Hit List Online - Laurell K. Hamilton Page 0,1

it was just us. We knew each other too well; there was no need to hide.

“No, it doesn’t bother me.”

I shrugged, and finally let myself huddle in the thin Windbreaker. At least with my main gun at the small of my back instead of in the shoulder holster, I was able to zip it and not compromise my gun. I still had my backup gun in the shoulder holster and a big-ass knife down my back that attached to the specially made shoulder rig.

“It’s more that I’d rather be home.”

“With your men,” he said, and again it was totally neutral.

I nodded. I missed the men in my life when I was away too long, and this was our fourth crime scene in a fourth city. I was tired of planes, tired of other cops, tired of being away.

“I’m missing Becca in Music Man. She’s just in the chorus, but she’s one of the youngest they’ve ever cast.”

“She must be really good.”

“She is.” He nodded, smiling, and this time it reached all the way up to his eyes. His face was warm and happy thinking about his almost stepdaughter. He’d been living with and engaged to Donna for years, but never quite married, but the kids thought of him as their dad. Becca had been only six when he and her mother started dating. Edward, whom the vampires had nicknamed “Death,” had taken Becca to dance class and sat in the waiting room with the moms for years now. It made me smile just to think about it.

“It was more fun to hunt monsters before we had someone to go home to,” I said.

The smile faded and he turned cold eyes to look at where the head lay to one side of the field. “I can’t argue that. I don’t mind the bodies. It doesn’t bother me, but I hope we get home before the musical is over.”

“How many nights does it run?”

“Two weeks,” he said.

“Two weeks, starting today?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t want to be out here another two weeks,” I said.

“Me, either,” he said, and this time he sounded tired.

The real trouble with this case for me was that I knew exactly why these victims had been chosen. I even knew what was killing them. The trouble was I couldn’t tell anyone but Edward, because if I told the police everything I knew, the killers would come after me and every policeman that I told, and everyone that they told. The Harlequin were the vampire equivalent of police, spies, judge, jury, and executioner. They were also some of the greatest warriors to ever live, or unlive. Some of them were vampires and some of them were wereanimals, which was how they were slicing apart the bodies of the weretigers they were killing across the country. The body at our feet looked like a human man. Before he died he’d been able to shift to a big-ass tiger, but it hadn’t helped him against the Harlequin, just as it hadn’t helped any of the others. If two people were equally fast, equally strong, but one was better trained at fighting, the better trained one would win. So far, none of the weretigers had been anything but ordinary people who just happened to turn into weretigers.

“We’re here to work the scene,” Edward said, “so we do.”

I sighed, squared my shoulders, and stopped huddling in my thin jacket. “It’s partly that we know so much the other police need to know.”

“We settled this, Anita. The . . . ones who can’t be named—” He glared at me. “I really hate that we can’t even say their names out loud. It feels like we’re in a Harry Potter book talking about He-Who-Must-Not-B e-Name d.”

“You know the deal, Edward; if you mention their name without their invitation they hunt you down and kill you for it. If I told the other police, everyone who said their name would be hunted down and slaughtered. I don’t know about you, but these guys are scary good, and they seem to have knowledge of modern forensics.”

“They’re wearing cloaks, gloves, and hoods that cover their hair, Anita. The outfits that keep them hidden from the other of these . . . guys help them not leave forensic evidence behind.”

“Fair enough.”

“And the Whatevers that are on your side don’t know the faces of the others. They wear masks when they meet, like some terrorist cells, so they can spy on each other if they need to.”

“So we have no faces to give