Chapter 1

A pile of graphic photos of a blood-spattered mess was loudly thrown on my desk. The sight made my half-digested tuna sandwich attempt an escape from its current resting place in my stomach. Luckily, my five years as a badass PI stopped its escape – though the images might actually have been easier to look at if they had been covered in vomit. At least it would have covered up the gory bits currently displayed in all their grisly glory on my desk.
“They’ve found a new victim.” The gruff voice belonged to Tom, my boss.
“Yeah, I see that, all too clearly actually, but since when have dead women become our field of expertise? I thought our client was paying us to find his missing daughter?”
“He is, but the police have just scraped her out of an industrial garbage disposer.” His chubby fingers directed my gaze towards one of the glossy images where deep imprints were visible in what looked like a human skull. It was difficult to be sure, though, as most of it was covered in pink goo.
I squinted at the image, trying to make sense of some white slime in the middle of the mess, but quickly looked away again when I realised that I had been staring at a burst eyeball. The tuna stirred again, but I ignored it. “So case closed. I guess we don’t get our money then.”
He shook his head. “You don’t get off the hook that easily on this one I’m afraid, Sweetie.” He wasn’t being patronising or sexist with the sweetie comment. Besides being my boss, Tom was also my dad. It did sometimes complicate things a bit, but at work, he treated me like everyone else on the team and for that I was grateful. I did wish he would drop the endearments, though.
I raised an eyebrow and looked back at him. “And why is that?”
“The client now wants us to find whoever did this. He tripled our fee and said we would get a 20k bonus if we found the guy within two weeks.”
“Two weeks! That’s impossible. Besides, it’s a homicide now, so the police will be all over it. Why is he paying us to do something the police is doing for free?”
“Casey, women have been disappearing for six months now, and the police is still mucking around trying to find the bastard who is doing this. Even with five bodies, they haven’t got a clue, and our client knows that.”
I glanced at the images again. “And why would I have more luck finding this guy than the police? They have access to all the evidence and more resources to draw on. All I have are some disturbing images that will probably give me nightmares for a week. Who is helping me with this?”
“You can have Tammi.”
“Tammi! You’ve got to be joking.”
“Or Karl.”
I looked across the room and spotted a pale dark haired man sitting at a desk in the corner. Karl was staring at his pen like he wanted to kill it, and not in a burst of violent anger, but in a slow and very unpleasant way. “Nope. Not happening.”
”I haven’t got anyone else who can help you on this.”
“What about Aidrian?”
Dad shook his head. “No, he’s tied up in another case, but he’ll help you get started. One of his contacts seems to have a lead.”
Suddenly interested, I leant forward. Aidrian did have good contacts – one of the only things I envied him. “Really? Do tell.”
“Ah, looks like you can ask him yourself. He has apparently managed to drag his sorry ass into work.” Dad looked at his watch. “And only two hours late for his shift. Must be a new record.”
A tall, handsome man with dark brown hair and eyes to match flopped into the chair at the desk opposite mine. “Sorry, Boss. I was working a case last night, and it got pretty late.”
“You do know it’s 5pm, right?” I looked at him sceptically. The dark circles under his eyes would have made any other man look worn out, but on him, it just added to his roguish charm. It took a lot to make a pureblood fae look tired.
“Did this ‘case’ happen to be a good looking female?” I couldn’t keep the disapproval out of my voice – not that I tried very hard.
Dad shook his head and walked off with a smile on his lips. Good to see that he was taking this serious.
A devastating smile that had undoubtedly led many a women down a path to a broken heart spread across Aidrian’s lips. “Jealous, Casey?”
“In your nightmares, Addy.” I didn’t like the glint in his eyes. If I didn’t know any better, I would say he was interested in me. Luckily, I did know better. He was a pureblood fae from the High Court, and though they were notorious womanisers, they wouldn’t touch a half-blood like me. Something about mixed bloodlines being a bad thing. “I hear you’ve got an informant who can provide a lead on the Nightclub case.”
“Straight to business.” He put his feet on the desk and leant back in his chair with his hands behind his head. “I like that in a woman.”
I looked disapprovingly at his feet, but let the comment slide. Aidrian was the most laid-back High Court fae I had ever met. Not that I had met many. They usually kept to themselves, but I had met enough to know that they were typically arrogant as hell and walked around as if the whole world should bow to them. Aidrian was arrogant as well, but it was in a much more approachable way, which probably meant that he was one of the lesser royals – something which would also explain why he had never flashed his official title in my face. “Who do I need to speak to, Aidrian?”
“His name is Thomas Pelletier. He owns the nightclub on Crawler Avenue.”
“Club Mystique? The place where all the celebrities hang out?”
“Yeah, that’s the place.”
I looked down at my creased jeans which I had been wearing for the last three days. My midnight blue t-shirt had a coffee stain on it. “Great, I’ll fit right in then.”
Another brilliant smile spread across Aidrian’s face. “Like a badly dressed wolf amongst a heard of sheep.”
“No, that would be you. I would be the hamster eating all the peanuts at the bar whilst watching all the peacocks. So what does this guy know?”
“I don’t know for sure because he wouldn’t tell me when I spoke to him, but apparently he has some evidence that should help narrow down the suspect. I think at least one of the victims in the case was last seen at Club Mystique.”
“Interesting. When can I speak to him?”
Aidrian looked at the clock above the door. “Now. It’s still early so the place shouldn’t be busy. I’ll call him and let him know you’re on your way.”
“Thanks.” I grabbed my brown leather jacket off the chair.
On my way out of the office, I ran into a petite brunette – literally. She seemed to just come out of nowhere, which was pretty impressive considering the two crutches under her arms. I steadied her quickly and stepped back. “Oh hi, Tammi. What happened to you?”
“Hi, Casey. I shot myself in the foot – again.”
We both stared down at the huge bandage. She looked sad for a moment but then seemed to cheer up a bit. “At least I didn’t end up shooting the client this time.”
I gave her what I hoped looked like an encouraging smile. “That’s great, Tammi! Keep up the good work. I’m sure you won’t hit yourself next time.”
”Thanks, Casey. Third time’s the charm!” She wobbled into the kitchen, and I quietly shook my head before making my way out of the building.

Read chapter 2 here!