A Caress of Twilight – Chapter 21: Oh that’s right, Merry has an actual JOB

Chapter 21 begins with Merry and Co from the Grey’s Detective Agency being called to a murder scene. Merry remarks that they almost never get called to go on scene to murder investigations. They were often called to assist the police in other matters, but almost never murders. However, they were called to this murder scene. Merry is standing over the body of a young woman.
 
Detective Lucy Tate (remember her from the first novel?) walks over to Merry and tells her that the dead woman’s shade of lipstick is called “asphyxiation”, an odd blue color that mimics the lip color of a corpse who died from suffocation. She tells Merry that Grey’s resident psychic, Teresa, was taken to the hospital after touching a tube of lipstick left on the scene. It caused Teresa to begin hyperventilating and she wasn’t able to breathe.
 
Merry glances over the dead body again.
 
The body looked thin, not exactly strong, more like she’d dieted her way to a size whatever. If she’d known she would die last night, would she have gone off her diet the day before?
“How old was she?”
“Her ID says twenty-three.”
“She looks older,” I said.
“Dieting and too much sun will do that to you.” Amy flash of humor had gone now. She was somber as she looked up to the cliff above us. “You ready to see the rest?”
“Sure, but I’m a little puzzled about why you called Jeremy and all of us in. It’s sad, but she got herself killed, or choked to death, or something. She suffocated, it’s horrible, but why call us in?”
 
Oh sure, she obviously was responsible for her own death. Sure.
 
“I didn’t call in your two bodyguards.” For the first time there was true hostility on her face. She pointed down the beach at Rhys. Frost might have been uncomfortable, but Rhys was having a very good time. He watched everything with an eager eye, smiling, humming the theme song to Hawaii Five-O under his breath. Or at least that’s what he’d been humming when he went farther down the beach to watch some of the uniforms wade in the surf. Rhys had already done Magnum P.I., until Frost told him to stop. Rhys preferred film noir and would always be a Bogart fan at heart, but Bogie wasn’t making movies anymore. In the last few months Rhys discovered reruns in color that he actually enjoyed.
 
Hahaha, Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I. How old ARE you, LKH?
 
Lucy is perturbed by how much fun Rhys seems to be having at this crime scene. Merry doesn’t want to explain to her that Rhys was once a death god, so she explains his odd behavior by reminding Lucy how much Rhys loves film noir. 
Rhys then comes over  to the two of them to find out if anyone knows why the girl had suffocated, as there was no burst blood vessels in her eyes, and no obvious bruising anywhere on her body. Lucy becomes angered that Rhys looked at the body so closely, as he wasn’t invited to the scene to do any investigation. Only Jeremy and Merry were invited for that. Rhys was simply there as a bodyguard for Merry. Lucy marches off after expressing her displeasure at Rhys, and Merry has to explain to Rhys why Lucy is so upset.
 
“She’s creeped out by whatever’s up the stairs, and she needs someone to take it  out on. You’re it.”
“Why me?”
Frost had joined us. “Because she is human and humans mourn death. They don’t enjoy poking at it like you do.”
“That’s a lie,” Rhys said. “A lot of the detectives enjoy their work, and I know the medical examiner does.”
“But they don’t go around humming at the crime scene,” I said.
“Sometimes they do,” Rhys said.
I frowned at him, trying to figure out how to make it more clear. “Humans hum, or sing, or tell bad jokes over the bodies so they won’t be scared. You hum because you’re happy. This doesn’t bother you.” He glanced down at the dead woman. “She doesn’t care anymore. She’s dead. We could stage a Wagnerian opera on top of her and she wouldn’t care.”
I touched his arm. “Rhys, it’s not the dead you should try to placate; it’s the living.” He frowned at me.
 
ALWAYS WITH THE FROWNING.
 
They continue this conversation for a bit, as Rhys apparently doesn’t understand why Tate is so upset and why he needs to pretend to be upset around the bodies. Merry has to turn to Frost to make sure HE understands, and Rhys, still not understanding, says he’ll pretend to be sad around the Detective for her benefit.
 
Tate yells at them all from the stairs, telling them to hurry up as they don’t have all day, and Rhys responds that actually, they do have all day.
 
“We have all day. We have all eternity. The dead aren’t going anywhere.” I glanced at him. He was watching the tall detective with a sort of faraway, almost dreamy look on his face.
“You know what, Rhys?”
He looked at me, raising one eyebrow.
“Lucy’s right. You’re creepy at a murder scene.”
He grinned again. “Not nearly as creepy as I could be.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Rhys wouldn’t answer. He just started walking ahead of us in his lower-heeled shoes. I looked up at Frost.
“What did he mean by that?”
“Rhys was once called the Lord of Relics.”
“And that means what?” I asked, nearly stumbling in the heels, holding tighter to his arm.
“Relics is an old poetic word. It means corpse.”
 
Merry doesn’t understand, so Frost continues to tell her that he once had the ability to raise the dead, even those dead who had been gone for a very, very long time, and he could control them and make them fight on the Unseelie’s side in battle. He tells her that he lost that power when the Nameless was created. He continues to tell her that many of their best, most powerful sidhe lost powers when they created the Nameless, but none had lost as much power and magic as Rhys.
 
“How did you get everyone to agree to the Nameless?”
“Those I power decreed death for any who opposed it.”
I should have guessed. I transferred my shoes to one hand and slipped my other hand back on Frost’s arm. “I mean, how did Andais get Taranis to agree?”
“That is a secret only the queen and Taranis know.”
 
Oh of course. ~*Faerie Secrets*~
 

The chapter ends with Detective Tate screaming at Merry to join her up the stairs to see the rest of the murder scene, and Merry and Frost begin to climb the stairs to meet her.

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