‘I miss my car,’ I thought as I hunched against the chill wind. Despite the fact that my little apartment was only a couple of blocks down, I had to stop at the corner to rub my numb fingers, as much to work some feeling back from the cold as to give me a brief respite from the shopping bags handles digging into my fingers.
I sighed. The car in question was, yet again, in the garage, this time for the alternator to be replaced. And it was probably a good deal warmer than I was right now. ‘How important is an alternator, anyway? I don’t even know what it does; can it really be worth a couple of weeks pay?’ And how sad is it that my salary was so pitiful that I was reduced to mac n’ cheese for those two weeks just to pay for it?
As a practiced city-dweller, I surveyed the area as I worked at my hands. I lived in the ‘rough’ area of town. Which is to say, not very. But, I was born in a truly rough area of New York. To me, this was just a challenging place to live. At least it wasn’t Cabrini Green.
I had no trouble with anyone in the area, as long as I took care to be uninteresting. And there is nothing more uninteresting than a single middle-aged woman that has long given up on any prospects in life, love or fortune.
I looked at my hands. Age spots were starting to appear on my skin. I was grateful it had taken longer than with most other women. Still, the skin was worn with heavy calluses from years of heavy work. The knuckles were larger, the skin around them sloughing away, looser than the last time I looked. I noted the myriad of tiny scars, like dings in a car except that they couldn’t be worked out with a little work and a coat of primer and paint.
Dark windows from the upper apartments stared disinterestedly down at the street. It was late enough that most of the ground street level shops were closed. Everyone else had either gone home long ago or was out enjoying the beginning of the weekend. Which is where I’d like to be right now.
But work ran late, as usual. And, being a Friday night, all the other employees, especially the younger ones had something going on. If I’d had a life, I’d be busy too. But, again as usual, I’d offered to stay and close everything up. After closing up my body had petitioned vehemently for dinner. With the imminent threat of an internal strike, off to the store I went. Thus were my exciting plans, dictated by a salary that didn’t even qualify for the label, ‘Living Wage.’ It was more like an Existing Wage. Maybe Sub-subsistence Living Wage.
I indulged in a wishful thought about retiring. Not that that was going to be a reality. Especially with the economy the way it was. Maybe in a few years. I snorted at myself, “Yeah, right.”
I glanced up at the few stars bright enough to peek through the ambient light. A few times in my life, I’d gone outside the city and seen the stars in all their glory. I'd never had such a profound experience and I’d never forgotten. I'd spent every single night in a battered canoe, gazing. Simply gazing. And if I had a single clue about how to live in the country, I’ve have packed up years ago and gotten out.
And that was my problem. Easily bored, skilled in much, an expert in nothing, I’d drifted from job to job my entire life, like a nomad. And, now I was getting on in years. It was enough to wish I had the foresight to have settled down somewhere. I would have too, but it was so…boring.
My hands were marginally warmer now. I glanced down at them, wondering when I’d had gotten old. It still caught me by surprise, now and then. Inside, I still felt half my age. Even last week, when the kids were playing dodge ball, I’d taken almost half of them out of the game on my own.
I had to smile at that. They’d been so surprised, which in itself was no surprise given my gray hairs. I’m tall, but could stand to lose a few pounds. Okay, a few dozen pounds. But the remnants of an active life were still with me, even if they were hidden.
I heard a rhythmic pounding of running feet echoing off the buildings. In counterpoint, there was a light tapping that was just a beat ahead. It broke my self-pitying reverie. Instinct drove me to the side of the building, easing into the shadows. I glanced around uneasily, frowning when I didn’t see anyone.
‘Damn my hearing.’ It had been bad all my life and only got worse as the years went on. Between that and the echoes off the building it was impossible to gauge where the sounds were coming from. The winter cold just made it all sound clearer, letting the sounds bounce all the hell around me.
I hoped they were farther away than I thought. I had no hope that I could outrun anyone, even unencumbered by my grocery bags. It might be foolish to worry about the food, but they were all that I had to eat for the next two weeks. Over the years, I’d gotten silly about the notion of eating. I liked having a regular meal, even if it included hot dogs.
My brief wish was dashed when a woman ran out from an alleyway across the street, into the streetlights lining the narrow avenue. The woman never paused. She kept running across the street, to the alley mouth that waited there.
‘Drugs,’ I thought. How else could anyone explain a woman running through the Chicago streets at night, without even a coat in the November winds? She cut a riveting picture. Her black hair streamed behind her and I caught the gleam of the pale skin of her legs and arms under the black cocktail dress. Gods, the woman was wearing heels. A damsel in distress, ready to trip and fall. But there would be no knight in shining armor tonight. There was no knight to be found in these garbage-strewn alleys.
A few seconds after the woman disappeared back into the dark recess of the alley, four men emerged from the opposite way, clearly in pursuit. My heart fell. The woman hadn’t a chance.
The men were tall and fit, though they didn’t fit the usual image of street thugs. Sure, some were wearing jeans, and two had leather jackets. But they looked tidy and clean. No street signs, no tats, no identifiers of any kind. More like college varsity players. Maybe one of the university’s sports teams? And, I swear one was wearing dress shoes, and another had a sports jacket on. Not the typical mugger then, either. But their faces had violence in them. They meant more than a simple warning or scare.
Alarmed, I sank further into the shadows. I looked around, noting the area. No one else was in sight. Or else the transients were smarter than I was and had high-tailed it out of there. Spend enough time around here and you knew when to be scarce. Which is what I should be doing.
Like the woman, the men passed through the light and disappeared into the alley. For an instant, one raised a pipe and brandished it, spurring the others on. I could have sworn a line of light gleamed off an edge, almost like one of the man was wielding a sword.
I instinctively ducked into a crouch, to remain hidden. ‘Idiot,’ I chided herself. I had to get home before they see me. I might not take the place of that pretty young thing, but I didn’t want them to get any notions in their heads. Like making sure there were no witnesses. And, for some, even an old woman was sport.
Scrambling over to my bags, I grasped the handles and hefting them up. It was time to prove I’m not as out of shape as I think. Or, at least to fake it well enough to get home.
At the mouth of the alley, I peered around the corner. There was enough light to see through to the other end. No one was in sight. Even with the dumpsters, there weren’t enough debris to hide all of them.
I crossed the narrow opening and made it to the next alley. Only two more blocks to go. I swear, the next time I have to go out after dark, I’m calling a cab. For the millionth time, I wished I had my car.
Even on high alert, I jerked back with an involuntary cry as a figure emerged from the alley. Heart pounding, it took a second to realize it was the woman. I smiled in approval. She had doubled back and taken off the heels. She had to have moved fast to do that. Faster than any person I had ever seen. By being clever, she had managed to lose her stalkers. But for how long?
Her long black hair was in disarray about her shoulders. Long bangs framed beautiful deep blue eyes. The flush of her exertions only enhanced her perfect skin with a rosy blush across her cheeks. Her black cocktail dress was partly fabric, partly lace roses that hinted at the skin underneath. Mesh came down from her shoulders to encircle slender arms and wrists. The dress had one small tear at the right shoulder, so maybe she’d only gotten a bit roughed up. It was a small price to pay, considering the alternative. She had her shoes tucked under one arm. I grimaced, looking at the ally and what she just ran through. I hoped she was up on her shots.
The woman slowed and stopped, glancing over her shoulder.
“Don’t stop!” I hissed. “They’ll figure out soon enough where you went. You better kept moving.”
The woman stepped closer and further into the shadows next to the building, regarding me. I sighed. Obviously the woman was so stupid she didn’t know good advice when she heard it.
Like a damn fool, I hovered. The sensible thing to do would be to turn and keep going. This was no concern of mine. The woman, after all, had a decent head start. She should be able to get away. But, half of me argued against my hardheartedness. I’d never in my life left someone behind that I could help. Sometimes I got bit in the ass for it, even if, most times, I knew it was the right thing to do.
“C’mon, girl. I’m Grace. My place is close. You can hide out there, or call some friends to come get you.”
Teeth flashed as the woman gave me a sharp smile. It made me quite uneasy about the situation. My instincts with people were never what anyone would consider good. Actually, I was a damn fool when it came to figuring people out. But, I was rarely wrong about situations. And this just wasn’t…right. Even if she was on drugs, she should be a little panicked. Or out of breath.
Hearing no answer, I turned to go. The woman stepped forward, blocking my way.
I moved to shoulder past her. “Hey! I offered to help. You don’t trust me? Fine. But I’m going home.”
The woman stepped closer and I stepped back, re-establishing my personal space. “I-I don’t have any money. Not on me. I’m not stupid.”
“I didn’t think you were.”
The woman’s voice was a perfect alto. Husky, hinting at, well, certain things I hadn’t considered in a long time. Certain things that didn’t involve a woman of my age. I could imagine every man with the requisite XY gene falling into her sway.
The woman took another step forward. Her vivid blue eyes glowed from under those long black bangs. The streetlights played over high cheekbones that were perfectly chiseled. The woman could have modeled anywhere with that bone structure, I noted enviously. Mine were doughy and round. In my youth, I’d have killed for a face like that.
She moved closer, peering intently at me. Her gaze swept over me and, defensively, I raised the bags to cover me. At one time I had an ‘interesting’ face. Some would even have said ‘lively.’ But never pretty. I think I could have approached ‘cute’ but that was years ago.
I couldn’t help but compared the two of us. Youth and age. Designer clothing against my no-name second-hand trousers and shirt under the threadbare, inadequate coat. Model-perfect face and body against my body thickened with age.
I couldn’t tear my eyes away even when the woman stepped so close I could feel the warmth of the woman’s breath on my cheek as she spoke. ‘You’re not my usual choice, but I never turn down an opportunity.’
I wanted to turn away, wondering what the woman was talking about. But I was feeling light-headed and the woman’s eyes seemed to just grow larger, darker until the whole universe seems to consist of those two orbs. Fascinated into immobility, I stared at her, like a mouse caught in the gaze of a snake. I swear I could see a soft green glow in the pupils, growing, spinning, and filling my sight.
Pain seared through me. Little bits of electricity arced right up each vertebra, stopping to toy a bit with the nerve endings before continuing on. I gasped, arching my back. My hands spasmed before going limp, letting my bags fall. The pain coiled around my temples, sending white streams of pain to the back of my eyes.
I clutched my head, trying to keep my brain from splitting open. My hands shook and my legs were buckling and I still couldn't look away. I had the sensation of falling from a great height into those eyes. It was how I imagined it would feel if I jumped from one of the skyscrapers downtown.
For a brief, insane moment, I thought I saw several people surrounding the strange woman, all looking at me, pleading, or maybe screaming. Their hands were out, reaching as their mouths contorted with anguish. I reached out and grasped her arms, trying to keep my balance.
Nausea twisted my stomach. I felt…pulled. It was as if a hand was clutching me through my skin and was drawing out my heart. The red, searing pain left me gasping, fighting for a single breath. If I could manage one breath, I was certain I’d get through this. I hung on to the woman tightly, gritting my teeth, the pain intensifying beyond anything I had felt before. And, in my long life, I had felt plenty.
The world began to spin. I threw my hands out again, grasping at the phantoms in front of me. I wheezed as my hands went through them, smearing them as if they were wet paint. But there was a warmth as the others drew neared, giving me strength.
Black dots obscured my vision as I fought to hold any thought before they scattered around me like leaves in a blustery wind. Through the pain, I knew if the darkness took over, I was done for. How did I know? That was a good question. I’d be sure to reflect on this when I next sat down for coffee. Hell, make that a whiskey.
Despite my best effort, the world faded away and then, in an instant, it went black before there came a blinding flash of light, not at all how I envisioned the light at the tunnel signaling my ascent to the afterlife. And, while I wasn’t a saint, I didn’t recon I’d done enough to rate the descent to the alternative. I fell against the building, sprawling in an undignified heap on the sidewalk.
Rolling my head to the side, I stopped moving as nausea surged through me again. I didn’t move until it had passed a bit, breathing shallowly through my mouth. I pried open one eye, snapping the other open at the sight in front of me.
I saw myself lying there, a bloody wound in my chest and my head at an unnatural angle. My graying hair had come loose from the winter cap and fluttered in the wind My eyes were staring, already beginning to film over.
‘Ah, crap. I’m dead.’
We all have notions about what it would be like to be dead. The general consensus is that it shouldn’t hurt. At least, not after the deed was done. Unless you were a very bad person, of course.
But I didn’t really think I’d led such a bad life. Okay, I am short-tempered and tend to snap at people when stressed. And I am stubborn and foolish and all manner of stupid sometimes.
And who would have thought that I’d still feel the cold wind, or the concrete under my hands and cheek. In fact, being dead was looking a lot like being alive, which really sucked.
Gingerly, I rolled over onto my side, lifting my head. Model Girl was long gone and I had to wonder how long I had been lying there. At least there were no witnesses to tell anyone what happened. Hey, I had my pride. Having people think I died from a mugging was, from any city dweller’s perspective, a really stupid way to go. Craning my head around, I stopped, shocked again.
A finger’s width away was a sword. A real, honest-to-God, gleaming, wickedly sharp-looking sword was pointing directly at my nose. My eyes traveled up the long, long shining length to see a hand, then an arm, and finally a man, standing there.
Somehow, the sword didn’t really clash, no pun intended, with the leather jacket, red-and-white t-shirt, and jeans. I suspected it was the man wielding it that made it work.
He was tall, probably a few inches taller than I am, without heels. And I’m pretty tall, only an inch or so under six feet. He’d be fairly good-looking if he’d lose the sneer and his eyes, well, I could have been the most loathsome bug and he’d probably look more approvingly at me. He had a lean face, with nice cheekbones and a defined jaw that was shadowed heavily with stubble. Dark thick eyebrows drew down over hazel eyes, accenting the scowl quite nicely.
“What is your name?”
I was glad I was still on the ground. The deep voice rumbled out, and went through every bone I had. In a good way. It was a voice you’d like to hear at night, in the morning, hell, any time of the day. I was always a sucker for a nice voice. My suddenly weak knees concurred.
“What is your name?” Ah, the voice was getting impatient. I really ought to answer him, but I was still trying to come to terms for being dead. It wasn’t something that happened every day. No, it was a once in a lifetime event. I almost giggled at the feeble humor, but choked down the hysteria. It didn’t seem appropriate. One should have a sober mien if you were recently deceased.
I was going to answer. I swear. I just wanted to wait until my heart stopped pounding in my chest. Or until the shooting pains went away, whichever came first. It’s hard to talk when you’re having a full-blown panic attack.
The sword swung away and large hands grasped my shoulders, bunching tightly and hauling me up, pushing me against the wall. His face loomed closer, gray eyes stormy and oh so not very happy. Dark hair fell over one eye in an unruly tangle and I caught a whiff of some spicy aftershave.
My head spun in protest. Frankly, I would have expected better treatment than this. Surely the newly dead deserved a few moments to adjust to the new situation? And, if this guy thinks he’s my guide, I’d rather wait for the next one, thank you very much.
One of his dark eyebrows raised a fraction.
Okay, I really should answer him. But my brain was still rattled, distracted by a very nice mouth and jaw. He needed a shave, but the stubble didn’t hide his mouth. It was…perfect. Not thick or thin, just full enough to suggest really wonderful things. Just my luck. He was probably half my age. And, I was dead. I don’t think the dead have sex much. Come to think of it, he’d have to be dead too, to manhandle me this way. I was inordinately cheered by that notion, even though it wouldn’t do me any good.
“You’re not dead. Don’t worry about what I look like.” One eyebrow raised another fraction and was looking suspiciously like he was confused. Which really wasn’t fair. If he was my guide, he shouldn’t be confused at all. He ought to know what was going on. Idly, I wondered if angels had on-the-job training.
“You aren’t dead!”
The words were punctuated with a shake that made my teeth jar against each other. His words started to penetrate and I gave a harsh laugh. Stretching my neck, I peered over his shoulder. Yep, I was still lying there. Glassy eyes--check. Not breathing--check. Hair needed a touch-up on the gray. Well, that really wasn’t pertinent, but it did help assure me that it was my body lying there. Groceries scattered everywhere and one brave can of cat food was merrily rolling down the street.
My stomach roiled a bit, not liking this situation at all and my brain seconded the motion. Frankly, I didn’t like anything that made the various parts of me sit up and boycott.
He turned his head to look back, then looked right at me. “What is your name?” When I still didn’t answer, he spoke again. But I couldn’t understand a word of it. I had a knack for languages, but I couldn’t place that one to save my life.
I fought back another laugh at that. I’d better start coming up with better euphemisms. The near hysteria was replaced by a sense of dread and ill-boding clutching at my heart.
The scowl was returning in full force and he shook me again, hard. My brain reeled and I fought the temptation to retch. He was waiting. For what? Oh. “Grace,” I hissed out through clenched teeth.
The hands were gone and I stumbled back against the wall, trying to keep my balance. Almost on instinct, his hands shot out again, catching me before I could fall.
I batted away the hands, having had quite enough of his gentle treatment. I straightened. “What do you mean I’m not dead?”
He gave a sigh, but didn’t answer, clearly uncomfortable and suddenly uncertain. He looked a bit more charming that way. He scanned the area, looking for someone. He jerked his hand up, speaking more of the odd language and I felt something like a weight easing from my chest and throat. As if a tight band I hadn’t been aware of, loosened. I put a hand to my chest.
What was that?
He looked up and down the street. “It was nothing. Can you walk?”
I suddenly realized he’d responded to everything I’d thought. As if I had said them. As a sneaking suspicion dawned on my face, he looked embarrassed.
A flush stole across my face and down my neck, and I wished I could die again. Or the first time if you want to put it that way. It was one thing to realize you’re thinking inappropriate thoughts, but quite another to realize you’ve been saying them. And to make matters worse, I was blushing, something I hadn’t done at least in the last two decades.
It brought out my best defense against humiliation. I swung out and punched him in the jaw. Well, actually, it hit his chest, but it was the intent that mattered.
“What the hell is going on?” I pointed at myself laying not ten feet away.
The hand in front of me was well formed. It ended in long tapered fingers and natural nails with a perfect manicure that wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes in my normal day. The hand was attached to a wrist so slender, it looked delicate. An equally slender, smooth arm followed, encased in a fine meshed sleeve. The mesh had a delicate black-on-black pattern of roses, much the worse for the wear, now.
My eyes flew to his. He met my gaze, mouth settling as if in preparation for a very ugly scene.
In a daze, I stumbled a few steps to the nearest storefront window and stopped, transfixed. Long black hair cascaded down past my shoulders. Heavy bangs accentuated wide, astonished eyes that I knew were now blue. My hands went up to touch the face and the image reflected her movement.
My fingers felt an unfamiliar face, hollow-cheeked and smooth skin, soft and well tended. They slid down to the mesh and silk dress that draped over high breasts and a flat stomach, ending in a loose, flared skirt. Long legs ended in delicate feet. I’d have had to work a zillion years on a stair machine to get legs like that and I’d been far too athletic in my youth to bother with starvation to keep them so slender.
A hand touched my shoulder, and I jumped about ten feet up and two feet away, whirling on him. “What the hell is going on!” My voice rose to a screech in another wave of fear and panic.
He held his hand up, his voice turning soft. “I promise, I’ll explain. But we have to get away from here.” He didn’t glance over at my body, my former body, but I got the message. How could I explain this to anyone? I’m reasonably sure that being seen standing over the body, especially with someone who was carrying a sword, which was incidentally the murder weapon, was likely to get me in the category of Chief Suspect. At the least, I’d earn the title Accessory to Murder.
All of which just confused me even more. He’d killed me, but I really wasn’t dead. Is it a crime to murder a body, but not the person? By all accounts, he should have scared me. But, I was a lot more scared of the Model Bitch when I met her than I was of him. Could I tell you why? Hell, no. But when I came up with the answer, I’ll be sure to pass it on.
“Why aren’t I cold?” The words came out even as I realized they were true.
“Excuse me?” He was watching and braced for hysterics or screams.
“Why aren’t I cold?”
“Um…well, I don’t believe she ever seemed to worry about the temperature.”
He hesitated and then answered in a totally crappy attempt at being offhand. “Maybe you’re just in a little bit of shock.
I clenched my teeth, more to stop from being sick than anything else. Still, I was the injured party here, surely I deserved some answers.
I rerouted the nausea right into anger, “What the hell did you do to me?”
“Me!” He held his hands up. “I didn’t do anything.”
“Then what the hell is going on!” I fairly screamed at him.
Apparently, women yelling at him was just as cathartic to him as it was to me, because he started to relax and grow calmer.
“Look, I said I’ll answer what I can, but we do need to get out of here. Now.”
I shivered. He made as if to take off his coat, but I waved him off. I felt another surge of hysteria coming and I wanted, needed, to be away from this before I fell apart. I’m not one for crying in public, even with a public of one.
I focused on the immediate task on hand, unwilling to think about the situation right them. “My apartment. It’s a block away,” I whispered, my voice shaky and weak.
He turned, blocking my view of myself, and put a hand on my shoulder. He paused to look around the area. His eyes tracked along the ground in even measures. He scanned one area, only to turn and do it all again. He was quartering the area, looking for something. Whatever it was, he didn’t find it. Instead, he swept up my purse before hustling me down the street. Distracted, I stopped only once, pulling him off balance as I picked up a can of cat food. Caligula would expect to be fed tonight.
My little flat was only a few minutes walk. I didn’t remember the walk in the cold, and I didn’t remember going up the stairs to avoid seeing anyone in the elevator. I didn’t even remember opening the door.
I just found myself standing in my living room, absorbing the familiar. Bookcases lined one wall, filled to brimming. What couldn’t fit on the shelves was stacked in piles all around.
It was an eclectic room. New furniture mixed in with antiques, every spare inch of the tiny apartment filled with something from my past. My books had almost every subject imaginable, though art, history, dictionaries and computer books dominated.
A rattling caught my awareness. I turned my head to see him trolling through my cupboards. I had half a mind to protest, but was suddenly too weary to care. He moved about opening doors and drawers, searching. The inherent grace that I noted when he walked was absent in the bewildered hunt in an unfamiliar kitchen.
I fell into my favorite chair, curling myself around a pillow.
A hand thrust a tumbler under my nose. He’d found my stash of Jameson’s. I appreciatively inhaled the whiskey fumes from the amber liquid before dashing some of the contents down. It’s been a favored drink for years and I was shocked when it burned down my throat.
Coughing and sputtering, I set the glass down before I spilled it. I might look the fool, but I treated the whiskey with the dignity it deserved.
He sat on the coffee table, putting himself directly in front of me, his knees bracketing mine. Most of the lights were out. The ones that were lit gave diffuse lighting, showing the planes on his face in sharp relief. I was both steadier and shakier than before, if I could be both at the same time.
He kept his hands open and relaxed on his thighs. I saw he had scars on his hands. Ragged scars that said he hadn’t taken himself to medical care, or that none had been available. The fingers were calloused, speaking of a lifetime of work, or possibly training with the sword that now hung from his side. His nose had been broken at least once or twice; there was a knot at the bridge where the scar tissue had built up. His dark brown hair had glints of grey streaking through it, though he didn’t look old enough for it.
He didn’t have a face that I would have been called beautiful, but it was arresting. One crease hinted at a deep long dimple along one side. Faint lines were beginning to etch in, bracketing his mouth and waging war with the laugh lines around his eyes. There was a battle there, between pain and suffering fighting against the laugh lines. Pain and suffering looked like they were winning. There were a lot of stories in that face.
Green eyes regarded me. He didn’t speak.
“What happened to me?” I asked.
It was a natural question. He still took his time regarding me, shifting his whipcord frame a little. I could tell he was thinking about what to say. A few crazy stories came to my mind. He could say I was having an Out-of-body confusion. Hallucinations were another way to go.
Hell, he didn’t have to bother saying anything. He could just up and leave. What would I do then?
It was an impossible situation. I was still trying to wrap my brain around this. I could hear police sirens in the distant, getting louder. How long before they knocked on my door? What could I tell them?
“A demon was taking you over.” His words broke through my turmoil.
“What?” Of all the stories, that was probably way, way down at the bottom of my list. Scrawled in at the last second, just behind alien invasion. Though, they oddly seemed like the same thing. “Are you shitting me”?
He winced. “The truth is usually the easiest explanation.”
“You think that’s easy? You think I’ll buy that before anything else? Just how stupid do I look? No, never mind. You must think I have crap for brains. Try to remember that I do have an IQ higher than my current dress size.”
He weathered my outburst with equanimity, which was really, really annoying. It would help if he were just as out of sorts. In a perverse way, the more someone else is out of control, the calmer I get. It lets me play grown-up. Unfortunately, the reverse is true as well.
“I said it’s the easiest explanation, not the most accurate. I was chasing her, knowing she could switch bodies with anyone to through me off the trail. That was her particular talent. I got to the alley behind her, and saw you two standing there. I suspected she was trying for a transfer. It’s the easiest time to kill one of them. The problem was, I didn’t know which body she was in.” He ran a hand through thick hair, briefly shifting it so I got a glimpse of a high forehead and the glint of a few more grey hairs. “I try and avoid outright murder of innocents.”
“So…you killed me?”