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"—Authorities have no new leads in their search for the perpetrator of several local homicides and are asking the public for their assistance in catching the person responsible. If you have any information, please call the number listed on your screen now...."

The news reporter on the screen stood with her back to a blockaded craftsman somewhere in the Pinegrove neighborhood, squinting in the fresh light of dawn streaming into her eyes. The caution tape was a startling contrast against the tree-lined, affluent community. The murder scene was old, so only a few official dregs of the investigation remained behind, their weary bodies sifting in and out of the camera's shot.

"This is Trisha Banderas reporting from the scene of the second murder in a series of crimes being attributed to the 'Klau Killer.' The victim in question, thirty-eight-year-old Jameson Beauford, was found dead at his home by his wife last Monday afternoon. Since his discovery, four more victims have been found, all employees at the technology giant Klau Incorporated, the flagship of Klau Incorporated International. Both company owner Jackson Klau and CEO Grace Amoroth have refused to comment, but authorities are prepared to treat these crimes as an act of terrorism against the corporation. The police are urging citizens of Verweald to be cautious until this criminal is brought into custody..."

My spoon clicked on the inside of the cereal bowl as I chewed soggy flakes and considered the news report playing on my television. Tara's cat curled about my ankles, then wandered off into the living room again. It's up to five now, is it?

Unexplained murders were an unfortunate and frequent occurrence in Verweald, though I suspected such crimes could be attributed to the presence of the otherworldly creatures I'd been blind to my entire life. Paris was called the City of Lights, Los Angeles named the City of Angels, and Verweald was known as the City of Blood.

Considering who the self-proclaimed master of this city is, I shouldn't be surprised. My spoon tapped the bowl again as I stared at the narrow stripes on sunlight squeezing through the slider's blinds. It'd been over a week since I'd seen the Sin of Lust, and I doubted the news of five deaths laid at her company's threshold had improved the prickly woman's demeanor. I shuddered at the thought.

A sound at the front door drew my attention from the television. Darius came in, trailing the scent of ash and brimstone, his t-shirt and jeans dirty with dust and soot as if he'd been crawling through an abandoned attic. His brow rose as he spotted me at the table with my breakfast, and the sound of the latch catching when he swung the door shut was almost strange in how common-placed it was.

I hadn't seen him much over the past week as he sought the location of Verweald's vampire den. Sometimes, in the lightless hours of the morning, I would lie awake and hear the hush of a door opening, or the creak of the armchair's leather adjusting to his weight. Sometimes, when my melancholy was particularly poignant, I would imagine it was Tara out in my living room, stopping by before reporting to the hospital for an early morning shift. I would fall asleep with the false hope of waking to find my sister alive and well, only to be disappointed when I crept from my sheets to wander an empty house.

I was up early this day and determined to catch the Sin passing through to pillage my fridge and pantry. I sat up when Darius appeared and tried to look somewhat confident, hoping to get more than a curt, two-word answer from the Sin. Of course, Darius tipped his gaze heavenward and passed the table without comment as he threw open cupboard doors with little regard to the paint on the walls.

I slumped over my cereal, frowning. Bastard.

Darius had an old box of muffin mix and was glaring confused at the faded print. I weighed the option of whether or not I should tell him the mix was expired or if I should let him choke on it for being so difficult. After a decisively delicate sniff, the Sin chucked the box over his shoulder and allowed it to land on the kitchen floor. A box of breakfast tarts and pudding mix met a similar fate.

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