Page 30

First, though, he walked over to where Tony was talking with the "City of the Dead" tour guide who'd found the body. The man was about fifty, dressed in an official uniform and obviously shaken.

"I...I suppose I shouldn't have been so shocked. Not after the other two murders," the man was saying to Tony.

Tony saw Jagger and interrupted the guide to say, "Jagger, this is Arnie Offenbach. He found the corpse. He had five people in his tour group, but when he saw the open doorway to the tomb, he made them wait while he went to check. The door is solid brass, so he knew it hadn't just blown open."

"Mr. Offenbach, thank you for calling us in so quickly. And thank you for keeping the tourists away," Jagger said, feeling unutterably weary. Offenbach nodded.

"Did you see anyone in the cemetery?" Jagger asked.

Offenbach shook his head. "No, another group was coming in, but they were behind me."

"Where is your group now?" Jagger asked.

Offenbach turned and pointed. There were two men--retirees, from the look of them, one white-haired, the other balding. Two older women, probably their wives, were sticking close to them. The heavier of the two women had seated herself on the low stone wall around another family vault. She was fanning herself vigorously with a guidebook. The fifth member of the party looked to be around twenty-five, and was carrying a camera and a notepad.

"Thank you, Mr. Offenbach," Jagger said, and walked over to join the tour group. He introduced himself, and met the Winstons and the Smiths from Calgary, Canada, and Sophie Preston, from New York City.

"Did any of you notice anyone in the cemetery when you got here, or maybe somebody leaving?" he asked.

"The officers already asked us that," Mr. Winston said. "I'm sorry, I didn't see anyone."

His wife shook her head. The Smiths solemnly did the same.

"I didn't see anyone in the cemetery," Sophie Preston said. "But there was a man walking down the sidewalk, heading toward Canal, when we arrived."

"Can you describe him for me?" Jagger asked.

She was thoughtful. "He was wearing a short-sleeved, tailored blue shirt and blue jeans. Dark hair. He was walking fast, like he was hurrying, and he was good-looking, I'd say thirty-five or forty."


"Um, tall. Yes, broad-shoulders, and...yes, I'd say he was muscular," she said.

The description could fit half the men in the city.

It certainly fit Mateas Grenard.

"Could you possibly come to the station and work with a sketch artist for me?" he asked her. "I realize that we're asking for your time, and that it will be an inconvenience, but we need your help."

"Of course, I'm more than happy to help," she assured him.

"Come to think of it, I noticed him, too. And she's right. He did seem to be in a hurry," Mr. Winston said.

"Perhaps you could help with the sketch," Jagger said.

"I'm willing, yes, sir, I'm willing, but I didn't see his face. All I can say is that he was tall, and that he had dark hair. Honest to God, sir, I'd love to help you, but all I can say is tall and dark haired."

Fiona was with her sisters in the shop when more news started to flow in about the most recent murder.

Shauna was their Internet expert, and she had been Web surfing all morning, looking for information.

"No ID yet," she told her sisters. "Another blonde. Like us." She grimaced. "I wonder if the brunettes in the city are feeling safe?"

Fiona felt sick.

Of course every paranormal who'd stopped by that morning suspected a vampire. And that made her, as the vampires' Keeper, at fault. She had to find out what was happening. She had to stop this. It wasn't that she didn't have faith in Jagger, it was just that...

She suddenly realized that both of her sisters were staring at her. She was the oldest and the vampires' Keeper. She was supposed to have the answers.

As her parents had always had all the answers.

"If anyone asks for me, I'm heading back to the frat house to talk to Billy," she said.

Just as she grabbed her purse and started for the door, the little bells above it began to ring.

They had a customer.

"Thank God, child," Granny Caldwell said as she spotted Fiona and hurried over. "Thank God you're here."

"What is it?" Fiona asked, tempted to help the old woman over to a chair at one of the tea tables by the counter.

But Granny Caldwell was strong and proud--and she didn't like being helped. She had told them all often enough that when she was ready for help, she would certainly ask for it.

"I just had to see you, Fiona. All of you, really," Granny Caldwell said.

"I just came from Papa Joe's House of Voodoo--you know, down toward the CBD?"

They all knew Papa Joe. He was as beloved as Granny Caldwell, and he was as old as she was, too. He catered to the people who lived on the other side of Canal Street, near the Central Business District.

"Papa Joe is a brilliant man," Fiona said.

"Yes, that he is," Granny said. "Well, he put together a mojo sack, and he went into a trance, and he saw many of his ancestors there."

"And what did his ancestors tell him, Granny?" Fiona asked, as her sisters came closer to listen.

"They told him that we all have to keep thinking beyond what we see. The day can be beautiful--and then a storm strikes by night. He wants to be sure that you know this, Fiona. We are not of the underworld, we are among this world, Papa Joe and I, and you three straddle the two. Papa Joe says that he prays you will pay him heed. His ancestors have told him that you must look beyond the gloss of the picture to the substance beneath. He prays that you will believe in faith--that all paths lead to God--and that you will listen to an old man who knows that the world is not black and white, but many shades of gray."

Fiona gave the old woman a warm hug. "I will always pay heed to you and Papa Joe, as will my sisters. You are goodness made flesh, and we listen to goodness, no matter how it comes to us."

"Of course," Caitlin echoed passionately.

"You bet," Shauna assured the old woman.

"Now you must go," Granny Caldwell told Fiona.

"You must listen, and you must look beneath. You must also remember that God sees the soul in all living things, though it is invisible to us. And one more thing. Remember that you know what you must do."

Fiona nodded. Because suddenly she did know what she had to do.

"There is nothing that fills me with greater sadness than to have to tell you that yes, we have another victim," Jagger said, meeting with the press that had gathered at the cemetery gates. "I can only beg the public again for help, and assure everyone that we will not rest until the killer is caught."

"There isn't anything you can tell us? No profile of the type of guy we should be looking out for?" a reporter called from the back of the pack.

"We have been in contact with profilers at the FBI," Jagger assured him.

"So what does the Blood Sucker profile look like?" another reporter called out.

"He wants to be a vampire," Jagger said, groaning inwardly at the nickname the press had given the killer.

"And, most importantly, he wants the world to think he really is a vampire--to believe that he actually feeds on blood."

He had heard that just minutes before the press briefing, in a call from Jarrett Gilfoy, a senior agent at Quantico.

"How exactly are the victims killed?" Gina asked, thrusting a microphone toward him.

She had her job, he thought.

He had his.

And there was no way to avoid her questions or the answers they required.

"First, Gina--and all of you--right now this is an active investigation, and we all know that it's imperative that we catch the killer as quickly as possible. It would only encourage copycats if we were to tell you everything we know about the killer's methods."

Someone else called out a question about rape.

"No, none of the victims has been sexually molested," Jagger said.

"Why would a killer want people to think he's a vampire?" a reporter from an overseas news station asked next.

"Perhaps he wants the power credited to vampires," Jagger suggested. "That's really all I can give you at this minute."

"Apparently not!" a woman from a local radio station called shrilly. "The police haven't done a thing--and this is the third murder."

"I can only repeat that the police force is working overtime, because all of us are committed to finding the killer. As I've said before, we need your help and that of the public. We will continue combing the area for witnesses, and we need any clue, any sighting, anything, you can give us. What we don't need are crank calls, because every second of manpower is necessary if we're going to find this killer before he strikes again."

"What about the man at the strip club before the first murder?" a woman in the back called out.

Jagger craned his neck, but he couldn't see who had spoken. "I'm afraid we've had no reports from anyone who might have seen him," Jagger said. "We are still looking, however."

"Is it possible that there are two killers?" someone else asked.

"Possible--but I sincerely doubt it," Jagger said.

He noticed Tony watching him from the edge of the crowd, looking irritated by the tone of the continuing questions.

But one thing Jagger had learned over the years was to keep his temper firmly in check and answer every question as calmly as he possibly could.

Finally he excused himself, and saw Tony snap to attention and run to get the car. Sophie Preston had already been taken to the police station to start working with a sketch artist.

When Jagger arrived at the station he discovered that they had already come up with a picture of the man she had seen outside the cemetery. Mateas Grenard.

Chapter 12

Fiona loved going to church. She loved ritual and ceremony, and deeply believed in one God, though she also believed that there were indeed many paths that led to Him.