“Why are we just being told about this one?” Detective Borjas says, covering his face and muting a curse.
“The staff says the vic is one of their more private regulars. They usually don’t go into his room until he calls or after he checks out. If it weren’t for the smell, then it would have been longer,” the beat cop says.
“Can we get a time of death, Dubani?” Dubani shakes her head.
“I can guess around last night sometime, but beyond that, it’s going to be hard. The way the blood leaves the body with this killer, it throws off my readings. Usually, the blood pools to the lowest point, but with the venom causing it to clot and spill out near-instantly, it’s tricky. But the Rigor mortis setting in, I’ll have to say it was last night around eleven.”
“The time the Victim checked in?”
“Exactly. One more kill and you have a serial killer on your hands, Detective.”
“Yay. I’m sure the boys down at the DBI are itching to take a case from me.”
“I told you about making enemies with the Bureau.” Salib chimes in.
“Well, they started it.” She gives Borjas a stare. “Don’t say a word. I know how childish that sounds.” Salib shakes her head and continues with her side of the investigation.
“With us getting here so late, the astral footprint is gone.”
“So, this could be a different killer for all we know.”
“Could be. But I doubt it. Exact same MO. Hard to think there is a group of assassins posing as escorts.”
“Or a group of Escorts going on a killing spree.” Borjas finishes. “But the clues don’t line up with that. For that to happen, there would have to be some type of gain. What good is it to anyone to knock off a banker and DJ.”
“I’m sure the DBI will figure it out if they get their hands on it,” Salib says, causing Borjas to growl. She returns a smirk, and they go over the crime scene.
“Nothing, just like the last place,” Borjas says, taking off his gloves and leaving the room.
“And unlike the last one, the cameras in this place are almost just for show. Why would anyone pay so much money for the cameras not to be used?”
“Because they don’t want to be caught doing whatever they are doing here.” Borjas sighs.
“But I do have some good news,” Salib says, tapping Borjas on the shoulder. “The phone trace came back. We had them cross-reference the phone locations with women with the first name Rachael and…”
“Please tell me there is only one house?”
“There is only one.”
“Great! But if we are tracking the phone, then why can’t we track the person?”
“Because we believe they are stashing it throughout the day. They change the times as well. It’s been traced to a couple of lots and old buildings for hours. And we have to get lucky, and someone has to call when the killer has it at their place of work or home. But I think we both know that they aren’t dumb enough for that.”
“We can hope,” Borjas says, holding the door for Salib. They walk to his car, and Salib prepares for another high-speed ride down the highway.
As they approach the neighborhood, they get the feeling that this isn’t going to be what they expected. The trace took them to the richer side of town, where everyone competes to see who has the most stuff—the land of too many luxury cars in the driveway, massive gardens, and elegant oversized houses.
Pulling up to the house, Borjas curious look goes to a sly smirk, as he’s sure he’s cracked the case. He looks over at Salib, who is wondering what’s all the grinning action. He just shrugs, and they head to the door. They ring the doorbell, and it plays a little custom melody. Of course, the standard isn’t good enough.
The woman that comes to the door is human, but she is not from Los Mitichas. This is Galvornian beauty at its finest. Long blond hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, supermodel body with all the assets in the right places. One hundred fifty-eight centimeters, fifty-five kilograms, and perfect teeth. This woman was ripped right out the pages of supermodel magazines.
“Hello officers, may I help you?” Even her voice is too perfect Borjas thinks
“Yes, we’re looking for a Rachel Colina?”
“I was Rachel Colina,” she says, holding her hand up, flashing a diamond big enough to be classified as a weapon. “I’m Rachel Galvez now.”
“Mrs. Galvez, do you have a second for us?” Borjas says, chuckling to himself for being right.
“Of course, I always have time for those in uniform.” She winks at Borjas. He tries to ignore her and just walks in. Salib is already rolling her eyes.
They walk into the house, and it’s pretty much just like they thought it would be. A lot of money was put into this place with its high ceilings, lots of natural light fixtures, antique furniture, and magical security system. She walks them to the sitting area and takes their coats. After hanging them, she asks them if they want any refreshments. Though they both said no, she wouldn’t take that for an answer. Putting on the kettle, she starting making them cups of tea.
Borjas began to get a little suspicious. Tunning into his rogue senses, he notices a series of knocks as their host moves about. He decodes the message then takes a sigh of relief. Getting up and walking to the windows, he looks for anyone who is watching her house. After a thorough search, he doesn’t see anyone.
“It’s a nice clear day out, Mrs. Galvez. It’s a shame you’re spending it in here.”
“Well, if I didn’t, then who would make you tea?”
“Is that tea just for us?”
“Only if you would like it.” Mrs. Galvez says, walking out with a tray.
“What is going on?” Salib asks, not making the connection of the conversation.
“Oh, nothing, just Rogue talk.”
“Should I be concerned? And why have you never taught this to me?”
“Well, it’s kind of a rite of passage, isn’t that right, Mrs. Galvez.” Borjas says, and Mrs. Galvez smiles.
“Right you are. Trust me, chica, it’s not worth learning if you have a translator already. Especially a hot one.”
“Why, that’s mighty high praise coming from you,” Borjas says, taking a sip of tea.
“Can we not?” Salib cuts them off. Their flirty grins are already fully equipped.
“So what’s your story, Mrs. Galvez? How’d you get into the biz?” Her eyes gleam as she sets her cup down, looking the part of prim and proper.
“Well, I don’t know what you mean officer, I’m just a housewife.” She bats her eyes.
“Are you really going to make me go through the motions?” Her smile widens.
“Okay fine, which one? Well, I guess I’ll start with the obvious. I was approached by a guy who told me he could make me a lot of money, and as you probably guessed, a lot is my favorite type of money.” Borjas nods along. “When I found out how it would work, I was all for it. The extra protection, the higher clientele, being paid to be as kinky as I wanted to be.”
“So why the rogue life?” Salib questions.
“Even high-end escorts are still seen as trash. Some of the guys get a little rough. The women too. So I thought it would be better to learn that than warrior skills. You can hide it better.”
“Why not magic?” Borjas says after a big gulp of tea. She reaches over and pours him another cup.
“Do you know how much it takes to learn to use magic? Besides, some spells aren’t accessible if you can’t speak. Do you know how many times I’ve been gaged?” That puts a smile on Borjas’s face, which is quickly wiped off by a creeping spirit rising up his spine. He looks over at Salib, then goes back to his tea.
“So if business was good, then why stop?” Salib asks.
“Because she got married?” Borjas says, with an understood – duh – at the end.
“It’s as he says. The escort life is great in all, with plenty of money, but it’s a lot of work still. Being married was always the goal.”
“Does Mr. Galvez know about your past life?”
“Only one. I saved him from some muggers.” She says, topping off Salib’s cup now.
“That’s probably best not to mix business and pleasure,” Borjas states, and She nods, then heads off to the kitchen, only to come back with a tray of snacks. Salib looks over at Borjas.
“If she wanted to poison us, we’d already be done for.” He says, grabbing some cheese and crackers.
“So, when are you going to ask me the obvious question.”
“I figured I’d get a few snacks in me first. We kind of skipped our lunch, but feel free to go ahead.” Borjas says, and Salib shyly grabs some fruit to confirm.
“I didn’t kill any of my clients.”
“Oh, we know that part. I thought you were going to tell us who has your phone.”
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Come on, help me out here. One rogue to another.”
“You know the code, Detective. LMPD can’t protect me from the thieves guild.”
“The person you sold your phone to is a part of the guild?”
“No, but our ‘business’ is protected under it. Giving out who I sold me my retirement plan is very against the rules.”
“Are you allowed to give us a sketch?” she gives him a look of – really? “Fine, what about a description. Anything here.”
“I will tell you that she is a charming Drow woman. But that’s the best I can do.” Mrs. Galvez says with a bright smile. Borjas takes one more cheese and crackers. He adds one of those rolls of ham and plops it in his mouth. “Thank you for all your help, Mrs. Galvez,” Borjas says. Mrs. Galvez hands both of them their coats. Borjas gives her a handshake then he walks towards the door. Salib, confused, thanks her for her hospitality and follows her partner.
“By the grace of the Dragons, what was that?”
“You have to be a rogue to understand,” Borjas says and reaches in his pocket. There is a picture of a Drow woman that he knows that he’s seen before. He looks at the back of the picture and reads.
Rules are rules, but killing clients is bad for business.
Borjas nods his head and shows the picture to Salib.
“I know this woman.”
“Who is she?”
“You will pay for that,” Cassandra says, licking her lips and staring down her prey. The young Lycan just looks at her and sticks his tongue out. Cassandra looks over the flimsy tower of wooden blocks. She carefully presses against them, trying to find one that is loose enough to pull without collapsing the entire thing. Once upon a time ago, Cassandra was the champion of Block tower, but with the weeks she’s been gone, it seems that young Ikari has taken her throne.
Slowly pulling at one of the bottom pieces that have been stubborn all game, she takes her chances. The tower wobbles and sways, but with controlled breathing and patience, She can pull it free. The tower shakes for a few seconds but doesn’t fall.
“That’s cheating!” Ikari calls out and nearly slams his hands down on the table. He stops just short of that, knowing it will cost him the game. His smile curls back on his face. “You still have to place it.”
“I’m aware young one,” Cassandra says with confidence she doesn’t actually have. Taking as much time as she can, she slowly places the block on the top in its last little spot, careful not to put too much pressure either way on the tower. After what feels like an hour, she places the block safely on the top, and the tower still stands. Cassandra quickly takes a step back and lets out a breath that she’d been holding for the Queen only knows how long.
“Ahh!” Ikari shouts, not sure of what to do.
“May as well give up. There are no spots left.” Cassandra says with restored confidence, only to deflate seconds later when Ikari realizes that she missed one near the top. With quick and steady hands, the young Lycan looks over her with a menacing smile.
“Isn’t it past your bedtime or something like that?”
“Chores of some sort?”
“Nadda. It’s your turn, Oba Cassandra.” Cassandra nods, then sheepishly step back to the tower. Going over all the blocks, she’s extra sure to check them all. Cassandra finds one, but it will be more challenging than the last. She starts to tap at the block, trying to get it loose, but each tap is causing the tower to wobble. She decides it would probably be best if she just grabs it and slowly tries to pull it free.
This is working better. There is a slight movement, but better than the tapping maneuver.
“Cassandra?” Suko calls out. Turning in response to her name, she pulls the block, and it falls all over the floor.
“Haha,” Ikari laughs, and Cassandra growls.
“I nearly had it, Suko.”
“Yeah, I’m sure this is a little more important.” Suko has a worried look on her face and is handing her phone to Cassandra. Taking the phone, Cassandra notices a news anchor from her local news, then reads the title. Cassandra gasps, and Suko takes the children to their room. Tapping play on the video, the anchor starts.
“Tonight, local police are looking for a possible serial killer, who has been killing men in the middle of the night. The suspect appears to be posing as an escort and using this to get these men alone to claim their lives. Two men have already been named, but police think there may be more, as the killer seems to pick her victims at random. The police are calling her the Black Widow Killer.
“The police have a possible suspect, thirty-five-year-old Cassandra Roberts…,” The rest fades out.
“This is a misunderstanding, right?”
“Of course it is,” Cassandra is quick to lie to her only friend. She doesn’t want to hurt her.
“Then let’s go down to the station and clear this up,” Suko says, grabbing her purse.
“Let me go alone. I don’t want to ruin your family night.”
“Cassandra, you are my family too.”
“Yes, but you have an obligation to your family. Let me deal with this. I’ll make it up to you. I promise.” Cassandra says, grabbing Suko’s hand. Suko pulls her into a hug, and they kiss each other’s cheek.
“Promise me everything is okay,” Suko says, staring into Cassandra’s eyes.
“Have I ever let you down before?” Cassandra deflects.
“No, but now I’m worried.” Suko pouts and doesn’t realize that Cassandra didn’t fully answer her question.
“I’ll call you when this is all over,” Cassandra says, squeezing in one more hug before gathering her things and heading out the door.
Getting into her car and pulling off, she opens her phone and goes through her contacts. If she was going to get out of this, there was only one person she could call.