“I know Jindi’s murder is important to you, Sydran, but we have to protect the pack!”
Sydran doubled his fists as his face reddened as he glared at Xander. “Then you go. Protect the pack. But I’m going to see the vamp that killed Jindi’s sister. He’s our only lead right now.”
Detective Matterson stroked his chin. “The best thing to do is to split up. There are too many cases and too much going on for us to work collectively right now. Sydran’s right. The best thing you can do is to go visit the vampire in prison. See what you get out of him. Xander, protect the pack. While you’re at it, see if you can find any leads on the missing Alpha.”
“What are you going to do?” Xander asked.
Matterson I’m going to run down leads on your wife—talk to the coroner and look at the body myself.”
At that, Sydran winced. “Yeah, that’s probably best,” he muttered. His chest throbbed, so he rushed out the door before Matterson or Xander could see him. Tears fell down his eyes and all he could see was Jindi’s body lying in a pool of her own blood. The blood filled his mind, consuming everything around him—it splattered on the walls—
A hand gripped his shoulder and Xander stood beside him. “You alright, Sydran?”
But Sydran couldn’t speak around the lump in his throat—or the pain inside his heart.
One of the last people he had ever expected to see again was this vampire. His name was Rathian and he was one of the most ruthless vampires Sydran had ever met—which was saying something, given their nature.
To visit Deadwatch Prison, you had to get special permission from the warden, who just so happened to also be a supernatural creature—a werewolf, actually. He maintained the place but also ran it cold and hard, but he had to, given how bad most of the criminals in here were.
After being screened, stripped, searched, and approved for entry, Sydran was finally allowed inside the visiting chambers. Unlike prisons for humans, these visiting chambers had reinforced steel chains along one wall, behind cells that were controlled by the control room—which was kept separated from the cell blocks inside the prison, in case of a riot. Guards stood at every door and interval.
Sydran stood in front of one cage, where Rathian was tossed from a door on the side. It was locked twice from that side, since the front—where Sydran faced—didn’t have a door. To protect the visitors and further secure the prisoners. Then, there was the fact that only one visitation was allowed at a time—wouldn’t want too many supernatural creatures in the same room together all at once.
“You,” Rathian growled. He charged forward but the chains stopped him and jerked him to a halt.
Sydran crossed his arms, narrowing his gaze on the creature after what he had done to Jindi and her sister. A year and a half later, and Jindi had been terrified to go anywhere, especially alone. He had ruined her life. Then again, Sydran’s thoughts whispered to him cruelly, it isn’t like it matters now. “Who else were you working for?”
The vampire hissed. “I thought I made it clear that I wasn’t going to tell you or anyone else anything. The case has been over for a year now. Leave me alone.”
Sydran shook his head. “Can’t do that. Who were you working with?”
“No one. I worked alone. I don’t like to share my prey.” At this, Rathian smirked.
Sydran’s stomach churned and he grasped the bars so tightly that his knuckles whitened. “Who else works with you?” The words were a growl.
Rathian licked his lips. “No one! I sucked your wife dry and killed her sister all on my own. Your wife just got lucky.”
Sydran roared in fury and shook the bars so violently that they rattled.
The vampire laughed.
“Who did you hire to finish the job?” Sydran snapped.
Rathian blinked at him. “’Finish the job?’ What’s that supposed to…?”
Sydran mentally cursed when he realized his mistake. He’d given too much away.
“Someone done in your wife, did they?” Rathian licked his lips again and the sight made Sydran’s stomach twist until he wanted to vomit. “She tasted exquisite. Wish I could have been the one to do it.” He closed his eyes and Sydran would have given anything to end this creature’s miserable life right here.
“But you didn’t,” Sydran said with a growl. “Because you’re stuck in here in prison, like a caged animal. And will be for the rest of your life.”
Rathian’s lip curled down into a snarl—exactly what Sydran wanted. Unfortunately, he didn’t stay like that for long. “Well, now, Detective. You lost your wife anyway.”
Adrenaline and fury surged through Sydran like a wildfire and the room felt too hot. Strength and power flew through his arms as he yanked on the bars and they ripped apart. With a wild growl, Sydran launched himself on Rathian in his wolf form before Sydran fully processed what was happening. His teeth dug into Rathian’s neck.
Agony swept through him as the guards sprinted toward him with tasers. He saw them too late, and white-hot agony swept through him. Blackness fell across his vision as Sydran collapsed onto the floor and unconsciousness dragged him under.
When Sydran woke, he lay on a cot inside a cell with his hands cuffed behind him. His shoulder throbbed and pulsed with agony and his heart raced in his chest.
One of the guards stood in front of the cell door. “This is where we throw anyone from outside the prison who causes trouble—in the security house. Now, Detective, are you going to behave? You’re lucky we got the vamp to the infirmary in time.”
“Should’ve let him bleed out,” Sydran muttered, fortunately too low for the officer to hear. He sat up on the cot with a groan as his shoulder where the gunshot wound was sent a wave of pain shooting through his entire arm. “Did he bite me?”
The guard nodded. “Yep. Don’t worry. We already extracted his venom.”
“Did you have to tase me?” Sydran shook his head but his heart still pounded furiously.
“Had to make it look convincing. If the warden or the guards catch me helping you out, I could get fired and I happen to like this job.” The guard, named Caleb, unlocked the cell and stepped inside. “Warden said you’re free to go if you leave immediately.” Caleb bent down and uncuffed Sydran’s hands.
He rubbed his wrists for a moment before standing to his feet.
Caleb pulled out a vial and handed it to him. “So, how come you couldn’t just ask the warden to have Rathian’s venom extracted?”
Sydran blew out a breath that he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He grabbed the vial and stuck it inside his jacket pocket. “Because, if Rathian somehow killed my wife, it means that he got outside help. The warden is the only person who could’ve let this happen—everyone who goes in and out of the prison gets checked by him. Besides, you’ve heard the rumors about the warden’s corruption, same as I have.” It was the last thing Sydran wanted to bring up to his friend, especially since Caleb loved the job so much, but it was a possibility. And when it came to his wife’s murder, all possibilities had to be explored.
Caleb shook his head. “I know my uncle has some history. And he only got this job as the warden because he’s close with the Elders in the pack, but that doesn’t mean he’d help a criminal murder your wife. That’s a stretch, Sydran.”
Sydran shook his head. “Maybe. Maybe not. Even if there’s a faint chance it’s true, I have to take precautions. For my wife’s sake.” With that, he headed to the door and gazed over his shoulder at his friend. “You know, I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve risked for me, Caleb. I mean it. You’re a good friend.”
Caleb grinned at him and rubbed the back of his neck. He’d always been shy. How he managed to be a prison guard, Sydran had no idea, but he’d seen him at work—the man was good and even the prisoners here respected him. “Ah, it’s nothing. Just go find your wife’s killer, alright?”
Sydran nodded and left the prison behind. All he could pray for was that Rathian’s venom was found inside his wife—that it was a match. If Rathian indeed had outside help, he would have chosen a vampire that he sired and that vampire would have healed any bite on Jindi’s body to cover up what he had done and would have Rathian’s venom inside him. So, there’d be traces of it inside her.
Sydran held himself together until he got to the parking lot. It was empty for now, so he let his legs collapse from beneath him and his knees slammed into the pavement hard. He cried out, vomiting onto the ground as the sight of his wife’s body once again invaded his mind. His cry of heartache and grief turned into a scream of sheer, raw agony. It morphed into a howl as he turned into a wolf to forget—to forget it all, even for a brief moment.