I grimaced, covering my expression with a wave of the folder the doctor had given me with the copies I’d requested. Leave it to Lieutenant Vasquez to send someone to consult just because she happened to be a member of a species who could pull off the murder. Somehow, even after years of working in the paranormal unit, Vasquez couldn’t get the idea out of his head that all of us freaks knew each other. He also seemed convinced we had some sort of extra preternatural sense that allowed us to solve a murder without normal necessities, like evidence.
We reached the morgue and I wondered if Amanda had filled in the lieutenant. It almost certainly hadn’t been Aggie. He talked to the paranormal cops more than the average normal detective, but that didn’t mean he went out of his way to do it. Did Lieutenant Vasquez know everything? Probably, except for the spell Amanda intended to cast using the victim’s hair. Amanda was pretty conscious of keeping every i dotted and t crossed, and that included keeping her boss in the loop.
Claire Simons’s body had been released to her family, but Rebecca Anderson still rested in the morgue. A somber-faced young man wearing light blue scrubs met us at the entryway. “She’s ready for you. Set up straight through there.”
I glanced at Marisol, a look she pointedly ignored, and followed her into the room. Rebecca appeared a little worse than she had the night before, even with most of her body covered by a sheet. Her pale skin seemed grayer, and the fluorescent lights dimmed her bright red hair.
“Guess this is where you use your succubus super sense to figure out if it was one of your kind who did this, huh?”
The laugh that bubbled out of her chest seemed to surprise her more than it did me, and she went silent after only a few seconds. Her plump, brightly colored lips turned up. A bit less smugness remained than she usually wore when she glanced at me before turning her attention back to Rebecca.
“Vasquez wants me to look, so that’s what I’m going to do.” She shrugged and placed her hands on the table, and then bent down to examine Rebecca’s face. She tugged the fabric away and moved her eyes across the body, gaze slowing over the bruises on Rebecca’s wrists.
I felt a momentary pang for Marisol. Vasquez’s lack of knowledge about otherworlders astounded me, considering the fact that he ran the unit responsible for investigating OW-related crimes in the entire Chicago area. Succubi weren’t sensitives and Marisol couldn’t sense anything different than a normal cop examining the victim would, even if a succubus had killed the woman. Succubi, to my knowledge, had two powers. They exuded a sexual vibe—some more subtly than others—and they could pull power from a person they were having sex with. Enough to kill someone, perhaps. Someone like our victims. But they were as sensitive to psychic energy as I was—meaning not at all.
Her lack of concern over touching the body with her manicured nails surprised me. I crossed my arms and examined the succubus as she examined the victim. I shouldn’t have expected her to be queasy around the dead—she was a cop, after all. The succubus was a detective who had been at the rank longer than I had, though she couldn’t be more than a year or two my senior.
Marisol threw the sheet back over the body with a speed that made me start. When she turned to face me, all the friendliness had disappeared from her expression. A small amount of perspiration touched her brow.
“All right,” she said. “I’ve seen enough.”
“And what? You don’t honestly think I can just look at her and know how she died, do you?”
She waved her hand at me, cutting off my argument. Then she turned on her heel and left the room, slamming the door behind her.
I followed her, leaving the flustered technician in our wake. I finally caught up in the hallway outside of the morgue. “Hey,” I called, and she slowed before stopping and turning to face me.
“Sorry I was rude,” she said. “I don’t like dead bodies. I wanted to get out of there.” Her expression appeared open again. She didn’t smile exactly, but her eyes were wide and filled with emotion, as if the hardness I’d glimpsed before had never crossed her face.
I frowned at her, unconvinced. The body hadn’t seemed to bother her when we’d first gone into the room. Maybe she’d just hid it? Not all cops handled dead bodies and blood and gore as well as others. It was possible she couldn’t deal with that kind of thing, or at least preferred to deal with it as little as she could manage in her job.
“Sure, no problem.” The added paleness of her skin and sweating certainly supported her assertion, but it was the fact that her reaction fit my impression of her that convinced me. First impressions weren’t always right, but I was good at reading people. For now, I’d have to trust my gut.
I glanced at my watch. “Look, I have to get to a lunch appointment. I know you can’t say for sure, but do you think the killer could be a succubus?”
“Succubi don’t kill their prey; it’s unheard of.” She flattened some invisible wrinkles on her jacket with her palms. “I’ll let the lieutenant know.” She turned and headed for the door.
I reached the parking lot before I realized she hadn’t actually answered my question.
As I unlocked my car, my cell phone rang. I frowned at the unfamiliar number, and then flipped it open.
“Hello, Kiera.” The smooth voice on the other end of the line was unmistakable.
“Did you forget something, Agent Byrne?” I tried, and failed, to keep the snippiness out of my tone.
“Just checking in. Did you get a look at the body?”
“No, I thought I’d take a quick trip to Hawaii instead. I have an appointment to get to. I’ll call you later.”
He chuckled and I snapped the phone shut. The man thought he was so damn charming.
The Grill House was packed for lunch. They were always busy, but they were quick, good, and cheap. They were also close to the precinct so a lot of cops ate there. Lisa, our normal waitress, waved me in and I helped myself to a booth.
“Meeting someone?” she asked, pulling a pen out from behind her ear. She managed to pull off short, spiky blue hair without looking like a punk.
“Cool. Haven’t seen her yet. Wanna order or wait?”
I went through my mental to-do list. “Cheeseburger and fries. Coke. Hold the onions on the burger, extra pickles.”
She made a quick note on her order pad. “Got it,” she said, and then disappeared into the crowd.
I chewed on the end of my pen and glanced through my notepad while I waited for Amanda and my food. No obvious cause of death, no markings. No poison or other oddities in the blood work. How else could you kill a person? Drain them of their life force. And how did the perp get the victims back to their homes? I’d have a lot more to go on if Aidan would hurry up with the other victims’ files. Damn home invader. Why on earth would he snoop through my books? Could the man be as handsome as I remembered? No, I was under the influence of little sleep on top of no dates in…sheesh, nearly a year.
“Mind if I join you?” The masculine voice pulled me from my thoughts. It took me a moment to focus on the man in front of me. Taking my silence as assent, Aidan sat down across from me in the booth.
My cheeks heated. They were probably already red. Stop it, I told myself. There’s no way he could know what you were thinking. “I’m expecting someone.”
“What’re you doing, following me?” I glared at him, irritated that he was more attractive every time I saw him.
“I didn’t need to follow you. You’re terribly predictable. The second you said ‘normal spot’ to Amanda’s voice mail I had your restaurant pegged.” He gave me a sexy grin.
I opened my mouth but no words came out.
“You look like a fish when you do that.”
I snapped my jaw shut. “Why are you here?” My voice came out sounding shrill.
“Came to see what you dug up. Where’s your partner?” He looked around me as if searching for her in the back of the restaurant.
I pushed down a twinge of jealousy. Why wouldn’t he be interested in Amanda? Most guys were. And not many noticed a girl with banshee blood, except to make sure they gave her a wide berth. I shook my head to clear my thoughts. What was I doing? He was just a jerky cop. A good-looking jerky cop, but still. I made a mental note to get myself a date as soon as we solved this case. Obviously, my lack of a sex life was finally getting to me. I turned my attention back to Aidan.
He had on a bemused expression, like he knew what I was thinking.
I scowled. “Amanda isn’t here yet.”
“Well? Did you find out anything from looking at the body?”
“Probably nothing that will surprise you.”
“Nothing other than what the coroner said. No obvious cause of death on the first victim or the second. They both had sex before they died. No DNA left from her attacker. No identifiable poisons in her system. No drugs, only a small amount of alcohol. Looking at the body didn’t tell me anything new.” As Lisa approached with my Coke, I straightened my posture, embarrassed that I hadn’t noticed I’d leaned toward Aidan as I spoke.
“Hi there,” she said, giving Aidan a smile. “What can I get for you?” She bent over, putting her hand on the table, her back to me. More specifically with the way she rested, her backside.
I frowned. She made the simple question sound like an invitation. What was it with this guy anyway? I cocked my head to the side and raised an eyebrow at Aidan.
“Iced tea, please. No lemon.”
“Sure thing.” I couldn’t see the expression she wore when she sashayed away, but it was probably pretty damn welcoming.
“Anyway,” I said, more loudly than I needed to. Aidan was staring, not at the waitress, but at me. The annoying grin stuck to his face. “As I was saying. We haven’t found anything that you probably didn’t already know.”