Vampire Detective Midnight #1
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Nick Midnight, homicide detective, had his heart ripped out, stomped on, destroyed. It nearly killed him.
He doesn’t talk about that. Anyway, things will be different in New York. No complications. No kids needing his help. No relationships. None of that human-vampire-psychic crap that got him in trouble in the past, or turned him evil for nearly a century. He’d toe the line, keep his head down, and do his job for the NYPD, where he works as a Midnight, a vampire who helps humans hunt down murderers.
Then Wynter James shows up.
A gorgeous, sexy, disturbingly intuitive, seer-human hybrid, Wynter treats Nick like she already knows him, like they’ve known one another for years. Nick wants her, bad, but he knows it’s an absolutely terrible idea, and not only because they’re not even legally allowed to date.
Everything’s already going sideways with his first, big case––dead hybrids, a seer kid who needs his help, graffiti that tells the future, and Wynter, a woman he’s so drawn to, it makes him actually insane. Oh, and a possible conspiracy involving the richest humans in New York.
In other words, it’s Nick’s worst nightmare. It’s everything he swore he’d never do again.
Now he’s going rogue, likely to get himself killed for a woman he just met––or end up back on the run, in that dark place he thought he’d finally left behind.
VAMPIRE DETECTIVE MIDNIGHT is a gritty, romantic new series set in a futuristic, dystopian New York populated by vampires, humans and psychics trying to rebuild their world after a devastating race war nearly obliterates the previous one. Written by USA TODAY and WALL STREET JOURNAL bestselling author, JC Andrijeski, it features vampire homicide detective, Nick Tanaka, who works as a “Midnight,” or vampire in the employ of the human police department. Perfect for fans of paranormal mystery and sexy urban fantasy!
SAMPLE PAGES -
He smelled the blood, even before he turned the corner into the alley.
He heard them talking about him only a few steps after that.
That was the problem with working with humans.
One problem, anyway.
They had shitty hearing, so they assumed everyone else did, too.
“Where’s Midnight?” he heard the lead detective say.
Nick heard the man’s clothing move as he looked around, maybe making sure a random vampire wasn’t lurking next to him already, or that he didn’t see Nick himself walking towards him in the dark.
“I thought he was coming to this?” the detective muttered, taking a sip of something––something hot from the quick, cut-off way he sipped it, likely artificial coffee given that Nick could make out the faint, bitter-tinged odor of that, too.
Of course, no one called it “artificial coffee” anymore.
They just called it coffee.
But Nick remembered real coffee, well enough to know the bilge they drank now wasn’t it. It was an insult to coffee.
The lead detective glanced around where he stood a second time.
He checked his watch again.
“Where the hell is he?” he muttered. “We could use a blood-sniffer right now. Christ. Look at this mess.”
The man standing next to him grunted. “Fucking bloodsuckers. He’s probably paying a blood whore to jerk him off while he drains her dry in a dark alley somewhere…”
The man trailed, mid-thought, flushing as Nick rounded the corner of the building.
Nick stepped deliberately into the light, right as he entered the narrow alley where they were all crouched, standing over something he could smell but not yet see.
He’d been right about the artificial coffee.
The detective standing closest to the scene, closest to the female tech leaning over the nearest body, collecting samples and photographing it from all angles, took another sip of the watered-down crap, gripping one of those semi-organic, morphing cups in his left hand.
Damn, Nick missed real coffee.
He knew it wouldn’t taste right to him anymore, not as a vampire, but he missed it anyway.
Only the truly rich could afford real coffee these days. The few plants still in existence were tended meticulously in greenhouses run by boutique farmers who catered exclusively to the super-rich––the same handful of people who basically ran everything.
“You’re late,” the lead detective, a tall, scarecrow-thin black man with gray hair named Morley, declared neutrally.
Nick ignored the dig, looking around the scene.
Six. He smelled six.
He only saw five bodies, three female and two male, but he smelled six different types of blood, six different DNA imprints. The sixth, another female, could be one of the killers, but it didn’t smell like it.
She smelled dead.
“Check the dumpster,” he said.
He motioned towards the bin shoved against the wall to the left and a few meters behind where the techs and detectives were focused.
“You’ve got six bodies,” Nick added, hands still in his pockets.
He continued to walk the scene, his nose wrinkling as he got closer.
As he did, he was even more sure of the sixth body.
He was still looking around, smelling the air, when he felt his fangs start to extend.
In reflex, he clenched his jaw, repressing it. Even as he did, he glanced around surreptitiously, checking faces, although the likelihood one of the humans might have noticed was pretty much nil.
Fuck, had he come here hungry?
Why was his stomach getting weird on him all of a sudden?
Shoving the thought from his mind before it started to affect his eye color, or his overall demeanor, he focused his attention back on the scene.
From what he could tell, apart from the woman they’d thrown in the dumpster, the killers didn’t get near enough to touch any of the other five bodies. They didn’t leave much in the way of trace imprints as a result. They definitely hadn’t gotten into any kind of physical fight with the victims, not enough to leave blood, or anything with DNA.
At best, the techs might find some fibers or a few stray hairs in the mix.
Nick had his doubts they would.
Whoever these assholes were, apart from the anomaly with the woman in the dumpster, they seemed to know what they were doing. Anyway, if there was hair here, he likely would have smelled that, too, despite the overpowering smell of blood.
Sniffing the air again, he frowned.
The blood in the alley was really damned pungent, even for how much of it there was. It struck him as somehow more pungent than usual.
It bothered him, how pungent it was.
Shoving the thought from his mind, he focused back on whoever had done this.
He smelled four of them.
He smelled someone else, as well.
Someone more recent.
“The scene’s been contaminated,” he commented sourly.
Without waiting for an answer, he walked past the other detectives, aiming his feet for the dumpster he’d motioned towards earlier. He wasn’t thrilled with rooting around a dumpster that smelled like dead blood, or even being this close to a bunch of dead bodies, but the sooner he got his part of the job out of the way, the sooner he could get the hell out of there.
Like most vampires, he hated being around dead things.
The irony didn’t escape him, which is why he didn’t bother to mention that fact to most humans.
Most of them would look at him like he was nuts.
Well, that, and, generally speaking, explaining to a human how differently their blood smelled to him alive, versus how their blood smelled to him dead, tended to make most humans more than a little uncomfortable.
Donning latex gloves of his own, he lifted the lid of the dumpster gingerly once he got close enough, and stared down at the contents.
A clump of black hair greeted him, long and tangled over a back wearing a faux-leather jacket with a brightly colored, virtual reality (VR)-enhanced cartoon dog on the back.
Someone had thrown her into the dumpster, face-down.
The cartoon dog bounced around her back in the dim light, oblivious to its owner’s death. When Nick lifted the lid higher, it triggered the VR sensors a second time, and the cartoon dog started barking at him, wagging its butt and tail playfully.
It didn’t make any sound.
Something about that silent, dancing cartoon dog and the crumpled corpse smelling too-pungently of blood and death made Nick grimace.
Holding his breath, he lifted the lid higher.
Definitely a woman, from the curve of her hip in the form-fitting, shiny pants she wore, and the high-heeled, VR-enhanced pink and purple boots.
She smelled relatively young.
Twenties. Possibly early thirties.
He sniffed again and frowned.
It wasn’t fake leather. It was the real thing.
He glanced down the rest of her clothes, taking a second look at her metallic-sheen pants. They fit her perfectly. The pants also had a more subtle virtual enhancement, one that sent shimmers of sparkles down her long, toned-looking legs and curve of well-exercised butt.
Her knee-high boots looked expensive, and shimmered with virtual cartoon dogs that matched the one on her real-leather jacket. The boots might be real leather, too, under the VR panels. Her hair, where it wasn’t matted with blood, was silky and expensively cut.
Whoever she was, she had money.
He glanced around the rest of the dim space of the dumpster.
It was empty.
No purse. No headset, or armband.
The only thing in there was the woman.
So why had they bothered trying to hide the body?
He squinted down at her, tilting his head to see her from the side, to try and get a better look at her profile.
“They destroyed her face,” he announced after another minute. “Her teeth, too, it looks like. They might have even removed them. I don’t see an ident-tat.”
Frowning, he leaned closer, squinting down at one of her leather-clad arms. He stared down at the hand at the end of that arm.
“…They took her fingers, too,” he added.
“Fantastic,” Morley muttered from behind him.
Nick carefully lowered the lid to the dumpster, stepping back.
“Better photograph it,” he said. “Whoever she was, she had money. Someone’s probably looking for her.”
Three police techs in white, semi-transparent decontamination suits were standing at a safe distance behind him, presumably waiting for him to move away before they started photographing and taking samples.
One of them cleared their throat, speaking up.
“Those too,” she said, blanching when Nick turned.
She motioned towards the bodies on the floor of the alley.
“…They have money, too,” she clarified. “Expensive clothes. Manicures. Some plastic surgery treatments. At least one pair of diamond earrings––”
“They left all that?” the younger detective said, puzzled. “Why?”
The tech looked at him, then back to Nick.
She didn’t answer.
Realizing he stood between the techs and the woman in the dumpster even now, Nick backed off to give them room. From the looks on their faces, they weren’t about to approach with him standing there, no matter how fuzzy and cute he tried to make himself.
Frowning up and down the alley, he looked for signs of tampering with the scene.
Who was the contaminant? Did a beat cop walk through here?
It didn’t smell like a cop. He couldn’t quite explain that to himself, not in so many words, but cops had a particular imprint, and he didn’t get it off this person.
He didn’t like the anomaly of the woman.
“It’s likely she was the primary target,” he muttered, mostly to himself as he continued to scan the scene. “The others may have been incidental.”
“Cause of death?” Morley said, his voice pointed. “They all die by plasma rifle? Or did the one in the dumpster die by something else?”
Nick glanced at him, then frowned.
“Plasmas, yes. The woman in the dumpster, too. They hit her in the face.” He motioned towards his own face in rote. “That doesn’t strike me as an accident. They tried to use the rifle to hide it, but the superficial damage to hide her ID all looked post-mortem to me.”
Still thinking, he added,
“At least one of the killers carried an old-school projectile. He shot the one in the dumpster at least once, possibly twice. At least once in the head. That shot didn’t go all the way through.”
At Morley’s puzzled look, Nick jerked his chin towards the metal container.
“I can smell the metal slug,” he explained. “Smells different than blood.”
Turning away, he muttered something in Russian, sipping at his coffee.
Nick pretended not to notice the grimace, or the Russian, or that both things were aimed at him.
Stepping back into the main part of the alley, he went back to walking the scene. Using his eyes now, as much as his nose, he carefully skirted the pools of blood and smaller chunks of flesh to keep it off his shoes.
He frowned down at the next body he encountered, a male, adding,
“I don’t think you’ll find much DNA from the killers, not even with them having screwed around with the one body.”
He motioned behind him vaguely, in the direction of the dumpster.
“This looks to me like a professional hit. At the very least, these are smarter than average killers. They wore gloves––real ones, the kind we use. That, or they’ve had their fingerprints professionally removed. I don’t smell hair or skin fragments. I don’t see any shoeprints, so they must have known to wear flatteners. That, or they had someone come clean up, but I don’t see any evidence of a blower.”
Nick motioned towards the walls, where the blood-spatter remained intact.
“See that? That’s natural blood spray,” he said. “A blower would have pitted all of that with dirt, and fucked up the pattern. I don’t see any of that here.”
He saw Morley and the younger detective follow his pointing fingers.
The younger one scowled, as if annoyed he hadn’t noticed that yet, or, more likely, annoyed a vampire noticed it before him.
Nick blew that off, too.
“No,” he continued, frowning. “It’s more likely they didn’t leave tracks to begin with. I would bet on expensive, untraceable flatteners, possibly full-prosthetics and blood patches, professional level non-residue gloves, at least one antique gun… maybe an old school sniper rifle, or even a shotgun…”
Again, he motioned vaguely in the direction of the dumpster.
“…the plasmas all look like close-contact hits, maybe after they had them cornered in the alley, or maybe after they felled some of them long-distance, using the antique rifle. It’s the only reason I can think of for someone to use one of those… it’s why I wondered if it was a sniper. Unless they’re just attached to that particular weapon for some reason.”
Thinking about this, Nick shrugged.
“The slugs will tell you for sure,” he added. “…In terms of the weapon. Whatever the exact scenario, I’d look for pros. Which means either some kind of militia––maybe a political one, given the wealth class of the victims––or someone hired them. I don’t know of any amateurs who could do that to a body and not leave more physical traces of themselves.”
Again, Nick motioned vaguely at the dumpster.
“Most amateurs are idiots,” he added, unnecessarily, given who he was with. “They stick around, touch things, step in things, leave bits and pieces of themselves everywhere. I don’t see any stupid here. Plus, what they did to the woman in the dumpster, it was thorough. Which means they knew how to disguise her ident, and came here planning to do it.”
Nick exhaled, still thinking.
The exhale was more show than need, since he didn’t have to breathe.
He’d learned a long time ago, the more he could imitate human mannerisms and body functions, the more humans tended to relax around him. They probably didn’t even notice he was doing it, but some part of them reacted to it anyway, animal-to-animal.
Of course, he learned some of that back in the early days.
Back then, it was more of an aid in hunting.
Now he used it to reassure his human coworkers that he wasn’t actively thinking about eating them. He did it to reassure them they had something in common, that he wasn’t so different from them… that he wasn’t about to eat them.
Exhaling again, he added,
“Given where it is, and the exposure risk, it was likely a fast job, in and out. They didn’t make chit-chat with the victims prior to the kill, or––”
“But why?” the younger detective asked.
Nick recognized him from his first day on the job, two weeks back, when he’d been first introduced to his new precinct.
His remembered his name, even.
Like Morley, he was dark-skinned, what used to be called black or “African-American.” He was about thirty years younger than the senior detective, though.
This was the first time Nick had dealt with him on an actual case.
They’d mostly farmed him out to smaller jobs these first few weeks, probably to check him out since he was new.
“Why?” Jordan asked again. “Any idea of motive? What was the point of this?”
Jordan had been the one talking about blood-whores before.
Nick gave him another glance, looking over the man’s muscular, broad-shouldered form. He looked like a fighter, like he spent a fair bit of time in the ring. He was young for a Detective II. He must have a decent mind on him, even if he was a racist fuck.
“How would I know?” Nick said mildly. “I just got here. Right now, I can tell you what I’m telling you. No tracks. Four killers, three males, one female. Probably three plasmas, and at least one antique combustion weapon, firing ammunition that used to be considered armor-piercing… although it wouldn’t do much to the organic shielding we have now.”
Exhaling again, if only to try to put them more at ease, he added,
“I’d guess a semi-modified assault rifle, probably something late 21st Century. That, or a shotgun, like I said. Something with some kick. Definitely not a handgun. Six victims, as we can all now plainly see, four female, two male. And there was an eleventh person who was here, who stepped in the blood…”
He pointed at the track he’d seen.
“…Male. Young. Maybe early twenties… at most. I can smell him, but I don’t think he was involved in the killing. He’s the only signature out here that left traces of himself everywhere. My guess is, he stumbled on the scene afterwards, walked around in it, maybe in shock, then bolted. If an anonymous tip brought you here, it was probably him. You’ll want to run him down, though. If only to eliminate his DNA and other trace evidence from the scene.”
Jordan stared at him with dark brown eyes.
They shimmered at Nick while he watched, almost in an amphibious way. That shimmer briefly illuminated a ring around the edge of the iris, a narrow line of pale blue.
Enhanced eyes. How had he missed that?
Those couldn’t have been cheap.
“You telling me how to do my job, Midnight?” Jordan said.
Nick held his stare.
He knew his vampire eyes would unnerve the other man.
It was their instinct to be afraid of him… just as it was his instinct to view them as food. He didn’t usually pull dick moves around that fact, but this time, he used it without thought.
“I’m giving you suggestions,” he said. “Midnights are consultants. I’m assuming you want my opinion, or I wouldn’t fucking be here––”
“Yeah, yeah, okay.” The other waved him off in annoyance, looking away from Nick’s eyes even as he clenched his jaw. “Whatever, man. And you’re sure this ‘contaminant’ wasn’t with the killers?”
Nick shrugged. “Reasonably sure, yeah. He smells more recent. Not a lot more recent… but maybe a few hours after.”
Thinking, Nick glanced up and down the narrow alley.
Something still bugged him about the smell of all that blood.
Worse, it was making him aggressive.
Even as he thought it, he scowled at Jordan.
“…Unless you had another cop in here,” he said. “Did you have another cop in here, Jordan? Someone too stupid to know not to fuck with a multiple homicide scene?”
The detective scowled back at him, his enhanced eyes growing hard.
“You sure this asshole was human, Midnight?” Jordan retorted.
“I’m sure he wasn’t vampire, Damon,” he said. “Want me to explain how our blood smells different than yours? I can tell you… yours smells a lot better.”
Jordan’s pale-blue ringed eyes grew cold as metal.
Nick didn’t flinch, but continued to hold his gaze.
That time, however, he found himself regretting his words, at least a little.
He was too new here to be picking fights, especially given how he’d ended up in New York in the first place. They’d have every reason to distrust him here. He was an involuntary transfer, sent over by his superior officers in L.A., who essentially “sold” him––sold his government contract, at least––to get him out of their hair.
No doubt, all the detectives here knew his history.
They knew he was essentially booted for being a problem.
He wasn’t doing himself any favors, acting like an arrogant prick. He wasn’t doing himself any favors projecting their worst stereotype of a vampire, either.
He needed to feed.
It was putting him in a foul mood.
That, and all this fucking blood…
Nick frowned, staring around at the alley floor.
It hit him again.
There was something wrong with this blood.
It smelled too fucking good.
It smelled way too fucking good.
That couldn’t all be Nick’s hunger.
“Anyway, that’s what I can tell you so far,” he said, making his voice deliberately casual. “Without knowing who the victims are, or what brought them to this alley, it’s pretty hard to speculate on motive, but…”
Nick hesitated then, realizing something.
Frowning, he stepped closer to the pools of blood.
Nose wrinkling, he crouched down so he could smell it from closer, even though the scent was overpowering, even from a lot further away. Taking a few full whiffs, he felt his fangs begin to extend in earnest.
That time, he couldn’t pull it back.
A flush of heat hit his gut and chest, burning in his throat. It was intense enough, he almost got hard, but he’d gotten pretty good at squelching that reaction, too.
He stood up at once.
Really, he lurched back.
It happened so fast, that smell and his reaction to it, Nick forgot to modulate his body’s natural reflexes to accommodate the people around him. He was up and moving in a heartbeat, darting back in pure instinct, without slowing his movements at all.
He moved fast enough to make the humans around him freeze.
Instantly, they turned into prey.
Ignoring them, and ignoring their deer-in-headlights reactions to how he’d just moved, Nick backed away from the pool of blood with a scowl.
He backed away from the human detectives and tech team, too.
“They’re hybrids,” he said, emotion reaching his voice.
He turned around, staring at the humans sharing the alley with him.
They stared back at him, faces blank, eyes holding flickers of fear.
Frustrated, wanting to smash through that frozen prey look, Nick let his voice turn into a harder growl.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Nick said. “Did you hear me? They’re all fucking hybrids.”
When they still didn’t speak, he averted his gaze with a scowl. His eyes returned to the alley. He stared around at the blood, at just how much of it was there.
Slowly, it sank in what that blood really represented.
Once it had, he couldn’t help but feel sick.