Excerpt

“We need to hurry.  Lena can’t keep that detective busy forever.”

MacMillian cast a final glance out over the first floor, then motioned Lynch through a doorway next to the stairs.  They found themselves in another room.  The previous night’s excitement apparently hadn’t made it up here.  The room was empty and dark, shrouded in the kind of quiet usually reserved for cemeteries.  There was a second, smaller dance floor, along with yet another bar and what looked like a snack counter.

Lynch scanned the space briefly.  “That was good, you know.”

MacMillian peered behind the snack counter.  “What?”

“That nice little trick where Ms. Alan distracted the detective so we could come up here.  However did you two work that out?”

MacMillian shrugged.  “We’ve done this before.”

Lynch snorted.  “Apparently.”  He paused.  “I’m impressed.”

“Whatever.”  MacMillian moved over to the bar, and searched behind it as well.

“Looking for something?”

MacMillian made his way over to the banquettes on the far wall.  “Not sure yet.”  Something on the ground caught his eye.  He leaned forward for a closer look.  “Guess I’ll know when I find it.”

The back of his neck prickled.  He straightened again, and turned.  Lynch was right behind him.

“What is it?”

MacMillian’s palms felt slick.  He gripped his cane a little tighter.  “Step back, please.”

Lynch cocked his head.  His gray eyes seemed a shade paler than usual.  He took one deliberate step back, then another.  “Better?”

MacMillian released a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.  “Yes.”  He shifted out of the way, and pointed down at what had struck his attention.  “So tell me, what does that look like to you?”

Lynch glanced at him, then bent over and squinted where he was pointing.  His brows drew together.  He reached out and dragged a finger through the suspicious blot on one of the banquette cushions, then stuck it in his mouth and sucked it clean.  MacMillian cringed.

Lynch looked back up at him.  “Blood.”

“That’s what I thought.”  MacMillian swept his eyes around the room again.  “No one died up here, or there would be more.  I’m thinking…”

His gaze settled on a small door, nearly invisible behind one of the banquettes.  He shut his mouth, and tilted his chin towards it.  Lynch followed where he was looking.  His lips thinned.  He nodded.

The two of them started towards the door.  They reached it, and Lynch held up a hand.  MacMillian stopped.  Lynch listened for a moment.  His expression hardened.  He opened the door.

MacMillian tried to see over his shoulder, without luck.  “Well?”

Lynch hissed.  “Well, I think I’ve found our missing bouncer.”

He angled his body so MacMillian could past him.  MacMillian glanced at him, then looked inside.

It was a storage room, by the looks of it.  Lying in the center of the floor was a man.  Raw, oozing ribbons of flesh made up what little remained of his neck.  MacMillian swallowed hard.  His stomach twisted.  He took a deep breath, and forcibly cleared his head.  There was a distinct lack of blood in the wound, and in the room itself.  The man must have been killed elsewhere.

Hunched over him was a second man.  He stared up at them, his eyes dark and feverish.  Blood coated his mouth, was starting to dry on his clothes.  After a second’s examination, MacMillian determined it wasn’t his.

Once again, he gripped his cane a little tighter.  “Lynch.”

“No need for concern, detective.”  Lynch’s voice was low, soothing.  “I believe I know this fellow.”  He stepped slowly into the room.  “Ortega, isn’t it?”

The blood-soaked man blinked, then nodded jerkily.  “Andrés Ortega.  I’ve seen you before.”

Lynch inclined his head.  “No doubt.  Seneca Lynch.  This is Mr. MacMillian.”

Andrés nodded again.  “Hey.”

“Ah, hello.”  MacMillian caught Lynch’s eye.  “May I have a word with you?”

Lynch ignored him, reached down and offered Andrés a hand.  “You look like you’ve had a rough night.”

Andrés let out a weak laugh.  He caught Lynch’s hand and let the other man help him to his feet.  “Tell me about it.  I don’t even remember most of it.”

Lynch didn’t release his hand right away.  “Let’s try and piece some of it together, shall we?  What’s the earliest thing you remember?”

Andrés thought for a moment.  “I was back at the house—”

Lynch interrupted.  “Which house?”

“Almas Perdidos, in The Mission.” Andrés took a shaky breath.

Lynch gave him an encouraging smile.  “Please, continue.”

“I was at the house…hungry.  I was hungry.”  Andrés grimaced.  “Can’t remember ever being hungry like that.  And everything was so loud, so bright.”  He stopped.

Lynch prompted him.  “So you left?”

“I left.”  Andres shook his head.  “I had to, man.  I had to get out of there.  I had to find something to…”  He trailed off.  His too-bright eyes locked on the remains of the bouncer.  “I had to find something to eat.”

MacMillian swallowed the bile that rose up in the back of his throat.  “Lynch.”

Andrés’ head jerked up at the sound of his voice.  His nostrils flared.  “You’re human.”

Lynch laid a hand on his shoulder, squeezed.  “Andrés.  Focus.”

But it was as if Andrés couldn’t hear him anymore.  His gaze stayed locked on MacMillian.  “You smell good.”  He licked some of the coagulated blood off his lips.  “They all smelled good.  So fucking good.”  As MacMillian watched, a set of sharp white fangs descended from his gums.

Lynch snapped his fingers in front of his face.  Andrés blinked.  The fangs quickly retracted.  He looked from MacMillian to Lynch.  There was fear in his eyes.  “What’s wrong with me, man?”  Comprehension, then horror, suffused his expression.  “Díos mio,” he whispered.  “How many did I kill?”

Lynch looked uncomfortable.  “Doesn’t matter.”  He swept an arm towards the door.  “I’m here to help you.  Let’s get out of here.”

MacMillian balked.  Help him?  After he’d murdered five people?  He glanced at the bouncer, and mentally recalculated.  Six people.  And no telling what else he’d done that they didn’t know about.

Andrés nodded, and started towards the door ahead of Lynch.  Relief filled his face.  “Thank you.  Thank you.”

MacMillian cleared his throat.  “Lynch…”

He didn’t have a chance to finish.  Lynch closed the distance between himself and Andres.  Without a word, he reached forward and neatly snapped the man’s neck.

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