She eyed the slumped pile of case files. “Not tonight.”
“I could make it worth your while, Detective.”
Discussing anything with Lucan in a room with a bed generally resulted in no discussion at all. The man was insatiable. “We’ve got a missing girl to track down, so stop trying to seduce me over the phone.”
“Trying?” he echoed. “Samantha, I am your liege lord, your life companion and your lover. I do not have to try.”
He sounded so profoundly offended that she laughed. “I think we’ll discuss this later, Romeo. Good-bye.” She hung up the receiver. “You can stop smirking,” she said to Rafael. “Any time now.”
His smile didn’t waver. “Yes, my lady.”
One of the drawbacks to working the night shift was arranging interviews with victims, witnesses and suspects. Most mortals were asleep by midnight, so if Sam and Rafael didn’t hit the street early in the evening, they usually ended up rousing someone from their bed.
Eduardo and Carmen Figueroa were not sleeping at all, from the look of their strained, shadowed faces. They invited the detectives into their modest North Miami Beach home and then sat, silent and still, as Rafael questioned them about their missing daughter.
“I don’t want her to live apart from us,” Eduardo said. “She is too young, I tell her. She should be married first. But does she listen? No. And now this.” He stood and abruptly left the room.
Carmen watched him go before she turned to Rafael. “Please, Detective, excuse my husband.” She took a crumpled Kleenex from her pocket and wiped her eyes. “He drives the streets all night, looking for our Luce. He blames himself.”
“Did your daughter have a new boyfriend, Mrs. Figueroa?” Sam asked. Knowing how mothers felt about their young daughters, she chose her next words carefully. “Someone she might be spending some time with, or who might taken her somewhere out of the area for the holidays, maybe on a trip to Disney World?”
“No.” Carmen lowered her voice. “She never went steady with any boy.” She stared at the brightly-wrapped presents under the artificial Christmas tree set up in one corner. “She was a butterfly, my Luce.”
“Can you give us the name of the boy she was dating just before she disappeared?” Rafael asked.
“I don’t think so.” The woman shifted on the sofa and wouldn’t meet his gaze. “I can’t remember.”
Sam recognized the woman’s evasiveness as being motivated by shame; she wasn’t telling them everything because she already knew something was wrong with her daughter. “Adam, could you ask Mr. Figueroa if he’d show you Luce’s room?”
Rafael nodded and left them alone.
Sam moved to sit beside the other woman. She didn’t like using her body’s scent, known as l’attrait among the Darkyn, to compel mortals to tell the truth, but she had to know what the woman was so determined to hide. “Did your daughter have a problem with boys, Mrs. Figueroa?”
Carmen pressed a hand over her mouth, as if to stop herself from saying anything. Then Sam’s subtle, dark scent surrounded her, and she let her arm drop.
“She dated so many,” she said, her pupils dilating. “A new boy every night. I told her she would ruin her name if she kept doing it. That no decent boy would want her.” She made a languid gesture. “She only laughed at me. She said she had to have it from different boys all the time.” Her expression became blindly radiant as she leaned closer to Sam. “You smell so nice, Detective. Like walking through the mountains at night.”
She was becoming too drugged by the scent, Sam realized, and moved away from the woman, taking a seat across from her. “She was having sex with all these boys?”
Carmen nodded slowly. “I heard her talking on the phone to her friend. She would go out to these bars to find them. I caught her once here with a boy, in our house, and I told her never again. Never again. She didn’t stop. I think she did it in their cars, or at their houses.” Her voice grew wearier as the effects of l’attrait began to wear off. “She would even steal boys from her friends at school.”
During her high school years, Sam had known a few girls who had been such self-absorbed narcissists that they would steal other girl’s steadies just to prove they could. “You’re certain that she wasn’t simply dating the boys?” Sam asked.
“They were not just dates,” Carmen said. “She went with them only to have sex with them. With all of them. Her best friend told me that she was addicted – like it was some sort of drug to her.” She frowned. “I didn’t want to say that.”
“You’re telling the truth because you love your daughter.” Sam took out her PDA. “What bars did Luce go to find these boys?”
“She liked Fort Lauderdale beach,” Carmen said. “She always went there, her friend told me. She even picked her apartment because it was close.” She gazed at Sam, and the drowsiness vanished from her expression as her terror conquered l’attrait. “You think she got in trouble with one of these boys? That he might have taken her away to hurt her?”
“All we know is that your daughter is missing, Mrs. Figueroa,” Sam said. “We have no evidence that anything has happened to her. We may find out that she’s simply stayed with someone for a few days.”
“She wouldn’t,” Carmen insisted. “She never did.” She flushed miserably, and then her eyes widened. “Wait. Luce told me once that she would be okay because she always took her car wherever she went. She said it was so she could leave when she wanted if she was having a bad time.” She grabbed Sam’s hand. “Please find our Luce, Detective. I know she has done some bad things, but she’s still my baby girl.”
“Young man.” A frail hand rested over his. “It’s time to wake up.”
Jamys Durand opened his eyes to the sight of a wrinkled, gentle face surrounded by a halo of bright white curly hair. For a moment he thought her a tired angel, until he recognized her as the elderly mortal female who had sat beside him during the journey.
“I didn’t want to bother you, dear,” she said, patting his hand, “but we’ve arrived at the station.”
He removed his sunglasses and checked the window. Outside the train, a crowd of people stood waiting on the platform.
“You slept the whole trip,” she said, smiling as she tucked the child’s garment she was knitting into her tote bag. She turned a yawn into a sigh of relief. “I love visiting the grandkids, but I’ll be glad to get home to my own bed.”
Jamys nodded and collected his own bag, standing and offering a hand to the old lady when she had some trouble rising to her feet.
“Do you have family meeting you?” she asked as they moved out into the center aisle.
Jamys nodded again.
“You don’t like to talk too much, do you?” Rather than taking offense, she chuckled. “My oldest son-in-law, Thomas, is the same way. Of course my Margie talks enough for three people. Even if he wanted to, around her he couldn’t get a word in edgewise.”
The woman continued chatting about her family as they stepped down from the train, until a bald elderly man came and took her in his arms. She forgot all about Jamys as she kissed and hugged him.
Jamys slipped around them and scanned the platform. He didn’t pick up the scent of other Kyn, but spotted a very young woman dressed in a black suit moving toward him. A white-fur-trimmed, peaked red velvet hat covered the top of her short hair, which had been dyed an unlikely shade of scarlet to match the hat and her smartly tailored blouse. On her lapel she wore a small black cameo brooch with an elegant ivory carving of an arrogant-looking man.
The colors and the cameo she wore indicated that she served Suzerain Lucan, the immortal Kyn lord ruling the southernmost American territory. Also Jamys’s host for the duration of his stay.
For a moment he was tempted to disappear into the crowd. Before Suzerain Lucan had come to America, he had been the deadliest of the assassins who had served the high lord of the Darkyn. Alexandra had assured him that Lucan no longer killed for anyone, even Richard Tremayne, but Jamys wasn’t entirely convinced. It seemed unlikely that a Kyn male who had spent centuries hunting and executing the Kyn’s enemies would even wish to stop.
“Mr. Durand?” she asked. When he inclined his head, a swift, fetching smile flashed across her narrow features. “Merry Christmas, and welcome to South Florida. I’m your ride. I mean” –she gestured toward the parking lot beyond the platform– “ the car is this way, my lord.”
His young driver attended to him with swift courtesy, opening the rear passenger door and offering him bloodwine before she drove him from the train station. She also seemed to know about his silence, for she didn’t ask him questions that required more than a yes or no answer. But she did talk, like the elderly woman, quite a great deal.
“Everyone is really nervous about you coming down here,” she said as she skillfully maneuvered the limo into the busy traffic downtown. “I haven’t been doing this tresora thing for very long – Lucan’s guy, Herb, is teaching me – but I’ve never seen the other guys so jumpy.”
Jamys could well imagine how the jardin felt about Thierry Durand’s son coming into their territory. The last news anyone here had likely heard about his father was that he had gone mad. Then there was Thierry’s reputation as a Kyn warrior. During the last years of the Crusades, Jamys knew his father had done terrible things in order to protect the Templars retreating from their enemies. No one remembered the centuries Thierry spent afterward, helping to build Kyn strongholds in France. All they cared to recall were the countless heathens the senior Durand had slaughtered.
Jamys knew his father’s true nature was gentle and kind, and that the terrible things he had been forced to do in his human and his Kyn lives had hurt him far more than the torture he had endured. He’d only gone mad when Jamys’s mother, Angelica, made him believe the Brethren had killed her. She had gone so far as to have Jamys made a mute to keep him from revealing the truth.