Shadow was not a happy man.
He had been to prison. He'd lost his wife and his best friend long before the car crash. He'd managed to get himself ensnared in a war between the gods. All in all, he hadn't had the best of years.
If he'd known that trying to settle down in Neptune, California would make it that much worse, he never would have bothered.
"So... Shadow," the more than balding Sheriff of the town said with a quizzical arch of his eyebrows. Shadow glanced meaningfully at his nameplate which read, "Keith Mars."
Sheriff Keith Mars chuckled. "You're right. I've got no room to talk." He leaned back in his chair and said, "You know why you're here, don't you?"
"'Cause I'm an ex-con," Shadow said darkly.
Mars nodded in acquiescence. "But you were also found at the scene of a double homicide. Now, I'm not of a mind to jump to conclusions, but there's not much I can do if you keep sitting there without doing anything to help yourself."
Shadow would have liked to have helped himself. However, he somehow doubted the Sheriff would be inclined to believe that Loki had gotten lose from the World Tree and decided to feed on chaos created in Shadow's life. The two dead prostitutes were little more than collateral damage.
Just then, the door swung open. Shadow expected to see that spindly looking deputy with the porn mustache, so he was surprised to see a young girl standing in the threshold. She had blonde hair like so many California girls, but there was something more... natural about her. She almost looked like a Midwestern transplant, but there was something about the way her smile slanted, something about the light in her eyes that told him this girl was Californian, born and bred. She just wasn't the bottle blonde beach bimbo. She was the kind of girl who had seen too much too soon. The kind of girl who used to be sunkissed, used to dance in the light. The kind of girl who now smirked in the shadows with cigarettes for her perfume.
"Hey, Dad," she said, ignoring Shadow's looks without contempt. She strode forward, adjusting the shoulder strap of her considerably heavy bag. She handed him a manila envelope that Shadow hoped contained evidence that would let him go back to dealing with the Loki situation.
"What are you doing here, sweetie?" he asked, accepting the kiss she laid on his cheek. "I'm in an interrogation. With a murder suspect."
'Sweetie' just shrugged. Shadow suddenly felt at least a foot shorter. "I read the file. Cut him loose; DNA doesn't match."
Shadow was torn between elation at this news and wondering if her thighs rubbed together when she walked.
Mars flipped open the case file and quickly found confirmation of his daughter's assessment. He sighed, none too pleased. "All right, Mr. Shadow. If you wouldn't mind answering a few more questions, I'd appreciate it, but after that, you're free to go."
Shadow wanted to run from the room immediately, or he wanted to smoke a cigarette in hopes it would somehow entice that blonde vision that was so quickly slipping out of the room. He simply nodded and held his posture erect like so much stone.
Unabashedly at ease with him, 'Sweetie' turned and clapped his shoulder. It felt like lightning in his flesh. "Don't worry. He's a stunning conversationalist. And he enjoys long walks on the beach at sunset. You couldn’t ask for a better catch."
"Goodbye, Veronica," Mars said with feeling.
Veronica put her hands up in mock surrender and backed out of the room. "I'll probably wind up crashing at Mac's tonight."
"All right. Call me in the morning."
With that, Veronica was gone and the room seemed that much dimmer.
And then all of Sheriff Keith Mars's amiability drained from his face, and he leaned forward. Shadow, who was no stranger to threats and intimidation, couldn't help but feel a little ill at ease, though he knew he didn't betray it in his face.
"Don't even think about it."