Retreating into himself had kept Jamys from facing what his mother had done, and his father had nearly paid for his silence with his sanity and his life. Once Thierry had been brought out of madness through the love of his sygkenis, Jema, he had
Now if only I could forgive myself, Jamys thought.
“My name’s Christian, but everyone who doesn’t hate me calls me Chris.” The girl spoke to the rearview mirror, but the sound of her voice effectively brought him out of his dismal thoughts.. “You’re not what I expected at all. I mean, I know you’re like a million years old, but you look the same age as me. You won’t tell on me if I forget to call you my lord, will you?”
Amused now, Jamys shook his head.
“Excellent. Not that I plan to forget or anything, my lord, but, well.” She laughed at herself. “I guess I’m kinda nervous, too.”
Jamys would have used his talent to reassure her, but while he could communicate his thoughts to any mortal he touched, it usually resulted in them falling unconscious – something he didn’t want the young one to do while she was driving.
Jamys looked out at the walkway paralleling the road, and saw a steady stream of mortals strolling under the bright lights of the restaurants and clubs. As Chris stopped at a traffic light, one young couple caught his eye. The handsome young male had an odd-looking helmet of light brown hair and an outdated rust-colored suit that contrasted sharply with the shaved skulls and casual wear of the other males around him. His companion, a stunning golden-skinned gazelle of a girl who had painted her full lips bright red to match her sparkling mini-dress, also looked distinctly out of place. Both moved in a decisive manner, forcing the other humans walking toward them to move out of their way. Then the young female turned her head and fixed her gaze on Jamys’s face. She stopped walking, and oddly her companion did the same in perfect unison.
Her lips moved as she spoke to him, but the noise of the traffic made it impossible to hear the words. Caught up in the sadness of her eyes, Jamys felt a surge of blood hunger.
The young female stepped off the curb and walked toward Jamys, until the front of a taxi came to a screeching halt only a few inches from her hip. She turned to regard the driver, who stuck his head out of the window and shouted his poor opinion of her gender and her intelligence.
That effectively broke the spell over Jamys, who released the handle and sat back, bewildered by his own reaction. Something about the girl had stirred him to hunger and pity. As if he wanted to feed on her and comfort her at the same time. Chris drove on, and gradually the ravenous feeling subsided.
Jamys began to glance back, but the effect the mortal had had upon him made him think better of it. He was alone in a small space with another mortal, and if the hunger truly came over him again he might make use of Chris. Among the Kyn, feeding on a mortal who belonged to suzerain without permission or the human’s consent was considered a serious personal insult.
Fortunately Chris seemed to be oblivious to what had just occurred. “Sam – Samantha, Lucan’s lady? – she’s putting in some overtime tonight, so she won’t be at the club when we get there. Even though she has the whole Kyn thing now like you guys, and more money than God, she still works as a cop.” She pushed some of the overlong wisps of scarlet hair back from her eyes. “She’s doing okay, though. I think the cop thing helps her handle all this, mostly because she isn’t using her powers for the dark side, you know?”
Guilt filled him as he thought of Alexandra Keller, another mortal female from this era that, like Samantha Brown, had been given no choice when she had been turned from human to Kyn. Alex now served the immortals as their first physician and surgeon, and she had spent nearly a week performing the special operations required to reconstruct Jamys’ mutilated mouth. He knew she had done her best for him; that had been another reason he had retreated into the self-imposed prison of silence. As much as he wanted to speak, he could not bear to disappoint her or his father again.
“I think she’s glad to be alive. She really loves Luc.” She caught his expression in the mirror. “Lord Lucan. Sorry. I gotta stop doing that. For a while there I was calling him Skywalker, you know, just to make Sam laugh? Then he heard me one night, and I had to explain, and then he borrowed all my Star Wars DVDs so he could see who Luke Skywalker was.” She rolled her eyes. “Then he said if I was going to make fun of him, he wanted to be called Lord Vader. You should hear him do the breathing sounds. He cracks me up.”
Jamys tried to imagine the deadliest Kyn ever to walk the night jesting with this young mortal. Obviously Lucan had changed, perhaps for the better, as Alexandra had insisted.
“Anyway,” Chris continued, “we’re almost there.” She turned onto the coastal road that paralleled the seashore, and drove south through a snarl of cars and wandering pedestrians. “Listen, if you ever need to get away from the whole jardin thing while you’re here, just ask for me. Lord Vader lets me drive this monster whenever I want, and I have a gas card and a VISA with no credit limit, so I can take you to do whatever you like.” She pulled into a private parking spot in front of a nightclub, the doors of which were guarded by two large, dark Kyn warriors. “Just keep it in mind, okay?”
Chris didn’t wait for an answer, but got out of the car and came to open his door for him. Jamys took her hand as he climbed out and held it for a moment.
Thank you, Chris.
She grinned up at him, her eyes bright. “You’re welcome, my lord.” # As they left the Figueroa residence, Sam’s mobile rang. She switched it to speaker before she answered with, “Brown.”
“Sam.” The voice belonged to her supervisor, Captain Ernesto Garcia. “I need you and Rafael to head downtown.” He gave her an address of a popular bistro. “Tenderson will meet you there.”
A murder at a beach café at the busiest time of night guaranteed the next eight hours would be nonstop hell. “What happened?”
“It’s not clear yet,” Garcia said. “A couple of college kids found the remains of a young adult male in a men’s room stall. From the condition of the body, it may have been stolen from a grave.”
“Did the kids see who dumped the body in there?”
“No,” Garcia said. “They both say the same crazy thing. They swear they saw the corpse walk into the restroom ahead of them.”
Rafael drove as Samantha went over the sketchy report made to Garcia, and by the time she finished the call they had arrived at the bistro. After wading through a throng of onlookers trying to see what was going on inside the club, Sam spotted two FLPD bike patrolmen taking names and contact numbers from the small crowd of patrons who had been herded away from the restrooms and headed their way.
“Hey, Andy. Josh.” Sam waved them over. “Can you give me what you have so far?”
“We got the call an hour ago. Those two” – Andy nodded at a pair of stiff, silent young men sitting at the bar – “discovered the body and called in the manager. Lucky for us he had the sense to lock up the john and keep everyone out of there.”
“Guy’s been dead for a while,” Josh added, “but the patrons who saw him insist that he walked in here alone.”
“Maybe he did.”
“Not this time, Sam.” Andy gave her a strange look. “You’d better go look at the body.”
Sam verified that the assistant medical examiner was en route before she went back to the restroom and ducked under the band of yellow tape stretched across the open door way. The smell of decomposition that hung over the thin, still form on the floor was so strong that after her first breath she had to blink a few times to clear her eyes. Fortunately she didn’t have to breathe now that she was Kyn, or she suspected she would have puked on the spot.
The corpse lay on his back, his body dressed in a strange-looking two piece rust orange suit with contrasting white stitching around the cuffs and wide lapels. The victim’s face appeared to be made of shriveled, gray wax, with the lips drawn back from two rows of yellowed teeth and the clouded eyeballs sunk deep in their sockets. Both hands were contracted into curled claws, and the shoes had fallen off the man’s bony feet.
Whoever he was, he had died long before his body had been placed here.
Sam crouched down to look at the visible wounds. His throat had been cut sometime in the distant past, judging by the appearance of the neck wound, as had the inside of both wrists. There was not a speck of blood on the body, the clothes he wore or the floor of the men’s room.
Before Lucan had changed Samantha from human to Darkyn, she had been able to touch the blood of a murder victim and see in her mind the last minutes of their life. Being made a blood-dependent immortal hadn’t changed her ability, but had rather enhanced it. She had become acutely sensitive to the presence of blood, even in the tiniest amounts.
Her talent told her the dead man did not have a single drop left in his collapsed veins.
Her partner came into the restroom and closed the door. “The assistant medical examiner will be here in a few minutes, my lady.” He pulled on a pair of latex gloves as he came to stand on the other side of the body. “I have not seen a suit like this in thirty years.”
“No one’s worn them since the seventies.” Sam leaned in close to examine the jagged edges of the laceration on the victim’s neck. “At least we know how he died, whenever that was.” There should have been blood all over the victim’s clothing, but the old suit was spotless. “They must have redressed the body.”
Rafael turned his head and walked over to the trash can by the sinks. He moved it aside and picked up a knife. “Perhaps not.” He handed it to her.
She examined the blade, which had a black plastic handle and an oddly familiar grip. No blood stained the steel, but bits of gray flesh clung to the serrated edge. “Why cut the throat of a corpse? And why dump him here, in such a public place?”
“A ritual. Perhaps a warning to the owners.” Rafael methodically searched through the suit until he extracted an old, battered leather wallet and opened it. “He has a Virginia driver’s license. It expired in nineteen seventy-four. His name is Wilson Robert Carcher.”