It was one-way glass, but as he looked ahead, it unnerved me to stand in his gaze.
My cell phone lit up with its silent ringtone. Mama called for the twentieth time. I hung up on her in an argument. She should’ve known better than to play with a vampire’s mood—half vampire or not. Mama immigrated here with her parents to start a new life away from the crime of the ‘old country.’ After this morning, it was safe to assume violence was everywhere, even in the towns with dirt roads.
Still, she insisted the arms of the vampire underground were out of range—if I obeyed the rules of my father’s kind. I grew up sheltered. The Charmed people of Romania stuck with their own. Grampa Dalca had an unnatural sense for people sneaking in and out of the house. I never knew if it was my family’s earth magic at work or if it was just his lived experience. I would have been grounded double my age by now if I wasn’t such a great negotiator.
Still, I was lucky to have a father figure to teach me to control my vampiric side and how to defend myself. As I looked down at the photos of evidence, the perp’s bruised penis, it was clear he’d picked a little girl who’d been taught to give a swift kick to the nuts. Not many girls are.
Constable Danny primed the perpetrator to enter the interrogation room.
Control, I reminded myself. It was the mantra Grampa Dalca gave me. I fought for my independence my whole life, and I only got this far by staying in control…mostly. If I lost myself when they finally let me sit in on an interrogation, I would fail.
“Are you ready?” Danny asked me.
“I couldn’t think of a nicer way to spend my summer than listening to you chat up perverts,” I said with a royal inflection.
“Does that mean you’re ready?” he asked, fighting a grin.
“All right, kid. Just observe the process for booking. We’ll overlook the final paperwork when I’m done.”
He called me kid all summer even though I’ve got boobs and I’m of legal drinking age.
Danny guided the perp into the interrogation room.
I trailed behind them.
The perp looked up at me and smiled. It was the type of smile which peels back one’s skin with the sick feeling that he is liking what he sees. But nineteen is too old to be his type, way too old.
I thought of his provocation of the girl and the hairs on my arms stood at attention. A boiling feeling in my belly rose to my chest. My heart thumped like a battering ram against my ribcage. My fire magic pushed into my throat. I held it back, making my knees sink to the floor. This was my father’s doing. I inherited the genes for fire magic from him, and if I knew him, I’d tell him what an ass it made him. I focused on my mantra and my earth magic. While I did, my vampiric senses slipped through my concentration.
The light blinded me. My hearing overwhelmed my ears. The beating hearts of those around me banged out like drums. My fangs slid down from the roof of my mouth. I was seconds away from the crippling thirst for blood. I concentrated on a bland memory of my childhood, sitting with my family by the fire. Forbidden to play with other kids, except Roman, Mama would make dolls out of clay which awoke with a breath of magic.
When I got older, I did what any teenager did—I rebelled. Going to Carleton University in Ottawa for Political Science, with the ambition of becoming an officer, was more than my family could take. Mama blamed the death of her parents on the fact their hearts couldn’t take my leaving. Twenty-four-hour pneumonia was the real killer.
Thoughts of my family grounded me. I rose from my semi-crouched position.
The other officers’ stares drilled into me.
But I knew how to portray my internal struggles as low blood sugar. My goals were simple. Stick to the rules of the law, whether this man deserved them or not, and don’t reveal my powers.
“You can stay down on your knees if you want to, love,” the perp said to me as he positioned his crotch closer to my face.
Before my eyes processed the flash, a rippling heat left my hands.
Then the perpetrator was screaming.
Danny seized the fire extinguisher and attempted to spray him as he ran flaming through the room.
The evaluating constable yanked a fire blanket from a first aid kit on the wall and tackled the perp to the ground. He wrapped the cloth around him snuffing out the fire and spreading the ashy remains of his coat across the checkered floor.
To my dismay, the pervert was okay. His clothing wasn’t. His wrinkly rump laid sunny-side up on the floor, the image forever etched into my eyeballs.
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