Read Only Human Online

Authors: Candace Blevins

Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Urban, #Erotica, #Bdsm

Only Human (6 page)

BOOK: Only Human
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So now he trains me, but he’s really more of my mentor. I meet him from twelve thirty until four thirty every Monday, we talk on the phone some in between times, and we occasionally go hiking together. I don’t call him, I text him if I want to talk. We use the traffic light colors for this as well, if I have an emergency and need to talk to him right away I text an R for red, if I need to talk to him as soon as it is convenient for him to talk I text a Y for yellow, and if I want to talk but only if he’s up for it at the moment I text a G. Tonight I sent him a Y and he called back almost immediately.

“Good evening, Dear One.”

“Hi, Sir. I met someone tonight.”

“You did? Is he in the lifestyle? Or just some random stranger and you have no idea?” I could hear the amusement in his voice.

“Some random stranger and I have no idea, though that’s not quite how I would’ve put it.”

I told him about the encounter with Abbott Hamilton, and then mentioned I should probably look Abbott up online and see if his story checked out. So while I had James on the phone I did some sleuthing and discovered Abbott really is one of the theater’s biggest contributors, and he owns several nightclubs. Most were classy nightclubs he should’ve been proud to own, but two of them catered to the oddities of society and were definitely not high class — one was well known for the midnight drag queen show, and the other was a seedy goth club. Since I’m usually defined as an oddity of society myself, I had no problems with those two clubs, but figured some of the patrons of our little community theater probably would.

I emailed James everything I knew about Abbott Hamilton, and told him our plans for Saturday night. James makes a good safe call when I’m going out with new people. We set up times for me to call in, and if I don’t then he calls my cell and if there is no answer or if I don’t give the proper response to his questions, he calls Aaron.

James has only needed to call Aaron once, and by the time Aaron got there I’d managed to kick the guy’s ass and just needed a way home. It’s a sad state of the world when women have to set up safe calls when they meet someone new, but there it is.

Vanilla sex doesn’t do anything for me, no matter how much I once tried to believe it could be enough if I just found the right person. So now I make sure to find out before the second or third date whether the person is all vanilla or has any leanings towards dominance, and if they’re vanilla I make the dreaded, “I hope we can be friends,” speech.

The fact that Abbott Hamilton owned those two less circumspect clubs gave me reason to hope maybe he wasn’t an all-vanilla sort of guy.

James and I said goodnight, and I finally checked my inbox to discover Aaron had sent an email around six this evening, asking me to give him a call.

When he answered, he jumped right into it again with no niceties first, saying, “There’s been another murder. I’m sending information on both victims. Can you look it over and see if you can find anything to tie them together? The killer used the same kind of weapon, but removed the head and heart of the second victim and set them to the side. The victim was human, and we need to figure out why the killer took him out as one would a supernatural.”

I checked my email and skimmed through the information, working my way through the details out loud, “Both were males, one was a mail carrier and the other a mechanic. Both have obvious Irish last names, McKowan and Flannery. I don’t see any similarities in the way they looked, other than both had light hair, one a strawberry blond and the other a dirty blonde. Oh, and both had blue eyes. McKowan, the mechanic, had lots of freckles. Flannery, the mail carrier, didn’t appear to, but I’m not sure the snapshot we have would show them. And by the way, thanks for not sending me pictures of them after they were dead. I’d just as soon not see it, but I should probably know which was decapitated.”

“McKowan was decapitated and was killed second.”

“Maybe they were killed because they saw something they shouldn’t have? A mail carrier gets around and sees a lot of stuff. I wonder if the mechanic worked on the car of someone who was on the mail carrier’s route.”

“Denny has his detectives looking into it. But, Kirsten? You nailed one of the things bugging me — both of them have obvious Irish last names. Can it be a coincidence that someone who kills with a weapon like yours is killing people with last names like yours?”

I’d have been much happier if Aaron hadn’t voiced what was going through my head. “Are you trying to scare me?”

“No, just making you aware of a possible threat.”

“Well, gee thanks. I’m sure I’ll sleep
much
better now.”

“Keep Smokey close. He’ll warn you if someone is nearby. If someone should break in, kill first and ask questions later.”

Smokey is my two hundred and twenty pound Newfoundland. He stays outside in the fenced-in backyard when no one’s home, but the rest of the time he’s in the house with us. He’s more of an alarm dog than a guard dog, as I don’t believe he’d ever bite anyone. He’d stand between us and physically keep someone from getting to me, but biting isn’t his thing.

“Both of these men were killed in their homes?”

“Yes.”

“Smokey will sleep at the top of the steps, same as always. We’ll be fine.”

“I know. I’m not worried enough to post bodyguards yet. I just want you to be on alert.”

“Yeah well, sweet dreams to you, too. Goodnight, Aery.”

“Goodnight, Bug.”

Chapter Five

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Friday morning appointment was a regular patient I see every week. He usually came in on Thursdays but had rescheduled to Friday morning this week. Frank is an alpha male who happens to be sexually submissive — it’s hard for the foreman of a construction crew to come to grips with the fact he likes to be tied up and have women torture his boy-parts and stick things up his ass.

Frank and I have a nice rapport and he no longer gets pissed at me for pointing out the things he’d rather not have to come to terms with. This week he told me about his Mistress taking him to The Diamond Club last weekend in a collar and leash, as it was the first time Frank had submitted in public and it was difficult for him. His Mistress had pointed out The Diamond Club is a mostly gay club, and if anyone he knew happened to be there, they couldn’t very well tell anyone without outing themselves as well.

We talked a good bit about how he felt about his experience, and the conflicts he’d been forced to deal with. I was also interested in hearing about The Diamond Club, since I’d recently met the owner. I’ve been there, but it was nice to hear someone else’s impression of the place.

What really interested me was an incident Frank told me about. Apparently, a fight broke out upstairs, and Frank watched someone jump flatfooted from the dance floor, up and over the railing of the upper level, easily land on both feet, and then calmly pick both fighters up around their rib cages, one under each arm, and walk towards the upstairs office with them. Frank insisted he hadn’t been allowed to drink anything but water, and he was sure of what he saw.

It sounded like something a supernatural would do, not a human. Especially since Frank said no one seemed to notice the jump, and that he doubted he would’ve if the man hadn’t been standing right beside him. His Mistress was holding his leash and hadn’t seen it, and hadn’t believed Frank when he told her about it. I, also, tried to downplay what he’d seen, though I felt guilty for doing so. I find most humans often just don’t see what they don’t believe is possible, so it didn’t surprise me that no one else seemed to notice.

However, two days ago I’d had vampires in my office, and yesterday I met a man who owned a club with at least one supernatural bouncer. I don’t believe in random coincidences.

The rest of my workday went as it should, and that night I worked backstage during Lauren’s show. I’d volunteered for this night months ago, since Lauren is always nervous to be performing on the big stage and likes having me close when she’s uneasy. The show went off without a hitch and we went home and I let her fall sleep in my bed so we could talk about the show and her day at school and anything else she wanted to talk about.

Once she was asleep, I carried her to her own bed and tucked her in. I’d love to let her sleep in my bed every night, but I’d seen it happen too many times in my practice when the daughter slept with the mom, and when the mom finally got around to marrying someone, the daughter felt like she’d been kicked out of bed for the new man in mom’s life. So I made the bedtime pajama parties a special event, and I always carried her to her own bed when it was over. Not that I expected to meet a man to share my life with, but if the impossible ever happened I wanted to make the transition as easy on Lauren as possible.

We had a relaxing day Saturday, and that evening we arrived at the theater an hour and a half before show time. I walked Lauren downstairs to the dressing room and helped her and a few of the other girls with their hair and makeup. It happens to be something I’m good at, and I usually end up doing at least a half a dozen faces before performances. I walked back upstairs about thirty minutes before curtain, and was looking for an usher when Abbott walked up and offered his arm.

He wore a charcoal suit with a black shirt, and an eggplant tie with subtle charcoal and black diagonal stripes, pulling everything together. His black hair looked a little longer tonight, giving him more the look of a well-dressed rogue than businessman, and my heart gave an extra pitter-patter when I placed my hand on his cool arm. The vampires had said their Master would need to meet me, and I couldn’t shake the idea this might be the master vampire. However, his aura wasn’t quite right, but was nothing like that of the shifters. Of course, Gwen and Kieran’s aura hadn’t been different, either.

I’ve seen the box seats before, when wandering around the theater during practice. I knew the chairs were more comfortable, and was aware we’d have a birds-eye view, but hadn’t expected the feeling of being higher than everyone else in the theater. I wasn’t sure I liked looking down on the audience as well as the performance, and thought the floor seats might have the better view, or at least one more intimate with the performers.

The final show is always poignant for me — the last time I’ll see my daughter perform this part with this cast — and I warned Abbott before the curtain rose, saying, “I’m not normally an emotional female, but I always cry at the last show, so you shouldn’t be alarmed.”

His grin made him look even more the bad boy, and he had a happy twinkle in his eye as he thanked me for the information.

I managed to hold it together during the first part of the performance, and excused myself to the bathroom during intermission. When I returned, Abbott asked, “Do you have plans after the show?”

“Yes, there’s a cast party, since it’s the final performance.”

“I’d planned to make an appearance, and would be honored if you would consider me your date for the party.”

I grimaced and warned, “My parents will be there, playing the part of the doting grandparents who’ve just watched their only grandchild give a fantastic performance. I doubt they’ll stay long, but if you’re with me you’ll have to meet them, and my mom isn’t always nice. I also have a young lady from China staying with me while she attends UTC, and she’ll be there as well.”

“I believe I can handle your mother. I’m curious about your young lady from China, though. Is there an interesting story?”

“I don’t know how interesting it is.”

I explained how she came to live with me, and he said, “You pronounce her name as if you’re comfortable with Mandarin.”

I eyed him a moment before noting, “And you recognize that fact, plus you know it’s Mandarin and not just
Chinese
. Have you traveled to China?”

“I’ve had occasion to visit, yes. I take it you’ve traveled more than just the one time to adopt Lauren?”

I nodded. “I was living in China when I first met her, and once I decided to adopt her, it took more than two years to make it happen. I’ve also taken Lauren back a number of times on vacation. What cities have you visited?”

“The list is quite long; I would rather talk about my favorite places instead of merely itemizing where I’ve been.”

I smiled. “Favorite place is easy — Guilin and the surrounding countryside.”

“Ah yes, Elephant Trunk Hill and the Li River. The area around the Li River is easily one of the ten most beautiful places on Earth.”

“Beautiful… magical…
yes
.” I agreed, excited to talk to someone else who’d been. “The first time I went there I said if Shangri La existed, I’d found it. Later, I discovered there are other places in China attributed to Shangri La, but I’m still in love with the area around Guilin.”

Our conversation continued with us talking about places we’d been in China until the curtain rose for the second act.

During a brief break for a scene change, Abbott asked if it would be acceptable for my parents to take Lauren and Xiaolan home after the cast party, so he and I could go somewhere else.

I responded with, “Somewhere like the Diamond Club?”

Abbott raised an eyebrow. “I would be happy to take you, though you don’t give the impression of being that kind of girl.” There was no judgment in his statement, and he didn’t appear to be upset I’d checked into him.

“I warned you I was a plethora of inconsistencies,” I said with a smile, “but the way we’re dressed, perhaps we should go somewhere quieter tonight.”

When the show was over, I made my first safe call to James, explaining to Abbott that I had an overprotective friend who asked me to check in at predetermined times when I went out with someone new. Abbott asked what time my next call was, and I told him he didn’t need to know when, only that they existed.

“What will happen if you don’t make the call?”

I smiled and changed the subject. “What part of town do you live?”

“Lookout Mountain.”

Of
course
he lived on the mountain. Where else would a respectable rich man who’s a visible patron of the arts live? Somewhere he can look down on the common folk, with a nice view of the city, the river, and the other mountains. Just like we were looking down on the common folk from his box. Or, maybe I was being judgmental.

BOOK: Only Human
10.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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