Only one car sat in Sylvester’s parking lot—not surprising, since it was just nearing lunchtime, and they weren’t known for their food. The club probably wouldn’t be in full swing and fully staffed until ten o’clock. I debated coming back later when we’d have a better chance of catching people with information, but I didn’t have the patience. I slammed the car door, and then walked up to Aidan.


He stepped out of the Jeep and shut the door behind him. His hair was tousled from the constant Chicago breeze, and I wondered if that’s how he looked when he rolled out of bed in the morning. Five o’clock shadow added to the image, and I had the sudden urge to run my hand through his hair to smooth it.

I took a deep breath and forced my thoughts back to the case. What the hell was I doing? Every time I looked at the man I struggled not to touch him. I was a damn nymphomaniac lately.

I tromped up to the bar door and knocked—banging the side of my fist against the rough wood.

A tall, wide man answered the knock. He looked like he could probably toss a patron out of the bar with very little effort. He carried some extra weight around his middle, but appeared solid rather than obese. Sweat beaded on his bald head, forming droplets that ran down the side of his face. He held a broom in one hand and propped the door open with the other to look at me.

-- Advertisement --

“We’re not open ‘til one,” he said, gesturing toward the faded metal sign hanging next to the door.

I pulled my badge out and flashed it at him. “We need to ask you a few questions.”

He frowned then stepped back so we could enter.

“I’m Jay Lawson, and I manage the club. What’s this about?” he asked, as we walked into the small area that served as a restaurant until the bar really got going. The decor looked like it was updated in the late 70s, and the dark hardwood floors and old cash register sitting on the corner of the counter made me think townie bar—not happening club.

I pulled Amanda’s picture from my pocket. “Have you seen this woman? She would have been in here Monday night…probably not alone.”

He glanced at the picture. “I wasn’t in Monday; you’ll have to talk to my daughter.”

“Is she here?”

“Not ‘til three or so.”

“We’re going to need you to call her and ask her to come in early,” Aidan said from behind me.

The bar owner snorted. “That girl don’t come in early for no reason.”

I took a step toward him and looked at his face, giving him my best cop stare: hard eyes and a no-nonsense line set on my mouth. “She’ll make an exception today.” Or I would go knock on her door and haul her here.

“Fine,” he said. “Don’t mind dragging her out of bed early anyhow.”

Aidan turned to me as the bar owner went to call the girl. “I’m going to go, check with my sources. Call me if you need anything. Otherwise I’ll track you down later.”

“Fine by me.”

He gripped my shoulders and I started. He leaned in and I stopped breathing. But he bypassed my mouth, his rough cheek touching mine as he moved. Lips a hairbreadth from my ear, he whispered, “You will call me, right? If you get a lead, don’t go after this guy alone.”

I nodded, unable to think of a suitable reply. After one final squeeze of my arms, he left.

Nearly an hour ticked by before the manager’s daughter showed up. A long hour where I was left with nothing to do but remember the pressure of Aidan’s hands on my arms, and the roughness of his cheeks sliding against mine. By then I was ready to strangle the girl, but willing to overlook her attitude if she had information for me. She was shorter than me, which was an accomplishment all its own. A pretty thing, she had blond hair that dangled nearly to her waist with bangs that hung into her eyes. I couldn’t begin to describe the ways such a haircut would annoy me.

“Ms. Lawson?”

“I’m Kimmy,” she said. Her pert nose stuck up in the air, like she thought she was doing me a favor by deigning to talk to me.

I handed her the picture of Amanda. “Do you remember seeing her here on Monday night?”

She stared at the picture for a few seconds, and her eyes widened. “Oh yes, I remember her. She was here with the hottie.” She smirked. “Guy was quite a catch, but he sure had straying on his mind, if you know what I mean.”

I mentally congratulated my gut. The killer was a man—so almost definitely an incubus. “Explain it to me.”

“Well she was all over him, hanging on his every word, you know? But every time she’d go to the bathroom, he was all over me. Talking to me, flirting with me, looking at me with those eyes.” Kimmy sighed, a smile turning up the corners of her mouth.

“Can you describe him?”

“Oh, he was hot. Dark hair, dark blue eyes. The bluest eyes you’ve ever seen,” she said, with a dreamy look.

“How tall?”

“He was pretty tall, maybe six feet.”

My stomach tensed and my thoughts turned to Aidan. Dark blue eyes, tall? But, no. He was OWEA.

But he wouldn’t be the first cop in history to turn bad.

“Scars or tattoos? Any other features you can remember?” I said, keeping my voice as even as I could manage.

“No scars or tats that I could see…though I wouldn’t have minded a closer look, if you know what I mean.” She grinned. “Normally, I don’t dig long hair on a guy, but he pulled it off.”

“His hair was long?”

“Maybe as long as mine, pulled back in a ponytail against his neck.”

I remembered to breathe. That didn’t match Aidan. His hair was long around his face, but nothing like the hair she’d described on Amanda’s date. He might have worn a wig, but he didn’t strike me as the kind of guy who’d be caught dead in one. The eyes matched, but he wasn’t the only guy in the world with nice eyes.

“Have you ever seen him in here before?” I kept my voice steady. Goody for me.

“Oh yeah, one other time. He had a different date then, not as flashy as the one on Monday. A player, that guy is, but I’d play with him any day of the week.” The dreamy expression was back. The incubus was good, I’d give him that.

Kimmy followed me to my Toyota, where I showed her a picture of the first victim.

“Could be her, I guess.” She shrugged. “Honestly she was such a wallflower I don’t remember.”

I quizzed Kimmy for the better part of the next hour, and then let her get to work with instructions to call me immediately if the man showed his face in the bar again. She promised to call, but only after I told her that the women in the pictures were dead, and the handsome stranger may have killed them.

I drove to Amanda’s house next, telling myself I should take a quick look around the scene to make sure the investigators hadn’t missed anything. I parked a street over from hers and walked to the house, sneaking into the backyard. Feeling a bit of déjà vu, I slid my driver’s license between her doorknob and frame and let myself in.

Her kitchen was in a worse state than she’d left it. The police had dusted for prints and searched for evidence, leaving a mess of fingerprint powder and rifled cupboards in their wake. Amanda would be pissed to see her home this way.

Keeping my breathing steady, I walked through her house and tried to picture what had happened to her. We’d found the incubus’s second victim on Sunday night, and Amanda was killed Monday night. The murderer liked to play with his victims for a period of time before actually killing them, but Amanda didn’t act like she was under anyone’s influence but her own only a night before her death. And she’d sounded tired in the voice mail she left me, not thralled.

I frowned and walked into her bedroom. The comforter was still indented where her body had waited to be discovered for over twelve hours after her death. Touching the comforter where her neck had lain, her head hanging over to stare at the bedroom door, I wished there was someone else I could talk to about the case. But I had no friends to speak of, outside of Amanda and my other coworkers, and my father and stepmother didn’t like to hear anything about my work. They had made that abundantly clear over the years.

I replayed in my mind the last time I’d seen Amanda, searching for a clue that would suggest she was already under the incubus’s influence. But she didn’t have any of the signs. No dreamy expression, no distracted mannerisms, no talk of a beautiful man and his dark blue eyes. She handled the crime scene with her normal efficiency and solidity, even thinking quickly enough to snag the bit of hair from the victim to run a spell tracer on. Could I have missed a subtle hint?

The spell tracer. I pulled Amanda’s file from my bag and glanced through the evidence list. No mention of a bit of hair that didn’t belong to Amanda. No evidence baggy. That would have certainly been recorded. Her spell kit was listed, and there was nothing obvious missing from it. Suddenly, I wished I had a better understanding of witchcraft.

Was the hair already gone because she’d used it? Had she traced the bastard down to his den?

“Did you confront him without me?” I whispered.

I hissed. It fit. That’s why he’d selected a cop—an otherworlder with the ability to defend herself both with her witchcraft and the power of the law. Not to mention her sidearm. She didn’t fit his victim profile, or his modus operandi. He killed her because he had to. Because she found his ass and was going to bring him in.

It was fast, too. I went through the timeline in my head. Sunday night, we met at the second victim’s house, where Amanda took the sample of her hair. Monday morning, I’d gone to the Medical Examiner’s and talked to Marisol, while Amanda prepped her tracking spell. Monday at lunchtime, Amanda stood me up for lunch—she was on his trail by then. Monday afternoon, I interviewed the second victim’s boyfriend, Jason, while Amanda ate a late lunch. Sometime between my lunch at The Grill House and Amanda’s, she’d caught up to the incubus and he’d enthralled her. Monday evening, Amanda met back up with the incubus at Sylvester’s. She took him home, made dinner for him.

-- Advertisement --