“So basically, you don’t know anything about these vampires just from the pictures?” Logan said, and he made sure that I heard the disdain.
“I told you that Anita would be more useful in person, Logan,” Edward said, holding on to the cheerful Ted voice with effort. Logan had already been a pain in the ass for his voice to struggle like that.
“I don’t think we need to fly your girlfriend in, Forrester.”
“Logan!” And now I was sure it was a woman.
“That’s enough, Luke, and I mean it this time,” Pearson said.
“Everyone knows . . .”
“No,” Pearson said, and the Irish accent held anger just fine, “everyone does not know, and before you start spreading rumors about a fellow officer, you might want to make certain you know what you’re talking about.”
“That’s how a lot of the rumors get started,” I said.
“What, Marshal Blake?”
“One person says something that isn’t true, but it’s too scandalous not to repeat, and then the rumors feed on each other, and before you know it, everyone knows the truth, even when it’s a lie.”
“Well said. I’m Inspector Sheridan, Rachel Sheridan.” The woman’s voice again.
“Glad to almost meet you, Inspector Sheridan,” I said.
“You would take her side,” Logan said in his sour voice.
“Who got your panties in a twist about me? We’ve never even met,” I said.
“It’s me he’s mad at,” Edward said in a voice that was far more cheerful than the words warranted.
“Why in blazes would I be mad at you?” Logan asked.
“Because you’re jealous,” Edward said.
“Why would I be jealous of you, Forrester?”
“For the same reason you’re going to be jealous of Marshal Anita Blake.”
“And why is that?”
“Anita, look at the next picture.”
I hesitated for a second, then thought, Why the hell do I care if some cop in Ireland doesn’t like me? I moved to the next image and it was another set of fang marks like the last ones, bigger fangs, and this time rough enough that the wounds were jagged around the edges. It made me have to swallow hard and fight off an urge to rub at the scars over my collarbone at the bend of my left arm where the same vampire had worried at me like a dog with a bone. It had almost cost me the use of my arm, but serious physical therapy and devotion to the weight room in the gym had left me better than I had been even before the injury.
“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.”
“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.