Hunting Season (Aurora Sky

BOOK: Hunting Season (Aurora Sky
3.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Aurora Sky

Vampire Hunter

 

Vol. 4, Hunting Season

 

 

By Nikki Jefford

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination, or the author has used them fictitiously.

Copyright © 2015 Nikki Jefford

All rights reserved

www.NikkiJefford.com

Cover design by ©Phatpuppyart.com - Claudia McKinney

Cover models photographed by Teresa Yeh Photography

Cover models: Gabriella and Lee

Cover typography by Najla Qamber Designs

For The Alaska State Troopers

and Alaska Wildlife Troopers

 

Thank you for putting your lives on the line every day and protecting Alaska's natural resources.

 

 

“I existed from all eternity and, behold, I am here; and I shall exist till the end of time, for my being has no end.”

–Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese artist, poet, and writer

 

 

1
Decoy

A brisk ocean breeze slid up my bare arms, leaving goose bumps in its wake. Fane had an unnerving way of inching up to my side as we closed in on Henry's ornate townhouse in Bootleggers Cove.

He propped a hand against the door, fingers splayed, blocking me at the threshold.

“Ready to do this?” he asked. “It could get rough.”

I raised my chin. “Promise?”

Fane shot me one of his half-smirks as his hand balled into a fist. He pounded on the door.

Here's hoping Mason hadn't beat us.

If Noel, Fane, and I were to succeed in capturing Jared, we required bait. Using Jared's wayward daughter Giselle was out of the question, leaving us with Option B: The Setup.

Jared wanted Giselle. Melcher wanted her finished off. All we had to do is start a rumor that Giselle would appear at a certain place at a certain time. And for that, we needed a venue in which to lure Jared—a trap he couldn't resist.

That's where Henry came in.

A few seconds later, the unsuspecting vampire answered the door dressed in slacks and a polo.

Fane pushed him backward before he had time to react to our arrival.

We were quick, Fane and I, busting inside Henry's home and slamming the door behind us with a
crack
that reverberated across the immaculately clean living room.

Henry barely regained his footing before I took three swift steps across the tiled entry and punched him in the face, relishing the burn across my knuckles on impact.

Henry howled as I shook out my hand.

His face contorted. He started toward me, but Fane stepped in his way.

“Not a good idea, mate.”

I looked Henry up and down, lips curling back. We might need him, but that didn't change the fact that he'd drugged me the night before. He'd accused me of being a vampire hunter and Marcus' killer. Okay, yeah, I was in fact a vampire hunter and I did kill Marcus, but that didn't forgive his methods or the fact that in order to throw him off my trail, Fane had bitten me. It had turned into a minor sex show starring Aurora Sky: College girl by day, paranormal porn star by night. Not a chance!

The jackass was lucky we had use of him and had arrived in time to save his uppity ass. Melcher's orders were for Mason to haul Henry back to base. Good thing we got there first.

Fane leaned into Henry's face. “I'd say you had that one coming. What do you think, Aurora?”

I dropped my chin, zeroing in on Henry's groin—another area just begging to receive bodily harm.

“I think we should make him bite himself, but I suppose I'll have to settle for punching him in the face.”

Henry's non-swollen eye widened in alarm.

“I told you that was business,” he said. “Six months of investigating Marcus' death and I keep hitting dead ends. Richard Stanton is getting impatient. Not to mention all the evidence pointed to you.”

“My red scarf?” I asked incredulously. “You're grasping at straws.” I glanced at Fane. “We need to go.”

He nodded, hand shooting out, grabbing Henry by the arm. Henry tried unsuccessfully to break free from his grasp. It was comical to see his attempt to dip down and pull back. Not much of an effort, as he probably didn't want to wrinkle his fancy shirt.

“Look, I apologized. I won't bother you again.”

“Save your apologies,” Fane said. “There's a vampire hunter on his way to grab you right now. It's time we split.”

Henry stopped struggling. “Marcus' killer?” he asked.

“Your killer if you don't shut up and come with us,” I said.

Good thing Mason hadn't shown his face already. He wasn't as fast as his partner, Levi, who had taken Dante's dog Tommy before Fane or Daren could make it in time. The only thing Noel's suck buddy Daren had managed to do is provide me with a quick blood rush, immediately quashed by the reality check that came with it.

Ten months ago, my life had ended. Jared hadn't just run me off the road, he'd removed me from the human race. Time could not touch me, and neither could sickness or starvation. Eating was optional. All my body required was a fresh supply of human blood. As with mortals, blood provided the undead with key nutrients essential to our survival.

Melcher kept his agents' hearts pumping the scientific way—through transfusions. I could understand why vampires preferred the direct approach. Nothing quite beat the high of drinking it from the source, whether it originated from a vein or a blood bag. As it slid its way down my throat, my senses had become supercharged, my state of mind euphoric.

Melcher could try to control his agents all he wanted, but in the end instinct always prevailed. At what point would he admit what he'd done to us?

Fane grasped Henry by the collar, easy enough given Fane's superior height. I led the way out, casting a quick eye down the road for Mason's Hummer. Once I'd verified that the coast was clear, I charged down the walkway to the Pontiac Catalina idling along the curbside. Noel sat at the driver's seat, waiting.

I held open the back door as Fane shoved Henry inside and climbed in behind him. Once I'd given it a firm slam, I sat beside Noel up front.

“Let's blast,” I said.

“Where are you taking me?” Henry demanded.

No one answered.

It remained quiet until Henry suddenly asked, “Noel? Is that you?”

Without turning her copper highlighted head, Noel answered, “Yep.”

“You're in on this, too,” Henry remarked sullenly.

“Afraid so.”

“What do you want with me?” Henry asked.

A sick sense of satisfaction filled me from the front seat. I liked being in charge—sure as hell beat following orders.

I turned all the way around, resting an arm on the seat back. I didn't have a seat belt on. Why the hell would I? I was undead. Sure, I could get hurt—I could even die—but I had the kind of immune system that rejected sickness and pain. The kind that quickly repaired itself and regenerated with human blood. As Dante once said, we were superhuman.

“It's your lucky day, Henry. We found out who killed Marcus.”

Henry sat up, suddenly all business. “Who? How? I want a name.”

“Jared,” I replied.

Henry's brows knit in confusion. “Jared who?”

“This isn't a knock-knock joke. Just Jared.”

Except I knew better. Jared had a last name. He had a different first name, too. Xavier Morrel.

Henry frowned. “How do you know this?”

“It doesn't matter how I know,” I snapped. “Do you want Marcus' killer or not?”

“What kind of proof do you have?”

Noel glanced at me briefly. Proof, right, like a cross pendant. Jared was far more clever at deception than I.

“Jared's the kind of guy who covers his trail really well,” I said. Truth. “Why do you think you haven't found him yet?”

Henry moistened his lips. “You have my attention.”

“Good. Now listen carefully. You're going to speak with your employer and arrange to host a party at the palace next weekend.”

Henry's eyes nearly left his head—the one good eye, anyway. The one I'd punched had formed a faint blue circle around the rim, like the rings around Saturn.

“We can't have a party at the palace,” Henry said. “Those ended after Marcus died. It would be tasteless. Besides, Mr. Stanton is out of town.”

“Hey, Henry,” I said, snapping my fingers in front of his face. “Do you want to deliver Marcus' killer to Mr. Stanton or not?”

Henry glared at me so hard I could practically read his thoughts. He wanted to lunge for my neck and rip into me. That would be a very big mistake. He thought I was human. Vampire or not, my blood was poisoned. I'd been juiced up with the agency's post paralytic “antidote” before leaving boot camp two and half weeks earlier.

Normally I wouldn't snap in an angry vampire's face, but I was in a shit-ass mood. My partner and best friend had been kidnapped. His dog Tommy had been taken without a trace. Earlier, Melcher and his minions had pushed me around without a shred of sympathy for Dante or Valerie, to say nothing of myself. All that and the realization that I'd been undead all along after I sucked blood from Daren's open wound.

So yeah, it was one of those bite a boy on the neck, punch a vampire in the face kind of days.

Fane cleared his throat. “All we have to do is get him inside the music room. One hour with me and he'll sing.”

I didn't want Jared to sing, talk, or otherwise make a peep. I wanted him bound and gagged, ready to drop off at Giselle's doorstep. But only after she gave me Dante. Until then, Fane said our plan would go a whole lot smoother if Henry trusted us.

I was more in the mood to coerce than sweet talk.

Noel slammed her foot on the brake as the light at the first intersection turned red. I quickly turned and threw my hands forward, catching myself before I hit the dashboard. Henry slammed into the back of our seats. Fane didn't move an inch, like he'd braced himself all along.

I glared at Noel.

“Sorry,” she said sheepishly. “The brakes on this thing are really stiff.”

“That's nothing. Sometimes they don't work at all,” Fane said from the backseat.

“And to think you could be driving a Lamborghini.” Noel sighed and shook her head.

Splendid, one of their private jokes. I'd decided to make peace with Fane sucking Noel's blood at the palace. He'd done it to confirm a suspicion that Noel, and everyone else Melcher recruited, had been infected and turned into vampires. I also knew that Fane had helped Noel out of a jam, the details of which I had yet to uncover. But it still ruffled me to listen to their banter.

Rather than laugh at Noel's Lamborghini joke, Fane addressed Henry.

“We have to lure Jared into the open. In order to do that we need him to come to the palace.”

“And why would he walk into a trap?” Henry asked.

“He'd come if someone fed him information that a certain vampire he's after was attending.”

That's where Noel came in. The three of us—Fane, Noel, and I—had done some fast formulating, which led to a quick grab-and-go at Henry's townhouse. He happened to live only a few blocks away from the palace. What else did Richard Stanton employ him for? The man had reportedly been head over heels for Marcus. But who kept the wealthy gallery owner cold at night with Marcus out of the picture? It wouldn't surprise me if Henry was gay. The only interest I'd ever seen him show in women had to do with the blood pumping through their veins. The first time I met him, I thought he was charming, but appearances could be deceiving.

I'd never forgive the sucker for drugging me at the lodge. If Fane hadn't shown up when he had, it might have been me in the back of Henry's car being transported against my will.

Fortunately, Fane, Noel, and I had joined forces. We now had our in.

Noel's job was to report to Agent Melcher that parties at the palace were starting back up—that and she'd heard a blonde fitting Giselle's description had been seen with Henry. Now we needed to resurrect the parties in truth. Enter Henry.

“You expect me to put a guest's life at risk?” Henry asked.

“She won't actually be there,” I said.

The light turned green. Noel floored the gas pedal, causing the tank to squeal in response. She glanced in the review mirror at Fane.

“It might be time for a tune up,” he said.

“Time for a new car,” Noel muttered under her breath. She had on the same strappy pink and purple checkered dress she'd arrived in earlier after coming home from an all-night party in Girdwood. I had to give Henry credit for recognizing her from behind. I still hadn't adjusted to Noel's preppy new look.

She cranked the wheel through the intersection.

“Where are we going?” Henry asked again.

“Somewhere safe,” Fane said.

“And where's that?”

“You'll see.”

BOOK: Hunting Season (Aurora Sky
3.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Sister Angel by Kate Wilhelm
Moose by Ellen Miles
A Rare Benedictine by Ellis Peters
Table for Two-epub by Jess Dee
Sleepless in Scotland by Karen Hawkins