The Maryville Encounter


Author’s Note: I’m fully aware that most of you were expecting this post to be my response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, and I promise to have that posted before the week is out. However, the prompt this week got me back on track with my Lauren Shrecklich saga, so please bear with me. Let’s join her as she stands outside the trailer of Maryville’s former chief-of-police. (Although this portion of the story should be able to stand on it’s own, you can click the links throughout to catch up with the tale thus far.)

The Maryville Encounter

Lauren absently played with the second button of her blouse. Beneath it, a crucifix lay next to her pounding heart. She held Ben’s gaze, alert and conflicted.

In Washington, two men, both superiors, were expecting different outcomes from Lauren’s journey west. Senior Agent Michael Morales, the one she trusted, had told her to trust this particular vampire. Director Lukke, apparently unaware of any vampiric activity, expected her to be taking out an art theft ring in Kansas City. He would be unpleased to learn of any deviation in her prescribed itinerary, but that wasn’t the reason Lauren didn’t like this detour. She took a deep breath and resisted the urge to touch the scars on her neck—two deep punctures set about an inch apart.

“You’re here for the information about the art theft issues in Kansas City?” Ben held the trailer door open wider. Lauren nodded in surprise and reluctantly accepted the vampire’s invitation to step inside. Immediately, her gaze fell on a pile of papers and photographs spread across his kitchen table. Clearly, he had been investigating the art crimes longer and more extensively than anyone at the Bureau.

Lauren’s mouth gaped. Ben shrugged. “I don’t need much sleep these days, and obviously, I can’t get out much either.”

“You certainly have more information than I’ve been able to uncover. I just hope it’s what we need to break this thing open.”

Twenty minutes later, Lauren was driving back to Kansas City, this time with an undead police chief riding shotgun.

“Vivian isn’t the only one who will recognize me if I join you at Missie B’s.”

Ben’s comment broke into Lauren’s train of thought. She drove a few more miles in silence. “Right.” She paused. “So . . . “

“What if you drop me off at Union Station? I can determine if we are correct about the stolen art while you case out the drag show.”

“That sounds like a plan.” As dangerous as it seemed for Lauren to be driving through the Missouri countryside at night with only a vampire for company, Ben made decent company. At least she could talk to him. None of the white-collar agents in Kansas City had been read in concerning local vampire activity—not as far as she knew, anyway. Besides, this wasn’t the type of information you just spring on another field agent without proper clearance.

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