Heart of the Vampire : (Episode 3) by Tasha Black

“I, uh, had to get creative,” Dru admitted.

“Meaning?” He gazed up at her with interest.

“I went into the catacombs and did face recognition using his corpse,” she said, hoping that wasn’t a criminal act.

“Very smart,” he said. “Probably wouldn’t have had much time to do that either, what with decomposition. Anything useful on the phone?”

“Messages saying he was here for some kind of payday,” Dru said. “And we noticed he signed some emails Nick instead of Brian.”

“Mmm,” Wagner nodded. “Channing still have the phone?”

“Nope, I’ve got that one, too,” Dru said. She pulled it out of her pocket and handed it to him.

“It sounds like Channing was heading up the investigation,” Wagner said. “Why do you have all the phones?”

“Channing just gave me his before we sat down,” she explained. “In case you wanted to see the pictures.”

“And the victim’s?” he asked.

“Well, like I said, I was the one who figured out how to unlock it,” she reminded him. “And then I guess I just kind of held onto it.”

“Did you use it for anything else after your initial search?”

“Almost,” she told him.

He raised an eyebrow, clearly expecting her to elaborate.

“I was in the sitting room early this morning,” she explained. “I was using newspaper to fuel the fire. And the one I grabbed happened to have a cover story about the mob case. I saw Brian on the cover. And I also saw Johnny.”

Wagner nodded.

“My own phone battery is dead, and the generator wasn’t on yet,” Dru said. “But Brian’s phone had a tiny bit of juice left. So I grabbed it and headed out to hike the hillside like Hailey and Viktor and I did before, so I could try to call the police again and share what I had learned.”

“But you didn’t,” Wagner said.

“Nope,” Dru replied. “I never had a chance. As soon as I got outside, I saw Johnny was out there smoking again. And he saw the newspaper I had in my hands. He knew that I knew.”

Wagner was scrawling furiously.

“H-he held up a gun,” Dru said unsteadily. She had done her best not to think about it. “And he told me to come to him.”

“And you went?” Wagner asked.

“Yeah,” Dru said. “I was afraid to run.”

Wagner nodded.

“Then the front door to the hotel opened and I turned to see who it was,” Dru said. “That’s when Johnny grabbed me and put the gun right to my head.”

She touched her temple, which was still tender from the pressure of the metal barrel.

“Who was it?” Wagner asked. “At the hotel door?”

“Viktor Striker,” she replied. “One of the guests.”

“What did he do?” Wagner asked.

“He told Johnny to let me go, but he wouldn’t.” She swallowed hard, not anxious to remember the next part. “Then Viktor charged at us, and Johnny shot him.”

“A man has been shot?” Wagner asked, looking up.

“Yes,” Dru said.

“Is he in danger?” Wagner asked. “I knew there was a gunshot, but no one said there was an injured person.”

“He’s going to be fine,” Dru said, realizing her error. She wasn’t even sure if Viktor still had a wound after she fed him. That had kind of been the whole point. What was she going to say when Viktor showed up without a scratch on him?

“Can he corroborate your story?” Wagner asked.

“Of course,” she said. “But I’m sure he’s resting now. He’s in some kind of international work, so he sleeps during the day.”

She looked around the lobby. Sunlight was streaming in every window. There was no way he could talk with Viktor right now.

“I need to interview him before he forgets anything,” Wagner explained. “I’m sure he can wake up for a few minutes for something this important. He can’t have been in bed that long and with all the excitement, I doubt he’s even asleep. In my experience, gunshot victims tend to be traumatized, no matter how minor.”

“Oh,” Dru said, utterly unable to come up with one good reason why they couldn’t go see Viktor.

“Come on, let’s go check on your knight in shining armor,” Wagner said, winking at her as he rose from his chair and gestured for her to lead the way.