Author's Note: This chapter is just a bit of a teaser. I just want to know if someone is interested in it. If anyone is, I'll definitely continue this. Please review and let me know what you think! Criticism is welcome as long as it's constructive.
This is a supernatural/crime/drama.
All characters and settings belong to me.
Review/Comments/Critiques welcome with open arms!
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, not matter how improbable, must be the truth
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Zoey Nightingale studied the end of her cigarette thoughtfully for a moment before crushing it into the ashtray on the desk in front of her and leaning forward, placing her palms flat against the wooden surface.
"So, basically, what you're telling me is that you want my help?" she asked, smirking slightly, her short red hair spilling into her face.
The man seated at the desk, a tall, dark haired, imposing man, narrowed his eyes and tightened his jaw, looking away from her for a moment to stare at the discarded cigarette. "What I'm saying," he spat gruffly, "is that we may have a need of your… expertise."
Zoey's lips curved into an amused smile and she straightened up, "Well then, Detective, I'll have to say thanks, but no thanks."
Detective Llewellyn stood abruptly, raising himself to his full height, towering over the smaller woman and glaring down at her, "Zoey, come on, I –"
"I've already taken the case," Zoey said, crossing her arms and cutting the man off. "The girl's family thought they'd have better luck bringing the killer to justice if I were on the case to set the police straight."
Llewellyn was fuming now, fists clenching and unclenching together. "Could've mentioned that earlier," he muttered turning and pulling open a file cabinet behind him, flipping through the yellow folders and yanking one out, holding it out to her.
"But it was so much more fun to hear you say, 'Zoey, we need you'!" She grinned at him, taking the folder and flipping through it, her quick brown eyes scanning the pages and snapping it shut, placing it back on the desk.
"I don't need this," she said, "I've already heard all the facts about it. What I need is a quick conversation with the medical examiner; Florence is still working in the morgue, isn't she?"
The detective nodded, "She's still there, I can get you an appointment –"
"If she's working the same hours as before, she'll be there now. I'd rather get all the information I can as quickly as possible. Don't want to risk another murder on your doorstep, do you?"
"Fine," he sighed, nodding tiredly, "I'll call and make sure she's still there."
Zoey grinned brightly, turning to leave, "Excellent! I'll wait outside while you talk with your fiancée…" she trailed off and moved to leave the office, pausing for a moment with her hand on the doorknob.
The detective looked up, phone in hand, frowning slightly as was his usual expression.
"Thank you," she said quietly, a faint, genuine smile on her lips as she exited the small office and walked back out into the nearly empty police station.
There were only a few people still busily working on paperwork, filing reports, checking forensics and typing away quickly on computers. The gentle, everyday noises of her old life. Sometimes, Zoey really missed that life. But it had been over a year since she'd left the force; she'd learned to cope with not being a detective any longer.
Liz, a young deputy, smiled at her as she passed by, "Nice to see you again, Detect- Miss Nightingale," she flushed slightly and looked down and Zoey sighed heavily, nodding in greeting and hurrying back out into the cool night air.
It was nearing midnight already, but there were still quite a few people outside, traffic was thinner than normal, but hardly sparse as she leaned against the bricks on the building and pulled her crushed pack of cigarettes out of her pocket, sticking one between her teeth and lighting it up quickly.
It was a few minutes later before Michael came out, wearing a dark overcoat on top of his usual black suit and white shirt. She smirked to herself thinking that some things never changed, then she thought about his impending marriage and changed her mind.
"Those things'll kill you one day," he remarked, glancing down at her.
She pulled the cigarette from her mouth and blew a puff of smoke directly into his face, shrugging. "Slowly, maybe. I'll get shot long before these things have their way with me."
Michael rolled his eyes and waved the smoke away, "C'mon, Nicole's waiting,"
"Florence," Zoey corrected him, walking quickly ahead of him and sliding into the passenger seat of his car. He made a face and shook his head.
"Her name is Nicole,"
"Nicole Florence Hardy," Zoey said, "We've called her Florence since we met her."
Michael sighed, "Things change, Zoey. She's my fiancée now."
Zoey rolled her eyes and stared out the window, "Things keep changing and you'll start calling her Nikki and I'll be forced to vomit while in your presence. I almost wish I'd ignored your call now," she sighed, "Avoid all this awkward annoyance."
Michael sighed and rolled his eyes, "And I'm starting to regret calling you now," he said, "Avoid all of this sarcastic shielding."
She pursed her lips and silence fell between the two ex-partners. Zoey hadn't seen Michael since she'd left the force, though, to be fair, that was more her doing than his. He'd tried calling her, texting her, he'd even gone by her apartment a few times, but she refused to let him in. She'd been determined to cut him off, make it a clean break. She should've known she'd eventually see him again. There was no way around that fact.
After several long minutes, Michael couldn't stand the thick, suffocating silence any longer.
"Why did you leave?" he demanded, blurting the question that had been lingering in the back of his mind since he'd first laid eyes on her again.
Zoey blinked and turned to look at him, her third cigarette of the evening between her fingers. "Why do you think?" she demanded, "It's not exactly easy to be a cop and a junkie."
Michael winced and looked back at her, "You didn't have to leave, though. All you had to do was get clean. It's not like anyone knew anyway."
She snorted, "Please. You knew, and so did half the department. The only reason no one made a fuss over it was because I'm good at what I do. It didn't matter in the slightest until I screwed up…" she trailed off, her eyes going distant and she bit her lip to keep from talking any more.
"You are clean now? Right?" Michael was hesitant to ask. With Zoey, it was hard to tell. He'd worked with her for six and a half years and had known her both strung out and sober, recklessly poising herself and valiantly walking the straight path. There never was much difference… except that she seemed far happier when she was high than when she was sober. Not that there was much of surprise there.
"Of course I am," Zoey scoffed, as if the very question were offensive somehow. "I didn't go through seven months of rehab for nothing." She jerked the sleeve of her leather coat up to show him the crook of her arm. Faint needle marks, long since faded and healed, drew his eye quickly and he grimaced. But there was no sign of any fresh injections at least.
Still, he wasn't convinced. "There are other places you can inject heroin, Zoey,"
She glared at him, "What? Do you want to do a full body search? Should I strip in the car or wait until we get parked?"
"Zoey," Michael sent her a warning glare and she raised a brow, half angry, half hurt.
"What? You didn't used to mind seeing me naked. In fact, if I remember right, you seemed to enjoy it. Two or three times a week."
"That was the past," Michael said, "I'm getting married now, Zoey."
She leaned back in the seat, taking a long drag off the cigarette and tossing the butt out the window while blowing a puff of smoke. "Yeah, definitely the past," she said quietly. "And so are my addict days. I haven't used in over a year, so don't worry."
"Still smoking though," Michael said, frowning slightly. For some reason Zoey would never understand, Michael was far more concerned about the cigarettes than he was the heroin. She wasn't sure what made him think that way, but it was very annoying.
"I've got to hold on to something," Zoey muttered, "Besides, why do you care what I put in my body? Seemed to stop being your business when you dumped me."
"I didn't dump you, Zoey, we both agreed –"
"That I wasn't right for you, I remember," Zoey shrugged, "Don't worry, I'm over it, Michael. I'm sure you and Florence will make a lovely, boring couple. Besides, it was really on a physical relationship, those hardly ever last long. No hard feelings."
Michael sighed and shook his head, "Good," he said slowly, "That's good."
Zoey sighed, "You aren't going to continue to be this awkward during the entire case are you? Because if you are I can call Angie, I'm sure she'd love to –"
"I'm fine," Michael cut her off, taking a deep breath. "I'm fine." He repeated himself for good measure and glanced over at the redhead, his blue eyes sad for a moment.
Another heavy moment of silence later and he couldn't stand it, "You are okay… right?"
"Why wouldn't I be?" the same flippant answer he'd come to expect from years of working with Zoey. Still, he was worried. She'd lost her career. It was the only thing she'd ever really had to tether her to life. He was amazed she was still walking around.
Before he could ask another probing, annoying question, Zoey cut him off, "I'm fine, Mike. Better than fine, actually. No boss to worry about, no regulations. I get to pick my own cases now. It's great. I'm great. Really. So stop worrying about me, I'm a big girl, alright?"
"Yeah," he sounded sad when he answered and Zoey just shook her head. She sometimes wondered what she'd ever seen in the other man. He was as soft-hearted as a man could come and that annoyed her. But there was something about the way he looked at her, with those big, sad blue eyes…
She cut the thoughts off there. It was over, he was getting married and she was moving on. Besides, she had something far more interesting to think about.
Daryl and Christine Black had come to her two days ago asking her to help them find out what had happened to their daughter, Renee.
Zoey had been following the case in the news for the past two and a half weeks. Two teenage girls had been found murdered. Renee was the second; the first had been identified as Felicia Granger, a runaway. Renee on the other hand had been an honor student at a nearby private school. The case got more attention after her death hit the airwaves.
No fingerprints, no DNA. The cops didn't have any leads so far and the Blacks heard about Zoey and her reputation for closing cases when she'd been on the force so they'd tracked her down.
Then she had gotten the call from Michael, which had just made everything easier because she'd been planning to call Florence and try to wheedle information out of her. The news hadn't given cause of death or even explained how the police believed the crimes had been committed. Zoey knew exactly what that meant.
She was grateful that Michael had taken the hint and stopped talking. The ride to the hospital wasn't a long one, but with his mothering it always seemed to take decades. She was out of the car before it had completely stopped and was pulling a fourth cigarette out of the pack.
It felt strange to walk the familiar path into the morgue, but the familiarity made it easier for her. It was something she was used to, something she'd done hundreds of times. Something she could do without thinking and thankfully without remembering.
"So, what are you thinking?" she asked as soon as she pushed the doors open. The ME was standing beside the autopsy table, a young girl's body laid out flat on the metal surface. A thin sheet covered her lower half but nothing else.
Florence was a tall woman, messy blond curls that hung shorter than Zoey remembered and a bit lighter too. So she'd recently had it done. Probably in preparation for the wedding that Zoey hadn't been invited to. Not that she was resentful. She didn't do well at weddings.
Florence smiled, "Zoey, haven't seen you in a while,"
"Yeah, got fired, remember? Big scandal, ended in dead people, tears, psychiatrists and … detoxing. That was the worst part. I miss my drugs. So," she clapped her hands together, fixing the other woman with a stern look that clearly said she didn't want to talk about it.
"What are you thinking? Biter or bleeder?"
Florence moved around to the other side of the slab, "You look good. Healthy. Sleeping better?"
"Yeah, a whole five hours. Can we talk about the dead girl now?"
She made a face and glanced over Zoey's head to Michael, a look of pity passing between them.
"Jeez, I leave you two alone for a year and you can communicate psychically. The dead girl. What happened? Talk now. Fast if you can,"
"Not a biter, not a bleeder," Florence said simply, pulling the thin sheet back and exposing the girl's entire body.
"Then what –"
"Look at her," the blond doctor nodded her head toward the body and Zoey narrowed her eyes, glancing down and frowning.
"I… what am I supposed to see?"
"Do you see anything?" Florence asked, raising a brow.
"…No. Nothing. But that… Why would you need me? This is a wolf or a vampire –"
"But a human didn't do this. There are no marks on her body. No bruising, no cuts. Nothing. She's perfectly healthy."
"So what do you need me to –"
"Their hearts are gone," Michael said behind her.
Zoey blinked, whirling around to stare at the detective. "Their hearts are… gone? What do you mean gone? How can they be gone?"
"We don't know," Florence said, "But they are. Both girls' hearts have been removed entirely from their bodies without a scratch on them. Clearly something not human did this. Not human is an area you excel in, isn't it?"
Zoey didn't respond, looking over the girl. She tilted her head and leaned down closely, letting her eyes sweep the length of the body. Nothing. Not one singly injury. She jerked upright suddenly.
"There is no way their hearts just magically vanished. Something had to cut them out,"
"Not cuts, Zoey. Breast bone and ribs were intact. Everything is fine, but their hearts are missing."
Zoey was staring down at the body for a long, silent minute and finally her head snapped back to Michael, her brown eyes sparkling, a faint smile on her face.
"This… will be interesting,"
Author's Note2: So there's the first chapter. I hope you enjoyed it and once again, please review so I know whether or not anyone is interested and what worked and what didn't.
Thank you for taking the time to read it!