Chapter 1 – Kristin
“What are you doing there, man?” I spoke out loud to myself as I looked out the window of my patrol car. Someone was slipping between the houses across the street from where I was parked. It was a quiet night in the township, and I was looking for a car or two to pull over, but this looked as if it was going to be more fun. The guy was about five hundred feet away and hidden in the deep shadows of the moonless night, but I could still see him. Not every perfect detail, but I could make out enough of him to know that he was probably doing something that he shouldn’t be doing. My keen eyes could take in things that a mere mortal person could not. Most mortals probably wouldn’t have even noticed the guy from this far away.
I pushed the button to lower my window, reaching out with my sense of hearing to listen and see if there were any other telltale signs of the man being up to no good. A muffled cracking of glass told me, why yes, he was indeed doing something that he shouldn’t be. I grinned and quietly opened my car door, glancing around to make sure no one was in the vicinity. I slipped into the darkness of a nearby tree, still listening and keeping an eye across the street. The windows of the house were dark, and there were no cars parked in the driveway.
The quiet tinkling of glass falling to the ground reached my ears and I scanned the area again before darting across the roadway. I could not only hear and see better than mortals, I could move faster and quieter, too. I made it across the street within a second and slid up against the side of the house, stopping again to listen. The sound of someone grunting and huffing made me pause. I heard the sound of things scraping and realized he was probably trying to hoist himself up through a window.
I was about to peer around the corner to see if I could stop him before he got inside, but an emotional barrage slammed into me. It invaded all of my senses and almost made me gasp out loud. Damn it, Alex! Not now! I thought. I sent back an irritated feeling to let him know I was not happy with the interruption at this exact moment.
Alexander was my mate. Well, he was supposed to be. While we had completed the first part of our mating, we had not completed the second—the step that would make me a full-fledged vampire. It was also the part I was avoiding. I wasn’t ready for it yet. As quickly as I had sent off an irritated response, Alex returned an even more irritated one right back, almost demanding that I respond to him. It was a mental ping-pong match that frustrated me to no end sometimes. I shook my head and yanked up the walls around my mind, shutting him out completely. The ability to put up those walls was something that I learned to do very quickly. If I hadn’t, my mind would have been an open book to any vampire who wanted to listen in. It would also have been wide open to Alex’s demands.
And I don’t do demands.
I turned my attention back to the stranger. By this time, he had managed to climb into the house, and I could hear him moving around the room just beyond the window. I started to round the corner and got a whiff of the coppery sweetness of fresh blood. My instincts kicked in, and my front canine teeth started to tingle with anticipation. I spun back around the corner, taking a second to get my feelings under control and keep them in place. As long as I focused carefully, I could keep myself in check. I rounded the corner and moved to the window. On the edge of the windowsill was a small amount of fresh blood. The guy must have cut himself when he climbed through. I tried to keep the tempting metallic scent out of my nose, but it was hard. I needed to rein in the natural feeling that came with smelling warm blood, an intense feeling of hunger that comes as the sweet, coppery scent passes through our sensitive noses.
Once back firmly in control, I took a peek inside. The man had turned on a small flashlight and was digging in a drawer. The small beam of light was not strong enough to be seen outside the window by any human. He pulled open a jewelry box that sat on the dresser and I heard his quiet, “Bingo!”
He snatched a pillow off the bed, ripping the pillow out and throwing it to the floor. He started dumping the contents of the jewelry box into the pillowcase.
I quietly pulled my cell phone off my duty belt and moved back around the corner to text my partner, Mick. 325 Newtown—front door—wait.
It took a few seconds before he responded back, ENRT, which meant that he was en route to my location.
I kept an eye on the guy inside the room while I waited for Mick to show up. My eyes kept flitting over to the blood droplet. I needed to make sure I fed when I got off duty. It had been too long. While I waited for Mick, I sent him another text message. Burg in prog—one subject inside res—advise. This told him he needed to call it out on the radio and tell our dispatcher where we were and what was going on. I couldn’t take the chance of turning on my portable radio and letting the guy get spooked quite yet. I wanted to wait for my partner to get here.
The guy inside the house was now digging through the closet looking for valuables. I knew in a minute or two he would probably head on to the next room to see what else he could find.
While I waited for Mick, I briefly thought about Alex and how pissed off he was going to be that I shut him out, again. There would be hell to pay later, but I was getting used to that. This was not the first time I’d shut him out because he was demanding that I do something. I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take before he realized I wouldn’t bend to his demands.
I heard a car’s engine racing down the street; by the deep sound of it, it was a patrol vehicle. I waited until it stopped and I heard the car door open. I could hear the mobile radio in the distance and our dispatcher acknowledging that we were on scene. It was too low for the burglar to hear it inside the house though.
I waited until I knew that Mick was about into place before I put my plan into action. I pulled my flashlight slowly off the back of my duty belt, stepped up to the window, and shined the light inside. I didn’t shine the light for my benefit. I did it for his. Like a deer in the headlights of a car, the guy spun around with sheer panic in his eyes and froze. His wits took their time coming back to him and I felt his adrenaline spike. He stood up from the crouch he was in, and I felt the wheels begin to turn in his head. He looked over his shoulder at the door behind him, then back to me.
“Drop the stuff and come out the window,” I said to him in a very calm, professional police voice.
He looked around again, and did exactly what I figured he would do. He turned to run out the bedroom door. I pretended as if I was going to climb in through the window, and that got him moving faster. He spun around and took off down the hall. I knew he would either try to run out the front door that would be the furthest from me or hide somewhere in the house. I’d give him a minute to see what he did.
As I started back around the side of the home, I heard rattling around in the front part of the house, and then the sound of a door opening. I smiled. Bad guys were so predictable. A second later, I heard Mick say very calmly but forcefully, “Police, put your hands up and get down on the ground.”
“Fuck!” The guy’s voice reached me as I turned to the front side of the house. I watched his wide eyes staring down the barrel of Mick’s Glock. Very slowly, he got down to his knees and put his hands behind his head.
I stood in front of the guy and leaned down so that I was just inches from his face. “Bingo,” I said quietly to him, and he rolled his eyes.
I laughed as I walked around him and smacked his wrist with one of my steel handcuffs. The ratcheting sound that the cuffs made as they slid into place was an awesome sound. I pulled his arm behind his back and grabbed the other wrist to pull it down and lock it into place.
“Up,” I told the guy, who sat on his knees staring at the ground. He was probably trying to figure out what he could say to get himself out of this. He stood, and I led him over to Mick’s car. I pushed him up against the side and started to pat him down. I pulled a screwdriver from the front pocket of his black hoodie, and a pocketknife from the front pocket of his jeans. Once I was sure there were no other weapons on his person, I opened up the rear door and told him to watch his head as he climbed inside. He looked up at me for a second. When we made eye contact, I saw not fear or anger, but resignation in his eyes. He lowered them and climbed into the back of the car. I closed the door and turned to find Mick watching me.
“How do you do that?” he asked me quietly, his head tilted to one side.
“What?” I pretended not to know what he was talking about. This was not the first time he asked this question. I shifted away and tried to walk past him, but he grabbed my arm and stopped me.
“You know what, Kristin.” He held my arm, and I tried not to sigh as I faced him. He was the same height as me, but twice as wide. There was not an ounce of fat on his solid muscular frame. His dark brown eyes were slightly narrowed as he studied me. I could see the questions he wanted to ask, but I could not answer them. How could I tell my mortal partner what I really was?
“Really…” I laughed, although it was shallow. “Why do you always think it’s more than just me being lucky?” I shrugged as if it was no big deal.
“You know you can tell me what’s going on. You can trust me, Kristin.” He said it quietly, and I laughed again, this time much deeper. Man, he had no idea what he was asking for.
“Mick,” I started, and then took a deep breath and shook my head. “There is nothing to tell, my man, nothing to tell.” I pulled out of his grasp easily and went back to my truck to grab my camera and start processing the scene. I might have caught the guy at the scene, but I still had to prove that a crime was being committed and that he was involved in it for the justice system to work.
“Someday you are going to trust me, Kris,” he called out as I walked away. He paused and waited for me to answer. When I didn’t, he said, “I’m gonna take this guy to lockup. Want me to pick up coffee on the way back?”
“Yeah, I’ll process the scene real quick, and then meet you back at the station,” I called out over my shoulder, avoiding eye contact. I needed to start being more careful. Mick was such a quiet guy, and sometimes it was the quiet ones you had to worry about.
Over the last couple of months, my ability to locate crime in the making had been pretty consistent, especially with drug busts on traffic stops. I’m starting to think I might need to be a bit more careful to avoid suspicion. If Mick was starting to question how I found all of this stuff, it wouldn’t be long before other people wondered, too.
I grabbed my camera bag out of the car and turned on my radio to make sure I didn’t miss any calls while I was processing the scene. I went back inside the house through the front door, since the guy had been nice enough to leave it open for me on his way out. Carefully, I took pictures of the bedroom he had been in, made a list of the items he had thrown into the pillowcase, swabbed up the blood that he had left on the windowsill, and made some notes. Before I left, I put a business card in the front door with a note on the back telling the residents to contact us as soon as they arrived home. They were going to be surprised when they found their bedroom window busted out. Luckily, it wasn’t supposed to rain tonight.
The radio was quiet right now, which meant I could probably take my time on my paperwork without being called out to anything else. I might be able to move fast and hear things that others couldn’t, but paperwork was paperwork, and it didn’t matter who you were. It took the same amount of time to do it.
On my way back to the station, I slid open my cell phone and found three missed calls and several text messages from Alex. I groaned. I knew he was going to be really pissed off that I not only shut him out, but ignored his calls, too. Not that I had done that part on purpose. My phone had been on silent so as not to alert the burglar. I figured since Alex was already pissed off, I would wait till later to call him back. I really didn’t want to get into it with him tonight.
I got back to the station shortly after Mick arrived and tried to get situated in our designated area so that I could get the paperwork done. Our station was a small old ranch house that had been donated to the township by a developer. It wasn’t much, just a couple of rooms with nowhere near enough storage, but it was quiet, and it was our home away from home.
I could tell that Mick was watching me. I had my back to him, but I knew the feeling of having someone stare hard enough at me that I could almost physically feel them touching me. My mind was still closed up from Alex, but if I let down the walls, I’m sure I would have been able to hear Mick’s thoughts. They were practically verbal already. I tried to lose myself in the paperwork, but I kept feeling his eyes on my back. Finally, I took a deep breath, spun around in my office chair, and looked him in the eye.
He turned away as if he was embarrassed to have been caught, but then he met my gaze again. We sat there for a little while waiting for the other to talk. Finally, he tilted his head again and simply said, “How?”
So many questions were burning through his mind. I could sense them and make most of them out now that I was concentrating on him. Vampires were pretty good at reading the minds of others, especially humans. If I were a full vampire, I wouldn’t have had any trouble figuring out what he was thinking, but as it was, I was still a half-breed, although I was more vampire than human now.
“Mick, I don’t know what you want me to tell you. I’m in the right place at the right time, that’s all.” I held my hands out in front of me as if I was begging him to believe me. I was actually able to say this with a straight face, because it was basically true. I had to be near the crime in order to know it was happening. It wasn’t as if I could be on the other side of the township and know something was going on down here. I had to see or hear something first to be alerted to it.
“Kristin, for the last couple of months, I’ve noticed a difference. It’s not just the crime you find or the drug busts you’ve made. It’s you. You’re different.” He looked me up and down, as if he was trying to figure out how I might have changed.
I laughed and shook my head. “Mick, I am no different today than I was a couple of months ago. I’m just me, enjoying my job, and that’s it.” The lie tasted bitter on my tongue, but I couldn’t tell him the truth. None of my friends knew the truth.
He shook his head vehemently. “No, there is something else. I’m not the only person to notice it either. The chief was talking about it the other day.”
“Henderson was talking about me? I never even see him. Why would he think there was something different about me?” I haven’t seen my chief in several months because I was only working night shifts. He very seldom had a reason to come out at night. I was experienced enough to deal with the serious incidents we might get at night and always advised him by phone of anything he might need to know about right away.
“He hears things, Kristin. Come on, you can’t expect him to sit in his office, read all of your arrest reports, and not wonder what’s going on. Almost every shift you work, you’re busting someone for some major crime. How much dope have you gotten off the street in the last two months? Three, four hundred thousand dollars worth?”
It was actually over half a million dollars, but I wasn’t going to correct him. It would only validate his point.
“You are catching people doing things that we never caught before. Well, not until we actually investigated it. Now we don’t need to investigate. You catch them while they are in the act, and the county hasn’t seen this many drug busts in years.” He was examining his brown paper coffee cup, spinning it in his hand as he spoke. Finally, he looked back up at me and asked me once again, “How?”
I watched the logo on the cup spin around one more time before I answered. “Mick…” I stopped and sighed. How could I tell him? How could I say that I was immortal? That I had powers beyond that of a human? Vampires were the stories of the night, scary tales of blood-drinking creatures that killed humans for food. How could I explain to him that I was one of those creatures, and while we didn’t kill humans, we did drink their blood.
Before I could come up with a response, the radio mic keyed up and called Mick for an ambulance call. Saved by the static-filled male voice, at least for now, I thought.
He guzzled the rest of his coffee and stood up to leave. As he turned away, he called over his shoulder, “We’re not done with this. You are going to explain to me what’s going on. We’ve worked together too long, and I deserve to know.” He stopped and gave me a pointed look before heading for the door.
Jesus. Another demanding man! I watched him hit the green button on the wall that released the magnetic lock in the door. The door closed behind him with a small thud and a click, indicating the magnets were locked again. Crap, how was I going to handle this?
Two hours later, my paperwork was finished, my photos were uploaded, my reports were printed, and my criminal complaint was completed and ready for the court. I sat back and stretched my arms over my head. Swinging myself slightly left and right in the chair, I thought about the fact that I needed to call Alex. He had called me three more times while I was busy with paperwork, but I had refused to answer.
We’d been together now for three months. The first month had been bliss. We spent much of it getting to know each other, learning about each other. Then month two came along and Alex started pushing a bit, wanting to move our relationship along and complete our mating. I was able to push it off during month two, but now that we were almost at the end of month three, Alex was making it well known that he was not happy about waiting much longer.
I once told Alex that I was a cop and my blood ran blue. I thought he had understood that. I thought that he would understand my passion for the job and that I wasn’t ready to stop working to complete the last step of our mating.
I took a long, deep cleansing breathe before I opened myself up to him. I could feel his frustration coming across our bond loud and clear, actually clearer than my portable radio normally was. I could picture him sitting in his office, looking at the bank of computer screens behind his desk. He would be staring at them, not seeing them. Waiting…just waiting for me to call, and then we’d start the conversation all over again.
While I could feel his emotions, I could not mentally speak to him at this distance. He was up in Poughkeepsie, New York, and I was in southeastern Pennsylvania. That was too far for us to communicate telepathically, but we could feel each other’s feelings, especially if they were strong; and right now, his were really, really strong.
I took a deep breath and hit his name on my cell phone. It was two rings before he answered. “You need to come home,” he said in his deep, mellow voice.
“Alex, I am home,” I answered as I looked around the patrol room of my station.