I got back to my apartment feeling so angry with myself for leaving the night before. If I would’ve waited just a few more hours, Vance would have been called into work. Hell, part of me thought that I should have just sucked it up and talked to him in the first place. He knew what I was; I had no doubt about that. I wanted to trust him, I just didn’t know if I could. I tried calling his cell but it went straight to voicemail. I didn’t want to talk to a recording so I hung up. I took a shower and then tried him again. Voicemail again. This time I decided to leave a message.
“Vance, it’s Karli. Look, I’m sorry about yesterday. Please call me so I can explain.”
I waited around my house all day but his call never came. I went to bed convincing myself that he would call me the next day. I woke up Wednesday morning and checked my phone. Still nothing. I was tempted to try him again but I resisted. I decided it would be better to keep myself busy before I drove myself crazy. I cleaned my apartment from top to bottom. I dropped off my dry cleaning and got my nails done. I went grocery shopping, paid some bills, and lounged by the pool. I did everything I could possibly think of to keep my mind off Vance but none of it worked. It was just after ten o’clock and still no call.
I wanted to find out if they had any more leads in the investigation but I sure as hell wasn’t going to call Leo. I decided to try work. Everyone knew everyone else’s business around there. Someone should be able to spill the dirt. I picked up my phone and dialed.
“Pixie Dust, this is Roxy speaking. How may I help you?” Yes, this was my lucky day! Roxy was the biggest gossip in the place. She’d definitely know what was going on.
“Hey, Roxy, this is Karli.”
“Oh hey, Kar, can’t get enough of this place even on your day off, huh? Whatsup?”
“Oh, not much. I was just wondering if you guys heard anything about Jordyn’s killer.”
“You haven’t heard? Oh my God, girl, it’s been crazy around here!”
“How so?” I asked.
“Let me think, where should I start? Okay, well a couple hours ago that sexy detective came by, looking super fine in SWAT gear, I might I add. Anyway, he and Leo went off to talk for a while. When Leo came back he looked really pissed off. I went over to ah, see if I could lighten his mood. Well, of course he declined my offer, being Mr. Professional and all, but he did tell me why he was so upset.”
“Why?” Omigod, what the hell had happened between those two? This couldn’t be good. And why was Vance wearing SWAT gear?
“Apparently, the cops have a lead on the killer. Forensic results came back and the two murders are definitely connected. They checked the demon registration records and there is a Stryker demon who lives just over in North Vegas. His name is Matt something. Apparently he’s the only one in the database for over fifteen hundred miles. I guess these things are pretty rare.”
“So they think this Matt guy is the killer?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but I guess they are going to stake out his place tonight. Supposedly, Detective Hottie is planning on whipping out his magical mojo. He’s going to trance him or something like that to collect a DNA sample. Leo insisted on going as well to see if he recognizes the guy. I guess he thinks that the murders are connected to him somehow? Anyhoo, it seems that the detective was not down for that at all. He tried telling Leo this was official police business. Leo put in a call to his buddy, the mayor who pulled some strings and got him in on a ride-along. Apparently, this Vance guy was not happy about it and was a total dick. Rumor has it that there’s some kind of history between these two involving some chick.”
“Hold on, they’re going after this thing tonight? Vance and Leo?” Wait a second. Did she just say they hate each other because of a woman?
“Yeah, they left like an hour ago,” she replied.
“They already left?!” I shrieked.
“Uh yeah, did I stutter?” she answered.
Vance and Leo together wasn’t a good situation in the first place. Adding a murderous demon to the mix was just asking for trouble.
Okay, I was freaking out. I had a really bad feeling. I tried calling Vance but it went straight to his damn voicemail again. Feeling desperate, I tried Leo too. Same thing. Damn!
I got in my car and drove to Pixie Dust. I needed to talk to Erica and she was working that night. I ran in from the parking garage and spotted her right away.
“Hey, Erica! Over here!” I yelled from across the bar.
She walked over to me and said, “Hey, K, whatsup? I’m guessing you heard about all the commotion going on around here? I was going to call you but we’ve been swamped.”
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “Look, I need to find Vance and Leo. Can you do some kind of locator spell to find them for me?”
“Sure baby,” she replied. “All I need is a personal item from either of them. Do you have anything at your house…maybe some underwear that was left behind or a toothbrush in the bathroom?”
“No, I don’t have anything like that,” I said. “It’s not like that between us. I haven’t been with either one of them.”
“If you say so, sweetie. Well, if you go home and find something, let me know. Hey, I gotta get back to my tables, okay? Good luck treasure hunting!”
Damn! Why did I have to return that key fob? I could be getting something from Leo’s closet right now! Wait! I’d just get it back. I went up to the front desk and saw the same lady that I had given the key to in the first place.
I looked at her name tag. “Hi, Marcy,” I said in my sweetest tone. “Do you remember me from yesterday? I came down here and returned a little black key fob from penthouse two?
“Yes, I remember you,” Marcy said, suspicion heavy in her voice.
“Great! Well, see, Marcy, it turns out that I made a mistake in returning that key. The gentleman who’s staying there is a very close friend of mine. I promised him I would be waiting for him when he got back tonight but I have no way of getting up there now. I’d hate to disappoint him so I’m going to need that key back.”
“I’m sorry, Ma’am, but I can’t do that,” she said.
“Oh, sure you can, Marcy. I’m sure you wouldn’t want one of your penthouse guests to be upset, would you? That wouldn’t be good for you, would it?” If charm fails, threaten her job security.
She narrowed her eyes at me and said, “Sorry, Ma’am, but I cannot do that. I would be more than happy to call Mr. Markos and explain it to him myself.” Damn, she called my bluff!
I decided trying Erica again. When I told her about my extortion attempt she said, “Well, maybe Leo left something here.”
“That’s genius, Eri! I knew I kept you around for a reason!” I teased. We looked around the bar but couldn’t find anything! Damn! Damn! Damn!
I hung out at work until closing just in case they returned. No such luck there, so I went home and waited by my phone. Feeling completely helpless, I tried watching TV but nothing would take this nagging panic away. I had a feeling deep in my bones that something was horribly wrong. My anxiety must have worn me out because I eventually fell asleep on the couch.
My phone rang around seven in the morning, jolting me out of my slumber. I looked at the caller ID and saw that Leo was on the other end.
“Leo, what’s wrong? What happened? Are you okay?”
He replied, “Yes, my dear. I am fine. It is Vance who had an unfortunate incident with an angry demon last night. He’s in the hospital over on Maryland. I thought you should know.”
“Omigod, what happened? Is he going to be okay?”
“The police had a lead on a suspect so we went to check it out,” he said. “He was attempting to put a stasis spell on the demon so they could collect a DNA sample to check for a match. Vance was…distracted while he was performing the spell. The demon sensed his magical presence and attacked. He had some internal injuries which required surgery, and a minor concussion. They said he’ll be in recovery for a few days. I stayed at the hospital as long as I could before sunrise. He was resting peacefully when I left. I’m calling because I thought you might want to be there with him.”
“Thank you for calling, Leo. I really appreciate it.”
Impressed with Leo’s maturity, I drove to the hospital to see Vance. I got to his room and found him sleeping. I quietly pulled up a chair next to his bed and grabbed a hold of his hand. I couldn’t seem to stop the tears from falling. He looked so fragile hooked up to all those machines. He woke up a short while later and squeezed my hand.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, still a little groggy.
“Leo called and told me what happened. I came as soon as I heard. I wanted to make sure you were okay,” I replied while wiping my tears.
He sat up slowly, wincing in pain. “What exactly did he tell you?”
“Well, I already knew about the stakeout because Roxy told me what was happening,” I said. “Leo said you were trying to perform a stasis spell on the demon but you got distracted. The demon sensed your presence and attacked. Oh God, Vance. I had this horrible feeling all night that something was wrong. I tried finding you but couldn’t. I’m so glad you’re going to be all right.”
He smiled. “Did he tell you why I was distracted?”
“No. I didn’t think to ask. Why?”
“Because we were arguing about you.”
“About me? What about me?”
“We had a difference in opinion. No surprise there, huh?” He attempted a small laugh but stopped short from the pain.
“An opinion about what exactly?”
“He was telling me that I should stop being so childish and call you. He saw me ignore your call last night and told me I was a fool. He said I didn’t deserve you. I told him that my relationship with you is none of his concern.”
“Your relationship with me? Do we have a…relationship?” I asked timidly.
Sighing, he tightened his grip on my hand. “Karli, honestly, I don’t know what we have. We’ve only known each other for a week, yet I feel like I’ve known you my entire life. I think you feel it too. I don’t know how to explain this pull I have towards you. It nearly killed me to see you go off with Leo the other night.”
“Look, Vance, I know what you’re probably thinking about the other night. I can---”
“Karli, please let me finish. I need to get this out. When I watched you leave with him, when I thought about how you called him to help you, it brought back a lot of really painful memories for me. I felt like I was reliving a very difficult part of my past. I needed some distance to deal with that.”
“I guess I could understand that. I just wish you would let me explain. It’s not what you think.”
“Karli, there’s a lot we need to discuss,” he said. “I know you’re apprehensive, but you need to believe that you can trust me. You are obviously carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders, and I honestly think I can help you with that. I feel like I need to help you with that. I want to be someone you can lean on.”
“Oh Vance, I---”
He pressed his fingers to my lips. “Please, Karli, don’t feel the need to say anything right now. Why don’t we just agree to talk after I get out of here? Can you do that?”
“Yes. I can definitely do that.” I smiled.