Phantom (Endlessly Book 3)

Phantom

 

 

C.
V. Hunt

 

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

 

Copyright © 2012
C.V. Hunt

All rights reserved.

http://www.authorcvhunt.com

 

This work was edited by Peter Heyrman. He can be contacted by email at [email protected]

or by calling (410)-433-0908

 

 

ISBN: 1456487116

ISBN-13:
978-1456487119

Ebook:
978-1-4675-1089-9

 

Due to the dynamic nature of the Internet, and the unforeseen paths of artists involved, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication, and may no longer be valid.

 

 

 

DEDICATION

 

This book is for
everyone who reads stories by authors no one has ever heard of.

Every one of us will live, love, hate, fight, bleed, breed, struggle a
nd survive. We are all the same, and we will all come to an end.

 

Your memories are the only thing you can take with you. Don’t forget to make the most of them.

 

 

C.
V. Hunt

 

http://www.authorcvhunt.com

 

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

A thank you to Peter Heyrman, my editor,

for inspiration and guidance.

 

To Tony Och, my tattooist, photographer,

and friend, thanks for the morbidly funny conversations and great photos.

 

A huge thank you to Angie and Larry Ealy, Cory Gilbert, Coylene and Shannon Gill, Christina Girardot, Chris Godfrey, Josh James, Aubrey Losen, Fabiola Nino, Jesse Nguyen, Pedro Soto, Sarah (Rhodes) Taylor, and Patti Witte for sacrificing your good names, and likeness, for my story. I’m sure that each of these books would have rotted on my hard drive without your inspiration.

 

To Richard, thank you for holding on to me as I dangled over the bottomless hole of writing. It would have swallowed me whole without you.

 

 

 

 

1 UNCONSCIOUS DREAM

 

I dropped my cigarette and stepped on it before I opened the door. When the vampire spoke, I froze.

“I’ll be right behind you, Jason,” said Sarah. “
I want to enter alone.”

Cold air bit the back of my neck as I entered the bar. At night Seattle was always chilly, with the wind blowing across the Sound, but with summer coming to an end, air conditioning didn’t help. I could smell another vampire as soon as I entered the bar. This probably meant there was
a werewolf in here too—another one like me. A vampire’s scent was like stale bread among the cookies. Humans were always sweeter.

The place was crowded. Keeping my head down, I spotted an open stool at the other end of the bar. I moved discreetly, trying to spot the other two feeding tonight.

As I passed a short girl with her back against the bar, the stale odor strengthened. She was taller than some of the bar patrons, but from my height of six-foot-plus she seemed short. Her orange skin shone from spray tanning and her hair was jet black. I felt her eyes follow me as I passed. I avoided her gaze. She would know from my smell I wasn’t completely human.

I took my seat, watching the door for Sarah Rhodes. She appeared a few seconds later and sulked in the shadows, taking a qu
ick look around. I was sure she’d smelled the vampire too. She was searching for the source. Being a vampire, Sarah needed feeding more than I did. With her temporary hair color and thick coat of make-up she could pass for human tonight. Loss of pigmentation in skin and hair was a trait all vampires inherit upon transformation. The only thing they kept from their mortal bodies was their eye color.

Using my werewolf hearing, I b
locked out the background noise and concentrated on the vampire.

Watching the humans, she spoke without moving her head: “A pretty boy just sat at the end of the bar. I’m certain he’s a werewolf, because I just caught the scent of another vampire.”

A thin girl, with long spidery arms and fingers, covered in tattoos, played with her drink. She shrugged her shoulders and gulped a strange colored concoction. Her shoulder-length brown hair hung in her face. She seemed more interested in the bottom of her glass than what was going on around her.

The fact
she was a werewolf stirred my interest. All girls interested me, but a female werewolf was rare. I’d only met one other. That was when the Quatre captured me. Her main interest had been to kill me, so when this one didn’t immediately shove a gun in my face, I felt like a lottery winner.

When the vampire turned to Sarah I barely noticed. Finally I gl
anced in Sarah’s direction and saw they’d made eye contact. A joyous recognition crossed Sarah’s face.
Great,
I thought,
she’s run into someone she knows
. It was two girlfriends reuniting. This was going to be a long fucking night. I wondered if I should just start punching myself in the balls immediately. Why couldn’t we grab and dash the way Verloren and I used to?

 

I looked around to make sure no one was approaching our car in the vacant lot. I kept one hand on the wheel and the other on the ignition key, just in case.

I looked in the
rearview mirror as Verloren smiled wickedly at his victim – another nameless prostitute, her frizzy bleached hair pulled into ponytails. She thought this made her look young. To me she looked like a woman desperately hanging onto her youth. Age didn’t matter. This woman was about to become a vampire’s meal.

“Are you prepared to die?” Verloren asked her.

I couldn’t help but giggle. I pulled the duffle bag out from under the seat. It was a routine I knew by heart.

 

The crack of billiard balls brought me back. Sarah ran to the girl and hugged her. They started going on about the Quatre, and how it had been overthrown. The Quatre was a group of four misfits that had governed us all. I’d heard that a vampire on the Quatre had turned Sarah and kept her as a sex slave. She wasn’t the only one. Apparently the vampire she was talking with was a victim too, and once had lived in the same underground house where we were staying now.

The tattooed girl sitting beside the vampire completely ignored them. I knew she had to be a werewolf. Vampires and werewolves ran together. It’s the only reason I’d come with Sarah tonight. The vampire virus turned bitten humans unless they were killed. A werewolf needed to eat human flesh to be able to shape shift into his or her incarnate form, hence the necessity to hang with a vampire. The vampire killed the human to keep it from turning. We cleane
d up, eating the bodies so we could keep our shape shifting and supernatural abilities.

“What’ll it be?” the bartender asked.

I was lost in thought as I stared at the girl too intently. She rolled the glass in her hands and her head bobbed. She seemed oblivious.

“Whatever she’s having,” I said, pointing at her.

The bartender snorted. “Okay,” he said, shaking his head as he walked back down the bar.

He
pulled out a can of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Captain Morgan Preferred Stock. He proceeded to pour equal portions in a glass. Now I understood the color: a fucked up waste of money. He sat the glass in front of me and I slipped him the cash.

“Enjoy
dew-ing
the captain,” he said with a smirk.

“Fucking smartass,” I mumbled, as I took a sip.

Though definitely an acquired taste, it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. The girl finished her drink and ordered another. The two vampires carried on like a pair of former cheerleaders at their high school reunion. After what seemed an eternity, their conversation wound down.

“Well, Sandy, me and Jason should get out of here,” Sarah said to her friend. “We’ll hit up another place.”

I gulped my drink in expectation of leaving. The tattooed girl leaned her elbows on the bar and pushed her fingers into her hair. She leaned her head heavily on her hand, her eyes half closed. Finally her hair wasn’t hiding her face and I got a good look at her.

She was hot. Her face was thin
and her bottom lip was fuller than the top. Unlike me, she had a fair complexion. I didn’t know why, but most werewolves were slightly tan. Maybe it was linked to our change of skin color whenever we shifted. She looked to be in her mid-twenties—close to my age. Her sad eyes peered out from under dramatically arched brows. What was the word for her? Cold? Yes, but not cruel. Though her manner and movements weren’t quite feminine, she was beautiful in a sultry way. Her dark strength reminded me of a warrior.

Obviously, she’d had a lot to drink. She gripped her hair as if she were trying to hold her head up with it. I noted more tattoos on the side of her neck. I’d never seen anyone with that much ink. Her tattoos weren’t repulsive. They were a part of her definition, like battle scars. Her body looked too thin for my taste, but all the same, I would fuck her given the chance. She suddenly turned her head and looked at me, almost as if she had heard my thoughts.

The instant our eyes met it happened. Defibrillator paddles hit me in the chest. My whole body lurched and I nearly spilled my drink. I gripped the bar, righted myself, and wondered:
What the fuck was that?
I stared blankly at her, trying to calm my breaths. My chest tightened.

The girl’s jaw dropped
and she stared at me. Her steel blue eyes were huge and glassy. She panted as she tried to free her hand from her hair. It was too fine a maneuver for a drunk. She doubled over, first crawling, then falling almost flat on the bar, one hand still entangled in her hair.

Maybe she wasn’t a werewolf. What if she was a witch? Could she have cast some spell on me just because I thought she was hot? The tattooed girl and I stared at each other, dazed. It was if the rest of the world disappeared, leaving only the two of us. I couldn’t breathe. I felt an urge to move toward her. The other vampire, Sandy, broke into our confused connection.

Sandy slapped the tattooed girl hard on the arm. “Did you hear me?”

“Huh?” she mumbled. Blinking rapidly, she shifted her gaze to Sandy. As she sat back, she finally freed her fingers from her hair. Strands fell across her eyes.

Sandy’s gaze followed her friend’s down the bar. She saw me, laughed, and looked back at the girl. “So… your girlfriend breaks up with you, you run out and get drunk, and fall into bed with the first face you meet. That will show her, huh?” She rolled her eyes.

“What? No… ‘s
not like that…” The girl’s husky voice trailed off as she looked back at me.

Sandy turned to Sarah and spoke under her breath: “I’ll never get these bisexuals. One week it’s a girl, the next week it’s a guy.”

“To each their own,” Sarah responded.

“Come on,” Sandy said. She grabbed the tattooed girl’s thin bicep and pulled at her.

“But…” the girl protested.

“We’re giving this one to Sarah. Let’s go.”

The tattooed girl’s face darkened. Her eyes flashed yellow, confirming her identity; she was a werewolf, all right. Without thinking, I stood up. I needed to get to her. I didn’t know why, or what I would say, but my body pushed on.

“You can be pissed at me later,” Sandy was telling her. “You’ll thank me tomorrow when you’re crawling back to her on your knees.”

Sandy pulled the werewolf girl’s arm. The girl stood up and swayed. She turned, stared at me, took a step, and suddenly I felt something in my chest tugging me toward her.

Sandy pulled her arm again. “Come on
, Oz, let’s go. We’re feeding tonight, not fucking.”

The girl stumbled as her shoulders dropped in defeat. She clenched her jaw, turned toward Sandy, a
nd grabbed her sweatshirt off the stool. Sandy held her arm, directing her through the crowd toward the door.

“Nice seeing you again, Oz.” Sarah waved at the girl.

I politely pushed through the crowd, trying to get to her. As I got closer the tugging grew stronger, as if we were both caught in an invisible elastic band. The elastic was contracting, forcing us closer and closer.

Sarah grabbed my arm. I pushed past, dragging her with me. She wouldn’t let go. While trying to escape Sarah’s grip, I kept my eyes on the girl. Sarah was barely half my size, but I couldn’t shake her. I looked down at her, then glanced at the duo making their way to the door.

“Where are you going?” Sarah demanded.

“I have to talk to that girl.”

Sarah let go and I pushed toward the tattooed girl. Though my brain screamed danger, my body was like metal being pulled by a magnet.

“Don’t do anything
stupid, lover boy,” Sarah whispered, knowing only I would hear.

Her words stirred a memory.

 

Verloren emerged from his room pulling on his leather jacket. He clutched his sunglasses as his face swam between excitement and confusion.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” I said.

“I just have to know what she is. It’s driving me nuts.” Then he took off in a jog down the hallway toward the back door.

I called after him, “You want to know what she is? Or is it more that you want her? Curiosity killed the cat, you know!”

T
he door shut and his motorcycle roared to life. The sound of the engine trailed off and I was left standing in the middle of our apartment.

“Fucking lover boy is going to get us both killed,” I mumbled to myself.

 

Was this it? Was Sarah seeing the same thing I’d seen in Verloren that day?

The girl looked back over her shoulder and stumbled. Sandy kept a firm grip on her arm. They were almost to the door when I realized my heart was pounding. My body shook with adrenaline, leaving my throat dry. Never had I felt like this, especially when approaching a girl. I was always smooth, flawless and relaxed. I never stumbled, stuttered or got excited, and I seldom received a rejection.

I tried to be discreet about plowing through the crowd, but the power in this feeling went beyond any courtesies. I pushed thro
ugh those clustered at the door and burst out of the place. I looked up and down the street, then heard a car start right in front of me. It was too late. The tattooed girl stared out the passenger window. As they pulled away from the curb she saw me. She looked dumbfounded.

“Wait!” I yelled, running into the street.

Sandy hit the gas. If I’d shifted I could’ve caught up, but I knew better than to risk it. Even on a dark night in an empty street, someone would probably see. I gripped my spiked hair with both hands and paced.

An inhuman snarl erupted from my chest. “Fuck!”

I wanted to follow that car. Even as the feeling faded, I knew a residue would linger. If I could stop thinking about her the feeling would die down to nothing. There was no chance of that. My heart and breathing slowed, but I still felt shaky. I wondered if this was how a runner felt at the end of a marathon. I retreated to the sidewalk, but I couldn’t stop pacing. Had I found her? Was this like Ash and Verloren? Or was it just a bad dream veering toward a nightmare? Consciously I hoped it was over, but my unconscious yearned for more.

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