Home > Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)(6)

Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)(6)
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton

“I think of it as a psychic gift more than something mystical,” I said.

“Their laws actually don’t acknowledge a difference between psychic gifts and magic, only between magic and Church-sanctioned miracles.”

“If they actually mention miracles in their laws, then that’s a first outside of Rome that I’m aware of.”

“Then be aware, Anita, because this is the second,” he said, and I could hear the smile in his voice, but it didn’t match the words, as if he were having trouble staying Ted in front of the other cops. What had they done, or what had happened, between one phone call and the next to make him struggle with it?

“Are you okay, Ted?”

“I’m just dandy.”

I let it go, because he either wouldn’t talk about it or couldn’t with all the other officers in the room. My email pinged. Micah helped me open the attachment on it, and we were suddenly looking at a throat with two delicate fang marks on it. It was a really small bite radius. It could be a child or a woman with a smaller-than-average mouth. The second neck wound had considerably bigger holes; no one was going to mistake them for hypodermic needle marks. These were definitely a different vampire.

“I’m going to put you on speakerphone, Anita. Tell us what you see.” He didn’t mean tell us; he meant tell them. I was pretty sure this was some kind of test. If I dazzled them, would they let me come play with Edward in Ireland? Did I want to go play in Ireland? I didn’t want to do an international flight with my phobia of flying—that was for sure—but . . . I didn’t like that they were all prejudiced against a psychic gift that I couldn’t do anything about. Also, I was a wee bit competitive.

“Well, from the first two bite images you’ve got at least two different vampires. The first could be a child, or a grown woman with a small mouth, or a crowded one.”

“This is Superintendent Pearson, Marshal Blake. What do you mean, crowded?” His voice sounded like I’d expected. Irish in that way that movies convince you must be real. It made me smile that he actually sounded like movie Irish; so many accents didn’t match what you expected.

“Fang marks are just like human bite marks in one way, Superintendent Pearson. It’s not always the size of the mouth that dictates how a bite mark looks; sometimes it’s how the teeth are placed. Someone who has too many teeth for the size of their mouth can sometimes have teeth that are sort of crowded together, which will make the space between their canines much smaller than you’d expect for an adult.”

Another man’s voice said, “We don’t care about canine teeth. We care about the fangs.” His accent didn’t match as well, as if he were from a different part of Ireland. It was the same idea as a Southern accent here, as compared to Northern, or Midwestern, though television and the Internet were erasing regional accents in a lot of places.

“The canine teeth are what become fangs after the person changes into a vampire,” I said.

“That’s Inspector Logan. Please ignore him, Marshal Blake.”

I heard Logan make an unhappy noise, but he didn’t make a second remark. Pearson outranked him, or someone else in the room did and had taken Pearson’s side.

Edward said, in a much more cheerful version of Ted’s voice, “Go to the next picture, Anita.”

I did what he asked. The fang marks seemed bigger still, but the holes weren’t as neat and tidy, so . . . “The marks look even bigger than the last set, but they’re also less neat, as if the vampire used more force to bite down, or jerked out more when it stopped feeding, so it could be the same vamp as bite number two.”

Pearson asked, “Do you think we can assume that vampire number two is an adult male?”

“With the spacing between fangs you’d probably be safe assuming that, but I’ve known a few women with exceptionally wide teeth spacing, so it’s not a guarantee. The necks all look like women; is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“Inspector Logan here . . .”

“Address her by her title,” another voice said, and I thought it was a woman.

“Fine, Marshal Blake, this is Inspector Logan. The pictures don’t show the Adam’s apple; how did you know they were women?”

“I’ve spent a lot of years looking at fang marks on skin, Inspector Logan. After a while, you just know what you’re looking at.”

Edward said, “Is there anything else that makes you think male or female, Anita?”

“A lot of vamps prefer to take blood according to their sexual preferences, so most males prefer to feed on women, and a lot of females feed on men, but some new vamps take any victim that they can, just like any other young predator on a learning curve.”

“Detective Logan here, Marshal Blake.” And there was something in the way he said my title and name that let me know he wasn’t happy about it. Or maybe I was being overly sensitive.

Micah looked at me, and the look was enough; he thought the same thing about Logan. Maybe I wasn’t being overly sensitive.

“Yes, Detective Logan?”

“Are you saying that gay vampires would feed on same-sex victims?”

“Possibly, but if you’ve never had vampires in Ireland before, then these may all be very new. So again, they’re probably going after whatever victim is easiest. Some women feel safer feeding on other women, even though as a vampire they could beat the shit out of most human men. They never quite get rid of the idea that men are stronger and more dangerous than they are, so they feed almost exclusively on other women regardless of their sexual preference.”

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