Read Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1) Online

Authors: Teresa Reasor

Tags: #Romance, #Urban, #Fantasy

Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1) (5 page)

BOOK: Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1)
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“I know I’ve changed a lot since high school. We both have but—”

She shook her head in an adamant gesture. “It’s not you. You’re still the same protective, caring, wonderful friend you’ve always been.”

But he wanted more now, and she knew it.

She bit her lip and swallowed. “I can’t give you what you need. I can’t give anyone—”

“Here’s your pie, guys,” Sherry said as she slid the plates onto the table in front of them and placed their drinks within easy reach.

Miranda was the first one to respond. “Thanks, Sherry.”

“Let me know if I can get you anything else.”

Caleb swallowed back feelings of disappointment and hurt.
I can’t give anyone—What had she meant by that? Why couldn’t she? He wasn’t giving up. He’d just rushed her at a time she didn’t need any other pressure.

Miranda’s fingers dug into his arm and her voice wobbled as she whispered, “Caleb—”

He followed her gaze to the door. On the other side of the glass, a gray shadow slithered back and forth, as if seeking a way in. Clutching a takeout bag, Mrs. Farley pushed open the door. Caleb jumped to his feet. The elderly woman walked into and right out the other side of the gray mist.

Chapter 4

C
hase sat at
his desk and read over what Abbott had said again.

The guy had to be insane. Gray shadow creatures that could tear out your insides. He had to have injected some powerful stuff for him to dream up that crap. Chase’s mouth tightened. Dammit. If he were this guy’s lawyer he’d plead diminished capacity.

But Abbott wasn’t on drugs. He didn’t look or act drugged. But something was certainly going on.

Chase thumbed through his in-box for the coroner’s report on Porter. He and Abbott were partners, or at least they had been until recently. More than likely, they’d both ingested the same drugs.

A large manila envelope captured his attention and he tore it open. Good, he’d look this over and see what the hell was going on. Fifteen minutes later he sat back in his seat. What the hell? He read over the section again. It couldn’t be right.

“Jesus, Chase. You need to put in your contacts, man. You look like a freaking vampire,” Detective Brian Underwood said as he and his partner Hollis Garr sauntered into the office.

The scent of coffee wafted to Chase, and he focused in on the Styrofoam cup Underwood held in his broad hand. He’d made a trip down the street to the Mugz Coffee Shop rather than chance the pot in the squad room. Maybe he was smarter than he looked.

The remark about the vampire reminded him he hadn’t put in his contacts. Because of his pale eye color, sunlight forced him to wear sunglasses. At night, with less light to bother him, his sensitivity wasn’t an issue, so he seldom used them. “You need to get some new material, Underwood. Your current routine is getting boring.”

Hollis Garr, Underwood’s partner, laughed.

“Do you scare small children, Robinson?” Underwood asked.

“No.” Chase glanced up at Underwood’s belly. “Do you?”

Garr stretched his feet out on the bottom drawer of his desk and laced his hands over his belt buckle. The pair was an odd couple. Garr was a seasoned detective with twenty-five years’ experience. His thinning gray hair hugged his narrow head, and with his rangy build and steady, hazel gaze, he projected competence and patience.

Underwood, on the other hand, had just made detective the year before. He always seemed to have a sugar-laced drink in his hand, and the extra tire he carried around his waist proved it. His suits were always pressed and clean, and he never had a hair out of place, but all his energy went into his appearance, and little went into his investigative techniques. Garr was the brains behind the partnership, and Chase hadn’t quite figured out where Underwood came into the equation.

“I’d give it a rest, Brian,” Garr said. “Chase has been around the block a time or two. He’s worked in departments bigger than this in Detroit. If the guys he drags in here don’t get under his skin, what makes you think you can?”

Chase aimed a hard, unsmiling look he usually reserved for violent perpetrators at Underwood. “Why do you want to?”

Underwood looked away. “Just joking with you, Robinson.”

“Sure.”

“Why did you move here from Detroit? I mean it’s not exactly exciting. You’d have seen a lot more action there,” Underwood said.

More action. The man wanted more dead bodies. Chase had seen more than he ever wanted to in Detroit. He’d worked streets where drive-bys were a way of life. He’d take the three or four homicides a year here over the thirty or forty he’d worked there any day.

“I’d had enough of big city crime and decided to come back to Superstition to be close to my mom and sisters.”

“You used to live here?”

“Yeah, about fourteen years ago. I came back during holidays when the workload eased up to visit family.” But it never had, and he’d missed many Thanksgivings and a few Christmases because of it.

“Where’s Pfister?” Garr asked.

Chase eased back in his seat. Garr was a good detective and an okay guy. There was no reason for him to slight him because he had a dickhead for a partner. “One of his kids had a bike accident earlier and hurt his leg. He’s with his wife at the hospital. Timothy may need surgery.”

Garr’s wrinkles increased as he frowned. “That sucks. Do you need some help?”

“Thanks for asking, but no. I’ve got this tied up. I’m just going over my notes so I can write up the report.”

“Good. You’ve been after Abbott and Porter for two months, haven’t you?”

“Yeah, ever since Howard retired and passed the case on to me. After Tanner Newton was killed, they went underground for a while. But they resurfaced two weeks ago. We got a tip where Porter was, but by the time we found him he was dead. When we recovered his phone, we were able to track Abbott.”

“Did Abbott kill Porter?” Garr asked.

“No. The two separated and have been on their own for weeks. Pfister and I have been tracking them both. Almost caught Abbott a couple of times. We’re not sure exactly who killed Porter or how. The coroner’s report has some strange anomalies.”

“What do you mean?” Underwood asked.

“The coroner said he’d never seen anything like it, but it looked as if Porter’s heart had been crushed inside his chest, but there were no external signs of trauma. His heart was pulverized.”

Garr jerked back in surprise. “Jesus. Were there any drugs in his system?”

“None.”

Underwood pulled his desk chair closer and sat down. He held the cup between his hands. “Does the coroner have any idea how that could have happened?”

“No. He said he knew it wasn’t possible, but otherwise he would swear someone had reached inside Porter’s chest cavity and squeezed his heart to a pulp.”

“Hope this is an isolated case. It doesn’t sound like something we want to run into again,” Garr said.

Chase nodded. He scanned the notes he’d taken during Abbott’s interview again. The things Abbott had told him couldn’t be true. But he could tell the guy really believed every word he’d told him. And he was terrified. The man had been so long without sleep he nearly passed out during the interview in the middle of a sentence. If the guy was going for an insanity defense, he’d gotten off to a good start.

From his observation, he’d have to testify the man was frightened, exhausted, but he wasn’t disoriented, or experiencing hallucinations.

Unless he was. He had to get a warrant for the lab to draw some of Abbott’s blood.

*     *     *

Male voices rumbled
in from the back entrance, then were cut off as the door closed behind the cleaning crew. Juliet scanned the empty space one more time. The scent of bleach lingered and blended with the smell of stale perfume, booze, and a sweeter odor. In the three years she’d worked at Steampunk Alley she hadn’t quite been able to identify the scent. Maybe years of spilled liquor mixed with the pineapple, cherries, and other fruit added to some of the tropical drinks they served. Maybe it had seeped into the floors.

The space looked shabby with the house lights up. The walls could use a fresh coat of paint, and the stained wood baseboards a touch-up as well. She glimpsed her reflection in the mirror behind the bar and grimaced. Smeared mascara ringed one eye, and now she’d taken the feather fascinator out, her hair looked like a flock of sparrows had nested in it. She hissed an oath and reached for her bag under the register.

She scraped her hair back and secured it with a black ponytail holder. Wetting a dishtowel, she wiped the smeared Goth makeup off her face.

A rhythmic squeak came from down the hall the cleaning crew had just vacated and Hank, the bouncer, appeared. His muscle-bound body moved with the grace of a ballet dancer as he shadowboxed his way across the empty floor. “I’ve done the walk-through, Juliet.”

“Thanks. The service already picked up the deposit, so we’re good to go.” She tossed the stained cloth into the wash bin and grabbed her bag from the counter.

“Need a ride?” Hank asked as they reached the door.

Riding would be taking the easy way out. “No, I’ll be fine. The walk helps me unwind.”

“The ride would too,” Hank said. “It’s dangerous walking this late at night.”

“I’ve got my pepper spray and my track shoes on.” And the nine-millimeter she’d purchased after the first attack. She lifted one foot, pointing to the sharp-toed boots she’d changed into now she’d finished working.

Hank studied the keys in his hand. “You need to be more careful, Juliet. Even guys have to keep an eye out in this neighborhood. You shouldn’t purposely put yourself at risk.”

She wasn’t doing that…or was she? By forcing herself to walk past the place where it had happened, she punished herself. And at the very least she deserved that punishment.

“Look—I know you feel responsible for things…you didn’t really have any control over,” Hank said.

“You’re wrong. I don’t feel responsible. I don’t take responsibility for anyone but myself.” She flipped her ponytail over her shoulder.

Swallowing against the knot of tears lodged in her throat, Juliet shoved open the door. “Lock up for me, will you? I’ve got things to do.”

Outside, humidity slapped her like a wet towel.

She jogged clumsily along the shadowed edge of the parking lot and darted around the corner of the building. Damn Hank and his good intentions. Pain gnawed at her with jagged teeth. She fought off tears.

At the slight scrape of the door opening, Juliet shrank back against the building. After a brief pause, the sound of Hank’s footsteps receded, and a few moments later a car engine fired. Cones of light stabbed the shadowed depths of the parking lot, and then swung toward the exit.

Juliet leaned back against the building. Hank’s kindness had brought her emotions bubbling to the surface, and she needed a moment to settle herself. The humidity made her feel like she was breathing soup. Perspiration misted her face and neck and already trickled down from her hairline. The leather bustier seemed to shrink in the heat and squeeze her ribs like a vise.

Hank’s taillights disappeared around the corner.

She had to get a move on. Hiking her purse strap back up on her shoulder, she moved out from behind the edge of the building. A gray-black hand snaked out and grabbed her arm. A scream ripped from her throat. Her whole body jolted. She jerked her arm free and staggered back.

“Relax. I’m only here to talk with you.” The well-dressed jerk who’d asked her out for coffee emerged from the shadows.

“Jesus H. Christ. What the hell do you think you’re doing? You scared the shit out of me.”

“Like I said, I’m only here to talk.” Pushing his suit coat back, he shoved his hands in his pockets. The dim glow from the streetlight cut across his features, hollowing his eyes and giving his face a skeletal appearance.

Chill bumps rose on Juliet’s skin and, despite the heat, she folded her arms against her waist. Shoving aside the itchy foreboding, she said, “Well, talk fast. I’ve been on my feet for ten hours, and I’ve got somewhere to be.”

“Got a hot date, huh?” he said, his tone snide.

Juliet gritted her teeth against equal parts of anxiety and anger. “Yeah, with my pillow. In case you haven’t noticed it’s one in the morning.”

“That didn’t keep you from being out with my brother Tanner at this time of night.”

His brother?

Tanner was his brother. This had to be Samuel Newton. Tanner had spoken of his brother Sam. He had the same jawline. The same green eyes. No wonder he reminded her of him.

Tears burned her eyes and she looked away. “What do you want?”

“I want to know why those guys were after you. You told the police Tanner was killed trying to protect you. Were you coming on to them and got in over your head?”

Juliet absorbed the emotional punch without giving him a reaction, though the pain of it echoed through her. At one time it might have been true, but not during or after Tanner. “You were here tonight. Did it look like I was coming on to anyone during my shift?”

“You don’t have to come on to them when you’re dressed like that.” He nodded toward the leather bustier and the way her breasts pressed up against the blouse she wore beneath it.

BOOK: Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1)
9.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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