In an alternative world where myths and legends are real, Daya Scott, Heir to a Gargoan Regency is partnered with a human cop who hates all monsters, but especially her. To solve the brutal slaying of a family, secrets long held will be revealed. And, monster or not, Daya is going to find the killer... but the killer may just find her first.
"Damn, Treece, what happened here?" I asked softly as I stood outside of the yellow and black crime scene tape. I watched more than one veteran cop rush out of the house and around the side. I could hear the sounds of retching because everyone was subdued. The whole scene was unnaturally quiet. Then came the gurneys, three of them, with a black rubber body bag on each. My eyes shifted away from the uneven lumps.
Red and blue lights strobed from police cars, flashed lurid shadows across pale, scared faces and the surrounding houses. Neighbours, wrapped in warm jackets and dressing gowns, stood silently in perfectly manicured front yards, afraid to come any closer.
Faux Victorian streetlamps every two houses cast a sickly yellow glow along a pristine street. No litter, not even a leaf rested in the gutters. This should have been contented suburbia, yet For Sale signs dotted lawns like soldiers on parade. I guessed that this perfect 'Stepford' neighbourhood wasn't so perfect after all.
The crime scene house was a large white two-storey with dormer windows jutting out of the black-tiled roof. Behind the house I could see dark stands of trees and shadowy bush. Each house was on a block big enough for two homes. Nice, if you could afford it.
Dom, my sometimes partner, stood beside me grim and unmoving; his Brad Pitt mouth, a tight line, his compelling blue eyes constantly shifting to the surrounds as if waiting for some horror to leap out. Even his broad shoulders were hunched in against more than the cold night air. It took a lot to put that look on Dom's face: disturbed, horrified, sickened and we'd seen some awful things during our enforced partnership.
"This is your arena, Scott." He said with roughened softness and looked down at me with angry eyes. "I don't think we have the firepower to deal with the perp."
Uh, oh, he was really pissed off. Another preternatural crime; it was going to be messy.
"You're gonna make me look, aren't you."
He slowly nodded his head. "Oh, yeah. If I knew the killer was human, I wouldn't have called you, Daya." He sneered. "But he's not; he's a rabid animal."
"I'm guessing you mean in truth, not as a metaphor."
In reply, he gripped my upper arm hard and dragged me towards the house where a wife and two children had been slaughtered. That's all he'd told me; used that word: slaughtered. Imagination can be cruel sometimes. Could what I envisioned be as bad as reality? Guess I was about to find out.
My skin warmed where Treece held me, my blood thrilled at his nearness and my heart thudded with anticipation; so inappropriate, but there nonetheless. Letting him know how he affected me would fill him with disgust, and give him a weapon to use against me. Every time he touched me, which was rare, I wanted more, craved it.
I swallowed hard and let him take me where he would, tried to still the hammering of my heart and the tingling of my skin. His grip tightened as I attempted to pull away. He wouldn't let me. Detective Dominic Treece was nothing if not determined.
"You're not allowed to be squeamish." He growled. "Your kind aren't supposed to be skittish; you're kind revel in this kind of sh*t." He pushed me through the front door.
* * *
All my senses went to red alert as I stumbled over the stoop, Treece right behind me, blocking my exit.
As much as he got my hormones hopping, Treece didn't like me very much. I knew this because in the ten years I'd known him, I'd never had a genuine smile from him. He had an aggressive, belligerent stare, as if he didn't want to be close to me, which sucked because I sure wanted to get up close to him; real close. He knew little of me beyond rumour and he'd never, ever seen the 'other' me. I avoided that like the plague. For ten years I'd been successful, but he kept on about it, wanted to see the 'true' me: the creature that lived inside. Not from any curiosity, that would be too easy. No, he wanted to know, absolutely, that he hated me for a reason, not simply because of prejudice.
Ever since the preters had come out of hiding during the Second World War, the humans had treated us as either saviours or demons. We were, as a whole, worshiped, feared, loved and hunted.
Unfortunately for humanity, there were a lot of preter flavours, from the generic undead vampires to shape-shifters, from the Elder races of ubiquitous elf, dwarf, gnome, fairy, to - well, you get the picture. Then there were 'us'.