"I'll see what I can do. Do you have anyone you want me to start with? I mean it's 4:30, we've got about three hours or less until dawn. They've got to be allowed to go home before dawn, unless you can charge them with something."
"We've got a woman dead in the side lot here, multiple vampire bites, and they're vampires. I could probably get a judge to agree to holding them as material witnesses. I know a judge that hates vampires enough to give me a court order."
I shook my head. "We're trying to smooth this over, not make it worse. Right now they can only sue this city, let's not give them a reason to sue us, too."
He nodded then stepped aside and made a sweeping gesture with his hand. "They are all yours, good luck."
There was a group of vampires around the big fireplace in the center of the main room. None of them belonged to Jean-Claude. Some of them were clustered around a table set in front of it the fireplace, in huge thronelike chairs, some on a cushioned seat near the fireplace. One of the vampires was clutching an animal print cushion while he sat in front of the fire. His eyes were wide, and he looked shell-shocked. The other five were scared, or angry, or a mixture of both, but they were holding it together better than the cushion-hugger.
I showed them my badge and explained who I was. But it wasn't the badge that made the cushion-hugger whimper, "Oh, God, they're going to kill us."
"Shut up, Roger," a tall vampire with sleek black hair and angry hazel eyes said. "Why are you here, Ms. Blake? We are being held against our wills, and we are guilty of nothing except being vampires."
"And you are?" I asked.
He stood and straightened a rather nice, conservative suit. "I am Charles Moffat."
"I know that name," I said.
He looked nervous, just for a moment, then he tried to swallow it. He wasn't twenty-years dead, a baby.
"You're one of Malcolm's deacons for the Church of Eternal Life," I said.
He opened his mouth, then closed it, and stood very tall, and said, "Yes, I am, and I'm not ashamed of it."
"No, but Malcolm has forbidden any of his church members to frequent this side of the river for nefarious purposes."
"How do you know what our master dictates?" He was trying to bluff, and it wasn't going to work.
"Because Malcolm talked to the Master of the City and got him to agree to tell Malcolm if any of the church's members frequented his clubs. You guys aren't allowed to be anywhere this naughty. You must, and I quote, be absolutely above reproach."
One of the vamps who was balding and wore glasses, started rocking in his chair. "I knew we shouldn't have come. If Malcolm finds out..."
"She is Jean-Claude's servant, and she must tell him, and he will tell Malcolm."
"Actually, the agreement was just to tattle about you coming to our clubs. Malcolm didn't ask us to keep an eye this side of the river."
The bald vampire looked up at me as if I'd offered him salvation. "You won't tell?"
"If you guys tell me everything you know about this, I don't see a reason to."
The bald vampire touched Charles Moffat's arm. Charles jerked away from him. "How can we trust you?"
"Look, I'm not the one who signed a morals clause with my master and has just been caught in a titty bar--you guys have. So if anyone is questioning someone's word, shouldn't it be me? I mean a vampire that goes against the express orders of his master, what good is he either to his master or his kiss?"
"We of the church do not use the word kiss for a group of vampires. Malcolm feels that it is too sensuous a word."
"Fine, but my point stands. You've betrayed your master, your church, and your oath, or don't you in the church take blood oath, either?"
"A barbaric practice," Charles said, "we of the church are held by our own moral standards not some magical oath."
I smiled and motioned around the room. "Hmm, nice standards."
Charles blushed, which isn't easy for a vamp, but it let me know he'd fed tonight, fed a lot. "Who was your feed for tonight?"
He just glared at me. "Look, guys, it's 4:30 in the morning. We have less than three hours to get your asses back to your homes. We want you all out of here before dawn, alright?"
They all nodded. "Then answer my questions. I can tell which one of you has fed and which hasn't. I need to know what dancers, or donors, you fed on. If they're in the other room, I need to talk to them. If they aren't, I need names, and a way to contact them tonight."
"The relationship between a vampire and their partner is sacred."
"Look, Charles, you've got enough blood in you to blush. You want me to start speculating where you got that much blood to waste?"
"We have already been threatened and abused. You can do no more to us."
I turned to the rest. "Who wants to answer my questions and get an I-won't-tell-Malcolm card?"
The bald vamp stood up. Charles yelled at him. But Baldie shook his head. "No, you aren't my master, Charles. We are all free beings in the church, it's one of the reasons we joined. I'm going to answer her questions, because it's within my rights to do so."
"Let's find a private room," I said, and motioned for him to follow me. There was a truly beautiful saltwater aquarium in a little area that was probably meant to be a smoking room, but there were smaller rooms off of it, where normally you could take one of the dancers and get a private dance.
I took Baldie into the first room. It was actually nice, not tacky in the least, with a small couch, a chair, a coffee table, and area lighting. The room still pulled off that leather and manly den theme, without being obnoxious about it. "Have a seat," I said.
He sat, rubbing his hands over his knees, nervous. He was a little plump, and soft. He looked like an accountant, except that when he licked his lips, he flashed a little fang. The new ones do that. "How long have you been in the church?"
"Two years." He was shaking his head. "I thought it would be sexy, you know, vampires, the clothes, the romance." He clasped his plump hands together. "But it's not like that at all. I'm still a law clerk, just at a different office where they let me work nights. I can't drink, can't eat a steak, and dying didn't make me sexier." He spread his hands wide. "Look at me, I'm just paler."
"I thought the church required six months minimum of study before they let you take the last step?"
He nodded. "They do, but they made all the moral stuff seem high-minded, you know, we're better than those other vampires. We aren't perverts like Jean-Claude and his vamps." He looked up and was scared, and it showed. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean..."
"I know what the church says about normal vampire society."
"It sounded so noble."
"Let me guess, there was this woman that happened to be a vampire."
He looked up, startled. "How did you know?"
"Lucky guess, and after you made the change, what happened?"
"She was my partner for the first few months, but after that, she had other duties."
That was interesting, and I filed it away for later. If the church deacons were seducing members, that might be called illegal, at the very least questionably moral. "Who'd you feed off of tonight?"
The question threw him, and he blinked at me like a rabbit in headlights. "Sasha, her name was Sasha."
"And you brought her back here?"
"You're a club member?"
He nodded again.
"Charles is, too?"
"Most of the people at the table are members?"
Nod, then, "It was Clarke's first time here."
"And Clarke is the one with the pillow?"
"How did you know?"
I shook my head, smiled, and said, "Do you remember any other girls that people fed off of, names or descriptions." He remembered a lot. I ended up with four names, two descriptions, and only poor Clarke had not fed. Of course, I'd known that last part, but it's always nice to have things confirmed.
With Zerbrowski as my guard, we ventured out into the club and fetched the women in question. We matched up every vamp with at least one girl. Charles had fed on three, and he was a big tipper. Two of the girls were his regulars. Pretty naughty for a church deacon.
It took me a little more than two hours to match up those who had fed with whom they'd fed on. It didn't mean they hadn't snuck out and fed again, but it made it less likely. I suggested that we could compare bite radiuses on the dead girl with the vamps later, if we needed to. We knew their names, and knew how to find them.