Finally Norris beckoned me to the table. I sat down, and she glared at Ghast until he got up and walked away. “So tell me what happened,” she said.
“Starting with what?” I didn’t want to go into the whole leaving the apartment too late thing if she only wanted to know about the part after I’d discovered someone had taken Keeley from school.
“Starting with why someone else picked up the little girl,” she replied.
Ah. “I’m still learning the transit system. I’m new around here. I didn’t realize I’d be running late, and something held up one of the trains. I showed up at Keeley’s school about ten or fifteen minutes late and the secretary said Alex—Mr. Ruiz—had picked her up already. He’d told her I’d called to say I’d be late.”
She jotted something down on a small notepad. “Why didn’t you call him?”
“I tried. He was in a meeting.” I’d said that before. I knew I had. Keeley had a point about people not listening. “I didn’t have the phone numbers for the school or for his receptionist, as I think you heard. When he didn’t answer his phone, I could only go on to the school and hope for the best. Unfortunately, I found the worst.”
“A bit melodramatic, don’t you think?” She put down her pen. “Who do you think you’re kidding?”
“I don’t know what you mean.” I shivered under her penetrating look. She hadn’t figured out the truth about me, had she? Even a child who recognized angels and other demons didn’t know I wasn’t human. This woman didn’t have any way of knowing what I was. I hoped.
“You show up at her school late, which opens the way for someone else to take the kid.” She ticked this off on one finger. “Then you conveniently figure out they’ve brought her here.” Another finger. “And you run in and, without noticing a fight that caused about two thousand dollars’ worth of damage, just happen to find the kid hiding in a pile of beanbags. Have you always wanted to be a hero?”
Now I understood. She thought I’d either lied about what had happened or had staged it to gain attention. Although her assumption irked me, it was probably for the best. At least she wouldn’t attempt to find the perpetrator and wind up running afoul of one of Hell’s higher-ups.
I didn’t like being falsely accused, though. “I showed up at the school late because of the trains,” I repeated. “I’m sure if you check with the subway people, they’ll tell you about the delay. The secretary said the person who took Keeley told her to tell me I’d know where they’d gone. Alex had asked me to bring Keeley here, so I figured maybe they’d come here for some reason.”
“Why would a kidnapper take a child somewhere people would be likely to look for her?”
“If I knew that, I’d be a kidnapper, not a babysitter,” I snapped. “Look. I know you’re under pressure to figure all this out. All I can tell you is what happened. If you don’t believe me, that’s your choice. I’ve done nothing wrong. In fact, I’d like you to stop and think about what might have happened to Keeley if I hadn’t found her when I did.”
“Nothing, if you’re the one who set it up,” she countered.
“Excuse me.” Ghast approached the table. “If you’re charging Omara with something, please get on with it. If you aren’t, she has a dinner engagement, and I have other business to attend to.”
“She doesn’t leave until I say so.”
Something in her tone made me take a closer look. The Officer Norris we’d seen outside had been quiet, almost shy. Probably a first-year officer or something. Now, though, she seemed completely authoritative and confident.
The change had occurred after I’d persuaded her to get permission to bring Keeley inside while we waited for Alex. Norris had been out of sight for several minutes. Longer than it should have taken to get a yes or no answer.
We’d assumed Tertarch and his buddies had gone away. Maybe they hadn’t. Maybe we just hadn’t been able to see them.