Yes, he had to realize that Krewe units were considered “special” or “specific.”
But he didn’t ask her another question. Liz arrived with his meal and they both began to eat, concentrating on their food. After a while, the silence grew awkward, even though there seemed to be an expectant quality in the very air between them. He was definitely way too attractive, and the sexual draw she felt toward him made her uneasy.
Jane felt that she had to speak. “You were close to Logan?” she asked.
“Logan didn’t tell you anything about me?”
“Just that you were a friend he knew from Texas, and you needed a forensic artist here in Lily. He gave me a short brief on the situation, on the Gilded Lily and the town.”
“We worked well together. I was with the police force in Houston. He was a Ranger, which, of course, you know. We met when we ended up combining forces to capture a spree killer who was making his way through the state,” Sloan told her. “That was before Logan joined the bureau. But I take it you worked with him before then, too?”
“I did. I wasn’t with any agency. I was brought in whenever a forensic artist was needed.”
“So, when you were a little girl, you knew you wanted to grow up and do facial reconstructions for law enforcement?” he asked. There was a curl to his lip. He did have a sense of humor.
“I started off the usual way. I was into nudes,” she said drily.
He gave her a full-fledged smile at that. “Sorry. I guess I did ask that rather caustically.”
“I always drew, and I had a flair for faces. When I was in college, one of my professors was asked to help with a reconstruction on a burn victim. I was fascinated by his ability to take a skull and return it to life through the image he created. I didn’t go right into forensics, though. I graduated, and then apprenticed on an anthropological dig in Mexico. And...well, Texas is a big state. I helped various departments fairly frequently. Logan was approached by a man named Jackson Crow, who managed the first Krewe, and I was called in. We worked a sad and gritty case in San Antonio, and next thing I knew, I was in the academy at Quantico.”
“Life does take us along unexpected paths sometimes,” he said. He sounded far more open than he’d been earlier in the day.
“You seemed disturbed by my sketch,” she said.
He shrugged. “I can’t put my finger on it, but your sketch reminded me of someone.”
“At this point it’s not really accurate, you know. It’s just the way I work. Tomorrow, I’ll have measurements, do a second sketch and begin to build up the face. With what we know and what we can guess, that should give us a better sense of a person’s appearance. Some of it remains guesswork, of course, but you’ll have more of a likeness when I’m done. But you can’t know the woman. The skull is over a hundred years old. If it was from someone more recently dead, it wouldn’t be as delicate.”
“No, I haven’t been around for a hundred-plus years,” he said with a slight laugh.
“True, but I understand you’ve been in law enforcement for quite a while. Did you always want to be a cop?” she asked.
“You’re from here. However, you started your career in Texas?”
“I went to Texas A & M University and then into the academy.”
“You left Houston to come back here,” she said.
“My parents died when I was a kid. I was raised by my grandfather. He was dying. I came home to be with him.”
“Thanks. He had a good life and lived well. Didn’t deserve to die the way he did, but then no one does. The cancer was brutal.”
“And you stayed here in Lily,” she said.
He had a rueful smile that could almost be described as charming. “Well,” he mused slowly. “I took the job of sheriff. Right now they’d be stretching to find someone to take my place. I have deputies who’ll be up to it soon enough.”
“Still...Houston, Texas. Lily, Arizona. You must’ve become accustomed to dealing with gangs, murder...you name it.”
“Lily is a change,” he agreed. “In a way, a damned nice change. Back in the very early days—the Civil War and after—you had a fair share of bar brawls, shoot-’em-ups and rancher-outlaw entanglements. Then, a decade or two after the war, there were men working the silver mines out in the caverns. Those were rough days. There was a sheriff way back—but no real sheriff’s department, and the sheriff had to be an ex-outlaw himself to handle the trigger-happy gunfighters out here. Now, of course, we have our small-town department and the larger county department. The towns had their own sheriffs back then and county help amounted to praying that the militia might be on hand or the regular military if things went really badly. But then the outlaw days pretty much petered out in the twenties. We had a few more modern bank-robber types pass through in the thirties. In the forties, when a lot of local men went off to war, the town almost closed down. Now...” He paused with a shrug. “Now, we get a few bar brawls, a few fender benders, occasionally a domestic situation. But Lily’s a safe place. We have law-abiding citizens and tourists for the most part.”
“So, you stay because you love Lily, you love the peace and tranquility or...?”
“Or I burned out in Houston?” he asked her.
“I didn’t say that.”
“It’s easy to burn out in Houston,” he said mildly. “But no, I didn’t burn out.”
“If you were friends with Logan and worked with him, you were probably pretty intense as a cop,” Jane said.
“Intense? I think it’s a requirement. Anyway, I liked working in Houston. And I don’t mind being the sheriff in Lily. There is a lot here that’s good. I like the history, and the fact that my family’s from this area. Anyway, who knows what the future will hold?”
The velvet curtains were drawn back by an usher as they spoke; people surged out of the theater area and into the bar.
“Time for me to go,” Logan said, rising. He dug into his pocket and left a large bill on the table. “I’ll pick you up in the morning. Eight-thirty? We have a car you can use while you’re here if you want, but it’s down at the sheriff’s office.”
“Thank you. I’ll build up the skull tomorrow, get a more realistic look at measurements and have a more accurate image of soft-tissue depth, at least,” she told him.
“Thanks,” he said. “You should see the show while you’re here.”
“I did watch a few minutes of it before you arrived. It’s really cute.”
“Catch the haunted hayride, too.”
“Sounds like fun. Maybe I will.”
People were spilling out of the theater. He glanced at the crowd and grimaced. “Kind of a long day. I’m out of here. Good night.”
He made a quick escape, and Jane soon realized why. It had been a full house and forty or fifty people were milling in the bar. It seemed a nice crowd; the show made people laugh and put them in a pleasant mood. Some people were going across the street to the saloon—too crowded at the Gilded Lily.