Page 7 of 7

No one chooses to go through eternity alone.

Chapter 8: Week In, Week Out

Dt. Cassidy Tremaine had an uneventful weekend. She and her team were not on call for Manhattan South Homicide which freed her to make plans without fear of interruptions. The work, stresses and conundrums of her job moved to the back of her mind. Cassidy used all of Saturday and Sunday to take care of her home, attend to her children and socialize with family and friends. When Monday morning came around, Cassidy went back to the same investigative tasks that she left behind Friday.

Cassidy's team was still bogged down with the James Dryden murder, the Eric Calder/Pier 17 stabbing and the Gary Bibb/bodega shooting. These three murders were the most recent unsolved homicides on team leader Dt. Hale's desk, but it was the James Dryden murder that he directed most of the team's attention to. James Dryden was a multi-millionaire with a substantial public profile in New York City. Superiors all the way up to the mayor were pressuring Dt. Hale to find James Dryden's killer, and it was for this reason that Cassidy was the only member of the team not exclusively working on that investigation.

Today was the start of Cassidy's fifth consecutive workday at trying to discover the when and where pictures and videos were taken during the Pier 17 stabbing of Eric Calder and who the people were within them. In addition to that investigation, she was running background checks on dozens of street gang members from four years back who might have been in possession of the gun that killed Gary Bibb, but likely not. Both investigations were regarded as less important than the Dryden murder and were thought not likely to be solved through the information they had at this time. In Cassidy's mind her desk was the waste dump for dead end investigations.

"Another one in the books," Dt. Steven Brimley bellowed at 10:48am as he and three members of Team Three strolled into the squad room.

They had just witnessed the interrogation and confession of the suspect in a three-day old investigation and were returning to their desks to attend to their other open cases.

"He confessed?" Dt. Darren Lynch queried from behind his desk.

Dt. Lynch was a member of the third team of investigators situated in the Manhattan South Homicide Squad Room.

"Yeah, we got him," Dt. Justin Avery confirmed with satisfaction. "The DA said the case was airtight. He didn't have a choice; it was either confess or add another ten years to his sentence."

Dt. Greene detected an intonation of conceit in Dt. Avery's voice and took objection to it. Their rivalry was an ongoing mechanism for friendly banter between them.

"Well, it's not like you had to do any real detective work," Dt. Greene complained loudly.

The remark generated some soft chuckles from several in the room.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Dt. Brimley questioned with a scowl.

"It means," Dt. Greene spoke up so Dt. Brimley could hear him from across the room, "your perp and your victim were known to hate each other; your perp had no alibi and you had a DNA match. You could have performed that investigation by mail."

The last part of Dt. Greene's remark produced a louder chorus of chuckles from others in the room.

"Hey, don't take it out on us just because you can't close your cases," Dt. Avery quickly quipped back.

"We close our cases just fine," Dt. Russo defended from behind his desk.

"Yeah?" Dt. Brimley questioned with surprise. "And when was the last time you did that?" He continued with a hint of snobbery.

"Piss off, Steve," Dt. Vera Washington halfheartedly called out.

Dt. Brimley was amused by the ire he had instigated from members of Dt. Hale's team. He turned his gaze toward Vera and found the words to continue the banter.

"I'm just saying, we closed six investigations over the past month," Dt. Brimley spoke with haughtiness. "And you guys closed—one?"

"Two," Russo quickly corrected.

"Yeah, two," Dt. Brimley rectified with a smug smile. "Seeing how you guys are backed up," he craftily continued, "maybe you should give us the Dryden investigation."

"Get real," Vera yelled back. "You girls couldn't work Dryden in your dreams."

The last part of Vera's return produced the largest number and volume of chuckles from around the room. Cassidy was the only detective in the room to give next to no attention to the banter. Her attention was fixed her work, so she did not notice when the conversation petered out a few minutes later. Except for a break for lunch, Cassidy gave little attention to anything but her work until a half past two in the afternoon when a new conversation caught her attention.

"Sam says that Brooklyn South just got a head scratcher," Robert Loeb, the squad room's administrative aide, said to Dt. Russo.

"The prostitute?" Dt. Russo looked up from his computer monitor to ask with a look of surprise.

"You heard about it?" Robert queried with surprise.

"I heard they picked up a murdered hooker," Dt. Russo answered with a shrug. "What's the problem with it."

"I don't know," Robert answered. "Sam says they're seeing things odd about the killing."

"They thought she was shot," Dt. Avery called out while displaying little interest in the subject. "But now they're saying something ripped open her throat."

"So, why is that a head scratcher?" Dt. Russo asked.

"When it was a shooting it looked like a crime of passion or a robbery," Dt. Avery explained with a who cares look. "Now they think they've got some kind of lunatic on the loose."

"That makes sense," Dt. Derek Norwood pondered aloud. "If she had been shot, then the likely motives would be an argument over money, a fight with a john, or a pimp. Ripping someone's throat open sounds way beyond the norm."

Cassidy was thinking that very same thing. The difference with her thinking was that she knew a group of beings who would fit as the perpetrator for just that kind of attack.

"Are they sure she was a prostitute?" Cassidy asked Dt. Avery with a tinge of alarm.

"Yeah, she has a rap sheet," Dt. Avery cavalierly answered. "They're interviewing known associates now. So far, nothing."

"And are they sure it was murder? I mean, could it have been an accident?" Cassidy queried back in rapid succession.

"The body was found dumped in an alley," Dt. Avery answered while frowning at her question. "I think it's a safe bet."

Thoughts and counter thoughts bounced about in Cassidy's mind. She told herself that the prostitute was probably stabbed in the neck, and that a dreaded idea had her mind jumping to the possibility she most feared. She told herself that the vampires would not dare murder someone so brazenly, so openly, so defiantly. In the end, she decided the vampires would have done a better job of hiding the body, and that convinced her they did not do it.

"Brooklyn South will sort it out," Dt. Hale spoke dismissively. "We've got our own investigations to work."

Everyone got Dt. Hale's message to get back to their own investigation. The subject of the murdered prostitute was quickly forgotten by everyone except Cassidy. She collected news about the murder whenever it came available, but this was always insignificant information. What Cassidy found more intriguing was the absence of details about the cause of death and the weapons used. Cassidy knew that there were only two reasons why information about a weapon that killed the prostitute was not public knowledge, the detectives did not know what killed her or they wanted to limit that knowledge to themselves and the killer. Either way, Cassidy knew there was something unique about this murder.

Come outside.

Alexandra

Alexandra's message appeared in Cassidy's cellphone display. After reading it, Cassidy paused to consider what she should do. The realization that a vampire had come to her job again was enough to make her angry. She briefly considered ignoring the summons, but thoughts about what Alexandra might do if she did not appear overruled that idea. Cassidy was also intrigued about Alexandra's reason for calling on her. The vampires were becoming a worry for her now and ignoring them was something she realized she could not continue to do.

At the end of her brief deliberation, Cassidy looked around the room to see if anyone had noticed her reverie. For a moment, her eyes met Vera's. They held each other's gaze for a moment, and then Vera turned her attention back to her computer monitor. Cassidy was not surprised to see Vera watching her, but she was annoyed by it. She knew that Dt. Vera Washington was eager to see her trip up, but Cassidy did not have time for her. She got up and set off for the squad room exit in haste.

"Where are you going?" Vera asked in a pleasant voice just as Cassidy was about to pass her desk.

Cassidy hesitated next to Vera's desk to consider her question.

"I'll be back in a couple of minutes," Cassidy returned with ire. "Don't solve any cases until I get back," she finished mockingly.

Cassidy turned away and setoff for the exit without waiting for a comeback. Vera watched Cassidy hurry from the squad room and then went back to reading the information on her monitor.

"What do you want?" Cassidy demanded just as she stopped in front of Alexandra and Ryan on the sidewalk in front of the precinct.

"Hi," Alexandra gleefully greeted Cassidy while ignoring her question.

Ryan also greeted Cassidy with a "hi" and a smile but with far less effervescence. Cassidy paused to express her impatience with a huff while crossing her arms.

"What do you want?" Cassidy asked with more insistence.

"We want to know how you like your new job," Ryan happily answered.

"You called me away from my desk for this?" Cassidy challenged, annoyed.

"Well, we hardly ever get to see you," Alexandra returned with a pout.

"That's not an accident," Cassidy returned with a scowl.

Alexandra giggled in response and Ryan backed her up with a wide smile. Cassidy took a moment to note their silly display.

"Is that it?" Cassidy asked in disbelief. "Is that all you wanted?"

"Well, there is something we wanted to ask you," Ryan stated hesitantly before Cassidy could walk away.

"Yes," Alexandra cheerfully endorsed. "We need a favor."

"You want a favor from me?" Cassidy returned with astonishment.

"Yes, a small one," Ryan confirmed.

"We want to use you as a personal reference," Alexandra explained as though she was bestowing a gift.

"Yeah," Ryan spoke up in support of Alexandra. "We're looking to buy a condo and the building has an association, and they want to know a lot of stuff, and we thought you wouldn't mind us putting your name on the application as a reference."

Alexandra supported every word Ryan said with a wide smile and excited nods of her head.

"And why in the hell would I let you do that?" Cassidy asked in a scornful tone.

Alexandra's demeanor went from gleeful to astonished. Ryan was unfazed by Cassidy's response.

"You got Adrianna (Brooke) out of that jury summons," Ryan countered with a confused shrug. "We're not asking for anything like that."

"Yeah!" Alexandra whined.

Cassidy paused in dismayed by their arrogance.

"You were going to kill me," Cassidy angrily stressed each word.

"It wasn't personal," Alexandra innocently countered.

"Besides, we were going to make it quick," Ryan added with a stunned expression. "You're not going to hold a grudge over that, are you?"

"Yeah, you wouldn't have felt a thing," Alexandra nearly pleaded.

Cassidy shook her head and shrugged her shoulders in wide-eyed astonishment. A couple of seconds later, she composed herself for what she was about to say.

"I am not going to be your reference," Cassidy spoke in a clear and calm voice.

"That's not fair," Alexandra pouted somberly.

Cassidy gave no weight to Alexandra's display of hurt. She knew her sweet and innocent persona was more disguise than truth. But a question did come to mind regarding their request for a reference.

"Why do you need me anyway?" Cassidy queried with an amazed expression. "I mean, don't you have like a thousand friends?"

"Um, um" Alexandra replied shaking her head. "We only have you."

"What?" Cassidy blurted with a mixture of shock and disbelief.

"We don't keep friends—mortal friends that is," Ryan began to explain. "Mortal friends are just complications that we'll have to deal with down the road when we disappear."

"Friends always want to stay in touch," Alexandra continued to explain. "And then there's the questions about children and aging."

"It's easier to limit our associations with mortals to passing acquaintances," Ryan elucidated.

Cassidy paused to digest their explanations when Alexandra decided to speak into the silence in an artificially pathetic tone of voice.

"You're the first mortal that we've been able to really talk to since we came out of the cave."

Cassidy took a deep breath and rolled her eyes in exasperation.

"So, how did you manage these situations in the past?" Cassidy queried as though she was asking the obvious.

"Oh, that's easy," Alexandra began with an upbeat cadence. "We just whispered in somebody's ear when we want to get something from them."

"But Adrianna told us you ordered her not to do that," Ryan added with a frown and a mocking smile. "So, of course we assumed the order extended to us."

"Yeah," Alexandra loudly pouted. "So, you have to help us."

Cassidy considered what she should say or do next. She scowled at Alexandra and Ryan while taking another deep breath.

"Okay," Cassidy relented as though her resistance had collapsed. "Use my name. I'll be your reference."

"Yea!" Alexandra exclaimed with unrestrained exuberance. "Let's hug," she continued, stepping forward with arms open.

"No—no!" Cassidy sharply countermanded with a step back and a raised hand. "No hugging."

"Aw," Alexandra pretended to sulk.

"So, we thought we'd say that you and Alexandra met when you were twenty and have been friends ever sense," Ryan suggested.

"Yeah, that's fine," Cassidy returned impatiently.

"Great," Alexandra blurted out with a wide smile.

A brief awkward pause followed their agreement.

"Is that it?" Cassidy abruptly asked.

"Yeah, that's it," Ryan answered with a smile.

"Okay," Cassidy replied.

Cassidy quickly turned started walking away when she suddenly stopped and turned back around.

"Wait," Cassidy called out.

Ryan and Alexandra were still standing in the same place. They noted Cassidy's quick turn back towards them and fixed their attentions on her before she spoke.

"Do you know anything about a murdered prostitute in Brooklyn?" Cassidy asked after walking back.

Alexandra and Ryan looked at Cassidy with their best 'what are you talking about' frowns.

"Why would we know anything about a dead prostitute?" Ryan asked mildly offended by the question.

"So, you don't know anything about a prostitute being found last Monday with her neck torn open," Cassidy questioned again while inching forward.

"No, nothing," Alexandra innocently returned.

Cassidy quickly looked to Ryan and searched his face for confirmation of Alexandra's answer.

"No." Ryan said with a shrug.

Cassidy looked back and forth between them searching for a tell that one or both were lying, but she saw nothing in their expressions to make her believe either possibility was true. Alexandra and Ryan's pretense at naïve innocence continued to hide their true thoughts and motivations.

"Is there a vampire out there killing people?" Cassidy sternly asked.

"No, we wouldn't do that," Alexandra spouted with exaggerated naiveté. "We all promised."

Cassidy studied Alexandra and Ryan again.

"If you don't believe us, then you should go ask Cristiãn," Alexandra asserted.

Cassidy studied Alexandra for a moment before responding. "Okay, I was just checking."

"No, you should go see Cristiãn," Alexandra urged.

Cassidy noted Alexandra urging her toward David (Cristiãn), and she began to wonder what was behind it.

"You really should ask Cristiãn these questions," Ryan supported. "Somebody may have told him something that we don't know."

"Yeah," Alexandra quickly concurred.

Cassidy hesitated and gave them both suspicious looks before responding, "I'll think about it," before turning away and setting off for the precinct.

"I'm sure he will be happy to see you," Alexandra called out as Cassidy walked away.