Good, the Bad, and the VampireBy: Sara Humphreys
“Because I can glamour a human, okay? I can’t sleep with him once or twice and move on. He’s a vampire, and you know we can’t glamour another vamp. The human dudes never remember me or what happened. There’s simply pleasure for everyone. No muss, no fuss, and nobody gets hurt. That is the only kind of sex I’m interested in.”
“I think you’re shortchanging yourself…and him.” Maya tucked her long blond hair behind her ear before fiddling with the ends of the platinum strands. “Maybe he only wants to have fun too. Aren’t you being kind of presumptuous to think he’d automatically want a relationship?”
“Maya, Dakota is a sentry, okay? The guy isn’t going anywhere. He will be patrolling this city for at least the next fifty years, and since I have no intention of leaving, there is no point in risking an awkward situation for a few nights of hot sex.”
And Trixie had no doubt it would be hot.
“Whatever,” Maya said flippantly. “But I still think you’re full of it.”
Before Trixie could respond, her sister spun around and opened the door to the apartment.
“Let’s get the party started.” Maya clapped her hands excitedly. “Game on!”
Dakota captured Trixie’s gaze the moment she stepped into the room and her stomach fluttered. Damn it all. He winked and that cocky grin slid across his face.
“Oh, it’s on,” Trixie murmured. “It’s on like Donkey Kong.”
And she sure as hell wasn’t talking about the party.
It had been decades since Dakota had attended a birthday party—and never for a vampire-human hybrid toddler. The entire event only confirmed his feelings about New York City.
This place was crazy.
Give him the wild plains and wide-open spaces of Texas any day of the week. Before he’d been stationed here a couple of years ago, everyone he met raved to him about the Big Apple. Dakota hadn’t felt at home since he’d arrived, and the vampire-human toddler didn’t exactly put him at ease.
Vampires having a baby? Now that was some crazy shit—but crazy or not, that didn’t make it any less real. These city slickers weren’t exactly run-of-the-mill vampires.
Emily, the tiny guest of honor, sat at the head of the shiny black dining table in a white high chair. She clapped with glee as Maya brought out the small pink-and-white birthday cake. There was a roomful of people, but Emily was the only one there who could actually eat the cake.
Maya placed it on the table in front of the child as the rest of the coven members broke into a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday.” Even Shane Quesada, Dakota’s fellow sentry and one of the most badass soldiers Dakota had ever met, was singing along. He stood behind his bloodmate, Maya, with something that looked like a smile on his face. The guy rarely smiled, and when he caught Dakota’s eye, his grin faltered briefly before he again stared adoringly at the curly-haired toddler.
Dakota studied the scene intently but stayed out of the way, leaning against the living room wall. They had all welcomed him. Hell, they were friendly enough. But he still wasn’t one of them. Not really.
He’d watched most of his human family grow old and die. That had been difficult enough. But when Dakota lost his maker early on, he had learned the true meaning of grief. It wasn’t something he ever wanted to experience again.
He liked to keep moving and, in that respect, being a sentry was a perfect fit. That, and there was nothing he loved quite as much as a good fight, the smell of blood in the air, and the freedom to put down the bad guys.
Yup. It was the perfect job for him.
Although hanging around this city-slicker coven of vampires could confuse a man. The more time he spent with them, the more he wanted to be a part of their family. They were a really weird family but a family all the same. Dakota stilled as Olivia hugged her little girl, and when she kissed Emily’s rosy round cheek, a deep empty ache welled in his chest.
Damn it all.
The sudden and surprising swell of emotion swamped him, and he quickly pulled another cinnamon lollipop out of the pocket of his long leather sentry coat. Dakota rolled the stick between his fingers before unwrapping it and popping it into his mouth. The spicy sweet taste of the candy was a little like blood, but that’s not why he liked it. Sucking on that damn lollipop was the one remnant he held on to from his previous life.
It let him recall how it felt to be human.
The czars sat on either side of their daughter, and Olivia’s secretary, Suzie, was snapping pictures of the festivities with her phone. Damien, a hulking brute of a vampire, hovered behind Suzie like he usually did and waved at Emily as he sang along.
Most little ones would be frightened by a guy like Damien, but not Emily. She beamed at him with pure adoration. Besides, Dakota thought with a wry grin, the dude was wearing one of those pointy party hats and looked about as harmful as a teddy bear.
Dakota would be damned if he was going to put on a pink party hat. A cowboy hat, that he’d wear, but a pointy paper cone with sparkly ballerinas on it was not going on his head. No, sir.