“Open the door, Ms. Eriksson. We don’t want to have to get rough.”
Kissera shuddered even though the cool night air didn’t affect her. The Nativum police might call themselves by a fluffier name, but they were the same thugs with their jackboots on Creare necks since before the war, when she and other Creare fought back against their tyranny. For a century Kissera struggled to put those miserable two years behind her. She wished these bastards would leave her in peace.
Her shoulders sank with defeat. Might as well get it over with. Causing a scene would guarantee this got back to the council, something no Creare in their right mind wanted. She unlocked the door and ushered the three officers inside. “Knock yourselves out.”
The leader stayed with her in the front showroom while his minions searched the rest of the store. One knocked at walls and banged on the floor in the main room. Kissera gasped as his heavy boot kicked a pedestal holding a duo of rare Pitkin flasks sending them cascading toward the floor. In a blink, the officer reached out and saved the objects from destruction. He steadied the pedestal, then placed the flasks back where they belonged. Kissera breathed a sigh of relief. Respect for old stuff was one of the few things all vampires had in common.
“Boss,” another officer called. “There’s a locked room up here.”
“Ms. Eriksson?” The corner of Boss’s eye twitched, like he tried to hide the excitement of finding her red-handed, but his professionalism won out.
“Documents sensitive to light and air.”
“We’ll need to check inside.”
Stifling a barrage of insults, Kissera led the way upstairs, then punched in the code to the room of rare treasures. The door opened with a whoosh. “Only one of you. I don’t need a whole parade in there ruining stuff.”
“Stay here,” Boss ordered. He walked straight to the center of the room then rotated a full three sixty, stopping every once in a while to sniff the air or inspect a certain patch of wall.
“These walls don’t match the ones downstairs.”
“Does your carpet always match the drapes?”
He struggled to squelch a smile tugging the edge of his lips and failed. A sense of humor in an Investigator? Wonders never cease. Maybe she could get away with a warning.
Satisfied she wasn’t hiding dead bodies in the wall, the officer left. Kissera resealed the room and they all headed downstairs.
“Can I go now?” she asked.
“Not quite. Where did this blood come from?” He felt around the bottom of the bag then revealed two gold feathers.
Oh, you have to be kidding me. “It was a gift.”
“Angela’s blood type. Four pints. You know this doesn’t look good.”
“You think AB+ companions are so common I can bleed one dry for fun? It took me a long time to find Angela. The blood is a gift.”
“Who gave it to you?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” Kissera glanced at the bag, remembering the note tucked into fancy gold and white tissue paper. It read: “An uncommon gift for an uncommon lady.” Ta ma dik. In less than twenty-four hours, Lucifer had managed to screw up her life.
“An angel gave it to me.” Let’s see what Mr. Investigator does with that.
“Ms. Eriksson, angels don’t come down out the clouds to talk to the likes of us. Let’s just go over to headquarters, get it all straightened out. This is just an investigation. Accidents happen. Companions are fragile. No need to go to the council. We can talk. You have to understand with this much blood and a missing companion of the same type we have a duty to find out what happened. Angela’s not around to ask, so we have to go through official channels. If Angela is no longer your companion, then you’ll have to go through the delisting process.”
The Boss’s words faded into gibberish as he reached out to grab her arm. Without thinking, Kissera lashed out with a left hook, overpowered by memories of a distant time when another group of black clad men took her against her will. The ghost smell of below sea level New Orleans surrounded her and full blown panic swallowed her whole. She struggled, striking out with fists and feet while the Investigator attempted to put silver cuffs on her. Don’t take me. Not again. The touch of silver on her skin shocked Kissera firmly into the present.
Her stiletto-heeled foot connected with the man’s gut and he stumbled backward with a grunt. With a shout, the minions pounced and tried to shackle her. Their words meant nothing. Three against one. Terrible odds, but she’d faced worse.
The Investigator recovered quicker than she anticipated. He pinned her to the ground. Kissera squirmed and twisted, but under his heavy body she was helpless. They couldn’t do this to her again. She wouldn’t let them. A minion held her feet as the leader wrangled her arms behind her and clicked the handcuffs into place. Kissera flinched as the metal made contact with her skin. Pain shot through her arms, rendering them useless.
Not yet ready to give up the fight, she flung all of her will behind one thought. Break the chains. Both men went flying into a case of Limoges figurines. Kissera sat up, ready to give them more of the same. She rubbed her scorched wrists. Zap. A sharp pain stung her in the neck, the last thing she registered as the world went black.
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