"Yes," Truth breathed it against my lips, so that I could smell my blood on his breath, "yes, help us stop this."
"Why?" Jean-Claude asked.
This question I stopped, because I'd had enough. "Satisfy your curiosity about him later, Jean-Claude. I've got police waiting in the other room. I need this over with."
"Very well, ma petite." It wasn't like he reached out to me, he was already in me almost as deep as he could go. But reaching was the only word I had for it. He didn't shield me or Truth. He didn't shield anything or anyone. He took the ardeur that was rising in us, and did two things at once. He swallowed the ardeur, and he shut down the link between him and me, tight and final, like slamming a door between us.
I was left alone pressed against Truth's body, our faces still inches apart, but suddenly it was just us. We both let out a breath in shaking unison, as if we'd both been holding our breath.
He moved his arms away, so I could get out of his lap. There was no teasing, no sense of loss from him at the touch of the ardeur and its going away. He seemed as relieved as I did. If I'd had time and could have figured out a way to ask why he was relieved, without sounding like my pride was hurt, I would have. But I had work to do, so I stood up and swayed, and only Truth's hand on my arm kept me from bumping a wall.
"Are you alright?" Smith and Wicked asked at the same time. Smith glared at the vampire, but Wicked's face was neutrally handsome.
"Just been donating a little too much blood lately. I'm fine." To prove it, I stepped back from Truth's hand. I took a few deep breaths, and I was steady. But I was really going to have to see if I could go at least a night without opening a vein.
"I felt your master's power," Wicked said. "My brother is bound to him, but I am not. You promised you would take us both."
"I will, Jean-Claude will, but not tonight. This blood bank is closed for the night."
Wicked gave me a look that said he neither believed nor trusted me. His brother was simply standing beside him, as if he'd levitated to his feet. Maybe he had. He hugged Wicked one-armed across the shoulders. "She'll do what she promised." Truth was smiling.
"Why, because she helped you fight off the ardeur?"
Wicked shook his head. "You must be even better than that felt, for Truth to trust you this much."
"I saved his life, that tends to impress people."
"Not him, not Truth."
"Fine, but I've got to go question a murder suspect, right now."
"We'll go with you," Truth said.
"Sorry, police business. Thanks for trying to catch the bad guy."
"Your power called to us when you touched Avery," Truth said.
"So when I said, catch him, you had to do it?"
They both nodded.
"Sorry about that."
"I'm not," Truth said.
Wicked gave me another cynical look. "I'll let you know. I'm not sorry, yet."
"Look, I give you my word that as soon as humanly possible I will give you to Jean-Claude."
I frowned. "I give my word that as soon as humanly possible I will see that you will be bound to our Master of the City, good enough?"
"Promise me that you will bind me as you bound my brother."
"I just did."
"No, you didn't. For all I know you could pass me off to someone else in your master's household. My brother and I go together. To go together, we must go in the same way."
I wished I'd had Jean-Claude to ask, was there a problem with this promise, but he was busy making all the customers at Guilty Pleasures happy. I thought about what he'd asked, and I couldn't see the problem with it, so, I said, "Okay, I promise that I'll bind you like I did your brother. Happy now?"
He gave a small nod, with an even smaller smile.
"Then leave a card or number at one of Jean-Claude's clubs, and we'll arrange another meeting."
"We'll be there," Wicked said.
"Yes," Truth said, "yes, we will be there."
I turned toward the door and the other room. Smith came at my back. I reached my hand out to him. "Gun," I said.
He handed me my gun. I holstered it and kept walking toward the other room and the waiting bad guy and police. I had a vague feeling that I'd missed something just now with Wicked and Truth. "The Wicked Truth" Jean-Claude had called them, why? Just because they killed their bloodline? Or had I missed something. Something I'd regret missing later. I ran it over in my head, and all I had promised was to let Wicked take my blood and bind himself to Jean-Claude and me. That's all I'd promised, so why did I feel like the brothers were going to expect more than I'd offered. I thought, Jean-Claude, what did I just do?
To my surprise, he answered carefully, as if he were shielding me. "We have our warriors, ma petite, just as you wished."
"You can't be done feeding the ardeur, yet."
"Non, but I remember Wicked, of old, and I thought it foolish not to check on you one more time."
"You're holding the ardeur in check while you talk to me mind-to-mind, in a room full of lusty women?"
"Nice to know our little three-way gained you something."
"You make it sound as if you gained nothing, ma petite. It is you who called the Wicked Truth to us, to you, before they came to my hand. You said only last night that we needed people that could fight, not merely seduce, and less than forty-eight hours later, you have called two of our most legendary warriors to you. That, ma petite, is not just impressive, it is frightening."
I ignored the frightening comment and concentrated on the other part. I didn't remember wishing for fighters, or warriors. I remembered thinking we needed more muscle.
"Then we have more muscle, just as you wished."
I couldn't argue with him, but I'd have to be more careful what I wished for. Lately, it seemed I was getting it, no matter what I wished. Suddenly, the phrase be careful what you wish for had taken on a whole new meaning. I guess I'd just have to be damned careful what I wished for.
Of course, what I was wishing the second I entered the next room was that we could catch our serial killers before they killed again. I was pretty secure with that wish. It seemed like a wish we could all live with. They had sat the vampire in the chair with his hands cuffed through the rungs, again, just a delay, but if it went really wrong, a second's delay could save lives. I stared at the vamp's face. His hair was darker than Avery's, a brunette that some would have said was black if I hadn't been standing in the room. His eyes were brown and dark. He was good looking in a standard haven't-I-seen-a-hundred-faces-just-like-that-way, but that wasn't what made me stare. I knew him. At first it was just a niggling in the back of my head, that his face was familiar, then suddenly it came full blown.
"You're Jonah Cooper. I got interviewed about how I felt that one of my fellow vampire hunters had been slain by the vampires. What was that, nearly two years ago now, three?"
His look, which had been neutral, went to hostile. "Four." He said that last word like it was a bad one.
"They're legal now, Cooper, why didn't you come out of the closet and tell people you didn't die in that fire?"
He looked down, then up, and his eyes had gone dark, sparkling with anger and vampire powers. I leaned into him with a smile. I knew what smile I was giving him, it was the cold one that left my eyes dead. My gun was pressed, not too hard to his chest, just over his heart. "Or is it that you let, what was it, six policemen die in the fire?"
"Anita, what's going on?" Zerbrowski asked.
I told him. I didn't have to look up to know that Zerbrowski's face wouldn't be friendly. Nothing pisses off the cops like someone who kills one of their own. "How'd you survive, Cooper?" I asked.
He glared up at me. "You know how."
"You sold them to the vampires you were hunting, didn't you?"
He just looked at me, but he didn't deny it. That was enough.
"He took money to betray cops?" Marconi asked.
"No," I said, "not money."
"No," Cooper said, "not money."
"What then?" Smith asked.
"Immortality," I said, "right, Cooper?"
"Not just that."
"What then?" I said.
"You're the Master of the City's human servant, you know what else."