In the meantime, enjoy this preview of chapter 26.
(Note: You can go to the beginning of the story here. Or go to chapters 24 & 25 by clicking here.)
The woman detective pulls the car up to the far end of the elevators. It's a dark green, four-door sedan with spotlights above the side-view mirrors. She sees me but she isn't moving.
A pair of older women is waiting there, jabbering at each other. I hear the ding of an elevator opening up, and a couple come out, arm in arm, and move off towards the cars. The women get in the elevator.
With the shrouded man slung over my shoulder, I lean out and wave at the detective.
She pulls the car up, and, after another quick look around, I run over, open the rear passenger door and throw the body in. Then I slide into the front passenger seat.
I lean over and give her another kiss. She starts to pull away but I don't let her, holding it for a few seconds.
When I finally let her go, she's a little breathless. She's full of venom, and my kisses have her nearly crazed.
"Take me to your place," I say to her.
The car lurches forward and I have to slam the passenger door shut to keep it from hitting a parked car as we exit the garage.
I keep my arm on her shoulder while she drives, rubbing my finger on her neck.
We go east and then south on
"That tickles," the woman says, tilting her head away, but I don't stop.
"Tell me your name," I say.
"Vicky," she tells me.
"With a y?" I ask.
She kind of smiles.
"Yes," Vicky says. "What's your name?"
"Call me Henry."
She looks at me for a second. Then she looks back out through the windshield. She frowns.
"Okay, Henry," she says. "I'm doing what you asked. I haven't given you any problems. I'm cooperating here. So are you going to tell me what's happening?"
I realize I should be driving, so I could strike her again if I need to.
"I'll explain when we get to your place," I tell her. "But I promise you one thing. I am not going to hurt you. I promise."
Vicky starts taking long glances into the rear-view mirror. She's looking into the backseat.
"I'm sorry about your partner," I say to her. "But he attacked me."
"That's funny," Vicky says. "I don't remember it that way."
"Just remember that I'm here to help you," I tell her. "And I'll answer all your questions once we're safe."
"I feel pretty far from safe," she says.
Flamingo Road, Vicky turns the car east, gunning the engine to shoot through a changing traffic light.
I need to keep her talking.
"How long have you been a detective?" I ask.
"Four years," Vicky answers. "What is it that you do?"
"I travel," I tell her. "But I'm looking to settle down."
We keep going east.
"How long were you and George partners?" I ask.
"A month," Vicky says.
"Why do you live alone?" I ask.
She seems a little confused by the question. She's not used to being so candid.
"Um, I just got divorced," she says. "My husband caught me cheating on him and left me."
"You don't have any kids?" I ask.
"That's another reason he left me," Vicky replies.
I ask, "Why did you show up at the apartment?"
"My partner got a tip," Vicky says with another long glance in the rear-view mirror. "About an incident at Piero's today. Something about a fight, someone brandishing a gun. With Sammy Gunn and Curt Dirigian both there."
"But how did you end up at Edgar's apartment?" I ask.
"George's...My partner's informant gave us Edgar's name and said he might be hurt," Vicky tells me. "We were just checking out a tip."
I ask, "Do you know who George's informant was?"
"Someone named Jerome," Vicky says.
"You said you went to Edgar's apartment on official business," I say. "Is there someone you need to report to?"
There's a laptop mounted on the dashboard between us. Vicky reaches over and hits a couple of buttons.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
"I'm clocking out for the night," she says.
Just past a catholic church, Vicky turns south and we go a couple of blocks before pulling into the driveway of a house. Vicky reaches under her seat and pulls out a small purse. She takes out a garage-door opener.
"I assume you want to come in," she says.
I follow her through the garage, past her gigantic SUV, and into the kitchen.
"Any pets?" I ask.
"A cat," Vicky says. "Is that a problem?"
"Not at all," I tell her.
Vicky opens the refrigerator.
"I'm starving," she says, bending to look for food.
When she comes up, she's got her pistol out, but before she can aim it, I step inside her reach and strike. She moans and collapses. I catch her and put her pistol on the kitchen counter. I don't drink and I release immediately. I'm not sure how much more venom to put in her. I don't want to kill her just yet.
Once she's sprawled out on her living room couch, I inspect the house. I find the cat in the bathroom. He hisses at me, but I leave him alone.
I'm back in the kitchen when my phone goes off.
"Just where the fuck are you?" he asks when I pick up.
"I entertained some visitors," I tell him. "Then I went out for some air."
"You know," Sammy says. "You're used to roaming, so if you want to sightsee a little, I'm okay with that. But you better be where I need you to be."
"As a matter of fact, I was thinking of heading back to Edgar's apartment soon," I say. "What can you tell me about the police coming to the door?"
"Is that what happened?" Sammy asks. "I assume you're alright."
"I'm fine," I say. "Apparently, Jerome liked to talk to detectives."
"Is that so?" says Sammy. "If he turns, I'll have to ask him."
"I'll be there when Iris arrives with my new suit," I say.
"I don't think Iris will be the one delivering it," Sammy says. "She says you make her uneasy."
"Tell her I'll start working on my charm," I say.
Sammy says, "Happy hunting," and ends the call.
I pull the SUV out onto the curb and pull the sedan into the garage. Then I bring George's body into the living room and unwrap it.
I wake Vicky up and bring her over to George's corpse.
"Oh, God," Vicky moans.
"I need you to see something," I say.
With my hand around the back of her neck, Vicky and I kneel and bend down close to George's face. She's not resisting me, but she's reluctant.
I pry George's mouth open and reach in with my index finger. Careful not to prick myself, I pull down a fang.
"Look," I tell Vicky.
I expect her to get sick or recoil in disgust. But she leans in, with her eyes wide.
"He's like you," she says.
"Yes, he is," I say.
"Is that why you killed him?" she asks.
"He would have tried to kill me," I tell her.
Vicky gets up and sits on the couch.
"No wonder he liked working nights," she says.
I sit next to her. She rubs her neck where I've struck.
"When you bite someone," she says. "Does it always feel like that?"
"Yes," I answer her. "And the more I bite, the better it feels."
Vicky keeps rubbing.
"I've never felt anything like that," she says. She shudders. "Did you drink my blood?"
"No," I tell her. "I plan to, but not enough to hurt you. I promised not to hurt you, remember?"
She looks at George's corpse.
"I always thought he was a bad cop," she says. "But I had no idea."
"He hasn't been a vampire for long," I say. "He was what I call a fledgling."
"Will I turn into one of you?" asks Vicky.
"No," I tell her. "Turning into a vampire is...very difficult."
I think about how many times I've had this conversation. I think about Alice and Marcella and Zoey and Yesenia.
I stand up and take the ka-bar out of my jacket.
"I have to do something now," I say. "It's not pleasant, but it's necessary."
Vicky's eyes are on the knife.
"You promised not to hurt me," she says.
"And I won't," I tell her.
I step over to George's body, and, pressing the blade down with both hands, I sever his neck.
I go into the kitchen and get some garbage bags from under the sink.
Vicky doesn't move. She just keeps staring at George's head, laying there seeping into her area rug.
I double-bag the head. Then I pull a trash bag down over George's shoulders.
"What are going to do with me?" she asks.
"Well," I say. "That's partly up to you."
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