I shook my head. "What does it mean for my job?"
I'd been in Homicide for six years now, the past two as lead homicide inspector. With any luck, when my lieutenant was up for promotion, I'd be in line for his job. The department needed strong women. They could go far. Until that moment, I had thought that I would go far.
"Right now," the doctor said, "I don't think it means anything. As long as you feel strong while you're undergoing treatment, you can continue to work. In fact, it might even be good therapy."
Suddenly, I felt as if the walls of the room were closing in on me and I was suffocating.
"I'll give you the name of the hematologist," Orenthaler said.
He went on about the doctor's credentials, but I found myself no longer hearing him. I was thinking, Who am I going to tell? Mom had died ten years before, from breast cancer. Dad had been out of the picture since I was thirteen. I had a sister, Cat, but she was living a nice, neat life down in Newport Beach, and for her, just making a right turn on red brought on a moment of crisis.
The doctor pushed the referral toward me. "I know you, Lindsay. You'll pretend this is something you can fix by working harder. But you can't. This is deadly serious. I want you to call him today."
Suddenly my beeper sounded. I fumbled for it in my bag and looked at the number. It was the office Jacobi.
"I need a phone," I said.
Orenthaler shot me a reproving look, one that read, I told you, Lindsay.
"Like you said," I forced a nervous smile "therapy." He nodded to the phone on his desk and left the room. I went through the motions of dialing my partner.
"Fun's over, Boxer," Jacobi's gruff voice came on the line. "We got a double one-eight-oh. The Grand Hyatt."
My head was spinning with what the doctor had told me. In a fog, I must not have responded.
"You hear me, Boxer? Work time. You on the way?"
"Yeah," I finally said.
"And wear something nice," my partner grunted. "Like you would to a wedding."
HOW I GOT from Dr. Orenthaler's office, out in Noe Valley, all the way to the Hyatt in Union Square, I don't remember.
I kept hearing the doctor's words sounding over and over in my head. In severe cases, Negli's can be fatal.
All I know is that barely twelve minutes after Jacobi's call, my ten-year-old Bronco screeched to a halt in front of the hotel's atrium entrance.
The street was ablaze with police activity. Jesus, what the hell had happened?
The entire block between Sutter and Union Square had been cordoned off by a barricade of blue-and-whites. In the hotel entrance, a cluster of uniforms crowded about, checking people going in and out, waving the crowd of onlookers away.
I badged my way into the lobby. Two uniformed cops whom I recognized were standing in front: Murray, a potbellied cop in the last year of his hitch, and his younger partner, Vasquez. I asked Murray to bring me up to speed.
"What I been told is that there's two VIPs murdered on the thirtieth floor. All the brainpower's up there now."
"Who's presiding?" I asked, feeling my energies returning.
"Right now, I guess you are, Inspector."
"In that case, I want all exits to the hotel immediately shut down. And get a list from the manager of all guests and staff. No one goes in or out unless they're on that list."
Seconds later, I was riding up to the thirtieth floor.
The trail of cops and official personnel led me down the hall to a set of open double doors marked "Mandarin Suite." I ran into Charlie Clapper, the Crime Scene Unit crew chief, lugging in his heavy cases with two techs. Clapper's being here himself meant this was big.
Copyright © 2001 by James Patterson.
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Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare set in Savannah
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