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Excerpt for Track the Ripper - Book Two in The Heart of Darkness Series by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Track The Ripper © 2018 by Katherine Ramsland

Book Two in The Hearts of Darkness Series


Smashwords Edition, License Notes:

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.


For more information contact:

Riverdale Avenue Books

5676 Riverdale Avenue

Riverdale, NY 10471.


www.riverdaleavebooks.com


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Digital ISBN: 9781626014664

Print ISBN: 9781626014688


First Edition July 2018


What they are saying about Katherine Ramsland’s books



Praise for The Heat Seekers


“Katherine Ramsland is a marvelous novelist, who approaches her subject with chilling, fascinating inner knowledge. The Heat Seekers is a gem.”

—Whitley Strieber, New York Times bestselling novelist



Praise for Prism of the Night,

the authorized biography of Anne Rice


“Lively... sheds light on the many facets of Anne Rice.”

—Boston Sunday Herald


“Ramsland’s insights in Anne Rice’s creative and literary life suggest a depth that many critics have missed.”

—Charlotte State


Fans will relish Ramsland’s interpretation of Rice’s vampires.”

—Publisher’s Weekly


“Gripping!”

—Kirkus


Prism of the Night is very good at ferreting out the origins of Rice’s obsessions and in tracking her use of herself in the fiction.”

– Locus



Praise for Confession of a Serial Killer:


“Based on her extensive, years-long communications with Dennis Rader, Katherine Ramsland’s CONFESSION OF A SERIAL KILLER not only presents a definitive portrait of one of our country’s most infamous modern criminals—the self-named “BTK Killer”—but provides a uniquely illuminating look into the workings of the psychopathic mind. Among other revelations, we learn that the subject’s code name for a serial killer is “Minotaur”—a peculiarly apt term, given his dark and twisted psychology. By combining Rader’s autobiographical writings with her own expert commentary, Ramsland guides us through that terrifying labyrinth, shedding brilliant light on every shadowy corner along the way.”

—Harold Schechter, author of The Serial Killer Files


“Dr. Ramsland offers us insights into the mind of a serial killer rarely seen in criminological literature. I could not put it down. I am absolutely fascinated in her ability to forge a relationship with BTK that allowed him to share the inner most secrets of his Dark Side. This is a must read book for anyone wanting to understand the fantasies, behaviors and mind-set of one of the most notorious serial sexual predators of our time.”

—Eric W. Hickey, Ph.D., author of Serial Killers and their Victims


“Katherine Ramsland has crafted a one-of-a-kind book, one that allows the reader to journey directly into the mind of BTK, aka Dennis Rader, a serial killer who eluded authorities for over 30 years. I could ramble on effusively about what she has accomplished through her dialogue with Rader and her review of tons of prime source material, but I won’t. Just know this: It’s a hell of a book. Buy it. Read it. It may keep you up at night, but you won’t regret it.”

—Gregg McCrary, former FBI Profiler


“I wish I knew then, what I know now. Katherine Ramsland has peeled back the layers of this serial killer. Her work not only benefits the families of the victims, but also will be cathartic for our community as a whole to understand how evil exists.”

—Nola Tedesco Foulston, Esq.

Former Sedgwick County District Attorney



Praise for Darkest Waters collection


“New or classic cases, no one writes with the insight of Katherine Ramsland. Period.”


—Gregg Olson, New York Times bestselling author



Praise for The Ivy League Killer


“After reading Katherine Ramsland’s short, The Ivy League Killer, a suspenseful psychological study of the pathological narcissist Michael Bruce Ross, you will never want your daughter to walk alone.”

—Caitlin Rother, acclaimed author of Poisoned Love, Dead Reckoning and Body Parts



Praise for The Unknown Darkness


“This is a must-read for true crime fans. A beautifully written expert analysis of high profile killers.”

—Ann Rule, New York Times bestselling true crime author


“One of the most immensely readable and gripping accounts of serial murder I have ever read.”

—Colin Wilson, bestselling author of Serial Killers



Praise for The Forensic Science of CSI


“With the mind of a true investigator, Ramsland demystifies the world of forensics with authentic and vivid detail.”

—John Douglas, Former FBI profiler and BSU chief


“Fascinating... a must for anyone who wonders how the real crime solvers do it.”

—Michael Palmer, New York Times bestselling medical novelist



Praise for Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in America Today


“A riveting read, a model of engaged journalism.”

Publisher’s Weekly



Praise for Inside the Minds of Serial Killers


“In the area of psychological research on serial killers, Dr. Katherine Ramsland has distinguished herself as a unique thinker with a fascinating approach to case analysis. Anyone who takes this subject seriously should read this book.”

—Robert K. Ressler, Former FBI profiler



Praise for The Mind of a Murderer


“Dr. Ramsland writes with a clarity of prose and elegance of style that makes her the envy of forensic commentators and establishes her as a genuine authority in her field.”

—Host of Most Evil, Dr. Michael Stone


“Ramsland’s contribution to the law enforcement profession should not be understated. Her ability to transform the world’s most heinous crimes into interesting, educational stories should be cherished by every practitioner in the profession. Yet again, Ramsland’s unique ability to transform the world’s most heinous crimes into interesting, educational stories shines.”


—Joe Pochron, detective and digital crimes investigator, Center Valley, PA


“Katherine Ramsland has made many valuable contributions to the fields of forensic psychology, crime analysis and criminal justice as exemplified in her books The Human Predator and The Mind of a Murderer among others. It is rare to find someone with the breadth and depth of knowledge that Dr. Ramsland commands, even more so for such an individual to also be a gifted teacher and a wise and compassionate human being.”

—Former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary


“Ramsland’s books are incisive and thorough, and demonstrate a depth of knowledge not only about criminal behavior, but about human behavior as well. She has the rare ability to explain complex phenomena in simple terms.”

—Dr. Louis Schlesinger, professor of forensic psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice


“Dr. Ramsland has the ability to comprehend complex issues, analyze them meticulously, and express her opinions and conclusions in a completely objective manner.”

—Cyril Wecht, Past President, American Academy of Forensic Sciences



Praise for Inside the Minds of Healthcare Serial Killers


“Timely and riveting…

—Beatrice Yorker, Dean, College of Healthcare and Human Services, Cal State, LA



Praise for Beating the Devil’s Game


“Once again Katherine Ramsland has brilliantly captured the insights and drama of some fascinating cases.”

—Dr. Henry C. Lee,



Praise for The Real Life of a Forensic Scientist


“… strongly recommended for every practitioner, student, and devotee of this exciting profession.”

—Dr. Cyril Wecht, past president of American Academy of Forensic Sciences


“A must read for the CSI crowd.”

—Dr. Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner, NYC

Praise for Ghost: Investigating the Other Side


“The best book of its kind I’ve ever read.”

—Dean Koontz, New York Times bestselling author


“Ramsland is a master of foreboding.”

Publishers Weekly



Chapter One


I’d just helped save the world. I thought I deserved to get laid. But then I learned I’d made the world much more dangerous.

I’d just boarded a private jet when I heard a male TV commentator’s voice. “The news is just coming in. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare! A security guard and four staff members were killed this morning as parents dropped off their children at Fountainbridge Daycare, near London. It seems to have been an ambush. Two teachers are in critical condition.”

A female anchor with Middle Eastern features took over. “A teacher’s aide was shot as she tried to protect two children, and others were rushed to a hospital with serious injuries. Witnesses described several gunmen, suggesting a terrorist act, but no one has claimed credit. We’re hearing reports of at least one child carried off. Others are missing. Medical personnel are arriving. This is an ongoing situation. Stay tuned for updates. We will bring it to you as we learn more.”

The camera cut to an agitated young man out of breath. “There was a lot of screaming!” he said. “I heard shooting! Kids were running. I ran outside, but I didn’t know what to do! I saw a dark van speed away, going south.”

Next, a middle-aged woman with red hair, being interviewed in a calmer context, explained the daycare’s mission. “We strive for security and quality in our program. This is an excellent facility for young families—”

The male anchor cut in. “We’re hearing now about injuries.”

It felt surreal. I sat in a white leather swivel chair in a pine-scented cabin of a luxury Airbus watching this terrorist event unfold on a large-screen TV. Elegant glass plates of perfectly arranged cheese and apple slices sat on a Danish-Modern style teak table. On-screen, people sorted through chaos.

This was the youngest group of victims I’d ever seen. Kids as young as four were in critical condition. Some had been abducted.

And I knew there was far more to this story than these newscasters would ever know.

I focused on the news report to block the sense of dread that twisted my stomach. Why the hell hadn’t I left this plane when I’d had the chance? Too late now. We’d taken off. My stupid romantic ideas about flying to Paris for a cup of coffee at a quiet sidewalk café with the supernatural creature I’d just seduced had evaporated. I was here; Sitri was not.

Earlier that evening, just a day after an occult group had killed my father during their murder spree, Sitri had urged me to come with him. He’d said that my life as an NYPD detective was over. I was one of the noea, the children of human/angel couplings, and I belonged with others like myself. He was right. I was ready. But I’d hoped for time to adjust, and to be with him, not be thrust into a new emergency.

The British news anchors looked alarmed as they announced another shooting at a daycare in Norway. Still no group claiming credit.

Sitri had brought me on his Ducati racing bike to a remote airstrip. I’d expected him to board the rumbling Airbus with me, but he’d stayed on the bike. “I will see you in Paris,” he’d promised.

“You’re not going with me?”

“I’m needed elsewhere. Get some sleep while you can.”

I’d been about to say, forget it, take me back home, when a slender brown-skinned woman in a stylish gray Kiely dress appeared at the top of the airstairs and gestured for me to come. Her black hair was swept so perfectly into a knotted side ponytail that I’d felt ridiculous in my throw-on jeans and T-shirt under Sitri’s leather jacket. He’d said he needed me, so I’d jumped on his bike. I hadn’t realized I’d be on display.

“Adria is noea, like you.” He’d gestured toward this woman. “She can show you what to do.”

“But—”

He’d revved the black Ducati and was gone. I’d watched him disappear, astonished. It was as if our heated encounter had never happened. He’d quite literally left me in the dust.

“Come!” Adria gestured.

Self-conscious over my cuts and bruises, I’d climbed the steps. “I should get a cab and go back.”

She looked surprised. “Non, not at all! S’il vous plaît. Come in!” She introduced herself. Her accent was French and her Dior perfume made me feel even plainer. “We’ve been waiting for you.” She touched my tangled blond hair. “We can fix this in here. It is time for you to return.”

“Return?”

“Come in, so I can close the door. Quick! We must be on our way.”

“I don’t have my passport. I can’t—”

Ne vous inquiétez pas. We have it. You will have everything you need.”

So, that’s how I was on the plane now, learning the terrible news. Adria had motioned for me to sit in this chair, so we could hear the latest. I snuck a glance around the cabin. It was so sturdy I barely heard the engine’s hum. If this was Sitri’s plane, he had money. A lot of money. I wondered what part I could possibly play. Besides some detective skills, I had no resources.

Adria gestured toward a woman with pale skin and boy-cut auburn hair on the other side of the cabin. Her back to us, she talked urgently on her phone with a refined Irish accent. Her creamy silk blouse and short black skirt showed the same slender build and height as me. “That is Leith,” Adria said. “Please excuse her manner. Even at her best, she can be abrupt.”

I heard her say, “How many?” and then, “He should be there by now. He’ll find you.”

I wondered if she meant Sitri. He could travel faster than this plane, I’d learned. Or maybe she meant the other ma’lakh, Pascher. He was also in this band of celestial warriors. I’d met two, but I’d seen others. My hasty lessons had been thrust at me recently, along with some hasty thrusting, and I had a thousand questions.

On the screen, news anchors seemed confused as they reviewed what little they knew. Terrorism experts were on the phones to offer their ideas and onscreen crawlers suggested hysterical feedback from social media. I looked at Adria. I didn’t know if she realized that I’d just stopped a lunatic who claimed to be Jack the Ripper from coordinating a world-ending catastrophe. Some of his associates were dead, but he’d escaped. “Is this about us?”

Adria nodded. “Oui, they had a back-up plan. They are wasting no time.”

I stared at her. “We’re heading into another fight?”

She touched my shoulder. “Je suis désolé, I’m so sorry. I know you need rest.”

She was right. I’d just lost my father and had barely begun to grieve. I had injuries, too. Touching my neck, I remembered my companion from that struggle. Her injuries had been worse. If not for her, I would’ve died. “Do you know Charmaine?”

Oui, of course. She is in back.”

“She’s here? Is she all right?”

“Come with me.”

Adria led me down a narrow hall and opened a door to a small bedroom with dim lighting that smelled of antiseptic salve. On a double bed, under a tan blanket, lay Charmaine. Her slender Asian build hardly raised the blanket, except for over the extra padding around her injured left leg. Her almond eyes were closed and her black hair was pulled back. I flinched at her swollen face and hesitated to wake her. She probably hated me. Her condition was my fault. Just last night, before midnight, she’d begged me to kill her. The vampire who’d broken her leg and crushed her ribs had contaminated her blood. She’d said it would separate her forever from Pascher, her lover. She preferred to die.

I hadn’t done it. Charmaine, who’d owed me nothing, had saved me during the fiery melee. Just in time, Pascher had arrived and carried her out. We hadn’t spoken since that awful moment. I’d known her just a day, but I needed contact with something familiar, so I touched her hand. Aside from shallow breathing, she didn’t stir. I looked at Adria. “Will she be okay?”

“Physically, she can heal. As for the rest…” She shrugged.

“You don’t have some way to…to… cleanse her?”

“We have healers. They can tell us.”

“Where’s Pascher?” He and Charmaine had shown me the first bond I’d seen between a noea and a ma’lakh. I’d thought it was the stuff of ancient tales, but then I’d seen them together. Their intense heat for each other had given me some lusty ideas about Sitri. Except that he’d basically just abandoned me.

In the other room, Leith let out an agonized shout. “No…!”

Adria ran out. I followed.

“They took two in Oslo!” Leith said. “At least three from London.”

“More than half a dozen children are confirmed missing,” said the female anchor. “A search is underway. It’s hoped that some children might have escaped during the commotion. All security personnel are notifying local residents to be alert. Stay tuned to this breaking story.”

There was some suggestion of a well-executed plan and the perpetrators waiting inside the buildings, but witness reports were conflicting. Leith dropped onto a leather loveseat with a look of dejection. Adria stared at the screen and hugged herself.

Leith’s phone made a chirping sound. She sat up to answer. “Yes,” she said. She glanced at me with narrowed eyes. “We know. But it’s just three, right?”

I sat down and waited. The cabin air was thick with blame. Directed at me.

Leith ended her call. She stood, crossed over to me and held out a hand. “I’m sorry. Leith. I’m afraid we’re in a bit of a state here.”

I nodded. “I can see that. Do you know these missing kids?”

Leith and Adria looked at each other. I felt like that girl who came to a party but doesn’t really belong.

“It’s all right,” I said. “You don’t have to tell me anything. I don’t even know what I’m doing here. Once we land, maybe someone can help me get back.”

Adria frowned. “Back? Sitri said you’re coming with us to your—”

A sharp glance and shake of Leith’s head stopped her.

I held up my hands. “Obviously, I’m not privy to anything. I’ve only pieced together some story from the past few days about my mother that I hardly believe and I’ve made a hasty decision to come that I wish I hadn’t.” I was referring to the tale my aunt had told me. My mother, Kaitlyn, had engaged in some crazy threesome with a ma’lakh and a human to produce a unique child—me. I hadn’t yet absorbed it. “I don’t want to interfere. I’m not—”

“Get in here!”

Charmaine’s throaty command startled us all. She sounded angry, but at least I knew her better than these two. We’d fought vampires together. I returned to the bedroom, followed by Adria and Leith.

“He said he was going back for you,” Charmaine croaked. She meant Sitri. It took effort for her to address me.

“Yes,” I said. “He came, but he …” I shrugged. “He … baited me.”

Char snorted. “Get used to it.” She gestured for me to sit on the bed. I did, which made her clench her swollen eyes. Then she scanned the bruises on my neck where I’d been choked. “Be patient. This is what you need to know.” She coughed. “You’re going home. Keep your flat in Manhattan if you want, but you own a building in St.-Germaine. Kaitlyn gave it to Alexandre. Now it’s yours. It’s our command center. Five of us live there.”

“What?” Alexandre was my father. My recently deceased father. “I would know if he—”

“No, you would not. There’s very little about you that you know.” Charmaine took a labored breath. “It’s been kept from you, by design, to keep you safe. But now you must be told. You’ve been to this building. You were born there and you lived there as a child, but you won’t remember. So stop fussing.” She winced. “We brought you into this because we need you. If we don’t get that ring back, we’re all dead, including you.”

Adria looked shocked, as if Charmaine had just revealed a secret.

The ring had been my mother’s. It contained her special blood, formed into a diamond. She’d left it in my care and I’d let it fall into the wrong hands. A man who’d introduced himself as Scott Bateman, my father’s protégé, had grabbed it. He’d told me then that he was Jack the Ripper. He’d offered other names he’d used, identities he’d stolen, but the noea knew him as Miegul.

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“Kaitlyn’s blood is in the gem,” Charmaine continued. “It carries vital information about our entire network. Generations of noea all over the world. Miegul can pierce our shield and locate us.” She gestured toward the door. “They’re already finding us. That out there, that shooting. It’s the fourth one in less than six hours, and one of a dozen—” She coughed hard, and Adria poured some water and handed it to her. “A dozen abductions that no one has yet linked. Our kids are at those facilities. Noea. That’s who they’re taking.”

“Who’s doing this?” I asked. “And why?”

“I’ll tell her,” Adria said to Charmaine. “You rest.”

Charmaine looked to her right. “Where’s Pasch?”

“With Sitri, in London.”

She made a move to get up, but Adria stopped her. “Pascher insisted that you not move. You can’t do anything, anyway. We are monitoring the situation.”

“What did I miss?”

Adria shook her head so subtly I almost missed it, but when Leith tapped my shoulder, I knew they still had secrets. “Let me show you the plane,” she said, “in case you want to catch a nap or grab some food.”

Annoyed, I allowed myself to be handled. I was an NYPD detective, after all, and I’d just helped thwart an event meant to shatter the earth. I thought they should give me more credit.

But this current catastrophe was at least partly my fault. Miegul was also a hybrid offspring, one of the few males that had escaped the ma’lakhim purge centuries ago. As I’d heard it, the females had been allowed to live while the males were slain. In retaliation, Miegul and his ilk hated—and hunted—noea. I hoped they hadn’t grabbed the children for something horrible.

The door closed behind me and I heard Adria speak French urgently.

I followed Leith. The TV anchor was discussing three linked shootings, in London, Oslo, and Rome. Char had mentioned a fourth. Outside, I noticed light, although I knew we couldn’t yet be near the sunrise. Leith showed me an opulent galley that smelled of freshly brewed French coffee and offered me a glass of wine.

“Definitely,” I said.

Vin Malique, coming up.” She poured a garnet-colored liquid for both of us. Considering the luxury that surrounded me, I wasn’t surprised at its quality. The wine seemed to melt into my tongue.

Did the ma’lakhim drink wine, I wondered? I didn’t know exactly what they were except that they were associated with the paintings of warrior angels that graced many museums. They certainly weren’t angels in the sentimental sense; they burned with fire, as ready to destroy as protect. Their fatal flaw, according to the stories, was their lust for human females, especially for our blood.

Just 24 hours earlier, I’d used mine to seduce Sitri. I’d pushed it into his mouth, igniting a fire that brought us together. He’d filled me while pushing his tongue against my throat to take my blood. I’d intended to link to his mind, but he’d twisted it back on me, nearly disabling me. The sex had knocked my socks off. What they can do, Charmaine had warned, you’ll never give up. I certainly wanted more. Even now, when I pressed the spot on my neck where his tongue had pierced my skin for blood, it sent an erotic wave straight to my crotch. I intended to have another go, first chance I got.

Leith watched me. Her greenish-blue eyes were large and pretty, highlighted with expertly applied plum liner, but her serious expression disturbed me. She looked at the bruise that peeked out from under the bandage on my neck, left by Miegul’s hand.


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