Read Wicked Sunset (Sunset Vampire Series, Book 4) Online

Authors: Jaz Primo

Tags: #Vampire Paranormal Romance Urban Fantasy

Wicked Sunset (Sunset Vampire Series, Book 4) (4 page)

BOOK: Wicked Sunset (Sunset Vampire Series, Book 4)
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Her logic was sound enough, though I hated to concede defeat.

“I don’t actually
need
your permission, you know,” I said. “I’m an adult, after all.”

She looked up with a cool, commanding expression.

“Surely, that’s very
adult
of you to say,” she said, her voice thick with sarcasm. “And the answer is still
no
. Not yet, anyway. Keep practicing your knife techniques. Once you’ve mastered them to my satisfaction we’ll talk about guns.”

Her focus returned to her notebook and she resumed typing.

She’s treating me like a damned child!

I was exasperated and a string of expletives flared my mind, ready for launch. However, I took a deep, deliberate breath and then slowly exhaled.

She paused from her typing and stared at the screen before her. “You’re not going to let this go, are you?”

“Nope,” I said.

“Tell me something. What happened to that agreeable mate of mine that used to be so much more…compliant?”

“He disappeared somewhere in Slovenia,” I said.

She slowly looked up to stare at me with a probing expression.

I met her gaze and then calmly turned and stalked away.

 

* * *

 

A small cloud with a silver lining arrived later that week via a phone call from none other than Alton Rutherford, Kat’s vampire mentor and our mutual good friend in London. Of the vampire powerbrokers in the world, he was not only leading the list, he was the poster child for it.

Following his investigation that was based upon information provided by Kat, including DNA-related evidence, the nature of which I had no interest in delving into, a number of significant developments had taken place.

First, both of our prospective assassins were identified, as well as the identity of who hired one of them. A vampire named Wasim Samara, a former associate of Baldar Dubravko, was identified as the one responsible for hiring the assassins.

Second, and much to my surprise, Alton personally headed up the detail that tracked down Samara. After all, he had an entire cadre of vampires to rely on to do those sorts of things.

Still, it merely reinforced the degree of affection and concern that he held for Kat, including perhaps for me.

Upon confronting Samara firsthand, Alton said that their interactions went poorly…fatally so for Samara, that is. As with Dubravko, I had a hard time conjuring any degree of sympathy for the vampire’s demise.

He did order people to kill Kat and me, after all.

In the end, Alton assured us that word of the confrontation and its ultimate resolution was being actively publicized in the vampire world, which Alton estimated would result in a reduction in the number of threats to Katrina and me.

Well, in the near future, at least.

I, for one, found it quite reassuring, though Kat was decidedly less reassured.

Still, I admired how she wrestled with her misgivings and gave me her blessing to once more come and go as I pleased.

Never mind that it felt humiliating to need her blessing in the first place.

I celebrated by spending with a daylong fishing trip at Mill Creek Lake just north of town.

It felt as if a degree of normality had finally been restored for the first time in months.

When I called Paige lakeside to brag about the development, she merely chuckled.

“Better revel in your newfound freedom while you can, tiger.”

I didn’t like the way that sounded.

 

 

Chapter 3

Caleb

 

During the final days of June, I felt the pull of my college office calling to me. It was still so hard for me to believe that, having only started my burgeoning career as a history professor the previous fall, I was already being let go due to budget cuts, effective the first of July.

Crap.

It made little sense that overly-conservative state legislatures would cut funding to colleges during poor economic conditions, since that’s where people flocked to for vital job training and education that might get them back into the job market.

One conservative legislator said on the news, “People just need to pick themselves up by their bootstraps.”

Yeah, but what were they supposed to do if those same people didn’t even own a pair of boots?

Politics aside, at least Katrina had been very sympathetic and supportive since I told her the news of my layoff while in Slovenia. While I appreciated that, it did little to curtail the anger and resentment that I felt over the development.

Crap happens, right?

It still grated on my nerves. Badly.

“I’m going to the college,” I said to Kat in passing, as she reclined on the couch reading a book.

At first, she looked up with a concerned expression, but then her features softened.

“I understand,” she said. “Be careful, my love.”

Careful? I’m going to the college, not a bar.

I’ve had a horrible track record with bars.

“Will do,” I said.

The drive to the college was laced with feelings of longing, as if I were savoring the acts of a routine that was counting down to dissolution.

In truth, that was probably a good analogy.

When I arrived, my good friend and colleague, Dr. Tanisha Browning, was in her office sorting through a large stack of old exams and essays left over from previous semesters.

Professors are packrats, really.

I chatted for a time with her, recounting a much safer and mundane version of my trip with Kat to Slovenia.

Oh, yes, peaceful days of scenic sightseeing, quaint Slovenian shopping, sleeping late, and romantic quality time with Kat.

There was no mention of vampires, terrorist plots, corrupt government officials that beat me within an inch of my life, or killing a human and a vampire using a briefcase full of explosives.

And, of course, no mention of my newfound and lingering concussion.

Essentially, no mention of any part of the reality that constituted the past few weeks of my life.

My life is nothing more than an endless litany of secrets…and lies.

I suppressed a heavy sigh.

Then the topic turned to my impending departure, including the need to clean out my office. Tanisha said she was shocked over the decision, and lamented that I had been selected rather than some other faculty members she knew who didn’t put as much passion or effort into their teaching.

Too bad she hadn’t been the person passing out the pink slips.

“Are you going to start packing up your office today?” she asked.

I had intended to, but by the end of our conversation I’d lost my resolve. Besides, the division dean, Paul Wright, had given me the remainder of the summer to remove my things and turn in my key.

It wasn’t as if they were hiring a replacement for me.

Downsizing really sucks.

“Paul said I have until mid-August,” I said with a shrug.

She rose from her chair and gave me a warm hug, which I gratefully accepted.

Among other great qualities, Tanisha was a really good hugger.

“Well, don’t rush things if you’re not ready,” she said.

She knew me better than I thought.

We chatted for a short time longer before I said goodbye. Afterward, I locked up my soon-to-be-former office and headed for the parking lot.

The late June Atlanta sun and humidity made for a hot, sultry drive home. Halfway to Mableton on the I-20, my car’s engine suddenly sputtered and bucked. A glance at my dashboard indicated a sudden drop in oil pressure, followed by a heavy clunking noise coming from the engine.

Veering into the right-hand lane, I coasted off the highway and onto the shoulder, and promptly turned off the ignition. Though not a mechanic, it didn’t take long to determine that I had sustained an engine problem that went well beyond some new plugs or a gasket.

To be honest, it was a relatively old Honda Civic, and I feared the worst.

Following a call to Kat for the number to our insurance towing service, and a wait of less than an hour, a wrecker finally arrived to tow my ailing car to a nearby auto shop. Fortunately, they were able roll my car onto the rack within an hour.

I patiently waited as a mechanic named Jeff evaluated my vehicle, during which time I walked next door to a burger joint to eat a late lunch.

Great. First no job and now car trouble.

Soon after returning to the shop, Jeff briefed me on the damage.

He said the engine had sustained a major cylinder failure; two of them had simultaneously seized. It would require at a minimum a complete overhaul, or better yet, a complete engine replacement.

Hell, the twelve-year-old engine already had well over a hundred and twenty thousand miles on it.

As fate would have it, the estimated cost of engine overhaul was more than I had left in my savings account. The wiser choice was to purchase another vehicle.

In my case, that meant used rather than new.

Okay, no job and now I’m planning to take on a car payment?

I wondered if Alton would be willing to electronically transfer some money to me from the vampire-donated funds that I had received at the conference.

My reverie was interrupted by a phone call from Kat, who called for a quick status report.

“I’m so sorry, my love. But don’t worry, this isn’t insurmountable,” she reassured me in a kind, supportive voice.

Said the wealthy vampire to the cash-strapped human.

“It’s still daylight, so I’ll send a cab to pick you up, and we can talk more about it here at home.”

I thanked her, and asked Jeff to park my car in their temporary holding area behind the shop until I called him back with a decision. Then, I nearly emptied my wallet to pay him a relatively generous cash bonus for his trouble; which was the least that I could do for his courtesy and quick assessment.

I ventured that I’d have just enough cash left for the cab ride home.

I texted Paige with the latest news while waiting for my ride to arrive.

Sorry about your POC car
, she texted.

I replied,
POC?

Piece of crap!
she texted.

Hater. U suck.

Then she sent,
I do.
Fang U very much, Mr. Yummy.

That was quickly followed by a smiley face.

I shook my head, knowing full well that she was correct. The sad truth was that my car really was a piece of crap. Only it had become a dead piece of crap a bit too soon for my bank account’s preference.

By the time the cab arrived, I felt physically and emotionally drained, both from the intense summer heat and my cascade of negative emotions. More than anything, I just wanted to go home and pop open a cold beer.

By the time the cab dropped me off at the gates at the end of our estate’s driveway, I was only too happy to be back.

However, and rather unfortunately, I had also developed a splitting headache. My lingering concussion was acting up again.

Well, so much for a cold beer.

Undoubtedly, the equation was simple: a concussion plus a pounding headache plus prescription pain relievers equaled no beer for me.

As soon as I walked through the front door, Kat was waiting in the shadows of the front living area, well beyond the late afternoon sunlight that poured in past me. She must have sensed my condition, because as soon as I shut the front door, I felt a rush of air and she enfolded me in her arms, hugging me against her.

“I’m glad you’re back,” she said.

She disengaged from our hug and pulled away from me to stare into my eyes.

“Are you in pain?” she asked.

“Headache,” I muttered.

She retrieved some pain relievers that had been prescribed for me by Ethan. I kicked off my shoes and meandered into the living room at the back of the house, where I lay on the couch.

What a totally crap-tastic day.

Kat dropped to her knees on the carpeted floor beside me and soothingly ran her fingertips across my forehead and through my hair.

Needless to say, that felt amazing.

Sometime later, the meds finally took effect and I drifted off to sleep.

 

 

Chapter 4

BOOK: Wicked Sunset (Sunset Vampire Series, Book 4)
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