"Mostly all I smelled was blood, Jason."
"Sometimes I forget you're not one of us, yet."
"Is that a compliment or a complaint?"
He grinned. "Neither."
"How can you be so sure it wasn't one of our werewolves?"
"It didn't smell like pack."
"Forget that I am human, and my nose isn't four hundred times more sensitive and scent discriminating, and explain it to me simply."
"My nose in human form isn't as good as my nose in wolf form. The world is so alive. Scenting is almost like sight. If you've never experienced it, it's hard to explain, but in human form touch is probably secondary to sight. In wolf form scent is secondary to sight, or in some cases, ahead of it."
"Okay, say that's so, what does that mean for this investigation?"
"It means that I know the killer is a werewolf, and I know he's not one of ours."
"Your opinion won't fly in court," I said.
"I didn't think it would. Honest, I would have mentioned what I'd smelled in the house sooner if I hadn't assumed you smelled it, too." He looked worried now, and suddenly younger because of it, all schoolboy charm.
What he'd said got me thinking.
"Most breeds of scent hounds won't track a werewolf, or any wereanimal for that matter. They go all shit-face, howling and whining and freaking out. They basically tell the hunters, you're on your own," I said.
"I knew dogs didn't like us, but I didn't know they didn't like us that much."
"Depends on the breed of dog, but most dogs don't want to mess with you guys. I can't say I blame them."
"So I guess going down to the pound and picking out a dog is out then."
"You'd set the place on its ear."
"Okay, did you have a point?" he asked, and grinned again.
"Yes, could a werewolf in wolf form track this killer?"
Jason thought about that, face all serious again. "Probably, but I don't think the police will go for it. They don't like us much, either."
"Probably they won't, but I'll float it by Zerbrowski when he calls."
"You're sure he's going to call?"
"Because we've got two dead women, and it's probably all over the media."
"If you watched television, read a newspaper occasionally, or even listened to the radio, you might know these things," Jason said.
"Probably true, but there's heat to solve this case, and more innocent lives at risk. Zerbrowski will call, because they're grasping at straws or they wouldn't have brought you in. If Dolph had a more promising lead, even out of his head like he is, he wouldn't have been busting your chops, or mine."
"You're sure of that?"
"He's a cop, above all else. If he had anything else to chase, he'd have been out chasing it, not wasting time with you."
"I don't know, Anita, I didn't see much of the cop left today. He seems like a man who's let his personal problems eat everything else."
I would have argued if I could have, but I couldn't. "I'll mention the idea to Zerbrowski, if they get desperate enough they may go for it."
"How desperate would they have to be?"
I turned the Jeep into the parking lot of the Circus. "Maybe two more bodies, maybe three. Using a werewolf to track a werewolf might appeal to Zerbrowski's sense of humor, but getting the upper brass to agree would be the problem."
"Two more women, maybe three, Jesus, Anita, why not try the desperate measures before things get so damned bad?"
"The police are like most people, Jason, they don't like thinking outside the box. Using a werewolf in animal form as a sort of preternatural scent hound is way outside the freaking box."
"Maybe," he said, "but I smelled what was upstairs, Anita. So much blood, so much meat. A human being shouldn't be reduced to meat and blood."
"Aren't we all just food on the hoof?" I tried to make a joke of it, but Jason looked offended.
"You of all people should know better than that."
"Maybe," I said, feeling my own smile slide away from my face. "Okay, I'm sorry, no offense meant, but I've had too many shape-shifters threaten me to have any illusions about where I am on the food chain. And there are an awful lot of shapeshifters that still believe they are at the top."
"I don't buy that radical crap about us being the top of the evolutionary ladder," Jason said, "if we were really the perfection of evolution, why have we been around for thousands of years, but yet, you poor humans outnumber us, and usually outkill us?"
I parked near the back door and turned off the engine. Jason opened his door, but said, over his shoulder as he was getting out, "Don't fool yourself, Anita, plain old humans kill more of us than we ever will of them." He smiled, but not like it was funny, "They even kill more of each other than we kill of them." Then he was striding across the parking lot. He never looked back.
I had offended Jason. Until that moment I hadn't been sure it was possible to offend him. Either he was growing up, or I was getting less diplomatic. Since I couldn't possibly get less diplomatic than usual, Jason must have been growing up. For the first time in a while, I wondered if he would always be content to be Jean-Claude's lap wolf and appetizer. And stripper, too. But you can't strip and feed the vampires forever, can you?
Bobby Lee met me at the door. Tall, light-haired, and almost shiny compared to the dim storeroom behind him. But his mood was not shiny. "The police should have let me stay with you."
"I don't think they believed my story about making you all deputies."
"You should have just said that we were your bodyguards."
"I'll do that next time, Bobby Lee." I filled him in on what I'd learned at the police department while we walked down the nearly endless steps that led from the storeroom to the lower parts of the Circus of the Damned. The stairs were wide enough for four people to walk abreast, but the steps themselves were oddly spaced, as if whatever they were originally carved for wasn't very human. They definitely had not been made for bipeds.
"I don't know the name Heinrick," he said.
I looked at him, so suddenly, that I stumbled, and he caught my arm. I realized in that moment that I didn't know that much about Bobby Lee, not really. "You work for Rafael, you can't be a white supremacist."
He let go of my arm when he was sure I was solidly on one of the odd wide steps. "Honey-child, I know white supremacists that specialize in hating people a little darker than Rafael."
"Real Southerners don't say honey-child."
He grinned at me. "They do if you Northern bastards expect it."
"We're in Missouri, that ain't exactly north."
"It is from where I came from."
"And that was?"
His smiled widened. "When we're not in the middle of an emergency we can sit down and share personal time over a beer, or coffee. Right now, concentrate, honey-child, cause we are neck-deep and sinkin'."
"If you don't know Heinrick, how do you know we're sinking?"
"I was a mercenary before Rafael's people recruited me. I know people likeHeinrick."
"What would somebody like that want with me?"
"They were watching you for a reason, Anita, you probably know what that reason is, ya' just got to think of it."
I shook my head. "You sound like a friend of mine. He's always telling me that when the shit hits the fan that I should know why the bad guys are after me."
"Not always, Bobby Lee, not always." But the conversation did make me think of Edward. He'd started his professional life as a hit man, then killing humans became too easy, so he switched to monsters. Monsters covered a lot of ground for Edward. No, among the vampires and shape-shifters, he'd include serial killers, snuff film actors, anyone and anything that caught his fancy. Though the price had to be right. Edward didn't work for free. Well, not often. Sometimes he'd work simply for the thrill of chasing something that scared the rest of us mere mortals to death.
"Does anyone in Rafael's operation have contacts in nongovernmental channels? I don't want anyone owing anyone a favor for this. I don't want anyone getting in trouble. I just want to know what the regular government channels either don't know, or aren't sharing with the St. Louis police department."