Half tempted to go after them just for shits and giggles, I tipped the bottle back once more. That would be a bad idea.
Unsanctioned Luxen feedings were off the menu for me now.
The door opened again, and this time it was who I was waiting for. The two Department of Defense officers strode in. The older one scowled at the thinning crowds, a scowl that grew a hell of a lot deeper when his gaze landed on me.
I tipped a bottle at Officer Zombro, lips curling in a half grin. “Howdy, partner.”
“Should you be drinking right now?” Zombro asked.
Richards, the younger of the two, looked away, mashing his lips together.
My smirk grew as they stood at the table. Zombro looked down to where my boots rested on the stool.
The apocalypse would have to occur before I moved my feet.
“Good to see you’re in a fine mood tonight.” Zombro gestured at the other agent, who grabbed an extra stool. They sat. “One of these days, that attitude and mouth is going to get you in trouble.”
There wasn’t any kind of trouble that I couldn’t ass-kick my way out of, so whatever.
Richards, always the peacemaker, cleared his throat. “Did you check out the parking garage around the corner?”
“Too much law enforcement there,” I said, scratching at the label on my bottle. “Besides, there isn’t anything I can tell you by scoping out the place.
Nothing you don’t already know.”
Zombro sat back, unbuttoning his blazer. The flash of steel at his waist made me chuckle. The officer’s scowl deepened until it looked like his face would cave in. “It was definitely a Luxen. They killed a human last night in front of another.”
Damn. The Luxen were getting bold. Then again, I wasn’t surprised. “Details?”
Zombro glanced around before speaking, keeping his voice low. “Two women were in this bar last night.
One of them, a Mel Dockshire, had been dating Phillip Vanderson.
She apparently saw him and his brother Elijah get into an argument earlier in the day.”
“As in Senator Vanderson?” I asked.
Richards nodded. “From what we’ve gathered, the two brothers got into a pissing match and Phillip lost control of his form.”
I chuckled again. “Went all glowy in front of the human female? Nice.”
“It’s not funny. This is a serious security breach,”
“Really?” I replied dryly.
“I’m going to take a wild guess and say Miss Dockshire is the one who met an untimely fate last night. So, exactly what kind of breach do we have here?”
Zombro looked away.
“The problem is, Hunter, she told her friend, who then saw another Luxen blow up the car with her friend inside.” Richards’ eyes met mine in a steady gaze. “There’s the breach.”
I finished off my beer and then dropped my feet onto the floor. The heavy thud made both officers jump. I leaned onto the table. “Okay. I really don’t get what this has to do with me, unless you want me to find the senator’s sons and take them out.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Zombro said.
“Phillip Vanderson was brought in earlier today. He will be appropriately handled.”
Appropriately handled meant turned over to the Daedalus, the department within the DOD that handled all alien brouhaha and operated out of several government buildings, mainly good ol’ Area 51. The Daedalus ran everything when it came to our kinds. Many aliens, both Luxen and Arum , were picked up by them.
Very few were ever seen again. They were like the boogeyman to both of our kinds, wielding unimaginable power within the government and conducting fuck knows what when it came to their experiments. Rumor had it that they were creating shit. As in messing with human and alien DNA.
Even I was creeped out when it came to the Daedalus.
I sat back, eyeing the men. “And how does the senator feel about that?”
“He’s not too pleased.”
Richards let out a low breath. “We met with him this morning. He’s very… vocal about silencing Miss Cross. He believes that if she is no longer an issue, then Phillip can be released.”
“Can Phillip be released?”
“It is not known at this time,” Zombro answered stoically.
“I still don’t see what the problem is,” I said. “If this Miss Cross saw what happened in the garage, then take care of her.”
“The department hasn’t decided what to do with Miss Cross at this time.”
Richards pulled out a thin notebook. “She did witness the Luxen and is convinced that what she saw is true.”
“Then if the department isn’t sure, let the senator take her out.” This wouldn’t be the first or the last time a human stumbled on the truth. Aliens were among them and all that bullshit.
Usually, the Daedalus stepped in, but the DOD was the first line in defense. “Either way, let me say this again, I have no idea what the fuck this has to do with me.”
Zombro’s scowl slipped a fraction of an inch. “It’s not that simple.”
Never was. I wanted another beer. “Do tell?”
A young, curvy waitress passed our table, slowing down as she carried a tray full of empty bottles. She sent me a long, meaningful look I really wished I had time to investigate, especially as she put an extra twitch in her step. I may not be completely human, but I sure did have some very raging human needs.
“Senator Vanderson has taken the issue into his own hands,”
Richards explained, driving my attention back to the problem at hand. “We’ve learned that shortly after leaving his offices he put a kill order out on Miss Cross.”
Yeah, still wasn’t seeing what the BFD was. If this Miss Cross was a true security risk, letting the Luxen take her out solved the problem.
But that wasn’t it. The DOD liked to believe they were in complete control of the Luxen race, and if the Luxen deliberately went against DOD orders or tried to circumvent them, the DOD would get their big-boy undies in a bunch, and more so with a Luxen like Senator Vanderson.
My laugh earned me hard looks from both officers. “I think I have this figured out. The DOD is pissed because the senator is going to do something without their permission. And you guys can’t just shut down the senator, because it’s election year and his ‘disappearance’ would raise way too many questions.”
Neither of the officers said a word.
I snickered. “I’ve told you all before. You think the Luxen are manageable because they’re purdy when they glow, but they are going to mow right over the human race.”
“Shut up, Hunter,”
I moved so quickly that Zombro jerked back, but he wasn’t fast enough.
Grabbing the officer by the collar of his shirt, I got right in his face. “Tell me to shut up one more time and I’m going to rip out your tongue and make you eat it. Got that?”
Zombro went for the gun, and I tightened my grip. “I wouldn’t think about doing that, buddy.”
“All right, guys, that’s enough.”
Richards was sweating. “We’re all on the same team.”
Holding Zombro’s wide stare for a few more moments, I slowly released the officer and swung a look at Richards. “We are not on the same team.”
“Okay.” Richards held up his hands. “But we have to work together.”
I wasn’t so sure about that.
Thrumming my fingers on the table, I forced my body to take a breath and let it out slowly.
I wanted to eat Zombro.
“There’s more to this, isn’t there?”
Richards glanced at Zombro before speaking.
“During her police interview, Miss Cross relayed some information that the Daedalus is concerned about. Some key words that they are not familiar with.”
I knocked a wave of black hair off my forehead.
“And that would be?”
“She mentioned something to do with Project Eagle.” Richards paused. “The Daedalus would like to know what this is.”
“So ask her.”
Zombro rubbed his temple.
“Miss Cross doesn’t remember right now, but there’s a chance she does know more, and that whatever this is, it may be why the senator wants her silenced so badly.”
A muscle began to tick in my jaw. So the mystery deepened. Problem was, I didn’t give a fuck. “For the last time, what does this have to do with me?”
“We need you to see if you can get the information out of her, and watch over Miss Cross.”
I blinked. “Come again?”
Crimson swept across Zombro’s pitted face. “I don’t think Richards stuttered. We need you to watch over Miss Cross.
Who else better to protect her against a Luxen than an Arum?
You were practically bred to fight them.”
True, but what the hell were they thinking?
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Richards slid a slip of paper across the table. It contained a hastily scribbled address. I didn’t want to even touch it. “This is your job. Right now we believe they are unaware of where she lives, but it’s only a matter of time before they find her.”
I barked out a short laugh. “My job is not to babysit humans.”
Zombro smirked, and I wanted to knock it off his face. “It is now.”
It took every ounce of my self-control to not throw Zombro through a wall. “I am the last thing on this Earth you should be saddling with this.”
“It’s either you, or Miss Cross dies,”
Richards reasoned plaintively.
“When the Luxen come after her—”
“You won’t be able to stop them,” I spat, more pissed off than I remembered being in a long time. “This is your problem.”
“It’s now your problem,”
Man, I was going to kill that guy one day and fucking savor it.
Richards glanced at his partner nervously. “I know this is not typically something we’d ask you to do, but this is what we’re asking.” He paused. “It’s a life-or-death situation.”
“Not to burst your preconceived notions of me, but do I look like I care?”
Zombro let out a rich curse. “You’re going to start caring, because contrary to popular belief, the DOD is and always will be behind the safety of humans, and not extraterrestrial life-forms.
And if we can find out what Miss Cross knows and convince her to remain quiet, then we shall try that first.”
Well, someone forgot to inform the Daedalus of that, because they seemed to have no problem giving humans a cement swim.
Shit. I was not happy about this. There wasn’t a patient bone in my body and the only reason I was ever around a woman was to sate a primal hunger. I didn’t watch over them. I didn’t protect them. It wasn’t in my nature, and the officers knew that. I wasn’t the good guy here.
There was a good chance I’d kill Miss Cross.
Three days passed in what felt like a thick fog. The first day was spent crying in bed, and I hadn’t cried like that since I lost my mother. When I finally did drag myself out of bed, I found an old cell phone stashed in my closet. The one I had with me that night never booted back up. I knew it had been due to the electrical charge that had rippled through the garage. It had fried my phone, and I wondered if it had done the same to the computer in my car.