Home > The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(5)

The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(5)
Author: Lisa Shearin

After hearing the more rational explanation, the humans began doubting what they had seen, or what they thought they had seen. A couple of vampiric hypnotic suggestions, a reminder about how dark it was after the kidnappers had cut the power to the ship, and the humans admitted that they couldn’t possibly have seen what they thought they saw.

As a result, the police were focused on the kidnapping of Bela Báthory.

The Báthorys were a known criminal family. That the heir apparent to the family’s “business empire” had been taken from the deck of a yacht in an elaborate kidnapping plot was completely believable.

When one of New York’s wealthiest and most notorious citizens gets snatched off a yacht in the middle of the Hudson River, the media will get wind of it and be swarming worse than mosquitoes in July. While plenty of press and more than a few satellite trucks were waiting when we arrived at the South Street Seaport, one reporter stood out.

I recognized him. He knew Rake.

Rake hadn’t gotten a chance to kill any of those swamp creatures. The snarl he didn’t even try to hide said he’d like nothing better than to satisfy those urges on the person of one Baxter Clayton.

Baxter was an investigative reporter for a local TV station. He was tall, handsome, and immaculately groomed with blond hair that gale-force winds couldn’t have budged.

Baxter Clayton was also a Grade-A asshat.

Last year, he’d stalked Rake for an exposé he’d been doing on New York’s upper-class sex industry. And as the owner of the most exclusive sex club in Manhattan, Rake was on Baxter the Bastard’s radar. Bacchanalia was gone, but Baxter’s radar was always sweeping the city for the next big, ratings-grabbing story. A mob boss’s nephew kidnapped off his own yacht amidst a who’s who of New York’s society. It was right up Baxter’s alley. And within minutes, he would get the unparalleled satisfaction of seeing Rake Danescu among the guests. And no doubt that satisfaction would increase tenfold when he saw that Rake was wrapped in a foil blanket and dripping like a wet cat.

“Do you want to jump overboard again?” I asked him. “I wouldn’t blame you in the least.”

“Not unless I can take Mr. Clayton with me.”

“If you did, you’d win the instant undying gratitude of every man and woman on board, both living and undead.”

“If we weren’t surrounded by representatives of no less than three law enforcement agencies, I would seriously consider it,” Rake said. “There are many people here who I would love to have owing me favors.”

I spotted our salvation—or at least our getaway car.

Yasha’s black Suburban.

I didn’t bother asking myself how my coworkers had found out what had happened. If it happened in New York and involved supernaturals, SPI would know minutes later.

I was grateful for it.

Even if it meant explaining to my partner, Ian Byrne, what had happened. It wasn’t that once again I’d ended up involved in what was likely to be our next big case; it was who I was with. Rake had absolutely nothing to do with what had happened tonight, but that wouldn’t stop my partner from dropping the blame right at Rake’s designer-shod feet.

The passenger side door opened and Ian got out. He and Rake locked eyes.

I did not need this.

Ian’s blame dropping wasn’t logical, but neither was his big-brother protectiveness. It was about feelings. For me. Feelings that caused him to do anything he had to do to keep me safe. It was hard to be mad about that, or at least hard to stay mad for long.

My partner was SPI’s number one producing agent, which meant if he went after a perp, he got them—one way or another. He was inhumanly qualified to bag his bad guy in every way, even though he was human. A career in a branch of the military that he either wouldn’t—or couldn’t—talk about had been followed by a stint as a homicide detective with the NYPD.

Ian’s time as one of New York’s finest came to an abrupt and brutal end one night in a high-end pawn shop that specialized in unique and estate pieces. There had been a string of robberies and murders linking stores selling high-priced estate jewelry. Ian would have been better off not investigating that particular store on that night—because Ian’s partner wouldn’t have been eaten by the gang of ghouls responsible for the string of crimes.

That’d been Ian’s first encounter with the supernatural; and when Vivienne Sagadraco had offered him a job going after creatures like the things that’d killed his partner, Ian had turned in his NYPD badge and accepted SPI’s.

Vivienne Sagadraco had assigned Ian to be my partner my first day on the job. Three of my predecessors had met violent ends on the job that hadn’t had a thing to do with bad luck but everything to do with someone with a lot of power and a lot of pull wanting, for some still-unknown reason, to keep SPI from having a seer in its headquarters’ office.

Ian had been deemed most qualified to keep SPI’s newest seer from becoming its latest casualty.

To me, it felt more like glorified babysitting; and initially, Ian agreed with my assessment. But the big boss had given him a job to do, and he was going to do it, even if he didn’t like it—or me, for that matter.

It didn’t take long for that to change—the him liking me part. What can I say? I grow on people.

Now my problem wasn’t that Ian didn’t like me; it was that he was overprotective, like big-brother overprotective.

As a Southern girl from the North Carolina mountains, I knew my way around guns. However, that knowledge only extended to target shooting and some halfhearted hunting back home. It did not include returning fire at someone or something hunting me. That was an adjustment I was still making. I appreciated Ian’s training efforts in that area as well as hand-to-hand combat, but I’d pretty much gotten as good as I was going to get, though I kept trying, and Ian kept teaching.

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