Authors: Jackie Ivie
Tags: #paranormal romance, #vampire assassin league, #short story, #vampire romance, #anthology
Should There Be
by Jackie Ivie
A Vampire Assassin League Novella
“We Kill for Profit”
8th in series
Copyright 2012, Jackie Ivie
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portion thereof, in any form. This book may not be resold or uploaded for distribution to others.
This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This one was going to be messy and it wasn’t even his fault.
Rafaele looked down at the scene unfolding beneath him, toyed with calling for a 4-D team, and then moved his finger off the call button. It wasn’t out of control. Yet. And he had a ribbing to consider if he needed bailing out again.
He muttered it while sliding along the parking lot edge, four stories up, right above Hiawatha Avenue. Now…why couldn’t crime lords meet in a nice suburb? That would be different. At least it would be original. He’d much prefer a posh penthouse with acres of carpeting and subdued lighting, like maybe one in Cedar-Riverside. But no. These folks were all the same, regardless of the crime: Drugs. Guns. Slavery. Didn’t seem to matter. One side would have the cash. The other the goods. They’d meet in huge warehouses with intermittent lighting, so they could have an unobstructed view of each other. Or maybe it was due to the many avenues of escape the place offered.
They were going to be wrong there. Unmarked police vehicles and several SWAT vans were already blocking most of the Phillips neighborhood, moving with stealth he’d not thought them capable of. Nobody had a light on. No words passed a scanner. Interesting. Impressive. Even if they were closing off his window of opportunity.
If Rafaele sighed, he’d sigh. Loudly. These thugs weren’t just bastards. They were stupid ones, too. Wire transfers were so much easier, and with the right connections, absolutely untraceable. Discreet. Secure. Nobody would be out in weather like this, facing annihilation. Or a very long prison sentence. Or at the very least, a fat drain on their bank account to make bail.
Good thing he was immortal and things such as continual snowfall, fourteen degrees below zero temps, limited visibility, and slick surfaces didn’t mean much, although they were all doing a number on his new leather attire. One con. Several pros. As always. For centuries he’d relished this afterlife, adding to the list of pros. It was a long one, just as this wait was getting to be.
He’d rather be back on a stool at Parkers, listening to his intended source of sustenance sob out his life story while getting soused with rum he didn’t have to buy. Rafaele kept the glass full. It was the only way to get the taste and sensation of rum into his system. And since his potential target had Type O blood…it had been damn near perfect.
Maybe Mister Type O would still be there when this was over.
Rafaele leapt across the alley, hit the warehouse building at the third story level, and slid along the fire escape before glancing to a stop on the bricks. That was another pro to this afterlife. No bruises. It scraped the leather of his trench coat, however, jostling the sword against his spine where he’d strapped his blade, and showered him with more moisture from the ledge of snow he’d disturbed.
The door was locked. The handle came off in his hand, leaving him to gain access by pushing. The door bowed in the center before it gave up the bolt, allowing him to slide inside. The scrape of sound wasn’t as loud as he suspected because nothing about the scene below him altered. Nobody challenged his entrance. Nobody even seemed to notice it.
Bastards. Again. Greedy idiot bastards. So worried about their rivals and competition that they didn’t bother to post guards. Acting immune from anything but each other. Sometimes it seemed poetic justice to rid the planet of some of them.
His hit was Eddie Vega. Early forties. Silver-tipped black hair. Six foot two. Known for flashy suits, a string of beautiful women, and an enormous appetite for all of it. Owned a lot of hotels and nightspots throughout the state that didn’t make enough money for his lifestyle. So, apparently he was financing things in these hard times by other venues. Illegal ones. And then compounding that by stepping into areas that somebody else must already claim.
Eddie was in his usual transportation - a white oversized limo. If Rafaele’s information was correct, Vega would have three bodyguards with him, one on each side and one facing, while his driver would be a gentleman named Daniel, known as a world-class driver. Supposedly the man made more driving for Vega than he’d earned on the racing circuit. Eddie should have paid the same attention to his entire staff. That way maybe one of them wouldn’t have paid for his demise.
The limo was flanked by two white SUVs, parked at slight inward angles; all three sporting bright lights and running engines. They faced a trio of big black SUVs parked in the same configuration. Those vehicles had blackened windows and gleaming chrome spinner rims. Back behind them was a panel van. Black too, but this one had rims of matte finish black. No back windows. That one would be carrying the goods in this transaction. They might be trying for stealth, but the total dark of their van cancelled that. Didn’t really matter. Every one of them stood out like dinosaurs in Beverly Hills. These guys didn’t know the meaning of the word covert. They were all flash and prestige and machismo. They were parked about fifteen yards apart, highlighting an oasis of space that contained six men each, all loaded with more hardware than looked necessary.
Rafaele made a mental note to add that to the pro column again. Bullets didn’t mean a damn thing to him. You can’t kill a dead thing. Not with lead, anyway.
“The deal was for thirty million! Upon delivery. Not half!”
“Be reasonable, my friend...”
Rafaele grinned slightly as he skimmed an iron ceiling brace. This had to be the modern equivalent to an Old West gunfight. Looks like he’d arrived at just about the time somebody’s finger pulled the hair-trigger, starting the fight. Cutting it close, but he still wasn’t calling a 4-D team. Not after the teasing from last time. Not if he didn’t need to, anyway.
He was just above and slightly behind his target vehicle when the first shot rang out. The resultant sounds covered over his move, launching feet-first through the back window of the limo, slamming into a white leather couch amid a shower of tempered glass chunks, some cursing, and loud screaming.
Eddie Vega sat between two extremely large gentlemen. With a blur of motion Rafaele grabbed the right guy’s gun hand, swiveled it inward, sending the bullet into the bodyguard’s groin rather than Rafaele himself. The fellow on the other side of Eddie got a left hand around his windpipe before Rafaele ripped it out, spewing blood into the scene, and that just tinted everything with a reddish haze as his canines lengthened in reaction.
And if he’d thought they screamed before, it was immediately changed by the high-pitched caterwauling coming from the fellow at his left. That got him a fist right atop his heart, stopping him in mid-breath as life got slammed out of him. Added to that was the big guy with the groin injury wouldn’t shut up. Rafaele had to do the same maneuver on him just to get some quiet. And then he pulled his sword around to his hip, sat back, and flicked bits of tempered glass from where they stuck to him while regarding his target. Got to love the American auto industry and its safety glass. Instead of slicing through his new leather attire, auto glass was made to turn into little pieces that only stuck because he was still damp from the weather, and now newly spilled blood. The moment he thought it, his senses opened, pulling in the essence coming from the mix of fluid. The perfect cohesion of warmth and substance. The absolute feast that faced him, offered up to him. Pulled at him. Need nearly overrode time and place. It was hard to rein it back. The way his frame shuddered probably betrayed every bit of it, too.
Eddie showed total disregard for his safety and his men, which was either a sign of complete fearlessness or the guy had major
. Rafaele watched him lean back, squeaking leather as he folded his arms across a lot of belly and then lowered his chin.
“That was quite an entrance,” he finally remarked.
Rafaele smiled slightly, showing off the tip of his canines. Eddie’s eyebrows lifted.
“You’re a vampire? A real vampire?”
“You guys really exist? Really?”
“Oh…yes.” Rafaele had a very deep voice. The words resonated through the enclosure, before escaping through the gaping mass of glassless back window. The sounds of gunfire still erupted intermittently from somewhere outside the limo. He wondered idly which side was winning.
“I suppose you’re with the Vampire Assassin League?”
Rafaele returned his attention to Eddie and nodded.
“We just used you. Not six months ago.”
“You’re here to kill me then?”
Rafaele leaned forward on his seat and licked his lips. “Are you a Type O?”
The man gulped, showing a hint of fear. Finally.
“I’ll pay you double to cancel it.”
Rafaele’s smile widened. He watched Eddie’s eyes flick to revealed fangs before moving back to his eyes.
Rafaele pulled the cutlass out; a light source from somewhere glinted off the curved, razor-sharp edge.
“I’ll pay whatever you want! Anything!”
“You can’t negotiate with us, Eddie. That’s why you used us before. Remember?”
“He was a bastard! The world’s well rid of him.”
“Perhaps.” Rafaele moved the sword about so more light could catch the blade, enjoying every bit of the man’s racing heart and quick breaths. He could even smell how his sweat glands opened up, adding the scent of fear into the mix.
“You know why the brethren use a cutlass?” Rafaele asked.
The man’s question was choked. Rafaele ignored it.
“This size of sword is easier to use in a small confined space. The curved blade makes it easier to pull out, too.”
The word was stuttered. This was going to be good. Tasty. The man’s fear was shooting adrenaline through his veins. That usually added a delicious tang to the taste. And since he’d lost out on his rum feeding, he might as well enjoy—
“This is the police! You’re surrounded!”
A spray of gunfire answered the order. Rafaele froze. Eddie pulled in a deep breath, starting a yell he didn’t finish. The cutlass entered his large belly and pierced lungs, spewing blood-filled air all over Rafaele. If he had time, he’d enjoy it. As it was, he was flirting with a real mess this time. He made a quick motion upward, filleting the man wide open, watching his eyes dim and then go blank.
He wiped his blade on the man’s trousers, and hit the intercom button. His information better be accurate.
He used a higher pitched voice, hoping it was close to Vega.
“Earn your pay and get me out of here!”
He moved from the intercom button to the open the moon roof, flexing muscle in his legs against the instant roar of the engine as Daniel hit reverse. If he timed this right. And if his luck held. And if Daniel didn’t run into an obstacle…
Through the back window he saw the approach of police vehicles. Daniel appeared to be prepared to ram right through them, using the back bumper – and his boss – as a battering ram. If he hit them right between front bumpers, he might have a shot at succeeding. Rafaele crouched in the center of the floorboard, soaking up more blood, while he waited for the exact moment they crossed beneath the double-high entrance door, then leapt.
He was atop iron girding as the sounds of vehicles getting slammed added into the night, alternating with scattered gunfire and now the sound of sirens. He leaned down and watched as Daniel swung the vehicle around, slapped it into drive, and then sped off, trailing a bit of bumper in his wake. As well as garnering a few police cars. Rafaele wished him well on the escape although he’d have a shock when he went to open the back door.
The phone in his back trouser pocket vibrated. Rafaele pulled into a sit on the girder, leaned back against the outer wall, which due to the lack of insulation was frigid, and pulled the phone out. He was watching the scene beneath him unfold as all kinds of lights illuminated it, highlighting the few men still standing, while the back of the van elicited all kinds of activity. He couldn’t see what it contained, and he didn’t particularly care. He’d done his assignment, and well. And not one of them sent a light upward in his direction.