Silence filled the air for a long moment. Finally he said, “We’re going to get this asshole, Kiera. We’ll get him and nail him to the wall.”
I risked a glance up from my coffee cup. No pity adorned his face, but the half smile he always wore was gone. His calm expression belied a hardness in his eyes that I hadn’t seen in him before. For a split second they looked almost inhuman, but then the crazy edge disappeared and only the cold rage remained.
It suddenly struck me that Aidan Byrne might be more than just a pretty face.
“I’ve been tossed from the investigation.”
His hint of a smile reappeared. “And I’m technically not on this case at all. Sounds like we make quite the pair.”
Investigating a case I was emotionally involved in with a man who was more than attractive sounded like a bad idea. Unfortunately, it was my best shot at finding Amanda’s killer—maybe my only shot now that I’d pissed off Lieutenant Vasquez.
“Fine. We’ll work together on this one. But that doesn’t make us friends, and it doesn’t mean I trust you as far as I can throw you.” I leaned across the table and gave him my best cop face. “And no funny business.”
His grin turned into a full-on smile, revealing a set of sparkling white, perfect teeth. “Oh, I can keep my hands to myself if you can.”
I snapped my mouth shut when I realized I was gaping at him while he disappeared into the kitchen with his coffee cup. When he reappeared in the dining room, I’d managed to put my blank face back on.
When you’re without a good comeback, ignore, ignore, ignore. “So we’re looking for an incubus. Possibly a succubus impersonating one, but I think that’s less likely.”
“Incubi have been extinct for over one hundred years.”
“I’m aware of that. But, it’s the only explanation that works. Not only does it fit, it fits like a freaking puzzle piece.”
“Except for the fact that not only are they extinct, they’ve also never been known for killing their food.”
“Killers come in all shapes and sizes, Aidan. There’s nothing about incubi that I’ve ever heard of that prevents them from killing. Our sensitive confirmed at least one of our victims was drained of her psychic energy. The method fits, the sex fits, the fact they all died without a struggle fits. It all fits.”
“And you don’t think it’s more likely to be a succubus because?” he asked, his voice annoyingly calm and reasonable.
“Call it a gut instinct. Call it experience. Call it statistics. How many sex crime–related female serial killers have we seen in the last few decades?”
“Okay. Let’s say it is an incubus. Why would he bother to kill his victims when he could feed on them—probably forever—without them complaining about it?”
“Using otherworlder powers to influence a person to do something is a felony. It’s treated just like forcing someone with a gun.” Why was I lecturing another cop on the justice system? I couldn’t help myself. “That, on top of feeding from them, would net this guy some serious jail time.”
“Yes, but the chances of women actually filing a complaint are almost nil…if incubi are like their succubi cousins, that is.”
He was right. From what we knew of them, incubi were just as welcome by women as their cousins were welcome by men, which may have led to their extinction. Jealous husbands and all. A forced seduction charge didn’t fit, especially for the victims who didn’t have a significant other to complain about their change in behavior.
As he waited for my retort, I studied the man across from me. He was dressed casually, wearing a T-shirt and jeans. I could make out the muscles under his shirt. I imagined it would burst at the seams if he flexed. Not likely, but it was a conveniently distracting thought. My gaze made its way up to his face, where a small smile brought me out of my pondering. I frowned at him and he grinned more widely. Bastard knew exactly how attractive he was.
“Okay, then how about a motivation not directly incubi related?” Heat flooded my cheeks. If he said anything about my blushing, I would shoot him. “Maybe, like your garden-variety serial killer, he just enjoys killing people. Gets off on it. Might be he’s a nutcase who just happens to be an incubus.”
“Perhaps. But if that’s true, how do we find him?”
“You any good at tracking spells?”
“I’m not a witch,” he said.
“Just checking.” I resisted the urge to stick my tongue out at him. “Guess we’re going to have to rely on good old-fashioned police work.”
“Considering the OWEA isn’t officially working on the case, and you’ve been booted from it, how do you plan to do that?”
I winked at him, feeling silly the instant I did it. Forcing my embarrassment down I said, “I have my ways.” Then, to fully cover my discomfort, I went on the offensive. “What kind of otherworlder are you, anyway?”
He frowned. “You just toss social propriety to the wind, don’t you?” He thought about it for a second, and then said, “I’m a sex god. That’s my special power.”
Heat crept up into my cheeks again and I fled, walking quickly to the kitchen with a muttered excuse that I needed more coffee. It had been a rude question, and he had every right to deflect, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have the right to know. He might not tell me, but I’d figure it out. Aidan Byrne was hiding something.
I let the matter drop and we discussed the case until I could barely keep my eyes open. Then I pushed him out my door, ignoring his sexy grin and suggestion that he should stay to keep me company. After I moved my car from where it blocked his, I watched his Jeep disappear into the night, and I almost wished I’d taken him up on his offer. A night of fun, distracting sex might be just what the doctor ordered. It had been a long time, after all. A wave of loneliness hit me when I thought about how long since I’d had sex, let alone anything remotely approaching a real relationship.
Pushing thoughts of Aidan aside, I tried to force away the overwhelming desire to be held that had plagued me since I’d seen Amanda’s body, and I hugged my pillow and cried.
How will I find the asshole who killed you without your help?
After a few restless hours, I dragged myself out of bed and into the kitchen. The sun still hid well beyond the horizon, and would for hours yet. But I couldn’t sleep. Not with Amanda’s killer still loose, probably out looking for more victims.
Coffee brewing, I grabbed my laptop and logged in. A few passwords later I’d signed into the Illinois State Police Criminal Records Database. It wouldn’t offer a complete search, but the national database was only accessible from behind the firewalls at the station.
I ran the first search on Marisol Whitfield, twinging a bit at running a search on a fellow cop. No records appeared, and a bit of tension released from my neck. But I wasn’t done. Marisol had been hiding something. I was sure of it.
A search under Whitfield netted over a dozen names. I poured a cup of coffee before looking through them. I didn’t recognize any, but one of the addresses tugged at my memory. The woman, Elaine Whitfield, lived on the south side of the city. Her criminal record had been sealed. She’d been tried as a minor. Accessing sealed records was beyond my pay grade.
Not only could I not access much of anything about Elaine Whitfield, I also couldn’t access Marisol’s address. But memory pulled at me, and I was fairly certain she lived in the same area as Elaine Whitfield. Moreover, Marisol had mentioned having a sister a time or two in casual conversation. I’d never caught the sister’s name, but Elaine’s date of birth put her a few years younger than me. Just in the right range to be Marisol’s sister.
“Is that what you’re hiding?” I muttered to myself.
Since the police database didn’t offer specifics, I turned to Google. The Whitfield name turned up little, and none of it seemed specific to the Whitfields I was looking for.
“Dammit.” I snapped the laptop shut. This was getting me nowhere. I needed real information. I might not be able to access sealed files, but I knew someone who could.
While I waited for Aidan to pick up the line, I fingered the plain white card. He answered on the second ring. “Byrne,” he said, voice rough with sleep.
I glanced at the clock before I said anything and mentally winced at the time. “Hey, I need a favor.” My voice came out steadier than I expected.
“Kiera?” He sounded confused. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine.” Liar. “I need you to pull a sealed court record for me.”
Silence filled the line for ten agonizing seconds before he replied, and I tapped my pen nervously against the closed laptop. Finally he said, “Do I want to know what this is about?”
“Just following a hunch. Will you run her name or not?”
“What’s the name?”
“Elaine Whitfield.” I rattled off the address and he said he’d be in touch.
I turned back to the database and plugged in the next name I needed more info on. Aidan Byrne. A few seconds later, the computer spit out no information. Again, not surprising if he was a cop. The same search in Google netted info on a chef and a college athlete, as well as a few social website pages. Nothing relating to a cop or a criminal. I leaned back in the chair and crossed my arms. I’d bet my badge the man, distractingly hot as he was, and helpful as he seemed to be, was hiding something.
It felt like everyone was hiding something. I shook my head. The second thing Amanda taught me on the job. Paranoia is a cop’s gift and curse.
My phone rang and I grabbed it and flipped it open. “Find anything?”
“First of all, you’re welcome.” Aidan still sounded groggy. To me it sounded like sexy, just-woke-up-after-a-night-of-amazing-sex groggy. Dammit. “And you won’t believe what I found.”
Marisol Whitfield and her sister, Elaine, lived in a small row-style home in the southern part of the city. I found parking a block away and stalked up to the house. The sun peeked over the horizon, and while it was still well shy of what most would consider a decent hour, I didn’t care.