SEX CRIME - KATHERINE TOMLINSON
The door to 308 was ajar when I arrived but that wasn’t unusual. A lot of clients liked to pounce, playing out some fucked up power trip-rape fantasy that would end with me face down on the bed, my hands bound with a novelty tie the clients’ kids had given him for Christmas.
Whatever. It’s their dime.
But as I pushed the door to the suite all the way open, the wrongness hit me. I knew what I would find in the bedroom even before I whiffed the blood and shit.
Finding a man dead in my bed is actually not that uncommon. It happens often enough that the agency inserts some specific verbiage about it in the waiver the clients all sign without reading.
Men with weak hearts are advised to seek release elsewhere. Not everyone has the stamina for a session with a succubus and the agency charges a two-hour minimum.
The men who’ve died on me all died with smiles on their faces. This guy was not so lucky. He’d been torn apart, his throat ripped out, his face gnawed to the bone.
There would have been more blood on the bed but the plastic shower curtain laid on top of the coverlet had caught most of it..
Guess the dead guy was into water sports.
I texted my driver, hoping to catch him before he headed off to the nearest Tommy’s Burger to refuel. Man’s got an appetite like a teenage weight lifter.
“Curtis?” I said when he answered. “I need you to get up to room 308 right away.”
I ended the call without saying goodbye, which was rude, but I was distracted by the sight of the dead guy. I don’t have a problem with most bodily fluids but I’m squeamish about blood.
Curtis was upstairs in less than three minutes.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
I just waved him toward the bedroom door.
Curtis took one look at the stiff and said, “Vampire.”
“Ya think?” I said, and instantly regretted my sarcasm when I saw his wounded look. Curtis is a baby-faced hublin who’d inherited his mortal mother’s sensitive nature along with his father’s prehistoric bulk.
“Is it still here?” I asked.
He sniffed and shook his head. “He’s gone.”
We both looked at the dead guy on the bed.
“We better call the boss,” Curtis said.
“No,” I said, more vehemently than I intended.
“She’s still mad at me for offering all those freebies at Comic-Con last year,” I explained.
Curtis smirked. “Geek love.”
I shrugged sheepishly. Curtis has been driving me around for a year. He knows what I like.
He gave me another dubious look.
“Are you sure we shouldn’t call Lady Lilith?”
“I’ll lose my job,” I said. “And you’ll end up driving Sidonie around.”
He grimaced. “Not the Frog Princess.”
We both fell silent.
“Are there security cameras in the hallway?” Curtis asked suddenly.
“I sincerely hope not,” I said. Vampires don’t show up on cameras but succubi certainly do. If someone connected my arrival with a guest’s death, I’d be on my way to Parker Center faster than you can say Joran Van der Sloot.
“Okay,” Curtis said finally. “I’m going to call Zeno.”
I groaned. I hate ghouls and Zeno’s the kind of ghoul who gives the breed a bad name.
“Do you have to?”
Curtis paused in his dialing, giving my question serious consideration. “I think we do, Desiree.”
I gave him a wave of acceptance and went to the bathroom to splash some cold water on my face. I could hear Curtis through the open door.
“Hey, Zeno, it’s Curtis. You got time for some work?”
Apparently the answer was “yes” because Curtis began negotiating prices. At one point he put his hand over the receiver and asked me, “What do you think the guy weighs, Des? One-eighty? One-ninety?”
“About that,” I said.
“Okay, you need to bring three of your boys,” Curtis said into the phone. “And Zeno? Come hungry.”
Zeno and his crew arrived in half an hour, looking surprisingly mortal, which meant they were shelling out big bucks to buy black-market glamour that would let them pass for human. I shuddered at the thought.
Zeno saw me sitting on the couch as he came through the door and gave me a toothy grin.
“Looking good, Des.”
Before I could say anything, Curtis interrupted.
“He’s back here,” he said.
“Lead the way,” Zeno said and he and his boys traipsed into the bedroom and closed the door behind them.
Even through the door, we could hear the sounds of their feasting. Ghouls are not dainty eaters.
They came out an hour later, one of Zeno’s boys picking his teeth with a splinter of bone.
Curtis looked him over.
“You’ve got a little...” He indicated a sloppy bit of red on the ghoul’s chin.
“Thanks,” the ghoul said as he wiped it off with his thumb and then licked it clean.
I wanted to hurl.
Zeno was amused.
“Hey, Desiree,” he said.
Zeno was smirking.
“Eat me, Zeno,” I replied, which perhaps wasn’t the snappiest rejoinders under the circumstances, but he just laughed and left with the wad of cash Curtis had given him.
Curtis and I spent the next hour cleaning up. I rinsed the shower curtain and hung it back up while Curtis bundled up the guy’s clothes in a tight ball and put them in a souvenir bag from Disneyland he found in the guy’s closet. We stuffed that into the guy’s suitcase along with everything else we found in the room.
I anchored a couple of twenties under the room key and took a last look around.
“We cool?” Curtis asked.
“Chilly,” I said.
Curtis picked up the suitcase as I turned out the lights.
I tried not to look guilty as hell as we headed for the elevator.
Just in case there were cameras.
There was almost no traffic and Curtis had me home before midnight.
“Thanks, Curtis,” I said and kissed him on his leathery cheek. “You’re my hero.” His normally greenish complexion flushed bright pink. He looked so adorable that, what the hell, I gave him a freebie.
I was drifting off to sleep beneath my freshly laundered Pratesi sheets when my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and my blood froze.
I reached for the phone.
“Hi, Lilith,” I said as calmly as I could.
“What the fuck happened tonight?” she asked. Lilith never swears, so it was a very bad sign that she had dropped the F-bomb.
“What do you mean?” I asked because what else was I going to say?
“I just got a call from the client asking where you were.”
Not what I was expecting.
“Where I was?” I echoed faintly.
“The hotel’s only got five floors, Desiree. It can’t be that hard to find room 303.”
“Room 303? I thought the appointment was in room 308?”
“You met some guy in 308?” she asked suspiciously. “Were you working off the books?”
There was a long silence on the other end of the phone.
“You know what, Desiree? This is unacceptable.” She sighed heavily. “You’re not the only succubus in town, you know.”
“I’m sorry, Lilith.”
She didn’t say anything.
I thought for a minute.
“I can be back at the hotel in half an hour.”
“Tell him I’ll include any two extra services for free.”
“Okay,” she said finally. “But, hon? The whole fee comes to me.”
“No problem,” I said.
“There’d better not be,” she said and hung up.
“Fuck,” I said out loud and wondered if I’d have time to wash my hair.
Publication: IN THE DARK RIVER by Conor Brady
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