the vampire murder case (part forty)

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My employer skillfully balanced her questioning with casual conversation, so she learned quite a bit (none of which seemed significant to me) without Christy and Fifteen feeling like they were being interrogated.

After quizzing Christy for some time (and immediately changing the subject whenever it seemed as though she was bumping into Jinx secrets), eventually she turned her attention to Fifteen. We were well into coffee and dessert by then, and my employer was smoking.

"So," she asked him, "what can you tell me about vampires as a cultural phenomenon?"

He pursed his lips thoughtfully. "There aren't any?" he suggested after a moment.

She laughed as the waiter poured more coffee. "I should have been more specific. Are there recent events that relate somehow, or might relate, to the question of vampires?"

"You've heard about Ashford's new book, I assume?"

She nodded. "Oh, yes."

"Well, in addition to that, there are a few people dressing up, playing at biting passersby. There are rumors of an increase in vampire-based role playing in... shall we say, private situations, but of course that's difficult to quantify."

"Thank goodness for that."

"There isn't any general panic, but rumors are increasing, and some people are coming to us with various questions and fears." He shook his head, unusually serious. "It's not going in a good direction, let's just say that." Then he smiled. "And of course there's the fashion angle," he said with a tilt of his head, indicating the four people two tables away from us, all very pale with black hair and elegant black clothes.

Jan nodded. "Of course."

I looked more closely at the young woman of that group who was closest to me. Turning to Fifteen, I tapped myself on the side of the neck.

He smiled. "The scars are considered quite chic. In some circles."

Christy shook her head. "I made the mistake of telling my son how silly I thought this all was. So, of course now he wants to get bitten himself."

I could tell that Jan was restraining herself from asking a question. She was interested in learning the age of Christy's son, just out of idle curiosity, but given the age of Christy's boyfriend, even my employer realized that this could be an awkward topic.

"Is there any anti-Jinx sentiment," she asked instead, "because of people seeing Åsa?"

Fifteen shook his head. "Not really. Vampires were already a hot topic before Åsa started appearing, and the general theory seems to be that if the Jinx had anything to hide, they wouldn't have called you in."

She smiled. "People have asked for my help and ended up regretting it, but I'm sure people assume Dr. Lee is too smart to make that mistake."

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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