A/N: Our apologies for the late update! MMuse had a bit of a catastrophe with one of her own stories and kind of lost her mind for a few days there. (Sorry, y'all! I'll try not to let that happen again! MMuse.) All is well now, though, so here is your next instalment! We hope you enjoy it! :)


THE DARK LUST

~ Chapter Three ~


Spots from flashbulbs blurred Edward's vision as he walked back into the station, and no matter how much he blinked, they just wouldn't go away. It was done, though, that was the important thing, and the press ate up every single word. He could only hope that the killer caught the department's little show and took the bait, because it was the only chance they stood to catch this sick bastard.

The mountain of files for The Bleeder case came into view as Edward rounded the corner into the main office. He groaned. So many bodies and not one single fucking clue; it was beyond frustrating.

"Hey, Cullen!"

Edward turned his head to the right to see one of his colleagues, Detective Newton, stand up. "Good job out there, man. Think it'll work?"

"It has to," Edward grumbled, pulling his chair out angrily and running his hand through his hair. "Until then, I guess I continue to comb through this stack of files until I find something to go off of."

Newton looked at him with empathy; Edward wasn't the only one working his ass off on this case. The entire department had been pulling double-duty in order to find the freak-show who was wreaking havoc on their city. "We'll find this fucker before he strikes again, man."

"Cullen!" Commander Swan's voice boomed from behind Edward. "We have a one-eight-seven. Couple of hikers found a body just off the trails near Forest Park."

Dread coursed through Edward's body as he turned to find Commander Swan standing at the near end of the corridor. "The Bleeder?"

"'Fraid it might be. Crime scene and the coroner are on their way there now. You'll meet them there," the commander instructed forcefully before turning abruptly and marching back to his office.

With a dejected sigh, Edward stood, grabbed his car keys, and walked briskly toward the exit. He wasn't surprised when he stepped out into the cool air to be met with a wall of bodies and a mass of questions; it had only been ten minutes since he left the reporters out there. Vultures that they were, they'd likely be out here for hours, hoping to pick up any scraps they could find.

Pushing his way through the crowd proved to be trying; microphones were being thrust in his face, begging for more answers—answers he just didn't have at the moment—and he found himself repeating, "No comment," until he finally broke free and rushed across the lot to his car.

It didn't take long once Edward arrived at the scene to get confirmation of The Bleeder's involvement. As expected the body had been completely exsanguinated and his lifeless eyes were clouded, staring directly into the sky. The crime scene unit was there already, walking their grid and taking pictures of anything they deemed "out of place." He knew they wouldn't find anything, though.

Near one of the cruisers, Edward spotted a young couple staring vacantly ahead. He knew what they were feeling without having to ask; he'd felt the same damn thing when he saw the first victim.

And the second and the third...

"Hi, Detective Cullen with the Portland P.D.," he greeted, approaching them slowly so as not to startle them in their seemingly fragile state.

"Uh," the man stammered, blinking several times to shake the fog of shock from his head. "I'm Emmett McCarty and this is my girlfriend, Rosalie Hale." The burly man tightened his grip on his girlfriend when she tugged on the front of his shirt fearfully.

"Are you the folks that found the body?" Edward asked. They both nodded, their eyes still staring at the body that was less than twenty feet away from them. "Did you happen to see or hear anything unusual when you came across it? Anything at all…"

Rosalie shook her head, several tears that had been stinging her eyes for the last hour finally falling down her cheeks. "Wh—who would do such a thing?"

Edward shook his head, trying to keep his frustration in check; he couldn't be upsetting these people more than they already were. "We're working on it, miss. In the meantime, why don't you go with Officer Mallory here and fill out a report down at the station. Your help would be greatly appreciated."

With a slight nod, Emmett wrapped his arm around Rosalie's waist, following the officer to her cruiser and helping his girlfriend in before climbing in after her. When the car pulled away from the scene, Edward took a deep breath before heading toward the latest victim.

"What's the word?" Edward asked the coroner, kneeling beside her.

Angela Weber was Portland's number one coroner. It seemed silly to rank them, but it was true, and when this case became a serial investigation, they had to get the best. Angela had such a keen eye, and was more than thorough when examining the bodies. Unfortunately, even her attention to detail wasn't enough to bag this son of a bitch.

With an aggravated sigh, Angela turned her head to Edward, noting the dark circles that framed his eyes from lack of sleep. Nodding, she spoke. "Yeah, it was him—and it was recent. The body couldn't have been here less than an hour before he was found. And drained within that time—at least. His M.O. remains the same, though: several deep incisions to vital arteries, allowing him to bleed out until his heart stopped. And his neck has been broken as well, likely done post-mortem."

Frustrated and confused, Edward looked around. "Then where's the blood?"

Angela gaped at him, confused because she knew he was expecting there to be none. "Detective, you know that we've nev—"

Edward cut her off. "Exactly. We've never found even a trace of it. Why not? It's not just because this is a secondary crime scene. The human body has what? Approximately ten pints of blood? Where is it, and how does one empty an entire body in less than an hour?"

Angela stared at Edward, silenced by his questions; it was something everyone was wondering. At first, they had thought that there was likely a primary scene and they were only finding the bodies where the perp was dumping them, but they'd scoured the city and found no signs of another crime scene. Surely, with that much blood being taken from the victims, someone would notice something.

As Edward looked over the body, cringing when his eyes briefly roamed over the two deep lacerations on either side of his neck, he found something much more interesting. Leaning in, he focused on the shirt the victim wore. The royal blue fabric clashed against the pallid complexion of the man on the ground, but he would recognize it anywhere. On the left breast of the shirt was a small logo ... for Domino's Pizza.

"Holy shit," Edward gasped aloud. For the first time since this shit storm started, he might have actually stumbled across their first lead.

Standing quickly, Edward reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone to dial information; he was going to find every Domino's location within a hundred mile radius. And if nothing solid came from it, he would expand the search. With the addresses programmed into his phone, he headed out to do a little more digging.


A/N2: Thanks for reading! Reviews are lovely :) *mwah!*