by Mychael Black
Detective Jonah Pierce has mourned his brother Riley’s death for a decade, and he’s never managed to heal. He loved Riley too much, and maybe in the wrong way. When a new rash of vampiric murders begins, Jonah’s division Arcanum is called in to investigate. Sent to talk to a potential suspect, Jonah gets the shock of his life. But that’s nothing compared to what comes later, when betrayal shows itself far closer than he ever expected.
Jonah glanced up at the rusted façade of the metal warehouse looming above them. “Keep your guard up,” he said, shutting the car door. “There’s no telling what the fuck is in there.”
They headed for the single door on this side of the building and found the remnants of a broken padlock on the ground. Jonah picked it up and inspected the break. The edges were jagged, as if the steel had been stretched until it snapped. He handed the lock to Mike, who muttered something under his breath. Turning his attention to the door, Jonah opened it slowly.
Darkness went on forever, so thick, Jonah swore he felt it. He drew his gun and stepped inside, Mike right behind him. They went slow, and when the last of the light from a street lamp faded, Jonah pulled out a small flashlight from his jacket. Rats scattered out of the meager beam, but farther down the narrow corridor, something larger shuffled in the darkness.
“Might I ask who you are?”
Jonah and Mike froze. When Jonah raised the light, the man at the other end hissed. Jonah lowered it just enough to keep an eye on the guy’s feet. “I’d ask you the same question. This is private property.”
“Yes. I’m fully aware of that.”
“Do you have permission to be here, Mr.--”
“Le. And I should think I do, considering I own it.”
Jonah sighed. “Might we have a few words with you, Mr. Le? We’re investigating the disappearance of a young man and hope, since you were last seen with him, that you might have some information.”
“Ah, yes.” Le shifted his feet, but didn’t approach them. “Very well. But I must apologize for the state of my home. It’s not easy trying to renovate such a vast space on your own.”
“That’s quite all right.” Jonah holstered his gun for the time being and heard Mike do the same. “Please tell me there’s more light.”
Le chuckled and a moment later, a dingy orange light flickered on overhead. “Follow me,” he said, turning quickly.
Jonah and Mike remained alert as they went into Le’s home. What he’d first thought of as a derelict building, judging from the outside, soon turned into a sprawling, luxurious loft.
Le stopped and faced them. “Looks… can be deceiving.”
All time froze the moment Jonah met Le’s gaze. Jonah fought to remain standing, though he felt as if someone had punched him in the gut.
“Welcome to my home, Detective Pierce.”
“How does he know-“
“I know a good deal about the goings-on in this city,” Le interrupted Mike. “Detective Tanner, is it? If you would be so kind, I would like to share any information I have--but only with Detective Pierce.”
“Jonah, I don’t-"
“It’s okay. Go. Wait in the car.”
Mike harrumphed and left, grumbling his misgivings. The second the door to the building closed, Jonah fell against a wall, jaw dropping in sheer disbelief.