Aden is trying to solve the mystery of a drug that rots human innards. Alec is struggling to capture the person responsible for a rash of vampire murders. The only way to solve their separate cases is to team up, but with drugs, vampires, and murder involved even that may not be enough.
The sudden snap of a twig a couple of metres from where he rested against a tree had Mike turning sharply. His eyes scanned the area, trying to find out if his pursuer had finally caught up with him. In his mind, he knew that to run would be futile. His predator was skilled, fast, powerful, fearless, and comfortable in the dark. Mike was also certain that the being chasing him could hear the furious pounding of his heart.
He pushed away from the tree and continued to run. His eyes took note of the landscape. So many trees, and there was no building in sight where he could possibly take cover. His sneakered feet hit the ground in tandem, his hands pumping at his sides as he ran.
If only Reese were still alive; he wouldn’t have gotten into the mess in the first place. His grief had kept him tied to work, searching for anything that could hold his attention for a while, which was how he’d gotten involved in the scoop that had him running for his life. And there was no strong, powerful Reese to come to his rescue this time around.
Mike choked on a sob as it threatened to escape. It wasn’t like the repressed cry would have given him any further away than his thrashing around the evergreens was doing at the moment. A normal human might not have heard him flailing about, but his pursuer was not human, and Mike was fairly certain that he was not mentally sane either. What sane creature would concoct the sort of plan that the maniac had, anyway? It was insane, and yet the psycho had gotten away with it for so long. What made it even worse was that he had been able to keep the second side of himself a secret. No one knew what he truly was, and if Mike didn’t make it from the forest alive, the entire city would still be ignorant of who held them in a grip of terror.
The moon suddenly moved behind a cloud, bringing Mike to a stop; he couldn’t continue running when his sight was so impaired by the dark. He leaned his back against a tree trunk and tried to calm his frantic heart.
A rustling sound had him catching his breath. He heard nothing else for a while, and then a squeal as an unfortunate rodent was devoured by some predator that had caught its prey. The sound made Mike’s hand clench. He couldn’t be the rodent in his story. He needed to get out alive. If anything, to warn his brother, best friend, and partner. Aden needed to know that their recent assignment was bigger than them, and that no one was to be trusted.
The moon slipped away from the cloud it had been playing peek-a-boo with, and Mike saw a structure in the distance. It looked like a ranch house. He heaved a sigh of relief and began running in the direction of the house with one thing on his mindthe thought of freedom. In his mind’s eye he held a picture of Reese’s smile and Aden’s laugh, both encouraging him to put all his effort into successfully making the last few miles left between him and sanctuary. He hadn’t gone through all that he had only to become a notary piece at the bottom of the newspaper. He was Mike Reed, damn it. There had to be a way he could get through it.
Will soon be there. Fifty more metres, and then safety, he chanted to himself as he continued to run. He heard some rustling and soft laughter and almost froze in his tracks. His pursuer was closer than he had initially thought. However, he wasn’t really chasing Mike with serious intent, which had Mike furrowing his eyebrows. It was almost like the creature was playing with him.
He wasn’t concerned about that, though. The house was close, and he could see a dim light. It probably came from a lamp, which was extremely good news because it meant the house was inhabited.
The thought cheered him up. Mike put renewed strength into running, keeping his ears open for sounds from his pursuer. He noticed that as he increased his speed, so did his tracker.
He was so focused on the house that he didn’t notice the stump in front of him until he tripped over it. Suddenly, instead of single-minded focus on the house, he was staring at the sky, a sky that showed only the moon in all its glory with no sign of stars.
As he lay there, he considered it ironic. Reese had been murdered on a starless night. What a way to go. Aden would have sarcastically said that it was just like Mike to have such a clichéd thought on his mind as he was about to die. His brother was not a sentimental man.
His pursuer loomed over him, eyes dark in the night. Mike studied the face of the man he had thought was a friend. Hell, he had confided in the son of a bitch.
His pursuer smiled widely, and as Mike stared at the fangs that would bring him to his death, one thought echoed in his head. Hope you solve this puzzle early enough, Aden. For all our sakes.
Publisher: Less Than Three Press