Blood Lily (Lilith Adams Vampire Series Book 1) (8 page)

BOOK: Blood Lily (Lilith Adams Vampire Series Book 1)
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Reluctantly he let her go and pulled the gun up, training it just over her shoulder. Now it felt like a movie.
With her stylish orange glasses in place and her UV wand clicked on, she stepped into the dark. She scanned the floor looking for drops of blood. She seriously doubted she’d find any kind of prints on the floor. The land around the house seemed pretty dry and the red clay dirt this area was famous for was fine like sand when it was dry. It was unlikely that any dirt tracked in would actually hold any sort of helpful pattern.

Her olive eyes scanned over every s
urface of the entryway. There was a high table set to the right of the door with a gilded painting framed on the wall of some generic country scene. Dried flowers sat in a squat basket and there was a set of keys on the corner. Probably Duncan’s keys. She grabbed the keys and tucked them in a zip lock baggie.

“Entryway is clear. I’m stepping into the room to the left.
Just try not to touch anything in case I need to go back through and dust for prints.” She took her search around the corner into a pale blue room. There was a cheap faux wood desk with a computer monitor to the left. Family photos were all over the room, hanging from the walls, cluttering the desk, covering the short shelves on the opposite wall. The Indian style rug in odd light blues and creams was spotless. The whole room had the air of planned chaos. It didn’t seem lived in, more like a staged photo shoot trying too hard to be Middle America.

“Any startling revelations yet?”
Chance leaned into the doorway but his eyes were still on the dark living room in front of him.

“I don’t think he ever used this room. The computer monitor isn’t even hooked up to anything. The computer cabinet is empty. There’s nothing here but a ton of family photos.”

“Maybe someone stole the computer. They could have been looking for something.”

Lilith looked over the computer desk with a careful, calculating eye. “No. there is a very thin layer of dust at the base of the computer cabinet, like the door hasn’t been opened in quite a while. This is just a show room. She was standing back up when her eye caught a splash of color. There was a large family portrait on the wall near the door. She remembered the photo. 10 years ago the entire family got together in St. Louis for a reunion.

It was a year after her mother died, and a couple months before her 17
th
birthday. Spencer left the next summer for Amsterdam to study at the Van Gogh Museum. He wasn’t much of an artist but he had a very deep appreciation of the subject. Duncan, Gregor and Aaron stood in the center, the three brothers. Lilith, Spencer, Miriah, Michael, and several of the other kids surrounded them. Standing next to Miriah was her husband, Malachi. They were married the summer before the reunion. 

She didn’t know the rest of the extended family
that was composed of grandkids all the way to their grandkids. Of course there were cousins galore as well. In total there were about 100 people in the photo. They’d had a hell of a time getting a photographer with decent enough lighting equipment to come to the park at night and capture the shot.

She held her light up to get a better look and suddenly
noticed a dark splotch covering Duncan. Lilith put down her case quickly and pulled out a swab. She ran it over the glass directly through the dark spot. Blood absorbs UV light and can appear dark when everything else reflects it. She added a few drops of the pink vial, a protein that reacted specifically with key markers in vampire blood. It turned a brilliant fuchsia color and her eyes went wide. She grabbed her normal flashlight and held it up to the glass. Sure enough there was a faint reddish brown smudge over Duncan’s smiling face.

After shoving the swab into a plastic tube and snapping it shut, she labeled it with a tiny magic marker and placed it in a side tray of her kit. Her mind was reeling over just what that smudge could mean. Out of context there
were just too many possibilities. There was nothing to say that it was Duncan’s and nothing could tell her how recent it was. It could have happened years ago, but somehow she doubted it. Obviously this room was cleaned on a fairly regular basis or the layers of dust would be much thicker. No matter how light that blood smudge was, it wouldn’t have been missed. She needed more information to put the pieces together, but this wasn’t a good start. It gnawed at the back of her mind as she grabbed the case and pushed past Chance, who was still lingering in the doorway.

“Come on. I told you I don’t need you underfoot.”
She didn’t bother looking at Chance’s reaction to her snappy tone. She couldn’t handle his male bravado right now. There was work to do.

With her UV light in hand again
, she carefully checked over the living room. It was a big open space with a cluster of couches and chairs closing in around a big screen TV. There was a river stone chimney in the corner that was framed in pale, lacquered wood. The wood trim ran all the way to the ceiling and then stretched across it. The walls on either side were painted a deep, rich red. It was a dramatic look but somehow still country.

The couches and chairs looked lived in, but clean. There were no traces of anything in the living
room but it took her a good hour to determine that. Chance would speak up every minute or two from the hallway and it irritated her to no end. He could see her from the hallway and he kept breaking her concentration. Her skin was tingling with irritation by the time she was done. All she could really determine was that this area was used more than the first room, but not by much. Considering Duncan’s reluctance to move into the age of modern technology, Miriah and Spencer probably used the big screen TV more than Duncan. She couldn’t exactly picture her uncle sitting in a recliner watching American Idol, although the thought was funny enough to calm her fraying nerves for a moment.

She moved on
, checking two bedrooms that Duncan obviously never used. There were only sheer curtains on the windows and Duncan would need a light tight room to sleep in at his age. The kitchen and dining room were clear too, as well as two bathrooms. She wasn’t going to waste her time dusting for prints, not until she found something that stood out. Duncan lived here and Miriah and Spencer visited regularly, which would mean a lot of prints to eliminate. Somehow she doubted that Chance would have the patience for her to spend hours in each room. Besides, if something was truly wrong, Duncan wouldn’t have the time. Until they actually got to Tennessee she’d been more concerned about Gregor’s hidden agenda than Duncan’s safety. The scales were tipping.

At a quarter
till 4 am she’d found nothing but the smudge on the glass of the family portrait. She stared down a flight of stairs leading to the basement as Chance came up behind her. Before he could say anything she turned around and held up her hand. “Stay here. I’ll keep talking. We’ve been here a while, Chance. If there was someone here that wanted to attack us, I think they would have made their move by now. Don’t you?”

Chance frowned but stayed silent at the top of the stairs while she made her way down. There was a wood rail to her right and she slowly felt her way down the stairs.
She couldn’t risk turning on the lights and advertising their presence in the middle of the night to all of Duncan’s neighbors. It made logic sense, but that feeling of dread from the alleyway was quickly seeping into her bones making her limbs feel heavy.

A chill crept along her spine as she reached the bottom of the stairs. The air was cooler down here but she didn’t think that was the source.
Stray bits of moonlight trailed into the space, not enough to actually see anything, but just enough to be creepy, especially through the tint of her stylish orange glasses. Lilith clicked on her UV light to peek into yet another bathroom before moving on into a large space with a bay window. It was a basement in the front half of the house, but the steep incline of the property made the back side of the basement ground level. There was a doorway leading outside near the bay window and the mat in front of it was caked with red dirt.

There was another door at the end of the room leading outside and two interior doors to the
right. She swung her UV light in even lines over the floors and walls carefully making her way to the first outside door.

“Lilith?” Chance’s voice sounded tentative at the top of the stairs.

“I’m fine. There are a couple outside doors and a couple interior doors down here. Still checking the main room. Stay put.”

“If the stairs are clear I can wait at the bottom. I don’t like this Lily.” There
was more professional pride packed into his tone than anything else. It made a certain sense. Not letting your client out of your sight was bodyguard rule number one.

“Just give me a minute.”
Lilith replied absently as her flashlight caught sight of something. There were a couple dark spots by the outside door, she switched to her normal flashlight and found a couple dark drops on top of the caked red dirt. Blood. More specifically, Vampire blood. If it had been human, the UV light would have made it glow. She followed the faint trail with her light. It originated from the first interior door.

Her heart began to thud in her chest as she turned her attention back to the door.
There wasn’t a tremendous amount of blood. The drops were small and spaced out, something from a minor injury. It was entirely possible that it wasn’t even fresh. Still, someone should have seen it, noticed it. Maybe that’s why Spencer was so freaked out when he called Gregor. Surely he would have mentioned it to Gregor, so why hadn’t her father mentioned it to her? Lilith was becoming very uncomfortable with this new, secretive side to her father that seemed to be coming out. She’d always trusted him implicitly and had never had a reason not to. Of course, her father had never asked her to use her unique professional skills to help him out before.

Lilith forced herself out of her thoughts. Worrying about her dad’s motives wouldn’t help right now. She had to focus on what was right in front of her, something she could actually do something about. She needed to know what this blood trail meant.
Spraying the area with Luminol wouldn’t really help. In most crime scenes, they used the liquid spray to detect blood that can’t be seen by the naked eye. Blood that’s been cleaned up can still be visible with the help of Luminol followed by a spray of Hydrogen Peroxide or some other oxidizing agent.

The problem in her specific line of work was that the Luminol and Hydrogen Peroxide method
was pretty much useless. The concoction reacts with the iron in hemoglobin to produce a blue glow, allowing blood spatter to be seen. Of course, Vampires have an extremely low level of hemoglobin in their blood stream, the entire reason they need blood to survive, so vampire blood frequently doesn’t glow with that specific mix of chemicals. In fact, the only time it really appears is when a Vampire has taken a lot of blood and only within a certain time frame. It takes time for the new blood to work its way through and replace their own worn out blood cells and eventually the new blood cells lose the war. In pure bloods, like Duncan, the entire process happens very quickly. Because of that, the best method she had for seeing vampire blood was still UV light, and that only worked when the blood was on something that reflects the UV rays.

She
crouched down by the outside door and dug some UV reflective fingerprint dust from her kit. It was a cheery salmon color that sadly reminded her of the comforter in the motel, but it was the best option when working with very little light. She was dusting the powder over the door handle when she suddenly realized it wasn’t locked. She stepped back with her blood pounding in her ears. The fingerprint powder tipped over and the brush clattered to the floor. There was a rising panic inside her that something was very, very wrong. That feeling surged over her, leaving her shaking.

“Chance… the door.”
The whisper came out weak as a sound came from the end of the room. Her head whipped around, straining to pinpoint the sound. It was like fabric moving incredibly fast and the impossibly faint sound of shoes on the concrete floor. She froze in panic and began to move her UV light down the long room. Every single muscle in her body screamed but it all died in her throat.

A pale white face flashed in front of her light inches away from her, snarled in pure hatred. Before she could scream or even truly see the face, beyond
its expression, the side of her head exploded in white hot pain. Her hand holding the UV light flew forward as the world spun on its axis and she was falling. The smell of burning skin and a high pitch screech rattled through her head. She vaguely heard the glass door shatter as she hit the concrete hard. Footsteps thundered down the stairs and her head hit the floor with a sick crack. The darkness consumed her and somewhere she thought she heard someone scream her name, and then there was just nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

T
here was a phone ringing somewhere. Each tone felt like a bullet through her brain. The right side of her head throbbed with excruciating ferocity. When the ringing finally stopped, she heard Chance’s muffled voice but she couldn’t make out the words. She tried to open her eyes. That was a mistake. The soft light of a lamp across the room felt like a white hot dagger in her right eye. Lilith squeezed her eyes closed with a painful groan.

She couldn’t remember what happened. Why did her head feel like it was going to explode?
In fact her whole body hurt. She opened her eyes again and it was slightly less painful. Lilith rolled her head to the left, away from the light, and noticed an empty blood bag on the night stand. She pushed herself up against the headboard, inch by inch, fighting back the waves of nauseating pain. She tried opening her eyes again, avoiding the direct glare of the lamp, and looked around the room. It had to be one of the basement rooms. There were no windows, just the bed, the nightstand and a closet across the room.

She could still hear Chance’s voice coming from behind the door to the rest of the basement. The muffled words kept getting louder and louder. “I don’t fucking care, Spencer! Get here right now! You
’d better have a damn good explanation when you get here!”

There was a moment of silence while her head continued to spin. Lilith was determined not to pass out. She gritted her teeth against the dizzy spell and closed her eyes. The door squeaked open and she winced at the flood of light.

“Sorry.” Chance’s voice was so soft and tender that she wasn’t even sure it was him until she cracked one eye open. He closed the door behind him and the pain lessened a tiny bit. Chance sat on the edge of the bed looking a little bit defeated. He carefully tilted her chin toward him, wounded eyes looking over the right side of her head. “How are you feeling?”

She winced as his finger
s brushed over the edges of what felt like a massive knot. “I feel like I was run over by a Mac truck. What the hell happened?”

His finger’s brushed over her cheek before they fell to the bed. “God, Lily. You scared the crap out of me. Something hit you in the head pretty damn hard and smashed
its way through the window. By the time I got down the stairs you were out cold on the floor, bleeding like crazy.” Chance let out a heavy sigh and his eyes fell. She could see the guilt weighing on his shoulders. Lilith reached out and took his hand out of pure sympathetic instinct.

“Chance, I’m okay. It was my fault, not yours.” She groaned with a sudden stab of pain and slumped back against the headboard. “So you heated up some blood for me? Thank you.”

“It was the only thing I could think of. You weren’t waking up and I was terrified you never would.”

“Yeah that would have put a cramp in your employment.” She started to laugh but it hurt too much so she settled for a smile. “Do you think Duncan has any ibuprofen?”

Lilith peeked one eye open when he didn’t say anything.  He was staring down at her hand still resting on his. There was something so vulnerable in his face and then, just like that, it was gone. “Yeah I’ll go check.” He rose from the bed and opened the door.

“Chance.”
He paused in the doorway and looked back at her. “Are you okay?” The question seemed to surprise him. Sure, she was the one with the massive head injury, but she’d never in all these years seen him look so completely defeated. She hadn’t expected this. Anger, rage, fury, those she expected, but this?

“I’m fine. I’ll get you something for the headache. Oh, and Spencer is on his way here. He said it would take him a few hours to get here so just relax until then.”

“Spencer?” She fought to organize her thoughts through the pounding in her head. “Where was he?”

“He sent Miriah to the airport to pick us up while he chased down a lead. He’s pretty freaked out. He hasn’t heard from her since he
called her last night.”

Something else was nagging at her, another important question, but she couldn’t seem to get her brain to work.
It felt like a jack hammer was trying to split her skull open. “The phone…” She took several deep breaths, trying to form the words. “Why didn’t he answer?”

“He had to switch it off while chasing down whatever leads he was working on. He forgot to turn it back on.”

Something about that didn’t seem right, but the blood pounding mercilessly in her ears made it impossible to pin it down. Lilith swung her legs off the bed and tried to get to her feet. A dizzy spell hit her like a massive wave and her knees buckled. Chance was right there in a split second, catching her before she fell. “What the hell are you doing, Lil?” One hand held her securely around the waist and the other gently cradled the back of her head.

She sucked in a few steadying breaths before opening her eyes. His voice sounded angry, but his face was full of worry. “I should check the last room. Maybe whoever was
here was looking for something, something they didn’t find the first time. Maybe they didn’t find it this time either.”

She definitely wasn’t eloquent with a head wound. She squeezed her eyes closed in a desperate attempt to make her brain function, but when she opened them again all she could think
of was how amazing his eyes looked. They were a light hazel brown with flecks of green. Her knees were still weak but she thought it might have slightly less to do with the head injury this time. “Lilith…” He kept his voice calm and even. It was so low that it seemed to roll across her skin like warm velvet. “You can’t even stand on your own right now. We can check the room when you’re feeling a bit better. Please, please, Lily. Just relax for now. Okay?” He wasn’t demanding and angry like he was in the car. This was more pleading. His fingers felt warm against her neck and she didn’t even dare to breath.

Chance closed his eyes, taking in a
deep breath and reluctantly lowered her to the bed. He backed away and shook his head. She felt confused and conflicted as he left the room, silently. Maybe the head injury had her imagining things. She closed her eyes and remembered how he’d stared down at her hand. Oh yeah, had to be hallucinating. She shook her head, which of course was a huge mistake. Pain flared to life and she sunk down into the bed. Maybe Chance was right. She should rest for a bit. Just as she finished that thought, a wave of pain and nausea dragged her down and the rest was darkness.

 

When she woke again, her head felt a million times better. There was still a dull throbbing ache but the world wasn’t spinning anymore. She very slowly sat up, moving her legs off the edge of the bed. Carefully, she pulled herself to her feet and stood there for a moment, just to be certain she wouldn’t fall right over. Thankfully, she managed to stay on her feet, especially since Chance wasn’t here to catch her this time.

She pulled the door open and nearly fell over Chance. She yelped in surprise and stumbled backwards, almost falling. He leapt to his feet with surprising grace
. “Sorry, Lily.” He caught her elbow automatically but suddenly backed off. “I… uh…was guarding the door.”

Lilith took a few minutes, trying to remember how to
breathe. “What? Guarding it with your ass? Who the hell sits in front of a door?” She bent over with her hands on her knees, waiting for the shaking to stop. She felt like a 90 year old with Parkinson’s.

“I got tired of standing.” He snapped and stalked out of the room.

“Ever heard of a chair?” She called after him. Once the shaking stopped and she could finally breathe again, Lilith slowly started to stand up straight. Something on the wall caught her attention and she turned to face an ornate mirror. Her mouth fell open in pure shock. The right side of her face was a mass of purples, greens and sickly yellows. There were a couple butterfly band-aids on her temple with a bit of dried blood around them. She could only imagine how bad it’d looked hours ago. Well, that would explain Chance’s attitude earlier. She looked like she’d been clocked in the head by a baseball bat and Babe Ruth was swinging for a homerun.

Very t
entatively, she touched her fingers against the colorful splotches and winced. It still hurt, but a lot less than it had when Chance tried touching it earlier. Thankfully, vampires do heal faster than humans, just not quite as fast as they do in the movies. She really wished it was true right about now. Walking around in public would be problematic for a couple days. Some hick cop would probably throw Chance in jail for domestic abuse. She laughed thinking of explaining to Gregor just how and why his bodyguard was ended up in the slammer.

A very loud thud startled her out of her daydreams. She whirled around, looking through the open door.
Late morning light spilled from the right across an empty room. This must be the last room in the basement. Cautiously, she peeked out of the door and saw Chance cradling his right hand. He was standing in front of the shattered glass door with his jaw clenched so tight it looked painful. There was a large dent in the door frame, just about fist sized.

Lilith
glanced down at the large pool of drying blood on the floor and her mouth fell open. She couldn’t take her eyes off the brownish-red stain. She’d lost almost a pint of blood in about a minute. If Chance hadn’t reached her as fast as he did, she would be dead right now. Another loud thud shook her and drew her attention back to Chance. She stepped out of the room and stalked toward him. She was silently thankful that her legs were steady. “Feel better?”

Chance looked up at her, his eyes lit up with anger.
This was the reaction she’d expected, but now that she was face to face with it, she was terrified. She just barely managed to stand her ground even though her entire body screamed to run back into the room. She steeled herself and walked straight to him, reaching for his wounded hand. He jerked it away from her with a scowl. “Just leave it.”

“Let me take a look at it.” She lifted her chin, put one hand on her hip and simply held out her other hand. His eyes shifted from hers to her hand and back again. “Seriously, let me take a look at it.
Now is not the time to be stubborn.” He didn’t move, just stared at her, or more accurately at the right side of her face. “So you think breaking your hand will make us even? What happens if we get attacked again and you can’t stop it because you had some guilt-fueled moment of self-mutilation? Hand. Now.”

He silently put his hand in hers and she began lightly feeling her way along it. “I don’t think you’ve broken anything.” He winced and drew in a sharp breath. “I assume the first aid kit is in the bathroom?” He nodded, still trying to control his anger
, but not daring to meet her eyes.

Five minutes later they were both sitting on the bed. Lilith
dabbed hydrogen peroxide over the cuts across his knuckles. Chance was still silently sullen.

“Thirty-seven.”
Chance mumbled as she reached for the antibacterial cream. Lilith tilted her head and looked at him in confusion.

“What?”

Chance stared down at his hand. “Thirty-seven. That’s how many times I’ve saved Gregor’s life in the last 6 years.” He paused and she somehow knew he just needed to talk, so she didn’t say anything. She just waited for him to continue. “I’m with you for 24 hours and can’t even keep you from getting hurt. Fuck, you almost died tonight. This is my job!” The anger started to seep back into his voice.

Lilith dropped the band
-aid she was holding and grabbed his chin firmly, pulling his face up to look at her. “Listen to me. I gave you orders. I almost got myself killed…”

“No!” Chance’s wounded hand clenched in her hand. “It’s my job to determine the safety of the situation. I should never have let you come down her by yourself.”

“Come on, Chance.” His anger made her uncomfortable. “You saved my life, Chance. You did not fail.”

His hazel eyes narrowed as he stared at her. It felt like being the target of an intense laser and it made her want to crawl to the
other side of the bed. She managed to stay right where she was out of pure stubbornness. “If you fail at your job, more people die. How would you feel if you missed some crucial piece and innocent people suffered because of it?” Well, that certainly hit home. It was every investigators worst fear. “I fucked up last night.”

Chance was right to some extent. She didn’t agree that he was the one that screwed up, but if the roles were reversed she’d feel the same way. Still, that didn’t fix the immediate problem. She needed him to snap out of it and focus. “Look, Chance. I get that you feel responsible, but I need you to stop feeling guilty. You have to stop beating yourself up because I see this going one of two ways right now. Either you are going to guilt yourself into a coma which will get me killed, or you’ll become so fucking overprotective that I’ll have to kill you myself. So enough! You had your moment. You beat the shit out of that door. So snap out of it, Chance.” She gestured at the right side of her face. “This, this will heal. So let’s get to work. Okay?”

Chance just stared at her. For once she couldn’t even read his face. Finally, he blinked a few times and nodded.  “You’re right.
When did you become so brilliant?” One by one each and every emotion left his face, leaving his business-like attitude.  Lilith went back to bandaging his hand since she didn’t really have an answer to his rhetorical question. “And for the record…” She looked up at the sound of his voice and saw a glint in his eyes. “I would totally kick your ass if you tried to kill me.”

BOOK: Blood Lily (Lilith Adams Vampire Series Book 1)
9.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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