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The Necromancer’s Smile

Book One

By Lisa Oliver





The Necromancer’s Smile Book 1


Copyright © Lisa Oliver, 2018

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Cover Design by Lisa Oliver

Cover model and Image by Paul Henry Serres Photographer, Montreal.

(FD1_182)


First Edition March 2018


All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author, Lisa Oliver. Yoursintuitively@gmail.com


No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the internet or any other means, electronic or print, without permission from Lisa Oliver. Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights and livelihood is appreciated.


The Necromancer’s Smile is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.


Smashwords Edition





Dedication

To those of my readers who understand that sometimes my muse just takes me off to do wild things, like write stories that aren’t in a current series.

To Pat and Amanda for brushing up my words.

To Phil for telling me he loves this one – made my day.

To Mary for showing me new things and keeping me on track.

To everyone who has filled my last month with sexy pictures, cute animals, and most of all their loving support.

Thank you.





Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Epilogue

Other Books By Lisa/Lee Oliver

About the Author





Chapter One



“Head’s up, the Captain’s here,” Brad muttered as he put himself between Dakar and the oncoming posse. Dakar groaned as he quickly loosened the leather tie from around his wrist and caught his long hair in a messy but “would have to do” manbun. It was bad enough he’d been yanked away from the full-lipped blond who’d been giving him a bathroom blow job on his first night off in weeks to attend a crime scene but dealing with the Captain was last on his list of things to do.

Taking one last look at the body to make sure he hadn’t missed anything obvious, Dakar straightened his legs, ignoring his boss until he felt the unmistakable presence at his back. There were times he would swear his Captain was a full demon but since paranormals were outed some fifty years before, it wasn’t considered polite to ask unless you planned on dating someone and wanted to ensure your genetics were compatible.

Not that there was anything wrong with demons per se. Those that worked among humans were no different from any other paranormal in that they respected human/paranormal laws, and generally went about their business like anyone else. However, his Captain wasn’t the type to blend in and whatever blood was running through his veins, the man agitated his wolf and the man’s scent singed his nose in an unpleasant way.

“This is the fifth body in as many weeks,” the Captain snapped as if Dakar wasn’t already consumed with the damn cases twenty-four seven. Dakar stayed silent, keeping his eyes on the poor wretch sprawled at his feet.

The harsh lights set up hastily by the uniformed officers first on the scene did nothing to camouflage the horror of the situation. The young man’s nude body had been gruesomely staged. His curled hands failed to contain his entrails spilling from a wide gash across his abdomen; large v-shaped cuts bisected his pectorals and while his cleanly shaved groin area was untouched, his thigh and calf muscles had been slashed to ribbons. Two feet away, his head sat on the gravel, nothing but holes as eye sockets and his mouth propped open in a silent scream.

Dakar knew without looking that the man’s heart would be missing, just as it was from the other victims. The scent of blood mixed unpleasantly with the stench of vomit left outside the crime scene area, thank goodness. Unfortunately, the rancid scents combined with the anxiety Dakar always felt in the presence of his boss and was threatening to leave him with a nasty headache.

“Tell me you’ve found something tangible at least.” The Captain was studying the body and this time Dakar knew he was expected to reply.

“The victim was discovered during a routine police sweep of the area at 2.45 am.” Dakar flashed a sympathetic glance at the rookie who’d left the remains of his dinner not twenty feet from the body. The young man’s face was still green. “Previous patrols hadn’t picked up anything unusual suggesting the incident occurred anything between ten pm and two am. This time frame has been tentatively verified by the M.E. who’ll confirm this once he’s processed the remains. The victim has no unusually identifying features and given the staging of the body, the M.E. asked we not take fingerprints until after he’s been moved to the morgue.”

“In other words, you have nothing. Again.” Dakar would swear he could see steam coming from the Captain’s nostrils although given the temperature was dipping below 20 degrees, it could just be the cold. “Scents, gut feelings. Damn it man, you must have something. What did I hire you for if your enhanced senses are useless?”

“Police regulations state it’s not prudent to shift in the vicinity of a crime scene due to the possibility of foreign hairs contaminating evidence,” Dakar said stiffly suddenly longing for a hot coffee doctored with a stiff whiskey. “Neither Brad nor I detected any unusual scents beyond the victim’s blood and this is a high traffic area during the day. All scents around the body are hours old and there are too many of them to determine anything specific to this case.” He understood his Captain’s frustration – he felt exactly the same way, but it’s not as though he’d been given leave to say so.

“Five cases in five weeks. All the victims are young men aged between twenty and twenty-five, from what we can determine because so far, none of the bodies have been identified. For fuck’s sake, how is this possible?” The Captain’s eyes were glaring hard enough to burn.

“Sir,” Brad said hesitantly, “our team has gone through all the missing person’s reports for every city in a two-hundred mile radius dating back over the past five years. We’ve run the fingerprints through every database possible both paranormal and human, and dental impressions have been sent to every dentist along the west coast.”

The Captain harrumphed and turned to the M.E. who was hovering on the other side of the body. “Don’t move him,” he ordered.

“Captain, it will be light in a few hours and this park is commonly frequented by the jogging fraternity. The young man deserves some dignity in death and the sooner you allow me to get him on my table, the sooner I can make my report.” The M.E.’s concern was accompanied by the shiver than ran through his thin frame. Six months from retirement, Dr. Barker’s sparse gray hair peeked from beneath a thick red woolen hat, matching the end of his nose. The poor man looked as wretched as Dakar felt and that was saying something.

“I’ve got the local authorities breathing down my neck for closure in this case. The papers are going ballistic because of the lack of ID on any of these victims, claiming there’s some sort of cult at work and my best detectives,” the Captain’s glare raised the hairs on the back of Dakar’s neck, “can’t sniff out a single clue. The publicity on this is getting out of control.” He pointed to the two uniforms. “Call in extra troops, screen off this area and make sure no one comes within camera distance of the scene. You will all remain on guard until the consultant gets here. You two,” he turned back to Dakar and Brad, “will ensure our consultant is treated with the utmost respect or I’ll have your balls for breakfast.”

“Fucking hell, I didn’t think he’d go that far,” Brad whispered as the Captain strode away, his aide Roger struggling to keep up with the taller man’s strides as he spoke urgently into his phone.

“What do you mean? What freaking consultant?” Dakar had only been in Pedace three months having transferred from the East Coast looking for a quieter life. “I thought the Pedace force relied on shifter powers rather than magic users.” All law enforcement consultants were magic users – lower level witches and wizards who supplemented their consultant wages by running apothecaries that never failed to stink out an entire city block. Dakar hated magical consultants, seeing them as nothing more than a leech on society and a drain on police resources.

Usually attractive, the magic users swanned around and spoke in riddles, never coming right out and saying they didn’t have a clue what they were doing. Dakar had made the mistake of scratching a carnal itch with the one attached to his last department. In typical wizard fashion, the young man seemed fine with the “no-strings sex rule” Dakar employed since puberty and willingly polished Dakar’s cock with his tongue. Unfortunately, as soon as the young man swallowed Dakar’s come, he started spouting off about stars alignment and being true mates. Dakar flashed his fangs to scare him off and was left with a nasty itching rash on his balls that took over a week to heal. One of his reasons for moving to Pedace was there was no local coven within a hundred miles of the place.

“What does the Captain mean by consultant if there’re no magic users around?”

“Oh, there’s no coven here,” Brad said with a grimace. “None of them would dare dip a toe past the county line unless they wanted it to go black and fall off.”

“Then what? Do they come in from another county?” Dakar was edgy enough as it was and he wished Brad would just spit it out. He needed sleep, his balls still ached from the aborted blow job and his last cup of coffee left his system hours before. Being nice to anyone, even under orders, wasn’t on his agenda.

“You didn’t know?” Brad wiggled his eyebrows and grinned. “You’re in for a treat. The Pedace Police Department doesn’t have to call in an outside coven for their consulting services. The contract is already held by a Necromancer. The brass rarely calls him in because apparently his fees run to hundreds of dollars an hour, but clearly the Captain wants this case solved and fast and he expects this man to do it.”

A Necromancer? Dakar had never met one but had heard enough about them to know he and Brad were going to be in for a rough night. The strongest of all magic users, Necromancers were known for their elitist attitudes, goth clothing and bad tempers. If the Pedace Necromancer took a dislike to him or Brad ball itch would be the least of his problems.

/~/~/~/~/

Sy surreptitiously glanced at his watch. It was almost four am. Thirty minutes more and he could say with all honesty he’d fulfilled his social requirement for the week. Staring out at the thinning crowd; most revelers were well past the point of drunk and heading for lunacy. He flickered his fingers and increased the strength of his wards as another muscle-bound alpha lurched in his direction with lust in his eyes. The man bounced off his wards, just as Sy intended, his eyes already scanning the crowds for his next fuck. Sy sighed, his skin itching for the solitude of his house.

But he had to stay. Sy and Brock had an agreement. He would deign to visit a club, restaurant or other such sociable establishment for four hours a week. Brock believed at the time, that Sy would break those four hours into four separate events. Sy always felt as though he was breaking out in hives if he was in anyone’s company for longer than an hour, so the assumption was understandable. But Sy hadn’t spent more than fifty years studying contract law to be taken in so easily and his dalliance at this current club was meeting all the contract requirements. He was in a place where people gathered to meet others and he was now twenty-seven minutes away from completing this week’s tedious assignment. That would give him six gloriously peaceful days until Brock reminded him he had to do this all over again.

He quirked an eyebrow as he saw the man in question effortlessly parting the crowds, coming towards him looking completely unruffled as he always did. Brock had worked for Sy’s father and his father before him, and it was as if nothing short of an erupting volcano would shift the broomstick out of his ass. He was tall even among paranormals and built like a linebacker. His clipped straight black hair was never out of place as though no single hair dared rebel against the others. Brock’s face had a classically handsome yet timeless quality that belied his advancing years. Sy lifted a hand to hide his grin. The way Brock wore his suit attracted a lot of attention, especially in a gay club. But Brock waived aside lewd suggestions and the occasional grope as though they were nothing more annoying than flies.

Sy flicked another glance at his watch. “I still have twenty-five minutes to go,” he said as Brock looked in disapproval at the single glass sitting on the table. “I’ve spoken to three different people as per our contract and as you can see, there is nowhere more sociable than a place like this.” He waved his hand to indicate the dancers lurching around the floor. At this late hour, alcohol had robbed most patrons of their grace and those that weren’t already clinging to another body were ravaging the crowds with fevered gazes desperately looking for someone to end the night with. Thanks to his wards, most of the gazes swept right past Sy as though he wasn’t there, which was Sy’s intention.

“Sir,” no matter how much Sy pleaded, Brock refused to call him by his preferred name. “You are well aware you are stretching the boundaries of our agreement in a most unsatisfactory manner. Ordering a drink from the barman does not constitute a conversation. However, I don’t have time to debate that with you now. You’ve been called in on a job.”

“A job?” Sy rubbed away the furrow he felt between his eyes. “Who on earth would dare to call me in at this time of the night?” Twenty-three minutes and counting. “Tell whoever it is my office hours are between ten and twelve and they need to make an appointment.”

“It’s the Pedace Police Department, sir,” Brock’s rigid military stance never wavered even when the persistent alpha Sy noticed earlier fell against his back and then lurched away as though burned. “You are requested at a murder scene.”

Sy was even more confused. “I thought the force was full of predatory shifters – wolves, bears, and the like. What in blazes name do they expect me to tell them that they can’t tell for themselves with their uber noses and super sharp eyesight.”

“None of them can speak to the dead, sir,” Brock replied as though the words were perfectly obvious. “From what I understand, the Captain is concerned they have a serial killer on their hands who must be stopped at all costs.”

“Who’s the victim?” Sy gathered his coat and gulped down the watery remains of his whiskey. In his experience he was only ever called when the victim of a crime was someone with money or power or both. Fortunately, those crimes were few and far between in Pedace.

“They have no idea, sir. I imagine that’s one of the things they want you to find out. Shall we go?”

“It’s not as though I have much of a choice,” Sy grumbled, his familiar annoyance with the contract his father signed for his services with the local law establishment flaring once more. To his knowledge, his family were the only magic users in the area for good reason; most covens refused to have anything to do with what they considered black magic users. Not that Sy used anything of the sort, but he’d given up trying to educate the magical community years before. It was easier to leave others to their erroneous assumptions. At least he wasn’t forced to attend magical ceremonies that included dancing around a pole sky-clad before collapsing in an orgiastic heap afterwards. Sy’s lip curled at the very idea. Being considered a powerful freak was preferable to having to mix with magic folk or anyone else for that matter, on a regular basis.

Following Brock’s commanding presence through the crowds, his wards flowing with him, protecting him from unwanted attentions, Sy checked his watch one more time as they reached the front door. Eighteen minutes left. Damn it, he was so close. But then a random thought had Sy grinning as he stepped onto the pavement. “So, I imagine I can work off the rest of my social requirements for the week at the crime scene. After all, I will be meeting new individuals and its definitely somewhere people congregate.”

Brock’s lips tightened as he opened the passenger door of the limo blatantly double parked out the front of the club. “We seriously need to renegotiate the agreement,” he said tersely as he closed the door after Sy was seated. Leaning back against the plush seats that still held that new leather smell, Sy’s smile grew as he recalled the exact wording of their contract:

Meeting place definition: Any place where it can be considered likely that three or more people might congregate for the purposes of sharing ideas, thoughts or common interests, and where conversation is encouraged between all parties.

Brock had added the last part when Sy spent his first month’s worth of social engagements at the local library.

Although it had been years since Sy had attended a crime scene he’d bet a drop of his highly coveted blue blood it would still fit within the terms of their contract. With luck, Sy could cut his social requirement for the following week by half again if he employed the “carry over” clause. He didn’t often get one over on his loyal butler but when he did it was worth celebrating.





Chapter Two



“He’s here,” Brad said, nudging Dakar hard enough to cause the hands around his disposable cup to squash the cardboard and almost causing him to drop his coffee. “Look alert. According to the gossip, this guy doesn’t miss a thing.”

“You’ve never met him before either?” Dakar asked as he took the final swallow from his cup before crumpling it and putting it in his jacket pocket.

“I’ve never had the chance,” Brad chuckled. “I told you, the contract signed by this man’s father is ironclad and costs the Captain a fortune every time he’s called out. When the son took over the area after his father retired, I’d heard the previous captain tried to renegotiate the terms. But this guy must study law or something in his spare time because he ended up with the sweeter end of the deal. With the council watching every cent spent, I’d say the only reason our friendly neighborhood Necromancer is here now is because the council have approved an increase in our budget.”

“He certainly wears the money well,” Dakar muttered, taking in the tall being striding towards him dressed in a suit worth more than a year’s worth of Dakar’s wages. The man carried himself with the air of someone who’d never been denied, never come across a problem he couldn’t solve, and his power nudged at Dakar’s wolf from the moment he stepped over the police tape. He was followed by an adorable twink with a mass of dark curls who was dressed for a night on the town.

Dakar’s eyes narrowed, and he surreptitiously sniffed as the tall man approached. Most magic users in his experience smelled of sage, basil and a hint of hemp. The few more powerful ones charged the air around them with subtle electricity jolts. This guy had no electrical charge and smelled more of fire and brimstone than herbs. In fact, scent-wise he could be related to the Captain although Dakar’s gut told him that wasn’t the case.

Stepping forward, Dakar inclined his head enough to show respect and kept his expression professional. “Necromancer, I apologize for disturbing your evening plans. If your boy toy would care to wait by the car, I can show you what we’ve found at the scene so far.”

The tall man’s spine got even straighter if that was possible and the temperature around them dropped ten degrees. Dakar got the impression he’d caused offence even if he couldn’t work out what he’d said wrong. Then he remembered what he’d said and winced. Shit, what if the boy toy was the Necromancer’s mate, significant other, or whatever the hell a necromancer calls his partner? Opening his mouth to offer yet another apology he was thwarted by cutting tones delivered with a decidedly British accent.

“Far be it for me to offer advice when you’ve not even offered your name and designation,” the haughty tones dripped with ice, “but may I suggest you should never judge a book by its cover. As you pointed out our evening plans have been interrupted so our attire should be excused. But then,” dark eyes reflected the scorn in the man’s tone, “I imagine it’s been some time since you’ve bothered to pick up a book of any kind so perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the cover analogy.”

Dakar bristled under the insult and his wolf growled in his head. “Now look here,” he snapped, “I….”

“Don’t let them bother you, Brock, you know it will only give you heartburn.” The boy toy hurried past the three men, walking straight up to the body before curling his legs so he ended up sitting cross legged on the ground beside the head. To Dakar’s shock the young man caressed the blood splattered hair before closing his eyes.

“What the hell?” Dakar shared a look with his partner before turning to the one called Brock. “Look Necromancer, I get its late and you aren’t the only one who got cock-blocked by this murder but get your pet away from our crime scene. He’s contaminating evidence.”

Dakar admitted, to himself at least, the boy toy was definitely worth spending fifteen minutes with. His mass of curls shone like a sinful halo under the harsh police lights, his slender face crafted by an angel. His lips were dark pink and full enough to stretch delightfully around his hardening cock. The club clothes the boy wore highlighted an ass taut enough to bounce a roll of quarters on and he had a lightly defined torso any twink would be proud to show off. But the boy’s innocent air would have stopped Dakar from approaching him if the circumstances of their meeting had been any different.

“Detective,” Brock’s lips curled, and the brimstone edge of his scent increased. “I would appreciate it if you would stop eying that young man as though he was your last meal. That man you callously insulted suggesting he was both my boy toy and my pet is the Pedace County Necromancer, Prince Sebastian York of the York clan; only heir to the York fortune and the strongest and most able man of his craft in the America’s.”

Just dig my grave and leave me in it. Dakar’s cheeks heated as he stumbled for something to say. “And you are?” He managed when his brain finally hit the right gear.

“I’m Brock, Prince York’s butler,” Brock announced as if he was the President.

“It’s a pleasure meeting you,” Brad intervened as Dakar tried to merge Brock’s imposing presence with his idea of a crusty British butler as portrayed by random television programs he rarely watched. “Forgive me if I’m being impertinent, but what is the Necromancer doing? Doesn’t he know he shouldn’t touch the deceased?”

Brock peered around Dakar’s shoulder and huffed. “I imagine he’s attempting to talk to the young man’s spirit,” he said dismissively. “It’s what a Necromancer does, among other things.” The clipped tone suggested Dakar would find out just how powerful the cute young man was if he didn’t find a way to extract his size fourteen boots from his mouth.

/~/~/~/~/

If Sy had a dime for every time someone confused Brock with the Necromancer position he’d be able to build a tower taller than the Statue of Liberty. Not that he’d craft the tower with dimes, of course. He much preferred the basic metals like silver and gold. It always warmed his heart when Brock jumped to his defense so strongly. Lord knows, no one else did. But after the Detectives’ swift dismissal of him simply because of his looks, Sy just wanted to do his job and get it over and done with. He’d already counted seven officers at the scene, so this would qualify under his social engagement contract which was the only positive of the evening so far. Hopefully, no one will interrupt me.

Keeping his eyes closed, Sy started identifying and then blocking from his mind the elements of the scene unnecessary to him. The first layers – the brightness of the lights, the feel of the wet grass under his butt, the sounds of voices – they were easy to dismiss. Next, he recognized the rustle of the leaves in the tall trees surrounding the park, the wail of a distant siren, and the low thrum of a plane flying overhead. He blocked them too. Deeper and deeper he went, stripping out the trappings of the physical world in his mind until he reached the veil between the living and the dead.

Sliding through the veil, Sy immediately sensed a presence. He wasn’t surprised the spirit hadn’t wandered far considering the callous nature of the young man’s death. Sy was conscious of a white glow, but nothing more. The victim was an innocent in every sense and hadn’t been dead long enough to create the semblance of a physical form. Sy would have to work fast if he was to get any information at all. Chances are, the spirit was only hanging around because he didn’t yet fully realize he’d passed beyond the veil and if the young man was taken into the hereafter quickly, it would require more than a force of will to contact him.

Where am I?

Good, at least he’s recognized my presence. Sy knew that wasn’t always the case and sometimes he could waste precious minutes yelling to get a spirit’s attention.

“You’re dead,” Sy projected bluntly. There was never any point in sugar coating an obvious truth. “Can you tell me who you are?”

Don’t you know already? Aren’t you an angel? You shine like an angel. I thought they knew everything.

Oh, you poor sweet kid, Sy kept that thought to himself. “I’m not an angel sweetheart, but one will be coming for you very soon. I can wait with you if you like?”

That will be lovely, thank you. This is all very confusing. Someone had taught the kid impeccable manners, not always the case with the younger generation anymore. The white glow got closer. Ew gross…Is that what’s left of me?

Sy realized the innocent spirit was watching the scene going on around the body. Brock and the two detectives were conferring in low voices; the detectives throwing loaded looks his way every few seconds. The garish blood on the body was dried but no less shocking against pale limbs that held a bluish tinge.

“Our body is simply a vessel that allows our spirits to experience different aspects of life,” Sy replied feeling the need to offer some kind of comfort. “If it is meant to be, you will reform in another life but that’s dependent on a number of different factors. Try not to worry about it now. Can you tell me your name?” Instinct told Sy that information was important. At least if he had the victim’s name he could call on him again if he needed to at a later time.

He called me Peter, the young man’s voice was faint and Sy struggled to hear him. But I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last. They are all Peter.

Shit. Sy thought fast. He could feel the layers of life intruding, pushing at the veil. That damned detective probably wanted to conduct an interview or something equally unhelpful. “What name were you given at birth?” He asked. “Do you remember?”

The white glow wavered and Sy held fast to his powers. He was suddenly aware of everything that was going on. Brock was trying to stop the sexy detective from interfering and…what? Clenching his teeth, Sy focused on the light once more. “Your birth name,” he prodded.

Warren. The glow got brighter. Warren Peterson but he said that meant I was a Peter.

“Who said,” Sy projected desperately as angry voices from the real world pierced his ears. “Who said you should be Peter?”

“Stop! Don’t touch him. You sir, are a damn fool,” Sy heard Brock yell in tones far louder than his stoic butler usually employed. A wolf snarled, and a heavy hand landed on his shoulder. Sy lost his connection with the innocent spirit. Layers of real life piled in, one on top of the other as his concentration fractured. A familiar darkness curled over the edges of his mind and as Sy succumbed as he knew he must, he saw the white glow joined by another. At least he got his angel escort, Sy thought as he slumped back on the wet grass, barely aware his fingers were still entangled in the ends of the dead man’s hair.

/~/~/~/~/

“Have none of you read the damn manual provided when the Prince’s father entered into the contract with your department? Now look what you’ve done.”

Dakar’s retort died on his tongue as he took in the sight of the pretty young magic user slumped at his feet. All at once he was struck with a feeling of dread as he imagined the Necromancer as the victim. His wolf howled in his mind and growls bubbled up through his chest, spilling from his throat as if he were in his furry form. Ignoring him completely, Brock pushed him aside and in one graceful move plucked the young man from the ground, cradling him in his arms.

“How the… what are we…did he even do anything?” Dakar yelled as Brock brushed past him, heading for the waiting limo. Brock stopped and half-turned, his sneer fully formed.

“The Necromancer was performing his duties. If you’d read the manual provided you would know that when a Necromancer is yanked back through the veil between the living and the dead before he is done, he falls into a deep sleep while his brain reorients itself. On previous occasions, when your predecessors were as ignorant of the process as you’ve proven to be, they were always gracious enough to make an appointment at a more civilized hour to hear what he has to report. I suggest you do the same.”

Dakar was getting more and more frustrated with the constant referrals to a damn manual he didn’t even know existed. His heart was still trying to pound its way out of his chest over the way the Necromancer went down so quickly and the knowledge it was his ignorance that caused it. “This is the fifth victim,” he insisted. “If we don’t move quickly on this, the killer could get away.”

“The killer has already gotten away,” Brock said in his clipped tone. “Otherwise the person who perpetuated this awful crime would still be here, in handcuffs I imagine, being subjected to the wonders known as the justice system. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

“How do I make an appointment to hear what the Necromancer has learned?” Dakar was seized with the feeling his best lead was being placed with gentle care into the back of the Limo.

“Read the manual, Detective.” Brock didn’t even bother to acknowledge the others at the scene as he slid into the driver’s seat and the Limo moved down the driveway.

“Looks like you were caught with your pants down, Dakar. I take it, I can remove the body now?” Dr. Barker grinned as he waved at his assistants carrying black body bags towards the corpse.

“You knew who he was, and you let me make a right fool of myself. Thanks a fucking bunch. Do what you have to do. I have a manual to find and read before tomorrow’s meeting.” And he did need to read that manual. That was the only thing Dakar was certain of.

Everything else – the rising body count, the lack of clues and his captain’s ire were all subject to change – but one fact engraved itself on his psyche. He owed the Necromancer an apology and he didn’t want to go into a second meeting unprepared. He only hoped the young man wouldn’t make him eat too much humble pie before he made his report. At this stage, Dakar was prepared to believe in fairy dust and true love if it meant he could get a lead on the killer…and maybe a chance to see the Necromancer smile. He imagined that would be something worth seeing.





Chapter Three



Sy stretched and snuggled further under his feather duvet. The clink of the tea cups, the smell of freshly buttered toast and then a blast of light he could see even with his eyes closed all let him know Brock was in the room and it was time to get up.

“Sir, I know you’re awake. Those detectives will be here within the hour and if you wish to bathe the stench from last night’s activities from your body and hair, you’d better sit up and eat your toast.”

“Tea first, you know the drill.” Sy pushed back the covers and wriggled into a seated position, pillows already waiting to support his back as a cup was handed to him. Chamomile. He was being spoiled this morning. Sy took a grateful sip and managed a smile. “I know you won’t allow me to be late and even if I was, that is no more than those detectives deserve after last night.”

“Sir, you can’t….”

“I know, punctuality is a sign of professionalism and with my curls and youthful exterior I have enough trouble being respected as it is.” Picking up a piece of toast Sy wasn’t surprised to see it was perfectly cooked and smeared with just enough butter to make the inners soft. He winked at the staunch man standing at parade rest by the bed. “I also know, without resorting to magic, that my bath will already be run to a regulation four and a half inches from the rim. It will contain precisely twenty milliliters of bubble bath; likely lavender today as I had a rotten night. My towels will already be heated and waiting for me when I step out and while I am bathing you will lay out my Necromancer garb ready for me to step into. You know, it would be quicker if I took a shower.”

“Don’t even joke about it.” The horror on Brock’s face was worth another chuckle. Sy knew his butler was never happier unless he controlled everything he could down to the last inch. If he searched the man he’d likely find a thermometer stuffed in some secret pocket; its sole purpose to ensure the bath water was at precisely the right temperature designed to be soothing without burning him.

“Can we forgo the goth garb today, at least?” Sy asked, placing his toast crust on the plate sitting on the bedside table and giving up his cup. “The visitors have already seen me in club gear. Surely a button-down shirt and smart pants would suffice?”

“Absolutely not.” Brock’s eyebrows were at least half an inch higher than normal. “A Necromancer’s position, including the wearing of….”

“I know, I know.” Sy climbed out of bed, unconcerned with his nudity. Brock would have been the one who put him to bed after all. “But honestly, look at me. The long black coat, all black shirt and pants and even the soft leather gloves for goodness sake. They were designed for someone a lot taller and more imposing than me. They make me look like I’m playing dress up in my father’s clothes.”

“You make a very fine Necromancer. You’ve got more power in your little finger than you father has in his whole body,” Brock said firmly. “Now let’s have no more arguments. You have forty-seven minutes left before your appointment.”

“Can I at least make a fiery entrance?” Sy batted his eyelids. “That seems to attract respect.”

Brock sighed and Sy knew he’d do as he asked. “I’ll put them in the smaller dance hall then, sir. That will make more of an impact than if we use the larger hall. The marble floors will be easier to clean the scorch marks from than the wooden one in your office.”

“You are too good to me, thank you.” Sy hurried through to the bathroom to save Brock having to hide his embarrassment. The man had been in service for so long, he’d forgotten how to accept a compliment.

/~/~/~/~/

“You need a map and a compass to find your way to the bathroom in this house,” Brad whispered as they followed Brock’s upright form through an ornate mansion. Dakar agreed. It wasn’t his first time meeting an important personage in their private home, but generally the office was handy to the front door. So far, they’d been walking the hallways for what seemed like ages and Brock showed no sign of stopping.

The inside of the home was filled with light; surprising, given the gothic architecture of the outside. Fresh flowers arranged in tall vases were spaced periodically along the halls and every room Dakar had managed to sneak a peek at was immaculately decorated. The ceilings loomed well above his head and came complete with plaster moldings, elaborate cornices, and sparkling crystal chandeliers. Dakar would assume it would take an army of people to keep the place clean but apart from Brock, they hadn’t seen a soul.

“If you gentlemen would wait inside, I will arrange refreshments.” Brock stood by an open door, his arm indicating they were to enter the room beyond.

Stepping across the threshold, Dakar expected to see another office, or even a small sitting room, but the room they’d been ushered into was huge. Large bay windows completely covered the far wall, lined with rich dark red velvet curtains. Dakar’s boots clicked on the cool white and gold marble floor. Grecian pillars framed a fireplace large enough to swallow a Buick. Apart from a collection of ferns in large pots in one corner near the window the room was empty.

“Your seats, gentlemen, and refreshments. The Necromancer will be with you directly. For your own safety, do not move from the chairs provided.” A wave of Brock’s hand and two large red armchairs appeared complete with a table holding a carafe of coffee with the fixings and a plate of biscuits. Dakar wasn’t one for eating sweets, but he quickly poured himself a large mug of coffee. Brad added sugar and cream to his and the two men sat in silence awaiting the Necromancer’s arrival. It wasn’t a comfortable silence, given how Brock was still standing at attention not five feet away.

“What do you think all that’s about? Not being allowed to move, I mean,” Brad leaned over to whisper. “Do you figure the floor is booby-trapped or something?”

“Probably worried we’re going to pocket some of the family silver.” Dakar knew he looked rough but after only three hours sleep, grooming wasn’t high on his priorities. His two-day scruff was reaching irritation point and he’d barely had time to run a brush through his long hair, worn loose for the occasion. Okay, he might have splashed out on a new shirt, but he wasn’t admitting the why of it to anyone. It had nothing to do with a sexy young Necromancer who had yet to make his appearance.

The air suddenly hummed with magic and Dakar’s nose was filled with the scent of honey and jasmine with the tiniest hint of lavender. The smell infused every cell in his body and his wolf sat up in his head and howled. His cock pounding, Dakar ran his eyes around the room, searching for the source of the compelling scent. He half rose, only to be interrupted by Brock. “I said don’t move. The Necromancer is on his way.”

Where? Nothing had changed in the room but just as Dakar finished the thought, a burst of flame erupted in the middle of the marble floor. Splitting in two threads, twisting and turning, the flames moved with purpose, etching a design on the marble. A pentagram. Dakar shivered. As soon as the two flames met at the far side of the symbol there was a loud boom that left Dakar’s ears ringing. Another circle appeared inside the pentagram, the flames leaping ten feet into the air.

And there, sitting in the middle of it all on an ornately carved throne was the Necromancer. Gone was the party boy from the night before. His curls were slicked back, making his high sharp cheek bones more prominent. Dressed entirely in black leather, Prince Sebastian York epitomized power, yet as large gray eyes caught his, Dakar swore he saw the hint of a smirk on the Necromancer’s lips.

“Your audience with the Necromancer has begun,” Brock intoned as the young man clicked his fingers and the flames died down to a gentle simmer. “Please state your full names and purpose of your visit.”

“Detective Brad Summerfield and Detective Dakar Rhodes from the Pedace Police Department asking for the results of last night’s enquiry from the Necromancer,” Brad said formally as Dakar struggled to find his voice. Everything about the young man called to him with an instinct older than time. Mate? It’s not possible and yet Dakar couldn’t take his eyes off the younger man. It was as if the Necromancer could tell his every thought.

“The victim’s name is Warren Peterson, however the killer called him Peter.” The Necromancer’s tone was giving nothing away.

“You talked to him? You talked to our dead victim?” Dakar’s brain was on overload and his wolf, who was running around in excitement, wasn’t helping the situation.

“It’s what I do, Detective Rhodes.” There it was again, that slight twitch of the lips as if the Necromancer was reliving a private joke. “Your victim had not been dead long and was an innocent. It was fortunate you called me as quickly as you did, otherwise communication would have been more difficult.”

“Does this mean it’s too late for you to communicate with the other victims?” Brad asked, scribbling furiously in his note book. He looked up quickly. “We haven’t managed to identify the four other victims. Having their names would be extremely helpful to us.”

“No one has claimed any knowledge of the previously deceased?” The Necromancer shared a look with Brock that Dakar couldn’t interpret. “Warren was far too innocent to be a homeless person; someone must be missing him.”

“We’ve turned up nothing so far,” Dakar said, his lust temporarily dampened by the thoughts of the dead men. “I believe that’s why the Captain asked for your help. We’ve found no evidence to suggest these victims ever existed in the time leading up to their deaths.”

“And yet now their bodies are lying in your morgue, unnamed and uncared for. Those poor souls.” The Necromancer went quiet, seemingly lost in thought. Dakar was just about to ask him if he’d learned anything else, when the young man jumped to his feet. With a wave of his hand, the flames and throne disappeared.

“Brock, is my bag still in the boot of the limo?”

“Of course, sir, freshly stocked.”

“Very good.” The Necromancer appeared to pluck a staff almost as tall as him from thin air. It was fashioned from a tree limb; Oak, Dakar would have guessed, and was crested with a very realistic life-sized skull. “Come along then, Detectives, we’ve got work to do.”

“Where are we going?” Dakar asked as Brad hastily stuffed his notebook and pen into his jacket pocket.

“Why, the morgue of course. Unless you happen to have any personal effects from the victims on your person?”

“No personal effects were found on any of the victims. They were all in the same state you saw last night.” Dakar tried not to inhale as the Necromancer swept past.

“Then the morgue is our only option. Come on, chop, chop. The dead wait for no man.”





Chapter Four



“Detective Dakar Rhodes has lustful thoughts about you,” Brock said as he pointed the limo in the direction of the city morgue. “He stunk of arousal.”

“A lot of people lust after me when I’m dressed up like a comic book freak. It’s got something to do with my power levels.” Sy wasn’t worried that Brock might disapprove. Heavens, if he actually had sex with someone his stuffy butler would probably throw a party or at least celebrate quietly with a glass of hundred-year old whiskey.

“His wolf believes you are his mate.”

“Are you certain?” Well, that put an unusual spin on his day. Sy wasn’t sure how he felt about that idea.

“Animal spirits are rarely wrong about these things. It has something to do with your natural scent.”

“I took a bath; maybe he’s reacting to the smell of my soap. He didn’t notice me in that way last night or you would have said so.”

“The only thing anyone could smell last night was that poor victim’s blood and the smell of vomit.” Brock eased the limo around a large, ugly red brick building and brought the car to a stop in the lot behind it. “This will certainly change some things. Your father will have to be informed for one thing and it will mean we’ll have to make changes in the house.”

“Now hang on a minute. There’s nothing in my social contract about taking a mate.” Sy would have known about it if there was. “You just wanted me to go out and meet people and I do that four hours every week without fail. I don’t need anything else.”

“The mating issue is a done deal. It’s only a matter of timing.” Brock turned and rested his elbow on the back of the driver’s seat. He was worried, Sy could tell, but he wasn’t sure what his butler was so concerned about. “Shifters can be quite pushy about such things. I imagine if the Detective hadn’t been so worried about this case, he would’ve stated his claim already.”

“His stating it and me going through with it are two entirely different things.” Sy wasn’t sure he liked the idea of someone just claiming to be his mate. In his observations, mating or bonding as it was known among magic users was usually the result of failing to prevent a pregnancy after a solstice celebration. True matings were something other paranormal types did.

“Just try and keep his shifting to the non-carpeted areas of the house please.” Brock opened his door and made to get out.

“Wait, you’re accepting his claim? How will I…what will I…I don’t even know him.” Sy was feeling just a tiny bit panicked, or at least he thought that was what he was feeling. The churning in his stomach and the pounding in his right temple were reminiscent of when his father used to berate him for setting fire to his bedroom curtains as a child.

“Sir,” Brock came around and opened his door but instead of standing back and letting Sy out, he leaned in. “It will be all right.” Sy looked into Brock’s deep dark eyes and saw nothing but concern. It lightened his heart to know it was for him. “If you want to take the time to get to know Detective Rhodes first, then as your mate he will respect and accept that. My biggest concern is going to be your father’s reaction. His last communication to us suggested he’s been negotiating a mating contract for you with the daughter of a powerful coven leader in France to take place sometime next year.”

“You never told me about that. Why didn’t you tell me?” Not that Sy was surprised. Even from Transylvania the man still believed he could control every move he made. Then Sy had another thought. “Is that why you insisted on that silly social contract?”

“There was nothing silly about me wanting you to experience normal life before you got dragged into your father’s politics. But it seems I needn’t have worried. Now, you are going to put this out of your mind until we’re safely home again. We will need to come up with a plan to thwart your father and keep him on his side of the ocean. I don’t believe he and your detective should meet until your bond is firmly established.”

“We weren’t expecting a visit from Father, were we?” Sy slipped out of the car and saw the Detectives had already arrived and were waiting by the door.

“With that man you can never tell. You know how he likes to keep us on our toes.” Brock straightened Sy’s coat collar. “Let’s deal with one thing at a time. Help your detective solve these murders and then we’ll discuss your personal life.”

Sy wasn’t sure which aspect of his day was going to bother him more.

/~/~/~/~/

Apparently, Dr. Barker and the Necromancer were at least passing acquaintances because the Medical Examiner had no problems arranging the remains of the previous four victims in what he called the viewing room. Dakar watched the proceedings with a mixture of awe and dread. The Necromancer, who Brock insisted preferred to be called Sy, had been absolutely focused from the moment the bodies had been wheeled in on their stainless-steel gurneys. Sy and Brock moved the two couches and coffee table aside, placing the four men in the shape of a cross with their heads pointing towards the middle.

What struck Dakar, as he watched Sy pull assorted items from a black leather medicine bag and place them around the heads, was the care and respect he’d shown the victims. As a shifter, Dakar understood the cycle of life. Death was a crucial part of the fabric of existence and with his nose full of the smell of decay, it was clear any resemblance the bodies had to the men they’d been in life was long gone.

But Sy didn’t treat the corpses that way. He stroked their hair, even on those heads no longer attached to their bodies. He spoke softly, a language Dakar didn’t understand, taking his time with all four of them, before letting out a long sigh.

“Are you ready sir?” Brock asked from his position by the door.

Sy nodded, his eyes glazed over as though in a trance. His head was tilted back slightly as though he was seeing something no one else was aware of.

“Gentlemen, I understand you are legally required to view these proceedings, but I must insist that from this moment on, you do nothing to impede the Necromancer in his job. Once he’s established contact with the spirits, he might advise you of such and you might be able to ask questions quietly if the spirits allow. That privilege is not guaranteed and is totally dependent on the spirits. No matter what happens, no one is permitted to touch the Necromancer until he is finished and if anyone yells or expresses intense emotions I will remove that person immediately.”

Brad raised his hand hesitantly. “Yes, Detective.”

“What might happen if intense emotions are displayed while the Necromancer is doing his thing. Is it dangerous for any of us?”

“Necromancy is not a game or trickery. There are no smoke, mirrors or fancy tricks involved here. Necromancy is the oldest form of magic and only a handful of people are ever blessed with the ability to handle it. To speak to anyone who departed some time ago is a risk both to the Necromancer and anyone in the immediate vicinity. Not all spirits have to be invited into a space; they come if they see an opening, intent on causing harm. Anyone expressing intense emotions are likely to become a target.”

Brad gulped, and Dakar’s anxiety increased. Even if his human half hadn’t quite got a handle on Sy being his mate, his animal half was already committed to the slender man, so his protective instincts were riding high. His erection hadn’t truly gone down since the night before and he was sure his Alpha pheromones were fighting for dominance over the smell of death.

There was another part of him that was proud he would soon call the pretty young man his own. Alphas respected power of all kinds and Sy had that in spades. Dakar had never considered there might be a dangerous aspect to using magic – frankly, he didn’t know anything about it at all and he made a vow to change all that as he felt the buzz of magic in the air. The Necromancer, his Necromancer had begun.





Chapter Five



Bracing his feet firmly on the cold tiled floor, Sy grasped his staff with both hands. A single hair from each victim was laying on the skull that adorned what he privately called his secret weapon. The magic behind Necromancy required something tangible from the person they wished to speak to. A hair from any being contained traces of an individual’s life from the day they died back until the last time they’d had a haircut. Judging from the length of the hairs he’d collected there was at least a month’s worth of experiences harbored in the strands.

Sliding through the veil had gotten easier with practice. Sy focused on the residual life force in the hair and pushed out his magic. In his mind’s eye, he was calling for “Peter” even though he knew there was a chance none of the dead men actually went by that name. But that was all he had to go on and he’d contacted spirits with a lot less in the past. The hairs he’d taken would ensure he was communicating with the right spirits.

The gray mist of the veil swirled around him teasing him with glimpses of restless souls. Focusing on a clump of them, Sy pushed harder. He’d hoped that the victims had some connection when they were alive and would gravitate to each other in death. Sure enough, after a short while four young men floated towards him, followed hesitantly by Warren who’d found a partial physical form.

“Warren said you talked to him yesterday,” the most fully formed of them said, standing protectively at the front of the little group. “He said you were kind to him which is the only reason we answered your call.”

The first victim. Sy recognized the sharp facial features. He smiled and inclined his head. “I only want to talk, to hear your side of what happened to you.”

One of the others snorted. “We were tortured and murdered. I thought that was obvious.”

“The police want to catch who did this to you. Surely you want that too?” Sy had spent his teenage years alone and had precious few skills when it came to talking to young people. But this interview was important, and he had to try.

“There’s no point in us talking to the police. No one will catch the Master,” another one spoke up. “He lives in the shadows, see. Like you, he comes and goes even here, although he looks different here. We’ve seen him since we died, but he doesn’t stay here and never tries to communicate with us.”

Sy stilled. There were only a handful of beings that could navigate the veil, but most weren’t human and on this side of the veil those traits were obvious. Only another Necromancer could move about like he did but if the boys noticed a change in the person on this side of the veil he could be anything from a demon to a ghoul.

“The police need your names,” he said quickly. “Your real names, something so they can trace your life.”

“I barely remember my life before the Master,” the second victim whispered. “I could barely walk when I was taken. He told me my name was Peter. All I remember from before is a kindly woman with bright red hair. She used to sing to me.”

“You only passed three weeks ago,” Sy really wished he could convince the boys to talk to the Detectives directly, but he didn’t want to argue with them. If they felt it was helpless, he was bound to accept that. “Can you tell me where you’ve been all this time? Where did you live?”

“It was a big place. Lots of concrete. We were never allowed out,” the first victim said, looking at the others who nodded. “I’d never seen grass until he took me out that night.”

Oh, mother of God, this is worse than I thought. Worst still, Sy could feel their connection waning. “Are there others? How many, how many more are still there?”

The second Peter looked at Warren who held up both hands, his fingers splayed but his thumbs tucked into his transparent palm. “Eight more, there are eight more men like you being held?”

Warren nodded. “There were thirteen of us in total,” the first victim said. “For the thirteen disciples the Master said.”

There were only twelve disciples in the bible. But Sy didn’t have time to discuss religion. The apparitions in front of him were wavering and his knees were shaky. He clung hard to his staff.

“Please,” he begged. “Anything you can tell me about who you were, or where you were held. We have to save the others.”

“I was Peter Johnson,” the third victim said, his voice barely heard above the rising wind. Sy’s spell was fading and he pulled on everything he had to push forward with his magic one last time. “The Master called the camp he kept us in the Sanctuary. Please tell them to hurry. My little brother is Peter number eight. His name is Thomas Peter Johnson.”


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