“You’re next,” Inspector Robinson breaks into my reverie and nods at me. I hop up with a start, nearly choking on my water. I set down the glass and follow her, leaving a dejected Max to grapple with Officer Clark. We settle on couches opposite each other, and she pulls out a notebook. “What is your full name?”
“Rayne Liang. R-a-y-n-e L-i-a-n-g,” I say, then remember that it’s not exactly true. “Um, that’s not my full name. It’s what I go by. Is that good enough?”
“Full name, including middle,” Inspector Robinson repeats, tapping her pen against the notebook.
“Rainbow Freedom Liang,” I say reluctantly, cursing my mother as I do any time I have to divulge my name. I wait for the comment that inevitably follows my revelation—‘Your parents must have been hippies!’—but it doesn’t come. Inspector Robinson writes it down before continuing with her questioning. After receiving mundane details such as my address and age, she starts asking more substantive questions.
“How long have you known Ms. Bowers?” Inspector Robinson asks, her eyes trained on my face. I have the uneasy feeling that I have a glob of toothpaste in the corner of my mouth, but I resist the urge to lick it to see if it’s true.
“I met her at the party tonight,” I say. I open my mouth to add something, but don’t. Just answer the questions and nothing more. That’s what I’ve heard to do when talking to the police.
“Your friend, what is his name?” Inspector Robinson waits. She has a habit of sitting completely still, which is distracting.
“Paris Frantz. F-r-a-n-t-z. No middle name.” Surely, this will get a rise out of her. I am wrong again.
“Mr. Frantz is friends with Ms. Bowers, then.” It takes me a few seconds to realize that she’s asking, not telling.
“Not exactly friends,” I hedge. “He’s her personal trainer.”
“Where?” Inspector Robinson’s voice is brisk, but not hurried.
“‘N Sound Shape on Valencia.” I make a face as I say the name. I catch a glimpse of a similar reaction on Inspector Robinson’s face before she can mask it. “I know, I know, horrible name, but a great place to work out. The owner really care about you.” Jimmy Benedict, the owner, is a fixture in the Mission District, one of the many characters. Easy on the eyes, too. He’s in his forties, but could pass for early thirties.
“It doesn’t sound like her kind of place,” Inspector Robinson frowns, looking at her notes. “Why would Ms. Bowers frequent a health club not up to her standards?”
“I don’t know,” I stare at Inspector Robinson with respect. She actually knows ‘N Sound Shape, which means she probably uses it herself as it’s not well-known. “Maybe she likes to support locally-owned businesses.”
“There’s a Starbucks mug in the kitchen,” Inspector Robinson says with a hint of a smile. “I don’t think Ms. Bowers has much difficult patronizing chains.” Is that a joke? I wonder if I can let my guard down. “Ms. Liang, why did you accompany Mr. Frantz here?” Her tone is deceptively mild, but I can sense the quickening of her interest.
“He asked me to,” I reply simply.
“Do you do everything he asks?”
“Do you have a best friend?” I don’t wait for an answer. “He’s done so many things for me. It was the least I could do.”
“Are you two lovers?” The question comes out of left-field, but it doesn’t bother me. I’m used to people questioning my relationship with Paris.
“No. We’re just friends.”