What is love?
It is a feeling, an emotion nestled deep in the breast of the bearer. An obsession that overtakes it's host. And how, to the recipient, is it accepted? As an ecstasy, as a drug, or as a blade to cut quickly through the heart? It is a passion that may heal or destroy all it touches, a force of nature that consumes all within it's fire.
It is a double edged blade, wielded in pain and in devotion.
The morning was quiet. Soft. Light was just beginning to slowly permeate the world, and the air had that almost metallic smell that it got when it was just about to rain. For now though, it was serene and undisturbed save for breathless sounds of passion that wafted from Amy's bedroom. Two lovers, disinclined to leave the warmth of their bed, nestled in the sheets, were breathing almost in unison, sharing the air and the heat and the moment.
Amy's hand lingered on her lover's breast, taking in the feel of her skin, the softness and the warmth. Fingers explored, making lazy circles, curling around to grasp the rise of it in the palm of her hand. Dione gasped as her fingers made their way to her nipple, and she smiled to herself as she watched every single reaction that each movement made. A small, soft pinch made Dione's entire body tense up, made her breathless and squirmy in her arms, and that made Amy want to laugh.
“Too much?” She smiled as she pulled her in closer, tightening her fingers around the nub of flesh. Dione couldn't respond of course. The pretty shiny black gag between her lips was enough to stifle anything but whimpers and breathless sounds. She made a pretty picture like that; face flushed a nice bright pink, body writhing against the cuffs that held her hands behind her back. Amy nuzzled into her neck as she pulled outwards, letting Dione's back arch against her in a futile attempt to escape.
“Aww... you won't be able to get away from me, you know.” She whispered into her lover's ear, and relished the panting whimper she received in response. Dione was shaking as she released her nipple, and then slowly started moving her hand down her body. “I have you captive now... I'm going to have my wicked way with you.” Amy couldn't help grinning as she slipped her fingers between her legs. Dione's thighs parted for her easily, compliant and eager. She was already wet for her.
“You're such a slut.” She teased her, and Dione groaned around the gag in reply. Drool was already pooling at the corners of her lips as Amy's fingers slowly made their way past her clit to her opening. “Already moaning for me. You want it so badly, don't you?”
Her fingers played along the lips, gently rubbing her, getting her more on edge, waiting for her to be desperate. She avoided the places she knew that she most wanted her touch. Dione would have to beg for that.
Instead she just made lazy strokes with her fingers, and let her lips and tongue trail along her neck. Every single breath made Dione shudder with pleasure, whimpering and squirming like she couldn't control her own body anymore. It made Amy flush with a sense of pride.
Dione was making such adorable sounds now, panting and gasping through the gag, tossing her head like she was trying to say something, but it all came out garbled. Amy knew what she wanted... but she wanted her to want it even more. “What's that?” She teased, “I'm sorry, I can't understand you.”
When that elicited a frustrated gurgle of impatience she really did laugh. Her lips pressed to the corner of her jawline, one hand around her neck as the other continued to gently caress her inner thigh. “Oh hush sweet thing...” She let her breath fall lightly on her skin, relishing the shiver that ran down Dione's spine and the gasp that went with it. “I know what you want. Precious little slut.”
As she slid her fingers inside of her she felt Dione's entire body shudder against her. Dione's head leaned back, looking for her, and she met her lips with a kiss. It was sloppy and messy and more for show than anything else with the gag in place. The smooth feel of the rubber made her smile. She delved deeper into her, feeling her warmth envelope her fingers. Soon Dione was whimpering, moving her hips, seeking her with her face, nuzzling into her.
“There...” Amy breathed, kissing from her mouth to her ear, holding her close to her body as she began to massage inside of her. “You look so cute like this, all hot and bothered. Desperate.” She couldn't get enough of the way Dione lost all control when she was like this, looked overwhelmed and undone, desperate for a guiding touch and a helping hand. She was Amy's, Amy's to play like an instrument, to manipulate like a doll and bend to her whims. The prettiest little toy.
Dione's hips were moving now against her hand. Amy gave a light chuckle before she pulled back. She knew what Dione needed. She let her fingers come up, slipping out of her and then circling around her clit. Dione was instantly falling apart, moaning with every single breath. Amy pressed a kiss to her ear before whispering, “Remember not to cum until I say so...”
“Mmm-hmmm!” Dione nodded her head, frantic and breathless. She was beautiful, so beautiful like this... Amy had a hard time not commanding her orgasm right then and there. But she knew from experience that it would be sweeter the more drawn out it was. She slowly pressed her fingers against her clit, massaging slow circles, only increasing in speed as Dione gurgled out more and more unintelligible sounds of passion. Her eyes fluttered closed. She looked absolutely in rapture, and it was the most lovely thing Amy thought she'd ever seen.
Her fingers pressed a little harder, relishing the sounds her sub was making, the way her hips were moving to push herself closer to the brink. She might have to chide her for such eager behaviour later but right now... oh, right now, she just wanted to watch her cum. Dione was like a goddess when she came. Amy sighed, unable to help herself from moaning along with Dione, enchanted by her pleasure, drunk on it with her.
“Pweeze!” She heard the sound, muffled, come through the gag. The only thing more intoxicating than making Dione cum, just might be hearing Dione beg to cum. She smiled. She had to hold off... make her wait just a little longer...
“Mmm!” The sounds coming from Dione were getting more and more frantic now. Amy kept careful control of the pressure she was exerting, wanting to draw it out, savour the moment.
Finally, she relented, whispering sweetly, “Alright girl... you can cum.”
Then she increased the speed and the pressure, giving Dione exactly what she wanted, moving her fingers back and forth around that little bundle of nerves and letting her ride each and every wave of sensation. Dione fell apart almost instantly, shaking and screaming through the gag. She tightened her grip on her, holding her close, feeling every jolt and spasm that wracked her body while she rode that high.
Just as Dione's muffled cries were reaching a fever pitch, her sub's body went slack, relaxing and trembling as the orgasm subsided. Amy smiled, stilling her hand and just letting her come down from the ordeal.
“Hush... good girl... you were so good...” Her arms relaxed and he stroked her hair with her left hand as her right came up to her own lips. She guided Dione's gaze to meet hers, the unspoken command to maintain eye contact lingering between them, as her tongue darted out to taste her lover on her fingertips. She moaned, pleased with the way Dione's face looked so flushed and embarrassed. Dione's short seafoam hair was a mess, tousled and falling in her eyes, but she was breathing a lot steadier, calmer and relaxed.
Amy undid the straps that held the gag in place, smiling at the string of drool that followed, and the way that Dione gasped for air, filling her lungs with it. Dione always looked at her with a gaze of pure, unadulterated worship right after an orgasm, open and honest, eyelids fluttering and lips trembling.
Then, the words which always followed. “Thank you, my Lady.”
Dione had never needed to be told to thank her. She had always done it, always been so overwhelmed by gratitude that Amy had never needed to stipulate the rule. She smiled.
“You're welcome, sweet thing.”
The cup clinked as she set it on the table. Dione was sitting there, a soft kind of affection in her eyes, and promptly wrapped her hands around it, humming happily at the warmth from the tea. Amy quickly seated herself across from her, taking her own cup in her hands. Coffee for herself. The heat spread through her fingertips and then her palms like a warm, cozy hug.
Outside, it was raining now. The pitter patter could be heard on the windows, rattling the shutters a little. It was a soothing sound, calm and peaceful inside their little house, even if she knew that venturing out into it was going to be less pleasant.
Dione's lips turned into a pout as she gazed at her from across the table. “Do you have to go to work?” Her voice was soft and lilting. She always sounded a bit hesitant, even if Amy knew that she wasn't. She sounded like the rain on the windows, comforting and gentle.
“You ask me that every day, silly.” Amy took a sip of the hot liquid, letting the warmth fill her, spreading through her tummy and wrapping her whole body in a blanket. These calm mornings were the highlight of her days. This was how she knew that all was right with the world. That rain sounded nice and coffee was warm and Dione was there, smiling sadly at her and asking her not to leave.
“I think you should stay in bed with me all day.” Dione continued as though she hadn't heard her, raising the cup to her own lips. Lips that Amy would very much like to kiss right now, and do other things to besides. That thought made her smile a rather wolfish grin, considering what she should do with her lover later that evening.
Still, now was not the time. She downed another gulp of coffee before standing up from the table, a look of regret on her face. “As much as I would love to do that, someone's gotta bring home the bread.” Amy fixed her shirt, smoothing it down and getting ready to leave. She chuckled as Dione sighed and shrugged at her, resigned to the departure as always.
“I suppose.” Dione watched her for a moment, but as Amy reached for a blazer hanging on the back of one of the kitchen chairs she watched Dione's face crinkle in dismay. “Oh! That jacket is wrinkled... how did you get it wrinkled already?” She was already starting to stand up herself, coming over to her as the blazer slipped onto her shoulders. Dione's fingers reached out to inspect the way the fabric folded at the arms, the way it hung across her torso, and then looked at her with pursed lips. “Ironing isn't for another two days!”
Amy laughed and rolled her eyes. “Oh, it's not that bad, love.” Really, it wasn't. If she had considered it beyond wearing, Amy wouldn't have grabbed it. Honestly, the minute details that Dione could see often simply escaped her.
Sure enough, Dione shook her head. “It is. You should wear a different one.”
Amy threw her hands up in a playful show of mock frustration. “Oh for heaven's sake. Your clothes are always wrinkled.” She stuck her tongue out at her and then put her hands on her hips, looking Dione over. She was dressed in a long brown skirt with so many layers you couldn't tell where one began and another ended. A delicate lace blouse was paired with a drooping shawl that covered her shoulders and chest and spilled over her arms like liquid.
Dione made an offended sniffing noise that was so cute Amy thought she might end up late to work after all if she couldn't control herself. “Mine are supposed to be wrinkled. Business suit blazers are not.”
Amy laughed at that, putting out an arm to wrap around Dione's waist and pull her in close to her. Dione gave a surprised squeak, but relaxed into her arms as she stumbled against her chest. Amy's lips planted a kiss on her neck, one last lingering indulgence. Then she hooked a finger beneath her chin and tilted her face upwards to meet her eyes. “Well then I suppose it's a good thing I have such an attentive submissive to take care of me.”
Dione snorted, but her face was flushed with the most fetching shade of pink. “Well it would be if you ever listened to your attentive submissive.”
“Alright,” Amy grinned, knowing that she couldn't stay here with Dione in her arms all day. “I have to get going. Cases aren't going to solve themselves!”
The pout returned, Dione's face playfully petulant. “I wish they would.”
“Then I would be out of a job.” She winked at her, and then let her hand fall below the waist to give her ass a quick squeeze. “Give me a kiss.” She leaned in and waited.
“Yes, my Lady.” Dione met her lips with her own, pressing against hers and parting just a little more than was chaste. When she broke off she smiled at her, with those big doe eyes that always made Amy's heart flutter. “Be safe.”
Amy nodded, gave her ass another pat, and then shuffled to the door.
The rain was pounding on the pavement as she stepped out of the car. Her umbrella unfurled, redirecting the torrent and creating a relentless drum beat over her head. She sighed. The rain was so much nicer when one was inside, away from the wet and the cold. Cuddled up inside with your lover and a hot cup of coffee, just listening to the sound of it on the window panes.
But, life didn't always allow for indulgences like that, and most of the time rain just meant she was going to be wet and grumpy before she got to work. She felt a slight shiver run down her spine as the cool air hit her skin. Luckily she would be inside again soon.
Waiting on the steps was a man, glancing at his watch and tapping his foot with an exaggerated air of impatience. She had only just arrived, and he was already getting on her nerves. She swept up the steps, looking him over before taking her keys out of her coat pocket with a jingle.77
“You're late.” He seemed to sneer down his nose at her as he watched her movements. “Do you always let clients stand on the steps in the rain?”
She rolled her eyes and made a show of getting her phone out, pushing the button to turn it on and show the time. In his defence, she was late opening. By three minutes. Given that it wasn't uncommon for her to not have a single client walk in her doors in an entire day, she hardly thought it was worth making a fuss over.
“Take it up with the manager.” She didn't deign to look at him as she opened the door, striding past him and letting it go behind her. As she started taking her raincoat off he caught the door, peering in at her with a scowl.
“You own this business.” His voice was tinged with the petulance of a child not getting his way. That made a smile tug at the corners of her lips, though she managed to rein it in before she turned to look at him again, setting her things on the coat rack.
“Then I guess you can consider your complaint filed, can't you?” Setting down her umbrella and smoothing out some of the wayward wrinkles in the pinstripe blazer, she gestured into small office room. “Are you coming in or not?”
He huffed a sigh as though he was still annoyed about it, but stepped into the room anyways. The door closed behind him, obscuring the sound of the rain on the pavement. As he started shucking his own coat Amy sat herself down at the desk, stretching her arms above her head for a moment before she gestured to the seat across from her. “Well? What can I do for you?”
He sat down, looking stiff and uncomfortable in his suit. But there was also a haunted look about him, lines under his eyes as though he hadn't slept in a while. “I'm only here because you come highly recommended. I wouldn't otherwise put up with this sort of rude treatment.” More and more he sounded like he was putting the irritability on as a show, a shield hiding something else under the surface. Amy softened a little and nodded.
“Noted.” She had to remind herself that people coming to her usually had problems in their lives. She didn't like to be so quick to judge someone based on a few moments of terse interaction. He seemed to deflate a little, and took a folder out of his suit jacket, sliding it across the table to her.
“This is my late wife, Sabrina.” His fingers seemed reluctant to leave the manila folder, lingering for a moment as though he didn't really want to be parted with it. Then the moment had passed, and Amy's own hand came down on the paper, pulling it to herself.
As she flipped it open she sucked in a hiss of surprise. The first photo on the top of the pile of documents was what looked like a young woman, shoulder length hair, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, and very dead. There were what looked like incisions in her neck. Her eyes flicked up towards him in an instant. “This is a murder case. Why don't you go to the cops?”
“You think I didn't?” He narrowed his eyes and made an irritated tsking sound, crossing his arms over his chest. “They've been dragging their feet and haven't found anything in over a year. They won't talk to me about the investigation or answer any of my questions. I'm getting tired of waiting. I want you to bring me faster results. I want the one that did this to her caught.” The more he spoke the more impassioned he became, his face going red, gesturing with his hands.
It wasn't like Amy couldn't understand his feelings. She couldn't even imagine how she would feel if anything ever happened to Dione. She drummed her fingers on the desk for a moment, her other hand briefly flipping through a few of the other pages in his folder. “Murder investigations take time. And without having been a part of the investigation from day one, this is a cold case.”
That made him lean forward, agitation coming off of him in waves. “You don't think you can do it?” His voice had a challenging note. Baiting her. Of course, she didn't need to be baited into it. She set the folder down on the desk, meeting his eyes.
“I didn't say that, but it won't be cheap. This will be a massive undertaking, and I can't guarantee I'll be able to do it as quickly as you're hoping.” They watched each other for a moment, but when he didn't respond she shrugged her shoulders, figuring that if he hadn't stormed out in a huff yet he was probably willing to pay whatever it took for her services.
“Tell me everything you know, and I'll see what I can do.”
The man sitting across from her in the diner looked a little less than thrilled to be there. He always looked that way, in her experience. His dress shirt was more wrinkled than hers, even, and his five o'clock shadow was looking more like a three day shadow. She'd never known the man to be particularly neat. It seemed to run in their line of work, if she was honest. She knew she certainly couldn't throw stones.
“I'm calling in that favour, Cox.” It had been a few days since she had taken the job, and during those few days she had been rather persistent in blowing up Liam Cox's phone with messages. He was her best connection on the police force, and despite how much he might drag his heels, he had never failed to get her the connections and leads she needed when pressed. It was a mutual relationship of course, tit for tat, but right now he was the one owing the tat.
He sighed, taking a sip of coffee before leaning back in the booth. “Well, I figured you would eventually.” He cleared his throat, setting the mug down on the dish and extending an open hand. “Let's see what you got.”
She passed the folder over the table. He took it from her with a certain amount of gravitas, as though instinctively understanding that this was a serious matter before he'd even looked at it. That didn't stop the widening of his eyes and the paling of his face however, when he opened it up. “Shit.” His fingers tightened a little bit, eyes meeting hers. He looked almost spooked. “ You don't wanna get involved with this one. Tell your client you can't do anything. We're on this already.”
She snorted. “My client is getting impatient with how long you're taking.” She picked up her own mug of coffee, letting the bitter taste roll across her tongue. It was really a little too late in the day for coffee, but it was far too early still for liquor, so it would have to do.
Cox made a huffing noise as he flipped through her file. “Yeah him and everyone else. Does he think he's the only one to ever lose a loved one? This shit takes time.” He sighed. She watched him toss the papers down on the table in annoyance, reaching for his mug again before relenting.
“Alright, listen. That case? It's not the only one like it.” He took a long drag of the coffee, his fingers twitching like what he really wanted was a cigarette. Finally he set it down again, eyes nervously glancing around before leaning in towards her. His voice lowered. “There have been five murders with the same MO, here and in the next provinces over, over the last few years. All 20-25 years old. Three female, two male.”
Amy felt her heart skip a beat. That was interesting... and it was no wonder then if the investigation was taking it's time. He continued. “Each one of them had puncture marks in their neck like this, and autopsies show the cause of death as major blood loss. Like their bodies had just been drained. We aren't looking for just a murderer, Prince.” He fixed her with a very serious look. “We're looking for a serial killer.”
She hummed, burying her face in her coffee mug as she digested that piece of information. Five murder victims, all with the blood drained from their bodies. She was starting to feel like she'd stepped into a horror film. An ironic smile crossed her lips. “You know what that sounds like, right?” Visions of undead monsters with fangs flashed through her mind. Aristocratic beings of the night that hungered for the blood of the living.
Cox didn't look as amused. “Like you're the first one to crack a vampire joke.” He was fishing in his jacket pocket, not even glancing at her as he did so, rifling past the pack of smokes. He withdrew a cellphone, and busied himself for the next few moments flipping through it while Amy waited. Then he turned it around and passed it to her. “Here.” She reached out to take it from him. “This is the latest case. Two weeks ago. Look familiar?”
The image sobered her mind immediately. It was a strikingly familiar image, of a body very similar to the photo of Sabrina she had in her folder. She had blond hair, long and straight, and more delicate features. But she too had incisions in her neck, and an amount of blood dried around the wounds.
“Fucking hell, you weren't kidding.” She frowned, studying the image as much as she could on the small screen. The thing that struck her the most odd about the two bodies, taken side by side, was just how peaceful they both seemed. If it wasn't for the pallor of their skin or the wounds in their necks, she'd have thought they were simply sleeping. She looked up at Cox as she passed the phone back to him. “Did the autopsies show any sign of struggle?”
He shook his head, pocketing the phone again. “Only one of them. Bruises on the wrists, skin cells under the finger nails. Nothing that matches anything of course. The rest though... nothing. And no drugs in their systems, either.”
She frowned as she thought about that. No drugs to keep the victims docile. Perhaps they had been convinced to cooperate through other, external means. Which opened up a whole new can of worms, and posed many new questions. No wonder the investigation was taking as long as it was.
“Well maybe a new set of eyes will be beneficial.” She smiled, as she reached to retrieve the folder of information he had tossed onto the table. It was barely anything compared to what she had just learned of course, but it was a good starting point. If, of course, Cox was on board. “We can help each other out.”
Cox looked unsure. He had gone back to nervously glancing around the room, as though he was worried someone were listening. “If my boss finds out I'm collaborating with a PI on this I am in for some shit.” He always put up an initial protest, though Amy knew it was more on principle than sincere.
She raised a brow at him and fixed him with her sternest look. “You do owe me.” She made sure to employ her best authoritative tone.
He sighed, his shoulders drooping a little. “Fine.” It always worked on him. She sometimes wondered if there were submissive tendencies in Cox that he himself wasn't even aware of, because he was fairly easy to make cave if pushed in the right manner. Not that she was one to take advantage of that fact. Well, not too much anyways. “I'll wire you what we've got on the case already. But I go on record as saying that you shouldn't get involved with this one. It's way over your head.”
She shrugged her shoulders, picking up the coffee again and bringing it to her lips. “I'll be the judge of that.”
Wayward crumbs fell in her lap as she took a bite of her sandwich. She didn't notice, too intent on the computer screen in front of her. Her fingers tapped on the keyboard, eyes following the text on the monitor.
She had been deep into this for hours already today. After her little meeting with Cox, he had sent over the massive amounts of files the police already had on the case; autopsy reports, witness statements, crime scene investigations. It had taken days just to go through it all.
Any of the leads directly from Sabrina's case the cops had already looked into, but there were things that law enforcement didn't track. And that was where Amy could flourish. She had a few skill sets a little less legal than the police were apt to make use of... And right now, she was putting them to good use hacking into law enforcement records from around the world.
And what she'd been seeing was... disturbing. Cross referencing the murders connected to this case with the records of other countries was showing up more than a few results. This was not the only place this was happening. Of course, these deaths had been hushed up, so she would never have found anything on them if she didn't know how to hack police records, government files, things that would get her arrested multiple times over if anyone were to catch her doing it.
But that's why she got results, and the cops didn't.
She leaned back in her chair, shifting her weight to stretch her back as she gobbled up the last of the sandwich. Scrolling through the reports, there were images of body after body, all of them reported blood loss as cause of death. Most of them were peaceful, dormant figures, though there were a few that bucked the trend. Bodies that looked like they had struggled, like there had been conflict. Blood pouring from their necks.
The more important question was if any of these murders had ever been solved. A few had. She had to dig for them, but she found a few reports detailing the attempted arrests of crazed looking individuals, each one managing to either evade capture or escape. There was one lone report of the body of one such individual turning up a week after the attempt, burnt to a crisp.
There was no way one guy could be doing this, unless they were someone substantially rich and able to travel across the globe, sometimes in very short order. It was technically possible, but she doubted it. The cops weren't looking at a big enough picture. This wasn't a lone serial killer. What they were dealing with was much more likely some kind of cult.
She sighed and leaned forward to shut the laptop. That was enough of that for one day. She had more local leads to look into, starting with the most recent of deaths.
The weeks of long nights were getting to her. It wasn't as though she wasn't used to it, it came with the job. But this particular case was draining. She'd had to retrace the steps the police had made, talking to the coroner and the hospital where the autopsy had been performed. What she was finding was increasingly unsettling, especially when paired with the larger scale of the murders that had been cropping up worldwide. She wasn't any closer to finding the one that had carried out this particular murder, in fact the more she learned the farther away she felt from the actual person she was hunting for.
There was a chill in the air as she left the bar, tucking her cellphone into her pocket. That was enough investigating for one night. It was time to turn in. The taste of whisky still lingered on her tongue; not as sweet as the taste of Dione's lips against hers but it's kiss was welcome after the long day nonetheless. This was a clear night at least. The moon was bright and the air felt fresh.
She sighed as she made her way down the street. She knew she'd get a breakthrough eventually. She always did after all. But it was taking it's time coming, and she was getting headaches over the case. Maybe Cox had been right. Maybe she was in over her head with this one.
There was a clatter coming from the alleyway that made her turn. She frowned, pausing for a moment as she took in the sounds of shuffling feet, of crashing garbage cans around back of the bar. Probably just a raccoon, she figured. That or a drug deal gone sideways, or a drunk finding a place to hurl their guts. Nothing that concerned her, in any event.
Still, though, she couldn't shake the strange feeling that was creeping over her.
Her feet started moving towards the alley. Why? It wasn't any of her business what went on in dark alleys behind pubs at 1:00 in the morning. But still, she felt strangely compelled to move, like her body sensed something that she didn't. She found herself slowly stepping towards the source of the sound. Fear was sinking it's icy hands into her shoulders. She could feel it's weight on her, bearing down on her and making her crouch as she went, her heart thumping like a drum behind her rib cage. There was no reason not to just keep going to her car and go home. None.
As she rounded the corner, she blinked, taking in the sight of a sickly looking woman standing beside the dumpster. She was deathly pale, her skin almost grey and ghostly. Thin blond hair clung to her like it was coated in sweat, sticky and haphazard. Her body was shaking, as though it was taking effort to remain upright, and she was staring at her with eyes so vacant, so dead that Amy felt a crawling nausea sweep over her.
The girl was also wearing what looked like a hospital gown, though it was dirty and grimy. It seemed as though it had been dragged through mud and vomit and who knew what else. She looked familiar, too... where had Amy seen her before?
Before she could figure it out, the woman suddenly lunged at her, and an inhuman sound pierced her ears, a sound that she could only barely comprehend as being a shriek from this strange, corpse-like woman. She had to step aside, her blood starting to race, just in time to avoid her grasping hand coming for her throat. The woman was making a wheezing, hacking sound, gurgling in the back of her throat.
Amy felt cold. Like she was moving in slow motion, like time had halted and frozen her in this surreal moment. Was this actually happening? Was she really being attacked by a deathly woman in a back alleyway? As the woman came at her again, her thin bony hands grabbing at her arms, she looked into her eyes and felt another wave of instinctual revulsion.
She realized where she'd seen her before.
The photo flashed across her mind, on Cox's phone, and then again on her computer after the case files had transferred. This woman was the spitting image of the most recent murder victim, the one from a few weeks ago, the one who's trail was still fresh. But that woman was dead.
She didn't have time to process what it meant as the woman pulled her in towards her. Her arms, despite how they looked, were inhumanly strong, and Amy couldn't pull away in time as her mouth opened impossibly wide. Amy found herself staring down her throat as she came at her with an animal growl, jaws clamping down on her neck. She screamed.
Pain shot through her and she could hear her skin crunching between the woman's teeth, the grinding and tearing of skin and sinew. Without thinking she jerked away, shrieking as loud as she could. Her hands clasped the woman's neck, frantically pulling at her, kicking out her legs until finally she had torn herself out of the woman's clutches.
The woman, the creature, looked up at her, still gurgling and snarling, blood dripping over her lips and chin. She had fallen to the ground as Amy swept her legs out from under her but she was getting up again, oh god she was coming for her again and suddenly all the pain and the stink of blood didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was that she needed to run.
Heart pounding in her chest, she turned and bolted. Adrenaline surged through her and she barely noticed the bite of the cold air or the bleeding wound in her neck. All that mattered was escaping from whatever horrific entity that had been. She felt it deep in her gut that whatever that woman was, she wasn't human. Fear drove her, pushed her forward, and she sprinted as fast as she could, leaving the sounds of animal yammering behind her.
She was feeling dizzy by the time she'd made it home. One hand clutching her neck, covered in blood, trying to keep the wound from bleeding, the other on the car steering wheel. Adrenaline got her a long way, her body thrumming with every single heart beat, shaking from the strain.
By the time she arrived home however, all she could feel was exhaustion. She was in a numb, disbelieving stupor. She stumbled out of the car, and thought she might be sick for a moment before she was able to steady herself. She didn't bother to close the car door before making her way to the house.
She almost half fell against the door, hand reaching out to grasp the knob, letting herself lurch her way into the house. She drew in a ragged breath as she headed for the living room.
“My Lady, welcome ho-” Dione's voice was cut off as she came into sight, and Amy winced as she heard the shrill scream that interrupted the greeting. Dione was on her feet in an instant, the submissive's hands reaching out to her in a panic.
“Amy! What happened? Are you alright?” As Dione grasped her shoulders Amy could feel her hand move a little, letting the open wound on her neck show, blood still pouring down her front and staining her shirt. “No, you're clearly not! I'm going to call an ambulance!”
Dione helped to guide her to the couch, and Amy was grateful because her feet seemed to be dragging. She felt the wound throbbing now, as the adrenaline wore off and her body took stock of itself. She all but tumbled onto the couch, hissing as she relaxed into it.
Reaching out a hand she grasped Dione's wrist and pulled her closer, looking her in the eyes. She was far too freaked out, and for good reason, but she needed her to be level headed right now. Dione's eyes peered back at her, wide with fear and worry.
“Dione. Calm down.” She made certain to keep her voice in control. Authoritative. Even. The result was almost instant, as Dione's features relaxed a little, became a little less anxious and a little more calm. “Fetch the first aid kit.”
Still, Dione looked uncertain. “But you-”
“I'm fine. Do as I say.” Amy knew that what she needed in a crisis was something to do, and someone to guide her. Firmly. Amy watched her slowly take in a breath, the fear leaving her eyes moment by moment until she nodded, falling into submission and structure.
“Yes, my Lady.” Her voice was even, and measured, as the panic left her. Even in the state she was in, Amy felt a rush of warmth and affection for her girl as she watched her overcome her emotions and settle into what needed to be done. She smiled as Dione left her, rushing off to find the first aid kit.
When she returned, she still looked shaken, poor thing, but she was much more in control. She settled onto the couch next to her, opening the kit and getting out the rubbing alcohol. Amy could smell the disinfectant, sharp and pungent, as Dione poured it onto a clean cloth.
“This is... going to sting.” Dione spoke, softly, as she reached for her neck. Amy slowly released the wound as Dione pressed the clothe against it, biting her lip to keep from making a sound as new pain rushed through her. Luckily the wound had stopped bleeding as profusely and she was able to let her arm fall to her side. Blood was everywhere, but she couldn't bring herself to care overly much.
“What happened?” Dione's voice still held a tremble, but she wasn't letting the fear distract her as she focused on her task. Amy felt comforted by her steady hands as she cleaned the wound, wiping the drying blood away from the cuts. Next she was pulling out a needle and thread, and Amy winced as she looked down to see the jagged gash in her flesh, the way her skin was hanging in flaps. It was far from the neat and tidy little marks on the bodies of the other victims.
“I was attacked.” Amy took a breath. How to explain this? To herself, let alone to anyone else? “By a dead girl.”
“What?” Dione stopped moving for a moment, her eyes questioning, before she realized that she had frozen. She resumed what she was doing, piercing the skin with the needle and pulling the thread through. Amy winced at the sharp throbs of pain, but it was hardly worse than the initial wound.
She wasn't sure she understood what was happening herself, and she certainly knew how crazy it sounded. “You know that case I've been working on? The serial killer case?”
Dione nodded, “Yes.” She worked quickly, tugging the wound closed, finishing up the stitching before moving to apply a strong smelling ointment. Amy kept talking to distract herself.
“At first I thought it was a cult. Every single victim looks like they've been drained by a vampire. I thought it was, you know, freaks, weirdos who want to emulate vampirism. There are people like that.” Amy knew she was kind of thinking out loud now, but Dione was always a good sounding board for her thoughts. She had thought it was a cult, it had been the answer that made the most sense.
Dione was pressing a wad of gauze to the wound now, before reaching hands around her neck to wrap it firmly in place. She didn't answer, instead letting Amy speak her thoughts out loud, but her expression was troubled. She remained focused for the moment on the task at hand, pulling the wrap around one last time before reaching for a clip to hold it in place.
Amy let herself relax against the couch finally as Dione passed her a couple of painkillers and a glass of water. With her clean hand she popped them in her mouth, then downed the whole glass as quickly as she could. After setting the glass on the ground, Dione took her right hand, and began cleaning the blood off with the cloth, silently waiting for her to continue. Amy tried to steady her thoughts before speaking again.
“The victim that I was hired to investigate is a cold trail, but the most recent one, that one I could find more information on. So I was having a drink in the pub she worked at. That's where I was attacked.” She looked down at the bloodied clothe in Dione's hands, then at her clothes. Shit, the shirt was ruined. Oh well. One white dress shirt was the least of her worries right now. She stared at the blood for a moment before shaking her head. “I couldn't go to the cops or the hospital. What would I have said? That I was attacked by a vampire?”
Dione was peering at her intently, like she wasn't sure if she believed her. That was fine. Amy wasn't sure she believed herself. Dione tilted her head. “The girl... she was...”
Amy nodded. “The dead girl, yeah.” No matter how insane it sounded out loud, it absolutely had been her. Amy had been certain. She'd never been more certain of anything, in fact. That meant that she had to come to grips, very quickly, with that fact. “I don't know what I'm dealing with, now. Whatever she was, she wasn't human.”
She also was still out there.
Amy blinked her eyes as the buzzing sound woke her up. She rolled over, groaning a little in protest, though she glanced over to make sure that she hadn't disturbed Dione. Dione was still slumbering by her side, peaceful and serene, as Amy reached for the cellphone on the bedside table to see what the hell was the matter. Looking at the time she had to bite her lip to keep from cursing.
3:00 AM. It better be good.
She slowly propped herself up to sit against the headboard. She still felt stiff and sore, her neck aching and sending waves of dull pain through her body. Despite the days of healing, it still hurt like a son of a bitch. She'd need more painkillers to get back to sleep, now.
She opened the texts, Liam Cox's name at the top of the screen.
Thought you should know, our vic's body was recently discovered. Again.
She felt more awake as she read through the texts, eyes flitting quickly across the screen.
It was reported missing from the morgue. Now it's been found across town, burnt to a crisp. DNA matches though. Someone stole the body, burnt it and dumped it.
I'm sending you the reports.
She hadn't told him about the attack. Vivid pictures of the shambling corpse coming at her in the night, mouth open, jaw unhinged, all teeth and spittle, flashed before her eyes. She felt her whole body shudder in revulsion, the horror of it creeping over her in fresh waves.
It also didn't escape her notice how eerily similar this case was to the one she'd read about from overseas. Someone had killed her, then. A vigilante? Or was it someone else, cleaning up their mess? She didn't really want to consider the possibility of vampires being real, but if whatever had happened to the girl had then infected her body and caused her to rise, it stood to reason that her murderer may have wanted to finish the job. She worried her lip for a moment, looking down at her phone as it buzzed again, her email alerting her to the transfer of files.
She looked over at Dione for a moment, and considered going back to sleep and reading through this in the morning. That idea was short lived, however, as her phone buzzed once again, with more insistence.
We have a lead connected to the discovery. Illegal underground fight club. You feel like infiltrating?
Fuck it. She could have a nap mid afternoon if she needed to. This required some researching. And it wasn't like she was going to get back to sleep now anyways. The phone clicked under her thumb as she typed out a response.
I'll look through the files and let you know. Thanks Cox.
The club was dark, except for a few strobe lights that gave the room an unearthly look. Dancers were waving glow sticks, and the music was blaring. Amy could count at least three people openly doing drugs just at a quick glance. It was an almost oppressive atmosphere when paired with the dingy underground aesthetics of cold cement and concrete.
The people matched the vibe, dressed in leathers, the women with their tits out and the men getting handsy. Everyone in the place had a kind of world weary look about them, more rough and tumble than the happy shrieking partiers in some of the more well known clubs in the city.
Of course, that's what she had expected from the places reputation. She'd heard about it before, it was on her radar, but she had never had cause to visit it's illegal downstairs before now. She'd dressed down a bit to blend in to the crowd, but she still felt just a touch out of her comfort zone. Not that she hadn't done this sort of thing before, but it wasn't like in the movies. It really never got any easier, at least not for her.
The sound of brawling came from the far side of the room, a decent sized crowd of people cheering and hollering, paired with the sounds of men grunting and groaning. Like they couldn't decide if they wanted to kill each other, or fuck each other. The fights were the main draw of this bar, and it's most well known feature. Underground ring, illegal gambling, it had it all.
She looked around the room, scanning for anything out of the ordinary, any kind of lead on who might be connected to the discovery of the burnt corpse. It was entirely possible that her guy wasn't here, but she was here to gather information. Maybe someone had a lead for her. She recognized more than a few of her usual informants. But one man in particular caught her attention, a man she couldn't remember ever seeing before.
He looked young, maybe in his mid twenties, but had short silver hair that was spiked up in the front. He wore a blood red dress shirt hanging open, and rolled up at the sleeves. From his jawline down his collar bone she could see an elaborate tattoo of white lilies, and he was wearing long dangling silver coloured earrings. And he was so pale she thought he could almost have been a ghost.
He was talking, in very close proximity, to a younger boy, a dark haired kid who looked.... well, out of place here. Amy thought he couldn't possibly be a day over eighteen, if that, and he didn't look like the type to be in this sort of environment. He cast his eyes around nervously as the silver haired man, much taller, broader and more muscular, seemed to box him in against the bar. The kid was clearly uncomfortable, but the bigger man slipped a hand around his waist and pulled him in close, his lips trailing along his neck.
The display was unpleasant to watch, and Amy felt bad for the kid. She figured he was probably being pressured or coerced into being here with him. Unfortunately, she wasn't here to save every naive kid in over their heads with a rough crowd. Still though, there was something about the silver haired man that she couldn't place, something that
gave her that same gut feeling that the dead girl in the alleyway had. Something that drew her gaze to him and made her unable to look away.
When he withdrew from the younger man's neck, she felt a chill spread through her veins. It was brief, but she swore she saw a flash of teeth, and a small trail of blood. She frowned as she moved for a moment, trying to duck past a few people to get a better look.
Was that a bite mark on the boy's neck? She couldn't tell. The kid seemed to collapse a little, his eyelids drooping and his breathing slowing as the larger man gently eased him into a chair. He looked about ready to pass out, while the silver haired man looked more flush, stronger, more alive than he had before. That was odd.
Then, he was shucking his shirt and heading towards the fighting ring, leaving the younger man half conscious.
Amy muttered a curse under her breath as she hurried over to the ring. She needed to get close to this guy. The silver haired man was getting in, opposite an even larger guy with a square jaw and big fists. The fight was about to start. As the announcer started talking, she looked around and spotted someone in a suit waving his hand, calling for people to place their bets.
The man looked at her with a pen and paper in hand, waving her over as she approached him. “Who you betting on?” He didn't seem to notice that she wasn't part of the usual crowd. She supposed it wasn't his job to ask questions. She quickly reached into her jacket pocket, passing him a wad of bills.
“On myself.” She surprised herself as she declared it. She didn't really need to fight the guy, just needed to observe him, especially if he was what she didn't even want to admit that she suspected he was. What was the point of engaging him in the ring?
The bookie also seemed to be surprised, blinking at her for a moment. “Yourself?” He was looking her up and down like he wasn't sure she could handle it. That made her frown, annoyed that she had to repeat herself.
Besides, it would be a good way to get in with the crowd anyways. She clearly wasn't blending as well as she could. She nodded, doubling down on the decision.
“Yeah. I wanna fight the winner. And I want to place a bet that I'll win.” She tilted her head as she looked at him, raising a brow in challenge. “Is that allowed?”
He shrugged, marking down her bet and then gesturing to the fight roster. Nobody had yet taken the slot after these two were done. “I mean, sure if you want to. With the offered prize money most people don't fight and bet but. There's no rules against it I s'pose.” He pocketed the money and handed her a pen to write down her name.
She took the implement from him, moving towards the sign up sheet.
“You sure you wanna fight though? It may not be strictly a death match but accidents do happen from time to time.” He was watching her like a hawk as she signed Amy Prince on the sheet of paper.
She turned towards him with a scowl. Well, it was about time she put on a show. She made eye contact, glaring down her nose at him as she slowly removed her jacket, slipping her arms out inch by inch. The noise of the ongoing fight carried on in the background.
Her own arms came into view, muscled biceps and sinew. She knew that she could look rather intimidating when she wanted to, she just didn't always need to show off her guns, as it were. Right now, though, she needed to. As she glared at him she tossed her coat on a nearby chair. “Listen, I'm gonna fight someone here tonight, and I'd rather it not be you.”
The guy seemed to pale a little, putting his hands out in a friendly gesture. “Hah, you got it.”
She stalked over to the ring, folding her arms, and waiting. The silver haired man was already positioned for the win, holding his opponent around the neck, arms squeezing until the other man's hand tapped hard on the ground.
He looked winded and bruised when the man released him, standing up with a victorious grin and a wild look in his eyes.
Amy swallowed. Was this really a good idea? Well, it was too late to back out of it now.
She stepped into the ring, and it was suddenly bright, more light here than anywhere else in the whole room. She could see him clearly now, tall, broad. Shirtless. Despite the effort of the previous bout, he didn't look like he was breathing heavily. In fact, he didn't look like he was breathing at all.
He was smiling, his grin widening as he watched her enter the ring. His eyes made short work of looking her up and down, from her feet to her eyes, letting out a low whistle. “Well hello there, gorgeous. I don't think I've seen you around here before.” He smirked, tilting his head. “What's your name?” His voice had a thick accent, one she couldn't quite place.
She scowled at him. She didn't appreciate being leered at so openly, especially not by someone as trash as this piece of shit lowlife in front of her. But her growing discomfort had to be put aside. She needed to get close to him. See how he moved. How he fought. He hadn't killed the first guy he had fought, so she felt reasonably confident that even if she lost, he wouldn't kill her, at least not here in front of this crowd. She bit her tongue of all the things she'd rather say, and instead answered stiffly, “It's Prince.”
He flashed her a wider smile, and she could swear that the light glinted off a fang. “Pleasure to meet you, Prince. I'm Persephone.” He put out a hand towards her, and she looked at him for a moment before reluctantly taking it and shaking. He took the opportunity to pull her in, leaning to whisper in her ear,
“You know, we could ditch the club if you like. If you come back to my place, we could do an entirely different kind of wrestling.”
Annoyance swept through her, but she didn't let it make her loose her nerve. She matched his smile and shook her head, pulling away from him. “Thanks, but I've got money riding on this.”
He quirked a brow, tilting his head as he continued to watch her. “You bet on yourself? Confident. I like that.” He winked, but underneath his lewd staring and crass attitude, she could tell he was sizing her up. The come ones were as much a part of an act as they were a show of desire.
The bell sounded, and she fell into a ready stance, crouching and waiting. His own posture matched, though he didn't stop smiling that infuriating smile. He took a few steps, making a few testing grabs for her, testing her range and her reactions. He was waiting for her to commit to the first move.
Well, fine, if he was going to be like that.
She stepped to the right, eyeing him up and watching him for any sign of reaction before she went for it. She lunged towards him, grabbing at his arms, bracing her legs in stance that kept her balance. He was pushing against her, and god he was strong.
She remembered the grip of the woman in the alley, despite her emaciated appearance, the strength that was in her arms. She tried to topple him over, gain the upper hand, but he wrenched himself out of her grasp, and they parted.
She was breathing heavily, but his chest wasn't even moving. “Oh, you're good.” He liked his lips, tongue slowly sliding over a barred tooth. It was a fang! She was certain of it! Her body felt like it was heating, her heart racing as she watched him.
“I like a lady who knows her way around a ring.” His eyes dropped, lowering to fix on the still very red and angry stitching on her neck. She didn't need the bandages anymore, but the wound was still far from being completely healed. She didn't like the way his eyes were lingering on it.
It scared her. His very presence was frightening, his aura exuded the same feeling the girl in the alley had. Did he know why she was here? She bit her lip hard enough to feel a rush of pain just to keep herself steady. She couldn't give in to the fear, not now.
She shouted as she lunged at him again, this time dipping to the left before grabbing at his arms from the right. She had to get him down. Had to overpower him.
This brought him closer to her, brought her into a locked struggle as their arms gripped each other. He winked at her, his tongue darting out, licking the air in a perverse sort of come hither motion. Normally she would have rolled her eyes at a guy this bold but right now, it made her blood feel like ice in her veins.
“You smell good.” His eyes never left hers, staring her down as they each tried to to pull the other over. “Like I could just eat you up.” She could feel her grip slipping. She couldn't let him get the upper hand. With a quick step she came up towards him, driving her knee into his gut. He grunted and stumbled backwards, clutching at his stomach for a moment before shooting her another smirk. “Harder, Mamma.”
“Do you always flirt this much with your opponents?” She grit between clenched teeth. She was breathing hard from the effort, and he seemed serene as ever.
He chuckled, tilting his head to the side, a loud cracking sound coming from his neck. “Only when my opponent is a devastatingly beautiful woman.” He leapt at her, and he was inhumanly fast, grabbing her forearm and before she knew it he was behind her, pulling her arm around backwards in a lock.
She bit her lip, hissing in pain as he leaned in close to her hair, dragging a long inhale.
“Or a devastatingly beautiful man.” He laughed again, giving another tug on her arm that had her leaning forward in a futile attempt to escape the pain. “Alright, I confess I'm not exceptionally picky.”
She drew in deep, panting breaths. If he kept pulling, he was going to break it. And this was an illegal, no rules wrestling match. She couldn't let him keep going. But she didn't want to tap out, either. She grit her teeth, and exhaled with a shout as she drove her free elbow backwards into his neck.
His cocky laughter was suddenly cut off with a sound of wheezing as she connected with his adam's apple, and then ducked her shoulder, bending over to drop him over her back and onto the ground.
He hit the floor with a loud crack, and not even a sound from him, the wind knocked out of him. He blinked, a surprised expression on his face. She wasted no time bringing her foot down, driving her heel into his collarbone, bearing down on his windpipe.
His eyes flashed with something she couldn't place. Some kind of fire, desire, longing... he didn't look angry, instead his grin widened so far she could see it, both fangs, bared at her in an appreciative smile. He was still gasping, deep guttural rasping sounds, and she looked down at him in growing horror even as she began to put more of her weight on her heel. If she pushed much harder she was liable to kill him, and yet, he wasn't tapping out. He was flush with excitement, staring her down with a look of pure lust in his eyes, even as his neck was being crushed under her heel.
How was he still alive? She felt that creeping fear clawing at her skin as she watched him, and they shared a moment, unspoken, their eyes communicating the gulf between them. Finally, when she was sure she was going to lose her nerve entirely, he raised his hand...
And rapped his knuckles on the ground.
She withdrew in an instant, unsure what had just happened, but glad it was over. One thing she was sure of: He hadn't needed to tap out. She couldn't have killed him no matter how hard she'd pushed, not like that. And that knowledge disturbed her, even as she watched him slowly rise to his feet, his eyes glittering with something indescribable.
She barely registered the announcer declaring her the winner. She was still watching his eyes. He grinned, wolfish and predatory. Then he licked his lips, like he was teasing her. Like he knew that she knew.
He reached out to shake her hand. “That was fun.” She couldn't respond as she clasped his hand in hers, dumbfounded.
“We should do it again sometime.”
Persephone was easy to find again. Amy just had to scope out the club from a distance, and there he was. He had a bruise over his eye, but didn't look put out about it. He must have fought again.
There had been two more victims discovered in the last week. And although she wasn't certain that Persephone was the killer, he was the only real lead she had about the... problem, she was facing. She still was hesitant to call them vampires, despite growing evidence to support the theory. As insane as it sounded. What was worse was that she couldn't tell Cox what she'd learned... she couldn't tell anyone. She felt more on her own on this case than she had ever felt before, even being a PI.
She couldn't trust anyone not to declare her insane. She needed proof before she ran to Cox claiming that monsters were real.
Persephone was hard to pin down, though. He moved through the streets almost like a ghost, passing down back alleys faster than she could tail him, and then reappearing on the edges of her field of vision. He passed people who didn't even glance in his direction, as though they couldn't see him at all. Many times her eyes had trouble focusing on him, sliding off of him like water off a roof. Like they just didn't want to settle on his form.
Several times she almost lost him, only to be pulled in his direction as if by fluke when she felt a tug on her mind, or a wisp of presence or an irresistible change in her course. Her heart was beating fast, worried at the twists and turns that she was taking with no real knowledge of where she was going or why until finally, she watched him enter into a tall, dilapidated looking building.
It was run down, and seemed empty. No lights on. No cars in the parking lot. No sign of life. It looked industrial, possibly an old abandoned apartment or office building.
She waited there all night, watching, and he didn't come out again. All day, staking the place out. There was no bustle, no people, no activity.
She left again, finally, when the sun set, after she watched him finally surface to leave via the front door, his feet light on the pavement beneath them and his body almost floating out towards the street.
If vampires were real, and they were in her city, and they were killing people, there was a big problem.
She felt halfway insane as she purchased a truck full of wooden stakes and a mallet. There was no real way of knowing exactly how much vampire lore was accurate and how much wasn't, and that was assuming this was even vampires. Still, if anything agreed, it was that vampires could be killed with a stake through the heart, right? And if they weren't vampires, well.... a stake through the heart would kill anyone, wouldn't it?
She stepped into the building, clutching a duffel bag full of stakes to her chest, and a mallet in the other hand. Took a deep breath. He wouldn't be active in the daytime, right? She started to move, going into the first room. It was an absolutely gutted place, with no sign of life or activity. Dust covered every surface, and every wall was bare. The rooms had no doors on their hinges separating them. It felt empty, devoid of life.
And it was drenched in that same feeling she'd gotten before, the feeling of being pulled without her conscious thought, the strange welling of desire and compulsion that had overcome her. Both when she'd run into the girl in the alley, and when she'd been tailing Persephone. It had that aura all over it.
As she came into one dimly lit room, she found a long person sized box sitting in the centre. The rest of the room was vacant, no furnishings. Just the box. The blood in her veins felt like it was slowly turning to ice. She bit her lip as she approached it, her senses alighting as she reached out. Time seemed to stand on this moment, this moment before she slowly lifted the wooden lid.
Inside was what was clearly a dead body. It wasn't one of the ones from any of the cases the cops had been investigating. It was a young man, probably early 20s, with messy hair and a patchy, just barely starting to grow beard. His skin was a pale greyish pallor, and he also had incisions on his neck, but no blood. He was wholly lifeless.
Her heart was pounding. If this was a normal case, she would report the discovery of a dead body directly to the police, obviously. But this wasn't a normal case. Was this even a victim anymore? Was it, instead, a perpetrator? A monstrous killer?
Well. If it was truly just a dead body, putting a stake through it's heart wasn't going to make it any more dead, right? It wasn't murder if the man was already dead. And if it was a... vampire, that changed everything.
She took a deep breath, raised the stake, and slowly set the point against his heart. Clenching her teeth, she put the mallet in place, and then she began to pound. She didn't let herself stop until it was all the way embedded in his chest, didn't let herself think.
Fine. This was fine. It was just a dead body. She hadn't killed anyone. She closed the box again, and moved to another room.
Here, there was another box, the same size. Opening it revealed another corpse, this one a woman. Also not someone she had seen in her case files. She repeated the process. As she went through the building she found two more, and did the same each time. It was starting to feel natural, as long as she kept her mind calm, and blank.
Then she found the stairs to the basement. She drew in a deep breath, and then began the descent. The steps creaked under her weight as she went, and the air down here felt thicker somehow, darker than it should be. Eerie.
There was a very small room, and last box.
As she pulled the lid of this final crate open, a chill run down her spine. She was peering into the case at Persephone, laid out, and dead. He was just as still as the others, pale and lifeless. There was no life to his skin, no movement of his chest, no sign of a heart beat. He was topless, his tattoo the only wash of colour in view, prominently displayed like a piece of art.
She gripped the stake in her hand, and suddenly her pulse was throbbing in her neck, her heart sounding like a drum in her ears. Her body felt frozen in place. She had done all the others, why was she hesitating now? Was it because she had talked to him before? Could she not think of him as just a corpse because she had seen him moving, walking, living? She lowered the stake, unsure of herself.
Maybe killing him wasn't the best thing to do in this situation anyways. It was very probable that she hadn't found all the vampires in the city... and, besides, this wasn't the only place that this was happening. And if people were going to be aware of... of vampires, and fight back against them, they needed to know more about them.
Maybe he would be better as a hostage. An informant.
But then, could she really do it? Could she torture someone for information? Not someone, she reminded herself. Something. He wasn't human, whether she believed he was a vampire or not.
But, if she was going to keep him captive, she was going to need a place to do it, and chains strong enough that he couldn't break them. God, this was probably a bad idea. She was sure it was a bad idea even as she turned to leave. She still had several hours of daylight left. That was plenty of time to buy the strongest shackles she could find, and rent out some remote location to keep him in.
And heaven help her if this backfired.
She could feel the fear like pin needles in her chest as the sun began to set. This was it. This was where she would find out if the manacles she'd used really were as strong as she hoped they were. Because if they weren't, there was a very real possibility that she was about to die. If his strength was really superhuman and he broke out of those irons, she was done for.
Amy had spent the day getting prepared for this moment, and had transported the box to a remote location. She supposed that she could have kept him where she'd found him, but the place gave her the creeps. Plus, it would be better if he was a little disoriented. She didn't want to do this on his own turf, if she could help it. This location had been used to keep livestock and farm animals waiting for transportation. It came with built in shackles, which was perfect for her purposes. Industrial strength. She'd propped him up against the wall, dead weight in her arms, and chained his arms above his head. His skin was cold to the touch, and clammy. It really was like handling a corpse, and it gave her a feeling of creeping anxiety.
She set a chair in front of him, a far distance enough to be out of reach but close enough to converse. Then she settled in to wait. Finally the last of the sun went down, leaving the room bathed in nothing but flickering lantern light. And then, before her eyes, the body started to move.
She leaned forward on the chair, despite every instinct in her screaming to recoil from him, as his eyes blinked open. “You're awake.” She carefully trained her face into a neutral expression, not an expression of horror and disgust. Just a blank, bored, slate.
For a very brief moment, almost too fast to catch, she watched his eyes widen, darting around the room. Then it was over, and his face fell into a smirk, meeting her eyes with his own. They were bright and silver, they shone in the darkness, and she was sure she was in danger just looking into them. She could feel it, feel the weight of his presence bearing onto her.
“Well hello, gorgeous. Fancy seeing you here.” Then he moved a little, glancing up at his arms and giving the manacles a tug. Taking stock of his surroundings. His voice fell into a casual drawl. “And where is here, exactly?” So, then, he couldn't break them. Or at least, he wasn't, yet.
The two of them looked at each other. There was a flicker of nervous apprehension in his eyes. Each of them was nervous about their situation, was afraid. Each of them was putting up a bold face, was pretending to have nerves of steel. And best of all, each of them knew it about the other.
Just how did one go about intimidating a monster?
“Listen, asshole.” She spoke softly, keeping her voice even and quiet. “I want answers. I know you've been killing people. But if you were just some regular serial killer I'd be handing you over to the cops right now.” She stood up, pushing the chair back behind her, towering over him where he knelt so he had to crane his head to look at her. Slowly she took a knife out of her pocket, and flipped it open, just within his view. “You're not, though, are you?”
He laughed, a short, breathy burst of air on his lips, even as his eyes flickered over to the knife and then back to her. “Am I not?”
She hated the smug look on his face. Wanted to wipe it off of him with her fist. She grit her teeth, crossing her arms over her chest, instead. “I want to know what you are.”
His eyes moved from hers, sliding over her body the same way they had the last time they'd squared off. It felt every bit as slimy, watching him drink her form in with his gaze. His eyes eventually came to linger on the scar on her neck. Wide, still pink, zigzagging across her throat as a haphazard gash. He grinned, letting his fangs show just a little bit. “I think you already have a bit of an idea. What's the matter?” He tilted his head as she swallowed. She covered the scar with her hand, self conscious and hating it. He laughed. “Don't want to use the V word?” His voice was taunting.
She found herself clenching her hands into fists. “Vampires aren't real.”
He rolled his eyes at that, shaking his head and tutting at her in condescension. “It doesn't make any bloody difference what word you use. Do you think refusing to call me a vampire changes anything? Robs me of my power?” He chuckled. “That if you tell me you don't believe in me enough times I'll disappear like an imaginary monster in a children's book? Come on, Prince. I think you're smarter than that.”
She growled. She needed to take a hold of this situation, and quickly, if she was going to hold any power in their interactions. She got into a crouch, bringing herself back to eye level with him, staring him down. “Alright then.” There was a pulse, a feeling of power in his gaze, but she pushed past it, determined to seize the upper hand, by force if she had to. “I want to know how much of what I think of when I think of vampires is true and how much is fairy tale. Are you really warded off by crosses?”
He scoffed, grinning in her face and good lord did she want to put the fear of god into him. “Why would I tell you anything? The fact that you even have to ask that puts me at an incredible advantage. We've gone to great lengths to make sure fact is so obscured in fiction as to be impossible to grab hold of.”
Well, he wasn't wrong. He did have the upper hand, and that was the problem.
She reached out to grab him, wrapping her fingers into his hair and yanking his head back. His mouth fell open from the strain, revealing in all their glory two long fangs. They looked wicked sharp. “Because I have you in chains.” As if to drive her point home she gave another tug, rattling the chains that held his arms in place. “If you don't tell me what I want to know, I'll kill you.”
He didn't seem phased, which rankled her. “Will you, now.” He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. “Do you even know how to kill me? Or were you just going to try as many gruesome things as you could think of and hope one of them sticks?” As he spoke she tightened her grip, watching his tongue dart out to drag across his fang. “I'll admit, I wouldn't mind watching you try, though I'm afraid I wouldn't even feel anything.”
Her heart was racing. She was playing with fire, here. But that made it all the more exciting. She could feel her blood rushing in her veins and it made her want to break his smug attitude, to destroy him completely. To hurt him. She leaned in closer, feeling like she was taking a headlong dive off of a cliff. “I put a stake through the hearts of the other corpses in your building already.”
Strangely, although his body didn't respond to her, she could still feel an aura of excitement thrumming through him as well. The lack of a heartbeat was masked by the twinkle in his eyes, the vibration of hunger in his lips. “My, my. Quite the little serial killer yourself, then.”
She snarled, moving her hand down his neck, shoving her thumb into the place where a pulse should be felt, and felt nothing. “You're not alive.”
“Then you probably can't kill me. But, I'll give you your first bit of intelligence for free, as a warning.” He hissed the words at her, and though his expression was playful there was something more pensive in his eyes. Like something darker was brooding in the corners of his tone. “Are you planning on keeping me fed? Because if I go too long without feeding, I won't die. But I will go into a frenzy, and you won't like the results. In a blood rage, we aren't conscious and can't control ourselves. Our minds go blank and all we feel is an overpowering, hellish thirst. We are ten times as strong, and will go on a killing spree until it is fully sated.”
He gave the cuffs that bound him another rattle, the metal clinking against the wall. “In that state, I highly doubt that these will hold me.”
She swallowed, her hand releasing him as she stood up again. The fact was, she had no way of knowing if what he was saying was true. He could be making up a threat. For all she knew, he would die if he wasn't fed, and this was a bluff to get her to feed him. Still, the possibility that he wasn't lying was also there, and if it was true it was not something she wanted to witness.
“You sound like it's happened to you before.” God, how old was he, even? Were vampires truly immortal like the stories said?
He shrugged, shaking the chains a little as he shifted his weight. “It has.” He groaned a little as he stretched his legs. He was unable to stand with his arms chained as they were, but he moved his knees, sitting back on his ass and leaning against the wall with a heave. “Not an experience I would relish repeating.”
She clenched her fist around the handle of the knife, imagining the destruction and bloodshed that must have occurred. “How many people did you kill?”
He looked up at her, a twinkle in his eye, an eyebrow cocked. “I don't think you want the answer to that question, even if I could give it.” He stuck his tongue out, staring at her with an intensity that made her want to run. “Now listen. I don't want to go into a blood rage, but you certainly don't want me to go into a blood rage.” He snapped his teeth together as if for emphasis. “So let's work out a deal.”
Amy felt a shiver run down her spine. She thought she knew what he was proposing. Her lungs expanded and then collapsed again, her body breathing on it's own as her mind processed his words. “You'll give me information... in exchange for blood?”
“Doesn't that sound interesting?” It wasn't as though she hadn't thought about it. Even if he did die if he wasn't fed, that wasn't ideal either if she wanted to keep him around. She had been avoiding thinking too much about how she was going to accomplish that. “I'll answer your questions, and you'll feed me. Fair is fair.”
She looked down at the knife in her hand, at the sharpness of the blade and she imagined it as his fangs, biting into her flesh, cutting and tearing. She pictured the ghost of a woman, coming at her with open mouth, teeth gnashing and ripping into her skin.
“How do I know you won't take enough to kill me?” This was a bad idea. Every nerve in her body told her in was a bad idea. Letting him sink his fangs into her, drink her blood, was only going to turn out badly.
“You don't know.” He smirked, clearly watching the apprehension on her face. Damn him. “Of course, it wouldn't be the best option for me right now, but you don't know me well enough to predict any of my actions. So you'll have to trust me. How badly do you want information?”
Very badly. She needed to know what was going on, how to fight it. There was more on the line now than she'd ever thought possible. The existence of vampires, and the apparent rise of them in action, was putting people she knew in jeopardy.
“How much do you need?” She didn't trust him. She was out on a limb, hoping that it wouldn't break and send her careening to her death. But she had been the one to capture him in the first place. She never should have done it if she hadn't been willing to take risks like this.
He shrugged. “You'll be a little dizzy for a few hours, that's all.”
She recalled the young man at the club that she had watched him feed from. He had looked about ready to pass out, stumbling backwards to sit on the chair, holding his head. But he hadn't been dead. Maybe Persephone really wasn't in the habit of killing his victims. And if he did kill her, what would that accomplish for him, really? He'd be left here to either die or blood rage.
No, she held at least a small amount of power over him, and it would only slip from her grasp if she hesitated. She needed to take action, be decisive. She needed to face fear head on and take the chance.
She pulled the chair forward, bringing herself closer to him and having a seat. She didn't need to be standing if a wave of dizziness came over her. The knife she kept in her right hand, and held it at the ready, just in case. “How often do you need to feed?”
He watched the knife with a glint in his eye that she couldn't put her finger on. Then his eyes went to her neck. “Well if I was draining your body entirely, I could get away with it as seldom as once a month. But since I'll only be taking a little, probably every three days will be necessary.” His tongue was reaching for her, as though he couldn't contain himself. “A week would be pushing it.”
She took a deep breath, steadying her nerves before she raised her left hand, and held it up to his lips. Right within his reach. She sure as hell wasn't giving him her neck, and this way if he drank for too long she could pull away. The knife was still held in hand, waiting.
She gasped as she felt his teeth brake the skin. There was no preamble, no slow gradual build up. It was quick, it was raw, and it was painful. Like a needle sinking into her, the fangs penetrated into her vein and locked her in place as he started sucking the blood out of her. She had to bite down on her lip to keep from whimpering. How much was he going to take? She felt lightheaded, the room was spinning, and the sensation of blood being pulled out of her was strange and visceral.
Finally, when she was about to shout and demand that he stopped, he withdrew his fangs. It felt like an eternity had passed, though in reality it had probably only been moments. Her heart was beating rapidly in her chest, fluttering like a butterfly thrashing against the cage of her ribs.
She watched in morbid fascination as he licked the blood from his lips. It was a deep scarlet colour, and it filled his mouth and stained his teeth. The room stunk of copper. He winked at her. “You taste incredible.”
“Shut the fuck up.” She growled, pulling her hand back and pushing the knife against his throat. He withdrew entirely, backing up until his head was resting against the wall. Perfect. “Now give me answers. What are you really? A vampire? Was that what the dead girl who attacked me was, too?”
She could feel her wrist still bleeding, but the flow had slowed from the rush it had been while he had been drawing the blood from her. Now it didn't matter.
“Hah, no. Fuck no.” He laughed, actually laughed, the sound bouncing around the room like a cold draft. “She was just a ghoul.”
"Whats the difference?” She pressed on, determined to make him explain things to her once and for all. She wasn't going to let herself be dicked around anymore.
He looked at her, and she could see colour in his face now, a rosy complexion in his cheeks that hadn't been there before. He looked stronger, revitalized. His pupils were dilated and his eyes were even brighter than before. He looked less like a corpse and more like a pale human.
“We are conscious, thinking beings. Ghouls are just re-animated corpses.” His voice even sounded stronger, more powerful. “Similar to us, I suppose. Driven by the same blood lust but... there's no mind in them, and no power. Zombies, they're also called. Bottom feeding, shambling husks. A lot of them might make a good army, but one of them is more of a pest than anything.” He chuckled as he looked once again at her scar. “She got you good, though.”
“Did you kill her?” She watched him carefully, gauging his reactions and his expressions. He still looked insufferably smug, but despite the fact that he looked stronger, he wasn't attempting to break the chains, get away from her, or exert himself. He was being good.
“When?” He was eyeing the knife. “When she was a human, or when she was a ghoul?”
She gave him a stern look for his cheekiness. She would have to work that out of him. “Either.”
He laughed, leaning his head backwards and shrugging. “I'm not the only one in this city. Or, in the world, for that matter.”
Shit. “That's what I'm worried about.” If he wasn't her guy, that left a lot of possibilities open. Just how many were there?
“You should be.” His voice had darkened an octave, his eyes peering at her with renewed intent. “Now, there's one more thing I need from you in exchange for my cooperation.”
She blinked, scowling at him. What the hell more could he possibly expect? “I didn't agree to anything else.”
He tilted his head, leering openly at her. “Hurt me.”
A sudden flush crossed her face, her brows shooting up in surprise. “Excuse me?”
“Come on.” Here his voice look on a plaintive whine, and she backed away slightly, carefully watching him. He leaned forward towards her, his eyelids drooping and his lips almost brushing her skin. “Take that pretty little knife in your hand, and cut me with it.”
Her grip tightened on the knife. She looked down at it, pressed against his neck, and imagined sinking it into him, cutting deep. God, she'd never been bold enough to do knife play with someone. Not that she hadn't thought about it. But it was edge play, and she was usually too concerned about her submissive's safety. Her fingers twitched on the hilt.
“I know you want to.” He was looking at her like he could see into her soul. “I can smell the hatred, and the anger on you. I can see it dancing in your eyes.” His tongue darted out, dragging over his lips and then over a fang, glinting in the low light. “I could taste it in your blood. Do it.”
A shudder ran down her spine. Oh, god, she wanted to hurt him. Slowly, she moved her hand, letting the blade drop from his neck down his collarbone, carefully exploring his skin. Where to do it... Where to slice into him... she eventually settled, took a deep breath...
And pushed the blade into his skin just under his armpit.
He jolted immediately, rattling the chains, hissing out in pain. One fang sank into his lip, and he was whining as she pulled the knife down, cutting him open. She watched, morbidly fascinated, at the way the flesh parted, but there was no blood. Just an open wound and a shaking, trembling vampire.
She withdrew the knife, curiously gazing at it as it came out clean save for a smear of something dark and viscous. He jerked his head up towards her, an almost angry looking snarl on his face. “Again.”
She felt almost entranced, mesmerized by the weight of the knife in her hand and the resistance of flesh under it. With a flick of her wrist, she started to draw a line diagonal across his torso, pushing in just enough to watch the skin separate in it's wake. It left a long gash, but drew no blood.
Persephone was panting now, sweat beading on his brow. His voice was turned to keening whimpers, and his hands clenched into fists as his body went taut like a string. It was beautiful, watching how every inch of movement from her made him writhe and gasp, struggling against his bonds but unable to get free. God, she loved it.
“Fuck yes.” He gasped. His body arched against the wall, his head tilted back so she could see the whole outline of his adam's apple and good god he looked so vulnerable. He was struggling, shaking, twitching with every movement. “I knew you'd like this sort of thing. I could smell it on you during our fight.” His voice was raspier, breathless and hoarse. “Fuck me up. Deeper.”
She was breathing heard herself now, just from watching him squirm under her knife. She couldn't look away from him, so perfectly fragile in this moment, like he could be broken. He was still dangerous, she knew that. But maybe that made it even better.
She pushed the knife in again and he screamed this time, a beautiful wail of pain that filled the room. “I thought you couldn't feel anything.” Her lips twitched into a small smile, never taking her eyes off of him.
"Usually I can't...” He opened his eyes, and they were bright and dilated and hungry. “I only feel directly after feeding. It's the only time I'm even remotely alive, and I covet the reminder of it.” His eyes met hers and she felt a rush of power, the thrill of having him under her thumb. God but he was a beautiful masochist.
But she couldn't afford to forget what he was. He was a monster, a killer, and his apparent need for pain directly after feeding was a good way to control him, not something to let herself take for granted. “Is that why you participate in the fights right after luring young impressionable teens to be your snack?” She ended up snarling more venomously than she'd expected as she pictured the young man from the bar. Her hand drove the knife in deeper with every word.
“Hah. Yes, get angry.” His eyes fixed on the ceiling as he accepted the barrage of pain. There was a new kind of smile on his face now, one of hedonistic enjoyment. “Of course. It's euphoric. Most of the time I'm in a fog. Feeding provides clarity. Some of us want to to fuck afterwards. Some want to fight. I just want to feel.”
God, he sounded like fucking a junkie. She looked at him with a growing sense of excitement, which she tried to force back down. This wasn't for pleasure. This was work. This was containment. Still, she couldn't help feeling that thrill of power as he squirmed beneath her, moaned openly for more. It made her feel aggressive, sadistic. “Are you fucking getting off on this?” She growled as she glanced down to see a nice little bulge between his legs, tenting his pants.
“Are you not?” He fixed her with a knowing grin. “Just think of all the ways that you can torture me. It's all I ask for in return for answers to your questions.” He shifted beneath her, pushing himself forward so the knife would drive further in. “I think you'll enjoy it just as much as I will. Get as creative as you like. I'll heal after anything, so you don't have to hold back.”
She swallowed, watching him for a moment. Time had seemed to slow, and the room had closed in around them, like all that existed was this one moment of pain and delirium. She wanted to push farther, wanted to see him howl in agony, wanted to know that she had done that to him, to a vampire, a sinister monster from the shadows of human fear.
But he was enjoying this a little too much. Looking at him, at the excited pleasure in his eyes, the expression of bliss on his face, she knew that she had to handle this delicately. Had to keep him dancing to her tune for the promise of fresh pain, while still being the one charge. In one swift instant, she took the knife, and plunged it deep into his stomach, pushing until the hilt was breaching his flesh.
“Like this?” She spoke on the exhale as she watched it sink into him, deep enough to kill a human.
He screamed in tandem with her breath, his body jerking in pain. She watched his legs kicking in futility, and his face twist in a gruesome mixture of horror and arousal.
“Yes. Just like that.” He choked on the words, tears welling up in his eyes. He was still whimpering, groans falling from his lips in sobbing gasps. His mouth opening and closing, gaping like a fish.
“I'm going to stop whatever the hell is happening.” She leaned in closer, so that her lips rested just over his ear, and hissed the words at him, vicious and bitter. “And you're going to help me do it.” She needed to stay focused. Needed to remember what this was for. Remind him of it, too.
He nodded, a gurgle welling up in his throat. “Yes. I'll be your loyal dog. I'll let you anything you want to know.” He shuddered, and black goo was starting to ooze out of the wound in his stomach, around the hilt of the knife. It wasn't blood, it was thicker, and it stunk like death. His body gave another spasm. “More... make it hurt more.”
“Not this time.” With her free hand she grabbed his jaw, hard and rough, pulling his face around to look her in the eyes. She snarled. “If I'm going to do this for you, it's going to be on my terms. You're not in control here, you got it?” She could not let him get away with trying to top her from the bottom.
She slowly drew the knife out, letting him shake and moan and gasp as it left his body. Then she tossed it aside, letting it clatter on the ground. “If you prove yourself to me in the future, maybe I'll think about hurting you as much as you want. But only if I decide so. Got it?”
She tightened her grip on his chin, forcing his head back against the wall with a thud. He nodded, and perhaps for the first time since she'd met him he wasn't wearing a cocky smirk on his face. Instead, there was something else in his eyes, something she recognized from years of practising domination. It was the swimming look someone got when they had really, truly, surrendered themselves.
“Fuck.” He gasped, “Yeah. Yes.”
She slammed him against the wall again, staring him down. “That's 'Yes, Ms. Prince.'” She couldn't afford to go easy on him. Couldn't afford to let him have even a sliver of freedom. “Say it.”
He drew in a shaking breath and nodded again. This time his voice was more even, more controlled. “Yes, Ms. Prince.”
She released him and stood up, keeping eye contact as she took a step back.
Amy stayed out all night after the first session with Persephone. Her mind had been reeling as she left. The blood loss had made her dizzy, her skin tingling, her body shaking. Her wrist still oozing blood. She hadn't wanted to go home to Dione while she was still jittering like a junkie. So she'd taken a pit stop at a convenience store to bandage herself up, and then spent a few hours at an all night diner, downing coffee and just trying to decompress.
She had just sliced someone open.
Even if he wasn't human, and even if he was a killer, that was still a much more extreme kink than she'd ever participated in. And it had felt good. It had felt powerful. But now that it was over, it felt like the experience was crawling in her skin. The taste of bitter coffee was a good focus, something to jolt her awake and clear her mind.
Could she really do this? She was a ball of nerves over the entire thing. Vampires were real, they were killing people, there were more of them in the city... and she had one, chained up like an animal. She'd agreed to let him drink her blood and what was more, had sliced him up, and had enjoyed doing it. That was a lot to take in. The hours at the diner ticked by and she barely moved except to raise the coffee to her lips.
Eventually, when she felt more awake again and the sun was rising, she pulled out her phone and began to type out a text message to Dione. She felt bad that she'd stayed out all night several times in the last little while. She needed to spend some quality time with her girlfriend. But, she still had work to do today, so it didn't look like either sleep or quality time was on the table yet. She'd make up for it by making sure the entire evening was for them.
I'll be home in the afternoon, sweetheart. I'll bring lunch.
She smiled as the three dots popped up on the screen, indicating that Dione was responding. Prompt, as always.
Yes, my Lady. Should I wear anything particular for you?
She grinned, thinking for a moment about her lover, and how she thought she'd like her to present herself today. Her fingers fiddled for a moment with the key that she worn on a chain around her neck at all times.
Just the skin on your back and the collar around your neck, love.
She hit send, smiling to herself.
Yes, my Lady. ;)
The quick and obedient reply had her swooning already, but she knew she had to wait. She still had work to do.
She arrived home in a better mood than she'd been for the last few days. The subject matter of the case still weighed on her, but she was looking forward to an evening of rest and relaxation. It had been far too many weeks of all-nighters, coffee fuelled days and limited amounts of home time. It came with the job of course, and it wasn't the first time a job had taken up this much of her time, but she knew she couldn't keep pushing on maximum forever.
Her hand rested on the door handle, lingering just for a moment, before she turned the knob and pushed into the house. “I'm home, sweet thing!” She called out, leaning against the wall to kick off her shoes. Then she frowned as she looked around. Dione wasn't at the entrance to greet her. That was unusual, and generally meant that something was wrong. It was against protocol, and her submissive never broke protocol.
She moved into the house with a sinking feeling in her chest. The lights were off, too. That was also usually a sign that her girl was not doing well. As she rounded the corner into the living room she found Dione, sitting on the couch under a blanket, with her knees clasped up to her chest and her head between her legs. “...Dione?” She called out again, softly this time, and the girl's head raised up from the bundle of blankets so she could see her face.
“W-w-welcome home, my Lady...” Her eyes were bloodshot and her body was shaking. Amy rushed to her side in an instant, letting her arms fall around her shoulders.
“Are you alright? What happened?” She gave her a quick glance over, trying to assess exactly what the matter was. “Do you need the first aide kit?”
Dione shook her head. “No, my Lady, I'm alright.. Nn..” She sucked in a breath, and let it out in a soft whimper. Amy could feel her tremble under her hands. “I just... It's been a bad day.”
She knew what she meant by that immediately. Dione tended to have good days as well as bad ones... though, recently she had had more good than bad. If she had had a bad day, it meant that she was in pain, that she hadn't been able to do her chores, that her body had stopped working properly. That she needed care.
“Hush...” Amy let one hand drop to her back, gently stroking her as she started rocking. “I'm sorry I wasn't here today. Where does it hurt?” Dione was already leaning in towards her for comfort, and she opened her arms and drew her in to her breast.
“...everywhere.” Dione's voice was shaky, and Amy knew that this was probably quite the bad episode.
“Here. Lay down.” Amy moved, guiding Dione to lay out on her stomach, shifting the blankets so that she could move her fingertips across her skin. “Let me help.” As Amy positioned herself beside her, Dione hummed in acknowledgement, allowing herself to be physically manipulated.
Amy began to move her hands, first just gently caressing and stroking her skin, coaxing her to relax. She could feel Dione's muscles beneath her hands, slowly letting go of conscious tension. Then she started pushing, rubbing her shoulders, digging into the muscle tissue. Dione winced when she found areas of particular pain or soreness, but Amy could feel her relaxing more with every push, her body letting go, becoming a little less tight.
“How long have you been in pain?” She moved her fingers down between the shoulder blades, finding the typical areas where knots would form when Dione's pain flared up. She was having to push harder now, and Dione was whimpering and groaning under her ministrations, sometimes flinching if an area was particularly sensitive.
“You mean more than usual?” Dione breathed between gasps. Amy smirked, pausing to give her ass a playful smack.
“Don't be cute.”
“It started this morning.” Dione relented, as Amy's fingers returned to their job, coaxing her muscles into relaxation, into releasing and letting go. There was a lot of tension between the shoulder blades, and down the lower back as Amy's hands continued to travel. She liked the little noises that Dione was making though; sounds of relief and pleasure and comfort.
“You should have texted me.” As she spoke she found one particularly stubborn knot, and had to lean in on her hand, driving her knuckle into it. Dione almost stiffened up for a split second before she let her body relax into it, let the knot unravel and loosen.
“I didn't want to interrupt your work.”
Amy shook her head, making a tsking noise in admonishment. “You are always a welcome interruption. You know that.” She went back to gentle strokes, letting her fingertips trail across her skin, letting the muscles rest as she soothed her back. Then she leaned downwards, wrapping her arms around her and tugging her upwards. “Come on. We're having a bath.”
Dione hummed in response. She seemed dazed, which was to be expected if her pain had been flaring up all day. Amy watched her stumble off the couch and to her feet, struggling to find her balance. She slipped one arm around her shoulder, locking Dione's arm with her own, gently helping her get a little more steady. “There you go, slowly...” Dione found her balance, leaning against her and wrapping her own arm around her shoulder. Amy smiled. “There.”
The two of them tottered to the bathroom, where Amy helped to lower Dione into the tub. She started to run the water after pouring a nice concoction of soothing soaps and oils into the bath, something they generally reserved for special occasions or major pick-me-ups. She figured they both could use it, really.
“Mmmm...” Dione sighed happily, letting her head tip back to rest on the lip of the tub. Amy smiled. She was looking a lot perkier already. She had stopped shaking. That was a good sign. The water kept filling the tub, frothing bubbles up around her, and Amy took her time getting out of her own clothes, setting them aside on the ground. Then she came up behind her, tapping her on the shoulder.
“Scootch.” She couldn't help chuckling as Dione pouted for a moment, sticking her tongue out at her, and then moved through the water to let Amy slip in behind her. It sloshed a little, and the scent of vanilla and spices warmed Amy's body through and through. She could see the same effect on Dione, her shoulders softening and slouching into a more relaxed position as she settled back against her. She hummed softly as she scooped some water, pouring it over Dione's hair and working in a lather of violet scented soaps.
Dione closed her eyes and just let her work, clasping her hands in front of her and settling against her breasts. Amy was certain that if she was a cat, she'd be purring right now, and a well of warmth for this girl in her lap spread through her. She was so cute, so sweet, so serene right now, Amy just wanted to wrap her up in her arms and never let go. Instead she ran her fingers through her hair, working the soaps through each strand and then rinsing it with more water until her hair was like silk in her hands.
“Pretty thing...” She mused, as she massaged her fingers into her scalp, making circles over and over until Dione was practically whimpering with pleasure. “How are you feeling?”
“Better.” Dione smiled. Amy knew she wasn't at full capacity yet, but at least she at least a little bit improved.
“Do you want to take something for it?” She watched her as she started to shift, turning to nuzzle into her breast.
“No... I'd rather not.” Dione's voice was soft, like she was being lulled to sleep. Amy knew that the drugs had side effects; Dione didn't like to use them unless she was in excruciating pain. So that meant she was doing okay, if for the moment.
“Alright. But if the pain gets worse, you're gonna.” She let her voice slip into something a little more strict as she started to rise from the tub, pulling her sub with her.
Dione nodded, blinking a little as she rose with her, clinging to her even as the tub was being drained. “Yes, my Lady.”
“Good girl.” With a smile she handed Dione a towel, helping wrap it around her shoulders. Then, she leaned in, letting her lips trail over her ear, relishing the way she shivered at the feeling of her breath on her skin. She slid a hand around her waist, pulling her in close, and whispered, “Now, come to bed. I want to devour that pretty little pussy of yours.”
Dione's face went bright red at that, a lovely shade of pink that went right up to the tips of her ears, which was precisely why Amy liked to tease her like that. She gave her ass a swat, prodding her towards the door, and Dione went at once, nodding quickly. “Y..yes, my Lady.”
She grinned, watching Dione's cute ass sway as she made her way to the bedroom. Following close behind her, letting her presence linger above her, she eventually watched as Dione crawled onto the bed and turned around to face her. She set upon her, tumbling her back first into the sheets, though she was careful to be more gentle than usual. Dione's face was bright and cheery now, red and flustered, but smiling.
She planted her lips on her neck, savouring the trembling intake of breath it drew from Dione's lips. Then she quickly began to travel downwards. “Ah!” Dione kept gasping, squirming as she moved her tongue across her skin, moved down past her breasts and then her tummy. Amy was voracious for her, eager to get her tongue into her, to feel her around her. Her hands moved to her legs, pushing them back and apart as she made her way down lower, lapping at the folds of her labia.
“My... my lady...” Dione cried out, and then she was jerking her hips as Amy dipped her tongue deep into her. She was thirsty for the taste, the smell, and most of all the reactions. The way Dione lost herself, the way she panted and keened and whined for her. She hooked her tongue up to lap at her clit, and Dione was groaning and clutching onto the bed sheets.
“Good girl... you're so sweet..” Amy came up for a moment just to look at the expression of rapture on her submissive's face. She licked her lips. “I could eat you all day long.” She waited a moment, waited for Dione to regain some of her senses, to come down just a little bit from the heights of pleasure. She made eye contact, and Dione flushed and tried to look away, but couldn't. “Who's pussy is this?”
Dione looked so beautifully embarrassed, but she took in a breath and tried to get out the appropriate response. “It's... it's y..yours, my Lady...” She stuttered, and Amy couldn't help smiling at the earnest attempt to keep herself steady. She pressed two fingers to her entrance, and then slowly began to push into her. Dione was instantly thrashing, moaning and pushing her hips upwards in desperate desire.
“Yours, my Lady!” That time she repeated the words well, clearly and loudly. Amy contemplated dragging it out a little longer, making her truly beg for her release, but... She wanted to pamper her tonight, not only because of the tough day she'd had, but because Amy had been missing her girl these last few weeks. She gave her clit another short lick, happy to hear Amy yelp at the sensation.
“That's right... now I want you to cum for me, girl.” She stared into her eyes, intent upon her expressions. “Cum right on my tongue.”
And then she dove back in, letting her lips wrap around her clit, curling her fingers to hit that sweep spot inside of her, and she didn't let up. She knew Dione's tells well enough to know she was getting close, the way her toes curled and her breath got short. She was shouting, her body clenching around her, and then...
Then she screamed, cumming loudly, her hips shaking and pushing her deeper and deeper into her. Amy brought her through the entire orgasm, rolling her tongue in circles to keep her trapped on that precipice until her cries became louder, more desperate. Amy kept her like that, kept the orgasm ongoing until eventually she had discerned that Dione had had enough, and gradually began to slow her movements until she had stopped completely, taking her down slowly.
Dione was panting, drawing in deep breath after deep breath, her legs still twitching. “Thank you, thank you, thank you my Lady!” She babbled, tears in her eyes as she spoke. She looked exhausted, but there was that dopey post climax grin on her face that Amy always, always loved to see.
“Good girl, such a good girl.” Amy soothed, stroking her legs and letting her calm and relax. Finally she moved to lay over top of her, taking her face in her hands and planting kisses on her lips. Dione met her lips with her own, sweet and soft. “Come down now, I got you. Shhhh...” She continued to breath into her, let her still, until eventually Dione's body had at last stopped twitching. She smiled down at her, loving and affectionate. “How do you feel?”
“I feel good, so good my Lady...” Dione's voice was small but happy. Satisfied. Amy could see the love in her eyes that mirrored her own.
“Good.” She wrapped her arms around her in one last embrace, planting one last kiss on her jawline.”Now, do you need to sleep? Or would you like some hot chocolate?” Her voice was light and jovial, glad to have her cheery, happy girl back.
“I... I would like some hot chocolate, please, my Lady.” Dione was looking up at her with wide, innocent eyes, and Amy thought she would be willing to die for those eyes. She nodded, getting to her feet and taking Dione by the hand.
“Alright. Come on, then.”
Amy busied herself in the kitchen, Dione sitting at the table and watching her. She had a dreamy smile on her face, and it made Amy want to smile herself. It was infectious. She was glad to see her feeling better. Her fingers clasped around the wooden spoon in her hand, focusing on stirring the pot in front of her.
“How is your.... case going?” Dione's voice reached her from the table. “Is it still a case?” Dione ventured, her voice hesitant. She knew that the case had become... complicated. Amy told her things about it from time to time to sort out her own thoughts. It wasn't like she was bound by a non disclosure agreement or anything... one of the advantages of not being a cop.
She sighed, and picked the pot up off the stove and poured the chocolatey concoction into two mugs. “I don't even know what to call it anymore. It's quickly spiralling into something... really big.” She worried the inside of her cheek a bit as she brought the two mugs of hot chocolate over to the table. They made a nice thunking sound as she set them down, pushing one over to Dione before taking a seat herself. Her fingertips clinked on the porcelain as she contemplated how much she should tell Dione.
"Would you...” She hesitated, wincing. “...call me crazy if I told you that I can prove vampires exist?” God, that sounded ridiculous. She knew it sounded ridiculous.
Dione's brows furrowed a little as she took the mug between two hands. Amy could practically hear the wheels turning in her mind. She seemed to be considering the question before she quirked a brow in her direction. “It depends... can you also prove unicorns exist?"
Amy laughed, an uncomfortable but grateful chuckle, and shook her head. “Very funny, missy.” Leave it to Dione to try to bring some levity to the conversation. She hadn't outright accused her of being off her rocker, so that was something at least. She cleared her throat after taking a long sip of the sweet concoction. “I.. may have got one held captive.”
That made Dione's face pale several shades. “What?” She set her mug down, her fingers shaking like she couldn't quite grasp what she had heard.
“Tracked him down from a sleazy fight club.” Amy felt guilty just admitting to this. She didn't want Dione to worry. “Found where he sleeps in the day. Dione, this guy...” She took in a deep breath, trying to rationalize her actions. She couldn't admit to someone that she had a person held prisoner in chains in a remote abandoned building without explaining that it really, really wasn't human. “He's literally a corpse. He has no pulse, no heartbeat. He doesn't breath, or bleed.”
Dione sucked in a breath, filling her lungs slowly before breathing out again. She repeated the process. “Okay... okay. That's...” She stared down into the mug of hot chocolate. “Okay. How do you know he's a vampire?” As she asked the question, her eyes moved to Amy, and then seemed to drift downwards to her arm, which was resting on the table. She seemed to be eyeing the bandages around her wrist, and in her eyes was a slowly dawning look of understanding. “Did he...?”
Without thinking Amy picked up her arm, cradling it in her other hand to her chest. “It's fine! It's fine.” Her heart started beating as she remembered the experience, blood rushing out of her, leaving her body. Her face flushed. “He only took a little.”
Dione sat up a bit, reaching out towards her arm. “My Lady...” Her touch was soft, and tender, and Amy felt guilty for making her worry so much. It hurt to see her sad. She moved her hand away, looking down at the bandages herself.
“He's agreed to answer questions, if I'll feed him every three days.” It was a necessary sacrifice. She only hoped that Dione would see it that way. After all, she didn't intend stop at just learning about them. “Look... If vampires are real, that changes everything. This isn't a case anymore to track down one killer and bring them to justice. This is... a bigger fight.” She felt nervous about this declaration. Partly because she knew Dione wouldn't like it, but partly because she hadn't actually admitted to herself what she was planning. “I can't know they exist and not do something about it.”
Saying it like that felt so conclusive. Like a decision. She was going to fight them.
Dione seemed to think about that for a moment, processing the implications, before she started laughing. It was dry, humourless sort of chuckle, the kind given out of nervous discomfort instead of joy. She shook her head. “It's all so absurd...” She tightened her fingers around the mug of cocoa. “My girlfriend, the Vampire Hunter.”
That got a laugh out of Amy. Putting it like that, it did sound absurd. Unreal. She grinned, leaning over the table to grasp Dione's chin, pulling her closer to herself. “I'll be the action heroine of your dreams, baby.” She winked, and smiled further when she saw the result creep across her lover's face, pink and warm and so, so cute.
Dione cleared her throat, pulling away from her. She always looked so adorable when she was embarrassed, and she was so easy to tease. Amy thought she could hardly be blamed for indulging herself.
“Seriously though...” Dione's smile faded a little. “I'm worried about you. If vampires are real, they're probably very dangerous, right?” Her eyes were wide, and she looked so innocent that Amy felt even more guilty for putting herself in danger when this lovely, sweet, innocent thing was at home waiting for her. “I don't want you to get hurt.”
She sighed, picked up the mug of cocoa, and put it to her lips. The sweetness filled her mouth, hot and satisfying and comforting. “I promise, I'll be careful.” She didn't put it down, instead holding it's heat to herself. “I'll only act in the daytime.”
Dione nodded, reluctantly satisfied with that answer. “Be careful with this vampire you've got captured, too. I'm really scared about that.”
Of course, it wasn't as though Amy wasn't aware how dangerous it was keeping a vampire prisoner. Working with him, even. She felt a shudder run through her as she remembered the look in Persephone's eyes when she pushed the knife deep into his body. She could keep him under wraps. She could.
“I will. I promise.”
Amy could hear the conversation playing in her mind from the previous night as she drove down the highway.
“I want the vampire that killed Sabrina.”
She'd waved the picture of the woman's corpse in front of Persephone's face after he'd finished drinking from her. She still felt a little woozy from the blood loss, even now. Persephone had laughed, that same insufferably smug laugh he always did. God, it pissed her off.
“Hah, your string of murder victims. Yes, well. Whoever that was is either getting sloppy, or very bold.”
Then he'd looked at her sideways, as though considering how much to say.
“I should warn you that I don't typically have a lot to do with the others... well, we aren't exactly a very social bunch to start with, but even by our standards, I'm a bit of a loner.”
“What about the ones in your building that I staked?”
“Those ones were mine.”
His. That was an interesting statement. She'd frowned, watching him carefully.
“Are you upset that I killed them?”
He hadn't sounded upset, certainly. Of course, why would she expect him, an unapologetic monster, to have had something akin to feelings for those he called 'His'. She'd let it go, instead returning to her initial line of questioning.
“So you're telling me you don't know who the other vampires are?”
“I didn't say that. Just that I'm not really buddy-buddy with any of them, so i can't get you any sort of an in. You'll have to investigate them yourself.”
So, here she was, investigating. As she got out of the car, she looked at the nice, carefully maintained building. It had vines growing along the walls, and a beautiful art instalment in the front; some kind of modern piece of abstract design. The walkway was nicely manicured, cutting through a perfect lawn. It was rather picturesque, and as she started walking towards the front entrance, she wondered if she was a little under dressed for the place.
Maybe Dione had a point about her letting her blazers get wrinkled, she thought with a wry smile. As she climbed the steps she adjusted her clothes, glad that she had taken Dione's advice and worn something freshly pressed. Flipping a braid over her shoulder and out of her way, she opened the large door and stepped into the main foyer of the most high end art gallery in the province.
The interior was breathtaking. It was made up of marble floors and walls, tapestries and elaborate chandeliers. It felt like it was dwarfing her as she reached the reception desk, but she threw her shoulders back and carried herself like it was the most natural thing in the world. The lady behind the counter looked up at her at once, smiling and asking if she could be helped.
“Yes, my name is Amy Prince, I spoke over the phone with the curator about purchasing a painting.” She rattled the sentence off, keeping her tone smooth and personable. The woman nodded, typing away at the computer in front of her for a moment to pull up her name, and then smiled.
“Ah, yes of course Ms. Prince.” She spoke with a bright, open expression . “She'll be right with you.”
Amy thanked her, and waited for the curator. She didn't have to wait long before a woman in a well tailored business suit and a tight pencil skirt rounded the corner, her heels clacking on the marble floors beneath them. She looked almost a little too perfect, all sharp edges and hard lines, but her smile was open and genuine as she put out her arm towards her.
Amy clasped her hand in her own, giving a firm shake. “Hi, you must be Mrs. Young.” She flashed her a nice smile in reciprocation.
Mrs. Young nodded. “Good to meet you, Ms. Prince.” Her hand went out to gesture into the building. “Right this way, I'm sure you're eager to see the piece.” As she followed her, Amy could smell the scent of perfume, something lightly floral, like lilacs. She led her into the back of the gallery, passing by halls and rooms of exhibits before coming to a private conference room.
On display was the painting she had spoken to the woman about over the phone. She recognized it from the website. It was large, beautifully framed, and featured a woman, lounging on a sofa with a book in hand, topless and draped in a long, flowing skirt. She had picked it because it had reminded her of Dione. Soft, and feminine, and serene.
“It's beautiful... even more breathtaking in person.” The expression of awe was genuine; it might not be the real reason that she was here, but it was indeed a gorgeous piece of artwork. She set about filling out the paperwork for it, making casual small talk with the curator as she did so. She signed her name for the purchase, which was much more than she could afford, really, and then gave a quick start as though she had just remembered something. The conversation she had had with Persephone was still fresh in her mind.
“Ask yourself this: If you had to drink the blood of humans to live, would you want to be easily found? Leaving a trail of bodies is a good way to get caught. My money would be on someone not from here. If you're not in your home turf, you don't have to be as careful. And I do happen to know of someone who is only in the country during times correlating with the deaths you're investigating.”
“By the way!” She flashed a sheepish look, “I'm trying to get in touch with someone from overseas, an acquaintance of a business partner, but I'm afraid I've lost her contact information. I have heard however that she's going to be attending the auction here this evening. Her name is Ida Miller, do you know her?” She made sure to keep a loose, casual demeanour. If it was apparent that she was investigating the woman, Mrs. Young was more likely to clam up and protect her client.
Instead, her eyes lit up with recognition, and she nodded. “Ah, Ms. Miller! She comes by every few years or so, representing the Talton Estate.”
Amy latched onto that. The key to getting people to talk about things they shouldn't, in her experience, was in sounding like you should naturally belong to the information. Even a whiff of suspicious behaviour and it would all fall apart. “Yes, that's her! I'm supposed to be doing some business with her employer.” She paused, tilting her head a bit. “They must be something of a collector, if she buys on their behalf regularly?”
Mrs. Young hummed in affirmative, taking the papers from her and setting them in a folder. “Yes, though he himself appears to be disinclined to travel.”
That was interesting. It might be a coincidence that Miller worked for him, and then again... it might not. Was he a vampire as well?
“Can you tell me anything about this Talton fellow? I haven't met him yet.” She busied herself zipping up her purse and getting her coat buttoned.
“Oh, neither have we.” Mrs. Young chuckled at that. “Old money, from the looks of things. Reclusive, but quite rich. I'm afraid I don't know much more than that. Ms. Miller comes into the country, stays about a month, attends the auction, then goes back and we don't hear from her or his estate for a few years.”
That was quite interesting. She stayed for a month... that was in line with what Persephone had said. Feeding once a month if they drained the blood of someone entirely. Which meant she must be close to returning home, if she didn't want to leave a second body this time around. She smiled, as innocently as she could. “But she will be attending the auction this evening?”
Mrs. Young gave one more nod as Amy stood up, standing with her in turn. “Yes, although I'm afraid if you were hoping to meet her that way, the tickets are all sold out. And I'm sorry, but I really can't give out private information like phone numbers or addresses for our clients, I'm sure you understand. I regret I can't be more of a help to you.” She did sound sincerely apologetic, but she had given Amy more than enough information for the time being. Amy shook her hand again.
“Of course, that's fine. Thank you very much for your time! I hope to do business with you again in the future.” The painting was already being loaded out of the room by shipping workers to be delivered to her address... it would even be a shame to have to return it in a few weeks. The curator gave another friendly smile.
“It was a pleasure, Ms. Prince.”
The auction room was bustling with people, all of them in fine regalia. Amy had had to rent the dress she was wearing; something sleek and black and form fitting. She'd put her hair up into the sim
plest up-do she could manage. These sorts of things always felt stuffy to her, and she was uncomfortable in her skin. Still though, blending in was part of the job.
The ticket to the auction had had to be purchased online from a scalper, but it had done the trick. She was in. And now, she just had to look for this Ms. Miller.
The auction itself hadn't begun yet, and people were milling around the room, commenting on the pieces, drinking wine. It all seemed a little performative to her, but what did she know. Her idea of a night out was a dimly lit pub, loud music and shots of whisky. She was fairly certain everyone here would disagree with her.
But this was work, not pleasure, so that didn't matter.
She moved through the crowd, mingling with people here and there, commenting on various paintings and making small talk. She kept a careful eye on everyone, looking for someone who would give her that same feeling that the ghoul woman had, and that Persephone had. That feeling of compulsion, of her eyes moving on their own, of her senses fogging up. For the first few hours, nobody fit that bill.
Then, she saw her. The woman stepped into the room and the room seemed to part for her, opening and inviting her in. She was gorgeous, unearthly so, but there was a darkness about her that spiked that feeling of anxiety. She was beautiful in the way a predator was beautiful. Amy was at once drawn to her and frightened of her.
She had hair cropped short to one side and to her shoulder on the other. She was wearing a well tailored business suit and jacket, but matched with a skirt with frills and lace. Amy thought she would look perfectly at home with a riding crop.
She tried to get close to her, meandering her way through the room. The woman took no drinks, no food. The closer to her she got the more the alarm bells in her head were ringing danger. She made sure to take care that she didn't loose her in the crowd of people; Persephone had been easy to loose track of as well. Finally, after she had overheard a few snippets of conversation, a man took the woman's hand, kissed it, and said,
“Ida Miller... so glad you could make it.”
And then the auction itself was starting. People were taking their seats. But Amy had what she needed. Now all that was necessary was to keep tailing Ms. Miller until the end of the night.
This was just like the last time. She stared down at the body in the long box, very clearly and obviously dead. It felt just as wrong as contemplating putting a stake through Persephone's heart, after having seen the woman walking around, talking to people... alive. She swallowed. She had only ever staked corpses that she hadn't seen alive before. This would be actually murdering a living being. Sort of. At least it felt more like it.
She took a long, deep intake of breath. This woman was a murderer. More than that, she was an inhuman monster. She killed someone every time she was here. And, what was worse, she wasn't the only one of her kind doing it. Amy knew that if she was really going to fight back, she was going to have to get used to killing.
Her grip tightened on the stake in her left hand, and the mallet in her right. Well, it would be better to just get it over with. Placing the point over her heart, she grit her teeth... and then started pounding. Just like last time, there was no blood. No movement, no reaction. Just the sickening crunch of her rib cage and the squelch of tissue and damp organs. It was disgusting... but it was done.
Now, Amy needed to start in the second part of her plan. She couldn't keep doing this alone... she needed backup. At the very least, a few more people that knew what she knew. But just telling people that vampires were real wasn't going go over very well. She had to show them.
She closed the lid of the box, and started loading it onto a dolly. Getting it back up to the room Ms. Miller was supposed to be staying in would be awkward and a hassle, but it was the first step to this part of the plan.
Once she had her layed out on the hotel bed, stake through the heart, all she had to do was to hack into the hotel's computers. Pulling up files that detailed all the times that Ms. Miller had stayed here over the last decade was easy enough. Doctoring the security cameras to eliminate her suspicious behaviour was less so.
Now all she had to do was compare those to the files Cox had given her. The dates and times the bodies had previously been discovered. They all correlated perfectly with when Ms. Miller was in the country.
A grim smile pursed her lips. An anonymous tip sent to Cox was sure to get the ball rolling.
Cox was nothing if not punctual. It had barely been a few days since she had sent in the anonymous tip when her cellphone buzzed. Pulling it up revealed the detective's face on the screen. She pressed the button to accept the call, putting it up to her ear.
She heard Cox sigh on the other end of the line, and some papers rustling in the background. “You're not gonna like this.” He sounded tired, and she couldn't blame him. She knew very well the kind of hours he'd probably been pulling... she'd been doing it herself, after all.
“Well, out with it.” She knew what the development probably was, of course, but she had to draw it out of him.
“I got an anonymous tip the other day.” As she had expected. Cox continued, barrelling forward. “There's a woman from overseas that comes into the country to do business... art buying, stock markets, property inspections. Works for an old geezer sitting on a family fortune. But the interesting thing, is that her visits have all happened to coincide with some of our murder victims.”
She was waiting for the grand reveal, almost impatient for him to get on with it. “That doesn't sound like a bad lead.” Indeed, if that was all he had to say, it would be a rather good starting point.
“Well, it's far from conclusive evidence, but it's enough to warrant checking out.” He conceded, before continuing, and she could hear the shift in his tone as he got closer to the real point of the call. “So I went to have a quick chat with her... but found her dead in her hotel room. Someone had put a wooden stake through her heart.”
Amy drew in a breath, to make it seem like she was processing this bit of information. It would have been quite the frustrating set back indeed from Cox's perspective. “Well, fuck.”
“The weird thing though?” Cox kept talking, and there was that sound of papers again. She could just picture him at his desk, looking through reports and records as he spoke. “She didn't die from the impalement. The autopsy showed that the body had already been dead for some time, but the stake was recent.”
Yes. That was what she had been hoping to hear. It wasn't enough to just show him a dead body with a stake through the heart: Anybody could be killed like that, after all. Cox had to piece together himself that there was more going on. “Okay, what was the cause of death then?” She ventured the question, curious what the autopsy would show.
“That's just it, they can't tell. They can tell the body has been dead for a while... It should be rotting already but it's not. It's like its been preserved, but there's no preservative chemicals. There's no blood in it, which might indicate blood loss like our other vics, but then again without knowing the time of death, it's hard to say if the blood hasn't just decomposed. We're still waiting for the full results but the initial report is... alarming. Of course, more alarming still, is that people have seen her and spoken with her and done business with her as recent as three nights ago. Alive.”
She waited, thinking through everything that he had learned from the autopsy so far. Cox was skirting close to the truth, but she could tell that his mind was avoiding the most obvious conclusion. That was to be expected. At least he was a little closer to it, now.
“Well, that's the bad news anyways.” He continued, “On top of that, I have a possibly related bit of intel that you might be interested in.”
Oh? She perked up, flipping open a notebook and reaching across the desk for a pen. “Hit me.”
He let out a breath slowly. Amy thought he was probably smoking. “Harmony General Hospital has been doing some... transactions with one of the gangs downtown. We don't know why, but they've been taking money from them, and stores of blood from the blood bank has been coincidentally going missing.
Talk is they might be smuggling drugs in the blood but we don't know what or how. Considering this case's consistent... connection with blood, it seems like it might be worth looking into.”
Oh. Well. That was definitely interesting. More than he knew.
There was another rustling sound on the other end of the line before Cox's voice continued, his tone a little more subdued, a little shakier. “You know... corpses, blood, wooden stakes. This is starting to get... really weird.”
She couldn't disagree. Now Cox just needed time to put the pieces together, to come to the correct conclusions.
“Yeah, you're telling me. Weird is certainly... a word for it.”
Amy watched the two young men. It was twilight, the sun barely setting, and the streets were getting less boisterous and populated as the more peaceful denizens of the area returned to their homes for the evening.
Which meant that what was left on the streets, out and about, were the lowlifes and the thugs. These two were no exception. She had been keeping an eye on them for a while, checking the comings and goings from the hospital for gang activity.
She'd watched more than a few drug deals go down on this street corner since she'd been scoping the place out. Most of it was fairly typical criminal activity around here; drugs, prostitution, a bit of racketeering for good measure. This particular gang was big in this area, and they were fairly good at it. Not small fry, but not the top dogs either. That was respectable enough in the world of organized crime. But these two weren't vampires.
She tossed back another swig of her umpteenth cup of coffee, letting the not quite hot enough anymore liquid fill her mouth with the bitter flavour. She was tired of watching kids pulling off small time drug deals. She needed something bigger.
It was a few more hours into the night before she saw them.
A man with a woman hanging on his arm, draped like jewellery, approached them. They were both dressed in leathers, with short spiked hair and torn jeans. She could feel the hair on the back of her neck stand up with the now familiar feeling of tingling apprehension.
These two were vampires. She was sure of it. The group moved a little ways down the alley, presumably for privacy. Good thing she had the area bugged. Their voices crackled for a moment before she heard them come through.
“What can we do for you, then?” She heard one of the two boys pipe up. The woman laughed, and the man spoke, his voice somehow smoother than it should be, like liquid.
“I wanna see your boss, kid. What I want is a little above your pay grade.” The younger two boys just blanched at them. There was a moment of stunned silence before the second one piped up.
“Who the fuck you think you are? Anything you need, you can get through us.” As he was speaking, the first one was removing a switch blade from his pocket. Amy watched closely, knowing it was possibly about to get dicey.
The man just waved him off, while the woman on his arm rested her head against his shoulder. She was watching them with the predatory stare of a hawk, and it made Amy's back shiver. “Nah, I'm looking for something a little more... niche.”
“Niche product costs more. You good for it?” The guy challenged him, while the other one was slowly starting to move to the side. All four of them were eyeing each other up, but Amy had a very strong sense of which of the four would actually come out on top in a scuffle if it came to it, and it wasn't the two young drug dealers.
Suddenly the woman disentangled herself from the man's arm, and he rushed forward with a movement so fast Amy couldn't even follow it, and took the boy with the knife by the throat. He lifted him up off of the ground with a single swoop, pinning him so hard to the wall that Amy could hear a crunching sound on impact.
“I told you, kids. You don't have it.” He grinned, and stared down the one who had been speaking, even while the one caught in his grip was trying to kick and struggle and gasp for breath. Amy could hear the wheezing sounds of panic from him. “I'm looking for Harmony goods. Which I know they don't trust you with. Now run along, be a good kid, and get your boss for me, won't you?”
“Harmony... shit, why didn't you just say so.” The boy's eyes had gone wide. The man dropped the one he'd held captive, and he crumpled to the ground for a moment, gasping in lungfuls of air and clutching at his neck. When he finally stumbled to his feet, the two of them ran out of there like their lives depended on it. Like they had seen a ghost.
Amy's own heart was racing just watching the event unfold. She buried her nose in the book in front of her, eager not to be seen. Dione's caution about vampires probably being dangerous came back to her, and she hoped that it would not come to a confrontation.
Eventually, another vampire appeared. He looked older, but was just as compelling as the other two. He was wearing a large, almost oversized black coat, and there was nothing you could put your finger on as being especially notable about his appearance. And yet, Amy could hardly look away from any of them. Like their forms were glamorized, like she was halfway to being hypnotized just by their presence.
“Heard you scared the shit out of my boys.” The older man said with a grin.
The other one scoffed. “Your boys should learn to do as they're told.”
An arm jutted out from the coated figure, and he pat him on the back with a chuckle. “C'mon, you know I pay 'em to screen people for me.”
The man looked like he was still annoyed, but the woman finally spoke up, her voice high and tinny like the sound of a bell. “You got the stuff?”
The vampire nodded, reaching into the coat. “Of course I do.” He withdrew a large, briefcase sized bundle of plastic wrap and zip ties. Even from across the street, Amy could feel a swell of cold from him as she watched a fog of frost creep out from the bottom of his coat. He handed the parcel to the girl, and then addressed the man again. “You know to be careful, right? Word is there's a hunter running around lately.”
The man crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head. “Wooden stakes? I'm not scared. It's not gonna matter in the long run.”
The girl passed him the package, and he tucked it into his own jacket. The dealer gave a hum of agreement, his arms disappearing back into the nebulous blackness of his coat.
“Yes... it won't be long now.”