The cool night air pushed tendrils of blood down her side, a tickle she’d never feel.
She was lying over the windowsill, the broken glass still working its way into her flesh. She’d only been dead a few minutes, but the killer was long gone. He rabbited out of there the second he heard us coming up the stairs, leaving just the stink of his cheap whiskey and her body as evidence he was ever there.
The killer’s footprint was still on her back, a cold sign of a desperate man using the still-warm corpse for his escape. He must have heard us coming, jumping through the window to the fire escape, leaving his mark on the bloody corpse.
I walked over to the next set of windows, and pushed one of them up. Leaning over I could just make out the street, four floors below. There was darkness, and a dimly lit street, but nothing else.
I started leaning back in, but I stopped when I saw her face. Her body was on the sill, her head and shoulders resting on the rusty grate of the fire escape.
Even in death her eyes pleaded with me.
They asked me why I hadn’t been there to save her. They asked me why she had to die for me. They asked why I had broken my promise to be there for her.
I looked away, closing my eyes and fighting back the tears. This was no place to break down, not with my partner and the other men here, and not if we were going to catch this killer.
I leaned back in the apartment, and solemnly closed the window. I walked over to her body, taking in how such beauty could lie in such horror. I let my finger push a few of her hairs away from her face, as I’d done so many times when she was alive.
I wished that things had been different, that she and I could have just run away. But there had been a debt to be paid, and she was more than willing to help. Willingness that I should have ignored.
Now the debt could never be paid back.
I looked back at the men, at my partner who had been with me since the beginning of it all. They were all quiet, their faces telling me what I needed to hear.
I stood up straighter, allowing my fingers a last caress of her beauty. I looked at the men.
“Burn it all before the cops get here.”
As I left, the cool night air pushed the hair back into her face. A last tickle she’d never feel.