Home > Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)(7)

Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)(7)
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton


   “A vampire tried to rip a little and wiggled its fangs in the flesh, deciding if it was going to try to take a bigger bite out of the neck. It looks like a man’s neck this time, or a larger woman’s.”

   “It’s a different vampire,” Logan said, his voice demanding that I believe him.

   “Maybe, but I doubt it.”

   “It’s a different style of attack,” he said.

   “A different style of biting doesn’t mean a different vamp, Inspector. The vampire is experimenting, deciding what he prefers. This one was either hungrier with this kill, or he’s beginning to like the potential violence of it.”

   “Potential violence, my arse. He’s sinking teeth into their necks. How much more violent can it get?”

   “A lot more,” I said.

   “Go to the next picture,” Edward said. His voice was very still with that edge of coldness that was usually close to the surface for him.

   I did what he asked, and this time the holes in the side of the neck were huge. I didn’t even think fang marks, just holes, as if someone had taken an ice pick, or something like it, and just driven it into the neck as far as it would go.

   Micah made a small exhale of breath and reached for my arm. I realized that he might never have seen a vampire attack this violent. He was always so strong, so certain, and dealt with the violence in his life and mine so calmly that sometimes I forgot he hadn’t seen everything I had, or vice versa. I was pretty sure there were things happening on his out-of-town trips for the Coalition that would have scared the shit out of me, even if it was just me being scared because of the danger to him and other people I cared about.

   I took Micah’s hand in mine while I asked the next question. “Who figured out this was a vampire attack and not just a murder with something sharp and pointy?”

   “We didn’t think vampire, because Ireland doesn’t have them,” Pearson said.

   “Exactly, but someone figured it out.”

   Edward said, “I did.”

   “This kind of damage isn’t typical for vampires. A lot of police—even here where we know it’s a possibility—might have missed this,” I said.

   “You don’t have to be nice to us, Blake.”

   “I’m being nice to everyone else, Logan. You’re just collateral kindness.”

   “What?”

   “Let me just apologize for Logan for the rest of the conversation. It will save time,” Sheridan said.

   “I don’t need you to apologize for me, Rachel.”

   “Oh, you’re going to apologize for yourself. Good man, go ahead,” she said, and I could hear the almost-laughter in her voice. Some people rubbed everyone the wrong way, and apparently Logan was one of those, because no one in the room seemed to like him. It made me feel better that he wasn’t picking on Edward and me special; he just picked at everybody.

   “Keep going through the pictures,” Edward said, as if the others weren’t really there. Ted played well with others; Edward didn’t.

   The next picture was worse, as if someone had torn the throat out but didn’t quite know what they were doing, so there was a fang mark left to one side of the meat that had been someone’s throat.

   “The vamp is figuring out how strong they are, and what that strength can do to a human body,” I said.

   “He’s getting a taste for it,” Edward said.

   “Was that supposed to be a pun?” Logan asked, his voice accusatory.

   “No,” Edward said, “just accurate. You should try it sometime.”

   “Try what?”

   “Accuracy.” That one word was low and cold with anger. What the hell had Logan done to earn that level of anger from Edward?

   “Who the hell are you to come into our city and tell us that we aren’t accurate enough for you?”

   “I didn’t say that everyone was inaccurate, Logan, just you.”

   “You bastard!”

   “Please, pretty please,” Edward said in a serious voice. He wanted Logan to take a swing at him. What the hell had happened in Ireland to make Edward as Ted fish that hard for a fight? It wasn’t like him to mess around on the job like that. I was the one who usually mouthed off.

   I did the only thing I could think of to help; I swiped to the next picture he’d sent me. There was another dainty bite on a neck, but on the opposite side of the same neck was the bigger set of bite marks, not the one that was messy, but the first one that I’d thought had degraded in the tearing-out of throats.

   “Does this next victim have two bite marks on it from both of our first vampires?” I asked. No one answered me, so I raised my voice. “Ted, talk to me!”

   “Yes, the first two vamps seem to be working together.”

   “Did that victim die?”

   “No,” Sheridan answered. “He wandered into a hospital because his neck was bleeding, but he couldn’t remember how he got injured.”

   “They’re starting to figure out how to work together,” I said.

   Logan’s voice was strident. “Some expert you are, Blake. You were wrong about the second vampire. It’s not the one tearing out throats.”

   “You’ve got at least three vampires on your hands,” I said.

   “Did you hear me, Blake? You were wrong!”

   “I heard you, Logan. I’m okay with being wrong if it gets us better information to catch the vampires that are doing this.”

   “Two of them haven’t hurt anyone too badly,” Sheridan said.

   “Have any of the victims been attacked a second time?”

   “No,” Pearson said.

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