Authors: DANIELLE JAMES
OUT OF THE DARK
Sparks rained down all around the stage, a silver and gold veil of fiery light that completely shielded the five musicians from the audience’s view. The last note played rung heavily in the air. Angel turned his head to look at Rebel, both of them nodding their heads in time to the beat. The applause and cheers of the crowded arena steadily grew into a incessant roar. They all knew that one encore would not be enough. Not at home in Los Angeles. Not at the final show of the year- long tour. Hell, not ever. As the embers began to die out and the men became visible to the audience once more, Angel and all his band mates leapt into the air and landed as a single unit in time with Jacque’s hammering on his drums. It was a well-executed move that they had performed time and time again. They were so in sync with each other that it just came naturally. The crowd went wild.
had known that this was going to be a big show. He had dreaded it as much as he looked forward to it all year. The end of the tour meant that he would finally have some free time to do whatever he wanted. Touring was exhausting, to say the least. But it also meant that the tour was over. In all the time he had lived and of all the places he had held residence, the stage was the only place he ever really felt at home.
It was exhilarating, being on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans. And to hear them singing his lyrics! It instilled a sense of pride in Angel that nothing else ever could. Not even his political career. Not that any of his fans ever realized that part of his life even existed. No, Angel was a musician, and he would be until the day he died.
Whenever that would be.
As the song ended and the band gathered at the front of the stage, Angel shoved his hair from his sweat covered face and smiled at his band mates.
His family. Holding the microphone close, he spoke to his fans for the last time for the evening. “Thank you Los Angeles!! We love you!!” The five men thrust their intertwined hands into the air and made a dramatic bow as one. The lights dimmed and Angel walked off the stage.
“Kick ass show!” Sebastian greeted him on the stairs
, tossing a clean towel at Angel’s face.
“Let’s go home,” Angel said.
“We should get some dinner.”
“Yeah. Invite the roadies too,” Angel said. His team had worked hard for the last twelve months; the least he could do was treat them to a nice dinner. But first, he thought, a shower. He was covered in sweat and his ears were ringing. In the background, Angel heard the publicist take over the microphone.
“Let’s hear it
One. More. Time! For Angel Knight!” he bellowed into the crowd. Angel smiled as the crowd erupted once again.
Detective Samuel Corbin tried to hold his breath as he examined the body. The sickly sweet smell of rotting flesh was overpowering. The victim lay on the stainless steel slab without a name, without an address, without a family member to claim her. Oh, yes, and without a throat.
“This is the third one this month,” Mark French, the medical examiner, said, not even
bothering to hide the disgust in his tone.
“What do you expect, this is LA,” Samuel replied.
“I know, but come on, this is starting to look like a pattern. Do you think this is a wolf?”
“Sure looks like it, Mark. But something doesn’t fit. I can’t put my finger on it, not yet. You said she was found in the park?”
“Yep, right out in the open, just like the others. From what I gathered, there was no witnesses, no one heard or saw anything. A couple of high school kids discovered the body this morning on their way to school.”
Samuel poked a gloved finger into the woman’s shredded neck. The woman was young, maybe twenty five. At one time, she was probably very pretty, Sam thought. Blonde hair, blue eyes, about five feet six inches tall. She was wearing what was left of a miniskirt and tank top, one high heeled dress shoe still on her foot. She had probably been leaving one of the local clubs when she was attacked; either that or she was a working girl. There were bruises on her arms and legs in the pattern of fingers. This evidence ruled out the possibility of an animal attack. Someone had beaten and killed this young woman. She had multiple lacerations on her throat, and large pieces of tissue were missing. The whole thing just cried out werewolf. But something didn’t sit right in Samuel’s stomach.
“I’m going to go visit the crime scene, let me know what you find,” Samuel said, turning his back on the deceased woman.
“You got it, Detective.”
Samuel drove the short distance to the park. The spot where the girl had been found was marked off with yellow police tape and crawling with officers. Samuel groaned. There was nothing better to wreck a crime scene than a bunch of beat cops trampling through it, destroying possible evidence.
“Detective Corbin, good morning,” Ricky said. He was a rookie, but he had potential.
Samuel knew one day this man would make Detective. “I tried to keep everyone out until you got here, but let me tell ya, it ain’t easy. Damn fools think they know everything. I hope they didn’t touch anything. Come on, I’ll show ya what we got.”
“Thank you Ricky,” Samuel said, falling into step beside the rookie cop. It looked like any other crime scene. Yellow tape surrounded the area. There was a thin white rope marking the outline of where the body had been. Even without the rope, the grass was indented in the rough shape of the body.
She had been found lying on her back, her limbs straight. Posed. Samuel noticed that there was no blood on the grass. A wound that size would have certainly bled out.
“Did anyone check the area? There is no blood here, so she must have been attacked somewhere else.”
“Yeah, I got two men searching the area now,” Ricky answered.
“You sure are good at taking charge,” Samuel observed. Ricky smiled at the compliment.
“You know I want to work homicide,” he reminded the Detective. Samuel nodded in agreement. It took a strong cop to work homicide, and Ricky was that special blend of cautious and thorough.
“I don’t like this. Look at the scene. I know what you see, but tell me, given the evidence, tell me what it is that you don’t see,” Samuel challenged the rookie.
Ricky let his eyes wander over the area. After a minute, he answered, “Since there is no blood where she was found, that indicates that she was attacked somewhere else. Logic would suggest that she managed to get away and dragged herself here. But there are no drag marks in the grass. There should be a trail of blood, but there isn’t. Which could only mean that the body was dropped here.”
“Very good,” Samuel smiled. This kid was going places, he thought. “But why would whoever did this drop the body out in the open?”
“They wanted her to be found.”
“But there is something else, there are no drag marks, as you said, no blood, so whoever dropped her did just that, literally dropped her here.
There are no obvious footprints, but she had to have been carried here from somewhere else. What does that tell you?”
“That our guy is big, strong. Strong enough to carry this woman God knows how far and just
drop the body. Somebody who knows how to cover his tracks.”
“What makes you think it’s a guy?”
“Well, because of the bruises. They are on her thighs and arms. I am willing to bet the medical examiner will find more on more intimate places. I think we might discover that she was raped before she was killed, not usually a woman’s MO. But I could be wrong, hell, you never know these days. Not with werewolves and vampires living out in the open.”
“You think a werewolf did this?” Samuel asked.
“Yeah, I think I do. If the profile fits…” Ricky was shaking his head gently. “I can’t imagine anything else doing that to her throat.”
Samuel was inclined to agree. But something still didn’t fit. Samuel headed back to his office, his head swimming with possibilities the whole way.
He’d been a homicide detective for ten years and he had developed something of a mental warning bell when something was amiss. It was no more really than a tingling in his mind, but it had never steered him wrong before. Samuel sat at his desk, the assorted papers and photographs spread out in front of himself. He poured over the initial photos of the crime scene again and again. It was after lunch when his cell rang.
“Corbin,” he answered.
“Detective, this is Mark. I got an ID for you on the park woman.”
“Her name is Rachel Wright. Twenty
four, lives on the east side. But there’s more.”
“I’m listening,” Samuel said, jotting down the dead girl’s information.
“Well, the body was nearly devoid of blood. I could scarcely get enough for a sample. She was raped before she was killed, there are bruises and vaginal tears. But I didn’t find any foreign fluids in her, though. And here’s the real fucked up part, those cuts on her neck, they were made with a serrated knife, and they were done post mortem.”
“Are you going to get table fifteen?” Keelie asked, a sly grin spreading over her face.
“No,”Brea replied, studying the man at the aforementioned table.
You can have it.”
“But it is in your section, I wouldn’t want to take money from your pocket,” Keelie offered.
“I don’t care, really. It’s one of your people, isn’t he? You know how nervous I get around y’all.” There was no way Brea wanted to wait on that man. He was a wolf. Just like Keelie. Anyone who knew anything about weres could tell. The confident stride in the walk. The wide muscular build, the strong facial features, the high cheek bones. The wild eyes. They were always blue. Not regular blue like any normal person, but freakishly blue. Ice blue. The kind that can see all the way down into a person’s soul. The kind that tracked your every move as if you were prey. She had tried to treat them like everyone else, but just the knowledge that one could kill you before you even realized there was any danger made Brea exceptionally nervous. The few she had waited on eventually ended up wearing some part of their dinner. It was a disaster waiting to happen, one Breanna would avoid at all costs.
people? Whatever, Brea, you really need to get a handle on this. I don’t bother you, why does anyone else?” she asked, narrowing her icy blue eyes at her friend and coworker.
“I have been around you for months now, you know how clumsy I can be and
know how to steer clear of my mishaps. Besides, you never tried to eat me.”
“Hello, Handsome. Look out girls, hottie at three o’clock!” Brandon said, sashaying to the girls’ sides. His blonde hair was perfectly deliberately mussed up, his chocolate brown eyes sparkling with the delight as he studied the eye candy at table fifteen.
If one of you don’t go wait on him, I will! Maybe I will get a phone number, maybe even more than that..”
“Get over yourself,”Keelie chastised.
I got this. You know, not every gorgeous man is gay.”