A table-some kind of folding exam table-was set up in the middle of the room, and Kim was stretched out on that table, strapped down.
Bleeding. Too pale.
Niol bent over her, his fingers around her throat.
Kim was nude, except for the blood covering her. So much blood.
"Oh, my God-"
"We need an ambulance, f**king now –" Gyth yelled into his cell phone.
"He left her to bleed out," Brooks said and he put his hand over the gaping wound high on the left of Kim's abdomen. "Asshole just left her-"
Holly's skin was icy cold. Bruises lined Kim's face and she looked so young.
And then, those still lashes tried to lift.
Still alive. Niol had said it, but when she'd seen the body, she hadn't believed-
Holly was beside her in an instant. "Kim? Kim, you're safe, now, okay? You're safe-"
Her eyes didn't open.
Holly took her hand, a hand even colder than her own. "No one's going to hurt you anymore.
We're going to get you help, okay?" Brooks and Gyth were working on her now, applying pressure to her wounds and-
"Bastard sliced her open-" Gyth's snarl.
"That's not all he did…" Niol, a rage banking his voice and sending a tremor down her spine.
She glanced up at him. "What are you-"
Kim's body jerked. Once. Twice. Again and again and blood poured from her lips. " No! Kim, Kim, stay with me!"
Her body fell back against the plastic.
Her black eyes were wide open now, staring sightlessly ahead.
" Bastard took out her spleen." Smith paced in front of McNeal's desk, her hands trembling.
"Gave her some kind of drug, some shit I've never seen before and the docs on duty in the ER hadn't seen either, and he just cut her wide open." Faster now, she turned and marched straight back. "She's a kid, just a-"
McNeal caught her. Pulled her against his chest and held her. Kim Went had been discovered by his detectives just over five hours ago. As soon as he'd gotten the word about the girl, he'd sent Smith to the hospital with a police escort to get her past the red tape that would have otherwise kept the ME out of the operating room.
But, dammit, he'd wanted one of his own in there with that girl. Someone who could understand what the hell had happened to her and someone who could look for evidence.
Not that any evidence had been found so far.
"The last person seen with Went was a blond woman." He'd dealt with his share of female killers before, and he knew that when you were talking about the Other world, the usual rules didn't apply. So, sure, a female supernatural would easily have the physical strength to overpower the two males who'd been killed.
Could be the hunter was a woman…
They had the demon taxi driver in the interrogation room. He was giving them as much of a description of the woman as he could.
The only lead they had so far.
Well, him…and those idiots who'd tried to torch Niol's bar. Gyth had alerted him to the guys, and he'd been waiting for 'em. They'd gotten patched up, then they'd come to him.
It had taken ten minutes to get them to tell everything they knew about the woman who hired them. Unfortunately, they knew damn little.
But McNeal didn't believe in coincidences, and he couldn't wait to compare their description with King's.
"She knew what she was doing." Smith looked up at him with those big, dark eyes that always made his stomach clench. He'd taken a look in those eyes long ago and known that he was lost.
"This wasn't the work of an amateur." Her lips trembled, but she kept talking and she kept her chin up. My Smith. "This woman knows how to use a scalpel-"
Damn. "Am I looking for a doctor, Nathalia?" His hands smoothed up her chilled arms and he didn't give a shit that the blinds were up in his office. If one of his cops saw them, screw it. Nathalia needed him.
And he sure needed her.
"Could be." A hard pull of breath. "This person didn't make any mistakes. No hesitation marks were around the wounds, just straight cuts. Quick and cold."
An amateur would have hacked the girl to pieces.
The other bodies had been carved like hell gone bad, but the organ removal-he'd read the reports-had all been done a bit too well. Maybe the carving job had been deliberate, a way to hide the other surgical precision.
"Is she gonna make it?" He asked. He'd voiced the same question to the docs in the ER. They hadn't answered, just stared at him like he was crazy for asking.
But they'd been human. They didn't understand and that's why he'd brought in Nathalia.
Kim Went had a much stronger healing system in place than a human. There was a chance, slim, but a chance she would recover-
"Niol said she would."
Niol. He blinked. Since when was Nathalia on a first-name basis with that guy?
"He was at the hospital. Him and the reporter. They stayed in the waiting room the whole time Kim was in surgery." She swallowed. "They care about that girl."
News to him.
"The reporter, Storm, was crying." That he could believe. He'd caught a few of Storm's stories.
Seen enough to know that she wasn't the usual fluff reporter. "They didn't leave, not until-"
She stopped, breaking off abruptly. Like he was gonna let her end there. "Until what?"
A sigh. "Until Niol got to see the girl. He stared at her a few minutes after surgery, just watched her, then I heard him tell Storm that Went would be all right."
If the devil had said so…
The tension in his shoulders eased, just a bit. He knew Niol's reputation. If the demon had said that Kim would live, she would.
"Another half hour, hell, another fifteen minutes, and Kim would have died." She pulled away from him and started her pacing again. She looked tired. Dark shadows lined her eyes. Her arms hung limply and the sexy stride he so enjoyed watching was gone. "That bitch just left that girl to die."
After she'd taken a little souvenir. What kind of freak job was he dealing with here? "Niol told Gyth we were after a human." A human who'd taken to carving up the demons in his city and stealing body parts? Shit, what would he have to deal with next?
Sometimes, he could still remember the good old days. When humans killed humans and supernaturals kept to the shadows.
Nathalia paused near his one window. "Guess we can all be monsters deep down, huh?"
His hands clenched. This was a sore point for him. Nathalia was freaking beautiful and perfect and… human. For a time, he hadn't believed she'd want him, not if she knew the truth about him.