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Blackmoor Chapters 2-4

Detective Grace Dobson's new case opens doors locked long ago.

2

Grace Dobson leaned against a red, brick wall of an old factory building. Hiding in the shadows she watched the cars that drove past. Every once in a while a neighbor would walk past the alley Grace rested in. Taller neighbors would walk right past the alley, chatting with companions or into phones. A few walked by alone, huddling their coats closer to ward out the chill of November. Periodically, shorter individuals dressed in rags would stop at the entrance to her alley. Their long ears would twitch, and their matching noses would mimic. Turning, large golden eyes would lock on her before wide mouths spread into toothy smiles. The creatures would raise red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple hands in greeting. Grace nodded in reply, before leaning back against the wall.

A gentle brush of air told her that she was no longer alone in the alley. She looked over her shoulder and saw a large man, muscled and tall, standing behind her. She smiled up at him, he returned the gesture. A cold breeze flew through the alley causing the tips of his cropped, dark, golden hair to flutter as Grace's dark locks whipped around her face. They both raised their hands and brushed their own hair back into place. The man's dark blue eyes locked onto Grace's. He frowned, “Is it a vamp case? You hate those, and you looked sad when you came back to the precinct.”

Grace nodded, “Yeah, it's a vamp.”

He smiled at her short answer. It slipped away quickly as he wondered, “Ferris returned an hour before you did. Where'd you go?”

Grace smirked, “Officer Goodwin, are you interrogating me?”

“ Nah,” Goodwin shook his head, laughing as he did. “That's your job Detective. Mines' simply to keep the good people of Blackmoor safe from those that break our Code.”

“ Any crazy cases for you today,” She questioned.

“ Nope,” Goodwin answered, “But then, the day is still young. There are several members of our community that are sleeping.”

She nodded as they both leaned against the wall. “Everything's been pretty calm for Dean, Max and I for the past few weeks though. It's been a little too calm. As you know, most community members live by the code, and we don't have too many cases of our own. Hell, you and Ferris get what, one a week?”

“ Yes,” Grace replied, “and while it's still too much, I'm willing to bet it's better than what my counterparts get in Denver.”

“ Exactly,” Goodwin agreed, “Still, we usually have to go talk another wolf down off a ledge or a vampire out of a convenience store or a gang of goblins away from a group of school kids. There's never anything too serious, but there's been nothing for three weeks. Something brewing, Grace, and I don't like it.”

“ Your wolf-y senses tingling?” She smirked.

He laughed as he nudged her with his shoulder. She was laughing with him, but they both stopped the moment they felt the shock shoot threw them at the contact. They looked at each other, Goodwin sucking in a sharp breath as Grace held hers. Goodwin's nostrils flared when Grace's tongued darted out and quickly wet her lips. Bright blue eyes locking with dark ones, Grace whispered, “John.”

“ We can't,” John reminded. He was leaning down even as he spoke. One hand pressed against the wall, the other hanging loosely at his side. Grace's hands uselessly hung at her sides as she stood perfectly still.

He whispered, “We really, really can't. It isn't fair to you.”

She pulled back as she caught the last thing he whispered, “What?”

John stopped moving, his eyes snapping close as he cringed. He shook his head, “Nothing, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. Forget it, please.”

“ No,” She shook her head and stepped away from the wall. She paced, ranting, “We've been playing this game for a year now. Exactly, since we started it the day after Halloween last year. I like you. I more than like you. This is probably the closest I've ever been to being in love.”

Her back was to him. She missed when his head snapped to the other side. His eyes clenched tightly as did his jaw. Opening them, the blue shined with sadness and he reached towards her before dropping his arm quickly. He exhaled a gust of breath before shaking his head negatively. She asked, “Do you believe we shouldn't be together because you're a werewolf?”

His eyes snapped towards her. Her own went wide when she heard the rumble from low in his throat and saw the gold in his eyes. He stood rigid as he growled, “Don't bring him into this.”

“ Why?” She wondered, smirking to show she was not afraid of the being before her. “He's got as much a say in this as you do.”

“ Stop, Grace, don't,” He demanded. “You don't know what you're playing with.”

“ Yes, I do,” Grace disagreed. “Ferris and I get the cases that deal with the creatures of Blackmoor because we know what we're dealing with. I know that he's been in this from the beginning, and if anyone isn't being treated fairly, it's him. Treat him right.”

John's eyes went wide as his jaw tightened. He gulped by said nothing more. She stared at him hard. He nodded under her gaze. She continued to stare at him. Her eyes narrowed. She victoriously grinned. Shaking her head she laughed, “What are you doing? You could make yourself sick fighting what he's already decided, Mate.”

She closed her eyes in pain, grasping for the wall on the opposite side of the alley as she clutched her other hand against her forehead. John raced across the alley, grabbing her shoulders as her searched her face. Waiting for the migraine to release its hold she bit her lip to the point of drawing blood. As suddenly as it attacked, the pain disappeared. John gently wiped the blood off of her lip as she searched her bright blue eyes with his dark ones. After she'd righted herself, John asked, “What happened?”

“ I don't know,” Grace sighed, looking at the wall she'd reached for as though it had the answers. John gulped when her back was too him.

Cautiously, he attempted, “Mate?”

Grace looked at him with a smile, “Yeah, mate. He's already chosen me, hasn't he?”

“ You know he has,” John sighed, looking away from her. She cupped his chin and made him look back at her. Their eyes locked. She stood on her toes, pressing her lips to his. John's arms went around her waist, pulling her tight as he sighed. Grace registered the feeling of tightness as she locked one arms around his neck and threaded the other hand through his hair. John quickly too her breath away, stopping the ability to think clearly. Grace was acting on instinct as John crushed her to himself. Breaking from her, John brushed a kiss against the top of her head as he mumbled.

“ I love you, Grace Dobson.” Grace smiled, looking up at him so that their eyes locked for the millionth time. John wore a soft grin that left Grace's heart beating just a little faster.

She whispered, “I love you too, Johnathon Goodwin.”

John brushed his lips against hers again. Suddenly, he pulled away and walked across the alley, “Shit.”

“ What,” Grace questioned.

John looked back at her, “You have a brand new case.”

Grace raised her brow in wonder of his point. He continued, “We can't do the ritual yet.”

Grace smirked at the mention. John bit his lip. His eyes darkened as his eyes traveled down her body. He shook his head, “We can't but that doesn't mean it's not taking even more will-power not to than it's ever taken me not to touch you.”

“ You know,” Grace started casually as she walked towards him. He smirked as she slid her hand up his chest. His hands grasped her hips, pulling her even closer. Her voice lowered to a husky whisper as she said, “Even if you're not quite ready for the ritual, you could still touch me.”

John gulped. “I'd never be able to control him. He wants you. We want you, now.” Grace smirked. “I want to give you the ceremony, everything you're ever dreamed of, aquamarines and rubies for center pieces. Stristanus or Barry would walk you down the aisle. All of it.”

Grace stepped away, shaking her head. Her eyes narrowed. Her jaw hung. John's eyes went wide as he watched her stumble away from him. Grace stuttered as she asked, “How do you know that?”

John looked away, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his first two fingers and his thumb. Looking back at her, “Grace, we ran in the same circle in school.”

Grace stood still, staring at him. He didn't flinch under her gaze. Beats passed before she nodded. “Yeah, we did. My father's relationship with Stristanus, and the fact that the chief is my godfather, was no secrets in this town. Rubies are one of my favorite gems, and aquamarines are my birthstone. We may not have been close, but you are best friends with Dean.”

John smiled. “Yeah, Dean's my best friend. Lottie talks about you a lot.”

“ Of course she does, “Grace laughed, “She's my best friend, and I'm awesome.”

John laughed, “Yeah, you're awesome.”

She beamed under the praise. His smiled turned secretive as he asked, “When do you have to go back to work?”

“ Eight,” Grace answered. She blew a lock of hair out of her face before continuing, “I have to interview some vampires.”

John frowned, shrugged and asked, “Want to go play some putt-putt?”

Grace grinned, “I can't believe you remember that.”

“ What?” John wondered.

“ That time Dean and Lottie dragged you and me to a game. “ Grace answered. She shook her head, “Give me a second. I'm gonna grab my coat from upstairs.”

John nodded. Grace kissed his cheek before she climbed the fire escape and crawled through an open window on the third floor. Watching her, John smiled sadly, “Yeah, I remember that. I remember everything.”

*

“How am I ever going to keep my hands off of you?” John wondered out loud as he pulled back from kissing Grace. They were standing outside of the door of her apartment, her back pressed against the door. Her hands playing with the hair on the back of his neck beckoned him to his new-found favorite past-time. He pressed his lips against her neck, raining soft kisses against the smooth skin. She sighed under his ministrations. He rubbed his thumbs in circles over the fabric of her blue dress shirt. His index fingers tucked in to her belt loops. His other fingers wrapped around her hips. He tugged her as close as possible. “How did I ever keep my hands off of you?

“ Gods,” John sighed as he continued to lavish her skin. Her breath hitched under his words and attention. “If I'd grabbed you the way I wanted to the first time I saw you at the precinct. Shit, Grace, can you imagine what we could have by now? Three fucking years of keeping his hands off of his mate are pure torture to a werewolf, did you know that?”

Grace nodded, but his lips crashing to hers stopped her from having to answer. Hunger and passion flowed between them be for he pulled away and moaned. “Fuck, we could have our own pups, one or two, maybe one on the way.”

His right hand fell on her stomach. His right hand fell on her stomach. His eyes darkened as he took in the sight of her flat, toned body under his hand. “I can't wait to see that, you carrying my young. You're already beautiful, but you're going to be so beautiful.”

Grace laughed, stole a kiss, and pulled away. He frowned. “Alright, Mr. Wolf, get out of here while I still have the ability to get to work.”

He laughed, kissed her temple and whispered in her ear, “Finish this case quickly, Mate, please.”

She looked over her shoulder as she unlocked her door, and nodded.

3

Grace smiled as she walked inside her apartment, and leaned against the door exhaling a happy gust of breath. Her eyes closed in peaceful enjoyment. Gathering herself, she opened them and looked at the clock. The short hand was practically on the eight, and the long one on the ten. Biting her lip, she cursed, “Fuck.”

She pulled her belt off of the coat rack by the door and tore open the door. Skillfully, she buckled her belt, checking that her equipment was where it needed to be. John was halfway down the hall. Hearing the fast steps behind him, he turned and watched his better half racing past him. He called, “Grace.”

She turned at the call, running backwards as she held up her watch and tapped the face with her other hand. John laughed as she exited the building. He ran after her and stopped at the blue door of her coupe. She looked up at him with an impatient expression. He kissed her temple and ran his hand down her spine. She glared at him even as she laughed.

*


Daniel Mann stood beside the floor-to-ceiling window in the executive office of Mann Institutes. At the sound of a knock on his door, he turned around as his secretary entered. Fear covered her face . He heard two steady heartbeats and frowned.

“You're heart can't beat Stacy, no matter how afraid you maybe.” Looking over her shoulder he called, “Come in.”

Dobson led Ferris into the office. Mr. Mann dismissed his secretary. Stacy exited the office. Mr. Mann offered, “Drinks, Detectives?”

Both declined the offer. Daniel flicked his eyes to Ferris. “Detective, there is no need to be so frightened. I'm a follower of Stristanus. We play on the same team.”

Ferris gulped and exhaled a shaky breath. Daniel locked his gaze on Dobson, “You found her.”

Dobson sat in one of the dark, leather chairs in front of Mann's desk. Ferris quickly followed the action. Mann sat in the large, arm chair behind his desk and waited for the answer to his question. Dobson nodded.

“ She is sixteen-years-old. She might simply have stayed too late at a friend's house.” Daniel explained with a smirk. “Afraid of getting punished, she went to school and then enjoyed one more day of freedom before accepting her grounding. Alice and I were going to file a report tomorrow. If you're coming to me already,” He shrugged. His brown eyes flashed with sadness, “Where was she?”

“ The alley behind this building,” Dobson answered, apologetically. Daniel's eyes flicked to a picture on his desk. It was of Holly and her brother laughing in front of their home. He looked back at the detectives and sat quietly. Dobson sighed, “She only had one wound. Two deep puncture marks on her neck.”

As she explained, Dobson placed the tips of her fingers on her pulse point. Daniel's eyes locked on the spot for a moment, narrowing. Slowly, the brown orbs drifted up from the beckoning spot to the face of the detective.

His jaw was tight as he growled, “A vampire took the life of my hybrid daughter.” At Dobson's nod, Daniel asked, “Are you certain?”

Dobson nodded, her face determined but stoic. Daniel turned to look out one of the many large windows. “Of course the daughter of James Dobson knows the difference between a fake and true vampire bite. You would not tell me one of my own did this to my family unless you were absolutely certain. I would say I was surprised, but I cannot be.”

He turned back to look at the detectives. “The winds are changing, and it has nothing to do with the shifting of the seasons.”

“ Sir,” Dobson questioned. Mann dismissed his comment by waving his hand. Dobson let it go as she asked, “Sir, you are one of the most respected men in our town, but one does not get to your position without making a few enemies.”

“ True,” Daniel agreed. “But my very nature offends certain members of my kind. I cannot tell you who would go after my daughter though. Some do not believe Holly, Junior, or any of the others should exist, but they have not harmed the hybrids. I get hate mail constantly, but no threats have ever been made against my children or my mate.”

“ What about Holly, what do you know about her friends? Did she have a boyfriend?” Dobson asked.

Daniel frowned, “Holly was a sweet girl, and everyone loved her. She was a basketball hero. She does have two very good friends, and a boyfriend of a year now. Their schedules and mine are very different. It is difficult for me to keep up with their lives. If you must investigate Holly's life, you should start with Alice. I'll tell her when I return home in the morning, but it will do her good to see you, Grace.”

“ I was planning on seeing her,” Grace assured. She shook her head, “I can't believe that anyone would want to harm Holly. You and Alice are such good people, your daughter would have to be even more so.”

“ Thank-you,” Daniel accepted, “She was a good girl. I have to believe that this was a senseless crime.”

Dobson stood, holding out her hand towards Daniel. He accepted the handshake as Dobson said, “We're sorry for your loss.”

“ Just catch this son of bitch Detective, and make sure I am allowed my chance at justice.” Dobson nodded as the vampire's eyes darkened at the request.

“ By the code, you will have what I never received.” Dobson swore. Daniel nodded, his lips turning up and flashing two sharp, white pearls.

*

Two days after Halloween, Dobson was standing in the staff lounge of the Blackmoor Police Department. The black liquid filling the coffee pot poured into a white mug designed with the Blackmoor City Seal. She looked at the door when she heard three distinct male laughs. John walked in first, followed by a dark-skinned, bald man with a gold earring. Another man, just as tall and muscled as the first two, entered and moved towards the vending machine. His blond hair was hidden behind a cap with the letters S.W.A.T stitched into the front. He winked a green eye at her. John playfully glared at the other man before tugging Grace into his arms. He swooped in for a kiss. The laughter of the other men had Grace pulling away, “We're at work.”

“ I don't care,” he teased as he made to snatch her back to him. She danced around the table, stepping towards the door.

“ Hey,” the man in the cap called, “You can't leave yet.”

“ Yeah, we haven't been allowed to offer our condolences.” The dark-skinned man's brown eyes shined with mirth.

“ Condolences,” John asked, a mocking tone underlying the outrage. He corrected, “We're getting married not dying, Dean.”

“ I never said you were dying,” Dean pointed out. “I was just offering my regrets that this beautiful woman has to be stuck with you for the rest of her life.”

He cast a sideways glance at his friend, “Not sure you're good enough.”

“ I'm not,” John assured, “but for some reason she wants to be with me. Damn, I'm lucky.”

He sighed as he reached for her again, and she submitted this time as she leaned back into him. Her arms circled his waist as his tightened around her shoulders. She laid her head on his chest for a moment. She smiled as she listened to the sound of his heartbeat. Breaking away, she took her coffee cup and went back to her desk.

“ Alright Goodwin,” the blond werewolf said when Dobson was out of the room. “How'd you do it?”

“ Do what, Theopolis,” Dean asked for clarification as he sat down in a red, scratchy fabric-covered chair.

Theopolis took an opposite chair, gray and plastic. He clarified, “How did you get the most eligible bachelorette in the good town of Blackmoor, Colorado?”

“ Friends first, Max, friends first” John answered with a laugh. Dean smirked, and Max laughed. “It might be cliché, but truthfully we all know it was fate. I wondered last night how I managed to stay away from her for the past three years.”

He shook his head as he watched the woman walk through the bull pin back to her desk. “I'm one lucky bastard aren't I?”

“ That you are,” Dean agreed. “How did she convince you to stop being stupid though?”

“ She brought the wolf into it.” John answered. “I'm sure you can imagine how he reacted to that.”

John eyes flicked to the gold band that looped around Dean's fourth finger on his left hand. Dean twirled the ring with the thumb on the same hand as the band and nodded. “He wanted to do what he should have been allowed to do eight years ago.”

John looked away sharply. Max smiled sadly as he sipped from the soda he'd gotten out of the machine. Dean reached past the chair separating him from his friend and clapped John on the shoulder. Max put his bottle down, “I think we must be the best men in the world.”

John and Dean looked at their other companion in expectation. “We truly fall in love just once, and as soon as we figure out how we're feeling we promise our partners the world in a heartbeat. We never leave, we never cheat, and we're the greatest fathers. We might argue, but we always deal with it without resulting in threats to leave, probably because we know we can't. We really only fall once, and then we're theirs forever. Anybody, including us, dared to lay a hand on them would be in a world of hurt. And then we're good-looking, tall, muscles. I mean can they ask for anything more?”

“ Humility,” a light voice said from the threshold of the bullpen and the staff lounge. The three werewolves turned to look at the coroner, and Dean's smiled widened. “You have just as many flaws as you do positive qualities.”

“ What flaws?” Dean asked as Lottie went to dig in her purse. He knew what she was doing. Before she could blink, she heard the sound of the vending machine. Turning around, she watched as her mate grabbed the soda out of the opening and handed it to her. He grinned as he said, “I'm perfect.” She laughed as she tried to open the bottle. Noticing it was one of the ones needing brute strength to open, she pouted. She held it back out to him with puppy-dog eyes. Taking the bottle back, he laughed. He leaned towards her as she took the opened bottle. Smiling, she leaned up and brushed a thankful kiss against his lips.

“ Hey,” she said after she took a sip from her drink. “Did John tell you? Grace just told me, and I haven't had a chance to tell you, but I figured he would tell you.”

Dean laughed as he listened to his mate ramble, before assuring her, “He told me. So, I've got you Lots, and John's got Grace. All that is left is that lump of coal to get someone.”

“ Hey,” Max called as he and John finished laughing at the cute little scene between the two mates. Dean and Lottie turned to look at the other men. “I hope you two aren't planning on trying any funny business. When the time comes, my wolf and I will find someone that we want to spend our days with. We aren't in any rush.”

“ Yeah,” John supported his single friend. “Not everybody has to be on your guys’ time schedule. I mean really how many is this one going to be?” He pointed at the tiny bump hidden by Lottie's shirt. “Seven? Eight?”

“ Five,” Lottie corrected. “We only have five.”

“ Yeah, only five,” John drew out the word only mockingly. “Like that is a tiny number. That is only a small number when you're talking about cookies or cups of coffee. Cubs, that's a huge number.”

“ Oh, please,” Max scoffed as he hopped to sit on the table in the room the four were huddled in. “You're going to get married and start popping them out left and right.”

“ No,” John and Lottie both said.

“ Grace won't have more then two if she can help it.” Lottie continued.

“ And she won't plan on having one for a while. She’s too busy with her work.” John finished.

“ That is kind of creepy,” Max blinked at the two. “You know, you two know Grace too well if you're able to do that.” He paused. “Then, Ferris probably could analyze Detective Dobson that well. Tell me, whose hands do you really think she'd put her life into?”

“ She does put her life into Ferris' hands every day,” John said, not amused. “It's good he knows her that well. It makes me feel as though she's safe, or as safe as any of us can be in our line of work. As for Lottie and I, we've known Grace since Kindergarten.”

A silence entered the room. Lottie grabbed her bag, shared a kiss with her mate, and started walking out the door. She ran into the subject of conversation just as she turned the corner into the bullpen. Dobson steadied her friend when Lottie jumped at the shock. Laughing, Dobson said, “You said that you found something I needed to see.”

“ Right,” Lottie nodded. Moving quickly, Lottie led Dobson down to the morgue. Dobson kept her eyes on the white board until the sheet was pulled back. Closing her eyes she turned her head towards the table, exhaled a sharp breath and opened her eyes. Pointing a gloved hand at the puncture wounds, Lottie explained, “It's the mark. There's evidence it had to be someone she trusted.”

Dobson's eyes snapped towards Lottie, “How do you know that?”

“ If you look closely at the skin you can see that, around the opening of the wound, it's smooth, an easy slide. This means she trusted the vampire that bit her, or else she would have tried to fight back.” Lottie answered. “Then when you look at the individual layers of skin that had to be broken, they become jagged and messy. This is an indication that she did try to fight back when it was too late. The skin also looks as though it has been scarred around this area over and over, and each scar has grown back.”

Dobson stared at the marks that Lottie pointed at trying to understand what she just heard. Dobson asked, “You're telling me someone has been feeding off of her. It's not uncommon for a victim to be a junkie if they were involved with a vampire.

“ Yes, someone has been feeding off of her and not just on her neck” Lottie answered, directing Dobson's attention to Holly's arms. A mark on the back of her elbow had evidence of being broken and healed many times. There was a similar mark on the opposite side of her neck. Lottie continued, “It has to be a relationship. Wounds on the junkies are never this clean. Only the same pair of fangs can make the mark in the same place that perfectly. Each set of fangs has its own pattern. I made a mold of the newest mark, and it is not from the same vampire that has been feeding off her. It was from a vampire that she trusted.”

4

Cries echoed through the spacious living room. Used tissues and three empty boxes were scattered across the beige carpet. A blond woman sat curled up on the couch, blowing her nose and dabbing her eyes. A knock sounded causing the woman to lift herself and uncurl her tall form as she glided towards the door. Gently, the woman opened the heavy oak door to reveal Grace Dobson standing in the cold alone. Sniffing, the woman cried, “Daniel told me to expect you. I didn't know you'd be able to get around to it so quickly.

Grace stepped into the house as the woman stepped back. Wrapping her arms around her hostess, Grace soothed, “I'm so sorry, Alice. I promise we'll catch whoever did this quickly. Daniel will be allowed his justice.”

Alice clung to the younger woman, crying into her shoulder. Grace maneuvered enough to shut the door, blocking out the cold as she hugged the heartbroken mother. The women stood in the entrance of the large home. Grace rubbed soothing circles on Alice's back as Alice dampened the shoulder of Grace's shirt with her tears. After a while, Alice pulled away and began to lead the detective into the back of the house. Dobson took in the appearance of the tissues but said nothing. Having composed herself, Alice called over her shoulder, “Can I get you something to drink?”

“ No thank-you,” Grace answered, following Alice towards the kitchen. Alice poured herself a glass of tea, before sitting down at the table. Grace took a seat beside her and held the woman's hand. Alice sat in silence for a moment. She stared out the large window looking at the trees and rolling slopes the mountain house was build onto. The white aspens were barren, except for the snow powdered on their branches. The green needles of the pines appeared darker as they contrasted against the white covering every part of the nature scene. Grace watched the mother trying to gain control of her thoughts.

“ My little girl, Grace, I didn't think we were going to be able to have one, and we did, and they took her, Grace.” Alice said as she broke the silence.

“ I will get them. I will hunt them down. I will find them. Daniel will be allowed to do whatever he pleases to them.” Grace promised as she held her crying friend. “I promise they will pay.”

Alice nodded as she pulled away. Grace looked down at the table. She bit her lip before looking up. Alice tightened her jaw when she saw the determination in Dobson's eyes. “Alice, I'm sorry we haven't seen each other in so long, but I need to ask you a few questions.”

“ You want to know what Holly was like.” Alice stated. Dobson nodded. “Holly was the sweetest girl in the world. Everyone loved her. She was a star athlete and a star student. She was popular of course, but she was truly friends with everyone.”

“ What are her friends like?” Dobson continued.

“ Charlie is a little strong headed, but she's so smart and charitable. Whenever other kids needed a tutor she was almost too happy to help. Then Bridget is such a shy girl, loves to read, but you put her on the court, and there is this fierceness comes out and surprises everyone. If I didn't know better I would have thought she was a werewolf, but Daniel can be around her, so I know that she's human.” The women shared a laugh at the joke.

Dobson explained, “Daniel told me that she had a boyfriend.”

“ Yes, she's been seeing Michael for the past year.” Alice answered with a smile. “She was so in love, especially these last few months. She was always singing, or humming, or just smiling. She was very happy. I just don't understand why anyone would want to do this," Alice's tears started again after saying, "everyone loved Hols.”

“ What is Michael like?” Dobson asked when Alice calmed down again.

“ He's perfect for Hols.” Alice started. “He was the star of the boy's basketball team.”

Dobson started at this. “They went to school together?”

“ Yes,” Alice nodded. She frowned and shook her head, “Michael is a human.”

Dobson question, “Does Holly have any friends that were vampires?”

“ No,” Alice answered quickly. “Unless you count the family friends she has known all her life who work for her father, no. Daniel knew that she had what it took to get onto a college team, and possibly go into the pros if she wanted to. He didn't want her hanging out with any of the vampires. He was worried that they might make her be stuck in our small town. So he pushed her to hang out with humans and only humans. She always accepted that rule, even when her father started letting Junior hang around vampire children. She understood that if she fell for a vampire that she wouldn't ever get to leave because they have to stay here.”

Dobson nodded, assuring her old friend that she believed her.

“ Thank-you Alice, I know this must have been difficult.” Dobson said as she rose from her seat. “I should get going, but I'll keep you and Daniel updated on where I am in the case, alright?”

Alice nodded as she too stood up and lead the girl she had used to babysit to the door.

*


“ This is really hitting you hard,” Ferris stated as he sat at his desk across from Dobson.

Dobson nodded, “I've known Daniel and Alice since I was knee high to a cricket. Alice used to watch me. They got married when I was eight, and then had Holly when I was ten. When I was twelve, I started to watch Holly.”

She laughed, “You know, when I was little I used to ask Alice when the nice man with the pretty teeth was coming over, or so my dad said. Guess I was too little for them to have explained vampire, werewolf, goblin, ghoul and so forth. Daniel was good with kids. He deserved to have his own.”

She shook her head, “I hate that someone dared to hurt people I love.”

“ When was the last time you spoke with the Mann's?” Ferris wondered.

Grace shook her head. She titled her chair back and looked out the window over the busy main street. “I haven't really. Not since I returned. The first year Alice and I had lunch a few times, but after that work has had me too busy. I barely have time to hang out with Dean and Lottie's pups, or Dean and Lottie for that matter.”

She stared at her partner, “Hell, when was the last time you went out?”

Ferris shrugged, “We're busy. I'm just trying to make sure you're not beating yourself up. I know you Dobson. You're likely to start thinking that if you had been at that game you could have stopped the attack. You couldn't have. Grace, look at me.”

Grace turned, glaring at her partner. Ferris repeated, “You couldn't have stopped the attack. The only thing you can do for Holly is to find her attacker.”

Grace rolled her eyes and looked away. She sat in silence for a while. Ferris dropped the subject and returned to his paper work. Grace frowned and broke the silence. “Has that always been there?”

Ferris looked up from the paper he was reading. Grace stood up and walked to the window. Ferris followed her. Grace pointed to a shop underneath the apartment building across from the precinct. Ferris raised his brow and nodded, “Yeah, for twenty years.”

Grace looked at him in shock. “I've never seen it before.”

Grace shook herself before walking back to her desk. She grabbed her mug and moved towards the staff lounge. Staring out the window overlooking the bullpen, Grace lapsed into thought. She put the coffee pot back and sipped from her mug quietly.

“ What are you thinking about?” Lottie's voice echoed from the threshold.

Grace jumped. Her coffee sloshed out of her cup. She cursed before grabbing a napkin and taking care of the hot liquid. Finished, she threw a quick look to make sure no one had seen her reaction to her friend.

“ Whoa, calm down,” Lottie urged, promising, “no one saw that.”

Grace submitted to the order. Lottie asked sadly, “Thinking about that day again?”

Grace shook her head, and Lottie gave her a knowing look.

“ I was thinking about the effects of it.” Grace answered truthfully. “I treated Daniel like a virtual stranger last night. Like another member of the town that had lost someone and I just happened to be investigating the case. I treated Alice better, but I should have known where to go to get information about Holly's life. I should have known about Charlie and Bridget. I should have known that Holly was dating a guy named Michael. Hell, she should have known it was okay to talk to me about her dealings with vampires. I put on a good act with the families of victims, but Lots it is almost painful to hug them.”

Lottie gave her friend a sad look. Grace shook her head, “Is it sad that I can't even allow my best friend to hug me?”

“ No,” Lottie said, “we all deal with grief in our own way.”

“ It's been eight years; I shouldn't still be having these issues.” Grace argued.

“ I've seen you with John,” Lottie said suddenly. “You're always in his arms if he gets the chance. You've kissed him many times. How are you doing it?”

“ I think it was because of how close he used to stand to me over the past year. So close that I practically could feel him. All he had to do was lean forward a tiny bit more, and he would have touched me. My body must have used that to get used to him. Then after, it was used to him, it started wanting him, longing for him, and now that it has him, it's not letting go.” Grace explained. “I like it. I feel safe again.”

“ Good,” Lottie said happily, “you need to feel safe again.”

“ Plus, I always see him coming,” Grace continued.

“ Lottie,” she said turning to her friend with a determined look upon her face. Lottie turned as well, the questions evident in her own look. Grace asked, “Hug me.”

Lottie did. Grace stiffened for a moment, but she remembered the friendship. She felt the friendship she shared with the woman, and relaxed.

“ Well, what do we got here?” A loud voice called. The women stepped away from each other to see Dean and John walking down the hall. John was the one that had asked the question, a smug smirk on his face. Grace laughed as she was swooped into his arms once more. Her head fell against his chest.

“ Did she just hug you?” Dean asked his mate, and Lottie’s smile widened. Grace stepped away from John, and went to hug Dean. He squeezed her even tighter. His towering height wrapped his body around her. He looked at Lottie, his brown eyes shining before he closed them and buried his face in Grace's hair. John's eyes too shined as he looked at the weeping pair. He looked back at Lottie whose own tears were spilling. He dragged his hand over his face, ridding himself of the look. Grace pulled away after a long while before hugging Lottie. She smiled at John, who opened his arms for her. She stepped into them, and allowed herself to be pulled into the hungriest kiss she'd ever received from her soon-to-be mate.

**

Students were pouring from the doors of Blackmoor High School running towards the buses or their own cars in an attempt to escape the last eight hours. Dobson leaned against her blue coupe as she waited for the crowd to disperse enough to allow her to see the two girls she was looking for. Standing near the bike rack, talking with a pair of boys, were the girls Dobson was seeking out. She waited until the conversation had ended before approaching the pair. The dark brunette, with calm blue eyes turned first. Spotting the detective she elbowed her fiery red-headed friend. Piercing green eyes locked on Dobson as the pair moved towards her.

“ Hello,” the brunette greeted quietly.

“ Are you the one investigating Holly's murder?” The red-head asked forwardly. Dobson nodded that this was the case. “We don't know who did it, and we don't know why they did. Holly's the kind of person that everybody wants to be friends with, so there is no reason for this. Plus, I heard she was bit by a vampire, and she's not allowed to hangout with them.”

Dobson schooled her features as she listened to the girl she suspected was Charlie speak. Dobson nodded, smirking she said, “And of course, you as her friends would know that she always followed her parent's rules.”

Charlie narrowed her eyes at the detective, and Bridget snickered. Dobson winked at Bridget, “Tell me about Michael. Her mom told me, they've been together for a year.”

“ Yep,” Charlie said quickly. Bridget tossed her friend a look. Charlie returned it.

Dobson interrupted the silent fight. “Girls, Holly was killed. Her father can't punish her, but he does deserve justice. Telling me the whole truth will help Holly, and keep with our towns code.”

“Charlie, she's right. She's searching for Hols' murderer.” Bridget pointed out. “Mr. Mann has the right to deal with the man that murdered his daughter, our friend. What do you want us to keep quiet for?”

“ Holly wouldn't want her dad to know.” Charlie reminded.

“ Hols is dead because she didn't let her dad know,” Bridget argued back and with a sharp exhale turned back to the detective. “Mike broke up with Holly six months ago, but she has continued to make her parents think that is whom she's been seeing.”

“ Wait, Mike broke up with Holly,” Dobson repeated, and the girl nodded. Charlie glared at her friend. Dobson pressed, “Why?”

“ He thought she was cheating on him.” Charlie finally added to the conversation. “They had a huge fight...

Holly and Michael Snyder, her boyfriend of nearly six months were sitting in the park. His back was against a tree. Her back was against his chest. They quietly enjoyed the sunset. Holly's phone vibrated. She pulled it out to see her new message. “ I'm up ,” was the entire message. Holly's smile didn't go unnoticed by the boy whose arms she rested in. He had looked over her shoulder and seen the message. A sense of foreboding had been eating away at him for several weeks. These recent events only served to increase that feeling. Holly started to get up and Michael followed her.

Where are you going?” Michael asked as Holly grabbed her bag from against the tree.

I have a thing to do,” Holly said, “I told you that.”

No, you didn't.” Michael snapped. “I think I would have remembered if you said you had something to do. You said you were free tonight, and that we could go out.”

No, I said I was free this evening.” She corrected. “The sun is set. Evening is over. It is night now. I am not free now.”

Yeah,” Michael grumbled as he crossed his arms. “You're never free at night anymore, are you? Do you have something else to do? Or maybe I should say someone?”

What are you saying?” Holly asked, placing her hands on her hips and taking her own defensive stance.

You're sleeping around behind my back.” Michael accused. “Not only are you cheating, but it's with a vampire. Jacob said that he could smell it all over you when you meet up with us on Sunday.”

When have I ever given you a reason to doubt me?” Holly growled. “And all your proof is your werewolf friend smelt me? Hello, hi I'm a hybrid, I smell like vampire.”

You smell like a half a vampire,” Michael corrected. “The human dilutes the vampire smell to Jacob. He said you smelled like a full vampire. It was so strong he couldn't find the human.”

Holly snapped, “Well that settles it doesn't it? Jacob and his heightened sense of smell are all the proof you need to decide that I'm cheating, isn't it?”

You are not denying it,” Michael challenged with a raised eyebrow. Holly stood silent for a moment, her eyes narrowed at her boyfriend. Her heightened sense of hearing caught the elevated rate of his heartbeat.

Well, deny it.” He challenged after they had stood glaring at each other for a minute. “Deny it, and stay with me, or prove it, and run off to him. Just know that if you leave this time, we're through. I won't let you hide behind our facade of a relationship anymore. You're either with me or the vamp, and you deal with your daddy on your own.”

“ From what I know, she left, and they haven't talked since that night.” Charlie finished her tale. She quickly added, “And don't ask us who the vampire is, we only know that she was seeing one.”

Dobson looked to Bridget for confirmation of this statement, and when she nodded, Dobson let it go. Before heading back to her car Dobson thanked them for the information.

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