Detective Alexander Lightwood looked at the pitiable woman on the king sized beg in the luxurious apartment on the upper East Side in Manhattan. He’d seen much in his eight years assigned to the homicide division of central of the NYPD, but he’d never seen anything like this. The only part of the woman not covered in blood was her golden hair.
“Camille Belcourt,” his partner, Jace Herondale, said, reading the woman’s ID in the black leather wallet on the dresser.
Crouching beside the bed, Alec studied the body. She was nude, her body on display, spread eagle, arms above her head, making an X. Whoever had killed her had shot her in the middle of the forehead and split her from neck to groin.
“She was a call-girl,” Jace said from behind him.
Alec stood, brushing his knees. “How do you know?”
“Her datebook. Beside each appointment are initials and dollar amounts.”
“Who was her last appointment?”
“J.R.,” Jace read. “The price is. . . holy shit! Twelve grand.”
“We’re in the wrong business.”
“No kidding,” Jace replied. “J.R. It’s fake. It’s got to be fake.”
“Jack the Ripper,” Alec answered.
“Fuck that, Alec. That’s not what it stands for.”
The chief medical examiner, Dr. Catarina Loss, arrived and moved into the room. “Christ,” she whispered holding her long fingered hand over her mouth.
“Dr. Loss,” Alec said. “Can you tell me if the victim still has her liver during this initial exam?”
A short woman with dark hair and eyes and a musical accent, Dr. Loss glanced back at the body on the coral colored silk sheets. “Of course.”
Dr. Loss bustled past him, carrying her hospital bag. Alec moved away from the beds that she could get to the body. As the doctor put her gloved hand inside the victim’s abdomen, Jace turned away with a gag. It took her less than a minute. “You’re on to something, Detective Lightwood. Her liver is missing. I need to get her into my house so that I can give you more information.” Dr. Loss said, standing and removing her protective gear.
Jace gaped at her. “You’re kidding.”
“I do not kid, Detective Herondale.”
Looking at Alec, Jace scoffed, “Jack the Ripper.”
“Are we looking for a copycat?” Alec wondered aloud. “I can’t say, but this is an odd coincidence.”
“She isn’t the last, Alec,” Jace whispered.
As the crime scene team came in, Alec shook his head. “No, she isn’t.” With a look over his shoulder at the blood soaked woman on the bed. “We’re gonna be busy, Jace. This isn’t gonna be over soon."
At his desk in Central at eight o'clock that morning, Alec typed a report for his captain, Luke Garroway. Jace sat at the adjoining desk, yawning hugely.
"Stop that," Ordered Detective Julian Blackthorn, sitting beside them. "It could spread."
"We got a call just after four this morning and Alec just worked straight through to our shift. You know how he is."
"I told you to take a nap," Alec replied, not looking up from his computer screen. "This seemed more efficient than going home."
"Said the man who doesn't have a warm body in his bed," Jace joked.
Alec didn't react, but Jace was right. He hadn't been with anyone in over a year. He didn't have much confidence outside of the job. His homosexuality had been hard for him to accept, and had been even harder for his father. Robert Lightwood had kicked Alec out of the house when he'd come out of his family at seventeen.
Jace had asked Alec to be his roommate and the two got a small apartment until they both attended the police academy. After graduating, Alec and Jace were assigned to homicide and worked their way up to detective, living in the same apartment until their captain had introduced Jace to Clary, his stepdaughter. He'd been lost after that. Jace and Clary lived together now and Alec was alone. As he usually seemed to be. Alec dated, sometimes. He hadn't had a date in about two years, maybe more. He hadn't had sex in closer to three. He really needed to get his priorities straight. Alec had never introduced anyone to Jace or his sister, Isabelle. No one he'd met had ever been important enough.
"Nope," Alec finally responded. "No warm bodies for me."
"Why are you punishing me for it?" Jace complained.
"Hey," Alec replied. "You asked me to be your partner. You knew what you were getting."
Laughing, Jace answered affectionately, "Yeah." Turning to his computer, Jace reported, "The vic was arrested four times for solicitation. She fell off of the grid about eighteen months ago. Her finances are insane. Two hundred thousand in her primary checking. Over a million in offshore accounts."
Emma Carstairs, Julian's partner, whistled. "Prostitution is lucrative."
"She was high end," Alec said. "But this is something else. Have electronics check her computer."
"Blackmail?" Jace asked as Alec sent his report to the captain.
"So I suspect."
After checking through a few pages on his screen, Jace gasped, "Oh, holy shit!"
"She's connected to Magnus Bane."
"Who?" Alec asked, baffled.
"Seriously, Alec?" Julian moaned.
"The High Warlock of Brooklyn," Emma provided. "He's the head of Bane Enterprises. Manufacturing. Entertainment. Hospitality. He's richer than God."
"So he likes hookers," Alec said.
"He sure doesn't need them." Emma sighed.
"Really?" Julian said. "I'm right here, babe."
Emma winked at her partner. Alec didn't know how they did it, had a romantic relationship while also maintaining a partnership, but the pair made it work. Even though their relationship was against procedure, Luke Garroway allowed it because he believed that their partnership was only stronger because of their love for one another.
"Either way, he can afford blackmail payments. Let's get an appointment to see him."
Jace nodded. "I'll call his office."
"Okay, I'll notify next of kin."
With a sigh, Jace picked up his desk phone and began to dial.
Opening the refrigerator, Alec groaned. His eyes were burning from all of the time he'd spent on his computer. He popped a pain reliever, glad to be home.
Behind a protection wall, Simon Lewis, a computer genius and Alec's little sister's boyfriend, found a list of Camille Belcourt's clients, whom she'd been blackmailing; Axel Mortmain, a prominent lawyer, Sebastian Morgenstern, an advertising executive for a major firm, John Shade, the owner of a restaurant, Aidous Nix, the head of a Wiccan sect, and Woosley Scott, a fourth Generation business owner. Even though he wasn't on the list, Magnus Bane was still on Alec's short list.
Alec had pulled up a photograph of Magnus Bane on his computer. He was the most beautiful person Alec had ever seen; skin the color of caramel, hair of inky black, almond-shaped phoenix eyes of a startling green-gold. Magnus Bane sparked an interest in Alec's stomach. And lower.
After eating scrambled eggs, Alec went to bed and dreamed of smooth tan skin and gold green eyes.
Alec and Jace were able to get an appointment with Magnus Bane at eight-thirty the next morning. In the enormous office building, they were led to a gleaming office of oak and glass. Alec's first glimpse of Magnus Bane was of his long back and rangy body as he looked out the window at the grey, slush covered city. Alec couldn't stop his eyes from wondering down to the ass in the perfectly cut suit.
Turning, Magnus smiled as his assistant introduced them, "Detectives Lightwood and Herondale, Mr. Bane."
"Thank you, Ragnor. Detectives, please have a seat. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea?"
You. . . in bed. . . on that desk. . . naked, Alec thought, but replied, "No, thank you. We're fine." Alec sat in one of the three crimson leather chairs in front of the massive desk beside Jace.
"What can I do for you, Detectives?"
"We have a few questions about Camille Belcourt," Alec responded, having finally regained his composure.
"Did she get arrested again?" Magnus asked, exasperated.
"No, sir," Alec answered. "She's dead."
Dar eyebrows furrowed, Magnus gasped, "Dead?"
"Yes," Jace replied, his amber eyes watching Magnus suspiciously. "She was murdered around one o'clock yesterday morning. You were with her the night before."
Magnus's green-gold eyes flicked to Jace. "Yes. She accompanied me to a charity dinner."
Making notes on his phone with a stylus, Jace inquired. "Did you go to her apartment?"
"Yes," Magnus answered simply.
Of course he's straight. "How long did you stay there?" Alec asked.
"Long enough to drop her off at her door," Magnus stated, his eyes meeting Alec's again.
"You didn't sleep with her?" Jace demanded.
"Not in years. And I never paid her." Yep straight. "You said she was murdered."
"Yes, Mr. Bane," Alec answered. "Where were you from midnight to two A.M. yesterday?"
"Am I a suspect?"
"It's just a routine question, Mr. Bane. Besides her killer, you may have been the last person to see her alive," Alec replied. "Your whereabouts, Mr. Bane?"
"Interesting. You can call me Magnus, Detective." With a sigh, Magnus stood. "I need coffee. Are you sure I can't get you anything?"
"We're fine," Jace answered.
When Magnus returned to his desk, he sat back comfortably with a black mug with glittery flakes and "FABULOUS" written in rhinestones. "Between midnight and two, I was in bed."
"Alone?" Jace asked.
Magnus's gaze flicked to Alec's, "Unfortunately."
"How did you know Camille Belcourt?"
"We've been friends for years. We met in high school."
"Did you know that she was a prostitute?" Jace queried.
Nodding slowly, Magnus sipped his coffee. "I did."
"You said you've never paid her for sex." Alec said.
"I never had to."
Great. "Did you pay her for anything else? Like blackmail?"
"When you last saw her, did she tell you about a client who bothered her?" Alec asked, moving away from the blackmail angle. He knew faces, and Magnus Bane was not lying about that. He'd never given Camille Belcourt money, even if he had slept with her.
"No. We didn't talk about her work." The phone on his desk beeped. "I'm sorry, Detectives. My next appointment is here."
"That's all right," Alec replied. "We have all we need for now."
Jace left first as Alec pulled a card from his jacket pocket. "If you remember anything, please call, Mr. Bane."
"Once again, call me Magnus." He looked at Alec's card and reached into a desk drawer. "Here you are, Detective Lightwood. My personal numbers are on the back."
"Uh. . . Thank you."
Magnus laughed. "I'm giving them to you so you can call me any time."
"Just call me, Detective."
"Um, yeah. Sure," Alec stuttered.
Magnus smiled and winked at Alec as he passed.
Maybe Magnus Bane wasn't as straight as Alec thought.