A Caress of Twilight – Chapter 22: Ah, yes, the cop with an attitude problem


Chapter 22 begins with everyone surveying the crime scene. There were so many bodies that they had run out of body bags to cover the corpses and instead just left most of them uncovered. At Merry’s count there’s at least 50, probably more, dead. Although she finds the scene disturbing, Merry is keeping the emotions off her face, as she had been raised watching horrible scenes like this and knew how to keep her face blank.
I tried to pretend that I was back at court and this was one of the queen’s “entertainments.” You never dared show distaste, disgust, horror, or least of all fear at one of her little shows. If you did, she’d often make you join in on the fun. Her show ran more to sex and torture than true death, and suffocation wasn’t one of Andais’s kinks, so this little disaster wouldn’t have pleased her. She’d probably see it as a waste. So many people who could have admired her, so many people she could have terrorized. I pretended that my life depended on keeping a blank face and feeling nothing. It was the only way I knew to walk among the bodies and not have hysterics.
Merry notices that all the bodies have lips the same shade as the body found on the beach, however the shade of these bodies wasn’t from lipstick. They had all suffocated, but not instantly. They’d suffered. Some of them had nail marks on their bodies where they’d clawed at their throats and chests. Nine of the bodies in the room seemed different than all the others, but Merry couldn’t figure out why.
Merry turns to Rhys and asks his opinion on why those nine bodies felt different. He tells her that it appears they died quickly. They had no nail marks on their bodies, they had no signs of struggle. They were the only nine who hadn’t struggled when they died, as if they had simply dropped where they were dancing. Merry asks Rhys what he thinks could have happened here, but before Rhys can answer, they’re interrupted.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Princess Meredith?” We both turned to the far side of the room. The man stalking toward us through the bodies was medium build, balding, obviously muscular, and even more obviously pissed.
“Lieutenant Peterson, isn’t it?”
Oh cool, another asshole authority figure to ‘challenge’ Merry. I believe I commented on this in the first book, but there’s ALWAYS a character like this who will challenge the main character in LKH novels. It’s typically either an asshole male police officer who pulls rank because they don’t think that they need any help from the preternatural and tries to get Merry or Anita thrown off the case, or it’s an asshole female police officer who tries to pull rank because she’s jealous of Merry or Anita’s many lovers and tries to get her thrown off the case. Always. Always always always.
“Don’t be pleasant, Princess. What the fuck are you doing here?”  I smiled. “It’s lovely to see you, too, Lieutenant.”
He didn’t smile. “Get out, now, before I have you thrown out.” Rhys moved an inch closer to my side. Peterson’s eyes flicked to him, then back to me. “I see your two gorillas. If they try anything, diplomatic immunity or no diplomatic immunity, they’re going to jail.” I glanced back just enough to see that Frost was drifting closer. I shook my head, and he stopped. He frowned, clearly not happy; but he didn’t have to be happy, he just had to give me room.
“Have you ever seen this many dead before?” I asked. My voice was quiet.
“What?” Peterson asked.
I repeated my question.
He shook his head. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“It’s horrible,” I said.
“Yeah, it’s horrible, and what the fuck does that have to do with anything?”
“You’d be friendlier if it wasn’t such a horrible crime scene.”
He made a sound that was almost a laugh, but too harsh to be one. “Well, hell, Princess, this is friendly. This is exactly how friendly I am to murderers like you who hide behind diplomatic immunity.” He smiled, but it was a baring of teeth, like a snarl.     
Ahhh, so we see now why he wants Merry kicked off the scene. He thinks that Merry killed that one off wizard dude from the previous novel, who was in like 3 chapters and then we thought nothing of for the remainder of the story.
“Why are these nine bodies the only ones that went quietly?” I asked. He frowned at me. “What?”
“Why are these nine bodies the only ones without signs of struggle on them?”
“This is a police investigation, and I am the senior officer on-site. This is my investigation, and I don’t care if you are one of our civilian advisers on metaphysical shit. I don’t even care if you’ve helped us out in the past. You’ve never done shit for me, and I don’t need help from any goddamned faerie. So, for the last time, get the fuck out of here.”
I tried being sympathetic. I’d tried being businesslike. When being good doesn’t help you, you can always be bad. I reached out toward him, as if to touch his face. He did what I knew he’d do. He’d backed up.
“What’s wrong, Lieutenant?” I made sure to look puzzled.
“Don’t ever touch me.” His voice was quieter now. And, I realized, much more dangerous than the yelling.
“It wasn’t the touch of my skin that drove you mad last time, Lieutenant. It was the Branwyn’s Tears.” His voice dropped even lower. “Don’t … ever … touch me … again.” There was something in his eyes that was frightening. He was afraid of me, really afraid, and that made him hate me. Rhys stepped a little ahead of me, not quite putting himself between me and the lieutenant but almost. I didn’t fight him. It’s never comforting to have anyone look at you with such hatred.
“We’ve met only once, Lieutenant. Why do you hate me?” It was a question so direct that even a human wouldn’t have asked it. But I didn’t understand, couldn’t understand; so I had to ask. He looked down, hiding his eyes as if he hadn’t expected me to see so far into his soul. His voice was very low when he said, “You forget, I saw what you left on that bed – just a pile of raw meat, cut to ribbons. Without dental records we couldn’t have recognized him. And you wonder why I don’t want you to touch me?” He shook his head and looked at me, eyes blank and unreadable, cop eyes. “Now, get out, Princess. Take your two goons and get out. I am senior officer in charge, and I won’t have you in here.”
Detective Tate finally comes over and tells the Lieutenant that she had called in Grey’s for assistance. Peterson freaks out, demanding she tell him who authorized calling in for assistance, and Tate tells him that she’s never had to get authorization from anyone before to call them in. Peterson doesn’t care and yells at her for not following protocol, which is to get the lead officer in charge’s permission to call in for assistance. Peterson tells her that she shouldn’t assume that all murders are supernatural and it’s likely that the killer was just another mortal. He then sends Tate to escort Merry, Rhys, and Frost out of the room.
The chapter ends with Merry turning to Lieutenant Peterson and thanking him for having them taken off the scene. She tells him that she had no idea why she was called in for assistance, and didn’t feel comfortable being around all that death and all those bodies. Then, they leave.

What…. What even was the point there? The big bad cop starts yelling at Merry and Co to leave, and Merry stands him down for reasons??? But then decides it’s a-okay to just up and leave anyway? What the fuck was the point of the majority of this chapter?

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