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S.E.C.R.E.T. Chapter Two

Chapter Two

 

When they pull up to the crime scene, a nondescript single-story house, human officers swarm the yard, already having taped off the house. Calypso is the first out of the car, followed closely by Melissa. Valerian ambles from the back seat, yawning and stretching, letting out a satisfied sigh at the pop from his spine.

The trio slip under some yellow police tape only to be intercepted by a human officer. He holds up his hand in a gesture for them to halt. “Whoa, hey. This is a crime scene, you can’t just be waltzing through here. State your business.” The human glances them over, probably taking note of the guns visible on himself and Melissa. He frowns at the badge on Valerian’s hip.

Calypso bats her eyes and immediately has the young man’s full attention, complete with wide eyes and a slack jaw. She slips her badge from her breasts, the human watching every movement intensely. Her badge drops open. “Special forces, sweetheart.”

He nods, his Adam’s apple bobbing when he swallows.

Valerian rolls his eyes, the human’s heart-pounding quick and erratic. He wrinkles his nose at the sharp scent of arousal.

“May we enter?” Calypso inquires, her tone dripping sugar.

Her question snaps the mortal from his daze, and he offers a jerky nod. “Yes, o-of course. My apologies, ma’am.” He steps aside. “Please, go right ahead.”

“She’s really good at this,” Melissa whispers, her tone impressed. “Hardly needed any convincing.”

“She’s a succubus, her breasts are the only thing he’s focused on right now,” Valerian responds, and heads after Calypso. His ears catch Melissa’s quiet, drawn-out, “Oh.”

Valerian steps up to the open door, his nose-picking out the scent of at least half a dozen humans and some really cheap cologne.

Calypso’s voice comes from over his left shoulder. “So how are we going to do this? The grounds are swarmed with humans.”

“We just have to stall them and keep them from clearing the crime scene until Captain Euryale gets rid of them,” Valerian answers. “But how to do that… I haven’t decided yet,” he answers.

“Well hurry up and decide.” A sharp jab in his spine from Calypso’s nails gets him moving.

He steps through the door, the sharp, metallic aroma of blood mingling with the scent of humans. Makes him wish he actually fed before coming here. His throat is already starting to burn. His eyes are trained on the crime scene as he picks his way through what looks like a living room. He flashes his badge at a human trying to intercept them, not even sparing the kid a glance.

“Special forces, sweetheart,” Calypso’s accented voice picks up. Her heels click against the hardwood floor, following him.

“I’m a junior detective!” Melissa inputs, her tone high with excitement. Her steps are light, dancing across the floor.

His skin prickles as he heads across the room, the feeling of eyes watching him. His ears pick up a crescendo of heartbeats, a soft cacophony of thumps concealed by tender flesh. Definitely wishes he fed. He stops in an archway that leads into a larger room with a chandelier.

Valerian’s eyes trail along the room: three bodies; two females, one male, blood splattered on nearly every surface. His hunger spikes, and he clenches his jaw, his fangs aching. But decades of this have strengthened his self-control.

“Oh crap, it’s everywhere,” Melissa breathes.

Calypso whistles beside him. “It’s even on the roof. This took skill.”

“Newbs. Who let them in?”

Valerian curls his lip at the soft-spoken insult.

“I’ll handle them,” another, deeper male voice replies.

Valerian would like to see the mortal try. He wastes no more attention on the humans, turning his focus to the crime scene. He hums. “There’s a lot of blood, but the corpses are relatively intact.”

“So not a meal, then?” Calypso answers. “Or whatever it was got interrupted?”

Valerian crosses his arms. “If interrupted why not kill that person as well? Unless it was a creature stronger than our murderer. But then why wasn’t our precinct notified?”

Calypso shrugs.

“That’s what we’re here for!” Melissa interjects, a grin lighting up her face. “Let’s find out!”

Valerian nods in response.

The sound of soles clicking against the hardwood floor draws near until a man stops beside Valerian. The sheep is taller than he by almost a head. Damn his French ancestry for making him so short. The man has black hair and blue eyes. His skin is sun-kissed, fragile flesh shielded by a cotton shirt and jeans.

A long beige overcoat rests on his shoulders, and a gold badge dangles around his neck on a silver chain. “I’m Detective Michael Pierson.” He lifts the badge before letting it fall back to his chest. “Who are you guys with? Is this some college training course where they let a bunch of kids dress detective and study crime scenes?”

Valerian holds up his badge, his voice hard, “Drop the patronizing act, we’re not children.”

The human grasps his badge, and he lets it go, his focus returning to the bodies. Two of the corpses, the women, are whole; the third, a man, is shredded. His flesh has been gouged but no limbs have been amputated, and his organs seem intact.

One body, her throat ripped, is close to where they stand in the open archway. The other two are closer together, further in the room, laying half on a rug placed over the wooden floor. That might explain why there’s so little blood on the floor, the rug must have soaked up most of i.

“Valerian DelaCrouix? Did I say that right? Is that your real name? Senior Agent, huh? S.E.C.R.E.T., precinct 12. Cool acronym. If you’re from a precinct I can guess it’s some kind of detective agency, but what does secret stand for?”

Valerian turns his attention to the mortal, curious to know how the human is so informed about them, only to realize the human still has his badge. He snatches it back. “Give me that. And get out of here.”

The human chuckles. “All right, guess it’s a secret.”

Melissa snickers and Valerian glares at the human for the smirk he wears and the amusement in his voice.

“Is this your first scene?” the sheep inquires.

“It’s my first scene!’ Melissa replies. She thrusts out her badge. “I’m Junior Detective!”

“I can tell,” the human answers, his tone humored, perhaps a bit fond.

Valerian glares at Melissa, her jaguar print tail swishing out from under her skirt.

Calypso huffs. “Hardly, darling.” She dips her head, her tone falling into a seductive drawl, “I’ve been doing this since Jack the Ripper.”

The mortal frowns, his eyebrows drawing together. “I beg your pardon? You mean the guy from England like a hundred years ago? Or are you referring to some copycat killer I haven’t heard about?”

Calypso blinks at the human before giving Valerian a helpless look.

Considering the man’s paying actual attention to what she’s saying and his eyes didn’t immediately go to Calypso’s breasts, he must be gay. Great, her only weakness. Which means now would probably be a good time to cut in. Valerian tugs on Melissa’s tail.

She yelps and tucks it back. “Sorry, Boss.” She offers the human a sheepish grin in response to the confused look he directs at her.

“What do you want?” Valerian’s question brings the human’s focus away from Melissa. “If you have nothing productive to add to the case, you can leave.”

“Well, considering this is my crime scene—”

“Not for long, handsome.” Calypso drags a hand down his chest, and he steps back, his expression tightening. “As soon as our captain calls yours, this becomes our jurisdiction.”

A short, older detective yells the mortal’s name and gestures for him.

Calypso places her hands on her hips, jutting one out. “That’s probably her now.” She smirks at the human’s glare.

His gaze moves to Valerian, the glare shifting to… contemplation, maybe? The human’s eyes are a beautiful shade of cobalt, reminding Valerian of the shimmering surface of Lake Ouachita in Arkansas. It probably helps in the human’s favor that his favorite color is blue.

The human’s expression goes blank, lacking any emotion. Shit, did he just enthrall the human? There’s a sheen, like a film over the human’s eyes, so that would be a yes. God, he wishes he could control it like Calypso. Actually… this could work in their favor.

The human blinks, awareness returning to his eyes. The other human calls his name again, sounding annoyed. The sheep scowls, his tone terse, “We’re not through here.” He doesn’t wait for a response before heading off.

Valerian huffs. Like the cattle will receive answers, no matter how pretty his eyes are. He catches a shocked look from Calypso and tilts his head at her in a silent question. The look is wiped clean, replaced by a small, unassuming smile. On anyone else, he might have bought the ruse, but he lets it go for now. They have more important things to deal with.

Without Mitchell’s presence they now have privacy. Valerian crouches before the two corpses further in the room, the woman’s throat shredded on one side. Blood soaks the rug, squishing under his weight, too much and too fresh to have congealed completely yet.

Odd, he can’t pick it out in the air which is extremely peculiar because he could smell it in the entranceway. A putrid scent of rotting flesh hangs over this room, overpowering the metallic aroma. “What do you think?”

Calypso crouches next to him, using a pen to prod at the wound. “The teeth marks don’t add up to a werewolf. A harpy, maybe? It looks like the guy was clawed pretty good. What else eats humans?”

He stands, turning to Melissa and crossing his arms. Now’s a good time to see if she’s as good as her file says. “All right, Melissa.”

She perks up at the sound of her name, her full attention zeroing in on him.

“What can you tell me about the scene?” Valerian’s gaze shifts to his left, the human, Marcus? Michael? Mitchell? the sheep leans against the frame in the archway, watching him. So much for privacy. He wishes he knew how to break an enthrallment. Maybe Khalid would know.

“Um.” Melissa drags her eyes around the room. “Judging from the blood splatters he was hit from behind?”

Valerian narrows his eyes at the human, receiving a smirk in reply, before turning his gaze back to Melissa. “Good, anything else?”

“I think he likes you,” Calypso drawls, her voice louder than required while her breath ruffles the hair at the nape of his neck. Considering Calypso can practically sniff out sexual desire he doesn’t doubt her. And enthralling a human doesn’t create attraction. It should wear off in a day or two.

Melissa snickers and the sheep’s smirk widens.

Valerian elbows Calypso. “Anything else productive,” he retorts.

Calypso snorts in humor, moving to examine the corpse off by itself.

“It was personal?” Melissa says.

“Personal?” Valerian echoes. “How so?”

“You see these two corpses?” She gestures to the women. “Their throats were ripped out, quick and clean, but this third one? The wounds on his back aren’t deep enough to be fatal. There isn’t enough blood for him to bleed to death.”

“Something else was the cause of death,” Valerian supplies.

“Probably,” Melissa says. “And his throat isn’t ripped out like the other two.” She circles the corpse. “The claw marks on his legs and arms are jagged,” she swipes her hands through the air like she’s clawing at something, “like they were were done in quick succession, no finesse just anger.”

“Huh,” Valerian huffs. “Good eye.”

Melissa beams at the praise.

“We’ll leave determining the cause of death to Hestor,” Valerian states. Melissa nods.

“Claw marks?” The human steps further into the room. “You make it sound like the guy was impersonating Wolverine or something.”

Melissa hums. “I’m thinking more along the line of Freddy Krueger.”

The cattle smiles. “So were they having a sleepover in here?”

Melissa snickers, opening her mouth to reply.

“All right, don’t encourage him,” Valerian snaps.

The werecat puffs out her cheeks, spinning around to stare at the wall behind her like she’s studying it.

“And you,” Valerian flicks a hand at the human, “why haven’t you left yet?”

“Maybe we can make something out of this.” Calypso holds up a small plastic bag where she placed a tooth.

“Shouldn’t you guys be wearing gloves for this?” the human says.

Valerian ignores him, taking the bag from Calypso and turning it over in his hand. The tooth is small, about the size of a human-canine but jagged with a curved hook towards the center meant for tearing. That would explain the state of the bite wounds. He hands it off to Melissa. “I swear by Hecate, if we are dealing with something teething—”

“Teething?! What the hell are you guys talking about?”

Valerian snaps his gaze to the human, his eyes narrowing in a glare. The tiny bag is held in the sheep’s hand. Didn’t Melissa take it? He glances at Melissa who stands a few feet away doing what looks like a trajectory reading on the blood splatters compared to where the body lays. Great, he practically handed it off to the human.

He snatches it back. “Didn’t I tell you to leave? I’m pretty sure I did. Twice.” The mortal’s heart beats strong and steady. Valerian tosses the tooth to Calypso in an effort to distract himself. He doesn’t check to see if she catches it. The plastic bag sounds like it comes into contact with flesh so he assumes she did. Or he just hit her with it.

“Yeah, well, this investigation hasn’t been yanked out from under us just yet.”

“Oh really? Let me fix that.” Why isn’t the human listening? He should be scrambling to do whatever is required to appease Valerian, that includes doing what he’s told. Like leaving.

“Oh, let him stay on, Val.” Calypso places her arms atop his shoulder, leaning against him. “He wouldn’t be the first.”

“That’s not the point.” Valerian steps away, slipping out from under her.

The human raises an eyebrow, looking incredulous. “Do you hide everything between your breasts?”

At the inquiry, Valerian turns to Calypso, the small bag she was holding missing from sight.

The succubus pats her chest and winks at the human. “Best place there is.”

“Because anyone that gets close enough to touch dies?” Valerian inquires, keeping his tone neutral, making the accusation sound like an innocent question.

Calypso flutters her lashes. “I kill them with love.” She swats Valerian’s shoulder. “Let him stay, I kind of like him.”

Valerian glares at her. What game is she playing? She offers a smirk in response, twirling around and heading for Melissa.

Valerian grabs the human’s arm, just above his elbow, muscle firm and skin warm against his hand, and drags him back towards the living room.

“You get ‘em, Boss,” Melissa states, and Calypso chuckles.

The other humans are already packing up their equipment, so Valerian can assume Captain Euryale made the call. He releases the mortal, spinning to face him. “What do I have to do to get rid of you?” he snarls, very tempted to bare fangs. That usually scares them off.

“How about a date?”

Valerian blinks, his scowl falling away, the response unexpected. A date? That’s the exact opposite of what he asked. Huh, victims he’s enthralled in the past have never asked for a date, at least the ones he didn’t kill. “How is seeing more of you in conjunction with getting rid of you?”

The human, Mitchell, he’s pretty sure it was Mitchell, steps in closer. “You mean personally or from this crime scene?”

Valerian glares. “Both.”

“Mm, yeah, can’t have both.” The sheep takes another step, and Valerian is startled when his back hits a wall. He didn’t even realize he was letting the human corner him. The nerve of this sheep! Never mind the fact he’s not supposed to act this way when enthralled.

Every human his sire, Kaileena, ever enthralled would always wait patiently for attention and affection, seeking only to please. This situation is quickly slipping out of his comfort zone. He doesn’t know how to get out of such a position without violence, and he’d feel regretful for harming the sheep considering this is partially his fault. Damn it.

The human leans closer, placing an arm against the wall and crowding his space. The mortal’s body is warm, almost hot compared to how cool he naturally runs. His senses are assaulted with the sweet aroma of the human’s blood, the sound of it pumping through veins with each steady heartbeat.

The sudden urge to sink fangs into the tender flesh of the human’s throat passes over him, and he clenches his jaw. “Stop crowding me,” he growls, pressing back against the wall. His throat is on fire, and his stomach clenches painfully. This is the last time he deals with humans without feeding.

The mortal seems humored by his demand, a smirk lifting one corner of his mouth. He really does have beautiful eyes. “Then stop making it so easy.” The human slips something into his breast pocket, dragging a hand down his chest to his navel in a completely unnecessary manner before ceasing contact.

“Call me,” the human says. “And wear warmer clothing next time, you’re freezing.” The sheep steps away, heading for the other mortals. He turns a smirk to Valerian, flicking his hand in a wave.

Valerian’s eyes track his progress until the human slips out the front door, disappearing from his sight. What just happened? He no longer feels on top of the food chain.

“He’s sweet, you should call.”

He looks over, meeting Calypso’s gaze.

The succubus starts cackling, startling him. “You should see your face! You look like someone just told you men could get pregnant!’

Valerian tries to school his expression, having no idea what exactly he looks like.

Calypso chuckles, pulling a tissue from her breasts to dab at her eyes. “I’ve never seen horror and surprise meld so well together. It’s a good look for you.” Her laughter starts up again before he can even form a response.

He gives her three seconds. “I’m not calling, now focus,” he snaps. “The humans have cleared out, and we have a job to do.”

She sucks in a sharp breath, her grin still present, but keeps her composure. She returns the tissue packet to her cleavage.

“The body was moved!”

At the exclamation, Valerian and Calypso give Melissa their attention. She stops in the archway, waving for them to come over. “The blood splatters don’t add up with the position of the body.” She leads them to the mangled corpse.

“Did the humans tamper with the crime scene?” Valerian snarls. If that’s the case, he’ll have all of their badges.

“Don’t think so, Boss.” Melissa gestures to some blood trails leading from the corpse’s legs. “At first I thought these were just from the wounds on his legs but—” She jumps to her feet, scurrying to the head of the corpse.

Crouching down, she drags her hand along the edge of the rug where it meets the wooden floor. “There are marks in the wood from fingernails. This guy was alive, and I think he tried to get away.”

Calypso hums. “That supports your theory about this being personal.”

“Whoever did this wanted him to suffer.” Valerian crouches next to the corpse, draping his arms across his knees. “They didn’t kill him immediately.” He glances between the other two corpses. “So what about them?”

Valerian lifts a part of the man’s tattered shirt, examining the wounds. He has to lean closer to distinguish them. “This man was hit from behind. The depth of his wounds are even all along his back, so he wasn’t running. He was caught by surprise.” He lets the clothing slip from his fingers. “Were the other two present, or did they show up afterward?”

Calypso twists around, studying them. “The one closer to him is facing him, she might have witnessed it. But the younger woman looks like she was trying to get away.”

Valerian moves to the corpse off on its own, kneeling by her shoulder. He brushes her dirty blonde hair from her face. “She looks young, I can’t tell by scent, the whole room just smells like decay. His daughter, maybe?”

“These corpses aren’t old enough to be giving your nose a runaround.”

Valerian offers Calypso a shrug, having no explanation. The scent of death and decay hangs heavy in the air. The heady scent of blood is even overpowered. What creature could be so malodorous as to mask blood from a vampire?

“I noticed that, too,” Melissa states. “It’s like someone stuffed the walls with years old corpses.”

“But only in this room,” Valerian adds, and the werecat nods in agreement.

“We can search the house for clues,” Calypso suggests.

Valerian nods, standing. “Spread out, see what we can find.”

Calypso starts digging through a cabinet up against the wall, and Valerian leaves the room to her. He heads through the living room, entering a kitchen, Melissa’s light footsteps following.

“Should we check this room? I doubt the kitchen will tell us anything but their diet.” Melissa sniffs the air and shrugs.

Valerian points across the room to double glass doors that lead out to a patio. Shattered shards of glass are scattered across the kitchen floor. “Also the entryway of our killer.”

“The glass is on the inside. The culprit entered from the outside,” she states. She sniffs the air again. “It reeks in here, too, just not as strong.”

A door off to the right catches Valerian’s attention. “I don’t think it spent as much time in here,” he replies, heading across the tile floor. He pushes open the door, being led into a carpeted hallway.

Melissa leans around him. “Maybe their bedrooms are down here.”

“That’s what I’m thinking.” He glances back towards the living room when he hears Calypso’s voice, but she’s hidden from him. Sounds like she’s speaking with one of the humans. Hopefully, it’s not Marcus, Michael? He’ll leave it to Calypso. If she needs him, she’ll call.

He walks the hallway, taking note of the photos lining the walls. Most are filled with a man and two women, one older, one younger, sometimes she’s a child. The other two corpses must have been his wife and daughter.

Now that he’s away from the bodies he can pick up their scent. The house is well-lived, and he can easily distinguish them. A teen, like he thought, between fourteen and seventeen, related to the other two. Her mother was close to forty, but her father was in his early fifties.

The first door they come to is left ajar, revealing a bathroom. He stops at the second door. Even without the ‘Sammy’s room, stay out’ plaque he could tell it belonged to the girl. Her scent saturates the wood. Another door is across the hall.

“I take right, you take left?” Melissa suggests.

He nods, twisting the handle and opening the door, Melissa doing the same across from him. The girl’s scent is strongest in here.

“Oh, this is just a linen closet.” Melissa closes the door with a soft click.

“Check the one further down the hall.”

He sighs at Melissa’s salute. “Will do, Boss!” She prances down the hall, slipping into the other room.

Valerian steps into Sammy’s room, glancing around. Light pink curtains cover a window, a bed to the left, the headboard shoved against the wall, a nightstand on each side. One holds a lamp, the other sporting an alarm clock. A long dresser sits against the wall to the right of her door, beside a closet with doors ajar.

A desk sits across from the bed to his left. A laptop lays open on top of the unmade bed, a few clothes scattered across the floor. Some posters line the walls. One is decorated with a bunch of cartoon looking unicorns and pegasi, My Little Pony printed in large bubble letters above the figures. The others are of some pop artists. A typical teenage girl’s room, nothing out of the ordinary.

A notebook lies on top of the desk, and he opens it, flipping through the pages. Looks like algebra homework. He perches himself upon the edge of the bed and boots up the laptop. It goes straight to the sign-in page, hibernating, then. It requires a password. A low battery sign flashes in the corner.

He can leave this to Devan, if the selkie can keep his mind off of sex long enough to get anything done. But once he focused there was no better hacker. If Devan needs incentive he can always sic Melissa on him. Being a water creature, threats from a cat should get him moving.

Valerian digs through Sammy’s dresser, skims through her closet, but finds nothing that sheds any light on her murder. Not unless the culprit is an angry teenage boyfriend. A vampire, maybe? Fledglings could be sloppy if not properly trained, ripping throats out during the blood-lust instead of keeping it clean. Kaileena used to find it hilarious to set fledglings loose on unsuspecting villages. God, they’re probably Twilight fans.

But wouldn’t she have been the target? Unless the father came between them. Then why kill her? Was she accidental? No, she bore the same wounds as her mother. It was deliberate. Most likely they were collateral. The stilted lover of the father? Either way, the fang isn’t vampiric in origin, so vampires can be tossed out.

His ears track movement, and he glances over as Melissa steps into the room. “Found something, Boss. This might answer what happened.”

He snatches the laptop off the bed, carrying it with him. Melissa leads him further down the hall towards the other bedroom. He takes note of the closed door across from them. He wrinkles his nose when he enters what looks like the master bedroom. They could at least clean their sheets.

A large bed is shoved against the wall to his left and is centered with the room. Two nightstands rest on either side of the bed, both with lamps, one with a book. A long dresser is to the right, a large mirror resting on top. Makeup, an open jewelry case, and several bottles of what could be perfume or cologne sit upon the dresser.

The bed is made, the linen undisturbed, the floor clear of clutter. Several frames dot the walls holding photos and a few certificates. A door lies open on the other side of the dresser showing a tiled floor and what looks like a walk-in shower.

His nose wrinkles when he inhales again. Maybe he should stop breathing.

Melissa eyes him. “Do I wanna ask what you smell?”

“Probably not.”

“Ew, gross. Old people should not get it on. Over here.” She stops in front of a closet, dresses and suits dangling from hangers. The clothes have been pushed aside to reveal several boxes stacked inside. He crouches down, setting the laptop next to him. Melissa snatches it up, placing it under her arm.

The boxes are labeled: Maryland vs Debain, Maryland vs Wallflower, Maryland vs Vickers. A lawyer. He opens one, digging through the files. A prosecutor, Kevin Willoby. The father was a lawyer.

He opens the one labeled Wallflower. Looks like Mr Willoby was good at getting convictions, with maximum sentences, too. The same with Vickers—charged, 42 years behind bars for a double homicide.

Valerian closes the box. “You think their attacker was someone he convicted?”

“I dunno,” Melissa replies. “Doesn’t make much sense ‘cause it’s supernatural. Humans don’t usually get to put zelan behind bars.

“Hm.” He drags the boxes out, seven total, and stacks them together. “There’s a lot of movement coming from the front of the house. I think our team’s here.”

Melissa turns her gaze towards the front of the house. He can picture her ears twitching. “Man, you’ve got good hearing. I’ll let them know we have evidence.”

Valerian stands. “I’ll come with you, I doubt there’s anything else here that will give us more information. And your hearing could be just as good if you trained and focused.”

Melissa offers a cheeky grin, and he gets the impression she’s not even going to try. Eh, she’s still young.

 

**

 

The front of the house is bustling with activity, personnel in forensics outfits running about and collecting evidence. Three black body bags are aligned in the dining room, the bodies already concealed. Valerian snaps his fingers, gaining the attention of one of the team members.

A vampire heads for them, young by her scent, at least several centuries younger than Valerian. Probably still sleeps in a coffin. Her pupils are slitted, and when she speaks her fangs are visible. “Sir?”

Definitely young, younger than he thought, few decades at the most, hasn’t learned to conceal herself yet.

Valerian gestures to Melissa who holds out the laptop. The girl slips it into a large, clear plastic bag labeled evidence.

“There are a few boxes down the hall in the bedroom on the right,” Valerian states. “Case files from court trials, gather them, too. Something in them might shed some light on what we’re dealing with.”

The vampire nods. “Yessir.” She sets the bag next to a pile of similar bags, grabs one of her coworkers, some kind of fae, he’s not so familiar with them, and they head to the back of the house.

Calypso’s heels click against the hardwood floor before she enters the room. “I didn’t find anything particularly helpful. There were some footprints outside near the kitchen door where the suspect entered. If we had Cadence he might have been able to track it, maybe find something more useful.”

“Tracking is not really my specialty,” Valerian replies. “I can pick out scents, but I have difficulty following them.

“I could try,” Melissa offers, “but Cadence’s nose is better than mine. I think he got bit by a bloodhound, he can tell what shampoo you used the night before.”

Calypso chuckles. “Don’t worry about it, sweetheart. Did you two find anything?”

Melissa wrinkles her nose. “Old people getting it on.”

Valerian’s teeth click together with how fast he closes his jaw. He looks at her. How did he not predict her blurting that out?

“Really?” Calypso leans around them like she can actually catch sight of two people having sex through the walls.

“Yeah, Boss said the master bedroom smelled like sex,” Melissa explains.

Valerian raises an eyebrow. Not in so many words.

Calypso places a hand over her chest. “Awe, that’s adorable.”

Valerian’s gaze shifts to her. “How is that adorable?”

“Yeah, it’s gross,” Melissa adds.

Calypso tuts. “Well, I think it’s adorable that two people can keep their passion alive, even into their older years.”

Only a succubus could find sex adorable. Valerian offers a one-shoulder shrug. He doesn’t care either way as long as he isn’t privy to the activity. That goes for any couple. He nudges Melissa before she gets her response out. They’re getting too off track. “The man, Kevin Willoby, was a lawyer.

Melissa nods. “Maybe he pissed off someone he locked up?”

“I’m sure he pissed off everyone he locked up,” Valerian replies.

Calypso’s voice holds a hint of astonishment, “He locked up a zelan?”

Melissa shrugs but Valerian shakes his head before replying, “Don’t think so. It’s possible a human transformed. That would narrow the search of whatever creature we’re looking for as well.

“I’m going to have Devan cross-reference everyone Mr Willoby locked up with any that might have been released recently. His daughter had a laptop, I’m going to have Devan crack it, too. Maybe something is on the hard drive.”

Calypso nods. “You want to hang out while they clean the scene or head back to the precinct?”

Melissa turns big, pleading eyes to Valerian. “Can we get donuts?”

Valerian huffs a short sigh through his nose. “Let’s get donuts.” He grunts when Melissa throws herself at him, pinning his arms to his sides and squeezes before letting him go, a huge smile on her face.

 

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