Love Me Madly (Dirty Rotten Vampires 2)|
J. Hali Steele
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Copyright ©2015 J. Hali Steele
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Heat has a smell. Magical and as sweetly perfumed as an exotic night-blooming jasmine, warm air whispered around him, gently brushing his face with butterfly-soft wings. Keeping his eyes shut tight, Split Kryder embraced the scent, allowing it to render him helpless, exposing memories buried deep a long, long time ago.
Shit. Opening his eyes to the real world, he spied a spider vanishing into a crevice between ornate moldings joined high up in a corner across from him. He shoved a booted foot against the desk and sent the antique piece banging against the wall. He jumped up and strode to the corner, stood on the desk, and reached to rip wood away.
"Goddamn Philadelphia." The gray, dank atmosphere was colder than his undead heart. Split slammed his fist into the wall and pulled chunks of red brick away.
Spinning, he eyed Vigier Stone, a vampire with slightly more skill and strength than himself. "Don't call me that."
"Have you lost the capability to levitate along with your mind?" Vig, a member of the vampire council, elicited fear and respect because of his position. "Get off my desk; that was a gift from..."
"There's a spider in here." Yeah, I've lost it. Screwing with Vigier was not wise, but the only thing Split feared at the moment was going fuck-nuts if he didn't get the hell out of the City of Brotherly Love.
"You could have killed it with a flick of your fingers." Vig blinked the behemoth desk with a myriad of cubbyholes and paper stacks back to its original position in the office, leaving Split hanging in the corner. "Fix that gaping hole or I send your sorry ass after the eight-legged horror." He shuddered. "I can't believe you disturbed the nest."
Split contemplated the council member. "Whatever." Landing lightly on the balls of his feet, he waved a hand and watched stone and mortar fly into place and the splintered wood bind together, forming a loose bond in the corner. "Has your almighty council found me a partner yet? I'm growing cobwebs sitting here."
"Insolence has won you no friends on our council."
"Those bastards sit in luxury while slayers keep demon mixes from chewing their lazy, fat asses off."
Vig smiled wanly at the corner as he tightened the molding with a mental nudge Split didn't miss. "Have you ever seen a fat vampire?"
"You get my drift."
"I've a mind to send you to handle our problem with rogue vamps in upstate New York."
"Ha ha. Who knew you had a sense of humor?" Split, hailing from the west, deduced the growing problem in the desert required the attention of a seasoned slayer. "The demons coming from below are much deadlier, and they are impregnating our females at an alarming rate, creating more mixed breeds than ever."
Demi-vamps posed a serious threat when they turned malevolent and preyed on humans. Stupid shits craved blood, but without fangs to drink they left grisly crime scenes necessitating fiery obliteration. Pure demons remained unaffected by the contagion and refused lending aid in destroying those who were. Unlike vampires, they survived without partaking human blood, and Satan couldn't care less how many souls they stole leaving empty shells only resembling a human.
"Therefore, we have to work harder at keeping our existence veiled from the masses." Vig reached for a rolled piece of paper on his desk and handed it over. "Your partner is Tang Odette."
"About damn time." He opened the missive and perused the contract. A month wasn't bad, in fact, he figured on six at the least. Split hadn't hunted in a while... "Whoa a fucking minute." He scowled at the vamp. "This has nothing to do with my being out of the game for so long?"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Barringer's home with my daughter and their child. That leaves me your best slayer. Why such a short assignment?"
"Your partner needs a break after this."
Split eyed the name again. Odette. He hadn't heard it before and being as old as Vigier, he knew everyone except some of the younger vamps. "Who is Tang, and please do not tell me you're saddling me with him if he's a beginner."
"Not quite, but..."
The door flew open, and before Split turned, the smell assailed his nostrils.
He spun to face his soon-to-be partner. Suffocating heat vibrated through the room and red eyes glared at him. "No. Fucking. Way."
A goddamn demi-vamp nearly as tall as him studied Split. The exotic odor, the warm air, it hadn't been his imagination at all. The council probably closeted the bitch in the next room.
Vigier cleared his throat. "I did my best cloaking her to give you time."
He jerked around. "Time?" There wasn't enough time in the world to convince him to go after a band of deadly, malicious demi-vamps with a mixed breed in tow. Hell, if she succumbed to their powers and turned against him, Split would be on his own. "Enter my mind again; I'll put you on your ass."
Peering over his shoulder, he watched her lips curve into a smile...