would've been aware of their link to Nannette. She kept them out of the spotlight."

"All great intel, but I doubt the famous mom was behind the wheel," I quipped.

Mayfield chuckled dryly. "You want to stake your career on jokes, Ravani?"

"C'mon, the perp is some out-of-towner, somewhere sleeping off a rough night of Hand Grenades. He'll turn himself in when he sees the body damage to his rental. You could've put anybody on this."

"You're lucky to get anything after that crap you pulled a few months ago. Thanks to your wacky press conference with the psychic, the media thinks you're a nutjob. Take this easy-A and solve this thing. Get your reputation back," he said.

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