Home > The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(13)

The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(13)
Author: Lisa Shearin

She’d begun her career as a midwife, and had become the first licensed female doctor in the city. Every few decades, she “retired” from one position and took another. She’d been in her mid-twenties when she’d been turned so she didn’t stand out when she went back to school after a “retirement” to catch up on the latest medical advances. She’d learned to glamour and glamour well. As a result, she’d never had problems blending in or with being found out.

Vivienne Sagadraco had a lot of pull in this town, and one of the ways she used it was getting supernaturals placed in strategic jobs. In addition to supernaturals in the NYPD, there were mages who, like Dr. Van Daal, could place a glamour on a dead supernatural and hold it there until the body was turned over to the family. Or if no one claimed the body, until it was cremated or buried by the city. These mages were in homicide divisions, the medical examiner’s office, and CSI teams.

The boss had covered all the bases she could, but occasionally a corpse tried to steal home. When that happened, there was a lot of scrambling and improvising by whichever agents were closest.

No one had needed to scramble today.

This victim was human.

He hadn’t stood a chance against ghouls—especially when one of those ghouls was something far worse.

Ian took a long breath, quickly exhaled, and walked over to where Dr. Van Daal was working over the remains of the dead bank guard.

She glanced up, then returned to tweezing something out that I had no desire to see up close.

“Agent Byrne, I’ve been expecting you.”

That was a surprise. Ian had said that a handful of people at SPI knew his background. It appeared that Dr. Anika Van Daal was one of them.

“Was he alive?” Ian asked quietly.

“Not for long. He was dead long before he bled out. He’s wearing a med alert bracelet for heart disease. Most of the bites and cuts were post-mortem. I won’t know for certain until I get him back to the lab, but I would say that he died of a heart attack before most of the wounds were inflicted.”

My stomach turned. The cause of death may have been a heart attack, but the poor guy had a heart attack because ghouls were eating him alive.

Ian didn’t flinch away from any of it. He’d been special ops in the military and then a homicide detective in the NYPD. My partner had seen death in all its forms. He was studying the guard’s remains to memorize what had been done to him. Ian planned to see to it that each of those ghouls paid the ultimate price for every bite and slice. Ian hadn’t known the guard personally, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him from avenging his death.

Dr. Van Daal lowered the guard’s arm to the floor from where it had been folded over his chest. His hand was clenched into a fist, but a glint of metal gleamed from between his fingers.

Ian knelt beside the body. “What’s that?”

Dr. Van Daal used her gloved hand to straighten two of the fingers, and a pendant on a chain dropped onto the floor.

“It’s a St. Michael medal.” My partner was white as a sheet. “Anika, turn it over.”

I moved closer and leaned over Ian’s shoulder to try to see. “I can’t read it, does—”

“It says, ‘To Peter, all love, M.’ And there’s a date.” Ian sounded as if he were about to be sick. “If you’ll excuse us, Dr. Van Daal, we’ll let you get back to your work.”

Ian stood and was halfway across the room before I could even scramble to my feet.

Just because Ian had kept his reaction off of his face didn’t mean he’d been able to keep his heart rate under control. Though that was probably some kind of anti-interrogation technique he’d learned in the Rangers. Anika Van Daal was a vampire, and an old one at that. She could hear a human heartbeat without using a stethoscope, which no doubt came in handy being a doctor. But even I had noticed Ian’s reaction.

He wasn’t waiting for me, but that was okay, I was fully capable of catching up. “You’ve seen that medal before.”


“Ian, it’s me. That medal didn’t belong to that guard, and you recognized it, meaning that ghoul left it for you to find.”

“Nice deductive reasoning,” Ian said as he kept walking. “You’re getting better.”

“I was taught by the best. The best also happens to be my partner, who is also holding out on me.”

He slowed. A little. “Not from you. Moreau.”

“That makes all kind of nonsense.”

Ian blew out his breath and stopped. We were in the bank lobby and out of anyone’s hearing. He pulled me aside.

“What you don’t know, you can’t tell Moreau.”

“If it’s that important that he not know, I won’t tell him.” I gave him the eye. “Unless it’s something he needs to know.”

Ian’s silence told me the answer to that one.

“Okay, perhaps a better question would be why you don’t want Moreau to know.”

“Because he will pull me off of this case.”

“I won’t tell Moreau,” I said. “But I want you to tell me. Who is Peter?” As soon as the name was out of my mouth, I froze and remembered. “Your partner, Pete.”

Ian nodded. “The medal wasn’t found on his body. It was a gift from his wife, Meg, when he graduated from the academy. The date was the day he graduated.”

I felt sick. And a fat lot of protection that medal had given Pete.

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