**Here's more Janice Cooper and Aiden Mercier goodness! Also, be sure to check out the new Instagram account I made today! It's to try to connect with you guys more, as well as post a few of my favorite quotes from some of my stories. That way, if you're stumped about which of my stories you should read next, you can look at the quotes and find the one you're most interested in reading! Anyway, enjoy this chapter of The Crying Game!**
Janice was caught between two halves of herself as she stared at Aiden. She was caught between the side of herself she'd always believed to be more rational. That side of her told her that what she was seeing was merely a trick of the light. This club was for vampire fetishists after all, and it made sense that they'd pull out all the stops to make all of the alleged vampires seem as realistic as possible. The other side of Janice, however, disagreed with that rational side wholeheartedly. This other side was Janice's intuition; that part of her that had kept her alive in the most dire situations, the part that had solved cases that stumped the police was screaming at her that something was terribly amiss here. First, there had been the woman at the door who had given Janice a look of hunger before her fangs had appeared, and now this. Janice went through many scenarios in her mind, trying to figure out how someone could not have fangs one minute and then suddenly have two sharp canines that sent an unnerving feeling of unease rocketing through her.
And his eyes. Aiden's eyes were always icy-green, a color that was something Janice had never seen before, but now, they were unnatural. It would be possible for Janice to come up with a solution for how he'd gotten fangs, but the eyes were something even her ration side was grappling with. They seemed to glow and the longer Janice looked into them, the fuzzier her mind became, so she tried to avoid his gaze altogether. She didn't like the way it felt when she looked into them. It was like if she kept looking, her body would no longer be her own.
"If this is some kind of joke it's not funny," Janice said, forcing her tone to be even. All these years of being in dangerous situations had come in handy now. She was sure if she had been an ordinary woman, she would have lost all ability to speak.
"I suppose that depends on you, detective," Aiden responded smoothly, and Janice saw him shift from the corner of her eye. "But I'm giving you proof that I didn't hurt either of those girls, someone else—someone like me—killed the both of them and they aren't going to stop until winter has passed."
Janice snapped her gaze toward Aiden. His eyes had gone back to normal now, but the fangs still remained. Still, without the eyes, Janice felt more confident looking at him; she felt less like she was being hypnotized now.
"You're saying another vampire did this?"
"Do you know many other creatures who drink blood straight from the vein, Janice?" He asked, raising one eyebrow.
Part of Janice wanted to laugh and call Aiden insane and the other part of her—the instinctive part of her—wanted to get the hell out of this club and call it a day. However, she remembered what she was here for. Ayana's mother, weeping for her daughter and a younger Janice, weeping for her mother. That steeled Janice to stay, even though she could feel the eyes of everyone in the club on her, and her skin crawled, wondering if all the people who were supposed to be vampires were really what they said they were.
"Aren't vampires supposed to keep their existence secret?" Janice questioned, speaking through tight lips. "In all the movies and novels and TV shows, vampires don't expose themselves. Especially to someone who's working with the police."
"I suppose that's true," Aiden admitted, resting his chin on his fist and watching Janice closely. "We typically keep our existence under wraps. If humans knew about us, it would just start a huge war and neither side would benefit from that. I'm only telling you because I know you won't tell anyone else."
"Really? And what makes you think that."
Aiden grinned, picking up on the challenge in Janice's voice. "Just a feeling. Besides, vampires have never been in hiding. How many times have you heard of vampire clubs and passed it off as a whole bunch of people playing dress-up? We're always here as we always have been. Humans just like to pretend they're the only intelligent life that exists because they desire the title of being at the top of the food chain. It would terrify them if they realized they weren't."
Talking to a vampire—and she wasn't sure whether she truly believed he was truly a vampire yet or not—about food chains made Janice uneasy. Maybe it was because she knew she was technically food to him.
"Why did you say he wouldn't stop until winter passed?" It was time for her to turn the conversation back to why she had come here in the first place. She hadn't come here to learn about a hidden world of vampires that may or may not exist, she came here to find out who was murdering these girls and put a stop to it. Besides, the heels she was wearing were starting to kill her, she just wanted to get her answers and go.
"Winter is mating season for vampires," Aiden explained and his gaze on Janice became much too heavy for her liking. "During this season, we become...hungrier than usual. Especially in the presence of our preferred..." He tilted his head to one side, thinking about how he should phrase his next words. "Donators, I suppose you'd call them."
"So, you're saying all of these dead girls were donating to this guy?"
Aiden nodded once, his eyes hard.
"Whoever he is," Aiden murmured, looking disturbed, "he's not operating the way the rest of us do. Vampires are not hiding, but we're not planning on exposing ourselves to humans either. Not like this." He sighed. "He's making a mess. A mess I want you to help me clean up."
Janice let out a small scoff. "So that's why you told me about you. You want me to work for you."
"I sense that this case is important to you. I know that this case isn't like the others; this case is an obsession. You thirst to catch this criminal yourself. This case is important to me, too. As king, I can't let something that could put all of us at risk go unnoticed." He leaned forward and Janice leaned back a little. "That's why I want for us to work together. You want to catch this guy and I want to catch him. This is something you're not going to be able to do without my help."
Janice knew Aiden wasn't lying about this. She wasn't sure how he knew this case was so important to her—did she really wear her emotions on her sleeve?—but she was sure that she'd need Aiden on her side. Whether they were vampires or not, Aiden had connections that Janice might need to utilize. So, even though she hadn't come here tonight expecting to, she agreed to let Aiden Mercier help with catching the killer.