Samantha was waiting for the Dutch inspector to fax over the credit card receipt used to purchase all the seats on the flight Carcher had taken from Belgium to Florida when her phone rang. She saw the number displayed by caller ID, hesitated, and then picked up the receiver. “I’m almost finished here, Lucan.”
“Glad I am to hear it,” he said. “I am enjoying a myriad of spanking fantasies now. If that is all you wished to tell me, you needn’t rendezvous with me. Just go up to the penthouse and wait. I shall be along shortly.”
“What are you talking about, rendezvous?”
“Burke gave me your message, from when you called earlier.”
She frowned. “I didn’t call you.”
“This small piece of paper says that you did, and you wished to meet me in the bar at midnight.”
“Lucan, I never called or left that message.”
“Give me a moment.” Lucan then called for his tresora.
Sam tucked the receiver between her cheek and shoulder as she pulled on her jacket.
“Darling,” Lucan said, “Transfer me over to Rafael if you would.”
“He’s still out hunting Jamys.” She switched the receiver from one ear to the other. “Who does Burke say left that message?”
“You need not concern yourself with—”
“Fluffing me off hasn’t worked since I was human,” she reminded him. “Tell me.”
“As you wish.” Lucan sighed. “Burke swears on a stack of good books that he spoke to you an hour ago.”
“An hour ago I was on the phone with Europe,” she said. “Nice people, the Dutch. Very helpful.”
“Burke must have made a mistake.” Lucan sounded remarkably unconcerned.
Sam knew Lucan’s tresora, his most trusted human servant, didn’t make mistakes. Not only had Burke and his family had been in service to the Darkyn for centuries, but he took his duties very seriously. He was also utterly devoted to Lucan, and would have set himself on fire before he allowed anyone to get at the suzerain.
Which was what was happening. Someone was trying to get to Lucan, and he knew it, and he didn’t want her to know about it. Sam could hear it in his voice. “Ask Burke what line the call came in on.”
Lucan did, and then said to her, “The main number to my office downstairs.”
Which Sam never used. She grabbed her car keys. “I want you out there. Now.”
“I think not.” Lucan’s drawl took on a hard, cold edge. “I shall deal with this. You will stay downtown.” He hung up before she could tell him to go to hell.
Sam dialed Rafael’s number as she hurried out to the employee parking lot. As soon as he answered, she said, “Someone pretending to be me is meeting Lucan at the club at midnight. How far away are you?”
“We are at young Chris’s apartment.”
She unlocked and jerked open her car door. “Tell her to stay there and meet me at Infusion. Now.”
“Chris is gone, and so is her vehicle,” Rafael said. “Jamys Durand’s scent is all over the apartment.”
Sam froze. “He took her from the apartment?”
“That or she invited him in and left willing with him,” her partner said. “That is more likely, my lady. She is a friendly child, and sympathetic to him.”
“She’s an idiot and I’m going to kill her,” Sam promised.
“That is not our concern now.” Rafael’s tone changed. “If our lord is in danger, he must be our first priority.”
She knew he was right, but she didn’t have to like it. “I’ll get to the club before you do and see what’s going on. Send all the men in.”
“Do not try to get between Lucan and this intruder,” Rafael warned. “If he is as powerful as our lord, you will only get yourself hurt.”
Sam put on her emergency lights and used them to speed downtown. Along the way she took out the vial of bone marrow from her pocket and thumbed off the top. Placing the open end against the gunshot scar in the center of her palm, she turned the vial over.
As soon as the fluid touched her scar, it invoked her talent, which allowed her to see through Wilson Carcher’s eyes during the last minutes of his life. The first thing she saw was Luce Figueroa’s face. The missing girl lay under her, her face blank and her eyes staring up at the ceiling, her body bobbing back and forth against damp sheets. Sam shuddered as she realized Wilson was having sex with the girl by penetrating her with strap-on. The device didn’t repel her as much as the grinding motions Wilson was making with it, as if he were some kind of screwing machine trying to get as deeply inside the girl as he could. Two blank-faced boys stood on either side of the bed, their trousers open and their fists working up and down their erections.
Wilson climbed off Luce, unstrapped the artificial cock and watched as the two boys ejaculated on Luce’s breasts and face. Their semen mixed with tears from the girl’s eyes. Why do you weep, pretty girl? He was only thinking the words, but somehow Sam knew Luce could hear them just as well as if they were spoken. This is what you wanted. Was it not enough? Shall I fuck you again?
Sam didn’t know how she knew it, but the psychic voice didn’t belong to Wilson Carcher – as if his mind and body were clothes that the voice dressed itself in. She also sensed Luce, trapped somewhere inside that mask of a face, was also being controlled by the voice. The girl was still inside her head, however, and screamed silently through the revulsion and hopelessness in her eyes.
Sam felt nauseated, and pulled over, switching off the emergency lights. As soon as she did the images took over her vision, blinding her to everything else except what seemed to be the last hours of Wilson Carcher’s life. He dressed in his leisure suit, taking care to bind down his breasts and stuff his crotch with another fake cock. As he did, he also watched Luce get up from the bed and pull on a sparkling red dress. She didn’t attempt to wipe the semen from her face or body.
We will go out and have dinner, Wilson thought to Luce. I will show off my new pretty girl to the world, and then you may climb under the table and use your mouth to pleasure me.
Sam followed them out of the hotel room, down a flight of stairs crowded with boxes and heaps of tarps, and out of plywood-covered doors into the night. They walked north until they reached a traffic light, and Wilson turned to see Luce staring into the street.
Who is that? A pretty boy?
Sam saw Jamys Durand sitting in the limo with Chris, who had stopped at a red light. He was staring back at Luce, who must have had some effect on him, for his pupils shrank to black slivers.
Wilson seemed almost pleased. You cannot have that one, pretty girl. He is one of my kind.
Through some impossible surge of will, Luce broke free of the voice for a moment and stepped down from the curb, walking in front of taxi that just stopped short of running her down.
I am not done with you, Wilson screamed into Luce’s mind. Come back to me at once.
Luce did the exact opposite, turning away from him and heading back south along the strip. Wilson didn’t seem disturbed by it, however, and continued on into the restaurant. Sam could feel a spreading numbness inside as he walked into the men’s room and took out the blade he was carrying. At the same time, whatever presence was in his mind began to fade.
You were a good child, Wilma. Wilson drew the blade over his wrists, opening his veins. A mist of red blood escaped through the cuts and formed a cloud in front of him. I shall miss you. He then used the knife to cut his own throat.
The cloud shrank in on itself and seeped out of the small window while Wilson fell to the floor, the knife skidding away out of sight behind the trash bin. As the presence vanished, Sam felt the body rapidly decaying, and heard a single thought flashed across what little was left of Wilson’s mind before it shut down.
As Lucan stripped off his gloves and walked out of the elevator, he wondered which enemy would be waiting for him at the bar. Whoever had entered his territory might have heard that Lucan had given up his role as Richard’s pet assassin and had vowed not to kill again. Perhaps the fool considered that a measure of safety that would protect him while challenging Lucan inside his own stronghold. This unknown lord had made a serious tactical error by coming to here, but he had in essence committed suicide by pretending to be Samantha.
Burke had followed his orders and cleared out the mortal patrons and the staff, except for one lone redhead sitting on a stool and sipping a martini. As soon as Lucan smelled her, his tension grew. He didn’t need some bloody mortal female getting in the middle of this.
He was only mildly surprised when she turned and he saw her features. Alisa had been in his employ until he met Samantha, and had provided him with regular relief. When love had destroyed his common sense, he had broken off their arrangement. “You must leave here at once, my dear.”
Alisa set down the martini. “My master sent me to bargain with you,” she said in a low, flat voice.
“If I recall, you serve many masters.” Lucan saw how dilated her pupils were. “But perhaps you will tell me more about this one.”
“My master was not aware of your presence until after our arrival. Apologies are made for the intrusion.” Alisa slid off the stool and began walking around the club. “This is an imaginative place. You must attract many humans each nightfall. My master envies you.”
Lucan didn’t think her speech was rehearsed, but decided to switch from speaking modern English to a more archaic tongue that Alisa could not have understood. “Name your master, and the reason for which he sends you here.”
“You have seen through me, then,” Alisa replied in the same forgotten language, her voice much more animated now. She also acquired a thick eastern European accent. “I am come to bathe in beauty, Golden One. That is all.”
“You are in my territory, using my humans without my leave,” Lucan said, following her. “You will release this mortal, and all the others under your sway, and I may yet allow you to live.”