Aidan.

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“Keys?” he mouthed.

I shook my head. My cuff keys had been in my gun holster, which I’d handed off to Kimmy. But I had my legs, and most importantly, my voice.

The sound of the incubus yelling, and then the slam of something—probably my phone—hitting the wall, distracted Aidan. Then he reached out and pulled me up from the bed, onto my feet. I staggered for a moment, and he held me until I gained my balance. He ran his hand along the side of my face, trying to find room to fit the blade under the gag.

Then, Aidan was gone, flung across the room. The other incubus stood over him, knife dripping blood in his hand. I’d never heard that incubi were preternaturally strong, but I’d be willing to bet they were now. At least ones who’d recently gorged on the life force of their victims.

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“Aidan?” The incubus sounded confused, as if he wasn’t entirely certain he recognized Aidan.

I struggled with my gag, pulling the side of my face across my shoulder, trying to dislodge it. The incubus had secured it well. The cloth cut into my skin, and it wouldn’t loosen.

The incubus knelt by Aidan. “I should have known they would send you after me. How many years have you hunted? Did they think I would hesitate if they sent you? They should have known better.” He leaned in and I could barely hear him. “We don’t need anyone else, Aidan. My women and me, we’re together always. We don’t need you, brother.” The incubus continued talking to him, so softly that I couldn’t make out the words. Then he held the blade up like some sort of horror film bad-guy ready to dispense the killing blow.

My chest tightened. I couldn’t scream, couldn’t shoot him or strike with my fists—I was powerless. Powerless to help Aidan. Powerless to avenge Amanda. Powerless to save myself.

No.

I ran at the incubus and did the only thing I could think of—swinging my foot out, I kicked him in the side with all the strength I could muster. It wasn’t much with my cramped legs and cuffed arms.

One kick, two, and the incubus fell to his side just as I lost my balance and landed on my back, gasping in pain against the gag in my mouth as my trapped arms twisted painfully under my weight.

Spots flashed and I blinked several times to clear my vision. Sudden pressure hit my legs, and I looked up to see Aidan—wrestling with the incubus for the knife.

The incubus struck out with an elbow, catching Aidan in the jaw, stunning him. He got his knee between them, and then pushed hard, sending Aidan flying across the room. Definitely abnormally strong.

I kicked out, striking the incubus in the head with my heel. He turned to look at me, and only a flash of rage registered before Aidan, stumbling to his feet, used the distraction to grab the knife. Shoving his arms down, he pushed the blade into the incubus’s neck.

He twitched and tried to shove Aidan off, coughing. Blood flew from his mouth and spotted Aidan’s face. Aidan grimaced and pushed the knife down further, cutting into the creature’s neck. The incubus mouthed a word at Aidan, and then went still.

The first set of uniforms came in and uncuffed me. Aidan followed me out to the front porch, but kept his distance. It seemed like only minutes later Claude and his partner, Astrid Holmes, arrived on scene. Astrid held back, talking to one of the uniforms, but Claude made a beeline for me.

“I got your message,” Claude told me as he shot a suspicious glance at Aidan.

“He’s okay,” I muttered, knowing Claude would hear my soft tone.

Claude nodded. “We should get you to the hospital.”

“No, I’m fine.”

He frowned but didn’t argue with me. “What happened?”

I told him an abbreviated version of the events of the night, still trying to wrap my brain around what I was going to tell Lieutenant Vasquez and Internal Affairs. I decided coming clean was probably best, or close to clean anyway. None of the personal stuff that had happened between Aidan and me was anyone’s business but our own. I’d just have to think of how to frame it right so Vasquez didn’t fire me on the spot.

Claude nodded as I finished my story. “Well, killing the incubus complicates things, but we should still be able to ID him as the murderer, since all of the standard oh-dubs were run on Amanda and the victim before her.”

“Rebecca,” I muttered.

“Yeah, well. So long as the energies match, you should be in the clear on this.” He glanced at Aidan. “Not sure about your friend, though. Do you know who he’s working for yet?”

I shook my head and Claude crossed his arms, keeping his gaze firmly planted on the incubus. A few seconds later, paramedics were treating Aidan and asking me what seemed like a million questions. They wanted to take me to the hospital, but I refused. I might as well deal with Vasquez now, or he’d just have time to think of more questions to ask me when I did finally have to face him.

Vasquez himself showed up nearly twenty minutes later, and I didn’t notice him at first because I was busy watching Aidan. He’d settled into a corner of the room, carefully noting the activity around him, but reticent. He wouldn’t meet my gaze, and I was about thirty seconds away from smacking him and demanding answers when Vasquez stomped up my steps.

Claude fielded him for a few seconds. I couldn’t hear what he told the lieutenant, but whatever he said, it transformed Vasquez’s expression from wild-eyed raging to a solid frown line that generally meant your ass, but not your badge. A bit of tension left my neck at the change, but when he pushed by Claude and stalked toward me, it returned.

“What the hell happened here, Mac?” His voice boomed over the rest of the noises surrounding us, and even Aidan glanced over. Great, now he wanted to pay attention?

“I got a call with a lead—”

“Oh just a random call, huh? From whom? How’d they know to call you?”

“I—”

“And Sylvester’s huh? I guess I don’t look like such a damned idiot now do I?”

I blinked. “What are you talking about?”

He shook his head. “You went into that club without even checking it out? Who do you think owns the damn place? The Chevaliers, that’s who. The damn bloodsuckers you didn’t even want to interview.”

Shit. That connected them to at least two of the victims. Claire Simons worked with Nicolas Chevalier, and Kimmy worked at a club the family owned. Was there a connection to the other victim that we didn’t know about?

“We don’t have anything real that’ll stick to them, nothing beyond a tenuous link. And you’re not going to be the one looking for that connection either.”

“Now wait—”

Vasquez threw up a hand, halting my argument. “I told you to stay off this case. You were too close to it. And what did you do? You went out, disobeyed my orders, and almost got yourself killed!”

“I had to—”

“What? You had to what? What did you have to do that was more important than your life? Than the lives of your fellow officers? Because that’s what you risked with this game of yours. You put everyone at risk, including yourself!”

“What I had to do was catch her fucking killer!” I snarled. “And I did! What the hell have you done today?”

Vasquez stared at me for a second and for the last half of that moment I thought his fist would rise and he would take a swing at me. But then he threw his head back and laughed, and the sound reverberated off the walls of my porch. The noise was even louder than his yelling earlier, and I couldn’t do anything but stare.

By the time the police left my house, the sun peeked over the horizon. They’d questioned Aidan and me, separately, for hours. Saving my life was likely the only thing that kept him from being questioned at the precinct. That he looked exactly like the killer didn’t help him, and the fact he’d impersonated an OWEA officer was something the police couldn’t take lightly. But he saved one of their own, which bought him something—the night, at least.

“You okay?” I asked Aidan, when we were finally alone. Covered in blood, he looked like he needed a shower as badly as I did.

“I’m fine,” he said. “The knife wound was superficial.”

So I’d been told. “Good. They caught Kimmy.”

He nodded. “I heard. Good thing.” His jaw muscle twitched. “It sounds like he’s had her under thrall off and on for weeks, screwing with her memory, bringing her in and out of his influence. With how powerful he was, and that kind of time…I don’t think she’ll ever be right, Mac.”

“Her memory? Is that why she willingly told me about him even though she was probably already thralled?”

“Could be he made her forget when he wasn’t around her, or he might have told her to pass on that info for some reason. It’s hard to know for sure given his state of mind.”

I shivered. Even the idea that someone could mess with a person’s memories was chilling. “At least we got him. He won’t be hurting anyone else. OW measures can match him loosely to the other victims—Amanda and Rebecca, at least. Between that and my kidnapping and Kimmy’s…state of mind, it should be an open and shut case.”

We sat on my porch, silent for a few minutes, watching the sun inch into the morning sky. My whole body hurt, and I was exhausted, but I couldn’t bring myself to break the silence. I stretched my legs out, reaching from the top step where I sat, to the bottom step. Aidan looked to be in a similar state. His face was tense, and darkness encircled his eyes. He sat with his knees under his chin, arms wrapped around his legs.

“You lied to me. So fucking much.” My voice was flat. Exhaustion had siphoned off most of my rage, but a weight pressed against my chest.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Kiera. I just—” He swallowed.

“I don’t know if I can trust anything that comes out of your mouth.”

“I didn’t want to lie to you!”

“Then tell me the truth now.” My voice broke. I concentrated on breathing. I would not fucking cry.

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