Page 61 of The District

He took her arm, but she shook him off and pointed to Libby’s bloody fingers. “Look. She wrote something on the floor in her blood.”

“I’ll be damned.” He cranked his head around. “Where’s your penlight?”

She scanned the floor and saw the flashlight peeking from beneath the bottom edge of the door. She pinched it with her fingers and pulled it free. “I have it.”

Eric crouched beside her as she aimed the light on the letters Libby had scrawled before she died.

Eric read them aloud. “L-E-G-A-O? Is that someone’s name? Legao?”

“That’s not an O, it’s a C, and there’s another letter following it.”

“L-E-G-A-C, and what’s the last letter?”

“It’s a Y. Legacy. She wrote legacy.”

“Is that supposed to be someone’s name because it would be a lot more useful if she’d written the name of her killer with her dying breath than the word legacy.”

“Legacy.” The tinny smell of Libby’s blood overwhelmed her. She felt steeped in it even though she had just a little of it on her fingers.

She lurched forward, and Eric caught her under the arms and pulled her up and into his arms.

“You’re trembling. Come away from the body. The first responders are on the way.”

He walked her back into the shop where a colorful array of tarot cards was spread out in a mocking display. The killer didn’t have to put a tarot card between Libby’s fingers—she’d had them ready for him. Did she read her own death before it happened?

Sirens wailed outside, their din drawing closer and closer.

Afraid to sit down and disturb any evidence, but unable to stand on her own with her knees knocking together, she clung to Eric.

She’d seen death before, had seen dead bodies in all shapes and forms, had even joked with the rest of the cops to keep the darkness at bay, but she’d never discovered a dead body before, the dead body of someone she’d come to meet.

The sirens stopped in front of the shop, and Christina grabbed Eric’s shirt with one hand. “Someone didn’t want her talking to us. She did know something, Eric.”

“Yeah, legacy, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.”

He left her side to meet the paramedics and cops at the door.

Closing her eyes, Christina dragged in a breath of fresh air blowing in from the open door. Then she squared her shoulders and joined Eric talking to the uniforms.

Two hours later she stood at the sink in her hotel room scrubbing the dried blood from her hand—Libby’s blood. She’d tried to help them and paid the ultimate price.

Eric wrapped his arms around her waist and pressed his lips against her hair. “I’m sorry you had to see that.”

“I’ve seen my share of dead bodies—some in a lot worse shape than Libby’s.” She scrubbed harder, like Lady Macbeth.

“This is different. If not a friend, Libby was an acquaintance, someone trying to help us, someone we were supposed to meet.”

“You don’t remember legacy, do you?”

His puzzled eyes met hers in the mirror. “Am I supposed to?”

“No, I suppose in all my babbling about seeing the vision of my father, the actual context of the communication got lost.”

Eric snapped his fingers. “He said something about a legacy, but it didn’t make sense to me then and it doesn’t make sense to me now.”

She let the hot water run over her pink-stained hand. “It has something to do with the bloodline of witches, our inheritance or something. We have legacy in our family because my father is a brujo and passed his gift to me and my sister.”

Eric grabbed a hand towel from the rack and shoved it into her midsection. “I think that’s as clean as your hands are going to get right now.”

She cranked off the water and buried her hands in the towel.

“I wonder,” he mused as he made a half circle around her and leaned against the vanity, “if this legacy thing has anything to do with the fact that all the victims were only children.”

“It might. I don’t know enough about it. Maybe Libby was going to explain it to us.”

“Someone must’ve thought she was going to do more than that if they killed her to stop her from talking to us.”

“Now we have to find another source, and I just don’t think Nigel is our guy.”

“I don’t think anyone’s going to be our guy or gal once news of Libby’s murder gets around. This killer has put out the word.”

“That’s only if he knows who we’re talking to and if he can get to her.” She bunched up the towel and tossed it on the floor.