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I didn't believe him. "It's bad enough when a fellow cop slut-shames an adult woman who's been the victim of rape, but to do the same to a child rape victim . . . What the fuck is wrong with you, Rankin?"

He gave me the full weight of his dark eyes. I moved my gaze to his mouth, so I watched him enunciate his words as if I were lip-reading. I wasn't going to get caught again. "That is not what I meant and you know it, Blake. You're just trying to get your boyfriend out of trouble."

I was about to correct him that it was fiance, not boyfriend, when Olaf spoke for the first time. "Many men who say such things would rape women if they thought they would not be caught. It makes me wonder about you, Rankin. What would you do if you knew you would never be caught?"

"Are you accusing me of being a pedophile?" Rankin asked.

"No, I am accusing you of thinking about being one. If you already were one, you'd be more careful how you spoke in front of us."

I thought Olaf was teasing Rankin, trying to get a rise out of him, but something in his face, the calmness of him, made me think maybe he was just speaking from experience. He was a rapist who just hadn't been caught and convicted under the name Otto Jeffries. Sometimes it takes one to know one, if you know what I mean.

Rankin pushed past me, brushing my bare arm, but he wasn't trying to bespell me now; he was going for Olaf. Rankin came up to midchest on him as he pushed the bigger man with the flat of his hands against his chest. Olaf didn't even try to avoid the blow, just let Rankin have the moment, because he didn't think the smaller man could hurt him; neither did I. I mean, he was huge, and a werelion now, and, well . . . he was Olaf.

Rankin pushed him, and Olaf staggered back from it, fighting to stay on his feet. If he hadn't been able to catch himself on the wall, he'd have gone down. There was a second of stunned silence, as if we all held our breaths, and then Olaf pushed himself off the wall and went for Rankin.


OLAF MOVED IN a blur of speed, and within seconds it was clear Rankin couldn't match it. He blocked a feint from Olaf's right arm but couldn't move in time to block the left, which had been the real danger. The open-hand blow staggered the detective into a chair and sent it crashing along the floor. He kept his feet and managed to be facing Olaf when he came, using his knees for kicks since there wasn't room for anything else.

The room was too small for all of us and the fight. It was Tyburn who opened the door and let us escape into the hallway and gave the two men the room to spread out in. I lost sight of the fight for a moment, and then Rankin came out the door airborne, slammed into the wall on the opposite side of the hallway, and started to slide toward the floor. Olaf came out of the door and was on Rankin before he had time to hit the floor. He punched him in the throat with the points of three fingers; a human's throat would have collapsed. Rankin coughed but still managed to get an arm up to stop the left hand from hitting his face, which meant he wasn't able to block the right elbow when it hit him in the side of the head.

Rankin fell to the floor stunned, maybe knocked out; just because his eyes were still open and blinking didn't mean he was conscious. Sometimes it takes a few seconds for the brain to catch up with the damage and be peaceful about it.

Tyburn yelled, "Enough! You're done!"

Olaf tensed as if he was going to kick the fallen man.

Edward yelled, "Otto, no!"

There were a lot of uniformed men with Tyburn at the end of the hallway. We were badly outnumbered if this spread, and the only way for me to help lower the numbers was to risk hurting people badly. I was too small and too female not to fight to put people down as quickly and violently as possible. Sometimes you could scare people with what you were willing to do, and the fight would end just because the price wasn't worth it to them. Police didn't scare that easily.

Olaf spoke into the strange, tense silence of the hallway as he stared down at Rankin. "Yes, it is over." His big hands were almost loose at his sides, not in fists, but somehow held ready to be fists, or to grab, or to be whatever he needed them to be. I'd always thought of Olaf as a two-fisted-brawler kind of fighter because of his size, but he fought with speed and finesse, not just brute strength. It was rare to find a really big man who didn't try to win through size and raw strength. It made me think better of him, and worse of him. Edward had told me to just shoot him if he ever came for me; now I knew why. I was good in a fight, but Olaf was better. Now that he was a werelion, any speed or strength bonuses I'd had with my own supernatural extras were gone.

Edward went forward to help move Olaf away from the now completely unconscious detective. He was right to

move Olaf back. I don't think any of the men waiting at the head of the hallway would have willingly come close to him without wanting to use at least a Taser. Like I said, police don't scare easy, but some of them looked a little pale around the edges. Glad I wasn't the only one thinking, I never, ever want to fight Olaf for real. It made me feel less chickenshit.


I EXPECTED THE FIGHT to get us pushed as far from the case as possible, but it didn't work that way. Once Rankin regained consciousness, Tyburn still insisted he go with the paramedics to get checked out at the hospital. In fact, when Rankin was safely out of earshot, Tyburn turned to us and treated us as assets. If I hadn't known better, I'd have thought he had sent Rankin off to the hospital not for his health, but to get him out of the way. And Tyburn wasn't the only one who seemed glad that they were down a detective.

Detective Dalton came into the lobby with Micah and Nathaniel on either side of her; Ru and Rodina trailed behind them, and Bram and Nicky behind them. Dalton was pale but looked resolute, as she walked very purposefully toward Tyburn. "Sir, may I have a word in private?"

"Are you all right, Detective?" he asked.

"I am now, but I'm not sure how long it will last, so I'd like to talk to you now, just in case."

He should have told her that they had a murder investigation and couldn't it wait, but he didn't. In fact, he called another plainclothes officer over and said, "Lin, find Marshal Spotted-Horse and escort the four marshals to the crime scene."

Lin had straight black hair and just enough hints around his brown eyes and cheekbones to make me think that Lin might be his last name instead of his first. He looked at the three of us, then back to his captain. "What crime scene would that be, sir?" His tone said clearly, You can't possibly mean for me to take strangers who just had a fistfight with one of our other detectives to see our murder scene, sir.

"The crime scene, Lin. We don't have any other crime scenes today."

"With all due respect, sir--" Lin started to say.

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