The officer closed the file cover with a disgusted snort. “You’re right. There’s nothing here to help…”
“Help what, Brad?” Alex interrupted, his blue eyes dark with emotion. “You mean it wouldn’t help for people to know that my mother was a schizo that my father married one drunken night, and abandoned as soon as she was pregnant? How wouldn’t that help my case?”
“Alex!” Brad rose to his feet in dismay but Alex flung from his chair and paced the office, distraught. He stopped by the open window and Brad saw a shiver pass through his spare frame.
Alex covered his face with shaking hands. “God, this is intolerable.”
“Damn it,” Brad muttered and hit a button on the phone at his desk.
“Chief, can you come in here a minute?”
“What’s the problem?”
“It’s the interview. I’m screwing it up.”
There was a brief pause on the line, then Haden cleared his throat. “I’ll be there in a moment.”
Brad stared at the red light on the phone until it winked off, then glanced at Alex. The young man still looked out the window and Brad ran a hand through his crisp hair, slightly irritated. Nothing ever went smoothly when it involved the boy.
“Alex, please resume your seat,” he said more sharply than he’d intended. Startled, Alex turned to him and Brad regretted the panic on his face.
He motioned to the chair opposite the desk. “Please, just sit down. The Chief will be here in a minute.”
“Okay.” Alex sat in the chair, his gaze on the tips of his shoes.
Brad coughed softly to get his attention. “I’m not your enemy.”
The boy had grown still and Brad darted an anxious glance at the door. “Alex?”
The young man stirred and raised his face and his unfocused gaze filled Brad with dread.
“Alex?” he repeated, and looked again at the closed door, wishing to God that Haden would arrive.
Alex remained silent, shivering, his fear easy to read. Brad leaned closer, searching the bewildered eyes across from him.
“What is it?” he asked, not sure he wanted the answer. “Alex, what do you see?”
“I don’t know,” Alex said, his voice slurred.
Brad jumped when the door to the office suddenly opened…