Authors: C.D. Hussey
Deny Your Blood Lust
By C.D. Hussey
* * * *
Copyright (c) 2012 C.D. Hussey
All rights reserved. This ebook may not be reproduced in whole or in part, by any means, without expressed, written permission.
Cover art by C.D. Hussey and Sean McCue
The flies blacking out the front windows were the first sign things were going to be bad inside the house. The smell was the second.
Kevin had been a detective for nearly ten years, and the majority of that had been in homicide work. In his career he'd smelled his share of rotting human flesh, but he wasn't prepared for the overwhelming stench waiting for him beyond the grassless, trash-strewn lawn.
Ducking under the police tape, he flashed his badge to the officer standing at the door. There were no trees to speak of in this part of the city, and the house was baking in the October afternoon sun. A hot wave of decomposition singed his lungs. He resisted the urge to cover his nose.
There was only one bedroom in the tiny shotgun house and with the small army of law enforcement officers and personnel from the coroner's office, plus the massive amount of crap stacked high against the walls—clothes, boxes, trash—it was smothering. Huge fans were strategically placed to suck air from the room, but the smell was still overpowering.
The body was curled up on the bed in a fetal position, facing away from the door. The exposed flesh of his bare back was a gray-green color. Next to the mattress, his side was black where blood had pooled—an indication he'd been dead for more than a few days. A bullet wound in the back of his brown hair was the obvious cause of death.
The scene sent a wave of shock though Kevin, spinning his mind into the raw past. It was so similar: the position of the body, the hoarding in the house, the cause of death, the smell…
Swallowing hard, he forced his focus to the present.
He started to sum up the scene, making a mental list of potential suspects, motives, etc. and then stopped himself. This wasn't his case, and it wasn't why he'd driven to the Seventh Ward.
Detective Brian Johnson was talking to the coroner and two body haulers dressed in hazmat suits. "It looks like you can take the body now," Johnson told the body haulers, giving Kevin a quick nod as he joined them.
He watched the pair as they disappeared from the room and reappeared with a gurney, several pairs of heavy-duty gloves, and a body bag. He was always amazed by the variety of people who picked up dead bodies and hauled them to funeral homes or the morgue. This duo consisted of a rather pretty brunette and a small black man who couldn't have weighed more than a buck thirty.
"Pretty cut and dry on cause of death," he said to the coroner, his eyes still glued to the pair of cleaners as they prepared to remove the body from the bed.
"I think the gaping hole in the back of his head sums it up pretty well," the coroner replied. "Looks like the poor sap was shot in his sleep."
"I guess if there's a good way to die…" Johnson said.
He had pondered the method himself from time to time. This wound wasn't self-inflicted though.
The coroner shrugged. "Better than some for sure," he said. He held out his hand, and Johnson shook it firmly. "I'm going to go. This stench is even getting to me. Detective McCoy," he said as he squeezed past.
He nodded, but wasn't looking at the coroner. Positioned at either end of the body, the gurney shoved against the side of the bed, body bag wide open, the haulers were preparing to flip the victim on his back.
"Sorry for making you come up here," Johnson was saying. "But how could I leave all this? I also wanted to talk to you in person about our vampire problem."
The noise accompanying the victim being rolled onto his back was horrifying. The visual was even worse. The victim had been dead longer than a few days because a large percentage of his body was stuck to, and subsequently left behind, on the mattress. Entrails spilled from his ruptured stomach. His right arm, bones exposed, had detached from his shoulder, and his jaw had been partially ripped from his blackened, featureless face, resulting in a gaping, silent scream.
If the slurping noise and the terrifying image that followed wasn't enough to empty the room, the putrid cloud of trapped gas that escaped when his body ruptured sent the occupants—police and civilian alike—tripping over each other to get out of the house.
Once outside, clutching his knees and gasping for clean air, he tried to wipe the image, and the memories it triggered, from his mind. He couldn't think about the memories now. He refused to think about them.
Johnson clapped him on the back. "Whew! That was rough."
Coughing, he stood upright. "You're telling me." He shook his head. "This city has the most interesting smells. The air in Minnesota isn't nearly so flavorful."
Johnson grinned. "Are your Yankee sensibilities offended?"
He forced a smile to his mouth. In the three months he'd lived here, he'd heard the word "Yankee" more times than he had in the previous thirty-five years. "My
sensibilities are offended."
"Ha!" Johnson pulled out a cigarette and lit it. "Let's walk," he suggested.
What Kevin really needed was coffee; a walk sounded exhausting. It was the story of his fucking life. He could sleep sixteen hours a day and never be rested enough. The doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him either. Test after test, and he still couldn't get through the day without a little chemical help. In his early twenties, he'd gotten into trouble with uppers, namely speed and cocaine. A close call with heart troubles sobered him up, and now his issues were with coffee and Red Bull. Mostly coffee.
But a cop having a coffee in one hand never surprised anyone. Being tweaked out was another story.
"How'd the interview with the victims go last night?" Johnson asked.
Kevin had spent the evening interviewing Kate Miller and Scott Corelli regarding the murder of Tina Spalling and now, Melanie Young. "
is a term I'd only use for one of them," he said.
Johnson laughed. "I assume you're talking about Slade. I can't believe he was shot. Or that a bullet could take him down." He laughed again. "He's not exactly a fan of the police."
"I picked up on that."
"Yeah, he was far from friendly when I investigated Aaron Jones last year. The bloodsuckers are a protective lot."
Kevin did a quick mental refresher. Aaron Jones, AKA Darus, was the man charged last year with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a woman nicknamed Eve.
"I picked up on that as well," he said. "
" He was having a hard time wrapping his tongue around the pseudonyms commonly used in the vampire community. "…seemed reluctant to share information. You think he's hiding something?"
"Maybe." Johnson paused on the corner next to an overgrown vacant lot, taking a long drag on his cigarette. "Like I said, they're a protective lot. I wouldn't worry about it though."
"Why wouldn't I worry about it?"
"You won't find anything. Besides, I saw your report, it looks like we got a good, solid case against… What the hell is the suspect's name?"
"Crazy vampires," Johnson muttered with a chuckle, shaking his head. He shrugged out of it. "Yeah, so it looks like we got a good, solid case against Lohr." He took another drag. "Look, I know that group seems like a bunch of psychopaths, but really, they don't cause much trouble, and they're a pretty decent lot overall. There's no need to get tangled up in shit that doesn't usually hurt anyone. Besides, they police their own. Trust me, it's better that way."
The temperature in Kevin's body rose a few degrees, and it had nothing to do with the warm New Orleans sun. "Are you really suggesting what I think you are? You want to turn a blind eye just because we busted
vampire? When there have been three other murder victims in the last couple of years and possibly another one?"
When forensics went over the disturbing photos they'd found in Lohr's darkroom showing women in death-like poses, they determined Lohr was either an amazing makeup artist or the women were actually dead. Initially, it looked like there were several victims, but on closer inspection, they determined the photos all featured the same woman. Kevin wasn't sure what was more disturbing—that Lohr photographed a dead woman or that he repositioned her body to photograph her in different poses.
"You make it sound worse than it is. Two of those three cases were solved," Johnson said. "And as far as this case is concerned, we caught the bad guy and we don't exactly have a body for the girl in the photos or even a missing person report. If she
actually dead, we've got the man who killed her. What more do you want?"
"I want to punish anyone and everyone who might have known Lohr Varius was kidnapping women and killing them. I'd think you'd want that, too." He shook his head in confusion. "If you're trying to protect your friend…" Brian Johnson had played high school football with one of the
. In fact, several members of the police force were friends with the guy.
"If you're referring to Armand Laroque, there's nothing to protect. He might have a few quirks, but his family and mine go way back, and he's a good man. I guarantee he knew nothing about Lohr, or he would have brought the bastard in himself."
"I guess I'll find out when I question him."
After pinching off the cherry, Johnson flicked his cigarette butt into a pile of trash. "Exercise due diligence. Follow up with Armand and Slade and whoever else you think requires questioning but don't get your hopes up and don't waste too much time on the case. This isn't St. Paul, McCoy. Things are different down here. You don't look for trouble where there is none. We got enough to worry about." He jerked his thumb up the street toward the house they'd just fled. "There'll be plenty more victims. Take your pick."
Kevin wasn't convinced. "Well, thanks for your time," he said tightly.
Stepping over a pile of debris to cross the street, a few phrases came to mind,
good ol' boy
, being one. He didn't understand Johnson's position. A woman had been kidnapped and tortured, two women were dead, there was possibly one other victim, dozens of people might have known about it, and the police didn't want to persecute them because the bad guy was caught, and they had better things to do? The fact Johnson played high school ball with one of the vampires and their families went "way back" made the whole thing reek about as bad as the rotting corpse two blocks away.
He was new to this city and this police force, but he wasn't above making a few waves. Besides, he'd promised Kate Miller he'd try to punish everyone involved. And he was determined to find information on the missing victim, regardless of what Johnson said.
At best, he had a few days to make his case. He'd better put them to good use.
* * * *
Julia stood outside the closed door to her husband's personal gym for a good five minutes before she could bring herself to open it. The news she had was good, but it probably wouldn't be good enough. She never came here when he was working out. The gym was like a sanctuary for him and the first place he went to pound out any frustration. Lohr killing two women, kidnapping another and then shooting his closest friend had made Armand
frustrated. In fact, furious was a better descriptor. Through the thick door and over the screaming thrash metal, she could hear the drumming of fists against sand filled leather, chains creaking, and ceiling joists groaning.
Cracking the door, she cautiously peered inside. She wasn't prepared for the scene. Shirtless with sweat pouring off his body in rivers, Armand was ferociously attacking his weight bag. The light reflecting off his glistening skin enhanced every ripple of every muscle. The menacing expression of the demon tattoo on his chest was only slightly more fearsome than the expression on his face.
Julia was pretty sure no matter how long they were together the sight of him would never cease to take her breath away.
She pushed the door open farther, and he halted his attack, steadying the bag as it shimmied heavily on the chains. When his gaze first met hers, the hatred burning beneath his hazel eyes was truly frightening. It was immediately replaced with concern.
"Is something wrong?" he asked after grabbing the remote and turning down the volume.
"No. Slade called. They're going to discharge him in the morning."
The stereo clicked off. "That's great news."
She was relieved to see his frown lines soften. Earlier, when Doctor Anderson called to tell them Melanie Young died overnight, his face had twisted with such terrifying darkness she barely recognized him. She'd never seen him so enraged.
Armand worked very hard at masking his temper. And he worked hard to keep it from her and others. No matter how much he tried to disguise or suppress it, he could never fully hide it. When he was angry, truly angry, he put off so much
energy he could taint an entire room with it.
Even though he wouldn't admit it in a million years, she was convinced he was a Psychic Vampire. She didn't completely understand the Human Vampire condition—there were so many conflicting theories, it was hard to decide what was truth and what was fantasy—but most prevalent theories had one thing in common: the need to consume energy.