Authors: Jackie Ivie
Tags: #vampire short story, #vampire series, #vampire romance, #vampire assassin league
Good thing she’d decided to go early. It usually took 800 to 1200 feet for a chute to deploy. No worry. A reserve chute only needed four hundred feet. No need to panic. The field belonged to clear heads. Always had. Ashley found the reserve cord and pulled.
And again, absolutely nothing happened, although the cord was still attached.
Her gloves came off next. She pitched them over a shoulder, going totally against type, but she was barreling toward the Cascade Mountain Range at 120 miles per hour. She could worry about the environment later. After she’d landed. Once she’d joined the others at Meaker Lake. Gathered about the fire they planned. The camp they were going to set up. And she could definitely worry about littering the planet while downing a stiff shot of tequila.
She ran her fingers along her suit. Nothing anomalous. Everything in order. The ripcord for her reserve chute was still inoperative. Like it was glued in place. And where the cord for her main chute should be was just a hole. Ashley started digging at it, trying to rip tear-proof fabric. And...with a little work...she might be able to grasp the other end of the cord. Maybe...
And she had it!
Sweet! Ashley grasped the stub between thumb and forefinger and yanked. And a frazzled piece of thread came out. Nothing else. And that’s when panic took over. Despite all her training she started hyper-ventilating. Freaking. Looking up into the clouds above her and even shrieking for several moments while she barreled toward impact. And then her level-headed side took over.
Stop it, Ash. Now
She shut her mouth and started the thought process. She didn’t have much going for her but she needed to use it. She had her motion. She could slow the descent slightly. Present a larger surface against the air current. Ashley flattened her body, riding the wind in waves that lifted and then dropped her. She checked her altimeter again. Five hundred feet? It wasn’t possible. She’d never descended so quickly. That’s when she started looking for trees to hit. Something to break the fall. Evergreens would be best. They hadn’t lost their foliage. They’d have their needles. It was still going to hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. And she was going to break some bones. But maybe, if she was supremely lucky, she’d survive.
Damn her decision not to wear night goggles! And thank heaven there was a little snow cover at this altitude. The black area to her left just might be trees.
Ashley placed her arms to her sides and streamlined, aiming for the darker patch, and just before impact, she thought she heard the strangest note. Like a long, perfectly pitched note. Sung from a gifted throat. It was a C note.
Oh...hell. This was going to hurt. Ashley slammed her eyes shut and tightened everything...and hit.
She didn’t know what she slammed into first, but it might as well be a brick wall. The second one was worse. That was followed by more and more hits. Countless times. Each one breaking something. Why the hell were all the stories wrong? Huh? She didn’t black out. Things didn’t happen in a second. Her life didn’t flash before her eyes. And it was worse than painful. Each hit as she careened through the trees like a pinball caught in a pinball machine was excruciating. It felt like she was on fire before it stopped and that’s when the real agony started.
Ashley couldn’t breathe. Not at first. And then she managed a gasp. It was choked with liquid that stained the ground in front of her. Shit. That looked like...blood? Bad sign. She couldn’t even tell how she’d landed. On her front? Back? Legs? Oh...God. Her legs were pinnacles of absolute fire. And her head was level with the ground. That meant a couple of things. She’d survived impact. And she wasn’t paralyzed. But...that couldn’t be. Nothing on her body worked. Maybe every limb was broken.
A rustling sound came behind her. Footsteps? Maybe a...moose. Elk? Deer? Anything but a wolf. Or worse. A pack of them. That would be really ironic. Surviving a sky fall only to be eaten by wild animals. Helpless. Pinned.
Something neared her head. She tried to turn her neck and check but a twinge of liquid agony stopped her as it raced down her spine. Okay. That wasn’t remotely good. She might have a broken neck and by a supreme stroke of luck, she’d manage to avoid touching her spinal cord. But...the slightest move could change that.
Her view dimmed, then altered as what looked like a man went to his knees beside her head. She couldn’t tell what he looked like exactly. He was wearing a robe with a large hood that shadowed his features. And he had a walking stick thing that he placed across his knees.
Or a scythe.
Well. That was that. She was about to meet the grim reaper. But maybe he’d take the pain away.
She opened her mouth to answer. More liquid gushed out. He put a hand up.
“No. Don’t say anything. You don’t have much time.”
“You only have a minute. Maybe less. How do you want to use it?”
She didn’t speak, but for some reason he heard her anyway. Or he must, since he answered it.
“Yes. You survived impact. But you have slammed into the forest floor. You’re probably a lot shorter, you have inoperable internal injuries, and I’m wasting time speaking when I could be feasting. Want to know why?”
“I’m Akron Profit. Vampire.”
She sputtered the reaction. More blood came up, choking her. Shutting off her air. Several seconds passed as she coughed and fought and finally got a breath. Then another. And every one of them sent fire-stoked pain through her.
“What happened to you was no accident, Ashley. Somebody wanted you to die.”
Her eyes went wide and she stared. And he was harder to see than before. Indistinct. Blurred. She fought to stay conscious.
What happened wasn’t an accident. It was...murder?
He chuckled. “Exactly. That’s why I’m talking to you rather than draining you, my dear.”
“I’m not normally this generous...but I have my reasons. And I like your spunk. So. I’m giving you a choice. You understand? I offer you immortality. Complete recovery in a matter of minutes.” His voice went to such a deep timbre the night air shuddered with it. “And I can promise you revenge.”
“Or I can watch you perish and become fodder for the carrion of this forest. You might never be found. Your choice, Ashley.”
She opened her mouth. Blood came out again. This time she didn’t just cough on it. She breathed it in. That started a coughing spasm that sent even worse pain. He leaned closer. The walking stick tumbled off his knees into the space between them. Only it wasn’t a walking stick. It was a long sword, in a beautiful scabbard.
“No. Don’t speak it. Just think it. Or blink. Once for no. Twice for yes.”
“All gone. Never to return. You have my promise.”
He moved closer, and despite the blackness closing in around his head, she saw why. He had very long fangs. White. Spiked. Vicious looking. They glimmered in what light the night was willing to part with.
And Ashley blinked.
Vampire Assassin League #16
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scheduled for release - early 2014!
Jackie Ivie lives in Alaska with her husband and three pets. She started her writing career with hot Highland historical romances from Kensington. Keeping her head in the clouds most of the time, Jackie spends most of her time researching, developing, and writing her paranormal series - Vampire Assassin League -because there's just something about a hot vampire with a mate fixation. Jackie loves to hear from fans at
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