Michelle Hawkes stood by the fireplace, head down, one hand resting on the mantle for support while the other raised four fingers of Glenfiddich to her lips. She was an exotic beauty, with cat-like eyes and feline eyebrows. A real head-turner in every sense, but those eyes shone with more than just grimalkin curiosity. There was pain reflected in those eyes. And fear.
“You remember Agent Crane,” she said. It wasn’t a question. She knew damn good and well he did.
“Elizabeth,” Connors responded. He was sitting on the edge of his desk, nursing his own Scotch and giving his crippled leg a rest. His mind flashed to a time three years prior. What should have been a routine case of possession involving a lesser demon went south. A child died. Then another. Special Agent Elizabeth Crane and her partner, Gilbert Finch, were called in. Nine more children died. Countless lives were ruined. By the time Connors was brought in to assist, Finch was being hauled off to a permanent vacation in a psychiatric hospital and Crane was a broken woman.
With Connors’ help, the tavara, a malevolent spirit that feeds on nightmares, was exorcised and cast back into the Nevermore. He spent considerable time with Elizabeth Crane after, counseling her… consoling her. They became lovers, but it ended badly. Despite her position in the Paranormal Operations Division, Crane was ill-prepared for the intricacies of Connors’ esoteric proclivities and for the menagerie of confidants and confederates that were a part of his world.
He recalled their last meeting, when she’d screamed at him, “Your god damn best friends are a fallen angel and a talking cat!” He laughed and corrected her, adding, “Fallen archangel, actually, but that was a long time ago.”
She wasn’t amused.
“Yes,” Hawkes said, draining her glass. “Elizabeth.” She sat the empty lowball on the mantle and crossed the room to stand before the detective. They had been lovers too, Connors and Hawkes, not so long ago. It too ended badly, but for altogether different reasons.
He reached out and took her hand.
“What is it you’re so desperately trying not to tell me?” he said, but deep down, he sensed what was coming. Three years ago he had shown Elizabeth Crane just how far down the rabbit hole went. She’d been unprepared for it, especially after her partner’s psychotic break. It haunted him to this day.
“She’s switched teams,” Hawkes answered. She took Connors’ Scotch and downed it, leaning into him, her lithe body pressing into his. He felt something stir as he almost succumbed to the memory of past pleasures.
“Elizabeth Crane has left the Bureau,” Hawkes continued. “Word is, she’s been recruited into the Order of the Black Spire.”
“The Spire?” Connors snapped, rising to his feet. He fumbled for his cane, stepping away from the desk. Something altogether different was stirring inside him now. He chain-lit a fresh cigarette and cast the spent butt into the fireplace, exhaling slowly.
“My contacts have informed that she is being groomed as their new hierophant.”
“No,” Connors said, “that can’t be right.” He turned back to Hawkes now. Hobbling over to her, shaking his head. “She hasn’t the talent for it. She’s not blessed with the Sight. I would have known.”
“Well,” she replied, leaning forward and kissing him softly on the lips. “It seems your father feels differently.”
to be continued