Home > Midnight Shadows

Midnight Shadows
Author: S.E. Smith

 

One

 

 

New York City:

 

A weak cold front had passed through the city the previous night, and now as the last rays of the sun disappeared from the horizon, the air was still cool. Midnight Rain sat on a beam under the Brooklyn Bridge and cut a piece of apple with her long sharp blade. She slowly chewed as she watched the last ferry of the day travel its final loop around Manhattan and the East River.

Sunset was a special treat. It was the only daylight she experienced. When most people were settling down for an evening dinner with their family, she was waking up. The night was her time. The shadows were her friends. Those that preyed on the weak were her sustenance.

That almost makes me sound like a vampire, she thought with wry amusement.

As she smiled, she felt the stiffness of the scar that made a ragged line from the corner of her lip to her eye. It was an old injury, barely worth noticing now. Still, whenever she went out, she always kept her face covered to conceal it.

She was finishing the last piece of her breakfast when her phone vibrated. With a flick of her wrist, she sent the apple core spiraling through the air. The seagull that had been patiently waiting a few feet away on another beam executed a graceful dive and caught the treat before it hit the water.

Midnight pulled her phone out of her pocket and stretched her legs out. Two photos appeared in her messages. The first was a teenage girl around fifteen years old. The girl was smiling at the camera and giving the peace sign. The second image was a screenshot of a missing person’s poster.

Five thousand dollars was being offered for information on the whereabouts or the return of Mandie Martin. The familiar image of a bug crawling across her screen appeared alongside a message: You interested?

Midnight raised her eyebrows and smiled. Oc, she texted. Of course.

Cams picked up this earlier this afternoon.

Mandie was in the grainy traffic video and again inside a Fifth Avenue boutique. The teen was with a woman Midnight recognized—Hilde Karr, rich socialite and Madame to the wealthy and perverted. The woman preyed on frightened young girls and set them up with men old enough to be their fathers or sometimes even their grandfathers.

Mandie didn’t look like she wanted to be there. The boutique camera caught Hilde slapping the girl in response to her obvious reluctance—on her back, where the marks wouldn’t be seen.

While Midnight knew what Hilde did, proving it in a court of law was nearly impossible. Hilde catered to the rich and powerful, the sort of people who made annoying things like evidence and witnesses disappear. Threats, blackmail, intimidation, and bribes kept the trafficked girls and boys silent.

Midnight was hoping the situation was about to change. A young victim who refused to testify had recently confided in her that Hilde was old-fashioned, preferring to write things down offline. If the ledger of Hilde’s clients could be found, Midnight could finally stop this woman and thwart the perverts who preyed on the innocent. All she had to do was get it to the right person—and she knew a few who still believed in doing the right thing. Excitement built inside her at the thought.

Is there a name on the receipt? she typed.

Yeah. Shell company owned by Oliver Quest.

Midnight whistled under her breath. Oliver Quest was one of the biggest and most powerful fishes in the country at the moment. Buying gifts for a young, unrelated teen and working with Hilde did not bode well for his future.

Thanks. You know what to do next, Midnight texted.

WP.

Midnight chuckled. She would be watching what happened next ‘with pleasure’, too. She tapped her phone against her knee, debating whether to call Mandie’s parents and give them the information she had so far. She decided against it. She didn’t want to get their hopes up. If everything went well, Mandie would be home safe and sound later tonight.

Now the only thing left to do was rescue the girl. Midnight nimbly stood up from her perch and climbed, transferring from beam to beam with the agility of an acrobat until she came to the service access.

Minutes later, she was walking along the sidewalk with busy New York traffic thundering by. She knew where Oliver was going to be tonight. A rich philanthropist was hosting a huge dinner party for the rising New York State Senator. Quest was hoping to become the next Vice President.

 

 

Sheikh Junayd Saif-Ad-Din descended the steps to the waiting limousine and listened to his aide informing him of this evening’s agenda. It was the usual: a meeting with the head of a hospital, a tour of a new surgical center, a meeting with the Jawahir ambassador…

“…followed by a dinner hosted by Mr. Albert Benning. I believe the next Vice-Presidential candidate will be attending.”

Junayd grimaced. He would be expected to attend the dinner with a guest. A list of names ran through his mind before he settled on one that would be the least intrusive and most entertaining for his brief visit. At last night’s fashion show, Gina Collingsworth, a recently divorced socialite, had made it obvious that she wouldn’t turn down a call from him.

They climbed into the limo, Junayd’s bodyguards closed the doors, and Ashar continued, “Due to this last meeting running over, I’m afraid I will need to reschedule either the meeting with Dr. Housing, the surgical tour, or the meeting with Ambassador Kahin. Which would you prefer?”

“Inform Dr. Housing to meet me at the new surgical unit. We can have our meeting while he gives me the tour. Call Isam and ask him to bring his wife to Benning's dinner. And please call Ms. Gina Collingsworth. Tell her I will have a car pick her up at eight o’clock. She will be my guest for the dinner. If you need her phone number, the event planner from last night should be able to give it to you.”

Ashar gave him a half-smile. “Ms. Collingsworth has called several times today requesting to speak to you. I will use the number she left.”

Junayd laughed under his breath, the sound rueful. “Thank you for not patching her through.”

“You’re welcome, sire.”

Junayd gave the portly older man a brief smile before he leaned his head wearily against the plush head-rest of his seat. The last week had been filled with one meeting or event after another, but as he stared out the window at the cold, grey haze, it was homesickness that made him feel the most weary. He missed the warmth of Jawahir during the day and the cold, starry nights of the desert at night. Here, just like every city around the world that he visited, there was no chance of seeing the stars.

 

 

Three hours later, Junayd was wishing he had come alone to Benning's dinner party. The sickly scent of his date’s perfume was burning his nose and throat. His medical expertise meant he didn’t miss the minuscule scars of Gina’s most recent visit to the plastic surgeon and if she pressed her rock-hard breasts against him one more time, he might actually tell her that she should have gone with a softer pair instead of choosing perkiness.

With a signal to Isam to distract the clingy socialite, he carefully removed her red talons from his arm and motioned to his aide. Ashar appeared at his side, his expression bland, though Junayd could sense the man’s amusement.

“See that Ms. Collingsworth gets home without me,” he instructed.

Junayd would rather take care of his sexual needs himself than sleep with Frankenstein’s bride. A shudder ran through him. He needed a breath of fresh air.

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