When Darkness Falls


Page 23









"You're not the only one who remembers what happened in Scotland. This reporter comments on the fact that Hugh Riley had survived such an attack in Edinburgh, only to die in New York." Jade met his eyes, then quickly scanned the article.


"See?" she said to Shanna. "Well, I might be able to see-if you'd just let me have the paper." Jade let go of the paper. Her sister quickly read the article.


Shanna stared at Gavin. "So what do think? Is it the same people?"


"Maybe," Gavin admitted.


"And maybe there's a major new cult at work in the world as we know it." They heard the deep, rusty voice of Al Harding, Gavin's partner, as he strode to his desk, which abutted Gavin's. Just as Gavin was short, squat, and round, Al was tall and as thin as a string bean. He was usually dry and quiet, standing back, listening, while Gavin did the talking. The Homicide detectives in the parish customarily worked in threes, two officers and a sergeant. Sergeant Bill Marceau usually worked with the pair, but he'd been out for some time after bypass surgery. With the department short, the two were still working without him.


"Don't you fear, little lady," Al Harding continued. "This is the United States of America. New York has top-notch, crack detectives. They'll comb that cemetery for every scrap of evidence, and mark my word-they'll get the psychos!"


Jade liked Al, but she felt she had to reply to him, "With all due respect to the New York police and the fine work of American agents, the Brits from Scotland Yard were no fools-they combed every inch of that cemetery as well. They found nothing."


"Still, this is America."


"God bless the Red, White, and Blue!" Shanna breathed softly.


Jade kicked her lightly in the shin. "I wonder if I should call someone," Jade said. "Maybe I could help."


"And maybe you could just relive a nightmare," Shanna said. "And maybe the media will get hold of your name again, and if it is a major cult and someone is after you, you might just put yourself into greater danger."


"I'll talk to someone on the case, quietly and discreetly," Gavin told her. "And I'll make sure that if any agents or officers do want to talk to you, they'll be quiet about it. How's that?"


"That sounds good. Thanks, Gavin." Al cleared his throat suddenly. "Jade, from what I've read, and from what I heard from you ..." His voice trailed; he inhaled and tried again. "You talked about the man who disappeared, the one who saved you, and about the way people came from coffins to attack you all.


Well, I mean, I just hope you realize ..."


"Yes?" she said.


"They were just sick people. Really sick people."


"Of course."


"I mean," he said, and his face turned red, "well, I heard you kind of went on and on about... about..."


"Vampires?" Shanna suggested sweetly.


"Yeah," Al said. "Well, you know," he went on impatiently, "you can't go to the FBI talking all crazy like that."


"Maybe there are vampires, Al."


They were interrupted again by another officer entering the homicide room. He was a tall, dark-haired, good-looking man who wore Dockers and a casual buff suede sports jacket. Shanna took note, straightening immediately, instinctively smoothing back her hair. The newcomer nodded to them both.


"Ah, come on, Lieutenant Canady, just because of those old murders-"


"Al, excuse me," he said. He walked over to Jade, smiling, reaching out a hand. "Sean Canady. How do you do? If you're dealing with a cult, it may well be with people who really think they're vampires. And the human mind is a terribly strong thing to mess with-really bad things can happen when the mind wills it should be so. Not many people are going to believe you've come across a real cult of vampires. But I can promise you, if you know anything, if you think anything, if you remember anything-I'll be more than happy to listen to you."


"Thanks, thanks very much," Jade told him.


Shanna stepped forward. "She's Jade MacGregor."


"I know," he said quietly.


"You know?" Jade said.


"I saw some of the news articles after the murders in Scotland last year."


"Oh," she murmured uncomfortably. But he was staring straight at her, his eyes steady-and kind. He didn't seem to think she was a lunatic-or a dope addict. "I'm her sister, Shanna." He smiled, a nice, slow, curve of a smile. "Shanna, Jade, nice to meet you. If these clowns are making fun of you, call me. I'll listen."


"I wasn't making fun of her," Al protested.


"See that you don't," Sean said . He hesitated, looking at Jade. "I saw Hugh Riley was among the people killed in New York."


"And you remembered his name from the articles about the murders in Scotland?" Gavin said. "Yep."


"Murders every day, around the world, and you notice the names of the survivors from a massacre in Scotland?" Shanna said suspiciously.


"I'm a detective," he told them with a shrug. But he was watching Jade, and she saw something very serious in his eyes.


"And he's a good one," Al admitted grudgingly. "They assign you to the kid?" he inquired.


Sean nodded, his eyes still on Jade. "There will be a task force, I've been told. Jade, Shanna, nice to meet you. If there's anything at all that I can do, let me know." They thanked him. He walked away, leaving the room. Jade thought that it seemed-oddly enough-that he had come just to meet them.


Shanna exhaled. "There goes some good-looking testosterone."


"He's married," Al told her.


"He would be," Shanna murmured with a fatalistic shrug.


"Hey, I'm available," Gavin said.


"And you're a gem!" Shanna assured him quickly.


"But you're busy Friday nights," Gavin said, laughing.


"Gavin, you are a doll and a gem and-"


"And you're gorgeous and twenty-four and I'm ... I'm not," he said after a moment, grinning. "Oh, well, if you ever get desperate ..."


"A girl would not need to be desperate," Shanna assured him quickly and sweetly.


Jade felt a deep surge of affection for her sister. For all of her cynicism, Shanna was almost always compassionate and kind.


"To tell you the truth, I'd have grabbed you for a movie tonight-if we'd had this conversation just yesterday."


Jade looked at her sister curiously. "What happened since yesterday?" she asked her sister.


Shanna's eyes widened teasingly and she grinned. "I met someone."


"This morning?"


"Yep. At a coffee shop, on my way over to your place."


"You didn't tell me!"


"Well, I didn't get married or anything. I agreed to go on a date. Well, actually, I didn't even really agree to go on a date. I suggested that I'd be at a movie. Although, you know, this flu thing is going around. He was sick, too. He could be a no-show."


"Still, you didn't tell me you had met someone."


"Well, I was anxious to hear about your life at the moment." She grinned at Gavin and Al, who were watching the conversation between the sisters with interest.


"Her life is just far more interesting than mine. At the moment."


"We need to leave," Jade said firmly, "and let these gentlemen get back to work. Gavin, thanks again. Al, thank you, too."


"My pleasure," Gavin assured her. "I'm delighted to help in any way. And listen. Although I have to say Sean is one good cop-" He broke off, shrugging. "You're sure there's nothing else I can do for you at the moment, other than contacting New York law enforcement?"


"Nothing, thanks."


"Good," Al interrupted quickly, drawing a puzzled glance from Gavin. "I saw the girls here and nearly forgot-we're needed at the morgue."


"What's up?" Gavin queried.


"The M.E. has made a curious discovery regarding the college kid in the accident the other night. You ready?"


"Yeah, sure, let me grab my jacket. Hey, great October, isn't it, ladies?"


"Beautiful, brisk, pleasant, great," Shanna agreed. "In fact, let's pick up a few pumpkins to carve, Jade, eh?"


"Sure. Well, thanks, guys, thanks very much," Jade said.


Twenty minutes later they were at one of the street markets, looking at pumpkins. Jade wanted to know about the guy Shanna had met. Shanna said he was just a guy.


"But you're going on a date with him."


"Not really. I'm meeting him for a movie. And that's a maybe."


"That's a date."


"I'm not having him pick me up or bring me home. We're just meeting for a movie."


"Tell me more."


"That's all," Shanna said, irritatingly evasive.


"Does he have a name?"


"Dave."


"Great. He has a name."


"He's cultured, cute, and charming. That's all I know right now. I'll tell you more later."


"I should go with you."


"No, you should stay home and sleep with your cop." She sighed, shaking her head with disgust. "The price on these is outrageous. You'd think these stinking pumpkins were made out of gold."


"We could drive out of the Quarter and buy a few along the roadside. They'd be much cheaper." Shanna made a face. "No, thanks. I don't feel like driving anywhere."









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