Home > Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)(5)

Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)(5)
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton

   Milligan hurried forward and opened the door to the computer room for us. Micah and I both let him. The room was dim, lit only by the banks of computer screens that were still cycling through the images on their screens. Some had finally gone black and still for the night. We moved into the room and Milligan started to come in with us, but I said, “Sorry, Milligan, but I’m going to have to look at police evidence.”

   “I have to make sure the room is clear,” he said.

   Again, I could have argued with him, but I let him do his job, though again, I was pretty sure the two of us could take care of anything that might be lurking in the computer room down here. It wasn’t that big a room and there was only one area that was actually out of sight of the door.

   Milligan came back around the room after completing his circuit. “The room is clear, ma’am, sir.”

   “Then you can leave us,” Micah said.

   “You don’t have to stay right by our sides,” I said.

   He hesitated, and you could almost watch the wheels turning as he weighed whom he was supposed to listen to and whom he could safely override. A lot of our new ex-military had issues with the new, less rigid chain of command.

   “We’re going to be talking police business, Milligan. You cannot be in here for it,” I said.

   Milligan nodded. “Okay, that makes sense.” He went for the door.

   “And don’t stand just outside the door,” Micah said.

   Milligan turned. “Sir, I . . .”

   “I know I could hear the conversation through the door, Milligan, which means so could you.”

   “Claudia will have my head if I don’t wait for you.”

   “We’re both armed, and we’re standing in our own underground fortress,” I said. “If we’re not safe here, then we’re in deeper shit than just one guard can handle.”

   Milligan got that arrogant look on his face, one I’d seen before from men with certain backgrounds.

   “Even a former SEAL wouldn’t be enough, Milligan. Now go back to Custer and guard Jean-Claude’s door.”

   He tried to argue some more, but Micah said, “That’s an order, Milligan. Anita and I both outrank Claudia.”

   He frowned, sighed, and said, “Yes, sir.” He didn’t question it again, just turned on his heel and went for the door.

   I made sure Milligan walked down the hallway and then came back to Micah.

   He sat down in the chair in front of the computer so he could type faster, and within a few minutes I was up and running. He didn’t even have to ask for my password or username anymore, because he’d helped me too many times and had finally memorized it all. That probably wouldn’t please the other officers if they knew, since he was a civilian, but I wouldn’t tell if he didn’t.

   I called Edward back. He answered on the first ring. “Anita, are you online?” His voice was less Ted and more Edward, so I thought to ask, “Can you talk freely yet?”

   “No.” Edward’s one-word answer rather than the longer way around the mountain that he sometimes took as Ted.

   “While we wait for the email to come through, you said something about how if you had your way I’d be seeing more than pictures, or something.”

   “They don’t like the fact that you’re a necromancer.” His voice held some of Ted’s happy undertones, but there was also Edward’s cold emptiness. He was not happy that they wouldn’t let me come play.

   I heard voices in the background. Edward said, “Sorry, Anita. I’ve just been corrected”—with more of Ted’s accent this time—“because it would be against their own laws to deny someone entry to their country on the basis of the type of magic they could perform.”

   “I think of it as a psychic gift more than something mystical,” I said.

   “Their laws actually don’t acknowledge a difference between psychic gifts and magic, only between magic and Church-sanctioned miracles.”

   “If they actually mention miracles in their laws, then that’s a first outside of Rome that I’m aware of.”

   “Then be aware, Anita, because this is the second,” he said, and I could hear the smile in his voice, but it didn’t match the words, as if he were having trouble staying Ted in front of the other cops. What had they done, or what had happened, between one phone call and the next to make him struggle with it?

   “Are you okay, Ted?”

   “I’m just dandy.”

   I let it go, because he either wouldn’t talk about it or couldn’t with all the other officers in the room. My email pinged. Micah helped me open the attachment on it, and we were suddenly looking at a throat with two delicate fang marks on it. It was a really small bite radius. It could be a child or a woman with a smaller-than-average mouth. The second neck wound had considerably bigger holes; no one was going to mistake them for hypodermic needle marks. These were definitely a different vampire.

   “I’m going to put you on speakerphone, Anita. Tell us what you see.” He didn’t mean tell us; he meant tell them. I was pretty sure this was some kind of test. If I dazzled them, would they let me come play with Edward in Ireland? Did I want to go play in Ireland? I didn’t want to do an international flight with my phobia of flying—that was for sure—but . . . I didn’t like that they were all prejudiced against a psychic gift that I couldn’t do anything about. Also, I was a wee bit competitive.

   “Well, from the first two bite images you’ve got at least two different vampires. The first could be a child, or a grown woman with a small mouth, or a crowded one.”

   “This is Superintendent Pearson, Marshal Blake. What do you mean, crowded?” His voice sounded like I’d expected. Irish in that way that movies convince you must be real. It made me smile that he actually sounded like movie Irish; so many accents didn’t match what you expected.

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