Brimstone Kiss (Page 8)


Any sensible "suspect" would have been fretting about a forthcoming date with the police to discuss the ugly matter of the Snow groupie death.

Any sexually susceptible woman would be obsessing about hot rock-star Snow instead of one of his dead worshippers.

I spent the rest of the day dreaming about sudden reruns of the Pulp Fiction romp with Ric. I kept checking myself in the mirror to see if I looked like a woman who'd get off on light bondage and heavy breathing for a little afternoon delight.

Even the hall mirror seemed to reflect a newly disheveled me and I wondered if my sudden conversion from celibacy would make me more sensitive to Lilith's appearances. Lilith had obviously been a hot number since the apple orchard in Eden.

So I wasn't totally surprised when my own image blurred and I saw someone else posing as my reflection.

Seeing Cicereau's daughter in my hall mirror had become less startling, but I still caught my breath. This time she seemed more real than the impish version of my double, Lilith, I'd glimpsed earlier. This decorous girl posing for her first prom photo in a sweetly modest 1940s gown was a world away from the slaughtered lovers in a forgotten Sunset Park grave.

That she'd been killed during the act of love amid a fiery furnace of sexual passion with her ancient yet teen-aged vampire lover seemed impossible. I'd psychically glimpsed them coupling sixty-eight years ago, feeling at the same time a fierce erotic desire I'd never known personally.

At that moment, the dead girl had become my bridge to womanhood. As Ric clasped me tightly from behind, an attractive stranger whose dowsing lesson had now welded our hands together on the forked twig, he and I shared the dead lovers' dying emotions and sensations.

Remembering our unintended orgasms at that moment now made me blush to see the innocent girl who'd awakened them. Ric and I had sensed and shared the lovers' last, impassioned moments, knowing nothing of their Romeo and Juliet youth. My blood heated in memory. Ric and I hadn't been actually intimate until a few weeks later, but we'd been dowsing our own depths, natures, minds, and bodies ever since.

So I stood there staring at the demure girl from a much more innocent era, the once-virgin daughter of mobster Cesar Cicereau and my inadvertent orgasm fairy godmother. I owed her a lot, including justice. Discovering her own father had ordered her killed in that harsh humiliating way shocked me more than the capital crime of murder.

Maybe that was because I'd never known a mother or a father. I'd fantasized, after each interviewing couple left without adopting me, that my real father and mother had been strong and loving and killed in a terrible accident by a hit-and run driver and my infant self, surviving, had been dropped on a faraway corner to be found. Yeah. A fairy tale. Kids do believe them, for a while, me longer than most.

I now had the sexual experience and strength to face the dead girl fully. She wore an orchid corsage on one blue taffeta shoulder. I hadn't seen that in their double grave. I saw their clothes as bits and pieces around them. They must have been killed somewhere else, perhaps in a room at the one-story 1940s motel that evolved into today's monolithic Gehenna Hotel. They must have been picked up in the bed sheets and driven to a deep grave in empty sand desert considered remote from the minor oasis that Las Vegas was back then.

Dumped. Like dirty hotel laundry. And positioned face-to-face, as if still making love. Bastards! Perverted murderers!

My dark thoughts had obscured the young woman's image, although she was still there.


I heard the word as if she stood next to me. My inner focus switched to the mirror again. My fingers had reached out to spread on the cool surface. Her hand had lifted to match me, fingertip for fingertip.

I could feel a buzz like electricity.

"I'm not ashamed," she said softly, "of anything you saw or felt in Sunset Park. Only that you know my father killed us."

"How do you know I learned that?"

She smiled. "I feel you too. That's rather nice after all this time in nowhere. I guess I'm like your pretty dog. I followed you home from the park."

"Pretty" was not an apt description of Quicksilver, but I suppose to a naïve teenager, he was just a big, handsome dog.

"Do you see me all the time," I asked, "or just when I'm standing in front of this mirror? How do you know what I've learned?"

"If it involves me, it just blossoms in my head. It's like I'm dreaming after a long time in utter darkness. I'm getting stronger," she said. "I think that's because you are, Delilah."

She said my name so shyly, yet with such pleasure. It made me feel good, like I'd found a friend. Life so far had thrown me competitors, not friends.

"Can again?" I asked her.

"I don't know. Can you come in to see me?"

Probably, but did I want to? I pushed my fingers forward against the faint pressure of hers.

Yes! As my hand had passed into the magician Madrigal's front-surface conjuring mirror, my fingertips thrust through this mirror as if it were melted glass. There was no sense of barrier. It felt like a perfect day when the air is exactly your own body temperature, so you feel naked even while wearing clothes. I said so.

"I've seen you naked too," she said, smiling.

"Here? In the hall?"

"Inside the mirror."

So she'd seen Lilith too! From the other side of the mirror.

"Come in," she said again.

I had to get past my astonishment-and think.

There were many lovely creatures in the Millennium Revelation world that could speak softly and look harmless and could liquefy your soul like a blender set on puree before sucking it clean out of your skin.

Was this girl one of them? Being dead and suddenly having a lingering presence might motivate an unhuman lust for life that would take it from unwary humans.

"I won't bite," she cajoled.

That was a good point. A lot of people did bite these days, and they did a lot more weird things than appear in mirrors while dead. What was she? Certainly werewolf like Daddy. All werewolf or only part?

So I asked her.

"I'm half human. That's why Daddy punished me so severely. A true werewolf, he said before he killed us, would have never betrayed her pack with a vampire."

"He was there?"

"Of course. He had to let us know who did it."


Her eyes became all iris, blue like her gown. Pain twisted her features.

"He watched. He made me watch."

"Watch what? Oh. You were second to die," I whispered.

Cicereau was a freaking sadist! Yeah, you had to be a monster to run your enemies down with a werewolf pack at full cry, then mount the heads of your human victims on your hunting lodge wall. But to make your own daughter watch her first love killed...

Her ringers twined with mine. They were the same exact body temperature. In a moment I no longer thought about the strange physical presence of dead flesh, no longer felt that we were not one.

This was the closest physical/mental link I'd ever had with anybody, except for Ric.

I was scared, but too eager to know her full story to break our communion.

In the mirror, a shadow was congealing behind her. I recognized Cesar Cicereau, glowering, his face white and slack, his dark eyes empty holes in his head.

Vague figures circled him, men or rearing wolves.

"They killed my darling first," she said in a hard voice.


Her fingers slipped through mine, then stroked my palm and grasped my wrist, as I grasped hers. I was now inside the mirror up to my forearm and my face was leaning closer.

"They staked him."

That didn't jibe with the physical evidence. The coroner hadn't mentioned finding any evidence of a stake, although it could have crumbled to dust in the dry desert air in almost seventy years.

Still, I winced at the anger and pain in her light, young woman's voice.

"They held you down?"

She nodded. "And then they... cut off his pleasure parts."

That severed flesh would decay in the grave, leaving no evidence of the mutilation.

"You saw?" I breathed.

"Then they cut off his head."

True. The spinal vertebrae had been separated at the neck and the detached head put back in place. Grisly Bahr had found that anomaly right away, deducing the male victim had been vampire and the amputation had "killed" him for good.

"They put a chip from the proposed Inferno Hotel in his"-her voice fractured-"mouth, like the holy Host, and scattered thirty silver dollars over his disintegrating body. And then they turned their attention to me."

"Attention?" I didn't really want to know. I was feeling this, not just hearing it.

Rivers of furious blood suffused my face. If this mirror revenant hadn't been holding my wrist with a death grip, I would have made a fist, torn away, and gone Cicereau-hunting that instant.

Her sweet young voice droned on like a zombie's, no current emotion in the dreadful words.

"I was beyond despair, Delilah. I opened my mouth to curse my father-but one of his pack betas leaped down on me, raped me in a burning instant, and howled to cover my screams as he shot a silver bullet into my broken heart and body."

Bones would show no evidence of rape.

I fought to control my outrage. I was a silver medium. Maybe I could become a living "silver bullet" that would take Cesar Cicereau down, all the way down to the Hell he deserved.

At that moment, his daughter was far more real than any vision of Lilith. The mirror reflected my fingernails pressing red crescents into the girl's pale skin. We still bridged the gap with only our arms between my reality and her Mirrorland world.

I sensed she couldn't feel the pain my grip was inflicting on her. It was nothing compared to her past, anyway.

"What do you want?" I asked. My voice rasped. "To be avenged?"


No? Then why hold me captive and appalled in my own mirror?

"I want my lover back."

My breath came out so hard and fast it fogged the mirror, monetarily concealing her smooth, soft face. I could only confront her outrageous request.

I'd gladly go after Cicereau to avenge her and myself. But... to raise a vampire destroyed so totally no flesh remained...even Snow would tell me that was a fool's quest. No one reasonable would take it on.

"Who was he?" I asked briskly. I was a damned paranormal investigator, wasn't I? No task too impossible. Time to step up and live up to your own business card, Street!

She smiled like all young girls in love, damn her. "He had a very important assignment. The Old World vampires had sent him to scout a beachhead in Las Vegas."

Beachhead? What kind of word was that for this teen kitten to use? Oh. Military talk. Right. She had met and fallen for her foreign vampire just after WWII. European vamp culture had probably been as decimated as the human population by Hitler's rampage. Jews, Gypsies, gays, anyone "different" had been immolated. Why not hidden clots of vampires?

So the vamps hankered to start over in America, like a lot of DPs. Displaced Persons, as anyone who watched History Channel knew, is what refugees from the European slaughter were called then.

"The Inferno Hotel of today was a dream in your day, then?" I asked her. So Snow had claimed, but I didn't take his word on anything.

"It was a dream my father needed to stop, like all of mine."

"Your lover is not just sleeping vampire flesh." I had to make her face the facts. "He's only bones, as you are today. You, at least, have a mirror half-life. He is only history. He can't be seen in mirrors, if vampire lore is correct."

"I surfaced when you and your lover found us in Sunset Park. I floated up to the sunlight and sand, to feel you, to share our joy with you and Ric."

"You know his name?" I don't know why that bothered me more than anything, that she should know as much about me as I about her. She was dead, damn it!

"I know a lot that you know. We bonded, all four of us."

Shit! The implications were too intimidating to tote up. My first paranormally powered pairing with Ric over the murdered lovers' grave was not, as I'd thought, a psychic echo of ecstasy swiftly ended in mid-rapture. It was this very active spirit's way of drawing us into the true love that had spurred a brutal vengeance killing.

"Only the men resist." She smiled, girl to girl, woman to woman. "They are less intuitive, less trusting."

I knew I should be less trusting now.

"Isn't there someone you would do anything to save?" she asked.

A couple months ago, I would have said, Achilles. He was my incredibly loyal little dog who died in Kansas defending me.

Yes, I knew that was pathetic. My nearest and dearest had been my dog for almost the first quarter-century of my life. It just showed how far I'd come in a few weeks. I'd grown up in the heartland a girl who was afraid of sex more than death in a world that had suddenly blurred the lines between the two.

Was there anyone I'd do anything to save? Now I could say, Ric.

How could I say now that even a dead girl's hopes for the man she'd loved to death were undoable? Maybe I'd just have to find out how much of the impossible was possible in the Millennium Revelation Las Vegas.

Who and what her lover was.

Maybe in the course of doing that, I'd find out more about who and what I was.

We smiled at each other and slowly released our clasped arms.

"What was his name, your lover?" I asked quickly. That might reveal much about the vampire presence in Vegas, past, present and future. That might explain the outcome of the werewolf-vampire war and stop another one today. One word. One name.

But someone or something was calling her. She glanced backward, fearful. With a regretful look, she faded into the Mirrorland shadows behind her and the shadowed hall behind me. My arm slipped through the dead zone of air between reality and reflection to my side.

We'd each withdrawn back into the limits of our worlds, whatever they were, but a deal had been sealed. I had yet another "client" for solving the motives for such a heinous double murder, a client who perhaps held the key clue to doing that.

Then I realized that I'd forgotten to get my new client's first name.