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Authors: Adrienne & Scott Barbeau,Adrienne & Scott Barbeau

Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Fiction

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BOOK: Vampyres of Hollywood
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“Why, James…finally out of the closet?” sneered Rudy. He should talk. He reveled in his bigamy conviction, but we all knew his first wife was a lesbian and his second was bi-sexual. Rudy was, too. I don’t believe he ever intended to marry Pola, regardless of what she told the press. Why in hell did I Turn him? I was younger then, but that’s really no excuse for the lapse in taste.

Theda ignored them both. “It’s hard to tell the
and the newly created from the wannabes. Vampyre is a style now, a fashion, a culture.” Theda and Charles own a chain of boutiques in the Village, New Orleans, San Francisco, L.A., and Tokyo. They have their own line of vampyre and Goth clothing and makeup.

“Well, what do you think?” I asked her. “Do we have a Rogue in L.A.?”

Theda looked at Charles and he shook his head. “We would know if there was a Rogue in the city,” he said. “I might not, but Theda surely would. She’s Azeman, after all.”

Theda nodded in agreement. The Azeman transform into bats at night and spend hours scouring their cities. Rogue vampyres are arrogant, foolish, and dangerous. So very, very dangerous. Some have renounced their clans and the age-old principles that have kept us alive and hidden through the centuries. They believe that the vampyres are a superior race and that humans are cattle. They move indiscriminately through the human population, taking blood even when they do not need it, making Creations quickly and without thought. They are too careless to remain undiscovered. If a Rogue were operating, Theda would know and would have acted. It is the duty of every vampyre to destroy the Rogues.

“Not a Rogue then, a Hunter. We’ve been here before,” I reminded them. “Some of you were with me in Paris during the Terror in ’94 when Robespierre declared war on us.”

Peter Lorre nodded. He had been instrumental in Robespierre’s fall and subsequent execution. “If we wait, they’ll make a mistake—they always do.”

“I am not sure we can afford to wait,” Douglas said gravely. “The world is different now. As celebrities, even dead celebrities, there are too many eyes on us, too many cameras. The Internet keeps track of everyone. We’re all on IMDb; there are endless fan sites, thousands of photographs. All you have to do is type a name in Google and we’re exposed. Not who we really are, of course, but our lives are laid out there.”

I sensed a shift at the table, the tiniest ripple of nervous energy.

Rudy moved away from the window and crouched behind my chair. The smell of sour blood was stronger now and I had to fight hard to keep my teeth in place. “This Vampyre Hunter has targeted
Creations, Ovsanna. He’s playing with
eventually he will come for

“I am flattered by your concern, Rudy.” I doubt he heard the sarcasm in my voice; he’s too self-involved to notice. Maybe that’s what attracted me to him in the first place. He had all the attributes of a vampyre but without actually being one. He made the transition from Warm to vampyre without any effort or without experiencing the anguish others go through when their human body mutates into this vampyre form. That should have told me something right then. In the years of his phenomenal success, I lost him to his fans and his arrogance. When he
we both attended the funeral; he moved through the crowd disguised and unnoticed, delighting in the adulation. And pissed off at Pola, who upstaged him by throwing herself in a faint across his casket, which she’d covered in flowers spelling
name. They deserved each other.

“I am concerned for all of us, Ovsanna. So far we’ve—
—lost three minor actors.” Everyone was minor in Rudy’s eyes except Rudy. “But you’re different. You’re Hollywood royalty—or so it says in the
TV Times,
” he added bitchily. I’m sure he was still pissed at me for not casting one of his star clients, Andrea Goyan, in
Vatican Vampyres
. I’d used Mai Goulart instead. “If you are slain in some bloody and dramatic fashion, there will be endless media coverage and retrospectives, probably even a Biography Channel special. Who knows what an investigation might reveal?” He spun away from my chair and stamped to the other end of the room, making me wonder again what I had ever seen in him.

“You’re right, Rudy. I know that. I knew it as soon as I talked to Ernst. We can’t afford the attention.”

I turned to look at Douglas. “Tell me you have a plan.” Douglas always has a plan. He answered me with those beautiful, sensitive eyes. “What is it?” I asked, although I already had a very good idea. I wanted to hear him say it aloud.

“You really have only one course of action, Ovsanna,” he said. “You must
again. Die and we will purge your remaining Creations. Disappear to some godforsaken place where no one has ever seen
Satan’s Succubus
. Come back in a century or two.”

A growl of agreement rumbled around the table.

“I am at the peak of my career, Douglas. I have more work I want to do and I don’t want to wait another couple of hundred years to do it. Besides, I am the Chatelaine. I will not allow a mere Vampyre Hunter to destroy what I have created.”

“You yourself destroyed Theda’s clan when she put us at risk, Ovsanna,” Douglas reminded me. “You had Rudy die at the height of his fame to preserve his name and reputation. Yes, you are the Chatelaine, but you won’t betray the rest of us for your own selfishness. I know you won’t.” He stood up and was already flowing into smoke, that most difficult and dramatic of transformations. Now I knew how they’d gotten into the house.

Orson watched Douglas disappear and then spoke. “I would never threaten you, my dear, but you know as well as I we cannot allow you to expose us. You must disappear, Ovsanna. Kill the Hunter or ‘kill’ yourself, those are your only choices.” There was a flickering transformation—wings and tail and talons—and then he, too, curled into smoke.

One by one they all dissolved into gray and black smoke and disappeared up the chimney, leaving silence and the smell of old blood in their wake. Only Rudy stayed; he had to have the last word. “Make your decision soon, darling. You have a week, no more. And if you’ve not made a decision, then we will make it for you.” And then, he, too, was gone.

I sat at the table for a long time, running the conversation over and over in my head. I may be the Chatelaine, but not even I could survive the wrath of the Vampyres of Hollywood. While I might call some of them friends, they would not hesitate to destroy me if they thought I was endangering their very existence.

Their message was clear.

I had a week. A week to prepare for my death or find the vampyre killer and prepare his.

Plenty of time for the first choice, but was it enough for the second? Either way, there would be a funeral.

Chapter Sixteen




I closed the file and looked at SuzieQ. “Time to visit Ms. McKenzie, I think.”

“Get her away from Ovsanna,” SuzieQ advised. “You’ll have more success with her on her own. Even if their relationship isn’t sexual, there’s some sort of empowerment and validation thing going on.”

“Very deep, SuzieQ, did you get that from Dr. Phil?”

“Nah. Dr. Patterson. She’s my shrink and she’s damn good.”

My cell phone buzzed. I opened it and glanced at the screen, but I didn’t recognize the number. “Yes?”

“Officer King?”

“Yes. Who is this?”

“Maral McKenzie. Ovsanna Moore’s personal assistant,” she added, just in case I didn’t know who she was. She sounded upset.

“It’s Detective King, Ms. McKenzie. Is there a problem?”

“I think Ovsanna is in danger. She went into her house with a gun because she thought someone had broken in. She wouldn’t let me go with her, but she told me to call you if she didn’t come out in thirty minutes. That was forty minutes ago. I haven’t heard anything and I can’t see anything. I’m frightened.”

“Where are you? What’s the address?”

“Nine twenty-two Stone Canyon Drive. North of Sunset. The gate is open and I’m hiding in the back by the car. Please hurry.”

“Stay right where you are. Don’t move. I’m on my way.”

“Who was it?” SuzieQ demanded when I hung up.

“Maral McKenzie. Someone’s broken into Ovsanna Moore’s house.”

“And she is phoning you why? And where is Ms. Moore?”

“Inside the house.”

SuzieQ started trailing me through the house as I grabbed extra clips for the Glock from a shelf in the hall closet and strapped my backup piece, a snub-nose Smith & Wesson .32 revolver, on the left side of my belt. “Sugar, you’re not goin’ there alone, are ya?” SuzieQ’s flawless brow creased in anger. “And is it at this point that you give me some macho bullshit reason why you’re doing this?”

“No,” I said, heading out the door.

“Peter!” Something in SuzieQ’s voice made me turn back. She was standing in the center of the room, eyes huge behind unshed tears, looking almost lost.

I turned back and hugged her quickly. “Let me tell you how I think this goes,” I said, walking her toward the front door. “McKenzie knows I’m getting close, so she sets up this crude trap: lure me to Moore’s house in Bel Air and then kill me in some outrageous fashion. But what she doesn’t know is that I’m already on to her and I know it’s a trap. She’ll try and kill me, but I’ll subdue her, maybe wound her. When we search her apartment, we’ll discover why she killed the others. Maybe we’ll discover she was working with or for Moore. Doesn’t really matter, though. I’ll have solved the case; I’ll be the hero of Hollywood, sign a book deal and a movie deal and be famous for more than fifteen minutes.” I pulled open the hall door and walked toward the car.

“Let me tell you how I see it,” SuzieQ said. “You turn up at Moore’s place. McKenzie and her accomplices kill you and frame you for the murders of the others.”

Actually that sounded like a far more plausible scenario. “Here’s the deal: if I don’t call you within the hour, phone the department, tell them where I am.”

I climbed into the car and SuzieQ leaned in to kiss me quickly on the top of the head. “But don’t worry, Peter, if McKenzie or Moore kills you, I’ll have Joe McCarthy avenge you.”

It was only as I was driving away that I realized that Joe McCarthy was her eleven-foot-long Australian taipan.



Stone Canyon Drive is a winding road climbing from UCLA past the Bel Air Hotel on up to the Stone Canyon Reservoir and then Mulholland Drive. I took it doing sixty all the way, barely missing a ponytailed dog walker with five breeds on five leashes who flipped me off with her free hand. The address Maral McKenzie had given me was three-quarters up the hill, but none of these mansions could be bothered with numbers on them. If she hadn’t been waiting in the middle of the road, I would have gone right past it. She waved me toward an open iron gate that looked like the Moors had designed it in Spain a couple of centuries ago. I parked beyond it so the Jag couldn’t be seen from the driveway. I could see McKenzie running at me in the rearview mirror and I unsnapped the restraining strap on the Glock, just in case SuzieQ was right. But as soon as I got out of the car, I knew she wasn’t the threat. The woman was wild-eyed with terror. She could barely get her words out.

“She went into the house and she told me to call you if she didn’t come out and that was nearly an hour ago now and—”

“Slow down, slow down.” I put my hands on both her arms to help her get a grip. “How far up the drive is the house?”

“A quarter mile.”

“Okay, keep your voice down and get me up there.”

We started walking while she filled me in on what had happened. Which didn’t sound like much: In a nutshell, a spooked Ovsanna Moore had gone into her home and not phoned her assistant for an hour. McKenzie hadn’t heard anything unusual, hadn’t seen anyone who didn’t belong. She was just spooked because her boss had been spooked. Thank God I hadn’t called for backup. Ripping off the doors of a Hollywood mansion to find the owner taking an afternoon nap was not a good career move. Which reminded me…as we walked up the drive, I called SuzieQ on the cell and let her know I was okay. The last thing I needed was
calling up the department.

It was indeed a quarter of a mile from the gate to the house, and the walk gave me time to appreciate the Spanish-style hacienda Ovsanna had hidden away behind a wall that was at least twice my height. A whole lot of money and good taste—and in this city the two didn’t necessarily go hand in hand—had gone into the house, which looked about as original as they come. No nude statues or Manneken Pis water fountains.

But a lot of security. She had cameras and sensors all over the place. And geese. Lots of geese. I stopped looking around and started watching the ground. I only own one pair of good shoes and I was wearing them.

“Tell me exactly what happened,” I asked McKenzie.

“We pulled in around the back of the house in front of the garages.” She pointed and I followed the directions. “When Ovsanna got out of the car, she got a strong feeling that something was wrong.”

I felt my heart sink. In my book, celebrities with intuitions belonged on late-night chat shows. “She made me check I had my pepper spray, and then she took out the gun she keeps hidden under the backseat of the car.”

“What caliber?” I asked automatically, knowing it would be something impressive. “And does she know how to use it?”

“.357 Magnum. She trains every time she starts a new movie. She’s shot a lot of guns, believe me.”

Yeah, but at a real-life target? “Then what happened?”

“She told me to leave. And that if she wasn’t in touch in thirty minutes I was to get in touch with you. She told me that on no account was I to enter the house on my own.”

“Why me? Why not call 911?” I thought I knew the answer but I wanted to hear it from the assistant’s mouth.

“She’s a celebrity, Detective. A call to 911 from Ovsanna Moore ends up on CNN twenty minutes later. No one wants that kind of visibility unless they’ve got a movie to promote. Besides, maybe you’re the only cop she knows.”

I doubted that. Every celeb likes to have a cop in their BlackBerry, either for help researching a part or fixing a DUI. Though I have to admit, when I ran Moore through the system earlier, she came up squeaky clean. Not even a parking violation.

We were twenty feet from the front door when Maral pulled something out of her purse and closed her palm around it. I unholstered my Glock and held it pointing down at a pile of goose shit. Boy, does that stuff stink. “What’s in your hand?”

“Don’t worry, it’s small enough to be legal.” She flashed me a black and blue cylinder and I recognized the label, Pepper Shot pepper spray, the half-ounce size.

“Put that back in your purse and stay here. If there is someone dangerous inside, and he gets past my gun, that little spritzer isn’t going to do you any good.”

“I’m not staying here on my own. Besides, if Ovsanna reset the alarm, you’ll need me to get in. I know the code.” She moved with me toward the front door.

“Besides you and Ms. Moore, who else knows the code?”

“No one,” McKenzie said, surprising me.

“What about maids, gardeners, cooks, people like that?”

“The gardeners and the housekeeper know the code to the front gate. The housekeeper only comes twice a week unless Ovsanna is entertaining, and Ovsanna just leaves the back door unlocked for her on those days. She doesn’t have a cook, and the gardeners don’t have reason to come in the house.”

“Was today the housekeeper’s day to show up?”

“No, she was here yesterday and she’ll come again on Friday. Ovsanna doesn’t like a lot of people around.”

Not my impression of most celebrities. Usually they’re surrounded by a crowd—the agent, the manager, the PR guy, the trainer, nutritionist, masseuse, acupuncturist, stylist, hairdresser, makeup artist, and any family members they can justify keeping on the payroll. My opinion of Ovsanna Moore just went up a notch.

None of the front windows were broken, no signs of forced entry. The front door looked solid—although it appeared to be wood, I was guessing a steel core, dead bolts, the whole nine yards. The rainbow refraction of the windows signaled bulletproofing. Ms. Moore took her security very seriously indeed. “Did Ovsanna have any enemies?” I asked.

Maral McKenzie took a heartbeat too long to respond. “She’s an internationally famous movie star who runs a movie studio.”

“What does that mean?”

“Means there are always weirdo fans or upset producers, aggrieved writers—”

“So a lot of enemies, then?”

“No more than anyone else in her position.”

“Anyone in particular?”

McKenzie turned her key in the bottom lock and hesitated. “Well, there’s no love lost between her and her head of development, Thomas DeWitte. He hates her.”

“Senior partner?” I wondered, tiny pieces beginning to click and fall into place.

“Junior,” Maral said with a sneer. “Very junior.”

A junior business partner. That meant money, and in Hollywood money meant power. A whole slew of possibilities suddenly opened up.

Maral turned the key in the top lock and I grabbed her hand.

“How far inside the house is the alarm pad?” I asked.

“It’s just inside the door on the right-hand wall.”

“If the alarm is on when you open the door, I want you to hit the code and step back outside. Do not—I repeat, do not—follow me into the house. When it’s clear I’ll call you. Is that understood?”

“Yes,” she said quietly.

“Open it.”

McKenzie pressed the thumb latch and the door clicked open. She looked toward the wall on the right, shook her head no to tell me the system wasn’t armed, and stepped back behind me. I took a two-handed grip on the Glock and nudged the door farther open with my foot. It swung silently inward.

I took a tentative step into the hall…spotted a shape first, and an instant later, the silver glitter of a gun.

BOOK: Vampyres of Hollywood
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