“If the vampire and blood donor had agreed that the vamp could use their gaze so the donor could get the whole vampire experience, then it’s treated like you let someone drink too much at a party and then let them walk home drunk, again it’s not even a crime here, just bad judgment.”
“Vic can’t remember, so we’ll never know if consent was given or not.”
“If they took a swab of the bite for genetics and he, or she, is in the system, they can find the vampire in question.”
“Nobody believed it was a vampire bite, so they didn’t treat it like an attack. They thought she’d been slipped a date-rape drug.”
“The fang marks weren’t a clue?” I asked.
“You said it yourself, Anita: there are no vampires in Ireland. In thousands of years of history, there’s never been a vampire here. They noted the fang marks as possible needle marks for the drug they thought had been used on the vic; if they hadn’t been hunting for needle marks and other signs of drug use, they wouldn’t have even found them. They are some of the tiniest, neatest marks I’ve ever seen.”
I sat up a little straighter, both to tie my robe tighter and because that meant something. “You’ve seen almost as many vampire bites as I have.”
“Yep,” he said in his best Ted Forrester drawl. He was probably playing the full American cowboy, accent and all, for the Irish police. He could be the ultimate undercover person and blend in damn near anywhere, but when he was Ted, it was like he enjoyed just how thick he could play the part. I wondered if he’d packed Ted’s cowboy hat and brought it on the airplane. The thought of him wearing it in Ireland was either fun or cringeworthy. I wasn’t sure which yet.
“How tiny? Do you think it’s a child vampire?”
“I’ve seen female vamps that had a bite this small, but that one could be a child.”
“What do you mean, that one?”
“We have at least three different bite radiuses.”
“So three different vamps,” I said.
“At the very least, maybe more.”
“What do you mean, maybe more?”
“I’ve got permission to share photos with you if you can get to a computer.”
“My phone is a computer. Can’t you just text me?”
“I could, but you’ll want a bigger screen to look at some of these.”
“Okay, I . . . I can get to a computer. I just need someone to help me log on, or something.”
“You have a secure email account, because I’ve sent you things to it before,” he said.
“I know, I know. I just don’t use the computers here much.”
“Where are you?”
“Circus of the Damned.”
“Tell Jean-Claude howdy for me?”
“Howdy? Even Ted doesn’t say Howdy.”
“I’m American, Anita. We’re all cowboys; didn’t you know that, darling?” he said in a drawl so thick it sounded like you should be able to do a Texas two-step on it.
“Yeah, like all the Irish are leprechauns and go around saying Top of the morning to you.”
“If I had my way, you’d be here seeing all the leprechauns.”
“What do you mean, if you had your way?”
“Go to the computer so you can see the pictures, Anita,” and the out-West accent lost some of its thickness, fading into what was Edward’s normal “middle of nowhere,” maybe Midwestern accent. I’d known him for over six years before I’d learned that Theodore (Ted) Forrester was his actual birth name and the one that both the military and the Marshals Service knew him by. He’d just been Edward to me.
“Okay, but what did you mean, if you had your way?” I got to my feet and my lower body was instantly colder in just the silk robe without the nest of other clothes around me. I looked down at the bed, because both Micah and Nathaniel were better with the computers down the hallway than I was; hell, Nathaniel was still occasionally sneaking new ringtones for people into my phone. Some of them had been embarrassing when they sounded at work with the other marshals, but “Bad to the Bone” for Edward had worked so well, I kept it.
“When you’re at the computer, call me back,” he said, and hung up. That was more like Edward.
Once the phone screen stopped glowing, the room was pitch-black, cave dark, so that you could touch your own eyeball because you couldn’t see your finger coming to flinch away. We usually left the bathroom door open, so the night light inside could give some illumination, but whoever had gone in last had forgotten. The only thing that let me walk to the bathroom door without bumping anything was familiarity with the layout. I opened the door and it was so damn bright that for a second I thought the overhead lights had been left on; but as I blinked and adjusted to the glow, I realized it was just the night light. It looked ungodly bright because my eyes had adjusted to the thick darkness of the other room, but as my eyes readjusted to the light it was just the night light like normal.
I’d have liked to let the men in my life sleep, but I needed help with the computers. I was really going to have to take notes the next time someone showed me how to do all this because I never seemed to remember it the way that they did. I stared down at the bed. Nathaniel had curled down into the covers so that only the top of his head and the thick braid of his nearly ankle-length hair showed. The light was just bright enough to gleam red in the brown of his auburn hair. He was curled up on his side so that his broad shoulders rose like a hunky mountain above the rest of the bed. It was impossible to tell with him curled up like that, but he was five-nine. Micah lay just out of arm’s reach from him; they were leaving my space in the middle of them empty, waiting for me to crawl back in and sleep, which I so wanted to do, but duty called. Micah’s curls had spilled across his face so the most skin I saw was the darker skin of his slender shoulders and one arm that showed muscles, but he would never bulk up the way Nathaniel did. Genetics had made our very dominant and commanding Nimir-Raj, leopard king, my size, five-three. You couldn’t see it under the covers, but he was built like a swimmer with that upside-down triangle of shoulders to slender waist and hips. Nathaniel was built not only more muscular but more lush, the man’s version of curves. Jean-Claude lay on his back. He could sleep on his side but he preferred to sleep on his back, and since he died at dawn so he couldn’t keep cuddling as we moved during our sleep, it wasn’t as big a deal that he didn’t spoon as well as the three of us, who were all side sleepers.