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“You’re a very smart man, David,” I replied with a grin as I handed over money.

“Well, you’re my most regular regular so far,” he said, then frowned. “That could be taken the wrong way.”

Laughing, I took the change and dropped it into the tip jar. “If you ever start serving chocolate donuts,” I said, “I’d probably never leave.”

“Then for the safety of our fine community, I’ll be sure to avoid ordering any.”

“For the safety of my waistline as well!”

“Y’know, I actually had donuts here when we first opened,” he said, picking up a towel and wiping down the counter as he spoke. “Had to stop carrying them because they didn’t sell.”

I nodded. “The stereotype.”

“Exactly,” he said, eyes flashing in amusement. “None of the cops who came in wanted to be seen eating donuts in public.”

“It’s my private shame,” I said with a parting wink. I turned around and barely caught myself before spilling my precious coffee all over the front of Officer Gordon’s jacket and my own. “Yikes! Sorry!”

Tracy gave me an engaging smile. “If I didn’t know better I’d say you were stalking me.”

“It’s true,” I replied. “I have a thing for men who keep me from freezing to death. Oh, and speaking of,” I said as I tugged off the scarf and handed it back to him, “I can give this back to you now.”

“Well, I knew that if you did freeze I’d be the one stuck writing the report about finding your body.”

“I’m on call. I wonder if I’d have to investigate my own death?”

His mouth curved in amusement. “It’s a bureaucracy. Of course you would.” He looked to the patiently waiting David. “Sorry. Hot chocolate, please. Whole milk, with whipped cream.”

Damn, that sounded good. I briefly regretted my addiction to coffee. But only briefly.

He returned his attention to me as David went off to make his drink. “New purchase? Surely you didn’t have time to go back home.”

It took me a second to figure out what he was talking about. “Oh, the coat!” I grinned. “Yep, just bought it. I couldn’t resist.”

“It’s badass,” he said with an approving nod.

I preened a bit, about to respond when a screech of tires on pavement pulled our attention. An instant later we heard the distinct crash of a car meeting something immoveable.

“That can’t be good,” I murmured as we both quickly moved to the broad windows at the front. The street and the detective’s parking lot were in full view. My vehicle was the only one in the lot. Or rather, it had been. Now there was a dark blue Toyota Camry with its front end embedded in my car’s driver’s side.

I probably stared in disbelief for several seconds while the scene registered in my brain. “That’s my car,” I heard myself say. Then I shook myself out of my stupor. “That’s my fucking car!” Okay, so technically it was the PD’s car, but still, it was assigned to me.

I spun and hit the door at a run, glancing up and down the street just long enough to make sure I wasn’t about to get plowed by an oncoming vehicle. I was still holding my coffee, and the hot liquid splashed my hand through the little hole in the lid. I slowed to a brisk and angry walk as a blond woman made her stumbling way out of her driver’s side of the Camry. She wasn’t going anywhere fast. Not dressed in a pencil skirt and sky-high heels. She had the figure for it, I thought absently despite my current rage. Tall and slim and model perfect, even though she looked like she was in her late forties or so. Terrific genes. The bitch.

“Hey! You crazy, drunk bitch!” I shouted. “You just ran into the wrong car!”

She didn’t seem to hear me. Blood streamed from her nose onto her white blouse. Clearly the airbag hadn’t been very kind to her. Her unfocused gaze skimmed over me before she turned away from me and staggered to the middle of the parking lot. She stopped and looked up, spreading her arms as if she was waiting for aliens to snatch her up.

“Hey, lady!” I called out to her. “You need to get back over here right now.”

The woman suddenly let out a scream of pain and grabbed her head. She turned to focus on me for the first time, her eyes wild and wide.

“Help me!” she whimpered.

Drunk or high? I thought sourly. “Don’t worry, I’ll get you plenty of help,” I told her. “Now, step back over to the car, please.”

She didn’t move. Her eyes stayed locked on mine. I could see her fingers digging into her hair as if she was trying to hold her skull together. “Make it stop.” Her voice cracked as if speech was an incredible effort. “Please!”

I stopped about a dozen feet from her. Last thing I wanted to do was tangle with a blood-covered bitch who was high on who-knew-what. “Make what stop? Come over here and have a seat by the car, and I’ll get you some help.”

She took a shaking breath, and for an instant I thought she was going to comply and make my life easier. Then in the next heartbeat her hands fell away from her head, her face went slack, and she dropped like a stone to the ground, hard enough for her head to connect with the asphalt with an audible crack.

“Shit!” I dropped the coffee and quickly closed the distance. Crouching beside her, I rolled her to her back and found a place on her neck that didn’t have blood on it to check for a pulse. Not an easy task. Two nosebleeds in one day? I thought with a grimace. Coincidences like that made me itch. Especially on the same day a demon decided to attack me.

I whirled to signal for Tracy but he was right behind me and already on his radio, calling it in. “No pulse,” I told him. “Tell ‘em code three.”

He nodded and relayed the information as I turned back to the woman, got my hands in proper position, and started giving chest compressions. I took the CPR class every year as part of my in-service training, but this was the first time I’d ever had to do it on a real person.

The woman’s eyes were half lidded, and bubbles of blood formed at her nostrils with every compression. The latest guidelines called for compressions only, no mouth-to-mouth, and I sent up a silent thanks for that. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t want to risk giving breaths, even if I had one of those mask things. It was bad enough that my hands were getting blood on them. I don’t have any open cuts, I reminded myself. I hoped.

I lost track of time, though it was probably only a minute or two before sirens cut through the air. An ambulance pulled into the parking lot, and a few seconds later EMS crouched beside me. I gratefully relinquished the duty to them.

I stood, legs a little numb from kneeling. I staggered a step and felt a strong hand at my elbow steadying me. I looked over to see Tracy, then gave him a nod of thanks as he handed me a sanitizing wipe. I scrubbed my hands thoroughly of every trace of blood then hurriedly checked my lovely new jacket to see if I’d gotten any on it. If so, I couldn’t see it against the black leather. Yes, I knew I was being horribly shallow. But focusing on the little things kept me from losing my cool.

I returned my attention to the paramedics and their patient. “She was in the Camry,” I explained with a gesture toward the two cars. “She ran into the other one, then got out and walked over here. She seemed a little unsteady, but then she just stopped and—” I paused, knowing it was going to sound strange. “She grabbed her head and said, ‘Help me. Make it stop.’ Then she dropped like a stone.”

The one manning the ventilator glanced over at the car and frowned. “Could be a stroke. Doesn’t seem like a bad crash, but you never know.”

There wasn’t anything more I could do then except stand back and watch. A glance over at the coffee shop showed a number of faces at the window peering out from the warmth. They were the smart ones. The paramedics continued to work on her, but it didn’t seem to be doing much good. After a few minutes they loaded her up and screamed off with lights and sirens going.

I let my breath out as the ambulance departed then looked mournfully at my car. “Damn.”