Good, the Bad, and the Vampire

By: Sara Humphreys

Chapter 1


Hidden within the lush branches of the towering tree, Trixie crouched low to avoid hitting her head on a dangling clump of pinecones. This had been her usual spot ever since Chelsea moved in a year ago, but those freaking pinecones always got tangled in her hair. Uncomfortable as it was, this location gave her a clear view into the kitchen and family room of the tiny house. The thick scent of the pine needles filled Trixie’s nose as she sat motionless amid the branches, unnoticed by the human woman inside the little white clapboard cottage.

Trixie’s throat tightened with emotion. With her enhanced hearing, she picked up Chelsea’s tuneless hum as she washed dishes in the small sink. She seemed content and peaceful. A combination of pride and sadness swirled inside Trixie—but not regret. That was one emotion she never allowed herself to entertain. Everyone made hard choices; living with the consequences of some choices was harder than making them.

She shouldn’t be here. But she couldn’t manage to stay away either. Not for long, anyway. Trixie could go maybe two or three months without checking on the girl, but then the nagging pull of worry would drag her back.

Was Chelsea safe? Was she happy?

Those were the only two questions that Trixie ever wanted answered. Based on the satisfied, wistful smile on Chelsea’s sweet face, the answer to both right now was a resounding yes.

Trixie adjusted her position on the thick branch, the treads of her combat boots digging into the rough bark. It hadn’t always been that way. There had been difficult times. Times when Trixie hadn’t been able to stop herself from intervening. She had only wanted to give Chelsea a gift—an anonymous gift—but when Olivia found out about it, she was freaking furious. The vampire community did not look fondly on meddling in human lives. But that didn’t matter to Trixie.

All that mattered was making sure that Chelsea was okay.

The alarm on Trixie’s cell phone vibrated in the pocket of her jeans. She swore under her breath and pulled it out before quickly shutting it off. The club would be opening soon, and she had to go back to get the bar stocked and ready. She glanced at Chelsea one last time before shooting into the night sky. Maybe tomorrow after the party she would come back for another quick visit.

As long as no one found out, what could it hurt?

* * *

Trixie couldn’t remember the last time she went to a little girl’s birthday party but it certainly wasn’t since becoming a vampire.

Olivia and Doug might be two of the world’s most powerful vampires, but they had also become the first vampire parents in recorded history. Today was their daughter Emily’s second birthday and they were throwing her a big old party, complete with birthday cake and balloons.

Trixie had gone back and forth all day about whether or not to attend.

Being around little Emily was bittersweet on a regular day, and the birthday celebration would only heighten Trixie’s struggle. But choosing not to go would have been selfish. Trixie’s personal drama wasn’t Emily’s fault, and she didn’t want to disappoint the adorable redheaded cherub. Not only that, but Emily was Olivia’s daughter, and since Olivia was Trixie’s maker, that made her family.

Not showing up would have been rotten.

Olivia would have understood if Trixie bailed out; she knew her better than anyone else. But Olivia’s bloodmate, Doug, wouldn’t understand her absence from such a celebrated event. Neither would the other members of the coven.

Nope. Trixie decided to do what she always did. She’d put on a smile, make a wiseass comment or two, and act like nothing and nobody bothered her.

A familiar voice pulled her from her thoughts as she strode down the stone hallways of the Presidium’s underground facility, buried deep beneath Fort Tryon Park and The Cloisters in New York City.

“Well, smack my ass and call me Sally.”

The deep Texas drawl echoed around her, stopping Trixie dead in her tracks. A shiver of lust whispered beneath her skin as it usually did when he was nearby, but she swiftly shoved it aside.

“Okay, Sally.” Trixie rolled her shoulder and fought the buzz of attraction. “But you can smack your own ass.”

“What’s the matter, darlin’?” Soaked with that twang, the rumbling baritone of his voice drifted over her shoulder, but she didn’t spare him a glance. Trixie continued toward Olivia and Doug’s apartment door, forcing herself to put one foot in front of the other. “Don’t I even get a hello?”

“Hello, Dakota,” she said with a roll of her eyes.

Coming to this little gathering for Emily was difficult enough, and his arrival only ratcheted her anxiety up a notch. Damn it. Why wasn’t he out on patrol? Over the past few months, the cocky and admittedly gorgeous sentry had become more and more present in her little corner of the universe.

Trixie fiddled with the box in her hands, the one she’d wrapped carefully with the pink-and-white skull-and-crossbones paper. She didn’t even bother to put a card with it. Everyone would know who’d brought it. She was the only coven member with bright pink hair and a penchant for skulls and crossbones, after all.

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