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       Paranormal Hunter Box Set, Books 1-3: Sonnet Vale, Phantom City, & Demon Touched, p.10

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  Published by Gena D. Lutz

  All Rights Reserved

  Cover Design by: Covers by Christian

  Editing by: Kelli Collins

  Formatting by: Bob Houston eBook Formatting

  When magically altered drugs begin to surface in Sonnet Vale’s hometown, all signs point to one place for answers-- Phantom City.

  Chapter One

  Vanier, Alabama

  Fang Squad Inc.

  ***

  Sonnet stood outside of Fang Squad Inc., key in hand, ready to leave. That’s when her jacket pocket starting chirping at her.

  It had been less than a minute since she’d transferred office calls to her secretary, Dana, before she locked up for the night. She rubbed the side of her hand across her eye and half wished she could ignore it.

  After exchanging the keys for her cell phone she answered, “Fang Squad Inc. How can I help you?”

  Within the last few weeks, Sonnet had been up to her eyeballs in missing persons reports and murder cases. And by the living dead body count she was amassing, gut instincts warned that the influx could be attributed to vampires and an odd demon or two.

  Initially, the police had been called in on most of the cases Fang Squad Inc. took on. Cases that Detective Ethan Riley knew couldn’t be handled by mere humans. So for the past several years, he’d secretly hired FSI to do the supernatural dirty-work for the police department. Sonnet’s fee wasn’t cheap and she didn’t know where the detective was coming up with the funds to pay for the case-by-case exterminations. But truthfully, she didn’t care as long as the checks kept clearing.

  “Sonnet…hi, sorry to bug you, but I have a man on the other line who needs to speak with you. And he says it’s urgent.”

  Dana sounded annoyed. Which meant Sonnet was about to be, too. Bane was waiting for her at his place. They were supposed to leave for Phantom City for a romantic getaway. After the week she’d had, it was a well-earned vacation.

  She took a calming breath,“I hope this is good ’cause I’m liable to get violent if it isn’t.”

  Sonnet’s focus jumped to the “Closed for Vacation” sign on the door as if it could magically alter what she knew was about to happen next. Why couldn’t she make a clean getaway from her responsibilities, dammit? But she already knew the answer to that: because real life liked to stick her nosy way into things and mess everything up.

  “He wouldn’t say diddly squat, other than it was a dire emergency and that one of Vanier’s finest referred him over to us.”

  “Vanier’s finest” meaning Detective Riley. He was the only uniform—that Sonnet was aware of, anyway—at the precinct who knew all about the existence of the undead and unwelcomed creatures that turned their small town into a hunting ground at night.

  “Let me try another question. Do you think I should talk to him?”

  Dana was frustrated with the caller. Sonnet knew this because Dana was a good assistant, and she knew better than to call her with so little information to give. Sonnet liked to know what she was getting herself into before she had to deal with it.

  “I’d take it.” The way she drew out the words was a clear indicator that the guy had gotten to her.

  For a tough-as-nails assistant, Dana was a regular bleeding heart.

  Sonnet’s gaze searched upward while she contemplated taking the call. As she considered it, she noticed the sun was about to set, making the clouds appear burnt orange and the sky a deep blue.

  “Alright, put him through.”

  May as well get it over with. Besides, if the man was being insistent, it didn’t seem fair to leave Dana to deal with him.

  Emely, Sonnet’s friend and field partner, pulled her keys from her pocket in preparation to leave and asked, “Do you want me to stick around?”

  Sonnet covered the phone with her palm and nodded once. “This shouldn’t take long.”

  Emely’s brows jumped and her gaze began a quick sweep of their surroundings. She seemed tense. Her lips parted slightly, just enough for Sonnet to see a hint of the werewolf’s pointy fangs peeking out. “Hurry it up. I’ve got a weird feeling all of a sudden.”

  Sonnet went on high alert. If a werewolf was sensing something fishy, she’d be a fool to ignore it.

  Swallowing hard, Sonnet forced herself to concentrate on the phone call. Surely if anything dangerous was lurking about, Emely was big and badass enough to handle it, right? But just to be safe…

  “I can walk and talk.”

  Emely chewed on her bottom lip as she followed Sonnet off the second floor landing and down the stairs to where both of their vehicles were parked in the lot.

  “The hairs on the back of my neck are jumpin', Vale. Are you sure your vamp senses aren’t going off?”

  Sonnet held up two fingers so Emely would hold that thought.

  “Hello? Is this Ms. Vale?” The caller’s voice was wobbly.

  Feeling the pressure, Sonnet said, “It is. Could you give me just one more second?”

  "Sure."

  She threw her gaze around the parking lot while jumping down the last five steps, barely stirring sound as she landed an inch from her car. Emely was right behind her, landing was even softer.

  Sonnet’s heart gave a hard thump, and then two in fast succession. She concentrated on the beats, slowing them by degrees, and then sent out her metaphysical awareness in search of anything nearby that was dead but still moving. After only a few moments, she smiled. Bingo.

  Her magic had latched on to a vampire three blocks north of where she stood. That would place the bloodsucker right in the vicinity of Bishop and 4th Street. That meant there were three places he’d likely be: the pawn shop on the corner, the dive bar across from there, or lurking behind a building in search of tonight’s dinner. Either way, now that she knew there was a bloodsucker on the prowl, she had to do something about it.

  With her free hand, she reached for a wooden stake she had tucked inside her jacket. Gripping it tightly, she slashed downward between them and then pointed north. It was a silent signal that meant it was time to hunt. Emily picked up on it and nodded.

  “Hi, Mr.…? I’m sorry; I didn’t get your name.”

  “It’s Knight. Cory Knight.”

  “What can I do for you, Mr. Knight?”

  Sonnet sat down in the passenger seat of her car and tossed the keys over to Emely as she scooted behind the wheel.

  They locked eyes in perfect accord as Sonnet once again covered the receiver to the phone.

  “Bishop and 4th.”

  Emely tossed her purse to the backseat and started the car.

  “Detective Riley asked me to call you.”

  Sonnet raised a thin, dark brow. “And…”

  “He said that you could help me with a little problem I’m having.”

  Even though he couldn’t see it, she shrugged. “That depends.”

  The man let out a long sigh before he whispered, “It’s my husband. He’s been using drugs.”

  Her other brow joined the first one. She hadn’t seen that coming.

  “Look, Mr. Knight, maybe it would be better for everybody if you called a hotline, or maybe took him into—”

  He interrupted her blow-off. “That’s not an option.”

  Annoyance building, Sonnet said, “Can you please find your point, sir?”

  “My husband, he’s out of control, and it’s because of the venom.”

  “Venom?”

  “Vampire venom.”

  Shivers ran down her spine as she sat up straighter. Things just got a lot more interesting. “Do you mean to say that he’s strung out on vampire venom?”

  Emely gave her the side eye.

  Sonnet shoved her hand out of the open window and gestured for her to turn right onto Bishop. Fourth Street was only two more blocks away. Her body started to trill like a struck tuning fork the closer she got to the vampire.

  “Mr. Knight?”

  The caller tried to clear the heavy emotions from his
throat, but his voice still came out wobbly. “Yes. That’s what I’m saying. Can you help?”

  Hell yeah she could. Stuff like that was right up her alley.

  “I can. But I’ll need some more information first. Hold while I connect you back with my assistant, Dana. And Mr. Knight, be careful. To be honest, this is the first case I’ve had of this nature, but I can assure you that if it has anything to do with vampires, it’s safe to assume that you and your husband are in a lot of danger.”

  Chapter Two

  Dim lights illuminated the brick buildings on both sides of the street as they cruised down Bishop Avenue. With Emely behind the wheel, Sonnet read a text message from Dana. It was Mr. Knight’s address: 348 Bleaker Street.

  “How many vampires are we dealing with?” Emely asked, turning down the radio that was pumping out alternative music at low decibels.

  After typing the address into her navigation for later use, Sonnet shoved her phone, along with her wallet, inside the glove compartment for safekeeping. Her back pressed against the seat. Closing her eyes, she plucked at the metaphysical string that tethered her to the vampire they were hunting, and immediately the hair at the back of her neck stood on end. Her skin shivered; she lived for this kind of action. The thrill was in the hunt.

  Her eyes opened and she smirked. “I only sense one.”

  “Good. This shouldn’t take long then,” Emely said.

  Sonnet shrugged. “The kill might not, but we’ll still need to dispose of the remains after we’ve finished. Ryker’s been MIA; we can’t call on him for help. So it’s up to us to do it.”

  Speaking of Ryker, she thought, he hadn’t shown up for work in the past several days, and the few times he had, he hadn’t really seemed himself. As the sole go to guy at FSI for disposing of supernatural corpses, his absence had been sorely missed.

  Sonnet turned and stared out the window. It was barely past sunset and the streets were bustling with shoppers with their arms filled with bags. Couples doing far more than just holding hands waited out front of the Cineplex to buy tickets for the next show. Her eyes roamed over them until she noticed one man who stood out amongst the rest. He was a good-looking guy straddling a purring motorcycle. He hefted a small duffle bag over his shoulder and reached to kill the ignition while at the same time making eye contact with her as the car inched past him.

  For a brief second, blue eyes flashed silver at her, and her hunter instincts went haywire. But not in a kill-the-bad-boogies sort of way. Her power thrummed in a way that denoted a familiarity between them—almost kindred in nature. Before she could get a better look, he turned and disappeared into the Vanier Inn, a place better known to the natives as The No-Tell Motel.

  Sonnet shook off the odd feeling and concentrated instead on the hunt. As soon as they hit 4th, she pointed to an empty space in front of the 24-hour pawn shop. The brick building had a blue neon sign sizzling in the front window that read, Borrowed Time.

  “Pull in right over there.” Sonnet instructed.

  Emely nodded and eased the car up to the curb.

  The Borrowed Time pawn shop had been in business ever since Sonnet could remember, and it was surprising that its gritty exterior, plus the horrid blinking signs, hadn’t brought down the property values in the neighborhood.

  Sonnet’s favorite 9mm, loaded for bloodsucker, pressed against her stomach as she slid out of the seat, the cool friction of the steel sending a chill of anticipation down her spine. This was almost her favorite part. The car door swung shut and she turned to smile at Emely.

  “Time to hunt.”

  Emely exited the vehicle, weapons fisted, and smiled back. She rounded the tail end of the car and strolled over to the door. She took a peek inside through the window. “Do you think anyone is still breathing in there?”

  A sudden sharp pain in Sonnet’s chest had her praying that there was. “I hope so.”

  She pulled out her trusty lock-picking kit and studied the entrance. She found it off-putting that the door itself was secured, but the metal security screen hadn’t been pulled down, which led her to believe that it wasn’t the owner of the shop who’d locked up for the night. As a matter of fact, she thought, noticing the lights were off as well, why was the pawn shop even closed in the first place? It was open 24-hours a day.

  After a fast inspection of the lock, she knelt down and went to work, and within seconds, had it picked. She gazed up at Emily. “After you.”

  Emily stepped inside. Sonnet pulled her gun and followed.

  Shadows surrounded them, but other than that, she couldn’t see a single soul in the room. With caution, she moved forward, making sure to clear each part of the small room by staying close to a wall instead of walking straight down the middle aisle, which would make her a bigger target.

  Maddening energy swelled around Sonnet, the smell of blood hung heavy in the air. Her body shivered. Even though she had enhanced senses, sounds and scents were filed somewhere else in the banks of her mind, as she focused with all her might on the one power at her disposal that was most essential, her honing abilities. Werewolves hunted with their noses, Sonnet hunted with her gut instincts—and never once had they failed her. She knew a vampire was close.

  Confident that there were no other monsters lurking about, she turned her head in the direction of her target and moved toward it more swiftly. Without question, Emely followed. That’s how the two of them hunted—in perfect accord, never questioning each other, only answering each other’s direction with action.

  A faint smile stole over her as she neared the backroom. Here, behind the money cage that separated the front of the shop from the back area, was where she’d find her prey.

  As she slunk through the open door, she caught sight of a large man huddled over a crumpled form in the far left corner of the room.

  Startled from his feeding, the vampire’s head swung in their direction, ravenous eyes holding hers. A voice that sounded more beast than man rumbled in the dark. “Go away, lest you be next.” After a slight flare of his nostrils, his gaze jumped from Sonnet to Emely. He drank in her scent and growled. “I assure you, nobody here is afraid of the big bad wolf.”

  “You should be,” Emely shot back.

  A sleazy grin spread across his face.

  Normally Sonnet would go straight for the kill, but her gaze swept over the human underneath the vampire. Focusing intently, she could barely pick up the flutter of a weakened heartbeat. The good news was that the woman wasn’t dead, not just yet, anyway. There was still time to save her.

  Her arms were steady as she brought the gun up and took aim. “Move away from the human.”

  The vampire’s gaze flicked to Sonnet. Taking her measure, he licked blood from his lips. “Make me.”

  Sonnet’s heart raced in her chest, but she easily controlled it. She knew that any sign of fear would only get the fucker off. Monsters reveled causing pain. Besides, she wasn’t afraid so much as she was pumped for action.

  He rose slowly from his crouch. The vampire was tall with a beefy build, moderate-size muscles, and wide shoulders. And after a few silent moments of staring at her, he slicked his hair back with a blood-drenched hand, smearing his blond locks crimson. His top lip curled above his fangs in a cruel smile. “Would you rather I kill you and your friend instead?”

  Sonnet knew how to play this cat-and-mouse game. As the mouse, she shook her head and stepped back, hoping the vampire would follow. “I like my blood right where it is, thank you.” Her voice came out purposefully shaky.

  His fingers slid over the sharp cut of his jaw. “So you are scared.”

  She gulped and pulled away even farther. Good ol’ Emely followed suit, but Sonnet knew the she-wolf couldn’t wait to let her beast out to play.

  Finally, the vampire began to inch toward them and away from the wounded human.

  Keeping a firm grip on her gun, and an eagle eye on the vampire, Sonnet made her way farther back, into the front of the store.

/>   Emely had moved faster, trusting Sonnet to keep her safe, and was now stripped out of her clothes and in the process of shifting into beast form. She looked fierce, all sharp teeth and raised hackles. Ready to take a bite out of the vampire who’d followed them into the room—but upon seeing the werewolf, slipped out of sight into the deep shadows.

  Without words, they both new the drill; Emely would hunt down the monster while Sonnet slipped away to help the victim.

  Sonnet slid between the wall and a display case and waited for Emely to get the drop on him.

  “Come out and play with me. Je te désire.” The vampire’s slow hiss reminded Sonnet of a cold-blooded snake, apparently a French one.

  She fought the instinct to tell him to go screw himself and stealthily turned the corner. Once out of sight, Sonnet’s footfalls were nothing more than a whisper as she raced for the victim.

  Crash, bam!

  Loud sounds reached the backroom from the front of the shop; the vampire and the werewolf must have found each other and were now embroiled in battle.

  As she opened the door, her amped up magic made the lights flicker overhead, and pop, leaving the room in complete darkness, but she could still make out the woman’s body curled in the fetal position in the far corner. She closed her eyes and listened for a heartbeat, but there wasn’t one.

  She was too late. The shop owner was dead.

  Sonnet let out a hard breath and grabbed the doorjamb for support. She’d killed before, seen a lot of dead bodies, but all the flesh bags had belonged to the depraved and deadly. Their deaths she could handle, but to lose an innocent? That was unacceptable.

  A shriek of pain tore through the sound of battle.

  Shit. Sonnet eased out of the room, closing the door behind her. After they disposed of the vampire’s body, she would phone Detective Riley and give him the scoop on what had transpired there that night. But meanwhile, she hoped that Emely hadn’t killed the monster just yet, because now, after seeing his victim, she wanted the honors.

  She turned and raced back to the front, only to come to a skidding stop at the sight of the man, she’d first seen straddling the motorcycle out on the street, standing amongst the aftermath of the melee with his back to her.

 
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