Blood Wyne

Blood Wyne by Yasmine Galenorn (book 9 of the New York Times Bestselling Otherworld Series)

Berkley (Mass Market); February 1, 2011
Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 978-0425239742

We're the D'Artigo sisters: half-human, half-Fae, we're sexy, we're savvy and we just turned in our badges to the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. My sister Camille is a wicked good witch. Delilah's a werecat and blossoming Death Maiden. And as for me? I'm Menolly, acrobat extraordinaire turned vampire. But being a vamp isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when the Godfather of all vampires decides to play Prince Charming...

It's the holiday season and a vampire serial killer is on the loose. Hungry ghosts are tearing up the town and people are running scared. I strike a deal with Ivana Krask--one of the Elder Fae--and too late, discover strings are attached. But when I turn to Roman, one of the oldest, most powerful vampires around, for help, he offers me more than I ever bargained for.

Published: 02/01/2011
Excerpt:

Chapter 1

"I can't believe I need another new bartender." I leaned back in my chair and propped my feet on the desk. Luke had left the bar for a good reason, but that didn't mean I had to like it. And his replacement-Shawn, a vampire-hadn't risen to the challenge. I'd fired him after two weeks of inept bartending and questionable customer service. When I caught him trying to put the fang on a couple of my regulars, I lost it and kicked him out. Nobody messed with my regulars, especially in my bar.

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But that left a void. The Wayfarer was busy like every other place during the holiday season and we needed every hand on board. We'd started early, just like every other business downtown, with an Otherworld Thanksgiving feast from the grill, and then that weekend I'd put up a fake tree in the corner and handed out bonuses so that my employees could shop early. Now, nearing the end of the first week of December, the main focus of Winter Solstice was still ahead of us-and Christmas for my clients who celebrated it-and the parties were already getting more frantic and raucous every night as people crowded in, exhausted from shopping and coping with holiday chaos.

Nerissa gave me the 'what can you do' gesture with her hands, tossing them up in the air. "What can I say, doll? I'm sorry, but that's the way things go." Standing behind me, she leaned down and slowly trailed a line of kisses down my cheek to my neck. "I'd work for you, if I didn't have the day job."

"You'd make such an awesome bartender, and then I could yank you back here in my office to make love whenever we felt like it."

"We'd never get anything done," she countered.

I laughed, then shrugged. "I know, I know-hiring people is part of owning a bar but it fucking sucks."

I tipped my head back and she caught me full on the mouth. I savored my golden goddess's lips as she set off a ricochet of desire that shockwaved through my body. All I could think about was how much I wanted her. Here. Now. As I reached for her breast, my fingers sliding over the rounded curves of her body, a knock on the door interrupted us.

"Bad timing." I glanced up at her ruefully. "Rain check?"

"Always." She reluctantly stepped back to sit in the chair next to my desk.

A werepuma, Nerissa was a warped Aphrodite, but she was also extremely diplomatic about knowing when I needed to present a professional appearance. She sat primly in the chair, her skirt-suit and tawny chignon making her look like a librarian waiting to bust out and go wild. Everybody knew we were together, but it wouldn't do for the boss to be sucking face when the help checked in.

"Come in." I waited as Chrysandra opened the door and peeked her head in. "What's up?"

She glanced at Nerissa, then at me, and grinned. "Sorry to interrupt, Boss, but I've got someone out here looking for a job. I'm not sure, but you might want to talk to him."

"Supe?" I had instituted a policy of only hiring members of the Supernatural Community. The Wayfarer attracted far too many potential problems for me to take a chance on any more full blooded humans. Chrysandra had gotten the hang of working around Supes of all kinds, but for a bartender, I needed someone who could also act as bouncer when I wasn't around.

Pieder, the giant, did a good job, but he worked days, and I was hiring for the night shift. I probably should hire a second bouncer while I was at it, but since I worked a majority of evenings in the bar, I usually covered the void. Smart people didn't mess with vampires, and most of my regulars had quickly learned not to cross me.

She nodded. "Yeah, but I'm not sure what kind. He has an odd feel." The look on her face told me that he either made her nervous or he was just so strange that she didn't know what to make of him. Chrysandra was, I had discovered, fairly psychic for an FBH-full blooded human-and she picked up on things easily.

"Send him in." I turned to Nerissa. "Sweetie, you mind giving me a little privacy to interview him?"

"No problem. You sure you want to talk to him alone, girl?" She stroked my cheek with her fingers. "I can stay."

"I can tear apart ninety percent of the creatures I meet if they bother me." Don't forget that I'm a vampire, sweetheart. Never, ever forget it." I took her hand, holding it for a moment. I loved her dearly, and because of that, I never wanted her to forget I was a dangerous predator. It was my nature and I accepted it and at times-reveled in it.

"I never do," she whispered softly, then followed Chrysandra out of the room, her skirt swishing in a way that drove me crazy. I wanted to slip my hands under the hem, to run them up her golden thighs. For so long, I'd repressed my sexuality after Dredge got done with me, but Nerissa had woken it up, full-steam ahead, and there was no putting the Djinn back in the bottle.

I put my feet on the floor and straightened the papers on my desk. Inventory time was heading full throttle toward us; we were coming up on the end of the year and I needed to do a full accounting of everything in the bar.

I also was preparing to open the Wayfarer to overnight travelers. We'd cleaned out the rooms upstairs, redecorated and sanded and painted, and now I had space for seven guests, with three communal bathrooms.

But opening to overnight guests meant hiring a maid. I'd also have to find someone to run room service, carry bags, and, in general, take care of the needs of our Otherworld patrons. For the most part, that's who I expected to see. I already had decided that I wouldn't rent to goblins, ogres, or anybody likely to cause trouble.

Since the Wayfarer technically belonged to an OW resident-me-it was considered sovereign territory. I could discriminate for whatever reason I wanted. And letting creeps and miscreants stay in the bar wasn't my idea of equal opportunity. Especially not when my sisters and I were waging a demonic war.

The door opened and a man cleared the archway. As I glanced at him, looking him up and down, I found myself suitably impressed. I had no doubt the man could chuck people out of the bar.

Brawn, he had. That much was clear. He only stood five-eight, but his biceps were works of art, and his thighs looked strong enough to crack a skull. His hair, jet black with a white streak, was held back in a thick pony tail, hitting about mid-shoulder. It set off eyes as green as my sister Delilah's. He looked to be around his mid-thirties, but if he was Supe, who knew how old he really was?

And that was the second thing: Supe, he was. I could tell right off that he wasn't human. This dude had some seriously powerful energy rolling off of him. Even I, about as headblind as you could get for someone half-Fae, could feel it.

"How do you do? I'm Menolly D'Artigo. And you are...?" I stood and walked around the desk. Compared to my five-one, he seemed tall. But I could take him out without blinking an eye. One of the perks of being a vampire: exceptional strength that belied any lack of visible force. Motioning him to a chair, I hopped up to sit on the corner of my desk.

"Derrick. Derrick Means." He took the chair and leaned back, eyeing me closely. "You look like a vamp," he said.

I blinked. Nobody had ever said that to my face, but what the hell. He didn't sound like he was insulting me.

"Good. Because that's what I am and anybody that works for me has to not only tolerate it, but actually accept the fact. What about you?"

He arched an eyebrow and folded his arms. "I'm one of the Badger People. I'm a friend of Katrina's. She said you might be open to me applying for the job, even though you're a vamp. Said you hired a werewolf before."

Badger People? So they'd moved into the city now too?

But I understood why he might be wary. Weres and vamps didn't always get along. However, I wasn't just any vamp-I was half-Fae as well as half-human. And Katrina was a friend. She was a werewolf who had started to fall for my former bartender before he ended up having to leave Earthside for Otherworld to protect his sister.

I frowned. I'd never met anyone from the badger tribes before and had very little clue what they were like, in general. Though if he matched his namesake creature, Derrick wouldn't have any hesitation about tossing problem people out on their asses.

"Tell me about your past experience. And are you part of a clan or a loner?"

"Used to be in a clan, until I decided to hit the city and see what life here is all about. I like Seattle, but there's not much chance to interact with my family since I moved here. We keep in touch via email but I don't get to see them much." He let out a long sigh that sounded suspiciously like a huff, and relaxed back into the chair.

"And your experience?"

"I've got fifteen years bartending under my belt, I double as a bouncer no problem, and I've never been fired." He handed me a piece of paper. To my surprise it was a resume. A detailed resume. Usually people just came in and asked for a job. Or at best, an application.

"Why do you want to work at the Wayfarer?" I glanced over his CV. Everything seemed in order. No immediate alarm bells going off in my gut.

"Because I need a job. You need a bartender. And I figure you won't get in my face about taking off the nights of the full moon." He leaned forward. "I'm good at what I do, I'm loyal, and I'll be here, sober, whenever you call. I don't hit on the women-at least not on duty. If you want to call some of my references, the numbers are there."

I stared at the list. Applegate's Bar, Wyson's Pub, the Okinofo Lounge...not upscale bars but not seedy dives, either. They were solid taverns with good clientele. I let out a long breath and glanced up at him. "Wait out front in one of the booths."

After he nodded and swaggered out of the office, I put in a few calls. Nobody had anything bad to say about him, and several of the bars praised him, though I could feel a definite tension there. But that was easy: I chalked it up to FBHs dealing with Supes. Making my decision, I headed out front.

Derrick was nursing a Diet Coke.

I slid into the seat across from him. "You drink? Do drugs?"

He shook his head. "Drink beer and Scotch occasionally, but never on duty. Drugs and Badger People aren't a good mix. We have a temper, I am the first to admit it. I know my limits."

"Okay, here's the deal." I motioned at the bar. "I need somebody and I need him now. So if you can start this week, preferably tonight, so much the better. Your shift will be four PM until two AM, but you may need to come in to help with inventory at times during the day. You'll need to be on call-there are nights when I have to be gone and I can't always predict when that is. So far so good?"

He nodded. "I like to work. I don't mind picking up extra shifts. I send what I don't need home to help my mother raise my brothers and sisters."

That made me feel even better about hiring him. "Good man. I can pay you fifteen dollars an hour to start. If you're as experienced as you seem to be, and you last ninety days, I'll raise that to seventeen. The main thing you need to remember: I'm the boss, you do what I say while you're here, and you keep your nose clean. What do you think? Want the job or not?"

He raised his glass in salute. "Here's looking at you, boss."

At least one of my problems was solved. But it didn't take long for another to rear its head. As I was showing Derrick around the bar, watching how he handled the bottles and-suitably impressed-at how he handled customers, the door opened and Chase Johnson swaggered in.

My sister Delilah's ex-lover, a cop who was as good as family by now, Chase dressed in Armani and smelled like a perpetual taco stand. He was also one damned fine detective.

After all the arguments we'd been through, I had to give him props. He'd managed to keep it together in situations that would drive the average FBH wacko. Oh yah. One other little tidbit: Chase also was as good as immortal, at least in human terms. He'd been given the Nectar of Life in order to save his life, and that put him a long leg up on the rest of FBHs.

He glanced at Derrick and nodded, giving me a quizzical look.

"This is Chase Johnson, detective and friend of the business. Close to being family. Treat him right."

Derrick nodded. "Nice to meet you, Detective."

"Chase, this is Derrick-my new bartender. Derrick, give us a few minutes alone. Chase has something to talk to me about. Don't you?"

"Yeah, though I wish this was just a social call." He shook hands with Derrick, then followed me to a booth. "Werewolf?"

"Badger People. Werebadger."

"Sheesh-is there a Were class for every animal on the planet?" Chase snorted and rubbed one perfectly coiffed eyebrow.

"Just about. What is it, Johnson?"

"Trouble. You have the time to take a little ride with me to headquarters? Vampire business. I think." He let out a long sigh.

Hell. Vampire business was so not what I wanted to hear because when Chase came calling about vampires, it usually meant somebody was dead. Usually murdered. There'd been an upswing in nocturnal activity lately but since I was no longer privy to the scuttlebutt going around Vampires Anonymous-a support group for vamps new to the life, run by former friend and vampire, Wade Stevens--it was harder for me to ferret out secrets. I had to rely on what Sassy Branson told me, but she was growing more erratic every day. I'd been seriously considering taking my "daughter" Erin out of the older vampire's care.

"Let me tell Chrysandra." I hustled over to my waitress and tapped her on the arm. "Keep an eye on Derrick. Help him learn the ropes. Chase needs me."

"No problem, Menolly. But are you sure? It's his first night." She looked a little worried. Normally, I'd chalk it up to nerves but tonight I stopped and looked into her eyes, trying to get a feel for where her jitters were coming from.

"You have a bad feeling about him?" I cocked my head, waiting.

She glanced over at him, then slowly shook her head. "No...but...there's something about him. I can't put my finger on it. He's more than he appears to be, but I don't sense...he's not hostile, but I think he walks with danger."

"Most Supes do, nowadays." I frowned. "Fetch Tavah from the basement. Tell Riki to take over for her down there. If anything goes wrong, Tavah should be able to take care of matters."

Tavah, another vampire, spent her nights in the basement of the Wayfarer, guarding the portal to Otherworld, and keeping track of the guests who came through. She kept the creeps out and let the paying visitors in.

"Okay. Will do." She ran down the steps as I hightailed it over to Derrick. "Listen, Derrick, I've got to go out. Chrysandra will help you out, and while I'm gone she and Tavah are in charge. I'll be back as soon as I can. Okay?"

He nodded, eyes on the drink he was mixing. "Not a problem. Got it."

And with that, as soon as I saw Tavah appear at the top of the stairs, I followed Chase into the icy night.

#

Winter in Seattle vacillates between mild and nasty, but the past couple of years had been pretty rough. Instead of the incessant rain, we'd actually seen snow-enough to stop the city in its tracks for a few days. Last year it had been Loki making a run on the city because of my now-dead sire. This year, I had the feeling El Niño had come to town. We were in a colder, wetter spell.

And now, two and a half weeks before Yule, it was cold enough to snow and I'd already considered putting snow tires on my Jag.

The chill didn't bother me, but Chase buttoned his trench as we headed out. He held the door open for me-he was at heart, a gentleman-and we hustled to his car. I could tell he was cold, the breath puffed out of his mouth like clouds from a steam engine.

The streets were packed with shoppers looking for Christmas bargains. As we edged through traffic, Chase, flipped on the radio and Danny Elfman's voice came out of the speakers, blaring Dead Man's Party.

"Man, I remember dancing to this at one of the local clubs almost fifteen years ago," he said offhandedly. "I was in high school and dating a girl named Glenda. She had hair a mile high and was in full retro mode. All she wanted to wear was glittery Spandex and she looked like one of the B52 girls."

I glanced at him. "Do you miss those days? The days when you didn't know about us or the demons?"

He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel as we waited for traffic to inch forward. "Trick question. No way to answer that truthfully." Giving me a sideways smirk, he added, "Yes, I do, but only because life was much simpler then. Choices were black and white. But I have to say since you three entered my life, I've never been bored. Scared shitless, yes. Bored? Never."

Snorting, I leaned forward and turned up the music. "You ever want to, you're welcome to come clubbing with Nerissa and me, as long as we aren't hitting a vamp club. We're damned good on the dance floor."

Chase's turn to snicker. "Right. While I'd be the envy of a thousand men, I don't know if that would fit my style anymore. Then again...it might be fun. Hell, I have no clue as to what my style is now." He sounded lost, and a little frightened. "Look-Santa."

A sidewalk Santa was ringing his bell for the South Street Mission in front of a small boutique. The winter was chill and cold, and a lot of people were out of work. Gauging from his expression, Santa wasn't gathering many coins for charity.

"Santa's a freakass scary dude in reality. Camille met him when she was young." I stared at the pseudo-Santa through the window as we passed by and fell silent. Santa passing out presents. The Tooth Fairy handing out coins for teeth. The Easter Bunny, hiding eggs. Humans clung to their myths in the hopes that they'd ward off bad luck and evil, that they'd bring prosperity and security. How little they knew about the truth that hid behind their fairytales, or what monsters were really sliding down their chimneys.

I turned up the music as Ladytron replaced Oingo Boingo. A part of me felt sorry for Chase. We'd thrown a monkey wrench into his life and he could never go back to what he'd been, to the life he'd expected to lead. Collateral damage. We were leaving a nasty trail and there'd be far more by the time this demonic war was over.

It took us another twenty minutes to reach the FH-CSI-the Faerie Human Crime Scene Investigation-headquarters. I knew this building all too well. It seemed like my sisters and I were here all the time, especially since the war against Shadow Wing was escalating.

Most of the building was underground-the bottom level was the morgue, in-house laboratory, and archives. Third floor down were the jail cells for the Otherworld magical and strength-enhanced Supes. Second floor down was the arsenal-containing a vast array of interesting weapons viable for use against anything from werewolves to giants. The main floor contained both police headquarters and the medic unit. Delilah had hinted that she thought there was another level below the morgue, but we didn't know what it was or whether it really existed.

Chase led me straight to his office, rather than the morgue. A good sign, I thought. Straight to the morgue was bad. Straight to the morgue meant immediate danger and right now, I wasn't in the mood for trouble.

But as I took a seat opposite his desk, I happened to catch a glimpse of the photographs spilling out of a file on his desk. Crap. Blood and more blood. Everything was always covered in blood anymore.

"That's your trouble, I take it?" I nodded to the pictures.

"Yes, and I wish you could take it as far away from me as possible." He let out a sigh. "I don't know what to make of it. If it looked like simple vampire killings, at least I'd know what I was dealing with, but there's something else going on." He motioned for me to scoot my chair closer, and laid out the photos in a line for me to look at.

There were four women, there, each with obvious puncture wounds in her neck. Vampire activity, all right.

"Looks pretty straight forward to me," I said.

"Yeah, you would think so, wouldn't you? But look again at the women. Look closely. Notice anything odd?" He frowned and leaned back in his chair, crossing his left leg over his right and interlacing his fingers. "I really want your honest opinion because I want to make sure I'm not just barking up a tree that doesn't exist."

I studied the photographs. Women, all pretty, all somewhere in their thirties, looked to be. All...wait a minute. Pattern. There was a pattern.

"They all have long brown hair, layered. They all have brown eyes, and they all seem to be around 130 lbs. How tall were they?"

"All between five-six and five-eight. So you see it, too?"

"Yeah. Was there any connection between them? Any other similarity to their deaths?" A nasty thought was forming in my head and I had the feeling Chase had already come to the same conclusion.

"Obviously they were all exsanguinated, and they were all killed at night. Puncture wounds on the throat, though there's no way to prove for sure that they were killed by a vampire. All the women were murdered within a five mile radius, in the Greenbelt Park District. All four were hookers." He frowned. "I'm thinking we have a vampire serial killer. If it wasn't for the fact that all the girls look alike, I'd just chalk it up to a rogue vampire attack, but they look so much alike, they could be related."

I stared at the pictures. Chase was right. They did look like sisters. And even though he couldn't make the official call, I knew in my gut that it was a vampire-most likely singular-attacking the women.

"Do you have their bodies, still? I can probably verify vamp attack, seeing that I am one, but I need to look at their wounds."

Damn, damn, damn. If it was a vampire serial killer, we had big trouble. Ever since Delilah decked him, Andy Gambit-star reporter for the Seattle Tattler, a yellow tabloid that fed on the fears and titillation of Seattle residents-had been on a tear, doing his best to smear Fae and Supes of all kinds. He'd been backing Taggart Jones for the position.

Gambit had done such an effective smear job on Nerissa that she'd lost the race for city council, even though she'd started out with a decent margin and all signs pointed to potential victory. Gambit had dragged her through the mud because of her association with me, and it had worked. The surprise, however, had been that Taggart Jones hadn't won, either. A moderate had swept the election.

Now, Gambit would be all over this story. If word of a vampire serial killer got out, we'd be pouring gasoline on the fire.

Chase led me to the elevator. "So, are you guys ready for Yule yet?"

I grinned. "More or less. Delilah hasn't tipped over the tree yet, but then, we anchored it to the ceiling first thing. Camille and Iris have the house looking like a winter wonderland. All we need is snow for it to feel like the holidays."

"Does Otherworld get much snow?" he asked, holding the door open for me.

I swung in behind him. "Depends on where you're at. Y'Elestrial-yes, we get quite a bit of snow there..." I fell silent, biting my lip. Our home city was now sacrosanct and off limits to Camille. And to us too. "I miss it. The city is beautiful, but now, I wonder if we'll ever see it again."

"Queen Tanaquar and your father still won't relent?" He looked uncertain, like he thought he should pat me on the shoulder or something.

Shrugging, I shook my head. "When Delilah and I demanded they allow Camille to return to her full status, they told us we had two choices: Abide by their decree or suffer the same fate ourselves. So we all went to work for Queen Asteria instead, and the Otherworld Intelligence Agency is history. At least for us. At least for now."

"They aren't talking to me, either," he said. "Ever since your civil war, it's like they've decided that the FH-CSI don't need to be kept in the loop."

"Join the club. Father tried to guilt trip us like crazy but Delilah and I shut him out. We hated to do so, but he hasn't been by our sides, up to his elbows in demon blood, wondering if Shadow Wing is coming through next. He doesn't know how fucking hard Camille's worked, nor does he understand the decisions she's had to make. How could Delilah and I stand by and just watch them throw her away?"

Chase nodded. "I get it. I really do. And I admire the choice you made. You three-no matter what, no one will ever come between you."

He looked wistful, and I wondered if he missed Delilah. He was actually at our house more often now that they'd broken up, and he seemed far more relaxed and happy. So did Delilah, even though she was still finding her way with Shade, the half-dragon, half Stradolan. A part of the Autumn Lord's world, Shade had strode into her life and they were slowly building what looked like it could be the love match of the century. I'd never seen Delilah's heart so free and easy.

"You okay, Johnson?" I tapped him on the arm.

"Yeah," he said softly. "And just in case you're wondering, no-I'm not pining over Delilah. I'm the one who decided I couldn't handle a relationship. And frankly, it's a good thing. My moods are swinging like crazy now that my powers are opening up. I'm happy one moment, pissed the next. Not good boyfriend material. Sharah's found someone in town who's going to help me learn how to channel the energy."

"Good, because unbridled psychic energy is dangerous for all concerned." I stopped him as we stepped out of the elevator. "Truth time."

"What?" His dark eyes glistened and I resisted the impulse to reach up and brush back an unruly cowlick-it was so out of place on his perfectly coiffed body that it distracted me.

"Are you sure you're okay with my sister seeing someone else? Because if you have any thoughts of a reunion later, you'd better say something now. She's falling, Chase. She's falling for Shade like I've never seen her fall before." I had no intention of letting him put her on the spot later, forcing her to make a choice she thought she'd already made.

He gazed at me, his eyes limpid, his expression torn. Then, slowly, he asked, "She really loves this guy?"

"I think he's the one, Chase."

"Then I'll remain her blood brother, and I won't interfere. Because I honestly don't know what the hell's going to happen in my life." He paused. "Can I ask you something, now?"

So relieved by his reply that I would have granted almost any favor, I nodded. "Ask away."

"Do you think someone like Sharah might ever see me in anything but an official capacity?" He sounded hesitant, almost embarrassed to be asking.

I knew full well that Sharah was in love with the detective, but that was her place to answer, not mine. I gave Chase a soft smile. "Listen, you're a catch. You've had your share of screw ups, but Johnson, you're okay, and I think you're going to make somebody happy someday. Could someone like Sharah could be interested in you? I don't see why not."

He thought for a moment, then led the way to the morgue. "We've kept the bodies. We still don't have IDs on three of them. The other one, we know who she is but can't find any family to notify. But word is getting around on the streets. I've got to warn the street walkers soon. They deserve to know if there's some nutcase out there targeting them."

I stared at the brilliant white walls of the morgue, the shimmering stainless steel of the sinks and tables. This was my domain-the domain of the dead. Had Dredge not brought me back to life, I'd have walked the hallowed halls, crossing over to the Land of the Silver Falls.

Every time I came face-to-face with mortality, I remembered my own immortality and once again, had to face the fact that I was a predator. A creature who belonged in the shadows. Never again would I walk under the sun, not until the day I was ready to give it all up and go home to my ancestors. Until then, there was only the moon for me.

Four bodies were laid out on tables, covered with white sheets. Spotless sheets, like freshly fallen snow against a barren background.

"I take it you've watched them for any signs of rising?"

He nodded. "Yeah. Nothing. I think they're truly dead."

I approached the first one and pulled back the sheet. She was unearthly in her silence, in her stillness. Like a statue, or a figure frozen in ice, she lay there, pale from the lack of blood. I leaned down and examined the puncture wounds on her neck. Vampire. I could feel him. Smell him. The vamp who killed this woman was male and fairly young-at least as a vampire. That much I could tell. Quickly, I checked the other bodies, startled by the similarity of their looks. They could have been sisters.

In a way they are, I thought. Sisters in death. They were killed by the same vampire. I could smell him on them, his breath, his scent, his...

Oh crap. I jumped back, trembling. Very little set me off but this-this was too familiar, still too stark in a memory that I'd never, ever shake.

"Did you check to see if they were raped?" My voice was sharper than I meant it to be but I couldn't help it.

Chase looked at me, his expression slipping from neutral to pained. "Yeah, we did. I was hoping I wouldn't have to tell you. I know what that does to you."

"They were, right? You wouldn't find semen, but they were torn and bruised. I can smell it. I can smell the bloodlust...not just around the puncture marks." Feeling the room spin, my fangs came down and I began to panic. I had to get out of there. "Chase, I have to get up to the surface. Now."

"Come on." He guided me out but wisely didn't touch me.

When we came to the elevator, I held out my hand. "You'd better not ride up with me. It's too dangerous right now. I'll meet you out front."

He didn't question, just stood back, letting me board the car without him. I punched M for Main floor and counted the seconds as they ticked by. The elevator wasn't slow but by the time it reached the main floor and I managed to haul ass outside, it felt like I'd spent a thousand years locked in the car.

A thousand years of memories, a thousand years of wanting freedom, a thousand years of wondering if we had another Dredge on our hands.

COLLAPSE

Playlist

Air:
Cherry Blossom Girl
Venus
Ghost Song
Surfing on a Rocket
Playground Love

Bravery: Believe
Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare
Alice in Chains: Man in the Box
Audioslave: Set it Off
Beastie Boys: Rhymin and Stealin

Beck:
Nausea
Que Onda Guero
Mixed Bizness
Soul of a Man
Where It's At

Blue Oyster Cult: Godzilla
Bob Seger: Turn the Page

Bowie:
I'm Afraid of Americans
Let's Dance

Cat Power: I Don't Blame You
Cher: The Beat Goes On
Chester Bennington: System
Chris Isaak: Wicked Game
Corvus Corax: Ballade de Mercy

Depeche Mode:
Personal Jesus
Blasphemous Rumours
If You Want
Stripped
Dream On

Don Henley: In the Garden of Allah
Everlast: I Can't Move
Faith No More: Epic

Gary Numan:
Are Friends Electic
Prophecy
Tread Careful
Down in the Park
Soul Protection
My Breathing
Hybrid
Cars (Hybrid Remix)
The Sleeproom
Survivor
Call Out The Dogs
I Can't Stop
Strange Charm

Godsmack: Voodoo
Gorillaz: Hongkongaton

Harvey Danger: Sad Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Hives, The: Tick Tick Boom
Jay Gordon: Slept So Long
Kraftwerk: Pocket Calculator
Lady Gaga: Paparazzi

Ladytron:
Ghosts
Burning Up
Black Cat
Predict the Day
I'm Not Scared
High Rise
Destroy Everything You Touch

Little Big Town: Bones

Lenny Kravitz:
American Woman
Fly Away

Low: Half Light
Madonna: Vogue
Metallica: Enter Sandman

NIN:
Closer
Sin
Get Down, Make Love

Nirvana:
All Apologies
Come As You Are
Nirvana
You Know You're Right

No Doubt:
Hella Good
Hey Baby

Oingo Boingo:
Deadman's Party
Elevator Man

Orgy:
Blue Monday
Social Enemies

PCD:
I Don't Need a Man
Buttons

PJHarvey: Good Fortune

Rob Zombie:
Living Dead Girl
Never Gonna Stop

Saliva: Ladies and Gentlemen
Seether: Remedy

Shriekback:
Over the Wire
New Man

Talking Heads:
Life During Wartime
I Zimbra

Tears for Fears: Mad World
Toadies: Possum Kingdom
Tool: Schism

Tori Amos:
Talula
Blood Roses
In the Springtime of His Voodoo

Thompson Twins:
The Gap
Sister of Mercy

U2: Vertigo
Zero 7: In the Waiting Line

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