tagSci-Fi & FantasyBlood & Magic Ch. 08

Blood & Magic Ch. 08


Kirstin wondered if she was becoming a sadist, inheriting a vampires' lack of empathy as she typed in "U of M security, suspended, sex scandal" into google. She knew Dominic made the woman do "something vulgar" but why did she need to know what it was? It was that, or let her anxiety take over as she wondered what favor he would ask of her in the future, or why Melissa seemed so outraged that Kirstin would make such a deal.

Fortunately, the first link that popped up had the headline "U of M dormitory a host for 'sexual misconduct." Clicking on the link, Kirstin leaned forward on her work computer to read the article.

"A University of Michigan sorority is undergoing investigation after several reports were made regarding students and staff engaging in "inappropriate sexual behavior" Some students reported that several women were spotted in states of undress as well as one male student. Another student reported spotting a campus police officer viewing pornography while she engaged in an "inappropriate" act. U of M administrators tried to look at security cameras but all footage had been erased that night. The security officer is currently suspended while campus officials investigate"

Resting her head on the desk, Kirstin took deep inhales to prevent her guilt in being part of the incident. Although she didn't tell the woman to do anything, just taking Dominic there would cost someone their job. As much as Kirstin would liked to have thought that it was necessary to stop a killer, she didn't think Melissa and Dominic actually got involved to save lives.

"Hey you all right?"

Almost leaping up from her chair, Kirstin turned to see Aaron looking down on her, two coffee cups in his hand. "Jesus, you scared me." she said, taking one out of his hand. "Yeah I'm fine, just didn't get a lot of sleep."

"Neither did the people in that dorm." he said, gesturing to the monitor that still displayed the headline. "I heard through the grapevine that one of the streakers was Helena's roommate Maggie."

"uh... really?" Kirstin said, her grip getting tighter around the mug. "What else did you hear?"

Aaron's eyes widened. "Just that the security officer was caught, pants around her ankles, hand down her panties watching Hentai."

Instantly, Kirstin could feel her cheeks getting warm at just imagining that, thinking back to her own evening of public masturbation. "What is hentai?"

Scratching the back of his neck, Aaron cringed, "ehh just porn drawn in that Japanese animation style. It can be normal soft core stuff to really sci fi graphic. I guess that woman is into tentacles."

"OKAAY, that's enough of that." Kirstin said as she held up a hand. Perverted vampires were enough for her.

"Anyway, I have to ask you about a decision," Aaron said. "Do you want to interview Mr. Heyman or Mr. Varnes, Matthews' father?"

Kirstin was speechless, for once in her career, she she didn't want Aaron to be good at his job. "Erm..." she drew out the unintelligible noise to buy time and think over which one would keep her department off the true tale. The question was, who seemed most tied to vampires? A father who lost his son or a man who mysteriously pulled strings? It seemed like an easy choice, but for some reason assuming that no father would ever put his son in danger seemed too easy to rely on, especially after what Kirstin witnessed in how Dominic and Melissa behaved. "Let me speak to the father. I've already spoke with the therapist, so i'd be interested in hearing his take on Matt's mental health." that and she could possibly corroborate with Sakeena anything the father shared.

Jacob Varnes had an office in the Medical School at the University of Michigan located in downtown Ann Arbor. Kirstin located him with a simple web search and was able to schedule an appointment just after his scheduled office hours were. After checking in with the front desk staff, she was sent past the desk and down a white hallway lined with framed portraits of faculty and medical personnel. Kirstin tried to locate Mr. Varnes but remembered he was newly hired.

Once she reached the second door at the end of the hallway, she turned to look inside and found a man wearing a lavender button up shirt and a maroon tie. Small traces of grey hair showed up in his beard and thinning hair but overall he seemed to be in relatively good health from Kirstins' assessment. He looked up and without smiling said, "Hello, you must be detective Delaney. I'm Jacob Varnes."

"Hello Mr. Varnes, thank you for seeing me in such short notice. I apologize that it's taken so long to finally meet with you."

"Well my understanding was you found the woman responsible, is that not the case anymore?" he asked, sitting down but not bothering to offer Kirstin a seat.

Kirstin's head rose slightly as she took in a deep inhale once registering the distress on his face. "We do have a suspect in custody and are just following up on other details. Particularly your safety."

A smile spread across Varnes' face, one Kirstin knew to be insincere given her experience dealing with upset citizens who were on the verge of losing their composure in front of law enforcement. "I'm fine, I just want someone to find my sons' killer so I can get some sleep finally."

"You and your son both recently moved to Ann Arbor for your work correct?"

"Yes, I had a job offer collaborating with research testing new medication with people at U of M."

"And where did you work before that?" she asked, trying to keep his mind focused on her questions rather than the emotions over losing his son.

"We came from New York,"

Kirstin's lips pursed as she let a beat drop before asking her next question. "And, in your time working there did you ever have any conflict with any colleagues back in New York? Perhaps from a misunderstanding or someone who just felt you slighted them?"

Varnes' eyebrow raised, "No nothing like that. Why?"

Kirstin's hands were held up, "Just checking all scenarios. While we do have a suspect, we need to make sure your sons' death wasn't meant as an indirect attack towards you."

"You haven't told me the suspects' name or who they are. Why is that?"

Indeed why, perhaps it was because Kirstin knew inside that Helena wasn't actually guilty and thus, didn't feel right giving away her identity. "We're still collecting evidence to try her."

He learned forward, almost as if to lunge at Kirstin. 'A bloody t-shirt of my son isn't enough?"

Closing her eyes and sighing, Kirstin held her hands up again, "I'm sorry Mr. Varnes, but while I can tell you we're looking into another student that Matthew may have known, I can't disclose much else about the persons' identity." before he could voice his disdain she tried to redirect him again, "What we're trying to do is rule out other possibilities, such as outside parties that might have a reason to go after you."

"As I said before, to my knowledge I have no one who would have any reason to go after me. why would they?"

"That's a good question, you did just move here for research, is that a competitive field?"

"It can be." he said, slumping back in his chair when he realized she wasn't going to give him what he wanted.

"If I may ask about the medication, what does it do?"

"We're hoping it will act as a new drug to treat patients with anemia by increasing blood flow. Of course we're still in trial periods."

"Who are you collaborating with?"

"Just the Marsha Cross Hospital in Detroit. I actually have to leave soon and change because there is going to be a banquet ceremony for it tonight."

Kirstin's face remained stoic although the signs of a potential new medication backed by a hospital who had enough money to throw a large celebration didn't seem like the thing Mr. Varnes wouldn't gain attention from others. One more question drew Kristin's attention, "How did Mr. Heyman come into contact with you? I understand he helped get you hired."

Varnes nodded, "He did. He has contacts with that hospital and when they wanted me to come here, he agreed to try to get me and my son a job at U of M in exchange for doing clinical trials at the hospital."

"Had you met him or any of the associates from Marsha Cross before?"

Varnes shook his head, "Just through e-mail. He contacted me via my e-mail at my previous job after reading about some of my research on the company website. Guess I should have passed."

Kirstin watched Varnes' eyes fall down to looking at his desk at a picture frame sitting by his computer. the details of his meeting with Mr. Heyman. She hesitated prodding a parent in mourning. "Heyman is with the business college, I guess I'm not sure I see how that relates to clinical trials for a blood related medication."

Varnes made a heavy sigh and pressed his hands into the desk, "He told me his area of interest is administrative medicine. If you're wondering about the hospitals credentials, it all checks out. I had people look into it before agreeing to something that significant of a change. The director there is Dr. Mya Wallace." he opened the drawer to his desk and rifled through it to pull out a white card containing the name of the hospital. The logo had a symbol of a long cross with fleur de lis tips.

He let Kirstin take the card before saying, "Now if you'll excuse me detective, I need to get ready for tonight."

Pocking the card, Kirstin said, "thank you for your time Mr. Varnes. I am sorry for your loss and will be sure to keep you posted if we hear anything new.

A smile spread across his face matched with a sharp exhale as he shook his head. "Thanks." he rose from his seat and turned away from Kirstin to grab his jacket, as if to discard her the same way the police department had for him.

**** The doorbell rang and Kirstin cursed as she fixed her hair in the bathroom, having rarely styled it in curls with her crimper. She didn't think she'd ever dress up for the evening, but when Melissa demanded Kirstin accompany Sakeena and her to the banquet, she scrambled to find her best dress for the evening. Even if it was investigative work, she wanted to impress Sakeena.

Slightly wrinkled, Kirstin donned her V-neck red cocktail dress that hugged her body, bending along with her hips as she shook them so she could pull it the rest of the way down. The doorbell wrung a third time and she grabbed her black high heels, slipping them on one after the other as she ran to the door. "Coming!" she called out.

Kirstin pulled open the door and nearly fell backwards when she saw Sakeena leaning against the doorframe. Her hair was also crimped for the evening, bouncing just above her shoulders. She had on a long dark blue gown with thin straps that hugged her curvy body, her dark brown leg peaked out from the slit in the side. "My my, Detective Delaney you certainly know how to dress up."

Kirstin didn't answer, her eyes were focused on Sakeena's cleavage and then to her hips, wondering what was underneath. Her body rose ten degrees as she finally looked into Sakeena's eyes. "You look pretty sexy yourself Dr. Fakhouri." she said with a grin. She closed her eyes and leaned forward to Kiss Sakeena but then she heard the clearing of a throat from someone else.

"If you two don't mind, we're actually preparing for work, not pleasure." Melissa said, standing behind Sakeena. Unlike the other two, Melissa was dressed for a more casual night, wearing jeans and a longsleeve button up shirt.

"Aren't you going in with us?" Kirstin asked in a sharp tone.

"I am, but I don't plan on being seen." she said. I'll be watching while you two pretend to mingle and see what else you can learn.

"And where is Dominic.?" Kirstin stepped outside to close the door.

"Don't know, he said he had other business to attend to." Melissa said as she led the way. "Just be sure to focus on the people there and not on each other."

"Yes doctor." Sakeena said, the glow on her face faded from the sobering reminder of their purpose. "You're both confident we'll find something at this banquet?"

"Probably not, but at least we'll get a sense of how important Mr. Varnes is." Kirstin said before turning to Melissa. "Where will you be?"

"Listening in on other conversations. I don't suppose you know if this Mr. Heyman will be there?"

"No idea, I can try pointing him out if you ask. I looked at his profile picture on the U of M website." Kirstin said. Heyman looked to be in his late 30s, it was hard to tell because his head was cleanshaven. She could see why the HR manager at the stadium disliked Heyman. he had the brightest smile out of all the other business faculty, perfectly white and straight teeth glowing. She wondered if he had any regret or offered any comfort to Mr. varnes after hearing about Matthews' death.

The banquet was being held in a conference room at the Hilton in downtown Detroit. It took them an extra half hour to get inside after navigating through traffic and finding parking. When they got out they could see other citizens stepping out of their cars, men wearing tuxedos with women wearing lavish gowns. If Kirstin didn't know better she would've thought a movie premiere was going on.

"Remember now, no looking for me or trying to talk to me." Melissa said as she opened the car door.

Kirstin was about to respond and then realized that would be the exact opposite of what she had just been told. Rather than look for Melissa she walked around the car to greet Sakeena, smiling to her as if they were enjoying a night on the town, even with their undead chaperone nearby.

Sakeena watched Kirstin's hand open and rise, only to fall to her side as she continued to walk. "Wait a minute." Sakeena said, reaching for Kirstins' hand. "Your hands have explored my entire body and now your afraid to hold my hand?"

Thinking back to their last sexual encounter, Kirstin's face almost blushed as she gripped Sakeena's hand and walked with her, wondering if Melissa was reading their thoughts in that moment. All of those concerns disappeared once they were inside the hotel and the sounds of the busy city of Detroit were replaced with the music of the jazz band playing in the room.

Large round tables scattered throughout the dining hall, each lit with candles and decorated with the hotels' kitchenware. At the door, the person asked them for their charge, $300 per plate for charity. Before Kirstin could negotiate with her, Sakeena was quick to withdraw her checkbook and handed it to the host. "Thanks...I guess I'll take you out for the next hundred dates." Kirstin said.

"I'd take you up on that if I actually enjoyed food." Sakeena said dryly. She walked towards her table without saying another word, not bothering to look up and notice Kirstin staring at her.

Kirstin waited for them to be seated before she leaned forward to whisper, 'Do you mean...you..you're like Melissa?"

Sakeena's face remained stoic, waiting for the waiter to approach them and serve two glasses of red wine. She took it and threw her head back to sip. "Mm. consider it half and half." she said, "I'm alive..but the real sustenance comes from her."

While Sakeena took her time drinking, Kirstin almost downed her glass in one gulp, tracing the rim with her finger as she wondered if Melissa would stop her from asking more questions. "And..if you don't get any?"

"I die."

Kirstin didn't get a chance to respond because the music stopped and the audience applauded, forcing her to do the same so as not to draw attention. The stage was crowded with a dozen musicians, a spotlight aimed in the center with the singer, an African American gentleman in his 40s. He bowed and then looked off to the side, "Thank you everyone welcome to the Charity Gala for The Marsha Cross Hospital. We'll be serving dinner soon but before we start, I just wanted to open the floor for one of the organizers of this evening. He is faculty at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and has coordinated research at the hospital for many years. Please welcome Mr. Terry Heyman."

People rose to their feet and clapped as their eyes followed the spotlight dancing across the room until it located the balding Mr. Heyman, dressed in a tuxedo with a white tie. He smiled his celebrity like teeth as he waved his hand and approached the stage. During this time, Kirstin tried keeping her eyes out for Mr. Varnes, imagining that if he was the guest of honor she'd be able to locate him in no time.

"Thank you everyone." Heyman said, waiting for the audience to calm down. He had both hands clasped in front of his lap and continued, "Thank for coming out this evening and supporting what we hope to be the beginning of a groundbreaking treatment for clinicians dedicating their work to anemia. This is a benefit dinner to raise funds for a long term clinical trial for a new medication, developed by Mr. Jacob Varnes." he gestured to a table near the back of the room where Varnes sat solemnly by a group of men and women in their late 40s.

"As some of you who have been keeping up with the news know, Mr. Varnes recently moved here and unfortunately suffered a tragedy. Therefore before we continue I would request that we all take a moment of silence in honor of his son."

It almost looked like a kings' court the way everyone's heads bowed, all facing the direction of Heyman. Kirstin did the same, although her eyes remained open, pupils traveling from east to west to capitalize on the moment of silence where people wouldn't know they were being watched. Everyone seemed at peace, honoring a dead son they had never met. It wasn't until Kirstin looked at the far end table closest to the buffet that she saw one person with her head held high, as if she were also watching the others. Her hair was dark brown, hanging several inches above her shoulders. Her front bangs concealed most of her youthful face, but Kirstin could still see the woman looked young enough to be an intern. She wore a strapless red dress that wrapped tight around a slender figure. Her lips were painted with a dark maroon color, almost camouflaging her within the room. Before Kirstin could follow the womans' eyes, everyone's heads rose and she disappeared.

"Thank you. This night is not just for the hospital, This is a night to Honor Jacob Varnes' work as well as we dive into the future. For now though we will allow you all to help yourselves to tonight's' banquet and later on we will open up the floor for speeches so until then, enjoy." Heyman's smile returned along with the music and people waited for the army of waiters to serve them their bounty. The main course for the evening was either chicken, rib eye stake with asparagus and mashed potatoes and a portobello mushroom for those who did not eat meat.

Kirstin and Sakeena poked at their food but didn't have an appetite knowing that Melissa might be nearby watching them. "Kind of an awkward way to transition to dinner after mourning someone." Kirstin said.

"All death is awkward." Sakeena quietly added before taking a bite of asparagus.

Kirstin didn't respond, she was too busy searching for her mysterious woman who had disappeared from her seat. Kirstin's body language was not unwatched and Sakeena was the first address it. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"I just saw someone that looked oddly placed." she rose from her seat, "Just stay here, I'm going to do some people finding."

Sakeena touched Kirstins' hand before she left, "Kirstin, if you see something...don't go after it, please come get me."

Kirstin looked down at Sakeena, about to reassure her that all was fine, but her eyes were so wide Kirstin almost wanted to sit back down. Instead she nodded and then turned away once Sakeena released her. Kirstin snaked her way through tables and people getting up to talk to their friends, her head turning left and right in search of the mysterious woman. Part of Kirstin hoped Melissa was listening in on her thoughts so she too could locate the woman she'd seen.

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