Bound to Shadows

Page 21

"Helen," I said softly, "why do you linger here? What do you need to say or do?"

My ability to communicate with the dead had gotten a lot stronger in recent months, and their ability to gain shape and materialize long enough to actually speak in my presence had grown. So it seemed Cole's theory that they were likewise using my strength to take shape was true - and these days the mere act of talking to the spirit world left me a whole lot weaker than I liked to admit.

The chill in the air got fiercer, until it felt like fingers of ice were creeping into my bones. No one could really explain why it felt like these souls brought the chill of the underworld with them, but the general consensus was that it had something to do with them being 'in-between' - neither here nor in heaven nor hell, or wherever else it was that souls went to.

Something stirred against the sunlight streaming in through the window. A wisp of thicker air that held no shape and couldn't even be defined as smoke.

"Helen?" I repeated. "Do you need to speak to me? Have you got anything you want to say?"

Her soul was little more than a barely visible wisp of white vapor, with no features and no body. But her thoughts reached out all the same.

Why? she said. Why did we need to die?

"I can't tell you that, Helen. Not until I catch whoever did this to you and your boss."

For a moment there was no answer, but the chill got stronger, until my fingers and nose ached with the fierceness of it. Energy flowed around me, out of me, building in the air, giving the soul the strength to speak.

But it makes no sense. Mr. Bastiel was a nice man, even if he was a vampire.

"Nice people die all the time, Helen. It often doesn't make sense or seem right." I paused as a sliver of weakness pulled at my muscles. She seemed to be sucking more energy than the souls of the past, and that meant I'd better hurry before she drained me too greatly. That was the one fear I had about doing this - that these souls would drag me into the shadows depths with them if I wasn't careful. "What can you tell me about the man who broke into the house and killed you both?"

It wasn't one man. It was two.

Surprise rippled through me. Up until now, there'd been no hint that two men had been involved in these murders. But then, we had very little in the way of hard clues. "Are you sure?"

Yes. One was standing back, his arms crossed. He had a camera in his hand, but he wasn't using it. The other had a

saw. She paused, and if she'd had a physical body, she would have shuddered. As it was, her horror rolled through my mind, stark and brutal. He was hacking at Mr. Bastiel's neck. There was blood...

I cut in, not sure I could stand another roll of horror through my mind. "Can you describe either of the men, Helen?"

She didn't answer for several seconds, her energy sucking at mine until she added, One was a vampire. I can sense them, you know? I don't know about the other one, because I wasn't near enough to catch his scent. But he was tall and fit-looking. Both of them were.

None of which was particularly helpful when it came to tracking down these killers. "And you can't tell me anything else about them?"

The energy in the air climbed another notch, making the small hairs along the nape of my neck and along my arms stand on end. The trembling in my muscles was getting stronger.

Finally, she said, The vampire wasn't the type who took blood. They smell a little different to what this one did.

Meaning we were dealing with an emo vamp? In this case as well as the other? What were the goddamn chances of that happening without there being some sort of connection?

Which meant that my watch on Vinny had just become more important than ever. She might not be involved in either of these killings, but she surely had to know who was. Vampires - whatever the make - were very territorial. If there was another emo working on Vinny's patch, she'd know about it. And be profiting by it in some way.

"There's nothing else you can tell me?"

Well, they were both extremely good looking. And well dressed. Her voice seemed softer, but maybe that was a result of my growing fatigue. But it all happened so quick, you know? I saw them, and ran. I tried getting to the phone in the lounge to ring the police, but there was a gunshot. Then, this...

Can you give me a description of them?

There was no response. The energy flowing around me was ebbing along with my strength. Maybe she no longer could answer.

"Thank you for your help, Helen." I hesitated, then added, "You can move on now, if you want to."

Her sigh echoed through my mind, then her fragile form disintegrated and the remaining energy burning though the air disappeared with it.

I grabbed at the bookcase as my knees threatened to give way, and took several deep breaths in an effort to clear the tension and fatigue still rolling through me. It didn't help much.

"Here," Dusty said roughly, and shoved a steaming mug of coffee at me. "We figured you might need this if you did connect with the soul."

"I think I love you." I wrapped my hands around the mug, trying to get some warmth back into my fingers. "Was Helen Hills a werewolf?"

"We haven't checked. Why?"

"Because she spoke of smelling people." I glanced around as Cole walked into the room, his expression one of concern as his gaze swept me. He seemed to relax a little when he saw that I'd suffered no outward damage from my communication with the soul, and that warmed me more than the drink. "Our soul said there were two men involved. One of them was a vampire."

"And the other?"

"She said she wasn't close enough to catch his scent, but he was carrying a camera he didn't use. The vampire was doing the beheading."

"Well, that's going to put a cat amongst our vampire pigeons, isn't it?" He frowned. "Why in the hell would they bring a camera and not use it?"

"I'll ask the bad guys that when I catch them." I took a sip of coffee. The heat of it slid right down to my belly and I had to resist the urge to sigh in pleasure. I took another sip, then added, "At least this might ease the tension on the streets. It isn't humans doing this, so the vamp population can stop getting so uppity."

"My natural response would be to state that vamps are reborn uppity, but I know a fair few humans who could be classified that way, too."

"Yeah, and more than a few of them are journalists."

He grinned. "Seems I'm not the only one with an unsavory attitude. Jack would not approve."

"Jack himself is not fond of the way some reporters tend to over-sensationalize these type of events. And if they hadn't disobeyed the embargo, we would not have been confronted by that lynch mob."

"True." Cole grimaced and scrubbed a hand through his hair. "And whoever our two killers are, they're damn good, because we're not finding much in the way of clues ."

Which meant it was more important than ever that I got to talk to someone on the council.

"Well, we have a vampire involved in the killings, and we have council members as the victims, so it's not hard to guess what the connection is. All we have to do is find the why behind that connection."

"I wish you luck with that," Dusty muttered.

"I'm going to need it." I drained the coffee in several gulps, just about scalding my mouth. I didn't care, because the heat of it burned all the way down, chasing the last of the chill from my flesh.

If only I could get rid of the weakness as easily.

I pushed away from the bookcase. The room spun a little, but my knees held up just fine, even if my muscles were still trembling.

"Go get a burger before you do anything else," Cole commented. "You're still looking rather pale."

"It'll be my first port of call, Doctor Reece."

"Idiot," he said, and walked out of the room.

I gave a grinning Dusty a nod goodbye and headed out to my car. Which took more out of me than I cared to admit. With my hands still shaking, I dug my phone out of my bag, hit the vid button, and dialed Quinn.

He answered on the second ring, but the call remained voice only. Which meant he was somewhere other than his office. "Hey lovely lady, this is a nice surprise."

"I couldn't go another second without hearing your dulcet Irish tones," I replied, a smile twitching my lips.

"As much as I wish that were true, I know its not. What can I do for you?"

"Besides take me out for dinner, you mean?"

"I shall have the helicopter prepared and take you somewhere exotic."

My smile grew. There were benefits to having an extremely rich boyfriend. "I thought you had a date with your friend, Julian, tonight?"

"But not until eleven. He doesn't believe in hitting the clubs any earlier, because he doesn't believe they really start getting interesting before then."

"Then he really does need to visit a wolf club." They were interesting any time day or night. "And I'm actually ringing because I need your help with a case."

He didn't answer immediately. In the background, doors swished open then came the echo of his quick steps. I knew that sound - he was just entering his office building. "What sort of help?"

"The three vampires beheaded are all on the Melbourne council. I need to talk to one of the councilors to see what decision they might have made recently that could have pissed someone off this much."

He hesitated. "That won't be easy."

"As I gathered when Jack didn't actually suggest it."

More doors swished closed, and an electronic voice started giving floor numbers. He was more than likely in the express to the fiftieth floor - an elevator I hated. The damn thing moved too fast for my liking.

"For the very good reason that he's probably doing it himself."

"Maybe he is, but I'd still prefer to talk to someone myself. He has to be respectful. I don't."

"You will if you want to get anywhere near the councilors. They tend to be even more old fashioned than I am. "

"Yeah," I said dryly. "They're so old fashioned they attend clubs to service blood whores."

"Bastiel didn't."

I raised my eyebrows. "You've already heard about that?"

"Bad news always travels fast." His voice was as dry as mine. "I'm gathering you know about Dante already?"

"Yeah, and I want to avoid him as much as possible. That man is a sexual predator."

"A werewolf backing away from another predator?" Surprise and amusement ran through his voice. "I never thought I'd live to see the day."

"Meaning you want me to go see the man?"

He laughed. "No. I'll talk to one of the other councilors and see if he'll agree to a meet. More than that I can't promise."

"Thanks for trying."

"As I said, no promises. I'll be finished work at six. Where do you want me to meet you?"

"I'm meeting Dia at our usual place in Brunswick at five-thirty."

"For work or pleasure?"

"Mainly pleasure, but I'm on Jack's time so I'll ask her an official question or two."

"Then I'll meet you at Essendon at seven thirty," he said. "That should give you enough time after the meeting to get home, get changed, and meet me."

With a silly grin of anticipation on my face, I hung up then started the car and headed over to Vinny's. I grabbed a couple of burgers at the local McDonalds, then drove around until I found a spot that was reasonably inconspicuous but allowed me to watch the front door, and settled in for the wait.

It ended up being a very long wait.

Nothing happened. No one went in, and no one went out. Some kid with scruffy blonde hair and a bored expression tried to coin the side of my car until my growl notified him of the fact I was actually in the car. His expression and subsequent flight eased the boredom a little.

As five o'clock neared, I began to get a little restless, wondering if Jack had forgotten to get someone in to replace me. The thought had barely crossed my mind when my phone rang.

"Riley," Benson said, "Jack says if you don't start leaving the comlink on when you're working, he'll replace it with one you can't turn off."

I hurriedly pressed said comlink, but didn't bother apologizing. "What's the problem?"

"Nothing. Talvin's in place at Vinny's if you want to leave for your meeting with Dia."

"Thanks for letting me know."

"You don't have to thank me for doing my job."

But his tone suggested he appreciated it. I hung up, then tossed the phone into my bag and headed for Brunswick. I found parking several streets away from the restaurant and walked back. The sidewalk tables were all full and Dia wasn't at any of them. Meaning she more than likely had Risa with her, as the restaurant boasted a secure children's play area at the back of the main room. I'd barely walked through the door when the little girl in question came bounding out of the shadows, her white pigtails flying as she flung herself into my arms.

"Hey, monkey," I said, grinning as her chubby little arms wound themselves around my neck and she planted a slobbery kiss on my cheek. She smelled of soap and powder and everything that was good in this world. "How was swimming today?"

Her amazingly bright violet eyes twinkled with mischief. "Swimming sucked!"

I just about choked on my own laughter. Dia was going to kill me for teaching her that particular expression.

"I thought you loved the water?"

"Water sucks."

I bit down my grin as I walked through the restaurant. Dia was in the far corner, sitting in a booth near the large play area. She was, as usual, both immaculate and stunning. Her hair, like her daughter's, was a pure whitish-silver hair that shone with an almost unnatural brilliance, and when combined with the luminous blue of her eyes and the matching brightness of her summer dress, she was hard to miss.

Back to Table of content

Copyright © novelfull All Rights Reserved.