Fit to be Chai-ed
Not that it mattered either way at this point. He walked over to her desk and took a seat in one of the chairs facing her, not waiting to be invited. A good decision, judging from the dumbstruck look on Anna’s face.
“Anna James?” He held out his right hand, surprised when she automatically reached out to shake it. Her grip was firm, and the action seemed to shake her out of her initial reaction.
“I’m Anna,” she said, her voice low and pleasant. Her expression changed from panicked to professional as she retrieved her hand. “What can I do for you today, Mr…?”
“Erik,” he said, pulling his badge out of his pocket and holding the leather wallet out to her. “Detective Erik Hansen. I was hoping you could help me with a little project at The Trusty Mug.”
“I’m not sure what I can do, but I’m happy to help. You’re undercover, I take it?” She took the badge from him and studied his credentials closely before handing them back. Her warm green eyes met his gaze with confusion, and was that a little excitement he detected?
Erik nodded, stowing the wallet again. “You’ve heard of the so-called Chai Killer on TV?”
Her eyes widened, and she sat back in her chair. “I saw a story on him just yesterday – he killed another woman last week. Surely you don’t think Will…”
Erik shrugged. “We need to be sure. He fits the profile, and we got a tip that it could be him, but frankly I’m skeptical. Unfortunately we don’t have any female cops available to test the theory so we can look elsewhere. I’ve been watching him for awhile now, and I see you in there every morning, so you seemed like the natural choice.”
She leaned forward, bracing her elbows on the desk. “What would I have to do? I mean, it doesn’t seem all that safe to be messing with a serial killer, though I really can’t believe Will would do such a thing. You saw him – is he even strong enough?”
He nodded. “You’d be surprised – he’s probably stronger than you think. As for what you’d have to do, it would be pretty simple. Just order your tea in the morning like normal, but order a Chai instead of letting him choose for you. If he’s going to make a move, that seems to be the trigger. I’ll be watching nearby, so if anything happens we can just grab him and it will be all done.”
She frowned. “What would he do though? And what if you can’t get to me in time? I just become another victim? No thanks. You really should have a professional do this. I’m not your girl.”
He leaned forward, searching her eyes. She was scared, yes, but there was definite interest there. She probably didn’t get much excitement with the whole accountant gig. She just needed a little push. And he really needed bait so he could prove that The Trusty Mug was a dead end. So to speak.
“I’ll be right there the whole time. Like I said, it’s unlikely he’s even the guy we’re looking for, we just have to be sure before we can disregard the tip we got, since it came from someone high up. It will take ten minutes of your time, tops. And you’ll have a great story to tell your friends after we close the case.”
“I just don’t know.” She looked down at her hands, then back at him. “I–”
“How about this,” he interrupted, flashing her a wide grin. “You do this for me, and I’ll do something for you. Whatever you want.”
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