Good, the Bad, and the VampireBy: Sara Humphreys
“So it’s not just me?” Dakota ran one hand over his head and let out a sigh. “I’ve been a vamp for fifty years and I ain’t never seen another coven like theirs. I feel like that random friend of the family that Grandma invited over for Christmas dinner, you know? I’m the guest who never left.”
“Yes.” Shane nodded and his mouth set in a firm line. “They’re all so close that it can be a difficult group to break into. Olivia and the others welcomed me, but like you, my instinct was to keep them all at a distance. It had been so many years since I’d had any kind of family that I had all but forgotten how to be a part of one.”
“What about Maya?” Dakota folded his arms over his chest and stared again out over the glittering water of the Hudson River. He didn’t want to give Shane any clue about his feelings for Trixie, especially when he wasn’t sure about them himself. “I mean, she’s your bloodmate, right? Didn’t you want to, well, not keep her at a distance?”
“On the contrary”—Shane let out something that almost sounded like a laugh—“I stayed away from her as much as possible, but before long I found it…I found her…inescapable. I did not want to be drawn to her, and I can assure you that the all-consuming urge to be near her was quite unsettling. I’d existed on this earth for almost four centuries, knowing exactly who I was and what my purpose was. And then I came here to this city and this coven…to Maya.”
A gust of wind blew over them and with it came Trixie’s whiskey-tinged scent. A surge of anxiety rushed through Dakota because the scent was growing weaker, and if he didn’t get a move on, he could lose it all together.
“Not to be rude, Quesada, but is there a point anywhere in this little speech?” He pulled his leather gloves out of his coat pockets and tugged them on. “Trixie’s got a decent head start and I’ll never live it down if I lose her trail.”
“Yes.” Shane turned to him and slapped him on the arm. “The point is, don’t allow yourself to be a stubborn fool. Life, even for a vampire, can be full of surprises. And change is inevitable for all creatures.”
“Alright,” Dakota said slowly. “Thanks for the pep talk, gramps.”
“Anytime.” Shane hopped off the wall and strode toward the entrance to The Cloisters. “And one more thing, Shelton.”
“You can’t fight fate.”
As Shane disappeared through the doors, Dakota could swear that the son of a gun was laughing.
Trixie knew she was coming around too often, but she couldn’t help herself. Perched in her favorite spot among the treetops, she picked up the shrill chirp of a cell phone as it filled the air for a moment or two before Chelsea answered it. A smile bloomed on the woman’s face as she spoke to whoever was on the line.
Satisfied she was both safe and happy, Trixie knew it was time to go. But when Chelsea turned and stepped away from the sink, she revealed her swollen pregnant belly. A smile curved Trixie’s lips because Chelsea’s tummy looked much bigger than it had a couple of weeks ago.
She was at least seven months along. Maybe more. Trixie had seen Chelsea’s boyfriend several times over the past year, and he was obviously the father of her unborn child. Were they going to get married? Trixie imagined Chelsea walking down the aisle in a white wedding dress, and a pit of sadness bloomed in her chest.
Yet one more milestone in Chelsea’s life that Trixie wouldn’t be a part of. Trixie was a ghost, a specter lurking in the trees like a creepy, fucking Peeping Tom.
The sound of a car coming down the long gravel driveway pulled Trixie from her bout of self-pity. The blue sedan stopped in front of the house, and a few moments later, Chelsea came out. Bundled up in a warm coat to protect her from the chill in the early November air, she opened the front passenger door and climbed in.
Trixie’s stomach roiled when a faint but familiar scent wafted out of the car and a cramp racked her stomach. Gritting her teeth against the unpleasant scent, she gripped the branch above her with both hands. Her black-painted fingernails dug into the bark as she wrinkled her nose and shook her head in an effort to get rid of the stink. Chelsea’s boyfriend smelled like rotten fruit or old flowers or something, and the scent actually made her a little nauseated.
“Jeez,” Trixie whispered in a rush as the car backed down the long driveway. “What the hell does he do for a living that makes him smell like that? There’s no way Chelsea can smell that or she’d never hang out with him.” She wrinkled her nose. Having heightened senses wasn’t always a blessing. “Phew.”
The subtle but distinctive sound of air rushing nearby made her freeze in place. She wasn’t alone. Another vampire had landed in the vicinity. Why the hell would any other vamp come to Chelsea’s house in the middle of the freaking woods? Fear, panic, and an overwhelming desire to protect the young woman swelled inside her. She would be damned if any vamps would mess with this particular human—let alone feed on her.