Jenson stood next to the door and made sure no one else would find the girl in here. He checked the big padlocks again. As utter silence filled the basement, he ran up the narrow stairs.
He didn't have the right kind of embalming fluid for a deceased human body. Not really the kind of stuff he would—or could—safely store in his garage. Or in his basement.
For now he had to improvise. The situation called for it. Preserving the poor girl's corpse for at least half a day would give him more time to think. He needed to come up with the best plan of action.
Darren was pretty much out of it. Shell-shocked. The idiot just couldn't come up with a good plan to address their conundrum. His current mental state might even cause another problem. But at least Darren sobered up enough to keep his piehole shut all night.
"Pezzo di merda." Jenson sighed out loud as he trudged back into the house. The entire property stayed quiet and dim. Too quiet.
Was Charmaine back in the city? Probably not.
The formalin should work. He repeated the words in his head until his anxious thoughts lessened to a manageable amount.
He'd done the same thing countless times before. Just not with human bodies. Mostly rabid wolves. Other animals in the wild. At times, defiant rogues...especially the murderous kind.
The solution should be effective enough to keep the girl's body from quickly decomposing in this basement. He'd set the temperature close to freezing as well.
Stuffing the body into his big freezer might do the trick, but he didn't want the girl's DNA all over it. Jenson breathed out a noisy sigh and proceeded to the empty kitchen.
It had been days. Charmaine still hadn't called.
It's likely she was still upset and wouldn't be back here in California till next week. Or the next. From what he recalled, she was too busy securing a deal with a big prospect based in Beijing. Too busy for him. Almost as often as he was too busy for their relationship.
With the lights still off, Jenson yanked the fridge door open and drank some water. The ice-cold liquid froze his senses for a second or two, but not his loud thoughts.
He just committed a crime. Again.
It was not the first time he got rid of evidence. Or a body. Money was always involved somehow, but he mostly did these things alone. He preferred it that way. Involving another person just made room for more errors. It more often than not messed up the secrecy. The time frame. The entire plan.
This time, though, he had to involve Darren since he's the one who caused the whole thing. "Cazzo." Jenson let out another noisy breath and checked his phone.
Darren had left him five new messages. Two were audio clips. The first one was fifteen seconds longer.
"Evie just texted me." Darren sighed, letting out a shaky breath. "She said she hasn't heard from Magnus. She doesn't know where he is. Maybe in Belgrade again. I dunno. I'll just, uh, get some sleep. You, too."
Serbia? Why? Jenson scowled. As far as he knew, Magnus avoided his father, Ilya, a businessman in Serbia. Ilya was also the pureblood Alpha of their vampire clan. The two hadn't been on speaking terms for more or less a decade now, last he heard.
Jenson ignored the texts and moved on to the second audio recording Darren just sent.
"So I'll, uh...see you later. At the shoot." Darren paused. "Thanks, man."
The reckless idiot. Clearly Darren still couldn't grasp the reality of what he just did to that girl. Or maybe the guy was just so used to getting away with the consequences of his actions.
While his skull throbbed, Jenson stood still against the cold granite counter, his temper and nervousness ratcheting up by the second.
Darren's texts didn't say much. Just stupid questions about their promo shoot this morning.
"Don't tell Evie or Magnus yet. Don't need to remind u everything's on the line. Get a grip."
Jenson hit the 'Send' button and repressed the impulse to toss his phone into the sink.
Darren must be staying up late again, distracting himself as much as possible.
Jenson massaged his forehead and glimpsed the time. Shit. It was almost dawn. He rushed out of the kitchen.
The shoot was scheduled at 10AM. He hadn't touched his bed since the other night. More than 24 hours now.
His heart was already palpitating from the exhaustion and sleep deprivation. His eyes just wanted to stay shut and his vision's starting to blur. His head and his joints still ached like he just did five marathons, but the new stocks of the wolfsbane potion should arrive today.
Should he call up the pharmacy again? Perhaps he should check on them to confirm the new delivery?
Shit. This had better be the last time he forgot to restock his supply before they ran out.
The truth's even more obvious now: he needed someone to keep him organized and efficient. A new full-time assistant. ASAP.
Busy photographers and crew.
Strangers chattering all around him.
Darren laughing in the corner with a female stylist helping him put on a leather jacket...
The guy didn't appear shell-shocked or even remotely afraid of going to jail. The heck?
Like nothing happened. As if the enormity of what he did last night was now a thing of the past.
Was he simply pretending? Putting on his actor / famous celebrity persona?
Jenson remotely checked on his friend and sat still in the makeup chair. He'd slept past sunrise after taking his meds—his newly delivered stock—and arrived here past call time. No one scolded him for his tardiness, though.
This was his turf. He helped keep these people in line. To some degree, he helped pay for their salaries.
It's just a promo shoot, anyway. Then he, Darren, and the rest of the cast would be doing some interviews. Just another part of the job.
Jenson reclined in the chair and waited. Thanks to his meds, his full-on bitching headache last night was gone, and his joints no longer ached like they would burst through his skin.
"Hi. Sorry for the wait."
He glanced up from his phone and met a familiar pair of brown eyes.
They appeared friendly—also quite striking. In an aesthetic sense. She had on warm-colored makeup but not a lot. Pale pink tints on her cheeks and lips. She looked shorter than he remembered.
He glanced at her feet. No high heels this time. Just plain white sneakers. He put on a smile for the young woman and shook her hand.
Soft, smooth skin. Almost porcelain-white. It reminded him of Charm. Except the younger woman in front of him now was a complete stranger.
Not the first time he'd seen her, though. Judging by the somewhat star-struck look on her face, she didn't remember their first meeting. Or was she just pretending?
"Jessi. Or just Jess."
"Good to meet you." She smiled and let go of his hand. She looked so fresh and put-together in her blazer-shirt-slacks outfit. A neat ponytail tidied up her long dark hair. She just gave off a "vibrant young professional" vibe.
He stared into her pretty eyes and put on a smile. "Pleasure's all mine."