Authors: Terry Spear
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal
They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520
Macon GA 31201
Copyright © 2009 by Terry Spear
Edited by Jennifer Mil er
Cover by Scott Carpenter
Al Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
First Samhain Publishing, Ltd. electronic publication: March 2009
to my mother, who introduced me to my first vampire story, a play at West Texas A&M opening night, where everything that could malfunction did. From the actors repeatedly tripping over a rug onstage, to the mist disappearing before Dracula slipped down through the trapdoor, we loved it! And years later, I enjoyed seeing Dracula on Broadway, which again made a wonderful impression. I thank my daughter for al the help she gives, and my family for al their encouragement. To my Rebel Romance critique partners who weren’t “into” vampires until they read mine and now several write their own versions. To my editor who helped to make this the best it can be. And especial y to my fans who make writing the stories al worthwhile. Enjoy!
Streetlamps poked scant fingers of light into the gray fog coating the warehouse district, deserted at the ungodly hour.
conditions for another murder
Unable to slow her racing heart, she feared the renegade vampire would hear the blood whooshing through her veins, begging him to take her life also.
Not far from where she stood, the dried blood of the three policemen murdered last week—their jugulars ripped out—stained the pavement.
Too close for comfort
. She wanted to move away from the spot, to distance herself from the recent kil ings, to be anywhere but here.
She peered into the murkiness, straining to see any sign of movement, listening for any human sound. Where the hel was the police officer she was to meet?
, Officer Stevens had warned. And she’d obeyed. Had to, if she was to learn the bloodsucker’s name. Yet, she couldn’t shake free of the feeling she’d been set up. Though she’d risk anything to learn who had murdered her parents.
Drawing in a deep breath, she felt like she’d stuck her head in a freezer and taken a good strong whiff. Even the turtleneck, leather jacket, matching pants and knee-high boots she wore couldn’t keep out the chil —typical Oregon autumn.
She poked her wristwatch again. Stevens said he would be here—ten minutes ago.
Dread bunched in the pit of her stomach. It was eerily like ten years before when three police officers had been murdered, except she was a sixteen-year-old huntress-in-training then, not yet an investigator with the Special Crimes Unit. She stared into the mist, half expecting Patrico to meet her like he’d promised ten years ago. A senior member of the League Council, he was the only one who’d believed in her theory that a vampire had murdered the police officers. That the same vampire had kil ed her parents. But Patrico never showed up and later was found dead—here—as if this was the vampire’s favorite kil ing ground.
The mist thickened, enveloping her, sending a shiver up her spine. Was it him? The bloodsucker she vowed to destroy? Would he kil
Dammit, get a grip!
Unnatural y, the air warmed around her. The mist caressed her hair, leaving the strands wet down her back, her cheeks moist and her jacket dimpled with speckles of water. The faint fragrance of Green Irish Tweed—the same cologne her father had worn a decade ago—haunted her.
. The vampire spawned from hel , wearing the cologne he’d stolen from her parents’ home so long ago. Her skin crawled with dread. She concentrated on his emotions—cool, col ected, amused. The mist thickened around her, like al the other times he’d plagued her when she was out in the open during the evening hours or on a gray day.
not the usual weather-induced vapor.
Muscles tensed, she touched her wrist blades to ensure they were in place. Instinctively, she grasped for the sword sheathed at her waist, the silver blade capable of destroying a rogue vampire with just a nick to his heart. Though while he was in the form of mist, she couldn’t harm him. Not until he shape-shifted into something that had a heart. She
under her breath. Heart? He had none—in any manifestation.
“Show yourself, you bastard, let’s end this now.”
With a whoosh, she unsheathed the sword. If only she’d kil ed him long ago, but it was too late now for regrets. Too late, yet she kept rehashing her mistake. If she hadn’t taunted the bastard with her telepathic ability…
The serial-kil er vampire whispered her name telepathical y, intimately, as if they were lovers.
Before her emotions could unravel any further, a man cal ed out, “Tezra Campbel !”
Her heart jumped. Officer Stevens! His footsteps stalked in her direction.
Before she could shout back and let him know her location, the footsteps and their echo died.
“Officer Stevens?” She hastened toward the last sound of him, her sword readied, her skin prickling with apprehension. She knew when he didn’t respond, when his footfal s died…
Tears pricked her eyes, and she slowed her pace.
Her breath caught, and she froze. Crumpled on the ground, Officer Stevens appeared like the other three police officers had a week ago, nothing more than discarded refuse.
With a hesitant step, she drew closer. “Officer Stevens?”
A different fragrance lingered in the air—sandalwood. The officer’s? Or someone else’s?
She paused and attempted to sense another vampire’s presence. To see if the emotions nearby were different from those exhibited by the one who had murdered her parents. A barrage of rage from the vampire hit her. She’d never felt that kind of blind anger from the kil er who’d murdered her family. No, he was cool and always composed, as if he played a game. Not so with Stevens’s attacker. He seemed bent on revenge. She tightened her hand on her sword, but she had to see to Stevens.
Sword stil readied, she crouched beside the police officer. Her free hand trembled as she felt his wrist. Warm, barely any pulse. Then his heartbeat stopped. Her head pounding, she reached up and jostled his shoulder. Part of her brain knew it was already too late, but the other half couldn’t assimilate the truth. Stevens fel back against the asphalt. A strangled cry escaped her lips.
The man’s blue eyes stared vacantly, his mouth gaping. Blood spil ed from his torn jugular onto the pavement and touched the tips of her boots. As if the bloodsucker had been rabid, angered beyond reason, the monster had ripped Stevens’s throat open, dug his fangs al the way to the spine, breaking it and leaving a shower of blood on the asphalt and nearby warehouse brick wal .
Nausea swamped her. She bolted away from the body and emptied the contents of her stomach. At the same instant, she sensed the vampire who’d murdered her parents changing into a solid form, his aura ancient, one of those turned by the Black Death that swept through Europe in 1347.
Staring into the mist, she gripped her sword tighter. Wolf? Bird? Maniacal man? What form would he take to terrorize her this time?
This was how she’d learn the bloodsucker’s name tonight. He’d give it to her before he kil ed her.
“You wish my name, sweet Tezra.”
The air rippled with his calming presence, different from the other murdering vampire, whose antagonism she stil sensed close by.
“You shall soon know it
A hint of dark promise coated his telepathic communication, then the atmosphere of tranquility vanished and she knew he was gone.
Ten years ago, she thought she could unsettle him by showing off her telepathic ability, taunting him with the knowledge she knew he’d kil ed the police officers, hoping he’d make a mistake and she’d learn his name. Then she could have turned him over to the Council of Hunters and they would have terminated him for the murders he’d committed.
Until he showed her just how powerful he could be. By murdering her parents and then Patrico, he proved how naïve and stupid she had been as a gul ible sixteen-year-old huntress-in-training. If she could only turn back time…cloak her abilities like she had always done…
But it was too late now. The terror of the night her parents died could never be reversed.
The remaining vampire stil lurked nearby. As angry as he was, she was certain he murdered Officer Stevens and the officers a week ago, based on how identical the kil ings were. Now she had to investigate two serial kil ers who used different methods of operation—one who’d kil ed police officers recently and the other a decade ago. Yet the fact both were here at the same time indicated they were in col usion.
Focus, she commanded herself. She stared into the misty dark and attempted to sense anything further about the vampire. He remained silent, motionless. She reached out her empathic abilities and sensed anger stil seething in the being hidden from her sight—close enough to make her skin crawl.
Jerking her cel phone off her belt, Tezra cal ed her best friend. “Mandy,” she choked out.
“What’s wrong, Tezra?” the police dispatcher asked, her voice ripe with concern.
“Let Chief O’Mal ey know there’s another police officer down. Dead.” Her hand shook, and she fought to gain control of her emotions. “Warehouse district.”
“I-I’l tel the boss,” Mandy said. “Who was it?”
“Don’t let the Special Crimes Unit get wind there’s been another murder or that I’m here or there’l be hel to pay.”
“Yes, al right. Can you hold?”
“Yeah, but hurry the guys out here, wil you?” It didn’t matter Tezra was a highly skil ed investigator or trained in self-defense by the Special Crimes Unit. The fog, the cold, the sight of Officer Stevens’s body and the dreadful sensation that the murderer of the police officers lurked nearby put her on edge. If only he’d show himself, she’d prove to the SCU she had what it took to be a huntress.
Tezra paced to warm her chil ed blood, the cel phone pressed against her ear while she waited for further word. Her gaze focused on the area she sensed the vampire loitered.
“Tezra?” Mandy said, breaking into her concentration. “Chief O’Mal ey wants to talk to you.”
Tezra waited for the questions he was bound to ask. Why had Stevens planned to meet her here? Had she seen who’d kil ed him?
“Investigator Campbel , a couple of units are on their way,” he said, his voice strangely gruff.
“If the SCU learns about this, they’l be al over the case. You know I’m not al owed to work any high profile cases right now.”
She was not a rogue, dammit. Yet, that’s what the powers-that-be at the SCU always tossed in her face—“borderline renegade”. If she didn’t get a grip, she’d be eliminated from the SCU forever. So what was she supposed to do? Review smal -
time cases—a vampire biting a woman without her express permission, a case of a vampire changing an underage human.
Sure, the vampire crimes weren’t acceptable. And sure, they needed investigators handling cases such as these. But she had a cal ing to right the bigger wrongs. Some investigators were more geared to handling the mundane stuff and were happy to do it. Not her. She real y wanted to be a huntress—terminating vampires who murdered in cold blood.
Hunters of vampires had been affected by the same plague vampires were centuries earlier. The hunters’ blood had resisted the virus to a greater extent, but had also mutated to a certain degree. The increased strength and ability to hear like vampires set them apart from humans unaffected by the plague. Unlike vampires, hunters didn’t have the thirst for blood, couldn’t shape-shift, exist as semi-immortals, or see in the dark—though that aspect would be real y handy right about now—and rarely had telepathic abilities.
It was as if balance had to be brought back to the world. The hunters were capable of dealing with vampires who chose to murder helpless victims when most mere humans didn’t have the strength to fight them.
So technical y, she was a huntress from birth, only due to SCU politics her job was investigating crimes instead of serving as a huntress who terminated the evil vampires.
“Yeah, but I want
to handle the investigation,” the chief said.
Tezra shoved a wet curl off her cheek. “You know how the higher-ups are. When it comes to cases like this, they choose their own investigators with no direction from any other law enforcement agency. Hel , they’re like the FBI when it comes to dealing with local policing agencies.”