“Brenda, you’re doing this,” Pope ordered firmly. “You will make a public apology.”
Brenda sat up straight in the chair in front of his desk. She stuck her chin out. “I didn’t do anything wrong. Mr. Murdoch--”
“Is Councilman Piper’s brother-in-law,” Pope interrupted. “You know there are better ways to handle the situation besides dragging him in cuffs in front of news cameras.”
“Murdoch’s a flight risk and--”
“And runs one of the biggest charities in Los Angeles. Because of you, half the community is up in arms.”
Brenda folded her arms across her chest. “He’s a fraud and a murderer.”
“Prove it,” Pope challenged.
“I can get him,” Brenda maintained. “I just need a little time.”
Pope took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “You have time,” he tried reasonably. “But we can’t hold him.” She opened her mouth to protest but he put a hand up. “The Councilman’s agreed that he’ll hand over his passport. He’s not going anywhere.”
Pope stood up and waved for her to follow. “I’ve called for a press conference. Keep it short and sweet.”
Instead of following, Brenda dug into her purse. “You know how I am in front of cameras,” she said in a tone as close to whining as she got.
“I’m afraid that Piper insists. Short and sweet.”
Brenda grunted in frustration, obviously not finding what she was looking for. “Can’t you do it for me?”
Pope tapped her on the shoulder and offered her a Snickers. “God knows I have enough practice, but no. This is all you.”
Brenda took the candy and gave him a small, grudging smile. She put it on top of the pile in her purse. “Okay.”
Pope opened the office door for her. “Look at it this way. When you get Murdoch, it’ll be Piper squirming in front of the cameras.”
An evil smile crossed Brenda’s face. “I’ll look forward to that.”
They started for the elevators. They came to a corner. Brenda stopped out of sight when she heard a group of familiar voices.
Pope stood beside her. “What…” he started to ask.
Brenda squeezed his arm. “Shh.”
“It’s almost time for the Chief to go in front of the cameras,” Sanchez said ruefully.
Flynn snorted. “You mean the firing squad.”
“Apologizing isn’t exactly her strong suit,” Provenza added.
Pope noticed Brenda straighten up. He snickered quietly and whispered, “They know you so well.”
“Considering the people involved, I can’t say I’m surprised,” Flynn continued.
“The Chief just has to smooth things over so we can work,” Provenza put in.
“If the Chief says Murdoch did it, he did it,” Gabriel stated.
Brenda smiled. She nudged Pope.
“Oh, he did it,” Flynn answered. “But we’re still a long way from proving it and the press all over this case doesn’t help.”
Pope nudged Brenda back.
“Bunch of vultures,” Sanchez growled. “Always looking for us to mess up.”
Provenza sighed. “It’s just the way it is. We get all the blame when things go bad and none of the credit when they go well. Cops are society’s sacrificial lambs.”
Flynn snorted. “Hey, at least we’re not their jackasses.”
“Who would that be?” Gabriel asked.
“The brass,” Provenza and Flynn answered at the same time.
Pope’s eyes got wide. Brenda grabbed his arm and started walking again. She pulled him past her group of detectives. “I assume you gentlemen have work to do,” she drawled in a deceptively sweet voice.
They all jumped. They glanced at each other. “Yeah, Chief,” they chorused and scattered.
Pope watched the men retreat, thinking about all the ways he could make them pay later. He pressed the button for the elevator. He felt Brenda watching him, trying not to laugh. “Not a word.”