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Incubus Dreams (Vampire Hunter 12) - Page 138


"I say, again, would we want them to be powerful and mysterious? Wouldn't that be bad?"

"For stopping crime and keeping the peace, yes, but Zerbrowski, the church talked these people into letting themselves be killed. Killed for what? I've tried to talk people out of joining the church for years, but I've not really talked to many of the members once I can't save them."

He was looking at me funny. I guess I couldn't blame him. "You still think that vamps are dead. You're dating one, and you still think they're dead."

"Jean-Claude hasn't made a new vampire since he became Master of the City, Zerbrowski."

"Why not? I mean, it's considered legal now, not murder."

"I think he agrees with me, Zerbrowski."

He frowned harder at me, took off his glasses, rubbed the bridge of his nose, put them back on, and shook his head. "I am just a simple cop, and you are making my head hurt."

"Simple my ass. Katie told me you double majored in law enforcement and philosophy. What kind of cop has a degree in philosophy?"

He looked at me kind of sideways. "If you tell anyone else I'll deny it, say sleeping with the undead has made you hallucinate."

"Trust me, Zerbrowski, if I hallucinated, it wouldn't be about you."

"That is a low blow, Blake, I wasn't even picking on you." His cell phone rang. He flipped it open, still smiling about my low blow. "Zerbrow--" He never even got to finish his name, before his smile vanished. "Say again, Arnet, slower. Shit. We're on our way. Holy items out. They'll glow if the vamp is close." He started to run, as he flipped the phone closed. I ran with him.

"What happened?" I asked.

We clattered onto the stairs before he answered. "Woman dead at the scene. Vamp missing. Apartment appears empty."

"Appears?" I said.

"Vampires are tricky bastards," he said.

I would have argued, if I could have. But since I couldn't, I saved my breath for running and beat Zerbrowski to his car. If we hadn't both been afraid of what we'd find when we got to the scene, I would have teased him about it.

62

The apartment was so much nicer than the one we'd just come from. It was clean and neat enough to have pleased even my stepmother, Judith. Well, except for the dead woman on the carpet and the blood trail leading back to the bedroom. Other than that, the apartment looked freshly scrubbed.

I know by now that murder happens in the best of neighborhoods. I know for a fact that economics, or neatness, or niceness are not barriers to violence. I know that, because I've seen dead bodies in some of the nicest houses. Everyone wants to believe that violence only happens in horrible places, where even the rats fear to go, but it isn't true. I didn't think I had any illusions left about murder and murderers, but I was wrong. Because the first thing I thought when I saw that neat-as-a-pin, well-decorated apartment with the dead woman on the carpet was, the body would have fit in Jack Benchely's apartment better. Hell, you could have hidden her body in the coffee table debris.

The body lay so close to the door that they'd had to move her arm just to open the door enough to let Arnet and Abrahams inside. Abrahams had transferred over from sex crimes. I glanced at him across the room, standing near the neat, sparkly kitchen. He was tall and thin with dark hair and an olive complexion. Brown seemed to be his favorite color, because I'd never seen him when he wasn't wearing it. He was talking to Zerbrowski, who was taking notes.

So far I hadn't learned enough to need to take notes. Maybe it was because the body was right at our feet. Arnet's and mine. Dead bodies can be a real conversation stopper. The body was on its stomach, legs slightly spread, one hand reaching out toward the door, the other arm folded back where Arnet had moved it when she opened the door.

Arnet was standing beside me, looking down at the body. She looked a little pale around the edges. Maybe it was only the lack of makeup, but I didn't think so. She was actually wearing a little eye makeup and pale lipstick. But her eyes were a little big, and her skin pale against her short dark hair. Not like pale with contrast, but pale like I was ready to grab her elbow in case she started to faint on the body.

I wanted to ask her if she was alright, but you don't ask cops that, so I tried to get her talking. "How did you know she was in here?" I asked.

She jumped and turned startled eyes to me. She was seriously spooked.

"Why don't we step outside and get some air?" I said.

She shook her head, and I knew stubborn when I saw it, so I didn't argue. "I saw blood under the door, or what I was almost certain was blood."

"Then what?"

"I called for backup, and we kicked the door open."

"You and Abrahams," I said.

She nodded.

"The door bounced into her arm, but we didn't know it was her until we shoved the door again. I took low, and I was kneeling on the ground, so I saw her first. Saw that we were trying to shove the door through her." Her voice shook a little at the end.

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"Let's move over there by the kitchen, okay?"

"I'm alright," she said, and was angry suddenly. "Why is it that you think you're the only woman that can handle this kind of shit?"

I lifted eyebrows, but didn't say anything for a count of five. I wasn't mad, I just wasn't sure what to say. I finally tried the truth. "I'm not the one that's pale and looks ready to faint."

"I'm not going to faint," she hissed at me. Angry whispers always sound so evil.

"Fine, then we'll stay right here."

"Fine," she said, still angry.

I shrugged, strangely not angry. "Fine. You checked the woman, found she was dead, and then..."

"You know, I don't have to report to you. You're not my boss."

That was it. "Look, Arnet, if you've got a personal beef with me, fine, have a personal beef with me, but not on her time." I pointed down to the body.

"What do you mean, her time, she's dead. She doesn't have any more time."

"Bullshit. We're on her dime right now. This is her murder, and catching the son of a bitch that did this to her is more important than anything else right now. You stonewalling me and acting like some damn rookie is just giving him more time to run. We don't want him to run. We want him to be caught, right?"

She nodded. "I am not acting like a rookie."

I sighed. "I apologize for that, and if you want to fight, we can fight, but later, when we're not wasting valuable time, when we're not wasting her time."

Arnet looked down at the body again, mostly because I pointed again. Maybe it was overly dramatic, but I already spent time fighting with Dolph at crime scenes, I didn't need another prima donna on my hands. Murder first, personal stuff later, that had to be the order of things, or you lost your way.

Zerbrowski was behind her. I noticed him walking up, but I don't think Arnet did. "Go outside, Arnet, get some air," he said, smiling, trying to take some of the sting out of it.

"I'm a detective on this team, she isn't." She pointed at me with her thumb.

"Outside, now," Zerbrowski said, and his voice had lost all of its hail-fellow-well-met cheer.

Arnet stood there glaring at him.

"If I have to tell you to go outside again, Arnet, it won't just be for air."

"What's that mean?" she asked, and her hands were starting to tremble. She was so angry she was shaking. What the hell had I done to make her this pissed about me? Was it about Nathaniel? Hell, she'd never dated him. She'd never met him before he was already living with me.

"Do you want to be off this case?" Zerbrowski asked, voice low and suddenly not at all like Zerbrowski's voice.

"No," she said, and she looked sullen, but surprised, as if she hadn't known that he had a voice like that in him. Me, neither.

He looked at her, it was a look to match that new voice. "Then what should you be doing?"

She opened her mouth then closed it until her lips were a thin pink line. She turned on her sensible, two-inch heels and marched out.

Zerbrowski sighed loudly and frowned at me. "What did you do to Arnet?"

"Me? Nothing."

He gave me a look.

"I swear, I didn't do a damn thing to her."

"Katie says Arnet was pretty pissed at something you said at the wedding."

"How does Katie know she was pissed?"

His look got really narrow. "You did say something, didn't you?"

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