Home > Playing Their Parts (Kindred Tales #31)

Playing Their Parts (Kindred Tales #31)
Author: Evangeline Anderson

 

One

 

 

“Hope you two don’t have any exciting plans this weekend because I’m afraid I have something new for you. Fresh homicide.” Captain Perkins handed Detective Stonev—Stone for short—a new dispatch.

Watching her partner of two years take the paper, Detective Cassandra Steel couldn’t hold back a groan. She and Stone had plans to go see Lady A perform that night at the Tampa Amphitheater. It was a rare, one-night-only performance and she’d been looking forward to it for months. Stone had somehow managed to get them front row seats—though he wouldn’t tell how, something to do with his Kindred connections, she assumed—but now it looked like their seats would be vacant and Lady A would play without them.

“You have a problem, Steel?” Captain Perkins shot her trademarked laser-beam stare at Cassie. “You object to doing your job, maybe?”

Cassie lifted her chin.

“Of course not, Captain. It’s just that Stone and I have plans and it’s almost quitting time. Just this once, can’t the regular Homicide department handle it? I mean, I’m sure it’s just another asshole who got crosswise with some Kindred warrior’s fiancée and got Rage-killed for his trouble, right?”

Back when the Tampa PD had decided to be the first police department in the world to put a Kindred warrior on their force and open a special branch devoted to Kindred-related crimes, Cassie had been elated to be chosen. Not that she was crazy for the Kindred like so many women were—she wasn’t. But being appointed to the Human-Kindred-Relations or HKR Force, as it was called, was a step up from beat cop—a chance to finally make detective.

Two years later, however, and the HKR Force seemed less like a step up and more like a dead end. That was because the crimes never, ever changed—they were almost all Rage-killings, which was what happened when a Kindred warrior felt like his human fiancée or wife was threatened.

The Kindred were, on the whole in Cassie’s opinion, extremely decent guys—some even called them Feminists because they believed so strongly in the equality of males and females. But any Kindred—be they Beast, Blood, Twin, or some other variety—would go into a murderous fit of berserker fury when the woman they loved was put in danger. Woe be to the would-be rapist or assailant who attacked a female attached to a Kindred—they were liable to end up in a puddle of their own blood, gasping their last before they even knew what hit them.

Because the World Council had ruled that a Kindred warrior could not be prosecuted for protecting his woman, these “Rage kills” as they were commonly called, were completely justified. Which meant that she and Stone spent most of their time interviewing and then releasing the Kindred warriors involved and then closing each and every case.

There were occasionally a few variations—some crank had called them the week before, complaining that a Beast Kindred was trespassing on his land. But it had turned out that the warrior had simply been getting his girlfriend’s cat out of a tree that was on the very border between her lawn and the neighbor’s. Aside from rare calls like that one, ninety-nine percent of their cases were the justified Rage-kills.

Besides those, the Kindred just didn’t commit any crimes. They didn’t steal or gamble or get drunk and get into fights with their wives or slap their kids around or kick their dogs. In fact, they were almost too good to be true—honorable and kind to a fault. And, as long as you left their women alone, extremely good citizens.

Cassie knew that any other homicide detective would have given her left ovary to have a case load that was one hundred percent cleared, but the sad fact was, she was bored. There was never any mystery to the crimes she and Stone “solved.”

There was always some kind of straight-forward provocation—like a human guy trying to rape a Kindred’s girlfriend—and then a justified killing where the Kindred in question went into Rage and ripped the rapist’s head off. As far as Cassie was concerned, the rapist got what was coming to him, but it still didn’t make the open and shut cases she dealt with on a daily basis any more interesting.

Which was one reason she wasn’t exactly jumping at the chance to miss a concert she’d been looking forward to for months in order to “solve” another one.

“Sorry to inconvenience you, Steel, but a regular Homicide unit isn’t equipped to deal with this one,” Captain Perkins told her, bringing Cassie back to the present. “And you and your partner are.”

“How much training does it take to deal with a Rage-killing?” Cassie asked, frowning. “They’re open and shut, by the numbers all the way. A rookie uniform could deal with it.”

“This is different,” the Captain assured her. “This is no Rage-killing—at least, we don’t think it is. Or if it is, the warrior in question killed the wrong one.”

“She’s right, Cassandra.” Her partner, Stone, looked up and Cassie saw with a little shock that his face looked pale. Stone was a Blood Kindred—all cool logic and reason to go with his dark blond hair and piercing, Husky-blue eyes. Nothing ever ruffled his feathers, so what was it about this case that had him looking like he’d seen a ghost?

“What do you mean?” she asked, leaning across her desk and reaching for the dispatch. “What’s different?”

“This time the murder victim isn’t male—it’s a female.” Stone’s deep voice was low and shocked. “And the perpetrator appears to have been…Kindred.”

 

 

Two

 

 

“That can’t be right.” Cassie snatched the dispatch out of her partner’s big hands and scanned it rapidly. Sure enough, the victim was a female. “But…Kindred don’t kill women,” she said blankly. “This has to be a mistake—right?”

“Don’t know until we check it out. Vic was Caucasian, mid-twenties. Found dead in a South Tampa residence on Bayshore,” Captain Perkins said, reciting the facts even as Cassie read them. “The body isn’t even cold yet—just called in by the owner of the house twenty minutes ago.”

“Bayshore?” Cassie looked at the address again and let out a long, low whistle. “This is going to be a mansion.”

If Tampa was a Monopoly game, Bayshore Avenue would have been Boardwalk. It boasted the longest unbroken length of sidewalk in the US, which edged Tampa Bay on one side and rows of stately mansions on the other side. The mansions themselves went for millions—even the more modest ones.

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