“Get out of here, Mac,” Mason said, eyes never leaving Greaves.
I was pissed, and an argument with Greaves still felt like a good idea. But Mason outranked me, and he’d spent more than a decade in the paranormal unit. A human wouldn’t have put in that kind of time. I didn’t know what he was, but I was willing to bet Greaves did. And if the sweat on the agent’s brow and the tightness of his jaw was any indication, whatever Mason Sanderson was, he was a scary mother.
My phone started ringing the second I left the station. I glanced down at the number, and frowned. Aidan. I ignored the call, but after the third time, I started to wonder. No calls from him the entire day while I was at the office, and now three in a row. How close of tabs was he keeping on me? After a quick stop through a fast food drive-thru, I headed back to the office, ignoring yet another of Aidan’s phone calls as I pulled into the police parking lot.
“Jerk,” I muttered. He’d lied to me. Lied to me and slept with me and made me look incompetent in front of my coworkers. I blinked back tears and tried to focus on anything but Aidan. But focus failed me, and I found myself opening my phone to call him back.
“Hello, beautiful.” Aidan’s voice was smooth. Whatever tabs he kept on me apparently didn’t extend into the interview rooms at the police station.
“Screw you, Aidan. You lying asshole.” The words spilled out before I could stop them, before I could even think about pretending I didn’t know he’d lied. Before I could come up with any kind of plan other than yelling at him.
Silence greeted me on the other end of the line.
“Call me again, and I’ll sic the OWEA on your ass. The real OWEA, not liars like you with plastic badges. Don’t call me again. Don’t try to find me. Don’t even fucking think about me.” My voice cracked, and I shut the phone with a snap. Blinking back tears, I concentrated on breathing. No crying. Not over that lying ass.
After a few minutes I had myself under control again. I wasn’t going to think about Aidan, but if he had anything to do with Amanda’s death, I’d nail him to the wall. Aggie hadn’t returned the call I’d sneaked while going through paperwork, so poking around the office after hours seemed like my only hope of getting any information on Amanda’s case tonight. Either that, or head back to Sylvester’s and let Kimmy give me the evil eye all night. Or I could call Aidan back and talk to him like an adult.
As I dug into my fries and stared at the nearly empty parking lot around me, I considered calling Marisol. As a member of the paranormal division, she would be able to access the records. Maybe. I suppressed a sigh. No, I couldn’t bring her into this. My career was most likely already in the crapper, but hers didn’t have to be. It wasn’t fair to drag her down with me.
But Claude held sway, and I suspected he was far more powerful than he acted. Not only was he a vampire—and despite the fact he’d never admit it, Vasquez was scared shitless of vampires—but Claude didn’t really need his job. Oh, he seemed to enjoy the work, but the man drove a new quarter of a million dollar car every few months and lived in a high-rise condo in the most expensive part of town. He didn’t need it, not like I needed to find Amanda’s killer. Besides, if he wasn’t willing to help me, he simply wouldn’t.
I opened my phone and pulled his number from my list of division members’ contact information. The phone rang several times, and then went to voice mail.
“Claude, it’s Mac, call me when you get this. It’s important.” I flipped the phone shut and tossed it onto the passenger seat. I munched on my remaining fries and tried to think my way through the maze that this case had become.
If the witch, Natalie, was right, Amanda may very well have led her killer to her doorstep by trying to track him. That meant he wasn’t just an otherworlder—he was knowledgeable about magic. I frowned and took a sip of my Coke. If what Marisol said was true, succubi—and by extension incubi—kept a piece with them of the people they drained. I wasn’t entirely clear how that worked, but if draining one person to the point of death, a person who deserved it no less, had almost killed her sister—hell, had driven poor Elaine to become a shut-in for years after the incident—then what must draining so many women have done to this incubus? He had to be insane, truly mad, if he carried bits of the personalities of the dozen women he’d killed.
Well, a dozen if Aidan had been telling the truth.
I muttered an expletive and tried to focus on anything other than Aidan Byrne. But thoughts of him flitted through my mind as if summoned by my determination to banish them. I’d never had a man affect me like he did, never felt such overwhelming feelings so quickly. I stilled, a sudden thought hit me, and my stomach tensed. Could Aidan be influencing me with his incubus power, using more than just his aura, but actually consciously trying to thrall me? He shouldn’t be able to do that, not unless…
Not unless he’d been draining people.
No. He couldn’t be, could he? My thoughts scattered and I couldn’t bring them back into focus. Amanda, Aidan, my soon-to-be-shot career, and the OWEA agent and his asshole attitude all scrambled together to muddle my thoughts.
I started the car and threw it into reverse. I had to do something. I’d find Claude; go to his house. It had been a year since I’d been there, when Claude had held a small party to celebrate a commendation his partner received. But I could find the place again.
Swinging out onto the road, I headed east and tried to remember what street Claude lived on. I got a few blocks before I noticed in my rearview mirror the unmarked car several car lengths behind me. A couple of turns later, I was almost certain I had a tail.
I gunned it and swerved hard to the right, turning down a one-way street, and then made the next left. Sure enough, the car followed me. A few more turns and I made my way into some traffic.
Ten minutes and several miles of weaving through traffic and making dangerous turns later, I’d lost the agent. I grinned and made an illegal U-turn and headed for Claude’s.
The sound of my cell’s ring filled the air. Sighing, I grabbed the phone, expecting to see Aidan’s number. It seemed far too soon for anyone else to be calling me back the way my luck was running. And the man did not give up.
I glanced down at the number. Not Aidan, unless he was using a different phone. I frowned. Dare I answer it?
“Detective McLoughlin?” The high-pitched female voice on the other end of the line was panicked.
“Kimmy?” It sounded like the bar daughter’s owner, but I couldn’t be certain from two words.
“He’s here!” she screeched.
“On my way.” I clicked the phone off, shoved the last couple of fries in my mouth and headed for Sylvester’s.
The crowd at Sylvester’s pressed against me as I made my way to the bar where Kimmy stood. She crossed her arms and shifted her weight from one foot to the other, glancing around the room. Her eyes found mine and she motioned me to the side of the bar.
“Where is he?”
“He asked if he could pick me up after work. I told him to come by at eleven.”
“Good job.” Way to go, Kimmy. Guess you’re more than a pretty face and a pissy attitude.
I picked a shadowed corner to sit and observed the throng of people around me. I found crowd watching infinitely more exciting than television.
According to my watch, I had two hours to kill before the incubus would return to pick up Kimmy. She handed me a glass of beer on her way to deliver drinks. Imbibing alcohol on the job was something I’d normally frown on, but one wouldn’t kill me. Besides, I didn’t want to be noticed, and not drinking anything in a bar might seem odd. Fully rationalized, I took a sip. Not the best I’d ever tasted, but after the crappy day I was okay with mediocre beer.
By the time I finished my drink and had waved Kimmy away when she offered me a second, it was nearing ten o’clock. My people watching degenerated into staring at the bar while wondering if Aidan was the killer, my brain fuzzy from the beer.
The pieces fit. He was an incubus, I couldn’t account for his whereabouts when the murders took place, he’d lied to me—multiple times. My gut told me he wasn’t the slayer, but gut wasn’t everything. And, like most of my body parts, the damn thing was likely influenced by my attraction for him.
I barely registered it when someone touched my shoulder, a mere brush of fingertips. Glancing back, I saw Aidan’s face. It took a second to hit me that he was there, not just in my thoughts but in person.
He smiled at me. Not the light, teasing grin he normally wore in public, but a dark smile, sexy and dangerous. His blue eyes caught mine, and his grin broadened.
“What are you so happy about?” I slurred. I paused, confused. One beer, even with how tired I was, shouldn’t have made me slur.
“I’m happy to see you, of course,” he said, and then touched my cheek. His hand slid down my face until his fingers came to rest under my chin, and he tipped it up so I met his eyes again. He lowered his lips to mine and kissed me.
Suddenly, all I could think of was him and how much I needed him to touch me. How much I wanted to please him. I pulled him closer, deepening the kiss. He chuckled, his mouth on mine, and pressed against me even harder. Something was different; I realized in the back of my mind that his kiss was aggressive, foreign. As he tightened his arms around me the thought flew from my head and I could only think of him.
His soft hair curled under my fingers, stuck in a long ponytail. I yanked at the stretchy band, wanting to see it down around his face.
He took my hand in his and a wave of euphoria hit me. “Let’s get out of here,” he whispered as his hot breath touched my ear.
Clinging to his arm, I nodded and let him lead me out the door.
I handed him my keys when he asked for them as we left Sylvester’s. Heart thudding in my chest, I felt almost nauseous I was so excited. I was so lucky that this Adonis wanted to be with me, and I would have sprinted to the car if it hadn’t meant leaving his side. We needed to get wherever we were going so I could show him how much I wanted him, how much I worshipped him. He drove us to an apartment complex not far from the bar. It was a newer building, nice and neat, and equipped with an elevator.