She bagged the knife and considered the victim’s perfectly-trimmed bowl-like hair style, which resembled what the Beatles had worn when they had first invaded America. “What’s his date of birth?”
“December third, nineteen fifty-two.”
“He’s certainly not fifty-six.” She studied the waxen features. “He had to have died young.” As she said that, the door to the restroom swung open.
“Why don’t you open his mouth and check his teeth?” a snide voice asked.
Sam looked up at Evan Tenderson, who looked as if he’d slept in his clothes, smelled like a breath mint, and sounded like a cow chewing it’s cud. The assistant medical examiner had given up cigarettes over the summer and now compulsively masticated nicotine gum. “He’s not a horse.”
“Watch and learn, Detective Brown.” He pried open the victim’s mouth and aimed a penlight inside. “See those lumps in the back of his jaw. Those are his wisdom teeth, and they weren’t removed, and they haven’t erupted. That puts his age range roughly somewhere between sixteen and twenty at TOD.” He picked up the right hand and straightened the fingers before he removed a ring. “He was a high school grad – class of seventy.”
Sam offered him an evidence bag. “So he might have been eighteen when he died.”
“That’d be the safe money.” Tenderson continued examining the body before he stood. “I’d like to know what the hell he was kept in all this time.”
“You don’t think he was buried?”
“Aside from the obvious Ode de Necrophilia, I don’t see any incisions indicating that he was embalmed,” he told her. “Without proper chemical treatment, bacteria would have eaten him up back when Nixon was President.”
“He might have been frozen,” Rafael said.
“If they put him on ice in the seventies, by now the tissues would show signs of freezer burn.” Tenderson stood. “I’ll know more once I finish the autopsy.”
“Fax a copy of the driver’s license up to Virginia,” she told him. “See if they have any for us on him.”
Samantha left the restroom and went over to the pair of college boys who had found the body. Both were staring the direction of the crime scene with haunted eyes.
“I’m Detective Brown,” Sam said as she sat down with them and took out her PDA. “I know you’ve already told the officers what happened, but I’d like to ask you some questions, if that’s okay?”
The boys exchanged a look before they nodded.
“What brought you here tonight?” she asked.
“We always eat before we go to down to the clubs,” the younger one said. “At the pizza place, usually, but it was packed and we didn’t feel like waiting. We figured we’d come in here and grab a burger.”
Sam jotted down some notes. “Did you tell anyone you were coming here?”
“No. And we didn’t have anything to drink,” the older boy said, “and we’re not high.”
“She isn’t going to believe us, either, Mark.” The younger one regarded Sam. “We saw the guy come around the corner from the public parking lot on third street. He was maybe half a block ahead of us when he came in here. But he was alive, lady.”
Sam began to wonder if the whole thing might be some sort of ghastly practical joke. “Why do you believe that that the body you found in the restroom was the man you saw walk into the restaurant?”
“He was the only one wearing that weird retro suit and the helmet hair,” Mark said. “I even said to Leo, that guy must think he’s Austin Powers or something. But he didn’t look dead, the guy we saw come in. He was pale, but he wasn’t . . .” he glanced at the men’s room. “Like that.”
Sam doubted the body or the man the boys had seen could have fit through the restroom window. “Did you see anyone else or look in any of the stalls in the men’s before you came out to get the manager?”
“I don’t know.” Leo frowned. “I don’t think anyone else was there. The smell was so bad, we got out pretty fast. I think maybe all the doors to the stalls were hanging open.”
“You think the guy we saw pulled some kind of switch?” Mark demanded. “Like to freak us out?”
“We’re not sure what happened. Are either of you in any trouble? Have a fight with a friend, anything like that?” When the boy both shook their heads, Sam leaned closer and shed some of her scent. “What aren’t you telling me?”
Mark’s expression turned somewhat dazed. “I wish I could ask you for your number. You’re really pretty for a cop.”
Leo shifted closer. “I thought I smelled something right before I went in the john.”
“What did you smell?”
“Something hot and sweet. It reminded me of the circus.” He swallowed. “It made me feel strange. Like I needed to eat.”
“The chef was making spun sugar in the kitchen for one of the desserts,” Rafael said as he joined Sam. “The kitchen is on the other side of the restrooms. If anyone else asks what you smelled, that is what you will say.”
Leo’s tense expression relaxed. “Sugar. Desserts. Kitchen.”
“Excuse us, guys.” Sam took her partner’s arm and led him out of earshot. “What are you doing?”
He shrugged. “The young one may mention the scent to another mortal. He needed a reasonable explanation for it.”
“So instead of finding out what the source was, you planted a phony suggestion in his mind?”
“I already know the source of the smell,” Rafael said, startling her. “What he describes is the scent of a Kyn lord hunting. Someone unknown to us has come into our territory.”
“Someone who hunts thirty-year-old corpses? He must be pretty hard up for blood.” She rubbed her eyes. “Look, I don’t want to stomp on your new theory, Rafe, but not everything is about the Darkyn.”
“Then why didn’t we pick up the scent?” she demanded. “I can smell Kyn a mile away, and so can you. There should have been some trace left on the corpse.”
“I agree, but that is not all. I took this off the body before the medical examiner could retrieve it.” He handed her an old passport. “According to the stamps, the victim left America to travel to Europe in nineteen seventy.”
“So Wilson took a trip after graduation.” Sam felt impatient. “A lot of kids do. That doesn’t prove—”
“The stamps indicate that Wilson has been traveling all over eastern Europe for the last thirty-eight years.” He opened the passport to the last page. “And that he returned to the states a week ago.”
“He’s not Kyn.” She stared at the restroom. “Is he?”
“I think he was hunted by Kyn, who left him in that condition.” He took her arm
and started guiding her to the door. “We can’t go now,” she argued. “I have to finishing interviewing the witnesses.”
“A Kyn male did enter our territory shortly before the body was discovered here,”
he told her. “One whose talent affects the minds of mortals.”
“Jamys Durand.” She gave him a stricken look. “Burke sent Chris to pick him up at the station.”
Lucan watched seven different angles showing Jamys Durand standing outside the club. The wall of security monitors in his office provided him with a clear view of every area surrounding his unorthodox stronghold as well as every inch of the interior. Behind the wall, recording devices soundlessly archived all of the images, which were also monitored by two of Lucan’s guards three floors above him.
After seven hundred years and countless confrontations with hostile Kyn, murderous Brethren and even a few overly-ambitious mortals, Lucan had learned that there was no such thing as being too prepared.
He expected no trouble from Thierry Durand’s son, however. The last time he had seen the boy, he had been hanging from a pair of meat hooks in a Brethren torture chamber. Lucan remembered the blank indifference in the boy’s eyes when he had freed him; a stark contrast to the raging madness of his tortured, mutilated sire.
“My lord,” Burke said over the intercom. “Our guest has arrived. Should I have the men assemble in the club or the formal reception rooms?”
“Neither, Herbert.” He switched off the monitors. “I will meet him alone.”
“I will not remind you that such a informal meeting is not according to established protocols, my lord,” his human servant murmured, “as you said the next time I nagged you about such things that you would carve out my liver with a dull spoon.”
“Your wisdom increases by the hour.” Lucan rose, and then hesitated. Before he had become suzerain, he had never bothered with being politic. No one had cared how politely he had killed them. Now as a ruling lord, he had to consider almost every word before it left his lips. “As he cannot or will not speak, doubtless young Durand will wish to avoid situations that would require a great deal of talk. I imagine that the men could be discreetly advised of this.”
“I will see to it personally, my lord,” his tresora assured him.
Lucan pulled on a pair of gloves before he walked out of the office and into the empty club. Samantha’s young tresora in training, Chris, entered with Jamys at her side. As they came in, the faint scent of sandalwood colored the air.
Chris gave him one of her cheeky grins before she remembered to bow. “Suzerain Lucan,” she said, “May I present Lord Jamys Durand?”
“Welcome to South Florida.” Lucan deliberately offered his gloved right hand, which the boy took without hesitation. “I trust your trip was without incident?”
Jamys inclined his head as he returned Lucan’s polite grip. He then rested his left hand on the young mortal’s shoulder.