Kindred: the Embraced Episode 1


Kindred: The Embraced ? ?episode one? 

By Rosalind McKinsey (a.k.a.-Rhapsody, at-nexus, and Dreamspider)  

General Disclaimer:  This story is based on the television series ?Kindred: The Embraced?, which belongs to Fox Inc., Spelling Productions, and Revolution Films.  This story is not an attempt to infringe on their rights.  The writer is making no monetary profit from the dissemination of the following literary work. 

CHAPTER 1 

The sun began to rise in the city of San Francisco.    The daily buzz of life 
began to pick up as people started waking and moving through the city to get 
to work.  It seemed like a perfectly ordinary day, except for on a warehouse 
rooftop, beyond the eyes of the countless citizens far, and not so far away. 

A large male figure flew out of the door that opened to the outside world on 
the very top of the building.  The whitewashed rooftop reflected the morning 
light, which was getting brighter by the minute.  The man?s long, blonde hair 
flew wildly in the rush of air as he ran.  His strong, well-formed build was clad 
in black, belted jeans, a tan suede jacket, and work boots.  Not seconds 
later, two other large male figures came bolting out of the same rooftop 
access door.  They wore familiar trench coats, suited for the crisp, cool 
weather of the season.  Underneath, were expensive suits, covering equally 
large, strong bodies that were well groomed with short, modern fashioned 
haircuts.  The last two chaised after the first?at a speed that wouldn?t have 
seemed possible if anyone else were watching. 

On the main floor, a car pulled into the large building through a loading 
entrance.  It screeched to a stop as soon as it passed through the entry, and 
two figures tore out of it in a flurry.  The driver was a white male, with brown 
wavy hair that spilled down past his ears. His dark brown eyes were wild and 
alert, housed in an almost boyish face.  He wore black Dockers, a gray, long 
sleeved polo, and casual suede shoes.  Another male, came out of the 
passenger?s side, wearing gray denim jacket over a ?Beavis and Butthead? t-
shirt, and matching jeans.  He was an Afro-American, just a couple of inches 
shorter than the driver, but with a heavier build and a sensibly short haircut. 
 His eyes seemed large and almost attractively cat-like. 

?Is this your idea of being a cop??  The dark skinned passenger demanded.    
?You get me down here on a Sunday morning, because some voice on the 
phone says ?be here at dawn??  Man, are you sure he was on the level?? 

?I don?t even know if it was a guy,? the driver admitted anxiously, ?They were 
using one of those voice-boxes that goes in the throat.?  The driver raised his 
hand to his throat and tapped at his larynx for emphasis. 

 ?Oh, that?s great, man!?  The darker complected passenger exclaimed 
irritably, with a look of annoyance clearly written on his face. 

 ?Sonny!  Now we?ve been looking for this bodyguard for two months!  This 
is my only chance of indicting his boss!? the young driver looked determinedly 
at his friend, ?And I want Luna,? he said with utter conviction. 

Sonny blinked in seeming disbelief, then watched his friend head up the 
wooden stairs that lead to the roof.  As if deciding he didn?t have any other 
choice, he began the long climb. ?Is your obsession with Luna all about this 
woman?? he asked as he followed with equal determination.  His voice 
seemed to echo slightly within the open bare wood framework of the huge 
warehouse.  Once he caught up, he went on with his argument that he already 
knew would get him nowhere.  ?Frank!  Julian Luna is THE boss of bosses! 
 He could have your badge shoved up your butt sideways if he called in 
favors with his friends downtown?and knowing this, you decide in your 
usual, objective, PROFESSIONAL manner to ask Luna?s ?long-time 
SQUEEZE? out on a date!  Now am I leaving anything out?? 

Frank continued up the stairs, one flight, and then another, as his friend and 
partner followed right on his heels, trying to steer him otherwise.  He stopped 
when his partner finished his question, and put an arm around the man?s 
shoulders, ?She?s a great woman,? he told Sonny, in a sudden moment of 
happiness, ?One day you?re gonna meet a woman like her, and she?ll show 
you colors that you didn?t even know existed.? He smiled as if he?d forgotten 
the moment, and his target, then slipped his arm away from Sonny and started 
heading upward again. 

As Frank pulled away to take the lead again, Sonny seemed to look at him in 
disbelief.  Briefly, though, when Frank?s back was to him, a slight, pleased 
smile flicked across his full lips, and glint in his eyes.  It had only lasted a split 
second, just before he went to catch up to Frank again. 

Above them, the two large men in trench coats had caught up to the blonde. 
The chaise had turned into a violent physical battle, as the blonde fought to get 
away, and the other two began delivering brutal blows.  In a world full of 
crime and other countless atrocities, it might have looked ordinary enough. 
Had anyone been there to witness the scene, however, they would have also 
heard the strange, vicious growling that came from all three during the 
confrontation. 

?You need t?be reprogrammed, man!? Sonny insisted, as he followed Frank 
even further up the stairs.  Out of habit, they were both looking around for 
signs of movement.  With no walls, they were easily visible.  Who was to say 
that there couldn?t be someone watching them right now, concealed by the 
jungle of wood beams?     If the call Frank had gotten WASN?T on the level, 
then they could be walking straight into an ambush. 

Frank stopped to draw his handgun at the bottom of the last flight of stairs. 
?This is the roof, baby,?  he nearly whispered to his partner as he looked 
upward in anticipation. 

Sonny didn?t waist time or words, ?Who?s going up first?? he asked, already 
reaching for his weapon to have it at the ready. 

?YOU are!? Frank exclaimed, as though surprised that he?d even been asked. 

?BULL-!? Sonny fired back without hesitation.  ?You?re the one who sees 
vast assorted colors!  Although he seemed reluctant, there was also an 
underlying readiness that almost matched Frank?s. 

//Not again//, Frank?s expression and movements almost seemed to say.  He 
rolled his eyes and slumped his shoulders as he turned to face the other 
officer.  ?Come on man!  Would y?shut up with that??  Frank groaned with 
growing inpatients. 

Sonny was growing impatient as well.  His face set in determination, and he 
made one last attempt to reason with wild-eyed partner of his.  ?Look, we 
already worked our shift!  We?re NIGHT!    It?s about to be DAY, Frank!? 
He waved his hands in front of him to emphasize his words. 

?You?re always doing this,? Frank grumbled under his breath, although he 
almost seemed amused. 

?What??  Sonny demanded in his own growing exasperation. 

?This!? Frank hissed as his agitation grew, ?You act like you don?t wanna go 
in there, but when we do, you think you?re too tough t?die ?n?end up shooting 
it out!? 

Sonny?s face remained set with restrained anxiousness, as he listened to 
Frank without further comment.  

The violence between the three already on the rooftop had escalated.  The 
blonde was being pinned down on one of the skylights by his attackers.  He 
let out an animalistic roar of rage as he struggled to free himself.  The second 
assailant reached above him with one arm and tore part of a large, nearby 
antenna free from its base.  

The one with the antenna section raised the large pole of metal like a crude 
sword.  ?You think you can go to war with me, Eddie Fiorri??  he demanded 
through a hate-filled snarl that distorted his ruggedly handsome face.  ?THIS is 
what the Brujah clan will do to all you Gangrels!?  He plunged the shaft of 
metal into the blonde?s chest and sank it with a merciless thrust. 

The blonde roared again, agony entwined with the rage.  He went on roaring, 
his body twitching helplessly, as though he could command his limbs to do 
nothing more.  The sound was becoming less and less human, and more 
beast-like.  The strange thing, was that it was coming out of him at all; the 
projectile had been forced into his chest?where his lung should be.  Rather 
than roaring endlessly, the victim SHOULD have been coughing, and gasping 
for air. 

Just then, the two plain-clothed police officers burst through the rooftop 
access door, their guns held in front of them.  Sonny?s face flinched as if in 
pain when he came out of doorway into the light of the sun, acting slightly 
blinded by it.  They both heard the loud growling and looked around wildly to 
find the direction it was coming from.  Frank stepped out further away from 
the cover of the doorway, and saw the three that formed the gruesome scene.  
?Freeze!?  Frank shouted at the top of his lungs as he leaped out with his gun 
pointed directly at them.  

Not a second later, Sonny moved to stand in front of Frank in the same 
stance, ?Put your hands up!?  he shouted at the two in trench coats, ?Put?im 
up!?  He raised his weapon and prepared to fire. 

The blonde went on screaming angrily, but couldn?t move, even when his two 
attackers released their hold and began backing away from the two cops.  

Frank pointed his handgun to the sky and fired a warning shot into the air. 
 ?Hands up!? His own enraged yell came out when Sonny?s commands were 
ignored.  Only then, did the two begin to raise their hands slowly, and back 
away from the two officers.  With calm smirks on their faces, they continued 
to back up, hands still raised, towards the nearest edge of the rooftop.  Frank 
and Sonny watched them, their confusion showing clearly on their faces. 

?They?re not stoppin?, Frank,? Sonny said worriedly, his eyes fixed on the 
two retreating criminals. 

?What the---,? Frank breathed as he drew back to release the bullet that had 
jammed in the chamber of his handgun. 

Sonny heard the sounds of Frank emptying the gun?s chamber, and focused 
even harder on the two in front of him, making sure his co-worker was 
covered during the brief moment of vulnerability.  He heard the useless bullet 
fall with a clank against a section of corrugated metal.  ?Where?re they goin??? 
he asked, when he felt Frank was armed safely again. 

Frank took a few steps closer behind Sonny, his gaze held helplessly to a 
scene his mind was struggling to deal with.  ?They can?t go far,? he answered 
with uncertainty.  ?One more step and I shoot!?  He shouted at the still 
withdrawing pair. 

As the blonde man went on screaming furiously, his attackers turned their 
backs on the two cops to climb the protective ledge.    With a sickening kind 
of grace, they brought themselves in unison to stand on the narrow wall of 
cement.  Their coats fluttered in a heavy wind, but they seemed to have no 
problem at all keeping their balance. 

?What the hell are they doing, man?? Sonny asked in a voice filled with 
disbelief at what he was seeing.  

As if in answer, the two attackers leaped off the ledge, fearlessly, and 
disappeared from Frank and Sonny?s sight. 

Frank and Sonny made a dash for the ledge, Sonny stopping momentarily to 
look at the still raging victim, ?Oh-man---,? he said in quiet horror, before 
catching up to Frank. 

?Where did they go, man??  Sonny shouted when he reached Frank. 
Searching the ground several stories below, he saw nothing that could have 
broken a person?s fall to the sidewalk, or shortened the distance to go down. 

?They disappeared!?    Frank yelled in confusion and frustration before 
straightening up to look at Sonny. 

Sonny started to yell in his own hysterical confusion, ?HOW DO YOU---?? 
 His words were cut off by an unexpected sound that came from right behind 
them.  It was like an eruption of wind.  The two officers turned with wide, 
panicked eyes to see the blonde man?s body suddenly burst into flames. 
 Frozen to the spot momentarily, they both ran to the victim?s side, not daring 
to get too close to the flaming body. 

The blonde turned his head to look at them, no longer letting out the enraged 
roars.  His gaze seemed to lock more on Sonny than on both.  ?Tell my 
prince?I told them nothing,? his unusual strength seemed to be quickly fading 
away as he went on, ?I gave them NOTHING.?  Although he should have 
been screaming in pain from the flames that where covering his chest, he 
seemed lucid, but tired.  ?Now?I am?FREE?? he announced quietly, 
before his eyes shut, and he let out one final breath and became completely 
still. 

 
CHAPTER 2 
 

The blonde man?s charred body was taken to the precinct?s coroner.  It lay 
quietly in the examination room, the long metal bar still sticking out of it, like a 
ghastly cross.  The mid-morning sunlight was diffused by the glass-brick 
windows, and reflected off the glossy mint green and off white paint on the 
walls. Stainless steel shelves, cabinets, and carts that were filled with glass and 
plastic containers also seemed to boost the lighting in the stark room. 
Overhead, huge, uncovered pipes that had been painted a glossy blue-green 
snaked across the ceiling of the hospital basement. A large, standing fan 
groaned in the corner, diminishing the heat that was already beginning to build 
as the hours passed.  Sonny and Frank made their way there after finishing the 
report on the events that happened up until then.  

The coroner was a tall, gaunt figure of about forty-five,  with light brown hair 
that was going gray.  His large, kindly brown eyes were about the only thing 
that kept his beakish nose from dominating his face.  He wore a long, white 
medical jacket over a white and blue striped dress shirt and paisley tie.  Over 
the white jacket, he wore a transparent, plastic blue apron. 

?They jabbed?im in the chest with this antenna and somehow set?im on fire,? 
Frank told the coroner grudgingly after being asked what had killed the victim. 
 Frank kept his mouth shut about the fact that the dead man had been roaring 
savagely up until he?d burst into flames. When things had settled down, the 
fire had been put out, and the ambulance had come to take away the body, 
Frank had gotten a look at where the antenna had been driven in.  The guy 
shouldn?t?ve been able t?scream like that, much less talk. 

?Yeah??  the old coroner seemed mildly intrigued, but skeptical.  He bent 
down closer to the corpse, looking for something that seemed to be missing. 
 ?What was the accelerant??  He asked as if it were a common, everyday 
question. 

?We didn?t find any,?  Sonny admitted reluctantly after a quick, nervous 
glance at Frank.  He stiffened, knowing the inevitable was coming?again.  It 
had been hard enough going through the questions that had been asked before 
they?d made it here. 

The coroner?s eyes widened in surprise, ?You found nothing?gas can, lighter 
fluid??  His voice rose in quiet astonishment, as he fixed his eyes on Sonny. 
 Just looking at the body, the coroner couldn?t believe that this much damage 
could have been done to a live victim unless something extremely flammable 
was used to fuel the fire. 

?Nothing.? Sonny enunciated with finality.  Before the ambulance team was 
allowed to bring the body here, other officers had painstakingly scoured the 
area, collecting up all physical bits of evidence that remained.  Even before 
now, the question kept coming up:  what caused the fire?  Sonny remembered 
the suspicious looks that he and Frank got from the other officers, as if they 
might be withholding information from their comrades. 

?X-rays of the TEETH, Sharon!  That?s all I really care about!?  Frank told 
the coroner abruptly.  He wanted to stop a repeat of the questions that there 
were no logical answers for. He walked around the examination table behind 
the coroner and yanked at his arm to turn his face towards him.  ?I have 
t?confirm that this is Julian Luna?s bodyguard, Stevie Ray!?  

Frank tried to draw his own thoughts away from what was really bothering 
him.  Just a few seconds sooner, and maybe this guy would still be alive. 
 Maybe, if he just hadn?t allowed himself the luxury of the banter with Sonny, 
he?d have a living person to question.    The informant that had led him 
here?did he know this guy was gonna die?  Sure, the guy may have worked 
for Luna as his bodyguard, but did that mean he deserved what had happened 
to him?  The words of the dying man still haunted him, along with image of the 
ice-blue eyes that looked at him just before they closed for the last time. 
 What had he meant by ?now I am free??  What the hell kind of life had he 
been living? 

?Who d?you think speaks for him?? Sharon demanded indignantly, waving a 
hand at the corpse.  ?Who will tell HIS story??  The coroner looked at the 
two cops with an almost hurt expression.  It wasn?t Julian Luna who had 
murdered this man, and that?s exactly what Sharon saw right now.  Not a 
body, not a corpse, but a man?a life that had been defiled.  He didn?t care 
about Julian Luna; he cared about finding the two who had actually ripped 
away the life of this person.  ?Unless you tell me what REALLY happened, 
you won?t get a DAMN thing out?ve me,? he said stubbornly. 

Frank planted his hands on his hips, looking defeated.  ?There was no 
gas?he just BURST into flames---HE was the accelerant!?  Okay, it didn?t 
make sense, but that?s what Sharon asked for, and that?s what they found. 
 That?s all they knew. 

?Spontaneous combustion?  Y?gonna put THAT in your report??  Sharon 
looked at Frank in sarcastic challenge.  The body, now evidence for the case 
they were working on, was his now.  It was up to him to determine the cause 
of death.  Usually, it was perfectly obvious?usually.    On top of the two 
police officers coming in and both saying that they weren?t sure WHAT killed 
the victim, they were unusually agitated and tight lipped.  In the habit of 
protocol, he?d asked them how the victim died when they came in.  He?d 
expected to hear that the death happened shortly after the victim was stabbed 
with the antenna.  Instead, a few uneasy moments passed before Frank had 
admitted that they weren?t sure. 

Frank glared at Sharon, obviously struggling with what to actually say.  He 
looked away as his lips moved to form the silent word ?no?.  A second later, 
his eyes turned to Sonny, who remained calm, but silent.  

?How?d you get the fire out?? Sharon asked, breaking the building tension of 
the moment.  There were substances that that took certain measures in order 
to stop them from feeding a fire.  How the fire was put out might be the clue 
as to what started it in the first damn place. 

Frank took in a deep breath, knowing what the coroner was aiming for?and 
he didn?t want to give him the answer that he had.  ?I covered?im with a tarp, 
 and?e went out.? He looked down at the body after waving at it himself as he 
spoke.  There was no reason that Sharon shouldn?t disbelieve him.  It 
shouldn?t have been that easy.  With the way the flames were going, just 
covering him with a tarp shouldn?t have been enough, not that fast, at least. 
Sharon, of all people would know that. His gaze fell back on Sharon and he 
waited for a reaction.  To his horror, Sharon?s skepticism gave way to 
enthusiasm. 

?Extraordinary?? Sharon mused out loud, and bent down to look at the 
victim more closely.  ? ?you know how long I?ve DREAMED about this kinda 
case---spontaneous burning of living tissue??  He looked down at the victim?s 
body as if just discovering a priceless treasure, ?I?ve never seen it?? he 
nearly whispered in obvious awe.  ?I?m wanna spend some time with this 
body?? he murmured eagerly as he reached down below his chin to put his 
safety goggles on.  His eyes were fixing down on the corpse longingly. 

?Sonny, let?s go,? Frank said, knowing it was time to give up?for now. 
 Sharon was as good as gone.  Frank knew that.  Besides, if they left Sharon 
in peace for now, then maybe he would find the answers to the mystery of 
how the damn thing went up in flames to begin with.  Too many weird things 
were tallying up?a guy screaming with a pole of metal planted in his lung, 
then bursting into flame for no reason.  Two guys just jump off a roof that had 
been eight stories up and disappear before he can reach the edge to look 
down.  Oh, not to mention, how come the victim hardly lost any blood?  A 
wound like that should have?well, gushed, especially since the other two had 
been pinning him down.  His heart should have been pumping like crazy, 
especially the way he was?roaring.  Of course, Frank also wanted to get out 
of there?just in case Sharon found answers that weren?t logical-every-day 
explanations. ?That guy get?s stiff over stiffs,? Frank grumbled, as they left 
Sharon, and passed through the next room which had a line of covered bodies 
on gurneys. 

?Are you sure about those perps goin? over the wall, man?? Sonny asked as 
he found himself chasing after Frank again.  Now seemed like as good as time 
as any to jog Frank?s memory while the events were still fresh in his mind. 
Now that things were settled down a little, and the pressure was off from 
those who showed up AFTER what had happened, maybe there was 
something that Frank might remember.  Maybe there was some piece that just 
got overlooked in all the excitement.  

The image was still fresh in Frank?s mind.  All he had seen was the completely 
flat brick wall of the building going straight down to a wide, empty sidewalk, 
and equally empty street.  There had been a single streetlamp, and a bus sign 
pole, but both had been too far away from the top of the roof to help make a 
safe landing. Not only that, but even if there had been some mechanical set up 
to help the two killers, there should?ve been something for him to see. There 
was a covered manhole, but it would have taken time to lift, climb down, and 
recover. He?d made it to the edge and looked in plenty of time to catch a 
glimpse of SOMETHING. ?Sonny, I told y?already: no fire escapes, no 
ropes---that?s eight stories down!?  He stopped suddenly and whirled around 
to face Sonny with his last words. 

?Look!  I gotta bad feelin? about this.?  Now that he seemed to have Frank?s 
attention, he was going to try and make good use of it.  ?You know what 
stakes through the heart are used for, don?t you?? He spoke with his hands 
nearly as much as with his voice, perhaps to hold Frank?s attention a little 
longer.  ?Let?s walk away from the Luna case, man!?  This time, he let the 
sound of desperation come through in his voice.  Maybe Frank would hear 
that, if not words of reason. 

?Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah?there?s normal every day reasons for this.? 
 Frank raised his own hands as he spoke, waving them as if to halt Sonny?s 
suggestions.  On a face that had been wrought with frustration and 
helplessness, an expression of new hope took over.  ?I ain?t gonna let these 
mob guys get away with this macabre crap,? he vowed with, as he reached 
briefly to grasp the back of Sonny?s neck with tender reassurance.  A 
moment later, he was marching out the nearest door that led to the rest of the 
hospital. 

Sonny seemed to think briefly, before following Frank out the door.  He said 
nothing, and simply let Frank take the lead. 
 
CHAPTER 3 
 

In one window of the beautifully carved mansion doors, an etched glass image 
of a wolf?s eyes seemed to come alive in a moment when glowing white eyes 
looked out behind them.  A silent figure stood on the other side of the doors. 
 Except for the unnaturally incandescent eyes, the figure appeared to be a 
perfectly normal young man, dressed in a black suit and tie, complimented by 
a French-blue dress-shirt.  His hair was nearly black and slicked back on his 
head in a stylish fashion.  His features seemed perhaps Italian, or maybe 
Spanish. Heavy dark eyebrows accented a strong, well shaped face that was 
flawless and clean-shaven.  Even with the suit, his smooth fluid movements 
spoke of a lean, well-muscled body.  Many could easily expect to find such a 
man within the pages of GQ magazine. 

A low, slightly gravely voice came from behind the young man, ?Be patient 
Luna.  The sun?s almost down.  Whoever did this is hoping you will 
frenzy?make a mistake.?  Soft footsteps joined the soothing drone of the 
calm voice.  They made their way slowly down a couple of marble steps and 
across the continuing marble flooring in the large foyer. 

The young man, addressed as ?Luna? bowed his head as he leaned his hands 
against the doors, ?He was not only my bodyguard, he was my friend,? he 
announced with an edge of pain in his voice.  He turned around to face the 
older man that was speaking to him,  ?They staked him out in the sun like 
dead meat and burned him like a beast,? the rage was just barely contained in 
his words now,  ?Someone must pay for this,? he said in a low growl before 
crossing the lavish, black marble floor to stand in front of the older man. 

The older man?s patients didn?t falter even when the younger man stalked 
towards him with murder in his eyes.  A few inches taller than Luna, he looked to be in his early to mid fifties, with graying, receding hair, and a 
strange handsomeness of his own.  He wore brown dress slacks, a smoke-
colored dress shirt with no tie, and a chocolate brown corduroy sports coat. 
 ?It?s not the events that determine.  We can?t control them.  It?s the reaction 
to the events.?  The words themselves spoke of a practiced detachment that 
could only have been honed by experience, whatever strange experience that 
might be.  He moved closer to Luna, and then reached into the younger man?s 
jacket with one hand. ?Allow your heart to stop?rage won?t help us.? He 
instructed Luna softly. 

It should have seemed like an odd thing to say, but Luna responded as if it 
were a perfectly normal conversation.  He looked down where the other man 
had his hand on him, and then looked back up into the older man?s face.  He 
stood still, with a look of concentration on his face.  The rage in his eyes 
seemed to fade, along with the strange white glow.  He stared calmly then, out 
of eyes that didn?t quite match.  The right eye was almost black, while the left 
eye was a normal dark brown 

Watching carefully, the older man seemed satisfied when Luna?s shoulders 
relaxed and withdrew his hand.  He raised his chin slightly before speaking to 
Luna again, ?Now here are the questions we have to ask:  how is it these two 
cops happen to find Stevie Ray?s body before is was consumed by fire?? 

Luna started to turn away from the older man, bitterness obvious in his 
expression and voice, ?I don?t believe in coincidences.? 

?Neither do I,? the older man added softly without hesitation. ?Also,? he went 
on with a little more volume in his voice for emphasis,  ?how does this cop 
know so much about us?  The Kindred in the department don?t know??  His 
question seemed to echo against varnished hardwood walls.  The air rang for 
a moment over flights of elaborately carved stairs, and up to the extensively 
high ceiling. 

Luna took a few slow steps away from the older man as he was listening, then 
stopped and seemed to struggle with the only idea that came to mind.  There 
was no other way these things could have happened, and there was no was to 
deny it.  He turned to face the older man again, dangerous determination 
flashing in his eyes, ?We have a traitor among us,? he announced ominously. 

CHAPTER 4 

In an elegant restaurant where the gentle sound of live piano music was 
playing, Frank sat at a white cloth-covered table in a booth across from a 
beautiful woman.  He was showered, and freshly dressed in slacks, dress 
shirt, tie, and blazer.  Between them were the remains of two salads.  There was also a half-eaten dinner roll, one glass of red wine, a glass of beer, and a 
single red rose in a small crystal vase.  A small lamp sat further off to the side 
by the wall with the salt and peppershakers. Higher up, above the booth, a 
large silkscreen painting decorated their section of the wall.  It depicted, in 
life-size, a woman in a red dress that revealed her long slender leg and red 
shoe, as she at a black lacquered bar, holding a glass of champagne, with a 
man dressed in a tux and top-hat, holding a cigarette as he stood at her side. 
 ?So, did you chose this place because it?s cozy?n romantic, or because Julian 
won?t find us out here??  He asked his company in a pleasantly teasing voice. 

The woman?s angelic face was framed by short blonde hair that swirled in soft 
waves, almost exactly like the woman in the painting above. The woman 
sitting in front of Frank, though, was wearing white; a sleeveless silk dress, 
and a transparent shawl that draped all the way down to the bottom of her 
dress?s short skirt.  ?You have no idea how powerful he is,?  she said in a soft 
murmur, giving him an undaunted smile before taking a sip from her wine 
goblet.  She folded her arms in front of her and looked at him adoringly. 

?I?m startin? t?get a pretty good idea.? Frank?s tone became more serious, but 
still remained pleasant. He reached over and tore off a small chunk from his 
dinner roll, but rolled it around in his hand instead of eating it.    ?He?s got his 
finger in a lot of pies: the docks, construction, restaurants, entertainment?? 
His eyes seemed to start seeing into somewhere else, beyond the young 
beauty in front of him, and didn?t notice the worry that began to show on her 
face. 

A knowing, mischievous glint danced in the pale gray eyes looking back at 
Frank. ??but?e likes t?stay in the shadows??  the woman added with a 
mystery-tinged whisper. 

Frank smirked at her comment, but started losing himself to the returning 
frustration of the day?the whole case.  ?I don?t really care how many strings 
he?s pullin?, I?m gonna nail his ass.  Now that I gotta body I can connect?im 
to, I?m gonna yank him outta that big mansion on the hill.?  He let out a little 
huff after his irritable announcement. 

?I don?t wanna talk about him,? she said with certain dismissal, then turned 
her eyes up to him with a seductive gaze.  ?That?s in the past,? she clarified 
sweetly, and then brought her wine-goblet back up to her lips to punctuate 
her words.  

Frank was immediately silenced.  His mind came back to the here and now, 
completely seeing the exquisite creature just a few feet in front of him.  A 
satisfied smile came across his face, as he looked her over, taking in her 
remarkable beauty.    In the next moment, he felt his face heating up when her 
hint sank in of what she did want him to talk about. 

The woman watched Frank?s face as he smiled at her with a sideways grin, 
but she noticed the reddening in his cheeks and ears.  ?You?re blushing?? 
she exclaimed quietly, and reached out a hand to touch the side of his face.  ?I 
didn?t know men did that anymore.? 

Frank laughed softly, slightly embarrassed, but took the opportunity to clasp 
her hand gently in his.  He stiffened, and his smile was replaced by a look of 
worry. ?Your hand?s like ice,? he told her in mild surprise. 

The woman seemed to lose her well-practiced composure just slightly.  She 
pulled the shawl tighter around her shoulders with an apologetic glance. ?Well, 
it?s a little chilly in here?and I?m starving,? she withdrew her hand self-
consciously, and rested it against the side of her neck in a dainty pose. 
Although she tried to smile reassuringly at him, there was a strange 
nervousness in her eyes. 

Frank was watching her more closely now, wondering if he needed to take 
her home and let her get some rest. ?You look a little pale,? he said as he 
made a soft swirling motion of the back of his finger against his own face. 

The woman stared back at him, as though trying to decide what to do or say. 
 She finally straightened, and began to slide across the seat.  ?Let me go 
freshen up,? she said with strained confidence, then withdrew from the booth. 
 ?I?ll be right back,? she promised softly. 

Frank watched her leave, not questioning or arguing.  Maybe it was near ?that 
time of month? for her.  Nonetheless, he watched her carefully.  If she didn?t 
look better after they ate, he?d simply take her home and tuck her into bed for 
the night. 

The beautiful blonde strode with cat-like grace down a carpeted isle, past 
booths occupied by other diners, and disappeared into the ladies restroom. 
 On the other side of the door she entered was a small, more brightly lit room, 
made to look bigger by mirrors over the black marble counters.  Her pumps 
clacked on the tiled floors, the sound echoing softly as she passed the only 
other woman in there.  The other woman looked just a little younger than the 
blonde, with dark brown hair that came to the base of her slender neck.  A 
silky black dress with slit sleeves and skirt side complimented her dark hair 
and eyes.  She seemed however to not notice Frank?s dinner companion 
come through the door, as she stood looking down at a section of the counter 
that had lines of white power on it. 

The blonde went to the farthest sink and turned on the water.  As she went 
through the motions of washing her hands, she used the mirrors to check the 
open space below the stalls behind her.  She also observed the other woman 
for a moment, before taking one of the rolled hand-towels near her and 
walking over to where she stood.  She leaned against the counter a few feet 
away from the brunette, who looked up at her with obviously subdued 
cognition.  ?I hope you don?t mind,? she said to the blonde.  Her polite smile 
only partially veiled her concern. 

?No,? Frank?s companion told the brunette with a reassuring smile and slight 
shake of her head.  

?Would you like to try some?? The brunette held a small, stainless steel tube 
out to her with feigned confidence. 

The blonde looked down at the small lines of powder, and almost seemed to 
be trying to make a decision.  With the slightest shrug of one shoulder, she 
shook her head. ?No.  Thank you,? she declined the brunette?s offer casually. 

Not a second later, the brunette?s attention was back to the counter, which 
she bent over so that her face was right over it. 

The blonde walked past her, setting the used towel on the counter next to the 
brunette.  Just as she reached the door, she turned to speak, ?Those are 
beautiful earrings,? she said clearly, just as her hand made contact with the 
door handle. 

As if being ready for such a statement, the brunette turned to face her with a 
seductive gaze.  ?Would you like to see them up close,? she asked in blatant 
invitation. 

The blonde?s hand moved not to open the door, but to turn the lock with a 
loud click. ?Yeah,? she replied in a sultry near-whisper.  She moved with 
slow, deliberate steps, holding eye contact with the other woman until she was 
nearly toe-to-toe with her. 

The brunette turned her head to bring one earring into better view?along 
with her lovely profile. ?Mmmm---? she purred and shut her eyes when the 
blonde reached out a hand and trailed a fingernail gently down her neck while 
touching the long ornate earring. 

?You know, earrings this showy?a girl has t?be sure she wants that much 
attention?? the blonde cooed sweetly.  With a deft move of her hand she 
reached under the brunette?s chin and coaxed her to face her again with gentle 
fingertips. 

The brunette responded to the gently guiding touch, and turned her head. 
 When she opened her eyes, she blinked once in confusion, and then seemed 
to stand frozen as if mesmerized.  The pale gray of the eyes that locked onto 
hers was replaced by a strange white glow. 

A few moments later, the blonde stepped out of the ladies restroom.  She 
glanced around, as if checking with mild caution. Swallowing a couple of 
times, she ran her tongue over her teeth and adjusted her shawl around her 
shoulders.  Her hand came near the small dark red spot on her otherwise 
perfectly white dress, but she seemed totally unaware of it.  With a lift of her 
chin, she sauntered back to the table where Frank was sitting. ?Hmmmm? 
 Warm hands?cold heart?? she purred to Frank as she sat down across 
from him with a strange expression of satisfaction on her face. 

Frank smiled at her, relieved that she was looking so much better, and 
pleased as hell that she was once again giving him that very open seductive 
stare.  His attention was drawn away from her suddenly when he heard a 
woman?s moan and one of the waiters exclaim,?Oh!  Miss!?  As other diners 
were exclaiming in surprise, Frank looked up to see a young woman come 
out of the ladies restroom.  A waiter caught her as she fell in a faint, but she 
seemed to recover and stand again. ?Is everything okay?? A man wearing a 
tux asked when he reached her. 

The woman looked around in confusion and seemed to be well enough to 
answer. ?I must?ve hit my head?? she said groggily. 

The man in the tux took her by the arm to guide her to a place to sit ?Oh! 
 Right this way?? he said worriedly. 

Frank looked as if he were thinking about going to make sure the woman was 
all right.  Being a cop, he?d learned how to tell when a person might have a 
serious problem that wasn?t visible.  Before he had a chance to think any 
harder about it, the waitress came with their dinner.  ?Here we are, 
Madame?two steaks, rare,? the waitress set one plate down in front of the 
blonde, then set the other plate in front of Frank, ?Sir?? 

Frank?s eager eyes were now on the food in front of him.  As he reached for 
his fork, he remembered his date?s specifications as to how she wanted her 
meal cooked. ?You know, I knew we were gonna get along when you 
ordered your steak very, very rare,? he commented with sincere pleasure. 

Leaning forward, knife and fork at the ready, the beautiful blonde chuckled 
almost wickedly, ?Bon appetite---? she told him as she began cutting into her 
steak.  She paused just long enough to cast  him an unquestionable look of 
desire? 

*                    *                    *

Luna came out of the doors he?d been staring out of earlier.  The sky was a 
dark blue, tinged with a red/pink glow.  The stairs he moved down hurriedly 
were of the same granite that the rest of the mansion was made of, or perhaps 
a light gray marble.  Stairway and all, the mansion almost looked as if it had 
been carved rather than built where it was. A sleek black Mercedes limousine 
was parked at the bottom of those stairs.  Two suited men waited at either 
end of the stairs, like sentinels.  There was a third man, shirt and tie under a 
leather driver?s jacket, long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, and holding 
the back passenger door open. 

Even though on his own private grounds, Luna?s eyes seemed to dart around, 
his head turning quickly in alternating directions.  It almost seemed as if he 
were expecting someone uninvited on his property to suddenly jump out at 
him.  And even in the growing darkness of early evening, he almost seemed to 
squint slightly, as if the fading light that could be perceived was enough to 
cause him discomfort.  Halfway down the steps, he spoke, ?I?d like to go to 
the club, Billy.?  

To be continued?