Authors: Kendra Ashe
An Izzy Cooper Novel
2015 Kendra Ashe
All Rights Reserved 2015
Lavine Press 2015
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author’s imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
All I saw was a ball of crystal, and a warped imaged of the black tablecloth beneath it.
Damn that Mister Grim for taking my witchy powers away!
It wasn’t that I had nothing at all, it was just that what I did have, now came from the dark side. All fallen angels had some mojo, but if I drew on that power, I’d be buying myself a one-way ticket to Hell.
The crystal ball was Granny’s. I’d snatched it out of the house while Uncle Aaron was at his radio station.
I’d hoped that a little of Granny’s power remained with the crystal and it would show me where she was.
Storms had been a major problem the last couple of weeks. The island’s power seemed to
blink out every few days.
Just as my heart was soaring, Julius’s laughter shattered it.
As the image in the crystal ball faded, Julius materialized in the chair on the other side of the table.
Mister Grim was my probation officer, though I didn’t see much of him, or more correctly, I didn’t see him at all. Although Mister Grim never made a personal appearance, I knew he was always watching.
“Why do you waste so much time on this hocus pocus, Izzy? Just dig deep inside of yourself to the darkness, and you can have anything you want.”
“You are an FBI agent. It should be easy for you. Use the power of deduction. If she’s not dead, which by now you have already figured out … and she’s not here … she has to be somewhere.”
“So another place … another dimension … another time perhaps?” His dark brow arched sardonically.
“Think about it. Somehow, Charley the Ripper got here from his own time. He has to have had a way to do that,” Julius pointed out.
“But a young one. That much I know. An older vampire would never have made the mistake of trying to feed on a fallen angel,” he explained.
It wasn’t the first time the theory had crossed my mind, but it was the how part that had me stuck. As far as I knew, not even witches could cross the barrier of time.
Frustrated, I slid my chair back and stood up. “Really Julius … you could just tell me what it is you know, instead of playing these riddle games of yours.”
Sighing, Julius locked his hands behind his head. “You can bet Granny Stella is doing her best to find a way to get back here, or get a message to you. Who do you know that could carry a message over time?”
Julius nodded. “Might not be a bad idea to start questioning some of your vampire friends.”
I folded my arms across my chest in a show of irritation. “It’s not like I have a ton of friends that are vampires.”
Although Julius liked to get on me about being friends with vampires, I only knew of three. One was Marty, the paranormal investigator who sometimes worked with us on difficult cases, and then there were the vampires at the Misty Haven Resort, Zane Dupree, and his business manager.
For weeks now, the Haven Resort Grand Opening and Halloween Ball was all anyone had been talking about. I had absolutely no intention of missing it, though my reason for going hadn’t originally been to question vampires about my missing granny. I wasn’t even sure how I’d begin that line of questioning.
I’d even had a special gown for the ball. Fanny Truman, down at the Silver Threads Dress Shop, had helped me find the perfect dress.
Just thinking about wearing the red velvet and black lace ball gown gave me butterflies. This would be my first costume ball, and I was over the moon with excitement.
If only Granny were around to go with me.
* * *
There’s nothing like a crisp autumn morning to get some running in, unless your shoe comes untied and you fall on your face.
Lucky for me, I only
With my heart still beating a hundred miles an hour, I turned to face him. I wasn’t sure if I should thank him for keeping me from falling on my face, or get mad at him for talking crap on me.
It was a reasonable question, considering Old Pine Trail was usually deserted at this time of the morning, which was why I chose to do my semi-weekly runs at seven in the
morning. By ten, the trail that spanned the parameter of the town would be buzzing with people walking their dogs, young mothers strolling with their babies, and now it seemed werewolves were taking over the trail too.
Placing one hand on my hip, I waited for him to explain while I drank in his hot, but wild appearance. It seemed his dark hair was longer than it was the last time I saw him. That was okay by me. I loved the way it curled around his collar. These days he was sporting a mustache and a little beard on his chin, which added to his animal magnetism.
It was kind of okay.
I really missed talking with Elias, among other things, but it was those other things that kept my manner cool toward him. If I thought about being with him too much, I’d end up with some big problems.
Elias was my high school sweetheart, and he was a werewolf. The werewolf part didn’t bother me too much, but the fact that he had to devote his life to his pack did. That was mostly because it meant that eventually he’d have to marry one of his own kind, and that didn’t sit too well with me. Casual sex was one thing, but I didn’t think I could handle doing the friends with benefits thing. It would really suck to have hot sex with him for a couple of years, just to get an invitation to his wedding when the time came.
A strange look came over Elias’s face. His eyes were drawn to something behind me, which wasn’t the reaction I’d been hoping for.
Nevertheless, I turned to see what had grabbed his attention. It took a moment for what I was seeing to actually sink in, my only excuse being that my eyes were not as superior as Elias’s, plus I still wasn’t great at doing the cop thing.
Part of the reason I hadn’t noticed before was because the leg was camouflaged with green pants and shoes.
I held up my hand. “Stand back so I can check this out.”
I felt for a pulse, but I knew there wouldn’t be one. From the looks of the guy, he’d been dead for several hours.
Elias kneeled beside me. “Do you know him?”
“Maybe … it’s hard to tell.”
It was true. I thought he might look a little like the boy who bagged groceries down at the Mystique Super Mart, but an extra old version of him. He was so shriveled that at first glance, I thought he was an elderly gentleman who’d succumbed to a heart attack.
It was the class ring he was wearing that gave him away. He’d just graduated last year.
Whatever had happened to him, it definitely looked like something the Atypical Crimes Management Unit was going to have to deal with.
Nodding, he pulled his mobile out of his shirt pocket.
I dialed 911 and told the dispatcher to send over Sheriff Bourne, and to also let Ayden know that he’d probably want to check it out. It was sad that I had to rely on Storm Cove Dispatch to call my boss because I didn’t have his number memorized. That was definitely something I was going to have to work on.
Sheriff Bourne was the first to arrive at the scene. Before long, Myron, the medical examiner, followed.
My colleagues, Ayden Fontaine, and Tim Lehman were the last to arrive. Even on Mystique Island, the police took their time.
“Don’t even be putting this on me, Timothy,” I retorted, narrowing my eyes. “Besides, you don’t even know for sure this guy was murdered, and even if he was murdered, maybe it’s just a plain old, robbery gone bad, kind of murder.”
One could only hope.
But with this being Mystique Island, I had my doubts it was just a regular old homicide. It was due to the fact that normal was so abnormal on Mystique Island, that the FBI had their Monster Squad, also known as the Atypical Crimes Management Unit, headquartered in Storm Cove.
I had to admit, Tim did have a point. In the last several months, things had seemed to be getting out of hand. In spite of Mystique Island’s long history of being a supernatural hotspot, our community had been relatively quiet when it came to criminal activity, until recently.
Tim’s eyes strayed to Elias, who had been standing back.
“Nope,” I said, shaking my head. “Elias and I were talking when he noticed a leg sticking out of the bushes.”
Tim pulled a notebook from the pocket of his gray windbreaker. “What time was that?”
“A little after seven,” Elias answered before I could.
“Oh my hell, Tim!” I scowled. “You are acting like we are suspects.”
“Just routine … you know that.” He shrugged.
“What were you doing out so early?” Tim directed his question to Elias. “Were you … in your wolf form?” he asked, clearing his throat.
Elias frowned. “I’m still wearing clothes, aren’t I?”
Meaning that if he’d changed, he’d be as naked as the day he was born. The thought brought a flush to my cheeks as I remembered the one time I’d been with Elias, and how totally awesome he looked with his clothes off.