In the end, MacMillian took a chance on the stairs.
It was an awkward climb down, and by the time he reached the bottom, his stump was burning. MacMillian looked around. He was in a basement of some sort, but it was unlike any basement he’d ever seen. There were no shelves, no storage boxes. The entire room was lined with what looked like oversized gym lockers.
Footsteps sounded behind him. MacMillian tensed and flattened against the locker nearest him, raised his cane like a bat.
“For god’s sake, MacMillian, if you’re going to insist on wandering off, I’ll be forced to get you a leash.”
MacMillian relaxed. “Lynch.” Thank god. He’d never thought he would be relieved to see the man. He stepped away from the locker just as Lynch reached the bottom step.
The other man looked him up and down. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look like shit.”
MacMillian snorted. His brain chose that moment to send a spear of pain down his nonexistent leg. He grimaced.
Lynch’s brow furrowed. “Your injury is giving you trouble?”
MacMillian didn’t know what to make of the look on his face. He shifted. “Nothing a little rest won’t cure.”
“I’m sorry. I should have realized you weren’t behind me.” Lynch paused. “No one tried anything untoward, I trust?”
“Don’t worry. My honor is safe.” MacMillian thought back to the young man, and their odd almost-conversation. “There was someone. I ran into him upstairs. For a second there, he acted like he knew me.”
Lynch stilled. “Describe him.”
MacMillian shrugged. “Young. At least, he looked young. Jeans, dark hair. I’m pretty sure he smoked. I tried to talk to him, but he wasn’t exactly the chatty type.”
Lynch hissed a breath through his teeth. “That would be Asher.”
MacMillian raised his eyebrows.
Lynch sighed. “I mentioned him earlier. My protégé. When exactly did you see him? He was under direct orders to leave the house.”
“Whose orders? Yours?”
Lynch raked a hand through his fair hair. “Something happened when we were downstairs. Asher got in a fight with one of our other brothers. To be fair, it wasn’t entirely unprovoked. Lukas Kaufmann is…” He trailed off. His jaw ticked. “But it doesn’t matter. We can’t have that kind of violence, not while we’re having a blood drive. I can’t allow it.”
MacMillian nodded slowly. “Because you’re the Constable.”
Lynch’s lips thinned. “It’s my job to ensure the Sons of this city don’t rip each other apart. Many of them would do it in a heartbeat. Call it a predator’s natural instinct to establish domination over available food sources. The second I stop doing my job, the Watchmen will step in.” His lips twisted. “They don’t exactly share my interest in preserving the population of Sons in this city.”
MacMillian was starting to understand. “So you came down hard on Asher to send a message.”
Lynch winced. “I can’t be seen as showing favoritism, even to my own protégé. The second either the Fraternity or the Watchmen believe I’ve been compromised, I become obsolete.”
He fell silent. MacMillian studied him. It struck him he recognized the expression on Lynch’s face, the weary slope of his shoulders. A pang of sympathy speared his chest.
He cleared his throat, and nodded around the room. “So, what is this place? I wouldn’t have thought a house like this would come with a root cellar.”
“This house comes with many things.” Lynch took a deep breath and drew his shoulders back. When he looked at MacMillian, the twinkle was back in his eye. “This is our crypt.”
MacMillian balked. “Your—”
“That’s right. Our vault. Sepulcher. Mausoleum.” Lynch’s eyes roamed over his face. “Does that surprise you?”
That was certainly one word for it. MacMillian coughed. “I thought your kind was immortal.”
“We are.” Lynch strode over to one of the lockers. “Barring certain circumstances, that is. No, we don’t keep our dead here. This is where we keep those Sons who have chosen to sleep.”
MacMillian started to speak.
Lynch unlocked the locker, and swung open the door. MacMillian kept his mouth open, but the words died on his tongue. Propped inside the locker was a man, his skin the color and texture of fine white marble. His eyes were closed. He was motionless but for the steady rise-fall of his chest.
MacMillian stared for a moment, then looked back at Lynch. “What the hell?”
Lynch shrugged. “You may find this difficult to believe, but immortality can be an unendurably burdensome proposition at times. Many of us grow weary over the centuries. Sons cannot die, but we can sleep.” He gently closed the locker again. “If we wish, we can sleep forever.”
There was an almost wistful note in his voice. He started back towards the stairs.
MacMillian didn’t move. “Have you ever thought about doing that?”
“Sleeping eternity away?” Lynch shook his head. “No.”
“Because some of us don’t have dreams, Mr. MacMillian. Some of us have nightmares.” Lynch stopped at the foot of the stairs, turned and met MacMillian’s eyes. “You strike me as a man who knows a thing or two about nightmares. Tell me, what do you see when you sleep?”
MacMillian pressed his lips together. Blood. Glass. He shrugged. “Don’t remember.”