The weather was gradually progressing from a light drizzle to a mild rain as Kenneth wheeled his police issued black Dodge Charger along the sidewalk across from the residence. It was almost two o' clock in the morning according to the blue neon illuminating from his dashboard and the dim circles under his eyes told that he barely got any sleep before the call came in. Kenneth was the kind of guy who would deprive himself of sleep to solve a case, bring closure to the family, and still wouldn't breathe until he saw his daughter off to school. Therefore, I could definitely understand how he managed to pull himself together decently, pick me up, and get us both here in one piece.
Returning his Styrofoam cup of coffe to the cupholder extracting from the dashboard, he killed the engine and looked past me to the direction of the house. "Richard said there's a lot of blood in there for such little bruising and lacerations." My partner spoke quietly, though it was only me and him inside his car. "He was the one who made sure we took over this case."
"You and him think it's one of mine?" I stated the obvious that he was trying to dance around while I traced his gaze. I was more intrigued than offended and trusted his judgment. The blood itself wouldn't tempt me…too much. Feeding off humans who were already dead was not exactly appealing to me. Then again most things that should be, weren't. "Or does it seem like a regular burglary turned homicide?" A Brink Home Security sign was posted on the wrought-iron gate, plainly located, since this two-story house, along with the rest in the neighborhood, looked like a potential place for thief.
We both mulled over the possibilites as we got out and crossed the two-way street unto the sidewalk. Very few other houses in this upper class community were gated. The targeted house was a contemporary mini castle-like home. Nothing immediately stuck out about it compared to the surrounding residences that would make me center it out of these other equal picks of opportunity.
"I think it is way more than that, Farrah. The killer was the one who called it in. Dispatch said it sounded like a kid with a lot of noise in the background so they couldn't really tell if it was a male or female however the bastard seemed very pleased with what he or she was doing if not had already accomplished."
The gate gave away to a well-manicured lawn where the entrance driveway wrapped around a mini man-made waterfall, past the front door, then branched off to a four-car side garage.
Staying close behind Kenneth, I scanned the perimeter looking for anything anyone else might have overlooked. "No signs of forced entry or any material caught on the gate," I pointed to a small square box wedged onto the opening. "Maybe the security camera can tell us something."
We continued up the cobblestone driveway and separated. Kenneth went around the back while I took the front entrance of the house. The massive double wooden doors with an oval piece of smokey glass wedged in the middle of each were ajar wide enough for me to slip through. The knob and latch weren't tampered with.
"Detective Lawson, coming in." I annouced to whomever, if anyone, nearby.
"CSI Maci Kohan, coming from your right Detective."
The name sounded familiar but I couldn't recall if we've met before. Walking through the treshold, I scanned over the likely point of entry, making sure not to disturb any evidence. Relatively dark for most humans, my sight didn't have much of a problem adjusting. Upon entering, overhead the ceiling was a mirror that the suspect may have failed to notice. I hoped that there was a security camera somewhere on the other side of it. The floors where polished and imported black ceramic tile; the walls were painted China white with candle style medievil lanterns spaced along them. It was too neat in here, from what I could see, to say a crime had taken place but the distinct, pleasant smell of blood severely invading my nostrils confirmed otherwise. I took a corresponding step back causing me to collide into who I assumed was CSI Kohan.
"I'm sorry." I mechanically apologized idly to the fair-skinned brown-haired woman who hovered a few inches above me.
She gave a neutral smile as she capped what looked like a piece of cloth inside a small test tube before she tucked her clipboard under her arm. 'No, I had my face in these notes; not paying attention to where I was going." After inserting the test tube into her navy blue CSI windbreaker, she used one latex gloved hand to pull back the other to glance at her wristwatch. Then her baby blue eyes looked at me questioningly. "Detective Lawson?"
"Yes. CSI Kohan?" I questioned in the same monotone minus the skepticism.
The lingering scent of blood in the air flipped a switch within me; one that invited me to a place of ecstasy as well as provoked a raw fear of suffering. My stomach twisted with anxiety as the memory of my first and only time of having the nauseating pleasure of a normal human's crimson river of life trickle down my throat. The same memory that had me an inch from losing it was the main thing that helped me retain my sanity. Mentally hindering the urge, I proceeded with my job. "Can you give me a run down?"
"Of course." I followed while she lead the way not far from the entry and to the left where a moderate pool of scarlet liquid lay next to a small, yellow propped indicator with the number three. "Vanessa Landis, seven years old, was the closest to the doorway." She directed her flashlight up the stairs where a trail of blood rested on the shell white carpet. The little body at the top lay broken; her brown hair sprawled over her face and down the first two steps; some matted with drying blood. "It looks as if she was trying to escape although she didn't quite make it. There's too much blood going up the stairs not to mention the trail coming from her room." Kohan guided the beam of light from the body, down the hall to a light lavender door stenciled in the middle with the name: VANESSA. "Hopefully the samples will clear this up back at the lab. Vanessa is my priority but I can tell you her mother, Alexis Landis, was found naked and carved up on the kitchen counter."
Seeing that little body deprived of life took me back to a place that evaporated every ounce of desire for blood and I was able to focus more clearly. "They're the only two occupants of the house or the only two found here?"
She thought for a moment then replied, "The only two found here. There's a son, Ryder, and a husband, Elliot, but no signs of them here." Kohan's eyes narrowed as if she was attempting to focus the final and smallest line on the eye exam chart and I patiently waited for her to comprehend her thoughts. "The killer didn't say anything about them." She finally replied simply. A reply that came with reduced information.
Disregarding it; I made a mental note to talk to Richard. "Have you documented upstairs yet?"
"That's where I'm headed now."
"I'll stay down here out of your way until you finish. Thanks for filling me in."
Kohan gave the same neutral smile before departing. "No problem."
"Hey," I called after her not knowing why I felt the need to know, but I did. "Do you know who arrived first on the scene?"
"Officer Collins and Detective Felton." She answered; her attention on her clipboard.
"Thanks." Last thing I needed was an opened door for Felton to hang around.
Across the hall was an entertainment room that was predictably tidy. The huge flat screen, semi-enclosed by a wraparound leather couch and glass coffee table, was currently showing static the way it does when there was nothing left to view on a videotape so it popped out automatically but there wasn't anything exposed from the VCR door nor was the little light on for the DVD player. Glass replaced the entire wall behind it, looking over to the side patio equiped with a barbecue area.
Not far off from that was a game room equipped with vintage arcade games like Street Fighter and Pac-Man, a fuse ball and pool table, a mini fridge, a bar style counter with matching stools, and another flat screen TV mounted on the wall. Examining every single room in this house could take a while not to mention I could unknowingly disturb any uncollected evidence so I settled for pursuing the overwhelming aroma of blood to the second body. The extravagant kitchen didn't fail to impress with its shining stainless steel this, and polished handcrafted wood that; except for the drops and smears of blood here and there. Standing near the marble island in the center, Kenneth acknowledged me before he went back to speaking in his native language of Japanese to whomever on the other end of his call. A flash and the simultaneous clicking sound of a camera came from a room off to the side from where I entered.
"Richard's finishing up in there." He informed me, pointing to the room seizing my attention, a moment later after ending his conversation. "Ren is pissed I had to leave right after I just came home."
I nodded in understanding though our situations were very different. While Kenneth had a fiancé and kid waiting at home, I had no one. "Does an officer by the name of Collins, ring any bells?"
"Yeah." He thought for a moment. "I think he is a decent person, lousy husband, but he is a good cop. Why?"
Sighing, I replied, "He and Felton were the first two on the scene."
A small shadow of amusemet crossed his features. "I'm sure she's pissed they booted her for you. On the bright side there is only one instead of two them at the moment."
"Yeah, like either one would choose a holiday instead of getting at me. This whole alpha female thing is stupid and they know they are too grown for that."
"Says the youngest of the three." Kenneth raised an indecisive eyebrow.
"I don't even know what AnnaLynn's problem is other than by association."
"If you didn't come along, we would've been partners."
I narrowed my eyes at him. "Seriously? We are not even fighting over you."
"I think I'm a pretty hot piece." He chuckled at my lighthearted frown. Kenneth really was easy on the eyes though. "Record wise anyway; our records together would've looked pretty damn good for her FBI recruitment."
"What's Felton's problem then?" He shrugged. "I thought so." I couldn't care less about my petty problems with those two. "It seems like the Landis' liked to entertain people. If they had the money for the gadgets and such they probably had a maid to help maintain the place so we should track that person down. Safe to say we can cross out robbery. The theatre system is practically opened to the world which is right across from a pretty pricey game room yet none of the flashy stuff is missing."
"The car garage hasn't been messed with either. And there are some pretty toys in there. So much of their house is open yet most will claim they didn't see a thing. What's the motive for killing a wife and her kid loaded with money without taking anything of value, unless they plan on using the son and husband for ransom?"
"If you're implying it to a case of a vampire, I honestly don't know. Money isn't that hard to come by or a real problem for us. Shoot cash is the very least of our problems. The daughter knew something was wrong though. Too bad she can't tell us what. Poor kid was killed not far from the front entrance with two differently angled blood trails, one leading from her room and another coming up, both presumably hers."
"You two can come in now." The recognizable Boston accent belonging to our medical examiner, Richard Carpenter, announced from the side room. "It's a real mess in here."
My partner followed me into what was the dining room where the words "real mess" took full effect. Mrs. Landis was sprawled out in the in the center of the grand mahogany table, her exposed body obviously the main course, with multiple puncture wounds, scratches, bruising, and a deep, long slash in her abdomen. Blood continued to escape from her body, decorating the table while some fell and soaked into the plush emerald green carpet. There was another scent mixed with her blood that I couldn't identify but something about it didn't fit right with me. In fact, it almost offended me to a mild point of anger.
"What's the T.O.D.?" Kenneth inquired Richard though he was looking questioningly at me. The affect of that unknown smell must've been showing on my face.
Pushing his black wire-rimmed glasses slightly up the bridge of his nose, Richard responded, "A little over an hour."
"Or she could've been easily persuaded." I suggested, knowing the power of a vampire's persuasion all to well.
"The kid could've been asleep and was awakened by the commotion downstairs." Kenneth mentally and physically shook the idea from his head. "No, maybe when they were finished with the mother, the suspect went after the daughter."
"Those two separate trails found with her body are really getting to me though." I added. Only four residents are known to be registered here but that might create the option of another victim. "The son and husband are missing, and this doesn't seem like a robbery at all. More like a blood orgy than anything."
"What can you tell us about the vics?"
"Vanessa, the daughter, was bludgeoned with a blunt object to the right side of her head and her left leg is broken irregularly and recently. Whoever did this most likely underestimated the kid. I think we'll know a lot more from her alone after we get her back to the lab. As for Ms. Landis here, well-"
All three of us focused on the cordless house phone ringing on the edge of the table though no one made a move to answer it. Without thought, I ripped a piece of paper towel from the holder on the wall and pressed the speaker button.
"Hello, Landis residence." I answered carefully.
"Mrs. Landis, your son, Ryder, is here at Regional Medical Center." Her attempt at sounding calm convinced no one, herself included. "He's been bitten and the sooner you can get here the better ma'am."
My heart instantly dropped for the kid but maybe my gut feeling was wrong. I desperately hoped it was. "Be more specific please. Do you mean he has a snake bite, spider bite…?"
"Um, well," she hesitated which I did not have time for if it's the kind of bite I'm sure it was, "there's two puncture marks on the back of his left forearm but… Mrs. Landis, we need you here to decide what you want to do with him."
"What's the room number?"
"127, third floor."
"I'm on my way." Disconnecting the call, I gave Kenneth a look that he returned with mutual understanding before he tossed his car keys my way. "I'll check it out alone."
"I'll finish up here and locate the whereabouts of the husband and see if they had a housekeeper."