Home > Don't Hex and Drive (Stay a Spell #2)(11)

Don't Hex and Drive (Stay a Spell #2)(11)
Author: Juliette Cross

Once his screen was open with a listing of video files labeled with dates, he angled the screen to face us, but he spoke to Ruben.

“You asked me how I knew the kidnappers were vampires.”

“Kidnappers plural?” I asked.

“Definitely,” he said with certain confidence. “My cousin developed software that tracks vampires.”

Ruben leaned forward, scowling. “Say that again.”

His light mood had vanished at the thought of vampires being tracked. My hackles raised, too.

The grim wasn’t affected in the least by Ruben’s death-glare. “Just listen,” he commanded.

And I do mean commanded. I wanted to laugh at the balls on this guy. But Ruben must’ve trusted him because he eased up, lacing his fingers in his lap.

The grim tapped his laptop screen on the file labeled Demo362. “Watch this. It’s surveillance that tracks heat signatures.”

An infrared birds-eye view of a street showed the heat signatures of people walking, some moving in and out of buildings.

“What is this?” I asked.

“This is a demo my cousin ran last year when he was developing the software. This is Bourbon Street on a Saturday night. As you see, some of these signatures are running hotter than others.” He pointed to some that were outlined more red-orange than others. “Those are vampires. Possibly witches. And this guy, you can tell he’s a werewolf.” He pointed to one person stalking down a side street, his signature deep, full red. “But check out this group here.”

He pointed to a group of five break off down an alley off of Bourbon, walking for half a block before the signatures blurred, flaring yellow as they disappeared off the screen. The screen zoomed out, revealing more of the dark city and the group who’d blurred away. They streaked six blocks away then stopped along Magazine Street before they slowed to walking again.

“Damn,” whispered Ruben. “I want to buy this software.”

The grim grinned, a devious glint in his eyes. “Not sure my cousin has plans to sell it just yet.”

“Then why create it?” I asked.

He tapped to minimize the video. “We have our own motives for tracking.” He turned to Ruben. “But in the case of these missing girls, he’s definitely willing to lend a hand.”

“How does he get these views of the city?” I watched the screen, realizing what a wide view he had of New Orleans and the suburbs surrounding.

“Government satellites, drones,” he answered nonchalantly.

Like just anyone had access to such a thing. I glanced at Ruben with an is-this-guy-for-real look? Ruben shook his head as the grim went on.

“So I talked to my cousin. I gave him the dates and locations of the girls’ disappearances.”

“He got them?” I asked, my pulse tripping faster.

“Only one.” He licked his lips, tapping on the laptop. “The thing is, this software is under development and has its limitations. If we know where to watch, then we can track them entirely using our own drones. But we don’t have cameras everywhere all the time.”

“So if they trace out of range, then you can’t follow?” asked Ruben.

“Exactly,” he answered. “Our range covers the city though.”

I leaned forward, wanting a better view of the laptop screen. “I can follow a vampire’s trace anywhere, as long as I’m within a few minutes of where he starts.”

The grim paused and angled a questioning expression at me, but it was Ruben who replied, “He’s a Stygorn.”

The grim’s brows raised and his mouth tilted, seemingly impressed. “Cool.”

He then clicked on a new video file labeled with the name Barrel Proof and the date of the last disappearance. Emma Thomas.

“I asked my cousin to focus on Magazine Street bars last week since that’s where the girls have gone missing. Since the three bars where the girls were taken were all within a few blocks of each other in the Garden District, I had a hunch our kidnappers stuck to familiar hunting grounds.”

A wide view of the city popped on screen with pinpoints of infrared movement, then slowly zoomed onto one building in particular. A few people walked casually in the parking lot toward the street.

“That’s the entrance there,” he pointed. “Just watch.”

The timestamp at the bottom of the video showed it to be shortly after midnight when three figures left the building. Halfway into the parking lot, two of them walked on, seeming to stumble toward the street. The other remained still.

“That’s Emma Thomas’s friends heading for the Uber,” he said.

I noticed three more infrared silhouettes surrounding the one still standing in the parking lot. “Why are they outlined in red but gray on the inside? What’s up with the infrared?”

The grim grinned. “They’re using glamour to shield themselves. It somehow messes with their body temperatures and creates this ghostlike image.”

“Wait.” Ruben frowned at the screen. “You’re telling me your cousin devised a way to pick up vampires hiding themselves with glamour?”

“He’s a smart guy.”

“Indeed,” I agreed, still absorbed with the screen.

The two girls at the curb paused for a minute then got into the Uber and disappeared. That’s when one of the hollow silhouettes grabbed the girl, Emma Thomas, and they all blurred away together.

“Bloody hell.” Chills rose on my arms, watching the kidnapping take place.

“Did you track them from here?”

“As far as we could,” answered the grim. “Watch. They first take her to this area near the river.”

We all watched the infrared silhouettes near the river, not far from Magazine Street. They put the girl on the ground and stood around, seeming to be waiting for something.

“She looks dead,” said Ruben, cold menace lacing his words.

I stared at her still image. “They could’ve subdued her with glamour,” I reminded him. “Or with toxin if one of them bit her. Or some other human drug for that matter.”

“They didn’t kill her,” assured the grim. “They stay here about ten minutes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching these live. My cousin had cameras on sixteen clubs and bars that night. The day after Emma Thomas disappeared, we went through the footage and spotted this. Look, here. Now they take her away again, but we lose trace of them after they leave the Garden District.”

“Goddamn it,” I muttered, watching as the blurred silhouettes of vampires tracing away vanished beyond the screen of the camera.

“Like I said”—the grim shrugged—“this is new surveillance software and we haven’t worked out the kinks. But basically, if we know where a crime will be committed, where the next girl will be kidnapped from, we can trace them almost anywhere.” He snapped his laptop shut and shoved it in his messenger bag. “I don’t need to tell you that if we’re asked about this software by anyone else, we’ll deny its existence.”

“Then why show us?” I asked.

He stood and hooked the strap of his messenger bag over his shoulder, then fished in his pocket for a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.

“Some vampires are doing some shady shit.” He lit the cigarette with a Zippo lighter, engraved with a skull wearing a crown, then shoved it in his back pocket. “If we can help catch these fuckers, we will.” He dragged on his cigarette, dark eyes squinting behind the swirling smoke. He gave a wave with the fingers holding the cigarette. “Let me know when you have a location, Ruben.”

He wove around the furniture in long strides and disappeared out the door.

“Interesting fellow,” I commented. “And useful.”

“Extremely.” Ruben drained the last of his coffee and set it aside, his brow pinched in thought. “So we need a way to lure the kidnappers to one spot. Perhaps give them a prime hunting ground.”

“Indeed. My concern is what they’re doing with the girls. Is it just for a blood orgy?”

Blood orgy wasn’t a pleasant term, but it was the common term used for a group of vampires who fed off one or more human hosts at one time.

“If so, then what are they doing with the girls after?” Ruben’s voice had deepened. This mess was taking place in his territory, and there were vampires under his rule breaking the supernatural laws.

It was painful to think about what these young women were going through. But I could offer some solace. “They haven’t found any bodies yet. So let’s assume they’re not being killed.”

“That’s all we can assume at this point,” growled Ruben before standing. “What is it?”

He’d noticed my pensive expression. “Didn’t you say that Jules had the power to null a supernatural’s powers temporarily?”

“She does.”

I nodded then stood from the sofa. “I think I have an idea. But let me think about it a little while and send you the details.”

“I’m open to all suggestions at this point. Anything to catch these assholes.”

“I’ll text you later.” I left and headed to my rental sportscar on the curb, my brain spinning with my still-forming plan.

I glanced up the street and couldn’t help looking in the direction Isadora had gone. I wondered where she was headed this morning. All chipper and smiling. That is, until she’d seen me and I’d called her name.

Why was she so offended by my presence? I was a likeable guy, dammit.

There was the fact I’d hit her with my car. True.

I found her fascinating. Was it because she seemed to want to flee my presence the second we were ever alone? I wasn’t sure. Something about her made me want to know her better. Yes, I was accustomed to people liking me. Especially women. But Isadora Savoie did not, that was for sure.

And now, this fucking list of hers.

I pulled it out of my back pocket and then started the engine, wanting to take a look at her pros and cons list of “Devraj Egomaniac Kumar.”

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