“Blech.”

 

Beth hated snow.

 

She hated driving in it, hated dealing with other people who were driving in it. Hated being forced to wear enough clothing to make a dog sweat, yet still freezing her ass off.

 

Beth shivered as the freezing wind blew snow down the neck of her leather jacket. Snow had to be one of her least favorite forms of weather, and tonight’s storm promised to be a real disaster. She quickly locked the door of Rand Investigations and pulled on her leather gloves, her breath steaming in the freezing air.  She shoved her keys back into her pocket and began walking to where she’d parked her car.

 

It wasn’t long before the snowflakes were clinging to her glasses, obscuring her vision. She wiped the snow off with her hand, but it only made things worse. Now everything appeared as if it was underwater.

 

Double blech.

 

She should have gone home earlier, but she’d hoped to get some work done before she was forced to leave for the day. Beth had finally decided to throw in the towel when she’d lost her internet connection. The research she had been doing would just have to be done on her computer at home instead. If she had internet connection.

 

And that was a big if. She hadn’t seen a storm like this since two years ago, when they got two feet of snow.

 

She turned the corner, impatiently pulling her car keys out of her pocket. She stopped dead when she saw a watery white shape crouching down in the snow.

 

“Hey, is everything all right?” She hoped it wasn’t someone injured from falling on the icy sidewalk. A fall in this stuff could be dangerous. One knock on the head and you were a good candidate for popsicle-hood.

 

Beth moved toward the fallen person just as the man stood. She got a quick glimpse of red bloody lips and thick snow goggles under a white hood before the man took off running. She began to run after him, but stopped short.

 

The woman lying in the snow wasn’t moving. “Shit.” This wasn’t someone who’d slipped. Beth’s first clue was the growing red stain around the figure, bright against the snow. Beth knelt, careful not to disturb anything, and took a closer look. “Son of a bitch.”

 

The vic had a gaping wound in her chest. Whoever she was, she was already dead.

 

Beth dug into her coat for her cell phone, looking around for the man who’d run. It would suck big time if he came back and tried to take her on.

 

“911, what’s your emergency?”

 

She took a deep breath and hoped the dispatcher couldn’t hear how tense she was. She was alone on the street, vulnerable, and the perpetrator could still be in the vicinity. “My name is Elizabeth Rand, and I’m a private investigator. I’ve just found a body outside my office. She’s obviously dead, and the wound looks...vicious.” Whatever she’d been killed with, it had shredded the parka around the wound. Maybe a shotgun? But Beth didn’t remember hearing anything that loud. In fact, she couldn’t remember hearing a gun go off at all.

 

“Can you give me the address?”

 

Beth rattled it off, keeping an eye out for civilians and the perpetrator alike.

 

“The police are en route. Did you witness the crime?”

 

“No, but I saw someone crouching over the body. I’m not sure if it was a good Samaritan who got scared off by my presence, or the perp. Either way, whoever it was ran off. I lost them when I stopped to see if the vic needed help.”

 

“Can you describe the person you saw?”

 

“White parka, snow goggles. Couldn’t tell whether the perp was male or female because of the way they were bundled up, but from the way they moved I’m going with male. Whoever it was ran off as soon as they saw me.” And damn it, she was repeating herself. She blew out a rough breath and prayed she could get her nerves back under control.

 

“Thank you. Do you know whether or not the person in the parka had a weapon?”

 

“I couldn’t see any, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one.” Really, all she’d seen had been the parka, some blood on his lips and the goggles. She wasn’t even certain if there’d been blood on his coat. From the flecks of blood on the victim’s mouth, he could easily have gotten the blood on his lips from attempting CPR, so he might not even be the murderer. He could simply be someone who’d tried to do a good deed and gotten frightened when he saw Beth.

 

Stranger things had happened.

 

“All right, Ms. Rand. Please stay on the line until the officers arrive.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

A standard precaution, one Beth approved of wholeheartedly. If the perp did come back to eliminate the only witness, she’d at least get something on tape with the New Castle P.D. She chatted quietly with the 911 operator until two patrol cars arrived, followed by what looked like an unmarked car.

 

Beth swore under her breath as a familiar head of dark blond hair emerged out of the snow. “Son of a bitch.”

 

“Excuse me, ma’am? Is everything all right?” The concern in the dispatcher’s voice had Beth just about ready to apologize, but before she could her old friend Nelson Purvis called out her name.

 

Beth grimaced as the one detective in all of New Castle who didn’t like her scowled at her ferociously. Dante. Damn it. He had no right to look so good even when he glared at her.

 

“Ma’am? Is everything all right?”

 

Dante rolled his eyes at her before turning to his partner, who did like her. “Jesus, it’s the P.I.”

 

Beth sighed. It would be...him. “Oh. Yeah. Everything’s peachy. Detectives Purvis and Zucco are here.” She snorted. “Yay.”

 

“Ma’am?”

 

“Never mind. Thanks for your help.” She hung up with the dispatcher and prepared herself for interrogation, Dante style. Purvis, at least, would take it easy on her. The man had something of a soft spot for her, had for years, and she was equally fond of him. Too bad his partner was a giant, sexy pain in the ass.

 

A sexy ass who she suspected might just be a superhero.

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Dana Marie Bell.

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