“Is that why you spaced out? You were getting a text or call?”
His nostrils flared. No, that was when I was thinking about laying you out naked on my bed. “Just tired.”
Her dark eyes widened, and a pink flush stained her cheeks. Had she just used some witchcraft to read his mind?
He dug his phone out of his pocket and swiped his thumb across the display. “Rich did call, but more important, the Dearings called me back.”
“Did they leave you a voice mail?”
He tapped his phone to play back the voice mail and put it on speaker. “Agent Brody, this is Mr. Dearing. I’m returning your call. Please call me back on my cell phone.”
He left the number and Eric scribbled it on a slip of paper. “Let’s go back to that office and return the call.”
They staggered through the squad room with their files and bags. Nobody offered to help them, and Rita’s eager face was nowhere to be found this morning.
Christina dropped her bag on the floor outside the office and pushed open the door. They moved their baggage into the office, and Eric dropped behind the desk and tossed his cell phone on top of the blotter.
Christina took the seat across from him and propped her high heels up on the corner of the desk. “Make the call.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He punched in the cell number Mr. Dearing left and put the phone on speaker.
“Mr. Dearing, this is Agent Brody with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and I have Agent Sandoval with me. You’re on speakerphone.”
“What is it you want to know, Agent Brody? I told the police what I could about my daughter. Are you any closer to finding her killer?”
“I think so, but you can help by telling us about Olivia’s association with Los Brujos de Invierno.”
Mr. Dearing choked on the other end of the line. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Are you denying she was connected with that coven?”
“I—I don’t understand.”
“Mr. Dearing, we have strong evidence that the three other victims of your daughter’s killer were members of Los Brujos de Invierno.”
Mr. Dearing groaned. “I thought we’d put all that behind us.”
“Us? What do you mean?”
Eric dropped the pencil he’d been toying with, and his eyes met Christina’s, visible above the hand clamped over her mouth.
“Legacy? What does that mean?”
“It means it’s in the blood. More than any other coven, Los Brujos de Invierno passes power down from one generation to the next. My wife’s father was a brujo. My wife was an only child, and Olivia was our only child. Were these other victims only children in their families?”
Mr. Dearing stifled a sob.
Eric squeezed his eyes shut. “Do you know why someone would be killing people like your daughter, Mr. Dearing?”
“For the power. For their blood.”
Christina hunched across the table, her voice sharp. “Why this coven, Mr. Dearing? Why Los Brujos de Invierno? We heard a rumor it was because they were a force for evil.”
He blew his nose. “It happens, but they could just as well use their power for good or personal gain. We’ve also heard rumors—rumors of lottery winnings and political power. It’s all power, Agent Sandoval—and someone wants it.”
Eric twirled the phone toward him. “Who knew about your daughter’s...ah, legacy?”
“I don’t know. She was an adult. She didn’t live at home. We didn’t know all her friends. She could’ve innocently blabbed it to the wrong person. She wasn’t a practicing witch, but she dabbled.”
They couldn’t get much more out of him, and Eric didn’t have the heart to keep pressing him. The man was breaking apart over the phone. To have a daughter, an only daughter, taken away from you in such a cruel manner would have to be almost too much to bear.
And now he was a father, the father of a daughter.
When he ended the call, Christina blurted out. “The blood. Do you think he took the blood?”
He raised his eyes. “Huh?”
“At each crime scene, there was less blood than expected from a severed artery. In most cases, the blood spatter experts on the scene put it down to either the killer walking away drenched in blood or the blood soaking into the dirt or carpet. But I think he took it.”
“Like bottled it?”
“Either that or he,” she wrapped one slender hand around the column of her throat as she said, “drank it.”
“Like a vampire?”
“Like someone who wanted the power in their blood. Think about it. The victims had bruises on their necks. They’d been strangled first and then had their throats slit. He incapacitated them first, and then cut into their jugular to create a spurt of blood—legacy.”