The Devil's Disease
Shades Below Book Two
by L.J.K. Oliva
Genre: urban fantasy
Date of Publication: March 31, 2016
Psychic medium Lena Alan always sticks to what she knows, and what she knows are dead people. When her brother Cyrus agrees to look into a troubling incident for local vampire Seneca Lynch, Lena finds herself in unfamiliar territory.
One thing is clear: she needs a detective, and there's only one she trusts.
Private investigator Jesper MacMillian is ready to get back to business. Between his duties as leader of the city's Romani community and the stack of unfinished paperwork on his desk, he doesn't have time to think about ghosts, witches, or Lena Alan. After nearly a month of no contact, he's starting to think she's forgotten about him...until she waltzes through his office door and hands him a new case.
Still reeling from his last encounter with the subversive world, MacMillian is tempted to turn it down. But this is Lena, and he can't bring himself to tell her no. He soon finds himself drawn even deeper into the shadows, into a part of the demimonde where folklore is real and nightmares are born.
This time, there are more than just ghosts walking the streets of San Francisco.
There are monsters, too.
He shook his head. "Bet you anything half those people are going to work in an office tomorrow."
Lynch stood beside him and watched as still more people emerged from the house. "I need to tell you something. Kasey Chaplin, the young lady Lena communicated with; there's something about her you should know."
MacMillian looked at him. "What is it?"
Lynch's eyes locked on a raven-haired woman in a corset. "She was a black swan."
MacMillian blinked. "You mean like Stella?"
A smirk dusted Lynch's lips. "I've met very few people like Stella." His face grew serious. "I knew Ms. Chaplin. She was part of my circle. She'd been here for blood drives. She was actually a very lovely girl."
MacMillian snorted. "A lovely girl who hung out with vampires." He remembered himself too late, winced. "Sorry."
"Say what you will about us, Mr. MacMillian, but every human you saw tonight was here of their own free will." Lynch watched the people still trickling past. "They seek us out. They flock to us in droves. Do you know why?"
MacMillian didn't speak.
"Because we give them something." Lynch turned back to him. "They give us their blood, and in return, we give them a place to belong. We give them an identity. You'd be surprised how many humans have never had either of those before."
MacMillian shook his head. "I'm sorry, but I don't see people with an identity. I see people playing dress-up, so desperate to belong they'll believe anything you tell them." He tightened his jaw. "They have no clue what's really going on."
"And now you do." Lynch shifted. "You may be right. It is in our best interests to facilitate certain...fantasies. But really, isn't that what identity is? The stories we tell others, the names we call ourselves?"
MacMillian didn't have an answer to that. He gripped his cane a little tighter. "And what about you? What do you call yourself, Lynch?"
Lynch smiled into the darkness. "Why, my dear detective. I am a monster."
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