Awaken Me Darkly(4)

By: Gena Showalter

No wonder there were no footprints around the body. An Arcadian could very easily use telekinesis to wipe them away.

“Good luck to us,” Dallas said, his voice punctuating the sudden silence. “Finding the other men alive doesn’t seem likely now.”

“We’ll find them,” I said, pretending I didn’t have my own doubts.

He pushed out a breath and motioned to the corpse with a tilt of his chin. “One thing I can’t figure out. Why only men with dark hair and eyes?”

I’m pretty sure I knew the answer. “Our killer is an Arcadian female who’s only attracted to men who are the exact opposite in appearance to her kinsmen.”

The corners of his mouth twitched. “Occam’s razor again?”

“Brilliant deduction.” Another blast of wind pushed around us, causing tendrils of hair to momentarily shield my vision. I hooked them behind my ear. “I think she wanted Steele and the others as her kinky new sex toys, but couldn’t obtain them through legal means.”

“Let’s be honest, though. No woman is strong enough to force poison down a man this size.”

“You know better than that,” I said, patting the gun at my side, reminding him that I could force a steel pipe down his throat if I wanted. I knelt down and pulled at the bow tied to Steele’s penis.

“Look at this. Is this something a man would do?”

“No.” Dallas shook his head slowly. “No, it isn’t.”

“Hey, Snow,” one of the men called just then. I recognized Ghost’s deep baritone; he was a man I enjoyed working with. He possessed a heart of honor and courage unlike anyone else I’d ever met.

“Yeah,” I answered and released the ribbon. I shoved to my feet, searching the darkness for his rich, chocolate-colored skin. He stood several feet away, his grin a beacon in the night.

“Why don’t you come over here and do that to me? I’ll enjoy it so much more than Steele there,” he teased with a wink.

Of course, Ghost also possessed a warped sense of humor. “The last breathing man who let me near his goods dropped to the floor in a fetal ball and begged for his mommy.”

He gave a good-humored chuckle. “You stay the hell away from my goods.” With barely a breath he added, “You want us to erect the force field and protect him from the weather?”

“No, not yet.” I wanted to view him exactly as he’d been left for a little longer. I returned my attention to Dallas, who was scrubbing a hand over his jaw stubble. “What are you thinking?”

“The killer went through some pretty elaborate measures to pose the body,” he said. “The intelligent thing to do is destroy all the evidence, leave nothing behind.”

“Our girl’s into showmanship, but more than that, she’s into punishment. She took her time here, labored over every detail. See how the victim’s body is perfectly aligned? See how the frost is perfectly sprinkled in his hair?”

A pause.

“I’m guessing he did something to really piss her off.”

“Damn me,” Dallas said, “but I think you’re onto something here. Punishment equals humiliation, and there’s nothing more humiliating than going down in history as the man found in a dirty, diseased field with one hand tied to his dick.” He snorted, his mouth quirking up at one corner.

“Maybe we should interview a couple of my former girlfriends. Sounds like something they might do.”

Over the years, I’d met many of Dallas’s girlfriends. Some of them had needed icicles surgically removed from their veins—a sentiment I’d voiced aloud on more than one occasion. Not that he’d ever appreciated the genius of my insight.

I shook my head and said, “All we’re likely to get from your leftovers is frostbite, so we’ll forgo the pleasure of interrogating them for now.”

He shot me a teasing grin. “Oh, oh, Miss Snow. Is that jealousy in your tone?”

“Bite me, Dallas.”

“Hmmm, with pleasure, Mia.”

He was kidding, I knew. Our relationship had never been sexual. And would never become sexual.

Sex destroyed more male/female partnerships than death, and God knows it would completely negate my authority, something I would not allow.