When they reached the office, Kimmy walked right in.
Falco wasn’t alone.
“Oh, hey Leo, here being boss again?” Kimmy teased as she hugged Leo after kissing her husband.
“Hey, I am the boss,” Leo replied with a chuckle.
Kendra, who was still standing in the doorway and hadn’t been spotted yet, saw Leo take a deep breath before stiffening. Irritated at his reaction, she stepped inside the room and growled, “Chill dude, I promise I don’t even have a wooden stake on me today. However, if you annoy me, I can arrange to come back with one later and we can dance.”
“Sorry, Kendra. If you were around more, I’d probably get used to you enough to not react negatively,” Leo apologized. “It really is just instinct at the scent of the hunter.”
Kendra shrugged. “Well, you’ll get your chance to know me because it looks as if I’ll be in town for a while.”
Falco came around his desk to pull Kendra into a hug and she returned it. When she pulled back from him, she frowned.
For some reason, he has a familiar scent on him that I’ve smelled before. It almost hides what I assume is his natural scent under it. The first scent is one I’ve smelled recently, but where I can’t say. The second is how I remember him smelling at the wedding. This is a puzzle, and I don’t like puzzles, so I need to figure this out.
So, she walked over to Leo next and leaned in close. Taking a deep whiff, she caught the same familiar scent on him also, overlaying his natural scent, which was similar enough to Falco’s to be a familial scent. Stepping back, she rubbed her chin thoughtfully.
Mysterious scent aside, these Vogel brothers don’t smell like the vampires I normally hunt. How do they do that?
“Does someone smell bad?” Kimmy asked.
“No, I just… it’s nothing,” Kendra said, not wanting to try and explain what she didn’t understand herself.
Leo lifted his arm and took a whiff of his shirt. Then, with a curious look her way he said, “All I smell is the deodorant I put on this morning. What do I smell like to you?”
Kendra cleared her throat. Then answered almost in a question, “Um… like your brother?”
Leo laughed. “Was that my answer or are you asking me?”
Realizing she wasn’t going to get out of this, Kendra decided to ask her question. “First, tell me what I smell like to you?”
Leo leaned toward Kendra and smirked, “Hunter.”
Kendra rolled her eyes and asked, “Wiseguy, but what does “hunter” smell like?”
Leo looked thoughtful.
“You smell a bit like pine, and I know this is going to sound bad, but also sour milk,” Falco answered.
Kendra turned her gaze on him.
Falco cringed back slightly as he added, “Please, don’t hit me now,”
“Oookay!” Kendra exclaimed while trying to control her laughter. “So, is that what I smell like to you also Leo?”
Leo nodded and said, “Pretty much. Now, what do we smell like to you?”
“Well, here’s the thing boss man, you two don’t smell like vampires,” Kendra admitted.
The two men gave her a weird look before looking at each other, then back at her. At the same time, they advised her, “But we are vampires.”
Kendra stared at Falco and Leo for a moment before rolling her eyes in exasperation.
Kimmy covered her mouth and to stifle her laughter.
“I know your vampires!” Kendra shouted. She then began to pace and run her hands through her hair. Finally, she stopped and faced the three of them.
“Okay, it’s like this. When we learn to hunt, one of the first things we learn is what vampires smell like. Now, even though I’m human, I was born with the hunter gene. So, my sense of smell is stronger. We need that strong sense of smell because if the eyes aren’t red, and the fangs aren’t out, how would we know the difference between human and vamp, right?”
They all nodded silently as if they weren’t sure if they should agree or not.
“Example. If Falco hadn’t flashed his eyes red at me that day at my parents, I would never have known he was a…? Wait! That’s it!” Kendra said excitedly as she snapped her fingers. “That’s how he’s gone so long without getting caught, ha!”
Kendra started pacing again as she mumbled under her breath. She thought hard about what she’d had just learned. Falco and Leo had been born vampires and they didn’t smell like any vampire she had ever hunted.
At the wedding, however, the underlying scent she noticed on them both had been strong. So, that had to be a family scent for them. This could only mean that born vampires obviously smell different. This means that the vampire she was after could possibly have been born a vampire, not created.
Why did no one ever tell me this?
Kendra stopped pacing and turned to look at them. All three were staring at her like she had lost her mind.
“Um… could you explain it to us now, Kendra?” Kimmy bravely asked.
“Okay,” Kendra began, folding her hands over her chest. “Did you know that created vampires smell different than you do?”
Leo and Falco shook their heads.
Kendra cocked her head at them. “How could you be vampires and not know this? Hm… maybe all vampires just smell the same to you since that’s what you are… eh, doesn’t matter,” she flipped her hand in the air in a “couldn’t care less” motion. “Anyway, they do, and it never even crossed my mind before today. Let me explain…”
“Ja, please do that,” Leo muttered looking annoyed at this point.
“To me, a vampire will smell like… Well, to put it bluntly, they smell like day-old roadkill,” Kendra told them. “You, on the other hand, do not.”
“Ew!” Kimmy said as she wrinkled her nose.
“Disgusting! I’m so happy to know I don’t smell like that,” Leo agreed, and Falco nodded.
“At the wedding, I never noticed that you smelled different, though I did notice the scent in the room. I never put the two things together though, until today, maybe because I was trying to keep my distance and stuff. Today though, it hit me that you don’t smell like any vampire I’ve ever come across. It makes me wonder if it’s only created vampires who smell like roadkill…” she paused, thinking. “Or is it the “bad blood” in them that causes them to smell that way? I’m leaning more toward them being created being the reason for the stench though.”
“That’s a very interesting theory,” Leo commented.
“Well, at this point that’s all it is, just a theory. Now, both of you have a similar scent, a hint of peppermint, which I think might be a familial scent because of your family. Or it could be because you were born a vampire, I don’t know,” Kendra continued. “What I need is to get a whiff of someone who isn’t related to the two of you. I don’t suppose you have a good friend just hanging around somewhere that is a born vampire that I could sniff.”
“No, sorry,” Leo apologized.
“Me neither,” Falco admitted.
“I have a question though, Kendra,” Kimmy said. “If you go by smell and Falco doesn’t smell like what a vampire is supposed to smell, how did Mom know he was one?”
Kendra stared off into space for a moment thinking before admitting, “I don’t have the answer to that Kimmy. As I said, I knew because when I walked into the room where Falco was that day, his eyes flashed red for just a moment before he called me a hunter. If he hadn’t done that, I might never have realized that was what he was.”
“Maybe she had a run-in with a born vampire and recognized my scent as one,” Falco said.
“Hm… yes, that would explain her reaction to you. That would also mean that born vampires all have the same scent as you. If that’s what she recognized anyway,” Kenda agreed thoughtfully.
“Or maybe, since Falco knew she was a hunter, his eyes flashed at her too,” Kimmy piped up to say.
Kendra turned to look at Falco.
Falco shrugged. “If I did flash them, I didn’t realize I was doing it. Sorry.”
Kendra huffed. “Back to square one.”
“Glad we’ve figured that out. Now, what was it you were talking about when you said, “that’s how he’s gone so long without getting caught”?” Leo questioned.
Kendra turned toward him. Realizing what he’d said, she grinned. “Hey, yeah! That’s right, I just caught a break thanks to my new brothers-in-law! Thanks, guys, gotta go now!”
Kendra opened the door and walked fast down the hallway.
“Don’t forget dinner!” Kimmy yelled out from behind Kendra
Kendra spun around, walking backward for a moment to give her sister a thumb up when she saw Kimmy’s head poked out the office door. “I won’t!”
Then turning to face forward once more, Kendra practically jogged out the door to her car. Once she’d reached it, she drove to her motel and quickly began scanning the file Mr. Ripple had given her. Then she called the hunter in California who had been on the case first.
Her mind raced, trying to think of the best way to word things as she waited for the other hunter to pick up. She knew she had to be careful with the questions she asked. If nobody had ever smelled a vampire that smelled different, it would raise red flags.
Then the questions would begin. Questions she couldn’t answer without ratting out her in-laws.
An hour later Kendra was bent over her hotel desk groaning in aggravation and frustration. The hunter on the other end of the line in California had been more into flirting then he was in solving this case and finding the rogue vampire. She could almost see how the vamp got away from him. He’d probably been kissing some girl on the street corner rather than doing his job and hunting.
She sighed as she scrubbed her hands through her hair. It looked as if she was on her own.
Glancing at her watch she realized she needed to call Mr. Ripple with what she did have. Then it was time to get ready to go to Kimmy’s house. Calling Mr. Ripple, she told him what she’d learned, what her plan was, and so on.
Then she took a quick shower and headed out.