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good enough for any world

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I parked a block away from Wallis’s house and went over the details in his obituary again. It didn’t say much about Hannah, just that she’d immigrated after the first Gulf War, served in the second, and married Wallis after leaving the service. Not enough to form any real conclusions. I got out of the car and headed to the house.

The Wallis home was a small but tasteful building in the Cape Cod style. The curtains were drawn shut. It was hard to tell at this stage of the afternoon, but I didn’t think any lights were on inside either. I walked past the small memorial at the curb, made my way down the walk to the door, and rang the bell.

For a minute, there was no response. Then the door slipped open the width of a short chain and I found myself looking up into dark eyes. “I’m Lisa Wilbourn,” I said.

Those eyes regarded me for several seconds. I started to think I’d come too early and Jamie hadn’t made the call yet. Then she closed the door and I heard the sound of the chain coming undone. She opened the door again. “Come in,” she said.

Hannah Wallis was tall and dark-skinned, with muscles and curves in equal measure. Her left arm was a prosthetic below the elbow but I didn’t doubt she’d still be able to kick the shit out of me if she wanted. I stood there on the mat inside her door, trying to get my power to give me any hints whatsoever. It wasn’t working.

“Shoes at the door, please,” she said politely. As I moved to comply, she asked, “Would you like something to drink?”

“Water would be nice,” I said, slipping off my shoes. I followed her to the kitchen. There were a few bookshelves here and there, and the sort of furniture you get when you’ve outgrown IKEA but you still don’t have a lot of money. There wasn’t a lot in the way of personal touches; a crucifix on a wall here, a framed commendation on the wall there. Not much to give a sense of personality.

She poured me a glass of water. “I’m sorry for your loss,” I said as I took it.

I leaned against the wall and sipped the water.

“So you’re looking for a missing child?” she inquired.

“That’s right,” I said. I took out a copy of Amelia’s photo and handed it over.

She looked at the photo and handed it back. “What’s that to do with my husband?” she asked.

I considered Hannah Wallis. A cop’s wife, an immigrant, a former soldier. Someone who loved America enough she went to fight for it. Someone who respected the system while I stood outside it. I didn’t have time to figure out how to befriend her, if that was even in the cards. I’d have to try another approach.

“This little girl,” I said, “she went missing around the same time Lavere got arrested. She’s his daughter. She would have been with him. But nobody seems to know anything about her. So that got me asking questions.”

Hannah didn’t say anything. So I went on. “Why did Detectives Anders and Wallis confront Lavere on their own? Why didn’t they bring backup?”

She didn’t meet my gaze. “Max told me that was a mistake. They thought he had moles in the department. They couldn’t risk him getting away.”

“Did you know Detective Wallis was working the case?” I asked.

Again, she said nothing.

“There’s something else I don’t get. Why didn’t Lavere fight the charges? Man like that had to be able to afford a good lawyer.” I put the glass down on the table and studied Hannah out of the corner of my eye.

Hannah pursed her lips. “Maybe he developed a conscience.” She didn’t seem troubled over my line of questioning. Maybe she didn’t know anything. Maybe she didn’t know enough to care.

“Or maybe he was protecting someone,” I said. “Say, maybe a little girl whose only crime was a poor choice of parentage. A little girl who didn’t deserve to suffer for other people’s mistakes.”

Hannah grew even colder. “That ‘Marquis’ is a murderer many times over. There was a time when he’d get the death penalty for what he’s done. I’m glad he’s in prison and if he ever comes up for parole, I’ll be there to make sure he doesn’t get it.”

“Mrs. Wallis—”

She cut me off. “I think you should go.”

I let her escort me back to the door. As I bent to retrieve my shoes, my eye lit on a shelf of the bookcase. It was lower down, toward the floor, and it was filled not with books but with folded paper dragons. This, my power insisted. This meant something.

I slipped my shoes back on, stood, looked back at Hannah. “Those are some pretty origami pieces,” I said offhandedly.

Her frown didn’t let up. “My Colin always liked to keep his hands busy,” she replied. “He said it helped him think straight. Maybe you should give it a try.”

The door closed behind me with a click. I walked back to my car, turning over the meeting in my head. Why couldn’t I have spotted the origami earlier? Why couldn’t my power have been more helpful?

I was halfway back to the car when I thought to pull out my phone and go through the photos. That dragon at Lavere’s place was folded to the same pattern, with the same crisp folds as the ones I’d just seen. My breath caught in my throat and I flipped to a web image search, keyword ‘dragon origami’. The pattern was one of dozens there; I tapped to load the details. The pattern had over a hundred and fifty steps and was marked with an icon that apparently meant advanced difficulty. It had been uploaded earlier this year, by a user named Colin Wallis.

The same man who’d folded the dragons at Wallis’s house had folded the dragon that I found under the loveseat where Wallis had been murdered. I’d bet anything it was folded with paper taken from Lavere’s desk pad. And that meant Detective Wallis had been on the scene long enough to fold it, long enough that it had a chance to fall where nobody had noticed it until I came along. And that meant that Anders’ incident report was full of shit.