Authors: Rose Montague
Tags: #Fantasy, #Romance, #Lesbian
This is dedicated to all my family and friends who kept telling me that I should
write a book. Here it is.
Many thanks to those who gave me feedback and encoragement as I was writing Jade.
A special thanks to Teresa, Alex, and Melanie Drennen, Will and Joy Drennen, Karen Drennen Chiles, Caryn Shafrath, Hans Markus, Dirk Dietrich, Stu Lyster, and Clive Wismayer, as well as authors, Eva Gordon and Susan Stielow, who gave me inspiration and advice along the way.
Thanks to Sophia White for letting me use a portion of her poem, Fairies Come A-calling.
I was loving this. First day on the job and I was off to a possible location of the vamp killers. They had been terrorizing the city for months and every resource was focused on finding them. Already over forty were confirmed dead and several hundred confirmed missing.
“Smith, what were you thinking?” my new partner, Senior Detective Rolfe asked, obviously a bit put out that I had requested this partnership. “My last three partners are dead, that’s three in less than two years. I told them I didn’t want a new partner.”
“I can take care of myself quite well, thank you very much,” I replied. “They are so happy to get another shifter in the paranormal unit, I could name my assignment.”
“Rachel was a shifter and she didn’t make it five months before she was killed,” he said, almost growling. “Now I have to watch you to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you.”
Rolfe himself was one of the most feared shifters in the city. He was a big bear of a man and a bear as a shifter–six foot five and three hundred pounds worth, with long arms and huge hands. Not a bad looking man, just dangerous. He had to set the seat all the way back to accommodate his long body in the car.
“Look, you read my file and my evals from training. You know I am stronger and faster than Rachel. I also have a bit of magic at my disposal and I am not above the use of a fae glamour or three if needed.” I didn’t mention that I had been holding back during my testing.
“Yeah, somewhat of a mix and mystery you are. I noticed they didn’t mention what animal you shift into–that is some information I should know as well.”
“I didn’t tell them. They know from my blood tests that I’m a shifter, it’s just too bad they were unable to pin it down better than that. Under the privacy act, it is not something I have to disclose. Besides, a girl is entitled to some secrets. When you need to know, you will know.” I paused, hoping to shift the subject. “Now, tell me where we are going and why.”
“Look”, Rolfe rumbled, “let’s get something straight, I am the Alpha in charge here. Tell me your beast to call. You smell smoky, really weird, nothing I have run into before.”
He even tried using his Alpha influence on me. Too funny.
I Alpha’d right back at him, “You are in charge because you are the senior detective and I am the rookie here, but don’t think that I am just a lowly pack member to order around like your slave.”
Rolfe pulled to the side of the road; we had left the city proper a few miles back. He started banging his head on the steering wheel. I was afraid he was going to break the thing he was hitting it so hard.
“Damn, damn, I am really screwed now,” he said. “Two Alphas as partners, that is just insane. Now I have to worry about me killing you as well.”
“Look, yourself, big guy,” I said. “Maybe I should be worried about killing you. Besides, I am an Indie like you. We can deal with each other.”
I could see his claws starting to emerge from his fingertips and his eyes got that red, dangerous look. It occurred to me that I should notch my snark back a step or two. Jeepers, I was still new at this stuff; mistakes were going to happen.
He gathered himself and lost the red glow, claws slipping back. “Fuck it,” he said. “Let’s start over. We need to work this through or we both are going to die. This case is just too important to get sidetracked with this shifter crap.”
“Okay, Rolfe. I am Smith, your new partner. Let’s just do this thing, shall we?”
* * * *
The house was in a rural area, a two-story older farmhouse heading into disrepair and in need of painting. The farm itself was no more, the fields becoming overgrown with weeds and scraggly trees and brush. We had passed the last home a mile back. There was a wooden gate, also in need of some repair, guarding the driveway and a mailbox full of old magazines and sales flyers. A broken-down tractor that you could see through and an old pickup truck that looked like it had become a haven for snakes stood abandoned by a barn.
Rolfe rolled down the window and sniffed the air. “What do you smell?” he asked.
“Lots of blood, vamps, and humans, something dead, maybe human,” I said. “No idea if they are still inside or not.”
“They are still inside,” he said. “Do you sense anything else?”
“The gate is warded, not a strong ward, more of a go-away ward. The front door is warded too. It’s strong though, both a barrier and a zapper.”
“My nose is better than yours, but it is nice to know about the wards. I am calling for backup and a search warrant. There is enough reasonable cause with what I smell, the wards, and the tip we received.”
About the time Rolfe finished the call, there was a scream from inside. No waiting now.
“Try not to shoot any humans,” Rolfe said. “Stay behind me, watch my back and follow my lead.”
There was little chance the vamps would try to exit the house in daylight unless they were very old. Rolfe exited the car with me right behind. When he grabbed the gate to open it, I saw his eyes go a little cross-eyed.
“I may have underestimated the first ward. Oops.” I could tell he was irritated.
He walked right up to the door, placed his hand on the knob, I could hear the sizzle, not a sign of pain this time. I could tell he was using his Alpha magic, and with his strength he very gently pushed on the side of the door. The wood splintered and the door opened.
In the middle of the room was a single chair, a naked girl tied to it, blood dripping from her neck. The feeding vamp had stepped to the side as the light was coming through from behind us right at the girl. As Rolfe took a step toward the girl, the vamp and another attacked him in a blur of speed.
Rolfe simply hugged the vamp to himself and crushed him, ignoring the monster gun he was still holding in his hand.
The other three vamps in the room went after me instead, can’t say I blame them. I was taught in the academy that to disable a vamp with a gun, use silver shot, aim for the kneecaps to disable, the heart and head to kill. Of course, it’s easier when the vamp is not moving and not expecting you to shoot. That’s okay though, I was faster. Six shots, so close together you could hardly tell them apart, six kneecaps, and three vamps on the floor in a line towards me, all screaming in various degrees of high pitched wailing. Rolfe had just completed his turn around to the back to help me.
“They were in the left corner,” I said, “probably waiting their turn with the girl.” I noticed he had a gouge on one side of his neck and the start of a puncture on the other; it was pretty obvious he was unbothered by this. He did look a little perturbed, however. He took a look at the three vamps on the floor, still screaming.
“Now we are really screwed,” he said. “Smith, you are a total fuck-up.”
He turned back to the two he had crushed. Evidently, he had been none to gentle when bashing their heads together because their skulls were crushed, with bits of brain and splintered bone peeking out. The girl, whose chair had somehow been knocked over sideways was staring at us, looking like she was going to throw up.
“These two,” he said, “they should have turned to ash, there is no way they are coming back from that.”
I looked at them and nodded in agreement; they should be dead and gone. I looked further, this time with my other sense. Death was hovering around, probably not wanting to come into the same room as me. I hadn’t considered this when I had made my choice. It could be both bad and good. Right now it was not good. I went to the girl, drew my knife and cut the ropes holding her to the chair.
“Give me your jacket, Rolfe, I am taking her outside and away from this before she pukes, we both can now smell there are only dead humans upstairs.”
The jacket swallowed her up, I could have fit two or three of her in that thing. I didn’t even put her arms in the sleeves, it would have looked silly. As it was the jacket completely enveloped her and went down to below her knees. Rolfe was a big man.
As soon as we went back out the door I felt Death swoop in and take the two vamp souls (yes they have souls, otherwise they would be true dead, the only things I know capable of moving around without souls are zombies) and I heard Rolfe cussing, heading up the stairs. The two vamps were surely ash by now. I could hear the sirens coming, too late for the fun. I wondered what I had done to screw up, that had Rolfe so mad.
What does a part Witch-Fae-Shifter-Vamp girl eat?
Unfortunately the answer is not anything she wants. I had found the few things that didn’t make me violently ill were red meat, red wine, dark coffee, and dark chocolate. Blood would do in a pinch. My metabolism requires a lot of input and it let me know when that input was needed.
As I sat in the car with Rolfe, watching the pandemonium going on around the crime scene, food was all I could think about.
Rolfe said, “Here’s the deal, they are going to look at those three vamps with six shot-out kneecaps and think I held them down as you shot them. It looks like we were torturing them for information. Nobody is going to believe you took out six kneecaps with six shots as the vamps were charging towards you. Even I have a hard time believing it, and I was there.”
Okay, so this was the big mistake. First day on the job, mistake number two.
Officially I was a translator for the paranormal division, too much of a rookie to be an official detective. However, by the very nature of the beast, all paranormal team members were field agents. My training had not covered being too good, although I had instinctively held back during testing.
“I am just as fast as the vamps. Other than the first shot, it really wasn’t that difficult. I hit the left knee of the first one, he started to go down, the second leaped over him and I shot both of his out when he landed, then the second knee of the first vamp. The third vamp hesitated at the pile in front of him, his were easy shots.”
He looked at me sideways, back to this time softly banging his head on the now somewhat bent steering wheel. “Whatever. Let’s just hope that girl recovers enough of her senses to back our story, otherwise we are both going to be under investigation. Next time, try to shoot the floor a few times, heck you could even shoot yourself in the foot or something.”
“Don’t give me ideas about shooting something else. You could find your love life temporarily out of service.”
“You are just plain crazy. Anybody who would request me as a partner would have to be. I should have realized that from the beginning. Still, it was an incredible thing you did and I appreciate the ease with which you did it. Just pay attention and try to be a little less perfect next time around. I have always wanted a partner I didn’t have to coddle–you might be the one.”
As we were talking, the cops had started to bring the injured vamps out to the police van, still keening shrilly. They had covered them with blankets to protect them from the sun. The girl was sitting on the back of an ambulance getting attention from the EMTs, now surrounded by Feds and the county cops as well. The coroners office was upstairs, examining the dead.
“How many dead?” I asked.
“Looked to be at least a dozen,” Rolfe said. “Just piled up in an empty bedroom, in various stages of decay. The tip came too late to save them, but that girl is the first rescue in this case and those vamps are the first ones caught. There is no doubt in my mind that these are just the beginning. My sources tell me there are several of these houses around catering to vamps who refuse to abide by the no human feeding restrictions, and these guys struck me as being on the low end of the totem pole. I hope we get a chance to interrogate them, but that is something that under the circumstances, we will not be doing.” He paused, thinking.
“My plan is we take a few hours to return to the station, maybe get something to eat. I’ll drop you off at the garage to get your car, you stay out of the station until tomorrow. I will file our report and come in early to see which way the wind is blowing. I don’t know if the Feds will get anything out of the vamps anytime soon, but the girl is a good possibility. Besides, you do not want to deal with the Captain right now, believe me.”