The memory wasn't like a camera view, it was from Avery's eyes. I had a glimpse down his body, that he was nude, that both women were nude, but still her face... I couldn't see her face.
I slid to my knees, still kissing him. His hands wrapped around my body, and when he pressed us together, I let myself melt into the feel of his arms, his body. I gave myself to the kiss, the embrace, and it was like a stroke of lightning cut through the memory. The colors were brighter, I knew what Sally Cook's mouth tasted like. I could smell perfume, one that was sharper, more alcohol content, and the other that powdery musk of something expensive. The vampire's face was like crystal in my head, in his head. Her name was Nellie, and she was a master vampire, and she had met him at the strip clubs, not at the church. She'd brought the stripper, who Avery knew as Morgana.
It was like I suddenly had access to everything that Nellie had said to him, as if I'd unlocked a computer file, and suddenly the information poured in. She'd talked about her master, whom Avery had never met. Her master, who was a real master vampire, not like Malcolm. Someone who knew how to hunt, how to feed, how to be a true predator. Avery had tried to distance himself from her, but she'd pursued him hard. The thought led to a memory of Nellie and another woman vampire. The second vampire looked enough like Nellie to be her sister, almost twin. Her name was Nadine, and she was much younger, much weaker. But they looked alike, and the moment I saw that, I realized that they looked like Avery. They all had the same soft, brown hair, the same soft, oval faces, pale brown eyes. They could have been siblings. Nadine and Nellie had fought after they had had sex with him. Nadine didn't want to share Nellie on a regular basis.
Avery had used that as an excuse to distance himself again, but then Nellie showed up that night at the club, and she had Morgana in tow, and they offered, and he didn't say no. I tasted his guilt. It was real enough. He'd broken so many rules of the church. The club, the stripper, and Nellie was dangerous, he knew that, just not how dangerous.
He'd fed on the woman, fed at her neck, then had sex with Nellie. He thought the evening was over, but Nellie started to go down on the other woman. She wanted him to feed from her thigh. Feed in that most intimate of places, but something about it panicked him. Maybe it was the look in the other vampire's eyes. Soft brown in color, but what we both saw in those eyes was hard, and he knew that if he didn't get up and go, that she would talk him into anything, everything.
He grabbed his clothes, fled the bedroom, dressed in the living room, and left Morgana alive and happy in bed with Nellie. He went to the church and took one of the coffins they had in the basement for emergencies. He'd been working up to telling Malcolm about Nellie and her scary offer, about a master vampire who knew how to hunt. A master who was actively recruiting church members for his scary little group. But Avery had been waiting until after church services. Then I had come, and plans changed.
I broke the kiss, the way you'd break the surface of a pool, fast and hard, when you've been too long under water and you need to breathe. It brought me gasping away from his mouth, and left me inches from his face, so that we were left staring into each other's wide eyes. If I'd been thinking clearly, I'd have tried to get the next question answered the same way I'd asked the rest, by touch and vampire trickery, or would that be necromancer trickery? Whatever, staring at his face from inches away, and seeing something close to devotion on a stranger's face, threw me. Jean-Claude might have been used to it, but I wasn't, and so I did what I always do when I'm scared by some new bit of metaphysics. I resorted to something human and ordinary. I spoke, out loud.
"Is there anyone in the church tonight that joined Nellie and her master?"
"Yes," he said, in a voice that was still whispery from the kiss, "Jonah, Nellie said, Jonah had met her master and liked him. She offered a three-way with Jonah and me and her. I said no." I was still hooked up enough to know that he said that last defensively. The idea being, of course, he wouldn't go to bed with another man, not even with a woman in the same bed at the same time. If he thought that was going to win points with me, he was wrong. I liked men who were secure enough in their manhood to share me with another man, in fact, lately, it was damn near a prerequisite for dating me.
Avery was frowning at me, as if he'd gotten some of what I was thinking. But I didn't have time to worry about it, because Zerbrowski was yelling, "He's running for it!"
I was on my feet in time to see one of the vampires bounding over the backs of the pews. His feet barely touching the wood, using it to bounce himself farther away. Almost levitation, but not quite. He didn't know how to fly yet. I like the young ones, they're easier to catch.
He couldn't fly, so he wouldn't try for the tall windows. I didn't chase him. I ran to the aisle against the far wall. There was a door that led into their parish hall. He couldn't fly. He needed a door.
I had my gun out. I hit the safety with my thumb and chambered a round as I ran. The vampire leapt off the back of the last pew and landed light as air on the floor. He took one step toward the far door, and I yelled, "Stop, or I shoot." I had the gun aimed at him two-handed. It's hard to walk forward and keep a bead on someone, but I was farther away than I wanted to be in a crowded church. Yeah, the innocent people were nicely to one side, but bullets are determined little things, once you pull the trigger they will hit something. I wanted to be close enough to be secure enough to pull that trigger, and not endanger anyone else. Of course, once the guns came out, people panicked. Usually they panic sooner, but for some strange reason I was in the far aisle and had a clean shot, before the crowd started screaming and scattering. Some of them scattered the wrong damn way. I suddenly had civilians screaming and hesitating between me and the vampire I was chasing.
I yelled, "Get down, damn it, get down! Catch him, damn it!" He made the door, because I couldn't risk the shot.
But there were two vampires just behind him. They were two of the ones that had been in the aisle. Had I done that when I said, catch him? Were they being good citizens, or was it my fault? Shit.
I started through the screaming crowd with Zerbrowski at my back, and Marconi and Smith just behind. My gun was pointed at the ceiling, as I tried to get through them. They screamed at the guns, they screamed at me. They screamed because they could.
I heard Zerbrowski behind me giving the uniforms at the back door a heads-up and a description of our bad vamp. We'd almost waded through the panicked civilians. I heard different yelling over the high-pitched screams. Men yelling, but not screaming. I brought my gun up as I cleared the side of the door, with as little of my body showing as possible. No, I did not stand in the f**king middle of the doorway and make myself a perfect target. That kind of shit is great for movies, but in real life, take cover, worry about looking like a hero later, after you've survived.
There was a fight at the end of the hallway. Our civvies, one dark and one blond, had caught up with the bad guy. They seemed to be winning. They had him on the ground, though the dark-haired civvie was on the ground, too. I cleared the door, gun in a two-handed grip, with Zerbrowski right behind me. He yelled, "Police, everybody freeze!"
The civilians hesitated in the fight, because they were upstanding citizens. Upstanding citizens tend to listen to the cops. It wasn't much of a hesitation, they just stopped fighting as hard, and they glanced at us. That was it, then they turned right back to the bad guy, but he was a bad guy, and he hadn't looked at us, or hesitated in the fight. After all, he had nothing to lose. I already had a warrant that let us kill his ass.
The two vampires had him down, but when they hesitated, one of them must have loosened their grip, just a fraction. I saw something silver glint in the bad guy's hand. I yelled, "Knife!" but it was too late. The blade hit the dark one in the chest. Something about that blow seemed to stagger the blond, because he went to his knees beside his friend. Maybe he thought we had the bad guy covered. He knelt and reached for his fallen friend, and if the bad guy had done the usual and stood up and run through the door, we'd have had clean shots at him. But he didn't, he pushed the door wide with his hand, and half-crawled, half-rolled through the door. The two civilians were blocking our shots completely.
I yelled, "Fuck!" and started to run.
We cleared the far door, me going low, Zerbrowski high. Marconi and Smith a weight at our backs waiting for a clear angle. We were in the parish hall, and in the middle of all those long tables was the vampire. He was using his leather jacket to shield his face from the white-hot glow of the two uniforms' crosses. They had their guns in one hand, and the crosses in the other, almost like you'd hold flashlights, so that they were able to maintain a two-handed grip and still show the crosses. Training will tell.