San Myshuno, Ana’s Penthouse
“When did you buy this place?” Penny asked, surveying the apartment as Anastasia led her down the hall. It was covered head to toe in dark, expensive furnishings that managed a vintage look without appearing fussy.
“You like it? It’s all me. Jimena decorated that awful condo, but I’ve loved this place since I bought it back in 1925,” she looked over her shoulder and winked, “I was still flush with cash from my divorce, and my ex-husband was sleeping, so I took the opportunity to get out of town.”
They stopped in the kitchen which was filled with sumptuous black cabinetry and glass doors leading out to a balcony. Penny couldn’t imagine how much it cost or how to make sense of Ana’s answer. “Are you exaggerating? How can you buy and furnish a house overnight?”
“It wasn’t overnight. You can be in a vampiric slumber for years. In his case, sixty. He was very angry.”
“Angry?” Penny did a double take, “You mean depressed?”
“Why would he be depressed? We broke up. He was furious.”
Was this bitch serious? “No one takes a fucking sixty-year nap because they’re angry. It’s called depression. Your ex-husband was sad. What happened?”
And will it happen to me?
“I did something he didn’t like, and he did something I didn’t like.”
Penny folded her arms. “That seems like the understatement of the century.”
“Fine,” Ana tossed her hair. “He did something cruel, and unforgivable. He destroyed what was precious to me, and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t wake up dreaming of his suffering.”
Penny sighed. Were all vampires this dramatic? “Nevermind. Sorry, I asked. What’s for dinner?”
“The chef delivered the oysters an hour ago.” There was a teasing glint in Ana’s eyes. “They’ve been on ice ever since. I suggest we down them before they take a turn.”
“Oysters?” Penny glanced around the kitchen, annoyed. She hadn’t said she was a werewolf, but her craving for meat was well known. “Are you serious? No steak? Do you want me to starve?”
The vampire’s eyes darkened, her mouth curving into a downright wicked smile. “Good girls get steak.”
Suddenly, Penny was intensely aware of her own heartbeat. “Is that what we’re doing tonight?”
Please say that’s what we’re doing tonight. Have mercy and tell me what to do.
But Anastasia was not merciful. She raised a brow, putting the burden back on Penny. “Is that what you want to do tonight?”
Mickey-D’s, San Myshuno
Caleb read the sign on the building a third time. “Mickey-D’s? What are we doing here? I thought Bob lived in Willow Creek.”
“We can’t go to Willow Creek!” Bella threw her hands out and then froze like she was suddenly aware of her body. Straightening, she cleared her throat. “I mean, we can’t go to Bob’s house because he’s at work finishing his shift. Come on, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee and you can sober up.”
Caleb didn’t bother to point out that he didn’t really need to sober up. It was a vampiric curse and a gift. Maybe if his hangovers lasted longer, he’d try to avoid them.
“Here,” she handed him a piping hot cup.
He took a sip and spit it out. Caleb didn’t have the same level of food snobbery as the rest of his family, but still. “Is this the swill mortals live on?”
She winked. “Manna straight from the great llama in the sky.”
Given the bitterness and strangely tangy aftertaste, Caleb was thinking it came from somewhere lower. Much lower.
Chuckling at his horrified response, Bella flashed her badge, and they headed into a room marked “Employees Only.” Inside, a man in a dirty apron was grabbing a bag out of a locker. He turned as they approached, expression morphing from tired to furious. “I thought I wasn’t a suspect!”
“You’re not,” Caleb said quickly, hoping to defuse the situation. “We just have some questions about your wife.”
Bob’s eyes darted back and forth between them, and he adopted a defensive posture. “W-what happened to the other guy? The surfer one? I liked him.”
Mortals were universally terrible at recognizing supernatural creatures, but some were smart enough to listen to the small voice in their heads that warned them of danger.
“He’s sick,” Bella said. She drained the last of her coffee, a deceptively casual action. “Listen, Bob, we’re here because we need you to cut the crap, and as soon as you tell us the things you were leaving out about your relationship, we’ll leave.”
“I told you,” he began, hunching over as if he could make himself smaller. “We had issues. I’m a lazy, good-for-nothing, and we were getting a divorce. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick my son up from daycare.”
Bella scowled, tossing her cup down. “Bob, that’s bullshit. Your wife is dead, and we’ve got reason to believe that—”
“Marriage is hard,” Caleb soothed. “There’s no shame in that. We didn’t come here to judge you or even to pick a fight. We just need to know everything so we can find out who killed her.”
His chin trembled. “She was cheating on me. What a cliche, right? Like, of course, she was. Look at me,” he gestured at his slumped frame, “I saw him once. Abs of steel, perfect hair, probably half my age.”
“Did you find out who he was?” Caleb asked, already knowing the answer. Bob had mentioned too many details for someone who didn’t investigate the man his wife was screwing.
“I-I did,” Bob cringed. “I poured over social media; I guess I was a little obsessed. I found him: Salim Benali, bubble-blower dealer, petty thug.”
Bella had been keeping her silence, but now she exploded. “Why didn’t you tell us? He could be a suspect! He could have killed her!”
“What?” Bob looked ill, “He was just some deadbeat she had an affair with. I didn’t say anything because…because I still love her. Even if it was true, I didn’t think her memory needed ‘cheating wife’ added to the mix.” He dashed away tears, expression bleak, “What the hell is wrong with me? I know it doesn’t make any sense.”
Caleb put a quelling hand on Bella’s arm. He didn’t think Bob had any more secrets and frankly, her reaction wasn’t helping. “It is possible to feel many things at once. And they may all be true,” he told the sim quietly. “Thanks for the information; we’ll let you know what comes of it.”