Serpentine (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 26) - Page 69

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IT TURNED OUT that the woman arguing with Edward was not only a local cop, but also the only official psychic they had in the area. I'd always suspected that more cops were psychic than we knew, and when the powers that be had tested most of the police in the country, searching for psychics already on the job, I'd been proven right. A solid thirty percent tested high enough on the Cayce Scale to be classed as actively psychic, which was higher than most of the other professions that they tested. So the police refusing to take on psychics or witches, or whatever word you wanted to use, became moot, because they were already on the job. Officer Angela Dalton was one of the new breed of gifted police who had been recruited nationally, then assigned locally.

Officer Dalton had felt some major psychic phenomena going on in the car, and since she seemed to be under the delusion, or illusion, that Rankin wasn't psychic, it had to be all my fault. Dalton was a few inches taller than me, with shoulder-length brown hair that fell in soft waves. She was slender, with enough curves to keep her from looking boyish in her slacks and polo shirt. Her gun was holstered at her side with her badge in front of it hooked on her belt like I wore mine most of the time at work. I'm sure under other circumstances she was very professional, but right that moment she was up in my face because I'd tried to bespell one of their officers. She actually used the word bespell. I decided to teach her a new phrase.

"Mind-fuck," I said. I might have yelled it a little.

She frowned. "What? What did you say?"

"Mind-fuck, not bespell, mind-fuck."

That stopped her yelling at me, while she thought it through.

"If I had tried to do what you're accusing me of, Officer Dalton, it would have been a mind-fuck. Bespell is far too gentle a word for it."

She blinked pale brown eyes at me, one of the few cops in the group who wasn't wearing sunglasses. "What I felt in that car was awful, so you're right, except I'd say rape, mind-rape."

It was my turn to mull the word around. I nodded. "Yeah, it's closer to rape than just fucking, so, yeah, mind-rape."

"How can you be so calm after what you just tried to do to Rankin?"

"I didn't try to do anything to him--"

Rankin interrupted. "That's right, you didn't just try, you got inside my head." He almost snarled it in my face.

"Well, if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black," I said.

Dalton said, "What are you talking about, Blake?"

"He mind-fucked me, not the other way around."

"That's not true," Rankin said.

"You've felt this energy before, haven't you, Dalton?" I asked.

She nodded, frowning slightly. "Yes."

"I just got into town, so it couldn't have been me."

She blinked those pale brown eyes at me, and it reminded me of the look in Nathaniel's eyes when he fought free from Rankin's power. "No, no, you weren't there." I could see her beginning to connect the dots, and then Rankin brushed her arm with his hand. It was such a small movement. If you weren't standing right there, you'd have missed it. Her eyes went back to angry. I watched it from inches away, watched his power fill her mind back up with his lies. Fuck him.

If he'd been a vampire I could have freed Dalton; if it had been his gaze that was trapping her like it had been for me in the car, I could have broken the eye contact; but he didn't need her to look him in the eyes now. Whatever he'd done to her had become more ingrained, so he could control her without the gaze, but he did have to keep touching her sometimes. Interesting. Maybe I could work with that.

I stepped between them, forced Rankin back from her. It forced me to turn my back on Dalton, but I kept talking to her, hoping she could hear me. "The power in the car, you said you've felt it before?"

Edward spoke behind me. "Did you say you'd felt the energy in the car before, Officer Dalton?"

"Yes, yes, I have."

I said, "Long before we got to town, right?"

"Yes," she said, and sounded uncertain, and then her second yes was more sure.

Rankin tried to move past me, but I moved a small step into his way. He looked at me, and I felt a brush of power, almost like a cool wind, though that wasn't quite right. I looked from his dark eyes to the lowest collar button of his shirt. I wouldn't let him capture me with his eyes again. Years of being able to look ancient vampires in the eyes had made me arrogant, but I'd spent years dealing with vampires before Jean-Claude shared his power with me and let me stare them in the eyes. Rankin wasn't a vampire, so my

necromancy and Jean-Claude's marks didn't help me with him. I looked at Rankin's upper chest, as if we were in a physical fight, because if you want to know how a person is going to attack you, you don't watch their eyes or face or hands; you watch their center body mass, because all the dangerous moves start there. They can't hit you, kick you, or even reach you without moving the center of their body first. That's where their arms are attached; think about it.

He tried to move around me, but I saw his body tense for it, so I was in his way again, before he'd really moved at all. He tried the other side, and again I was in his way. Dalton was talking more and more clearly to Edward behind me. She agreed that if she'd felt the power before we arrived in town, it couldn't be us.

"It has to be someone who's local if you're feeling it a lot," Edward said in his friendly Ted voice.

"I guess so," she said, but even I could tell that she wasn't happy to say it.

Rankin called out to her, "Dalton, Angela, look at me."

Edward said, "Officer Dalton, can you come over here and see what you think of the energy of my friends in the car? That way you can be sure that it wasn't them."

I didn't glance back to see that Edward was herding Detective Dalton away from us, and most important, away from Rankin's gaze or touch. Of course, I'd forgotten about his voice. "Angela," he called out, and my skin ran in goose bumps just standing close to him when he did it.

He noticed it and dipped his head lower to whisper, "Anita," so that it slid along my skin and tried to crawl into my mind, but he didn't have eye or skin contact this time, so I was able to keep him out of my head. I whispered, "Fuck you."

He brushed his finger against my arm, and it sent a shiver of goose bumps down that side of my body. It made me shiver, which made him smile. I so wanted to punch that smug look off his face, but that wouldn't earn me any points with the other cops, and it certainly wouldn't help Nathaniel or Dalton, or find Denny.

Tags: Laurell K. Hamilton Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Horror