Petrillo stuck one of his size 12 shoes into the elevator just as I pushed the “down” button. The closing doors slid open again.
“Got a minute Doc?” he asked.
“Got a minute?” may just be the three scariest words in the English language when your life is measured in appointments and you haven’t eaten lunch or dinner.
“It won’t take long,” he promised. “And I think you’ll find it interesting.”
I sighed and got out of the elevator.
“Thanks,” he said.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“You’ll see,” he said and I sighed again.
It wasn’t like Petrillo to play coy so whatever was going on probably was worth my time.
We walked through the squad room and into the hallway overlooking the interrogation room. His partner, LeAnne Jacoby, was questioning a handsome blond man who appeared to be amused by the process. He was practically sprawling in a metal folding chair pulled up to a table, his body language completely relaxed.
“Who is he?” I asked Petrillo.
“That’s a good question,” he said, “but a better one would be, ‘What is he?’”
I raised my right eyebrow, a useful skill when I’m trying to figure out what to say next while waiting for someone to fill in the blanks.
“He claims he’s a fairy.”
He saw my expression and quickly clarified. “As in one of the fae, not as in the derogatory slang expression for a homosexual.”
LeAnne looked up with relief when I entered the interrogation room. She gave me an eye-roll as she passed me on the way out and whispered, “Good luck.”
I turned toward the prisoner. He was smiling slightly, his expression open and sincere.
“So you broke into the museum to steal a bracelet you think was stolen from the fairies?” I asked. “Haven’t I seen that in a movie somewhere?”
“You’re thinking of Hellboy 2,” he said, “except it was a crown in an auction house and they were elves, not fairies.”
“What’s the difference?” I asked.
He took the question seriously.
“We’re kin in the same way that Great Danes and Chihuahuas are kin,” he said. “So it’s partly a matter of size. Fairies are generally smaller than elves, and they usually have wings.”
He saw me look at his shoulders.
“My wings are detachable,” he said. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to sit in chairs.”
He leaned back in the metal folding chair, as comfortable as a man in a Barcalounger in his own living room.
“You’re not a police officer,” he observed.
“What makes you think that?” I asked.
“The others are frustrated and angry with me,” he said. “You’re just curious.” He studied me for a minute. “You must be the department shrink.”
I changed the subject. “What about magic?” I asked. “Fairies are always throwing magic dust around but elves don’t seem to actually do anything.”
“I know, right?” he said. “They mostly spend their time protecting the forests and the greenwoods.” He thought for a moment. “That’s why you hardly ever see elves in the city.”
“Aren’t you kind of large to be a fairy?” I asked. “No offense.”
“None taken. I think I might have some faeblin blood,” he said.
“That’s when a goblin and a fairy mate.”
“I didn’t know that happened.”
“I didn’t know that happened.”
“Love conquers all,” he said.
I thought about that for a minute.
“What’s your name?” I finally asked.
“You wouldn’t be able to pronounce it,” he said.
I just gave him a look. He shrugged and said something that came out like birdsong.
“Told you,” he said. “I can write it down for you if you like.”
“That’s okay,” I said.
“Or you can all me Jake,” he offered.
He was enjoying this. To my surprise, I was too.
“Tell me about the bracelet,” I suggested.
“Have you seen it?”
“No,” I said.
“It’s very small,” he said, “only a few inches in diameter.” He looked at my hands then, reached out to touch my wrist. “You have very delicate bones,” he said, “but it would be too small even for you.”
I pulled my hand away—not because his touch was unpleasant, but because the contact was inappropriate. He smirked.
“It was magicked out of a spiderweb and three drops of fairy blood,” he said.
I looked at him skeptically. “A spiderweb and blood?” I echoed.
“If you saw it you would understand,” he said.
“Wait here,” I said, and left the room.
Petrillo met me in the hallway with the evidence envelope.
Inside was a delicate little bracelet with three tiny rubies caught in the metallic web of the intricate chain link.
“It’s pretty,” I said, “but it doesn’t look like much.”
Petrillo shrugged. “Bling is bling,” he said. “He seems to think it’s kind of important.”
“Can I borrow it?” I asked.
He handed it over. “Don’t lose it.”
I walked back into the room and threw the evidence bag carelessly on the table.
Jake’s eyes flicked over to it but he made no move to pick it up.
“Why did you steal it?” I asked.
“It belongs to a friend of mine,” he said, “and she wanted it back.”
“A friend?” I asked, raising my eyebrow again. “A fairy friend?
He nodded again.
He nodded again.
“It’s pretty,” I said again, “but it’s just a piece of jewelry. Surely a fairy could magick up another. There are spiderwebs everywhere, and blood too.”
“It’s not just any blood,” he said, and then he clammed up like he’d revealed a state secret.
“So, this isn’t just a shiny little bauble,” I said. “It’s an object of power?”
He didn’t answer.
“And you’re a fairy?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said and looked at me with eyes the color of moss agates.
I pocketed the evidence bag and left the room.
“So what do you think?” Petrillo asked me as I perched on the edge of his desk drinking a diet Coke to top up my caffeine level.
“He thinks he’s a fairy,” I said. “He’s clearly delusional.”
“Did he tell you about the feuding fairy families who are fighting for control of the city and need the bracelet?” LeAnne asked. “It’s a pretty detailed delusion.”
I shook my head.
“I’m recommending you send him out for a psychiatric eval,” I said. “We can listen to his fairy stories then.”
I swigged the last of my soda and picked up my purse. Petrillo looked like he wanted to say something, but his phone rang then, distracting him.
“Later,” I said to LeAnne and headed for the elevator.
The evidence bag with the bracelet was still in my pocket.
I could feel the warmth of the bloodstones through the cloth.
The source of his delusion was a spell cast by his fairy “friend,” no doubt one of the minions of the Queen of Summer. He would not have realized he was being manipulated; nor would he have realized that once he accomplished his task, he would be discarded like the husk of a flower after its nectar has been drained.
Jake was a beautiful man but human to the core.
I, on the other hand, only have a human face. Beneath the mundane glamour I show to the mortal world, I am a creature of magic and darkness. The King of Ice and Fire is my brother.
We have coveted the bracelet for a millennium and now that it is ours, we will crush our cousins and take control of this city we have been forced to share for too long.
Humans are welcome to stay, of course.
They amuse us so.