I searched for “psychic draining” and watched the ticker bar fill on my screen. I downed the rest of beer number two, and seriously considered standing up to get another before the page drove me mad with its slowly loading bar.
The list made me frown. Wraiths didn’t explain the sex issue, unless one somehow became corporeal. That didn’t make sense. Wraiths were mindless and had no self-control. We’d be seeing a lot more victims. Baku fed psychically but focused on dreams. They could drive a person insane but they wouldn’t kill them outright. And again, the sex angle made no sense.
Incubi were on the list as well. Although they had been extinct for over a hundred and sixty years, everything else fit. Except for the fact that they weren’t known for draining people to the point of death. Succubi were listed too. The female version of the incubus could only produce female offspring. Like incubi, succubi were averse to killing their food.
I scrolled down the list, and saw too many species to go through. Nothing other than the wraiths, baku, incubi, and succubi were known for being powerful enough to actually kill something through draining. I clicked in the “search within results” box and typed “sex.” The enter key made a loud click in my otherwise silent house. Rather than pull my hair out watching the page load, I went and grabbed another beer. When I got back to the laptop, there were only two species left on the list.
I rubbed my eyes, not surprised, but I’d hoped for some beastie out there I hadn’t heard of that fit the bill. Nothing else even came close. Not a creature anyone knew about, anyway. Every otherworlder species that existed, now or in the past, claimed its share of space in the OWID. As the words “incubus” and “succubus” flashed at me from the screen, I wondered how I was going to convince anyone that a succubus was running around killing women while making it look like her victims had been killed by a man, or that incubi weren’t extinct after all.
A loud knock startled me. I snapped the laptop shut and made my way to the door. The vision through the peephole made me sigh.
“Well hello, beautiful,” Aidan said when I pulled the door open. He held up a six-pack of beer and waved the bottles hypnotically at me. “Can I come in?”
I waved him inside, grabbing a bottle as he passed, and then followed him to the dining room.
“Did you find anything we missed?” I asked, already knowing the answer. The paranormal unit ran a tight ship.
“No, your team was very thorough. What did you find out?” He picked up the bottle opener I’d left on the table, and held his palm out. I gave him my beer and he flipped the lid off, then handed it back to me before opening his own.
“Our local sensitive checked out the most recent vic. She was drained of her life force. Astrid’s calling that COD.” I gestured at the laptop. “I’m seeing a few things that can kill that way, but only a couple fit.”
“Let me guess: succubi and their incubi cousins.”
I took a sip of my beer. “Yup.”
He hesitated. “Look, I know this is a little rude to ask, but…your banshee powers, do they extend to the visions?”
I narrowed my eyes. “No. Why is that relevant?”
“It might come in handy if they did.”
“Do you really think that if I got visions of people dying before it happened that I’d be in this line of work? Hell, if I was a true banshee, do you think I’d be living with humans?”
He shrugged, obviously uncomfortable. “I knew it was a long shot, but I had to ask.”
“Do you know how banshee society operates?”
“Probably not as well as you. I know that they can usually see when someone near them is going to die. And their screams are fatal.”
“That’s true—to a certain extent. Their screams can kill and, unfortunately, most banshees scream when they’re hit with a vision. That’s why they live away from humans.”
“But all banshees are women, right?” He grinned. “How do they, you know, make little banshees?”
“Some journey out to mate with humans. They only produce female children, and only keep the ones who inherit their full range of abilities. The rest are discarded as half-breeds.”
“Oh yes,” I said bitterly. “Literally. Like trash.”
“I’m surprised law enforcement around their reservations allows them to journey into human territories, let alone toss out their young.”
“It’s not legal, but they’re difficult to police. I mean, I wouldn’t want to try to stop a full-blooded banshee. Plus, they look like humans. So unless you catch one crossing the reservation line, they can be hard to ID.” I rested the cold beer against my cheek. What was this? My third? No wonder I was so chatty.
“So what happened with you?” Aidan murmured.
I shrugged. “My dad was in Ireland for the summer. He’d just graduated high school and wanted to see his homeland or some such nonsense before college. He met my mom in a small village. He stayed, and so did she. He doesn’t talk about it much, but I guess they cared for each other. She cared enough to leave me with him after I was born instead of tossing me into the ocean.”
“Well, you seem to have turned out okay without her in your life.” He leaned toward me, forearms resting against the table in front of him. “Gotta be kind of lonely, though. I don’t think I’ve ever met a half-banshee before. I’ve met a couple full-blooded ones. Well, fully powered ones, really. But never what they call half-bloods. I’ve never met anyone quite like you.”
Well, wasn’t I special? I cleared my throat. “Yeah, well, I was raised by a good man.” I had to get the subject off my parentage before I got weepy. Damn, definitely too many beers. “Did you get along with your family?”
Pain flared behind his eyes, gone as quickly as it had appeared. “I never knew my dad. He…wasn’t exactly the marrying kind.”
I opened my mouth to press him for more information, but stopped. An angry Aidan I could push, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to deal with a troubled one.
“Look,” I said, finally. “Let’s get back to the case. The only OWs I can figure for it are succubi and incubi. Have you come across anything else in your investigation that might fit?”
The headache pressing against the back of my eyes hadn’t improved much with my first cup of coffee, and neither had my mood. I leaned against the wall in front of the office door, holding my second cup in one hand and an open book on succubi in the other, with a file tucked tenuously between my arm and chest. I didn’t have high hopes that a headache would be the worst of my problems today.
The door clicked open and a man who appeared to be in his late twenties stepped out wearing a dark suit, sans tie. The tailored outfit looked too pricey for a cop, and I could have ID’d him from that alone. “Mac,” Detective Claude Desmarais said as he walked past.
“Claude,” I muttered to the detective, and headed into the office he’d just vacated.
“Sit down, Mac.” Lieutenant Vasquez, the Hispanic man behind the desk, was only an inch or two taller than me, but made up for his lack of height with broad shoulders and large biceps, although his rounding midsection revealed that his job now required him to work from a desk every day. A full head of dark hair belied his age—I knew for a fact he was in his mid-fifties. I often wondered if he dyed his hair, but that wasn’t something I was willing to ask him even if I’d had a few beers.
“Lieutenant,” I said, sitting on the chair across from him. I set my coffee and book on the desk, gripping the file in my hands.
After signing the paper he’d been reading, he looked up at me. “Okay, what do you got?”
“I think we’ve got an incubus. Possibly a succubus.” No one would ever call me indirect.
He leaned back in his chair and studied me. I stared right back at him, tempering my usual glare to a solid cop face.
He let out a muttered string of expletives, his voice low enough that I couldn’t make out any word but “freaks.” Then he leaned back in his chair and rubbed his face. “Aren’t incubi supposed to be extinct?”
“They’re supposed to be, yes.”
The muscles in his jaw tensed and he crossed his arms. “Okay, tell me.”
“We’ve got two victims here, and several more who could be connected in other jurisdictions. I’m looking into it. All the vics are women. All dead with no physical cause. All had sex before they died. I’ve got oh-dubs going on the latest vic this week. Oh, and Astrid called last night and confirmed the woman had been drained of her life force and that’s likely what killed her.”
“You think the killer isn’t a succubus because?”
“Did Whitman tell you it was?”
“She denied it, but Amanda said it was a possibility when she called me from the scene.”
I frowned. Could Marisol really say a succubus hadn’t killed her? “Spermicide from a condom was found in our first vic. Once they get around to the autopsy I’m sure they’ll find it in the second, too.”
“That doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t a succubus, or some other kind of copycat freak who’s worked out a way to mimic an incubus’s M.O. Would be a good way to throw us off the trail.”
“Could be. I haven’t ruled anything out—especially not the possibility that it’s a succubus. The only other OWers I’ve found that could psychically drain someone to the point of death are wraiths and baku. But neither fit the sex angle. If we had a wraith on our hands we’d see several victims every night, all clumped together. Baku feed off dreams, slowly driving their victims insane. There wasn’t anything slow about this. A succubus or incubus is the only thing that fits.” I paused, trying to figure out the right wording that wouldn’t make Vasquez laugh his ass off at a cop being so convinced by her feelings. “My gut says incubus,” I said, finally.