Near the body, Dallas squatted down beside Bo. Squatting in the sand was a constant balancing act, and Dallas appeared to be struggling far more than Bo. If nothing else, he managed to stay on his feet rather than fall face first onto the corpse.
Though that’d be pretty hilarious, huh, Tex?
Dallas rolled his eyes, focusing his attention on Bo rather than Ed. That was bound to piss the bastard off.
While the analyst snapped pictures of the body from different angles, Dallas simply… observed. He kept his hands to himself, knowing better than to contaminate the body or the crime scene around it. Dallas had been to many homicide crime scenes before. This was simply the first one he had attended after it had been called into the police.
“So what do you think we’re looking at here?” Dallas asked.
“A white male, presumably in his late twenties or early thirties. He’s most likely a smoker, based on the nicotine stains on his fingertips,” Bo said.
Dallas nodded. It made sense that Bo would answer the question with the most literal translation he could rather than taking any liberties or assumptions with what Dallas had meant.
“What about these cuts?”
Bo glanced over at him, not even long enough to make eye contact. “Apologies… What about them?”
“You think any of the cuts are what killed him?”
“No. None of them are deep enough for that. None of them would’ve ever needed stitches to heal. He couldn’t have bled out from them, and they aren’t deep enough to have damaged anything internally.”
“Any idea how old they are?”
“Well… some of the ones up here, near his shoulders. Do you see the bruising?”
“Those could’ve happened a few hours before his death. I would say those are the most recent. Some of these other ones are in various stages of healing: some a few days old, some a few weeks old. Some are approaching their status as scars, closer to a month or two old. Some of them even appear to be years old, based on the coloring of the scars and how little they swell up from the rest of his skin.”
“You can tell all of that just by looking at them?”
“Well, I can estimate by looking at them. Cuts have a standard process in which they heal, unless that process is interrupted by something. An infection, picking of the scab, etcetera.” Bo cleared his throat. “May I ask an honest question and receive an honest answer?”
“Yeah, what’s up?”
“Did Lieutenant Fox ask you to be police to me? To… pretend you care about any of the forensic work I do?” Bo asked. “You don’t act as though he has, since you thankfully aren’t trying to overcompensate for our lack of common ground, but I’ve been burned before.”
“I don’t know how much you trust my honesty, but I assure you Mister Fox didn’t tell me I had to be nice or polite to you. He didn’t tell me to pretend to care about anything, either. He told me not having this other analyst around is difficult for you, that not having that other cop you like is difficult for you, and that you like… patterns. That’s it.”
“And the thing about your brother also liking patterns. Was that true?”
After a moment, Bo nodded. “Okay.”
“Is your ‘okay’ a good thing or a bad thing?” Dallas asked.
“That depends entirely on the situation it’s used in. In this case, I suppose you would most likely consider it a good thing. It means I’ll have to take your word for it.”
Dallas smiled. “I’ll take that as a good thing, then.”
Bo stood up and moved to the other side of the body for a new angle before snapping another picture. “Since you asked so many questions about me, may I ask another about you?”
“Go for it.”
“Only one corner of your mouth moves when you smile. Is that a choice of appearance?”
“My apologies.” Bo cleared his throat. “For what it’s worth, I think the half-smile works for you.”
Dallas smiled. “Me too. Thank you.”
“How many questions haveI asked you?”
“That depends. Questions about me, or questions asked to me?”
“Questions asked to you, but not counting the ones about the crime scene.”
Bo glanced up for a moment, at the sky rather than at Dallas. “Approximately twenty-three questions, but I may have taken liberties on want counts as a question, and on if it was technically about the crime scene or not. For instance, I counted the fact that you asked if you were to follow me to the body, but I didn’t count you asking if I could really tell all of that simply by looking at the marks on his back.”
Dallas snorted. “I’m sure your taken liberties are still better than I’d be able to estimate.”
Dallas was pretty sure Bo didn’t realize how funny the subtle savagery was. Hell, he probably had no idea it was funny in the first place. Dallas gestured to the body with one hand. “Any ideas on how he died?”
“I have ideas on how he did not die.”
“We know the cuts didn’t kill him, though I’m assuming the cuts are the reason it was called in as a dead body rather than, say, a naked drunk man. When it comes to how he died, the options are, though limited, vast. It’s not worth guessing until we roll him over and see what the front of him looks like.”
Dallas nodded. “Any initial observations of him?”
“Some. What are your initial observations, Officer?” Bo asked.
“His head appears to be in good condition. No blood matted at the back of his skull, no appearance of a cave-in noggin.”
“Aside from his back, there doesn’t appear to be much damage done to him. The backs of his legs aren’t bruised, so it’s not like someone knocked them out from under him from behind. Backs of his arms aren’t scratched up or bruised, either. If he was dragged out here, it wasn’t done on his back.”
“Also correct.” Bo squatted down across from Dallas, glancing over at him. “You’re very observant for a rookie.”
“Dear ol’ Dad liked his kids to be observant.”
“Sounds like you weren’t fond of that preference,” Bo said.
“I’m just glad the old man’s dead. I’ll leave it at that.”
Remember what it was like when we took that bat to the back of Daddy’s head? Ed asked. So much glee, Tex. So much joy. So much revenge.
Yes, Dallas did remember taking the bat to the back of the piece of shit’s head. He remembered finally listening to Ed, finally letting the fucker take control just long enough to make sure his father would never lay a hand on him or his little brother ever again.
He remembered sitting on the stairs afterward, staring at his father’s bloody corpse, at the obliterated state of his face and skull. He had been unrecognizable, and Dallas had waited almost two hours to call the cops, claiming he had found him that way when he and his brother had gotten home from the mall.
He remembered one of the cops definitely knowing the truth but still telling him that everything would be okay.
“My biological parents weren’t… great, either,” Bo said quietly.
Dallas lifted his head. “Why, Austen, are you trying to find us some common ground?”
“No, I’m sorry. That was, uh, playful. I’m not making fun of you, and I’m not angry about it. I’m surprised you want to try and connect to me, that’s all,” Dallas said.
Bo offered a smile. “I’m sorry. I’ve had a hard time distinguishing between genuine comments and sarcasm and… I have a hard time taking in someone’s expression when they speak.”
“Because you don’t make eye contact with people.”
“Yes. In the animal kingdom, eye contact often asserts dominance or challenges another’s dominance. I find that many people treat it the same way. I like to avoid it when I can.”
“I don’t blame you. People who feel the need to assert their dominance probably have none in the first place, but they sure want you to believe the lie.”
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “Yes.”
If you befriend him, you won’t kill him. We both know you’re a bit too much of a princess for that.
Dallas bit back the urge to remind the asshole he had no plans to kill Bo. He had no plans to kill anyone in the station. Dallas killed criminals, and as far as he could tell, Bo’s only crime was being unreasonably awkward.
A woman squatted down beside Bo, a badge hanging from her neck. She laid a hand on the back of Bo’s neck, fingers wrapping loosely around to either side of it. His shoulders lifted slightly, but it was the only sign of uncomfortableness that managed to slip through his neutral facade.”
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Officer Dallas Silver, fresh meat to the department.”
“Mm.” Her eyes raked over him before settling on his face again. “What’ve we got, Bo?”
“Dead man, most likely in his early thirties.”
“Who would’ve done this to his back?”
“Many of them are old. They’re scarred over. It’s–”
Dallas watched her fingers tighten around Bo’s neck for a moment. “You know the rules. Knock off the beating around the bush bullshit and answer the question you were asked.”
“Most likely someone he knew and trusted. Most likely someone he asked to do it for him.”
“They appear to be satanic in nature upon first glance. Religious. Anti-religious. Ritualistic. Take your pick.”
“Great.” She lifted her eyes to Dallas’s face again. “How would you feel about getting to help us out with this case?”
“Would love to.”
“Great. Talk to us at the station when you have something. Lab dweeb will you where out desks are.”
“Geek,” Bo whispered as the woman pushed herself to her feet.
Dallas watched her walk away with a man. “Who in the hell was that bitch?”
“Why the hell don’t you tell Loo she’s touching you and talking down to you like that?”
“I-I’m just the forensics guy, Silver. The detectives work upstairs, they get paid more than I do, and they get to leave the station for work and things other than crime scenes. Outside of that, the lieutenant knows, but he can’t fire her. She was hired over his head, and if he fires her, she’ll be re-hired over his head.”
“No. As far as I know, Chief Pitman isn’t aware of Burke’s… personality.”
“He’s the chief of police. Unless the mayor installed her in this department, Pitman could do something about it,” Dallas said.
Bo shifted his weight between his feet and stood up. “I try not to get involved.”
“She is involving you.”
“With all due respect, these people are more likely to bother me than you. You’re tall, you’re muscular, you appear to be outgoing, you’re charming, and you interact well with others. And, top of the mark, you have the ability to be promoted to detective. If I bring up an issue within the department, it does not take long for them to find out, and my life quickly becomes even more of a hell than it already is. This is tolerable. The way she speaks to me is tolerable. The way she touches my neck, though uncomfortable, is better than her grabbing me from behind. It is tolerable. I would like to continue to fly as under the radar as I possibly can. It makes my life in that station much easier. It makes life anywhere easier. Can we leave it at that?”
Dallas searched the man’s eyes before nodding. “Yeah, Austen. We can leave it at that. I won’t bother you about it anymore.”
A/N: I am absolutely LOVING writing Dallas’s POV for the first time, and I hope you guys are enjoying reading it. This is just book one of the series, so you’ll have plenty of Dallas coming your way if you like it. Thanks for reading chapter three, guys! See you in the next one!
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