Authors: Tiffany Allee
Tags: #paranormal romance, #demon, #incubus, #succubus, #banshee, #killer, #detective, #stalker, #crime, #tiffany allee, #files from the otherworlder enforcement agency, #urban fantasy, #chicago
“What are you so happy about?” I slurred. I paused, confused. One beer, even with how tired I was, shouldn’t have made me slur.
“I’m happy to see you, of course,” he said, and then touched my cheek. His hand slid down my face until his fingers came to rest under my chin, and he tipped it up so I met his eyes again. He lowered his lips to mine and kissed me.
Suddenly, all I could think of was him and how much I needed him to touch me. How much I wanted to please him. I pulled him closer, deepening the kiss. He chuckled, his mouth on mine, and pressed against me even harder. Something was different; I realized in the back of my mind that his kiss was aggressive, foreign. As he tightened his arms around me the thought flew from my head and I could only think of him.
His soft hair curled under my fingers, stuck in a long ponytail. I yanked at the stretchy band, wanting to see it down around his face.
He took my hand in his and a wave of euphoria hit me. “Let’s get out of here,” he whispered as his hot breath touched my ear.
Clinging to his arm, I nodded and let him lead me out the door.
I handed him my keys when he asked for them as we left Sylvester’s. Heart
thudding in my chest, I felt almost nauseous I was so excited. I was so lucky that this Adonis wanted to be with me, and I would have sprinted to the car if it hadn’t meant leaving his side. We needed to get wherever we were going so I could show him how much I wanted him, how much I
him. He drove us to an apartment complex not far from the bar. It was a newer building, nice and neat, and equipped with an elevator.
He pressed the up button and walked in when the
sounded, holding out his hand for mine. I reached out, eager to feel his skin on mine.
,” he whispered.
I looked up into his dark eyes and my breath flew from me. He was so gorgeous and masculine, and he wanted
. I gave him my hand and he pulled me to him. His lips lowered to mine as the elevator doors closed behind us. He kissed me hard, punishing, but I couldn’t get enough of him, his taste. He pushed me away when the doors opened. I made a small noise in protest.
“Eager,” he said. “I like that.”
As we left the elevator, he yanked a set of keys from his pocket. I frowned at the unicorn keychain. The oddity of it disappeared from my mind as we arrived at a door. He unlocked it and pulled me inside, flicking on a light as we entered.
“Welcome home,” he said, grinning at me.
My frown deepened. “But you don’t have a home here. You’re from…” I struggled to think. “Somewhere else.” I stared at the slight widow’s peak above his arrogant brow. It was wrong somehow. But that couldn’t be right; he was perfect. I shook my head and tried to grasp my fleeting thoughts.
“Very true. But for now this is my home.” His voice grew deeper. “Look at me,
I looked, meeting his gaze. I took a quick breath. I wanted him so much. My thoughts were no longer important. He was the only thing that mattered. When he crooked a finger at me, I nearly threw myself at him.
He shoved me against the wall and kissed me, pushing his hard body on mine. Trembling, I moaned and he chuckled under my lips. I pulled him closer, and wrapped my arms around his neck to feel his hair under my hands. I yanked at the holder keeping it confined, and then pulled it off, freeing his flowing mane. As I moved back from the kiss, I took a moment to appreciate the view. His hair framed his face, trailing down over his shoulders. It would be magnificent against his naked chest. I needed to get his shirt off.
As I tugged at it, a vague warning flitted in my mind. I helped him expose his chest and pushed the thought aside.
. His dark hair draped over him, making him look even more wild and masculine. I quivered under his gaze, and then the fleeting idea that had been out of my reach since I met his eyes suddenly hit the forefront of my thoughts.
“You’re not Aidan,” I muttered, not sure why that fact was important.
He snarled at me, eyes narrowing, and a low growl escaped from his chest.
“You’re not him,” I said, more certain of it now. Still, I struggled with that bit of information’s importance. I looked away from him, searching my mind.
“Look at me,” he commanded, voice low and angry.
“No.” I tried to move away from the wall, but his arms were on both sides of me, blocking me in.
“You will look at me, bitch!”
Power rolled over me, and my head started to turn so I could gaze at him again. I pressed my eyes shut. Sweat ran down the sides of my face. I wanted to look, so much so it was almost painful not to, but I couldn’t. A cry escaped me, a small sound, weak. That bothered me. I wasn’t weak, dammit.
A veil lifted from my mind, and I could think again, clearly. I lashed out, catching the man—the incubus—square in the jaw with my fist. It wasn’t the best punch I’d ever landed, but his head jerked back, and he stumbled a few steps.
Staring at him, I realized that I still wanted to touch him, to take the pain from his expression. Rage filled me and I shoved the tender thought away. He was the killer. He had Aidan’s face, and he’d brought me here to rape and kill me. Heat still coursed through my body when I met his angry gaze. Freaking incubi.
I felt along my back, but my gun was gone. I’d given the 9mm to someone on my way out of the bar. The memory was vague, but I was certain that person was Kimmy. The apartment, I noticed, was covered in feminine design. A flowery couch, lavender paint on the walls, a vase full of flowers on a table in the hall, next to where he’d pushed me against the wall to kiss me. This was probably her home. How long had she been keeping him here? The whole time he was in town? Or just since the heat turned up on him after he killed a cop? He was using her, enthralling her, for a place to stay and a convenient bar to find victims, no doubt.
“Look at me,
,” he whispered, moving closer. His voice had calmed, but his wide eyes were still wild, angry. His mouth formed a smile. He was enjoying himself. I glanced down at his jeans and flinched. Enjoying himself indeed.
I smiled back at him, and his posture relaxed somewhat. I took a deep breath slowly so he wouldn’t be alarmed.
Then I screamed.
Glass shattered from the kitchen, and the incubus dropped to his knees and yelled, covering his ears. He was too late. Blood ran down the sides of his face. I reached the end of my breath and sucked in air for another scream as I inched back toward the door to the apartment. Some otherworlders were able to resist the effect of my screams, and I didn’t dare release my full power in an apartment complex to ensure he would be knocked out cold. That kind of power was likely to injure Kimmy’s human neighbors, and knowing my luck there’d be a sick person living next door who would be pushed over the edge from illness to death by my scream. I couldn’t risk it.
As I sucked in one last breath, I reached for the doorknob behind me. Blood flowed freely down the incubus’s face, and he clung to his ears and crouched, flinching away from me. Satisfied he would keep for a few minutes while I got backup, I turned away to find the doorknob, keeping my breath held in case I needed to unleash another scream. Movement flashed behind me. Something slammed against the back of my head.
The world went black.
I awoke to the sound of a car engine purring, vibrating under
my ear. I tried
to move and regretted the attempt, as pain shot up to my shoulder. Tied up, my arms were behind my back, secured with handcuffs—my handcuffs most likely. My feet were tied with some sort of rope, and a rough fabric filled my mouth, kept in place with a tight gag. I struggled to breathe through my nose, pushing down the panic building in my chest.
Think. There’s gotta be a way out of this. Stay calm.
I tried to move my body, to look around the vehicle, but only succeeded in moving my head. Breathing through the blackness that threatened to overwhelm me again, I checked out my surroundings. I rode in my Toyota, the gray interior flashed into view from the occasional streetlight. The asshole had shoved me into my own car.
Where was he taking me? Mentally kicking myself for turning my back to the incubus, I still couldn’t believe he’d recovered so quickly, fast enough to get up off the floor and hit me with something. The vase from the hallway table? He’d moved quickly enough to get us both out of the building before the police arrived. He was quick. A banshee scream tended to get noticed and reported pretty damn fast. How had he been able to shake off my scream like that? Maybe I’d just lost my touch.
Or maybe incubi were more resistant to a half-banshee’s powers than I’d like.
I’d certainly resisted his seductive abilities better than I expected. Whatever Kimmy had slipped into my drink seemed to make me instantly susceptible to the incubus’ powers. Once under the thrall of an incubus, it was obviously very difficult to break free, which is why the incubus had felt safe letting even Amanda go about her day after he thralled her. Perhaps the power over me was breakable because we hadn’t had sex? Or had Aidan’s influence somehow protected me from the other incubus?
The car slowed to a stop, interrupting my thoughts. The grinding of a garage opening sounded. The engine cut out, and I heard the cargo door open behind me. I held still, unsure of how to fight him in my current state, but unwilling to lose any potential edge. If he thought I was still knocked out, maybe he would untie me to finish his plan. I squeezed my eyes shut, and struggled to play dead, when my instincts were telling me to squirm and fight.
I lost the battle with myself when strong arms grabbed me, and I rose up in the air, only to be caught on a shoulder. As I landed my breath flew from me, and I couldn’t keep the cry from escaping my throat. My gag muffled the noise, and I silently prayed the cloth dulled it enough to go unnoticed.
“Nice to see you’re going to be awake for this,
So much for the surprise attack.
He was breathing hard. I hoped it was from the exertion of carrying me and not because he was still excited. As we passed the threshold of the garage into the house, light tan ceramic tiles flashed below me. My tile, my house. How did he know where I live? He’d done his homework. He fumbled with the light switches in the kitchen and hallway, before he tossed me onto the bed in my room. His hand snaked up my leg, moving over my stomach to cup my breast, grabbing it painfully.
“I’ll be back for you soon,
. Don’t worry. I won’t make you wait too long for it. I’m far too hungry from your shenanigans.”
He disappeared and I heard him talking a few moments later from the other side of the house—the kitchen maybe. I couldn’t make out the words, but I suspected he was checking in with Kimmy. I wiggled my leg, trying to get my shoes off. If I could get off one shoe, I might be able to pull a foot through the rope and free my feet. Squirming was difficult with my mouth bound, and I wanted to gasp for air, but couldn’t. I forced myself to slow down so I didn’t have a panic attack over my inability to breathe, and I pulled at my right shoe, using the bed and my other shoe to slowly work it off.
Sudden movement caught my eye and I cried out, almost silently because of the gag. He was back, and there was nothing I could do to protect myself. Desperate, I struggled in vain against the ropes and cuffs.
“Shhhh…” he whispered in my ear. “Hold still, Kiera.”
I began my struggles anew at his words. Hold still, my ass.
He touched my legs, and I opened my eyes to see him pushing on them with his hand, his other hand working the bonds with something—a knife? Suddenly the pressure lifted, and I could move again. I pulled them back to kick him, when his clothes caught my eye. They were different. Surely he hadn’t taken the time to change? There was no blood on his face, and he backed away from me slowly, hands in the air to show he meant no harm. His hair was short.
“Keys?” he mouthed.
I shook my head. My cuff keys had been in my gun holster, which I’d handed off to Kimmy. But I had my legs, and most importantly, my voice.
The sound of the incubus yelling, and then the slam of something—probably my phone—hitting the wall, distracted Aidan. Then he reached out and pulled me up from the bed, onto my feet. I staggered for a moment, and he held me until I gained my balance. He ran his hand along the side of my face, trying to find room to fit the blade under the gag.
Then, Aidan was gone, flung across the room. The other incubus stood over him, knife dripping blood in his hand. I’d never heard that incubi were preternaturally strong, but I’d be willing to bet they were now. At least ones who’d recently gorged on the life force of their victims.
“Aidan?” The incubus sounded confused, as if he wasn’t entirely certain he recognized Aidan.
I struggled with my gag, pulling the side of my face across my shoulder, trying to dislodge it. The incubus had secured it well. The cloth cut into my skin, and it wouldn’t loosen.
The incubus knelt by Aidan. “I should have known they would send you after me. How many years have you hunted? Did they think I would hesitate if they sent you? They should have known better.” He leaned in and I could barely hear him. “We don’t need anyone else, Aidan. My women and me, we’re together always. We don’t need you, brother.” The incubus continued talking to him, so softly that I couldn’t make out the words. Then he held the blade up like some sort of horror film bad-guy ready to dispense the killing blow.
My chest tightened. I couldn’t scream, couldn’t shoot him or strike with my fists—I was powerless. Powerless to help Aidan. Powerless to avenge Amanda. Powerless to save myself.
I ran at the incubus and did the only thing I could think of—swinging my foot out, I kicked him in the side with all the strength I could muster. It wasn’t much with my cramped legs and cuffed arms.
One kick, two, and the incubus fell to his side just as I lost my balance and landed on my back, gasping in pain against the gag in my mouth as my trapped arms twisted painfully under my weight.
Spots flashed and I blinked several times to clear my vision. Sudden pressure hit my legs, and I looked up to see Aidan—wrestling with the incubus for the knife.
The incubus struck out with an elbow, catching Aidan in the jaw, stunning him. He got his knee between them, and then pushed hard, sending Aidan flying across the room. Definitely abnormally strong.
I kicked out, striking the incubus in the head with my heel. He turned to look at me, and only a flash of rage registered before Aidan, stumbling to his feet, used the distraction to grab the knife. Shoving his arms down, he pushed the blade into the incubus’s neck.
He twitched and tried to shove Aidan off, coughing. Blood flew from his mouth and spotted Aidan’s face. Aidan grimaced and pushed the knife down further, cutting into the creature’s neck. The incubus mouthed a word at Aidan, and then went still.
first set of uniforms came in and uncuffed me. Aidan followed me out to the front porch, but kept his distance. It seemed like only minutes later Claude and his partner, Astrid Holmes, arrived on scene. Astrid held back, talking to one of the uniforms, but Claude made a beeline for me.
“I got your message,” Claude told me as he shot a suspicious glance at Aidan.
“He’s okay,” I muttered, knowing Claude would hear my soft tone.
Claude nodded. “We should get you to the hospital.”
“No, I’m fine.”
He frowned but didn’t argue with me. “What happened?”
I told him an abbreviated version of the events of the night, still trying to wrap my brain around what I was going to tell Lieutenant Vasquez and Internal Affairs. I decided coming clean was probably best, or close to clean anyway. None of the personal stuff that had happened between Aidan and me was anyone’s business but our own. I’d just have to think of how to frame it right so Vasquez didn’t fire me on the spot.
Claude nodded as I finished my story. “Well, killing the incubus complicates things, but we should still be able to ID him as the murderer, since all of the standard oh-dubs were run on Amanda and the victim before her.”
“Rebecca,” I muttered.
“Yeah, well. So long as the energies match, you should be in the clear on this.” He glanced at Aidan. “Not sure about your friend, though. Do you know who he’s working for yet?”
I shook my head and Claude crossed his arms, keeping his gaze firmly planted on the incubus. A few seconds later, paramedics were treating Aidan and asking me what seemed like a million questions. They wanted to take me to the hospital, but I refused. I might as well deal with Vasquez now, or he’d just have time to think of more questions to ask me when I did finally have to face him.
Vasquez himself showed up nearly twenty minutes later, and I didn’t notice him at first because I was busy watching Aidan. He’d settled into a corner of the room, carefully noting the activity around him, but reticent. He wouldn’t meet my gaze, and I was about thirty seconds away from smacking him and demanding answers when Vasquez stomped up my steps.
Claude fielded him for a few seconds. I couldn’t hear what he told the lieutenant, but whatever he said, it transformed Vasquez’s expression from wild-eyed raging to a solid frown line that generally meant your ass, but not your badge. A bit of tension left my neck at the change, but when he pushed by Claude and stalked toward me, it returned.
“What the hell happened here, Mac?” His voice boomed over the rest of the noises surrounding us, and even Aidan glanced over. Great, now he wanted to pay attention?
“I got a call with a lead—”
“Oh just a random call, huh? From whom? How’d they know to call you?”
“And Sylvester’s huh? I guess I don’t look like such a damned idiot now do I?”
I blinked. “What are you talking about?”
He shook his head. “You went into that club without even checking it out? Who do you think owns the damn place? The Chevaliers, that’s who. The damn bloodsuckers you didn’t even want to interview.”
Shit. That connected them to at least two of the victims. Claire Simons worked with Nicolas Chevalier, and Kimmy worked at a club the family owned. Was there a connection to the other victim that we didn’t know about?
“We don’t have anything real that’ll stick to them, nothing beyond a tenuous link. And you’re not going to be the one looking for that connection either.”
Vasquez threw up a hand, halting my argument. “I told you to stay off this case. You were too close to it. And what did you do? You went out, disobeyed my orders, and almost got yourself killed!”
“I had to—”
“What? You had to what? What did you have to do that was more important than your life? Than the lives of your fellow officers? Because that’s what you risked with this game of yours. You put everyone at risk, including yourself!”
“What I had to do was catch her fucking killer!” I snarled. “And I did! What the hell have you done today?”
Vasquez stared at me for a second and for the last half of that moment I thought his fist would rise and he would take a swing at me. But then he threw his head back and laughed, and the sound reverberated off the walls of my porch. The noise was even louder than his yelling earlier, and I couldn’t do anything but stare.
time the police left my house, the sun peeked over the horizon. They’d questioned Aidan and me, separately, for hours. Saving my life was likely the only thing that kept him from being questioned at the precinct. That he looked exactly like the killer didn’t help him, and the fact he’d impersonated an OWEA officer was something the police couldn’t take lightly. But he saved one of their own, which bought him something—the night, at least.
“You okay?” I asked Aidan, when we were finally alone. Covered in blood, he looked like he needed a shower as badly as I did.
“I’m fine,” he said. “The knife wound was superficial.”
So I’d been told. “Good. They caught Kimmy.”
He nodded. “I heard. Good thing.” His jaw muscle twitched. “It sounds like he’s had her under thrall off and on for weeks, screwing with her memory, bringing her in and out of his influence. With how powerful he was, and that kind of time…I don’t think she’ll ever be right, Mac.”
“Her memory? Is that why she willingly told me about him even though she was probably already thralled?”
“Could be he made her forget when he wasn’t around her, or he might have told her to pass on that info for some reason. It’s hard to know for sure given his state of mind.”
I shivered. Even the idea that someone could mess with a person’s memories was chilling. “At least we got him. He won’t be hurting anyone else. OW measures can match him loosely to the other victims—Amanda and Rebecca, at least. Between that and my kidnapping and Kimmy’s…state of mind, it should be an open and shut case.”
We sat on my porch, silent for a few minutes, watching the sun inch into the morning sky. My whole body hurt, and I was exhausted, but I couldn’t bring myself to break the silence. I stretched my legs out, reaching from the top step where I sat, to the bottom step. Aidan looked to be in a similar state. His face was tense, and darkness encircled his eyes. He sat with his knees under his chin, arms wrapped around his legs.
“You lied to me. So fucking much.” My voice was flat. Exhaustion had siphoned off most of my rage, but a weight pressed against my chest.