Amanda Cohen’s office…
Schanke dropped the report of the Caddy’s theft lightly onto the captain’s desk, shaking his head with an amused smile on his face. “This is incredible. If I had any doubts about that stuff Chance told us about his luck being true, I’m convinced now. The guy is like a walking incarnation of Murphy’s Law.”
Cohen perused the report, frowning. “I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”
“What do you mean?”
“I took the liberty of doing a background check on Mr. Harper, and what I found was rather interesting…” She hit a few keys on her computer. “Here, look at this.”
Schanke came around the desk and peered over her shoulder at the monitor.
“Chance Harper has a list a mile long of arrests–but no convictions–with the Seattle police department,” she explained the information on the screen. “Grand theft, trespassing, kidnapping, arson, even Murder One. And in every instance, the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. I’d say Mr. Harper must have some friends in pretty high places.”
“So, you think he’s a crook?”
“It’s certainly possible, and I find it highly suspicious that the one time Knight loans his car to someone, it gets stolen.”
“But couldn’t Chance’s luck account for that record too? I mean, if the guy has extraordinarily bad luck, he might get arrested a lot for things he didn’t do…”
“I suppose, but I’m rather disinclined to believe in luck, especially in this case. It’s just too convenient an explanation.”
“So what do you want me to do?”
“Just keep an eye on him, look for anything he might say or do that would be suspicious.”
Schanke nodded. “I can do that. I still think the guy’s just what he says, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled, just in case.”
“Thanks. Oh, and Schanke?”
“Don’t mention this to Knight. I have a feeling he’s got enough on his mind right now.”
Chance’s hotel room…
A tiny, black-clad figure stole into the room, scanning it with her excellent night vision. On a coffee table, she noticed a stack of photographs. Picking them up, she sifted through them, admiring his artistic style.
Coming to the picture of Janette at the bar, her eyes widened. Now she realized that the photographs were of the Raven. How did he find it already? she thought, fuming. The next picture was of Nick. She could still detect a hint of the melancholy his smile had replaced. It wasn’t hard–Knight’s depression was well known to most vampires who knew of him.
The next photographs in Chance’s collection caused her to gasp loudly. Holding them so that they were side by side, she studied the two pictures. One showed Nick biting deeply into Janette’s graceful neck. The other showed her returning the favor.
Delia raged. Not only had Harper beaten her to the Raven, he’d also gotten photos of two vampires sharing blood. She threw the rest of the pictures to the floor, taking the two of Nick and Janette. At the window, she paused, realizing the danger of leaving the suite a mess. Picking up the photos and putting them back on the coffee table, she put the room back in order. Then she left as stealthily as she had come.
later that evening…
Since the Caddy was nowhere to be found and Nat had never returned to pick up Nick or Chance, Schanke offered to give them both a ride home. Nick sat brooding in the front seat. He was only slightly miffed about losing the Caddy; what really bothered him was Nat’s cold attitude that night.
“Earth to Nick. Where are you, buddy?” Schanke cut into his partner’s moping.
“Huh?” Nick turned back from the window he’d been staring out of.
“Where do you want me to drop you off?” Schanke asked, laughing.
The other detective glanced at Chance. “Chance’s hotel. I need to talk to him about…ah…my car.”
“How will you get home?”
“I’ll fly, Schank…What do you think?” he quipped. Of course he really meant it, but there was no reason to let his partner know that. “Don’t worry. I’ll find a way.”
Schanke just shook his head. He knew Nick well enough not to force the issue. With a sigh, he went back to concentrating on the road. Soon, they were pulling up in front of the hotel. Nick and Chance got out, both thanking him for the ride.
“Can you stop by the loft tomorrow night?” his partner asked. “I’ll need a ride into work.” He paused. “I realize it’s out of your way, but you’re the only one I can count on right now.”
Schanke smiled broadly. “Sure thing, pal! I know things are stressed between you and Nat right now. I won’t even ask why! It’s the least I can do after you let me stay at your place when Myra and I had that big fight.”
“Thanks, Schanke.” Nick started to turn away. Looking back, he said, “Say ‘hi’ to Myra and Jenny for me.”
Schanke drove away, and Chance followed the other detective into the hotel.
“So, you wanted to talk to me about your car?” Chance asked as he opened the door.
“Actually, Chance…I’ve already read the report, and I believe you. What I really wanted to talk about was Natalie.”
“What about Nat?” the photographer asked.
“Things have been a bit…strained…between us lately; I suppose you could have told that from the other night at the precinct. I kind of wondered if you knew why she was so angry with me tonight.” Nick looked awkward.
Chance’s eyes went wide. Considering everything he and Natalie had spoken about that day, he was a little scared to tell the vampire cop why she was angry. Besides, Nick should already have a good idea what was bothering her.
When the other man didn’t answer, Nick asked, “Chance? Did I say something wrong?”
The photographer continued to look uneasy. However, he did decide to break the news to the detective, albeit gently. Walking over to the coffee table, he picked up the stack of photographs and handed them to Nick. “I think these can explain it better than I can.”
The vampire flipped through the pictures, admiring Chance’s skill and good taste. “Why would these upset her?” he asked, looking up at the other man with a confused expression on his face. “I see nothing wrong with them.”
“You don’t?” Chance exclaimed, surprised. “Let me see them.” He grabbed the photos. “They’re gone!” he exclaimed after a brief perusal. “I can’t believe it–someone stole them!” This is just too much, even for me!
“What’s gone? Who stole what?” Nick asked, still looking confused.
“The pictures of you and Janette sharing blood!” Chance blurted out. Instantly, he regretted it.
The vampire started, then glared at him with glowing eyes. “WHAT?!” he roared. Then, seeing that he’d scared the photographer, Nick fought to regain control. “I’m sorry, Chance–you took me by surprise with that one. How the hell did you know that’s what we were doing?”
Glad that Nick had de-vamped, but still shaking a little, Chance explained how he had stumbled upon him and Janette in the office. He then explained how Nat had stumbled upon the two now-missing photos.
“I guess it upset her a lot, huh?” the detective asked softly. He’d never anticipated anything like this.
“Yeah, it did.” Chance paused. The question that had been nagging at him ever since the Raven was bothering him even more now. “I don’t…” He stopped, shaking his head.
“I just don’t understand this thing between you and these two women. The impression I got at the precinct the other night was that you and Nat were seeing each other…or were, at least, close. Then I saw you with Ms. DuCharme…I just don’t understand.” The photographer blushed when he realized he was rambling.
Nick didn’t know what to say. Chance wasn’t the only one who didn’t understand his relationship with the two women, so he decided to ignore the other man’s comments about the touchy situation.
“Nat told you about me?” he asked. The photographer nodded. Nick’s voice dropped low, gaining the familiar cadence it took on when he hypnotized someone. Chance’s heartbeat thumped loudly in his ears. “Chance…” he spoke slowly, “you must forget all about vampires…and the pictures you took. There are no vampires…”
Chance blinked. What is it with these people? “Whatever it is you’re trying to do, it won’t work. Someone at the Raven already tried it.”
Nick looked flabbergasted. Now he not only didn’t know what to say, he also didn’t know what to do.