The countdown to Book 4 continues this week with another snippet from B&B 4: A Sanguine Solution.
B&B 3.5 Remainders, an f/f novella set during The Symbiotic Law is also now available through amazon!
Pat met Sabira Mallory in the parking lot. She had a newspaper raised over her head to fend off the rain.
“I spent most of last night making phone calls,” she said.
Their trip to the club near yesterday’s body had been frustratingly fruitless. Despite Mallory’s assertion that someone would have to be on the premises to get ready for the evening’s crowd, they had been met with a quiet, locked building. Pat’s wolf senses had confirmed that there hadn’t been anyone home.
“Hopefully Lynch has a name for us,” he murmured, holding the door open for her.
They stopped at their desks first to strip out of raincoats and shake water out of their clothes. Then they went down to the second floor break room to see if anyone had made coffee for the morning shift. Mallory sniffed the Mr Coffee carafe suspiciously and dumped the dregs into the sink while Pat measured grounds into a paper filter for a new pot. Even if the coffee left something to be desired, some charitable soul had set out two boxes of pastries.
Mallory picked up an apple fritter between her first and middle fingers and said, “It’s not a scone, but you can’t argue with fried dough no matter what continent it comes from.”
“Were you able to find the club owners?” Pat asked, ripping his attention away from the coffee. He didn’t really need the caffeine since Ethan had poured him enough coffee into a travel mug to make his stomach churn but it gave his hands something to do.
“Still a negative on that point, but I did have a long and illuminating conversation with the manager at the adult bookshop our victim died behind. Not a vampire—yes, I checked their information through our system—and according to Mr Jester—yes, and that is his real name—they don’t get vampires around their neighborhood.”
“That’s a bold statement.”
“So said I to Mr Jester, but he was very adamant. He wanted to make sure that I knew the neighborhood didn’t put up with that kind of riff raff. His words exactly.”
Pat frowned. “What does that mean, ‘riff raff’?”
“I think he meant anything non-human. A bit rich coming from…but it doesn’t do any good to judge people for their preferences. Do you know much about the local coven?”
“There’s no central coven in the city. The nearest one sleeps in Port Townsend. But that just means we have a couple thousand vampires, more than half of them undocumented, and there’s no central oversight body to keep everyone in line.”
“So, it’s a complete mess.”
“More or less.”
“And do these undocumented vampires often kill humans? I tried looking that up too, but I don’t have the right clearance.”
Pat snorted as the coffee machine clicked off. He reached for Mallory’s cup, pouring coffee over a spoonful of sugar and handing it to her. He used a spoonful of powdered creamer in his own coffee. It didn’t taste all that great but it was safer than drinking from any of the milk cartons in the shared refrigerator.
“Thanks,” Mallory said. Her eyes shut in satisfaction as she sipped.
They took the stairs back up to the third floor and settled in at their desks. Mallory shared her notes from the day before with him while they checked their email. Nothing from Lynch but it was still early. There were also brief reports from the responding officers and a complete folder of pictures of the crime scene.
“How long would it take for a single vampire to drain a person?” Mallory asked.
“But they don’t usually need to feed so much, right? I’ve read that. Only a feral or a starving vampire would need all of the blood from a human body, and this girl looks well and truly drained.”
“Could have been more than one feeder.”
“Wouldn’t there be a second set of bite marks if that were the case?”
“So, are you going to tell me how you know so much about vampires?” Mallory asked without looking up from her computer.
“You make it sound like I’m some expert. I’m not.”
“But you have met one before.”
Pat frowned at her, looking for the angle to her question. He couldn’t believe that it was as innocently asked as it sounded. Not with his history. But Mallory made an expectant gesture with her hands, waiting for an answer, guileless.
“I’ve met a few over the years.”
She matched him frown for frown. “Why are you being so cagey?”
“Oh, come on,” he snapped.
Mallory’s set her coffee mug down on her desk with a thud.
“You read everyone’s files,” he said.
“You mean I’ve read your file.”
He stared at her.
“Yes, of course. I did when I was promoted to your partner, but I don’t see how that’s relevant. There’s nothing in there about vampires.”
“What? That’s not right.”
She made an exasperated noise. “Do you think I would have missed something like that? Now, will you please just explain. Why are you so touchy about the subject?”
“My ex-partner was killed by vampires.”
“Ellison?” she said, shooting him a confused look.
“Sloane. Did you read his file too?”
“Most of its classified. At least from my clearance level.”
“You didn’t know?”
Pat shook his head. “Why would it be? Everyone here knows what happened.”
“Maybe if they were in this department at the time, but I’ve only ever heard rumors about it below this floor. Captain Augustas said it was gruesome. That it left its mark on you.”
“When did she say that?” he demanded.
“When she gave me this job.”
“She warned you about me?”
“I know, you’d think you were a loose canon I needed watch out for,” Mallory said in a wry voice, looking away.
He couldn’t even argue with her about that.
“So, what happened to Sloane?” she asked, sighing heavily. “It has to be more interesting than just death by vampires if someone higher up thinks it needs to be classified.”
“I never thought about it as a conspiracy.”
She gave him a arch look.
“I don’t know, and that’s part of the problem. Adam went off on his own. Looking into something. And then he was attacked, and he died before I made it to the hospital. No physical evidence except for the bite, nothing in his files or at his apartment to tell us what he’d been investigating.”
An image of Ethan’s wane face staring out the window of his townhouse flickered across Pat’s inner eye. He flinched and came back to himself in the moment, sitting across from Mallory, whose dark eyes were tracking him she could glean every secret from the shadows on his face.
“Case closed,” he muttered.
“And apparently classified.”
“I don’t know why they’d do that.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Indeed. And you never looked into it any further?”
“Jordan ordered me not too. Besides, I saw the scene, they didn’t miss anything. And I searched Adam’s apartment myself. There were no leads.”
“No coven door to knock down.”
Pat shifted in his seat and looked away, staring at his email inbox.
“Not that you didn’t try.”
“Maybe,” he muttered.
“I find it hard to believe that there’s no organized family in a city of this size. I should look into that.”
“I’m going to go see if Tobias has something for us.”
She made a distracted noise to mark his departure.