Chapter 1:


Vaile stared down at the carved up chest of a kid who couldn’t have been any older than nineteen or twenty. Black eyeliner was smeared down his cheeks, bleeding out of tightly-drawn lines which—in Vaile’s opinion—no man should ever have such talent in. The guy’s black jeans were slung low; a silver chain clipped to a belt loop and running under his body—more than likely to a wallet with a fake ID in his back pocket. The guy’s shoes were the only thing that didn’t make sense with the ensemble: red high tops. So he was either a free-thinking Goth (not fucking likely) or he was only pretending to be.


The CSI team were working around Vaile, collecting samples and documenting the scene. And even though they were the best at what they did, Vaile would still be doing his own CSI work after they left because his wolf could pick up more than humans could when it came down to it.


‘What’s in his back pocket?’ Vaile asked one of the investigators looking over the body.


Carefully, the guy lifted the body and pulled on the silver chain. A wallet fell from his pocket into the hand of the investigator. The guy handed it to Vaile. Opening it, Vaile found a couple of small bills and a condom along with a fake ID. According to the information, the kid’s name was Sam Sanchez, born in 1986. Vaile looked down at the kid again. There was no fucking way he was twenty-five. He handed it back to the investigator who bagged it.


Vaile glanced up when raised voices drifted through the door to the open men’s bathroom, his partner’s voice firm yet still feminine. And even though his head didn’t want to acknowledge her presence, his cock certainly did. Standing from his crouch, he held his latex-clad hands out carefully in front of him and marched out of the bathroom.


The Uniformed standing by the door flinched when he saw Vaile, looking away nervously a second later. Vaile’s lip pulled into a sneer before storming down the short hallway of the club. 


Grey spoke again, her hands held in front of her trying to force the blood-thirsty rubberneckers away. ‘Please. This is a police investigation.’ One of the club’s bouncers was just standing there, not doing a damn thing to help her.


‘I thought I told you to close the fucking club!’ Vaile barked at the guy from halfway down the hallway, pulling off his bloody gloves angrily.


‘We’re trying to get people out now,’ the bouncer replied, crossing his arms over his chest and puffing it out a little.

‘Do a fucking better job of it then!’ snarled Vaile.


A young woman surged forward in the crowd, clutching at the police line slung lazily between two propped-up mops at the start of the dark hallway. Her eyes were filled with the terror of someone who had never tasted death before, and Vaile suddenly felt jaded.

‘Please,’ the girl whimpered. ‘He’s my … he’s my …’


‘He’s your what?’ Vaile demanded, stalking towards the petite female. She was only a few inches shorter than Grey which had her flirting with the five-foot-two mark. Her black hair was as dull and lifeless as the stiff laying on the men’s room floor. Her eyes were painted in the same way—dark and smoky—but the look of horror on her face really added to the look she was trying to pull off. Her honey-brown eyes widened as he approached her, her throat trying to work down a lump.


‘He’s your what?’ Vaile demanded again, stopped only inches away from her body. Intentionally, he crowded her, getting up into her personal space until he could smell the fear coming from her. His wolf pushed its head against his ribs, a growl vibrating through its chest.


‘He’s my … classmate. From university.’


Vaile’s eyes narrowed and she took a step back. ‘You brought him here tonight?’ he demanded.


She swallowed the lump and nodded.


‘What’s his name?’


‘Aaron. He’s in my philosophy class. He said he wanted to come when he heard me talking about it with a friend earlier this week.’


‘Aaron what?’


‘I don’t know. I’d only spoken to him a few times. Honestly, I didn’t even think this was his kind of place,’ she desperately tried to explain. Vaile put a hand up to stop the verbal diarrhea. He fucking hated whining humans.


Vaile glanced at Grey and she nodded. He could see in her eyes that she understood what he wanted from her. She glanced back at the girl and pulled the yellow police tape up, ushering her through quickly before lowering it again. While Grey was pulling info from the girl, Vaile walked back into the bathroom again, kicking a “Wet Floor” sign out of the way; hating how strong the sting of urine and stale sex hit his nostrils. His wolf shifted beneath his skin once more before settling down to wait it out. It knew the drill.


While waiting for the ME to turn up, Vaile began looking for an obvious cause of death. His eyes traveled down until the kid’s chest was front and center. There was too much blood to see the pattern that had obviously been carved into his skin. Vaile’s gaze inched higher, looking for bite marks. The fucking club was full of fucktards who thought they were vamps, and the scary thing was there were actually some vamps that slunk in the corners and fed on them. He couldn’t see fang marks, but it didn’t mean they weren’t there. It looked as if the kid’s throat had been slashed as well as the majority of his upper body. The slashed throat could have been nothing, but there was a niggling feeling of familiarity to it.


Before he could analyse the detail anymore, the smell of roses wafted into the room and Vaile looked up.


‘ME is here,’ Grey said, avoiding looking down at the mess.


‘Thank fucking Christ,’ he drawled, standing up. Stalking out into the hall, he saw Doctor Lee ducking under the police tape.


‘So, Detective, what have we got tonight?’ Lee asked. The doc was in his mid-thirties with a crew cut and adult acne.


Vaile’s reply was gruff. ‘It’s nothing I’ve seen before.’ And he’d seen a hell of a lot in his lifetime. ‘Take a look for yourself.’ He nodded the doc into the bathroom, following him in. The photographer was taking shots of the scene while Lee set his kit down on the basin of the men’s bathroom. He pulled out a pair of gloves, handing a fresh pair to Vaile.


‘Well, this looks new,’ Lee said, looking over at the body. ‘Have you ever seen anything like this before?’ Vaile shook his head. ‘It never ceases to amaze me how badly human beings can hurt each other,’ Lee murmured, crouching down and probing the slices in the stiff’s chest. ‘Who found him?’


‘A staff member stumbled across him when he came in for the routine clean around twenty minutes ago. Have you got a preliminary cause of death for me?’


Lee carefully checked over the body, muttering under his breath as he worked. ‘My guess would be massive blood loss due to his carotid being slashed, but when we get him back to the lab, I’ll wash the body down, examine him, and then we’ll have a better idea.’ Vaile nodded. ‘Were there any witnesses?’


‘We haven’t had the chance to speak to anyone properly yet. There is a woman out there who seemed to know him though, so we’ll start there. Got an estimated time of death?’


Lee probed the kid’s jaw. ‘Rigor mortis has just set in, so maybe no longer than half an hour.’


‘It’s hard to believe no one else came in here to take a piss and not notice the stiff on the floor,’ Vaile commented.


Lee shrugged. ‘I just deal with what the body can tell me. It’s your job to figure out the why.’


‘Are you ready for me doctor?’ a voice asked from the doorway. The doc’s assistant—guiding a gurney—paused just outside the bathroom. Lee glanced up.


‘Yes Briggs,’ he answered absently. ‘Have you collected all the evidence you need?’ Lee asked a CSI hovering around nearby.


‘Yep. He’s all yours.’


Lee turned to Vaile. ‘I’ll take his prints at the lab and get you the results by the time you get into the office,’ he glanced at his cheap-ass Casio, ‘later on today.’


‘Thanks,’ Vaile rumbled.


Lee jerked his head a little at his assistant. Briggs came in, unfolding a body bag, and laid it out on a clean patch of black tile. The doctor and his assistant lifted the body—struggling with the dead weight—and placed him carefully inside the plastic. When the zipper came up over the guy’s face, they hauled him out and onto the stretcher. The crime scene investigators filed out after them, leaving Vaile alone in the bathroom. He closed the door and looked around.


There wasn’t enough blood on the floor considering the kid had had his throat slashed. He looked at the pattern of the blood, noticing an irregularity in the spatter. Vaile crouched down to investigate the strange looking mark on the tiles where the kid’s head had been. It looked as if something had been placed on the ground just as the bleeding had begun. He looked around the bathroom trying to find something roughly the same size, his eyes finally settling on the soap dispensers above the trough sink. One was missing.


Vaile stood up to get a better look at them, measuring them visually. They were the right size. So the killer had collected the blood from the Vic. But why? A vampire would have just drunk from the source. A fucking wannabe vamp wouldn’t have though.


‘Fuck,’ he cursed harshly under his breath. This was just what they needed—a fucking human pretending to be a vampire. But that still didn’t explain the mutilation. He looked around the rest of the bathroom, allowing his wolf a little more free rein.


The human scents around him overwhelmed his senses. He’d thought the smell was bad before—it was fucking unbearable now. His wolf growled as the scent of blood overwhelmed it. After refocusing, Vaile walked around the bathroom, checking each stall and around the urinals until he could find something that could be connected with the crime that the investigating team missed. He came up with nothing.


‘Did you find anything more?’ Grey asked behind him suddenly. Goose bumps broke out on his skin and he had to swallow the warning growl that was trickling out from his wolf’s throat. Nobody snuck up on him, but she had managed it somehow. Fuck, he was getting rusty. He blinked a few times to make sure his wolf’s ice-blue eyes were gone before turning around.


‘Nothing,’ he grunted. ‘Did you get a sketch of the scene?’ She nodded. ‘Well then there’s nothing more we can do. Let’s get out of here.’ He turned to leave.


‘Did you maybe want to go grab a cup of coffee?’ she asked quickly—suddenly—clearly grimacing after like she hadn’t meant to ask him. Vaile stopped mid-step.


‘Why?’ he demanded.


She looked stunned, sweeping her eyes across the floor in thought before answering him. ‘I just thought you’d want a cup of coffee. I’m not going to be able to get to sleep again after seeing that,’ she said, gesturing to the black tiles. ‘I thought you’d like to come … unless you have to get back to your wife, or something,’ she tacked on.


‘I’m not married,’ he grunted.


‘A girlfriend then?’


He pinned her with a hard look before answering. ‘No girlfriend.’ Something flashed in her green eyes that he couldn’t interpret before she looked away.


‘Well, okay then. I’ll meet you at the twenty-four hour diner down by the river in ten.’ Grey sauntered out of the room without waiting for his reply, wholly convinced that he would just show up because she’d said so. He stood there for a full minute before he realized what had happened, and with a curse he left “The Imp and Impaler”, driving his unmarked down to the diner by the river.