“Fuck no, I didn’t kill that stupid bitch,” I yelled at my identical twin brother Trent, my loud response not really helping my defense, but whatever. I was fucking pissed because he would’ve seen my innocence had he not broken the damn link again. He just didn’t want me watching him screw his girl, which I really wouldn’t mind watching.
“Oh really? Then what happened to her?” He folded his arms over his chest and glared at me, his blue eye meeting mine, green doing just the same. “Last I saw, she was with you.”
“Last you saw, bro, but I left her after that,” I said, crossing my arms, which made us look like either could be standing in front of a mirror. “Try lookin’ with the inner eye, fucker.” I tapped my forehead and adjusted my hand back into the crook of my elbow. “I had to meet someone else, if you must know.”
His brow hit his forehead. “Who?”
I narrowed my eyes. “That’d be none of your damn business if you can’t see it anymore.”
Trent reached up and rubbed his face. “Damn it, Shawn, I’m trying here. I really am, but I need a little cooperation.”
“For what, to save me?” I snapped. “Let’s face it, man, you’re the good little boy and I’m not. It’s always been like that, even when we were kids, before all the vampyre bullshit.”
“Before Cianán turned us,” he mumbled, but I heard him quite clear.
“Yeah, whatever,” I replied. “I’m fucking glad he did, you know.”
Trent nodded slowly because he knew damn well shit was bad right before that happened. The government had trained me to kill, which I became stellar at, and Trent could hack into pretty much any database in the world. It’s why he and Seth, video game designer extraordinaire, got along so well. But after that, right around our twenty-second birthday, shit went downhill fast, and we went through two years of drug- and alcohol-induced hell before Cianán found us. I considered the master vampyre a blessing; Trent felt otherwise, but he didn’t complain about his immortality.
“Why do you think I do what I do, Trent?”
“Because you have no fucking conscience,” he replied. “And I do.”
“That’s right, you do that for me, bro, so I don’t have to deal with it,” I said and slapped a hand on his shoulder. “I do the killin’, you do feelin’ bad.”
Trent sighed heavily. “Just be more careful about who you kill.”
I pulled him close and looked him dead in the eye. “I didn’t kill her, I promise you that.”
We stared at one another for a few seconds, and then he nodded again. “I believe you. You’ve never lied to me.”
And that’s the truth too. I’ve never once lied to my twin. I have no reason to. Don’t think I could get away with it anyway. Trent’s half of me, for fuck’s sake. He may not understand why I think the way I do, but he got all the other shit. Other people, I didn’t give a shit about one way or another. Trent was the only liability in my life, and that boy could take care of himself when he needed to.
Only problem was he looked just like me, so when I did a job I had to be invisible. The vamp shit helped with that immensely.
“Maybe you should take those piercings out and dye your hair,” I suggested.
“Why, you get seen or something?” he asked and grabbed my wrist, twisting my arm back.
“No, I’m just sayin’ it might be better,” I replied, turned my arm and caught his wrist up in my hand. “Knock that shit off. You know I’ll take you down.”
Trent laughed. The fucker. “Alright, so if you didn’t kill her, who in the hell did?”
“Don’t know, big brother, but I’m gonna find out.”
He rolled his eyes because he was only two minutes older. “Let me know if you need any help. I’m sure Seth could find some shit for you or something.”
I’d love to have stayed and chatted with him because I rarely saw him anymore, but I had to find out who possibly killed that girl and made it look like I did it if Trent was questioning me. She’d gone missing that night and I needed to find her. And boy, if she was dead, that fucker was going to pay when I found him.
~ [ ~
I left Trent’s house and headed out into the night. I wasn’t sure where to go, but I figured starting at the last place I saw the girl would be a good spot. I phased into the alley next to Inferno, a club in one of the historic districts in Portland. The scent of sea and pine hit my nose in a rush, and damn did that smell good after I’d left the Bay area where seafood and smog assaulted my nostrils. I fucking hated seafood.
I crouched down where I’d last talked to her and scooped up some gravel, bringing it to my nose to see if her scent still lingered. It did. I had her. Now I just needed to figure out where she went, and possibly who with.
I inhaled deeply to search the other scents, when a unique one hit my nose. “What’s that?” I mumbled and stood up, still holding a few rocks in my hand. Now, I’ve smelled just about every scent known to man, which wasn’t impossible because of my heightened sense of smell, but this one had me perplexed. There was a human-type scent there, but underlying was canine. Someone with a dog, perhaps? Or fuck, it could be a werewolf. I dropped the rocks and scanned the alley. I knew what werewolves smelled like, and this scent was similar, yet somehow different.
There were two different types of werewolves in the world. Of one type, only two existed and lived in Italy. They’re both somewhere around two thousand years old. The girl may be a bit younger, but damn, she was hot in a Scarlett Johansson sort of way. The other type was your typical horror movie wolfman. I’m talkin’ Underworld here, not Lon Chaney. The first type can actually turn into a wolf. It looks like a wolf, acts like a wolf, hunts like a wolf. The second type looks and acts like … well, a wolfman—half human, half wolf.
I sniffed the air again. Apparently, a new type had risen. Fucking great.
Quiet footsteps, those of the sneaking variety, hit my eardrums. I turned toward them and flashed fang, trying hard not to laugh.
“Dude, could you be any louder? I can hear you a mile away,” I said. “No wonder you can never catch me.”
The bald-headed man coming toward me flashed fang right back, except his were false. “I came close that one time.”
“Yeah, and you had to have a hostage or you know we’d have been gone in a snap,” I replied with a snap of my fingers. “Of course, Trent would’ve killed you if you’d hurt her.” I took a few steps toward him. Showing this slayer any remote sense of fear was a bad idea. Not that I was afraid of him or anything, but the guy had a nasty rep. “S’up Fang? Why’re you here?”
“Why do you think?” he said, scoping the alley while reaching into his long black leather trench.
Just in case he was pulling a weapon, I readied myself to phase the fuck out of there. Instead, he pulled out a pack of smokes, hit the end until one popped up, and raised the pack to his mouth, taking one between his teeth. Then he stuffed the pack back into his inner pocket and pulled out his trusty Zippo. The flame sparked to life and he moved it to the end of his cigarette.
“You huntin’ me tonight?” I asked, wanting a damn smoke myself, so I reached into my leather jacket pocket, searching for my own.
Fang shook his head in two shakes, and then gave me a chin up. “I hear a girl’s gone missing.”
I snorted before lighting my smoke. “Yeah, and I suppose you think I did it, right?” I said around the end of the cigarette and removed it from my mouth, a puff of white following it. “I have an alibi.”
He smirked. “Oh yeah? What’s her name?”
“Oh no, we’re not going there,” I said with a shake of my head. “You’ll go after the person, and I can’t allow that.”
Fang’s teeth gleamed in the moonlight, along with his bald head. “Must be special to you.”
I’d have replied with “not just to me,” but that would’ve given away something the entire race would hunt me down for and take my head off over.
He got within a few feet of me and stopped. He knew better than to get any closer. We both did. “So, you got any idea what the fuck happened that night?”
“Yeah, I talked to the girl right here in the alley,” I said, pointing to the ground. “Then I left to meet someone else. End of story.”
“What’re you doing here now then?” he asked and took a long drag from his cigarette.
“Trying to find out what happened because whoever the fuck did it is making it look like I did it, and I’m so not cool with that.”
He nodded. “Yeah, didn’t think you would be. What’ve you found so far?”
I studied him a second because it wasn’t like Fang to help a vampyre. “I got a scent,” I said and told him about it. “You got anything?”
His lips drew into a thin line. “Just people saying they saw her last with you.”
“Dude, if I’d killed her, it just would’ve been out of annoyance, and I don’t kill for stupid shit like that,” I replied, waving my hand in the air to show my irritation. “I can’t run around killing people at random. It’s not good for business. What the fuck do you think I am, a serial killer?”
A burst of laughter exploded from his mouth. “Fuck, man. That’s the funniest damn thing I’ve ever heard you say.”
“That’s great,” I said. “Can I go about my business now searching for this fucker, or do you wanna help?”
A hand and finger popped up. “Actually, I may have something else for you. One of her friends said she saw a guy leering at her in the club. Kind of freaked her out. In fact, she thinks she saw him before that night following them.”
Color me surprised. “You got a description?”
He grinned like a mother fucker. “I got better—a name. Bouncer recognized him from the door; remembered the name.”
I waited for him to tell me, but the ass took his sweet time. “Well, what the fuck is it?”
“Oh no,” he replied, shaking his damn head.
My hand came up and drew a circle next to my head. “You get a rattling sound in there when you do that?”
His eyes narrowed. “Oh, look at Mr. Funny Fucking Vamp. You want the name or not?”
I snorted, held up a hand, then stood straight and calmed my face. “Continue.”
His face was dark, hidden within the shadows of the night and buildings. “You don’t get it that easily, vampyre. I want something in return.” If he’d been a vamp, those eyes would’ve been glowing with that fucking challenge. Bastard.
“Like fucking what?” A gleam hit his eyes. “Oh fuck no! I’m not giving you a vampyre name to hunt and kill.”
He shrugged and started to turn away. “Guess you don’t want to clear your name then.”
I leapt forward and grabbed his arm. “You will fucking tell me that name!”
He growled as his eyes flicked from my hand on his arm to my face. “You know better, vampyre. If you want the name, I get a name. That’s how it fucking works, or you can search all night long.” He yanked his arm from my grip and squared his shoulders as he turned to face me. “If it’s not a vampyre who did it, I don’t give a fuck.”
I took a step back and tilted my head. “Oh, that’s right, you don’t hunt werewolves, or anything else outside of vamps.” I leaned forward, pointing a finger at him. “I suggest you start, Fang, because this is unlike anything I’ve ever scented before.”
He glared at me. “How different?”
I stood up straight. “I won’t fucking know until I see it, but the scent is off. It’s not normal. You catch my drift, slayer?”
“How? A werewolf is a werewolf.”
I raised a brow. “Oh, that’s right, you don’t know about the immortals.” I chuckled. “Look, I don’t have time to give you a history lesson on werewolves, but this fucker is neither of what I know.”
I took a mental snapshot of the surprised look on his face. “There are immortal werewolves? Fuck, next you’ll be telling me the Fae are fucking real too.”
I had to contemplate that thought before opening my damn mouth. “Well, in a way, they are, but that’s irrelevant right now.” I flicked my cigarette to the side and ran a hand through my long black hair. “Shit, okay, you need a name. Let me think.” Whom did I hate that I could give away so freely? Hell, he’d already tried to run his sword through Grant, and that didn’t work. Besides, Kylie would kill me, and I didn’t want her pissed. She was much stronger than I was, even though we were the same age. It’s because she was a different kind of vampyre. Yeah, there’s two different kinds of vamps too. She and Grant didn’t feed on blood like Trent and me. They took a part of your soul; they called it the life force.
Fang rolled his eyes. “This is gonna take all night at this pace.”
“Fuck off, I’m thinking,” I replied. “I can’t just give anyone to you. Not that I even care to give you anyone.” I held up a hand. “Oh wait, I’ve got one. Matty, that mother fucker. I hate him.”
Fang laughed. “Okay, that works. You got a last name to go with the first?”
“Yeah, it’s Johnson.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? Do you have any idea how many Matt Johnsons there are out there? You need to give me more.”
“He’s in fucking Kansas, last I heard, asswipe.” I raised my hand and did a Neo to him. In other words, I beckoned the info forward with my hand. “Now give me the name.”
Fang nodded, gave me the name I needed, and smiled. “Catch ya around, vampyre.” I didn’t like the gleam hitting his eyes.
“Yeah, whatever, slayer,” I said and turned to vanish before he could pull out a stake. That shit didn’t kill me, but it damn sure hurt and paralyzed me, giving a slayer ample time to remove my head. Not fucking cool and I kind of liked my head attached. As I turned to phase, I felt a prick of pain hit my side.
Mother fucker. That was payment for grabbing his arm.
~ [ ~
I phased to my safe house in Portland (I have one in a few select cities throughout the world), and before I powered up my laptop to search this guy out, I had to pull a fucking small dagger out from beneath my ribcage. I winced, pushed my fingers against the area to determine the damage within, and discovered my spleen had been punctured, but I could feel myself already healing so it didn’t really matter. My laptop beeped and I looked up at the screen as I tossed the dagger onto the desk. Seeing that Trent was online, I wiped my hands on my t-shirt and entered chat with him, asking to run through his files. Trent had a database filled with every preternatural creature in existence. Maybe I could find this guy, maybe not, but it was worth a shot. I mean, I only needed to stick to the canine familiars anyway.
You got any info on a new type of werewolf? I typed.
New type? There are only two types, man. Vincent and Lyssa, and then all the others.
My brow arched and I reached for my smokes. After the flame lit the end of a cigarette, my fingers tapped away at the keyboard. I picked up a scent that’s different from theirs, yet there’s still a canine quality to it. Ever hear of anything like that? If it’s not a werewolf, I wanna know what the fuck it is.
The screen remained blank for a bit before I could see he was typing something. I’ll see what I can find.
Cool, I’m gonna search this name Fang gave me.
What name? You saw Fang? WTF?
I blew out a breath with the cigarette between my teeth, which sent a couple of embers floating over my keyboard. Dude, it’s all good. He was cool. The name he gave sounded weird. I’ll type it into your database, but the spelling might be wrong.
Jesus fuck … alright, hurry up.
A grin spread across my face as I typed away. Ya know, if you’d just open the damn link again, all this shit wouldn’t be necessary.
I laughed aloud, removed the cigarette from between my lips, and sat it in the ashtray next to my laptop. Someday he’d open that link again. I just had to wait for the right moment. It’s not like he couldn’t hear me if I screamed his name when in trouble. He’d hear it. He just wouldn’t see anything unless I was about to die. Hell if that was going to happen anytime soon. I typed the fucked up spelling of the name Fang gave me into the database and hit enter. The search began. Then I sat back, pulled off my black t-shirt, looked at my quick-healing wound, and picked up the cigarette, leaving it between my lips while I rested my hands on the back of my head and kicked my boots up on the desk.
About fifteen minutes went by when my search ended … with zero results. Go fucking figure. Damn thing didn’t even offer me an alternate spelling. “Damn it.” I moved my black Roy Rogers’ back to the floor and leaned forward, typing to Trent.
Zilch. Maybe I spelled it wrong. Here, you try …
Less than thirty fucking seconds later and the fucker pops into chat with name, address, birthdate and the goddamn social security number for this guy. Sometimes, I really hated my twin. I won’t even ask him how he did that so fast because it’d just make me look bad.
Ass … Thanks. Later.
ROFL. You’re welcome. I’ll keep researching that other shit.
I closed out the chat window after memorizing the info, and then shut down my laptop and headed for the shower. Since my wound had healed, I needed to wash off the blood. I rinsed off quick and stepped out of the shower right as my cell phone rang.
“Yo.” At the sound of her sweet voice, my lips turned up into a smile, and my fangs elongated at the memory of tasting her blood only hours earlier. My tongue slid over my teeth. “Oh, hey baby. Yeah, I’ll stop by later tonight if I can. I’ve got some shit to take care of first. Not to worry, babe, I’ll be careful as always. See ya soon.”
One of the things I loved about that woman was that she knew me, knew what I did, and never once questioned it or held me accountable for it. That, and she turned me on like no other female had. I also liked the fact that she took me as I am, no strings, no typical female bullshit. She was a helluva lot like me. Perfect fucking match. If I wasn’t careful, I’d end up spouting the L-word to her, and that just couldn’t fucking happen. Last girl I told that to ended up dead because of me.
I dried off, got dressed, and searched through my arsenal to decide on which weapons I’d take with me to hunt this guy down now that I knew where he was. I strapped on my shoulder holster, checked the ammo on my Kimber 1911 and placed it in the holster. Next, I strapped a knife to my leg under the black jeans, silver blade because if I remembered correctly, werewolves were allergic to the shit and I wasn’t taking any chances in case he was a werewolf. Then I attached a few extra clips to my belt, a blade to my arm, and finally slipped my leather biker jacket on before stepping out to the balcony.
The chilled wind swept through my wet hair as I closed my eyes, envisioning the formation of wings on my back. Pain struck as they took form, slowly materializing, pushing their way out of my body yet not tearing my clothes. It was some sort of molecular shit I didn’t know much about and didn’t really fucking care, to be honest. I rarely used this form of travel, but I had to if I wanted to locate this guy. I could only phase to places I knew and had already been, and even that was touch and go, depending on whether it was a public place or not.
My wings lifted me into the night, and I was off in search of a possible new preternatural creature who might also be a killer. Not that most preternatural creatures weren’t killers, but whatever. What some of the Fae do to their victims … Creepy shit, man. Whether this guy intended to frame me for the girl’s disappearance or not, he was on my shit list of the paranormal that existed in the clandestine recesses of this world … and I was going to make his ass extinct.
~ [ ~
I found myself outside his house, hiding in the shadows with an unmarked patrol car nearby. Apparently, the human cops got the same info I did. I sniffed the air surrounding the building to discover that odd scent I’d found in the alley. Now that I was closer to the suspect, I realized he wasn’t a dog owner and definitely more along the preternatural lines. The scent normally associated with dogs wasn’t present—dander, feces, that nasty wet dog smell one would expect in such a misty climate. I sniffed again. Nope. In fact, this guy didn’t have any pets.
I peered through a window on the side of the house after movement caught my eye. Darker skin, long black hair pulled back in a braid, some sort of weird tribal tattoos I’d never seen before. He walked through the kitchen with what looked like a sewing kit and opened a door. A light came on, hitting the windows at the base of the house. Since I could see my destination, I immediately vanished from my shadows to the basement in order to find a place to hide before he came down.
The moment I materialized, the stench of blood threatened to take me to my knees, and I bit the inside of my lip to distract the hunger. What was worse, the blood belonged to the girl. I smelled that sweet nectar coursing through her veins beneath petal soft flesh a few nights before. My fangs wanted so badly to penetrate her skin, and I would have if it hadn’t been for her annoying nature. She’d followed me out of the club and into the alley—my final destination before phasing out of there. I’d left her standing in the alley with a pathetic pout on her face. Obviously, wolfman here picked up where I left off.
My eyes scanned the room and fell upon a once bloodied table now cleaned with ammonia because I could smell both, a tray full of various instruments that only belonged in a butcher shop or something, and then I saw the small alcove and immediately phased to it as he came down the stairs. Bad idea. That’s where the freezer was. That’s also where the scent of blood was strongest. Part of me wanted to open the freezer just to clarify the assumptions running rampant through my mind. The other part of me—if I’d been human and had a conscience—would’ve thrown up at the mere thought. Well, I’m not human anymore, and I’ve never had a conscience, so my hand went to the freezer door to lift that shit open.
I stopped myself when I heard his weight shift and heading in my direction. Fuck. My body swirled up in a shift of molecules, transforming to a fine mist and rising to the ceiling, where I waited and watched as he entered the alcove and opened the small cabinet next to the freezer. He removed a brown leather satchel, closed it again, and headed back to the table where he’d left his kit. I solidified once more next to the freezer and peered around the corner as he opened the satchel and dumped its contents onto the table. My brow arched as I watched tiny fragments of white scatter and clink against the flat metal surface. As he began drilling holes in each piece with his Dremel, I caught a faint scent of the dust drifting into the air. Bones. More importantly, I now knew the girl who’d followed me out of the club three nights ago was dead.
~ [ ~
There was always a moment in time when everything around you wasn’t quite as it seemed. I watched this guy drill holes into tiny fragments of bone—finger bones, by the way—and then thread a string through them to make a necklace. Who did that kind of shit? It reminded me of my time growing up in New Orleans with all the Voodoo shit. He put the necklace on and reached for more bones and a long hollow stick, then began filing some of the bone tips to points. I’d planned on stepping out of the alcove, but decided I needed to watch this shit a bit longer. Study your enemy closely so you know what you’re dealing with, right? Exactly. The blow dart contraption was a weapon I hadn’t seen in a long time. It’s rarely used anymore and really not that effective unless you’re practically on top of the person and damn good with it, and mostly you see it used in indigenous societies, not here in American civilization. But here this guy sat working on his little bone darts with the bamboo or whatever gun sitting in front of him on the table. Where the fuck was Trent when I needed him? This wasn’t Voodoo shit.
Ho’kee—that’s his name—pulled a small baggie from his jeans pocket, walked over to a shelf and picked up a pottery shard, then walked back to the table and sat on the stool once more. He carefully pulled a lock of blonde hair out of the baggie, and then proceeded to wrap it around the shard.
I made every attempt to force Trent into seeing this by screaming at him through the mind link that we still shared. Finally, he responded.
Dude, what the hell? I’m in the middle of something.
I don’t give a fuck. Are you seeing this shit? Because you really need to, bro.
Hang on … I waited with my usual impatience until he came back with some info. Of course, he still wasn’t seeing what I saw before me, which pissed me the hell off. Okay, his name is Navajo. It means, “abandoned.”
And this is relevant why?
My vision shifted abruptly and I could feel Trent inside my head as my own vision was thrown, it seemed, to the back of my head and I was looking down a tunnel. Because he’s a fucking skinwalker, you jackass. See that shit on the table? That’s how he “charms” his victims before he kills them.
“Mother fucker,” came out in a soft whisper.
Ho’kee turned toward the alcove, spotted me with his iridescent eyes, and leapt off the stool. Literally. Mid-air, he changed. Not like a werewolf or wolfman. One second he was a man, the next he was a wolf flying through the air at me and his jeans were hitting the floor in a muffled thud. I phased to the other side of the basement as he slammed into the far wall.
Oh shit, Trent’s voice said inside my head. He’s gonna be a bitch to kill. I’ll look it up quick. Keep him distracted.
Distracted? Fuck. I stared down the snarling wolf in the alcove. “C’mon pup, wanna play?” I reached for my Kimber 1911, and before I got to it, Trent was telling me a bullet wouldn’t stop this fucker unless dipped in white ash. “Fine,” I said as I removed my hand and brought it to my side. The foot-long blade on my arm shot out and I caught its hilt in my hand and waved it back and forth in front of me. Ho’kee the wolf growled, his blank eyes following the shining silver in my hand, feet padding softly on the concrete forward and back, back and forth. Hurry the fuck up, whatever you’re doing!
Ho’kee left the alcove, slowly heading for the table’s opposite side. His upper lip curled to show me large white fangs.
“I’ve got those too, fucker,” I said and bared my own fangs.
Whoa, did you see his eyes? I didn’t think that part was true. They’re totally opposite of the normal, reflecting when in human form and not when in ani—
I growled at my twin and the wolf simultaneously. Shut the fuck up and tell me how to kill him!
Trent went silent as my vision returned to normal while I faced off with the skinwalker. I didn’t have time to wait for him. The wolf launched itself onto the metal table, claws screeching in that nails-down-the-chalkboard sound, wreaking havoc on my sensitive ears. He was awful damn close and not fearful of my blade.
Hey, are these assholes immortal?
As far as I can tell, no. Silence again as Ho’kee started his crouch. I jumped forward and sliced through his fur on the left shoulder blade. He nearly lost his footing on the table as he yelped, but he quickly regained balance and lunged for me, taking me to the ground. My blade tumbled across the floor as my left hand held those fierce jowls away from my face by the throat. I kicked a leg up, catching him in the side with my knee, and rolled him off me and onto his back. Once I had him held down, I raised a fist and introduced it to his face a few times. He snapped at my hand, catching my wrist until I punched him with my left fist. His legs kicked and feet clawed at me in an attempt to push me off, but I wasn’t going anywhere.
“What’d you do with the girl, you sick fuck? Did you eat her?” I punched him in the side of the head again. “Is that necklace you made a fucking trophy or something?”
Ho’kee snarled and snapped at me before his face started changing again. Before I knew it, Ho’kee the man lay beneath me. “What would you know of it, vampyre? You do not know my people or my nature. You have help from elsewhere coming to you.”
“Why her?” I demanded, ignoring the latter part of that statement, my fingers tightening around his throat, his doing the same around mine. “I don’t need air, fucker.”
“Why not her?” he choked out. “You would have killed her had she not annoyed the hell out of you.”
“That’s not the fucking point! Everyone thinks I did it.”
Ho’kee let out a strangled laugh. “Of course. You don’t wish to honor her with revenge. You merely wish to reclaim your innocence.”
I growled at him. “You’ve no idea how far from innocence I am, Ho’kee.” I leaned in closer to his human face. “But just for shits and giggles, yeah, I’ll take the revenge because I didn’t plan to kill her either way.” My fangs jutted down and in a swift move, I had his jugular in my mouth, pointed tips piercing the flesh, allowing his blood to flow over my tongue as I sucked. Sucking was a sure way to kill him.
Of course, my twin had perfect fucking timing. All right Shawn, here’s what you need … WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? Don’t drink his blood! Shit!
I lurched away from Ho’kee and dropped him to the floor. What, why not? I got a mental image of Trent with his face in his hands, shaking his head. Meanwhile, Ho’kee made a weak attempt at rolling to the side, but failed miserably.
Oh Jesus. Oh shit. Trent said, and then repeated it. Is he dead yet?
No, you stopped me before I finished. I pulled the knife from my leg. But I’ll take care of that right now. I slid forward, grabbed him by the hair, and yanked him back to me, pulling him up so I could lay my blade across his throat. “I’m just gonna pretend you’re a vamp. Decapitation usually works on everything.”
Ho’kee yelled, but it quickly turned into a gurgle as my silver blade sliced through his flesh and vocal chords. That didn’t stop the initial sound from escaping the house.
Get to her NOW! Trent screamed.
I tossed Ho’kee aside, snatched up my other blade, and phased the fuck out of there before the cops broke down the door.
~ [ ~
I landed in her living room, as usual. She used to yell at me for that. Nico came running to my side as soon as she saw me and helped me up, though I wasn’t really hurt that bad. Normally, I wouldn’t come to her for something so minor, but I’d told her earlier I’d stop by tonight. Plus, there was Trent and whatever the hell he was worried about.
“What the hell happened?” she asked, grabbing my arm and pushing the sleeve up to look at the wound on my wrist. I figured the blood dripping down my hand gave it away. I was going to have to have her carpet cleaned again.
“Hey babe,” I said and reached for her hand. “It’s just an animal bite. Not that bad, really.”
“What bit you?” She sniffed the air. “You smell like a dog.”
“Funny you should say that, it was canine.”
Her chocolate eyes searched my face for the typical lies I’d tell her because she knew I wouldn’t show weakness, even in front of her. “Was it a werewolf?”
“No, a skinwalker.”
She gasped, placing a hand over her mouth, and then she pulled me back into her “operating” room. “I didn’t think there were any of those left.”
Nico had one hell of a set up in her house. She was the vamp healer, and the only one of her kind, so she’d get visitors from all over the world. The rest had to knock on the door, or they’d find themselves with a sword at their neck. Yeah, a beautiful vamp healing witch who knew how to use a sword. Just thinking about it turned me on. I’d stumbled across her a few years back by way of an associate of mine when I’d been hurt real bad with some new-fangled shit one of the slayer factions created. Fucks a vamp’s system up something awful, and didn’t allow us to heal the way God—I mean, the way we’d normally heal. Nico said it was some mineral or something she’d had yet to identify, but she’s a smart girl, so I didn’t think it’d take much longer for her to figure out. The brains in that gorgeous little body upped the turn-on factor. I rarely met a woman who was smart and hot … and put up with my shit.
“Up on the table,” she said and patted the cushion, the paper crackling beneath her hand.
I shrugged out of my leather jacket, dropped it in the chair, and hopped up on the table. “So, you’ve heard of skinwalkers before?”
Her fine brow arched. “It’s a Navajo legend, Shawn, and I live in Arizona. How would I not hear about them?”
The grin hit my face at full volume upon hearing the sarcasm in her beautiful voice. God, I loved this woman, but I’d never tell her. She knew it too, and used it quite often against me. The grin remained even as she started cleaning my wrist. Pain didn’t bother me so much. I had a high tolerance for the shit.
“It’s healing quickly,” she said after tossing a couple of blood-soaked gauze pads in the trash. “Makes me wonder why you’re even here.” Her eyes flicked up for half a second before returning to my wrist.
“Told you I’d see you tonight,” I replied. “Can’t break a promise, can I?”
Her full lips turned up at the corners as she wiped the last of the blood off and inspected the bite. It was closing slowly, but it’d be okay soon. “You need blood?”
I shook my head before realizing she probably couldn’t see that. “No, I’m good. Made a nice meal out of him.”
She froze, looked up at me, and stared into my eyes. “Shawn, you didn’t.”
“What? Trent freaked out too,” I said. “What’s the problem? Is it gonna kill me? I feel fine.”
Nico broke away from me and tapped at the keys on her laptop. “Shit, Shawn, I’ve heard stories. I mean, I’ll look it up, but … Oh God.”
I hopped off the table, walked up behind her, and placed my hand on her shoulder. “What’d you hear, Nico? Is something gonna happen to me?”
As the computer began its search of whatever she’d typed into it, Nico swung her chair around to face me and pulled me down to her until I knelt on the floor. Her hands brushed across my cheeks and held my face still as she stared into my eyes.
“Shawn, if you drank his blood, you—” she swallowed and pulled me closer “—you may have taken on his power.”
My brow went up. “What do you mean?”
She blew out a breath and rested her forehead against mine. “Please understand when I tell you that skinwalkers are not good people, Shawn. They’re evil. One of the worst kinds of evil. In order to obtain the powers of a skinwalker, one must kill an immediate family member.”
Personally, I didn’t think anything could be much more evil than what I saw in Hell not so long ago. “So, you think I’m gonna kill Trent or something?”
“No, but no one has ever drank the blood of a skinwalker before, so I don’t know what it’s going to do to you, and I certainly wouldn’t know how to heal that.”
I brushed her long brown hair back, tucking it behind one ear. “Let’s not worry about that right now, Nico. I feel fine, really. Tasted just like any other human.”
“You sure?” Her eyes held a worry I’d never seen, and that made part of me uneasy.
I nodded. “I’m fine.” My face held steady, eyes staring into hers, breathing normal for the most part—sometimes I forgot to breathe. I wasn’t going to tell her about the itch in the center of my chest—inside—that had me wanting to jump out of my skin and run through the forest in pursuit of a doe. Mind you, the forest is an hour and a half from Nico’s house, but I could phase there in a matter of seconds.
Cianán would be proud. I gained a new power all on my own. I’d just have to hope that the evil shit didn’t come with it. I’m fucking dark enough as it is.