This story started here.
I had known, of course, that my employer hadn't arrived alone. Not with the report of a gunshot and the possible involvement of starling. She had told everybody else to wait outside while she went in and investigated.
As the medics tended to Foster, I made it clear to them that he was in custody. Lenore and Mac had pulled beer cans from the paper bag, and she was lighting a cigarette for him. They looked shell shocked. Somerset started to say a few things, but his heart wasn't in it and nobody paid any attention, so he stopped. Pete picked up his bass guitar and put it into its case, then he and starling moved to leave.
A second after Pete and starling went out, I head a familiar voice yell, "Fuck!"
Imagining the worst, I hurried to the door, where I saw starling squatting, her hand on Ron's shoulder, saying, "–Marshall's daughter, aren't you? I've seen you around town. I'm Katherine. I don't think you should go in there right now. Look, here's your father."
Ron rushed over to me and hugged me, and Pete and starling walked away. I blinked in the bright sunshine, breathing in the cool autumn air. I felt like I'd been in that dark, dank space for days. Looking around, I saw Christy and a reporter from the U-town newspaper. He was about to go inside, but I motioned him over and made it clear that the article should say that starling had assisted Jan Sleet in apprehending a murderer. Which was true, after all.
I looked at Christy, who had a definite bruise under one eye.
"Lucky punch," she said.
I pointed at Ron and raised an eyebrow.
Christy nodded. "When we heard the shot, she really wanted to go in. I almost had to tie her up."
I squatted to address Ron, putting my hand on her shoulder. "Do you remember the phrase 'in loco parentis'?"
She frowned and then shrugged. "Yeah."
"When your mother and I aren't around, you need to listen to Christy, the same way you would listen to us."
She made a face. Christy had stepped inside, probably mostly to give us some privacy, so I leaned forward and whispered, "You don't have to like her, that's up to you. But you need to do what she says."
She was starting to look upset, so I took her in my arms again so she could bury her face in my jacket and hide her tears. "Would you?" she asked, her voice muffled.
I knew what she meant.
"I would have wanted to go in, just as much as you did, but if anybody had burst into that room at the wrong moment, we might all be dead now. Christy was right."