Redemption (The Penton Vampire Legacy)

BOOK: Redemption (The Penton Vampire Legacy)
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The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Text copyright ©2012 by Susannah Sandlin
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Montlake Romance
P.O. Box 400818
Las Vegas, NV 89140

ISBN-13: 9781612183541
ISBN-10: 1612183549

Dedication

To the people of Chambers County, Alabama, whose beautiful towns and countryside I borrowed for this book.

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

CHAPTER 34

CHAPTER 35

CHAPTER 36

CHAPTER 37

CHAPTER 38

CHAPTER 39

CHAPTER 40

CHAPTER 41

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

November, New York City

M
atthias Ludlam watched the smoke drift toward his study ceiling, fumes from burning photo chemicals stinging his eyes. In an ashtray on the desk, the image of his son William, taken last week, curled into blackened edges as the fire took hold.

Finally, he knew where the boy had gone. Now he had to teach him where he belonged...and to whom.

“Does he know you spotted him?” Matthias rubbed his eyes and focused on the human lounging in the armchair across the desk. Roger Hobb worked for the Vampire Tribunal as a private eye, and his specialty was tracking down vamps whose acts endangered their society. But this wasn’t an official job, and Matthias needed discretion.

“’Course not,” Hobb drawled. “I know my job. It’s why the Tribunal pays me.”

The Tribunal pays you because you’re cheap, expendable, and too stupid to be afraid of your employers.
“Then you won’t have any problem going in with an enforcer and extracting my son. Use any means necessary short of staking him. Bring him to me.”

William wouldn’t like it but after a few months without feeding or women, he’d be forced to fall in line. His son liked his luxuries.

Hobb took a sip of Matthias’s best whiskey, then another. “It, uh...it won’t be that easy, Mr. Ludlam. Sir.”

Matthias finished his own glass and leaned forward, elbows on his desk, his gold signet ring making a loud crack as it hit the wood. “Why not? You said William doesn’t know we’ve found him.” He ticked through Hobb’s body language: tightly set shoulders, shaky hands, sweat beaded on his forehead. The man reeked of fear.
Bloody hell. What now?

Hobb cleared his throat, straightened his spine, and handed Matthias a manila folder from his briefcase. “Helluva lot more going on in Penton than just a place for William to hide. Thought about takin’ it to the Tribunal but figured since your boy was involved...you’d be, uh, grateful, if you know what I mean.”

“If I’m not grateful, you’ll know it.” Written on the tab: Penton, Alabama.
How much could possibly be going on in the middle of bumfuck nowhere?
Sighing, Matthias leaned back in his chair and flipped open the folder.

On top was an eight-by-ten close-up of a man he had no trouble recognizing: handsome, dark haired, icy blue eyes brimming with arrogance. “Aidan Murphy? That’s who Will is with?” He’d heard Murphy had moved from Atlanta and settled somewhere in the sticks. What a total waste of a master vampire—strong-willed and fearless, but rejecting every overture
the Tribunal had made to get him involved in the vampire power structure. Murphy had never been openly defiant, though. “I still don’t see the problem.”

Hobb stood up and held his hands toward the fireplace, where a low flame crackled. New York winters were cold, and this one had gotten off to a brutal start. “Murphy’s got a big scathe, Mr. Ludlam. And every vampire in Penton, near as I can tell, is blood-bonded to him or one of his lieutenants.” He paused. “Including your son.”

Anger, cold and hard, seeped through Matthias’s bones. Bad enough William had rejected his birthright after he’d turned the boy vampire and groomed him for a future of wealth and power. Now he’d bonded himself to a rogue Irish peasant?

Matthias shoved the photo of Murphy aside and froze when he saw the one underneath it. No mistaking this man. His size, scowl, and tattoos were distinctive, even though the photo had been shot from a distance. “Mirren Kincaid has been dead for years—what does he have to do with this?”

“H—he’s alive. The Slayer’s alive, and he’s bonded to Aidan Murphy too. There’s at least twenty-five of them in that scathe, near as I can tell.” Matthias fixed him with a glare, and Hobb talked faster. “They’re isolated in that little town. Everybody who lives there seems to be either a vampire bonded to Murphy or a human bonded to one of his vampires. At least a hundred, all told. Maybe more. I couldn’t get close enough for a count. Had to spread around a lot of money to find out this much.”

Matthias’s mind raced through the ramifications. “Shut up and let me think. Have another whiskey.”

The sounds of a decanter being unstopped, ice clinking in a crystal glass, liquid pouring. The noises were usually comforting, but with this news, nothing would ease the chill that
spread through Matthias as he rose from the desk and stared out the study window at the snowflakes settling on the bare branches and slushy sidewalks illuminated by the streetlights.

The average scathe was four or five vampires strong—and Murphy had bonded more than twenty-five? That wasn’t a scathe; it was an army. With his son and the Tribunal’s most lethal enforcer paying fealty to him, Murphy could be powerful enough to defeat the Tribunal if he wanted to.

And if they had bonded humans with them...

Matthias rubbed his hand over his stomach, flatter now than it had been a year ago when a worldwide pandemic vaccine had resulted in an unexpected change in human blood chemistry. Tens of thousands of humans had died from the virus itself, reducing the vampire food supply. Then came the goddamned vaccine.

The blood of a vaccinated human was lethal to vampires.

Vampires were starving, and they were getting desperate. All of the Tribunal’s attempts to counteract the vaccine’s effects had failed. Even human blood banks were tainted and unreliable. Yet Aidan Murphy had a town full of apparently unvaccinated humans bonded to him so no other vampires could feed from them? Bloody outrageous.

He turned back to Hobb. “You think it’s possible to infiltrate Murphy’s scathe, break it up from within?”

Hobb swallowed so hard that Matthias could hear him across the room. “No, sir. The guy I paid for the info only talked ’cause Murphy wouldn’t let him move to Penton—says he interviews everyone personally and if he don’t want you, you don’t live there. They’re real organized.”

Murphy had friends on the Tribunal, so taking this to the full council wouldn’t yield quick results: technically, he hadn’t broken vampire law. So far.

Matthias returned to his desk, looking again at the photos. An idea came to him, brilliant in its simplicity. “Murphy’s older brother, Owen. He still alive?”

Hobb’s eyebrows bunched. “He’s supposed to be executed next week.”

Matthias smiled. “Get him here. I’m about to make Owen Murphy the offer of a lifetime.”

BOOK: Redemption (The Penton Vampire Legacy)
13.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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