“Crime Scene” – Excerpt from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc)

The following excerpt comes from my Guardians, Inc. series.  This paranormal series follows the Guardian family and their rather unusual family business protecting paranormal beings from the ancient Crucible Society.

Jesse Guardian did his best to stay out of the family business for years.  Aware of the Para, but choosing to work in the “real world,” he stuck to evidence he could see, and crimes he could prevent or solve, as a homicide detective for the San Francisco PD.  But when his love affair with an intoxicatingly mysterious woman turned out to be a trap, the intervention of one man would change Jesse’s life forever.  As he struggles with the monster he doesn’t want to become, he’ll turn to the family he avoided, and find himself in a struggle to save more than his mortal soul.

Excerpt from DOUBLE TAKE (Guardians, Inc., Book #1):

Settling back with the file Jason gave him, Jesse flipped it open and stared down at crime scene photos that certainly weren’t for the faint of heart.  Even eight years as a homicide detective and a year of bizarre cases with Guardians, Inc. didn’t quite keep this one from tripping his weird-out meter over the edge.

The photos weren’t taken by a professional crime scene investigator, for one thing.  There was no attention to the details that might be important, no wide angle to preserve as much of the scene in a single shot as possible.  And, though every picture looked like the room was painted in blood, there were no measuring sticks, no frames of reference to show exactly how much space the blood covered.  And there wasn’t a single shot of the body.

“What the hell…?”  Jesse was out of his seat in a flash, his headache pushed to the back of his spinning mind as he fought to make sense of the photos he was given.

“Jas?”  He yanked open his office door, and promptly wished he hadn’t as the light blinded him and nearly split his head in two.  “Son of a bitch!”

Kylie’s head snapped up in surprise, and she was instantly on her feet.  “I’ll get him, Jesse.”

With a pained, grateful nod, Jesse ducked back into his office and closed the door.  He felt his way to his chair and dropped blindly into the comfortable leather.  Dammit, this couldn’t go on.

Of course, he knew it would.  He was cursed.  Never mind that the curse saved his life when Natalya’s Dark Court friends slit his throat wide.  Absently, his fingers raised to the scar at the base of his neck.  He lost most of his own blood that night.  Victor saved his life by pouring his own blood into Jesse’s veins, via transfusion.

Jesse grimaced.  Contrary to popular belief, drinking – or in his case absorbing – a vampire’s blood didn’t automatically make one a vampire.  Drinking it didn’t do shit, since human blood was no different than any other animal blood, to the digestive system. A transfusion, however, put the mutated gene into play.  Still, becoming a vampire was an act of will, and Jesse wasn’t about to go that route.

Only Jason and Kylie – and Victor, of course – knew his secret.  Which naturally meant the entire Para community he met knew, whether they could sense the vampire blood in his veins or not.  Jesse swore again, low and feelingly.

“You really should watch that.”

He cracked one lid to see his brother leaning his arms against the top of one of the high-backed visitor chairs with a wry smile.  Jesse bit out a laugh.

“Why?  Think it’ll get me sent to Hell?”

Jason’s good humor fled.  “I have no idea.  Kylie said you wanted to talk to me.”

His brother’s signal that he wasn’t about to get into a theological discussion, or his past with the Church.  Jesse shrugged and straightened, holding out the photos.

“Yeah.  Do you know who took these?”  He held out the photographs.

Jason took them, glanced at the images, and handed them back with a shrug.  “I assume one of Montrose’s entourage.  Is it important?”

Jesse frowned.  “How did they get access to a fresh crime scene?”

Jason came around the desk to look at the photos again.  “They do look grainy and distorted.”

Jesse nodded as the pieces began clicking into place.  He’d seen photographs of this quality before.  “Almost like a cell phone camera.  But that still leaves how the photographer snuck into an active crime scene during broad daylight, with cops swarming all over the place.”

“One of Caleb’s boys is a cop.”

Jesse’s frown deepened.  A year ago, he would have had a problem accepting that a cop could be something as dangerous as a lycanthrope.  Hell, a year ago, he barely had a concept of what a lycanthrope even was.  Now, he considered the options.  While it was rare, it wasn’t unheard of for a cop to take his own photos at a crime scene, of things that jumped out at him but wouldn’t necessarily catch the eye of a crime scene photographer.  The details a cop caught could make or break a case.  And a cop snapping a few shots with a camera phone would probably go unnoticed in a busy crime scene.

“Anything’s possible, I guess.”  He sighed.  “I won’t know until I check out the scene.”

Jason eyed him skeptically.  “And how do you propose to do that, when you can’t even step out of your office?”

Jesse shuffled through the photos in the file, and ignored his brother’s question.  “There’s nothing in here on the Claussen murder.”

Jason shook his head.  “It’s still fresh.  Kylie picked that one up on the police scanner.  If you hurry, you might get there before they move the body.”

Jesse swore beneath his breath and shoved his shades on.  Today wasn’t a good day for bodies to be showing up.

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