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Paranormal hunter box se.., p.2
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       Paranormal Hunter Box Set, Books 1-3: Sonnet Vale, Phantom City, & Demon Touched, p.2

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  “Just do this for me, okay?”

  God, this is all so damn confusin’.

  She should just tell him about the vampire who stashed the dead body in her trunk. But something was stopping her.

  “Not a problem, Vale.”

  Chapter Three

  Sonnet blinked slowly as she stood over the headless corpse. She drew in a breath, tasting the air. It was probably all in her head, but the air coated her tongue with a pungent tang of gloom and death. She’d figured out how it had made its way into her trunk, but she didn’t understand why the stranger had put him in there. Her breathing sped up. She couldn’t help wondering what his angle was.

  Sonnet’s gaze skipped off of the dead body, focusing on Ryker.

  “So how are we gonna do this?”

  That was a first for Sonnet, having to dispose of a corpse. Usually, the team took care of all the messy, gooey stuff after she’d fled the scene. But that was no ordinary night. The cops had been a problem that time, and when Emely decided to use a gun to finish the vampire off, the rules of the game had been changed. And unfortunately for Sonnet Vale, she was left holding the bag.

  As Ryker pulled a plastic container filled with clear liquid from his jacket pocket, he said, “That’s easy. We douse the sucker with holy water.”

  Catching a chill, Sonnet pulled the ends of her jacket together and looked away.

  “Will it take long? Ya know, for him to dissolve or... whatever?”

  Ryker approached the body, flask in hand.

  “This shit eats through a vamp like acid times ten. So no worries. He’ll be gone in a jiffy.”

  She took off for the car. The moment she sat down in the driver’s seat, she could hear the sizzling and popping of flesh in the distance. Ryker had started. She flipped the volume up on the stereo. Closing her eyes, she leaned against the headrest and let the music take her somewhere, anywhere, else.

  “You’re upset.”

  The dark voice startled Sonnet. Her eyes flew open, and she stiffened at the sight of the mystery guy from earlier. He was lounging in the passenger seat next to her, seemingly unfazed by his own abrupt arrival—comfortable with it even, like he belonged there, sitting next to her.

  He had on different clothing. A pair of dark slacks and a blue silk shirt brought out flecks of silver in his irises, which she hadn’t noticed the first time.

  The shirt was unbuttoned to his navel, showing off nipples lightly dusted with hair and a well-defined, muscular chest. His hair was pulled back and tied at the nape of his neck. The style sharpened his chiseled features.

  She swallowed a yelp and then whispered harshly, “What the hell are you doin’ here?”

  He smiled, showing off his straight white teeth.

  “I wanted to see you again. Are you against receiving male callers?”

  What the hell...?

  Confused, Sonnet’s words stumbled out, “I... uh... umm, what?” Her head tilted to the side of its own accord. “Do you mean caller in the courtin’ sense of the word?”

  He fingered the seam of his pants at the curve of his knee, deep in thought.

  “It’s been a while since I’ve found a woman remotely interesting. So yes, I guess I do mean to court you.”

  Sonnet had had many men try to woo her, but never a vampire, and never out of the blue. None of that mattered, however. She wasn’t interested in dating anyone. Men took up too much brain space, especially the handsome and uber mysterious type, like the weirdo seated next to her, who kept popping up without warning.

  “Are you stalkin’ me?”

  Moonlight streamed across the handsome canvas of his face, making it glow.

  “No, I’m not a stalker. But I do wish to get to know you better.”

  The answer to that was a no-brainer.

  “Listen, I’m flattered. I think. And I’m sure you’re a real nice vampire, when you’re not bitin’ people, but I’m not interested. ”

  His smile widened as he said, “I’ll make it my mission to change your mind.”

  “Don’t bothe—”

  Before she could get the rest of her objection out, he was gone. And in the space of a heartbeat, Ryker jumped into the seat the guy had just vacated.

  “You look like you just saw a ghost. Did I miss somethin’?”

  Sonnet stared past his shoulder, searching the woods in the distance, but there was no sign of him. She turned the key in the ignition.

  “You don’t know the half of it.”

  His dark eyes fogged over.

  “Huh?”

  She shook her head and gave him a thin smile.

  “Never mind.”

  Ryker’s nose twitched.

  “Man, I can’t seem to shake the stench of vampire. I musta got it in my clothes.”

  “Yeah.” She looked around one more time. “That must be it.”

  Chapter Four

  Sonnet’s office was small, barely fitting the desk she sat behind and the oversized red and brown rug that was sprawled out underneath it. In the remaining space was a chair that faced the desk. In that chair sat a potential client, asking for Sonnet’s help.

  She smiled at him. He looked scared, nervous to speak. His mournful eyes switched from the open office window, then back to her, repeating the process, as he white-knuckled his hands in his lap.

  “The son of bitch killed her, right in front of me,” Mr. Lindon said, rocking in his seat, shaking his head. “It was a monster, not a human, and I have proof of it.”

  Sprinkles of spit shot from Mr. Lindon’s mouth, in perfect time with his words. It was obvious by the squiggly lines of red, which crackled throughout his puffy eyes, that the middle-aged man had been crying before arriving at Sonnet’s office. Even still, he was having a heck of a time containing his amped-up emotions.

  “I understand you’re upset, Mr. Lindon. But I need more than a drawin’ to convince my partners that we should take action. Do you have anything at all, other than this?” Sonnet asked, holding up a sheet of paper with a crude rendering of a bald fanged man drawn across it.

  Shaking his head, he said, “That’s all I have. I drew it right after it happened.” His eyes glossed over as his mind traveled to another time and place. “At first, me and Carol thought he was tryin’ to help us. But then...” He choked down a sob. “...he grew fangs and bit my wife in the neck. The bastard tore her right up. He woulda got at me, too, if the ambulance hadn’t come when it did.”

  Mr. Lindon began to cry uncontrollably.

  Shock, mixed with compassion, overtook Sonnet, and she leaned closer to the client, handing him a Kleenex.

  “I believe you, Mr. Lindon.”

  He glanced up at her, with features awash with hope, and grabbed the tissue.

  “Please, call me Jake.”

  He pressed the tissue to his nose and blew.

  “I believe you, Jake.” Sonnet licked her dry lips. “Are you ready to talk about your daughter?”

  Jake rubbed his brow and then looked down, speaking into his chest.

  “I don’t even know if she’s still alive.”

  “I’m sorry. I can only imagine how hard this is for you. But I need to know exactly what happened. It’s the only way I stand a chance at locatin’ your daughter.”

  His head jerked up, eyes full of gratitude but still shaded by desperation.

  “So you do think it’s possible to find Kelly?”

  There was a catch to his breath, as if he didn’t dare expect a good outcome, but couldn’t help hoping for it.

  Sonnet held his gaze, knowing that if she even flinched, she’d lose Jake’s confidence. It was important that her clients trusted her.

  “If your daughter’s still alive, I’ll track her down.”

  She hated throwing around guarantees like they were confetti, but Sonnet was sure she would ascertain Kelly’s whereabouts, dead or alive. And she knew exactly who to ask for help.

  “Start from the beginnin’, Jake. And don’t leave anythi
ng out.”

  Sonnet sat back in her chair and let the client talk, and when he was finished, she pushed the call button on her phone.

  Dana’s voice cracked over the intercom.

  “What’s your pleasure, goddess of the hunt?”

  “Can you come in here and finish up with Mr. Lindon? I have a few leads to follow.”

  Jake smiled. It was weak, but there.

  “Thank you, Ms. Vale.”

  Sonnet lifted her finger off the intercom button and stood. After walking around her desk, she stopped in front of Jake. She held out her hand, and he took it.

  “Give my assistant all your information, along with my fee, and then go home and wait. I should have some news for you soon.”

  He hopped up, his hand still folded around hers, and he shook it.

  “No matter what happens, thank you for at least tryin’. It’s more than the police bothered to do.”

  She pulled her hand free and gave Jake a wink, before making her way to the door.

  “You’re welcome, Jake. But please, don’t forget. It was Detective Scott Riley who referred you to us, so the police can be useful at times... if you talk to the right person.”

  ***

  Standing inside the Warehouse, Sonnet hung a long leather strap, strung with a squirt gun filled with holy water, around her neck. She then concealed the weapon underneath her closed jacket. It hung low to her waist, long enough to grab and use with ease in case of an emergency, a vamp attack. Since she knew what kind of damage the blessed liquid could inflict upon the walking dead, she figured she’d stock up on the stuff.

  The sun was waning. It was time for Sonnet to go. She eyed Emely’s motorcycle, weighing the consequences of using it without her permission. It was a clear case of better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. She knew that was wrong, but she needed it. Plus, she was still pissed off at Emely for leaving her to dispose of the corpse from the night prior.

  It was always more effective for Sonnet to track vampires without a bunch of metal surrounding her, so the bike would allow her to home in on her mark much easier. It was settled; she was going to take it.

  She scraped her hair back into a ponytail and slipped on a pair of shades. There was a fine tremble to her movements, and her mouth felt dry and tingly. She was nervous, because not only was she going on the hunt alone, but she was searching for the blue-eyed vampire. The thought of him did unnerving things to her, making her react in odd ways.

  Sonnet pushed the bike outside via the back loading dock. Once she cleared the building, she hopped on and turned the engine over. Accelerating down the street, she then reached cruising speed.

  As she drove, she sent out her awareness, ready to latch on to the thread of magic specific to the being she was hunting. The metaphysical cord had a unique flavor. To explain the taste of him would be impossible. But a close likeness would be a blood-coated candy cane—minty and coppery all at once.

  Suddenly, a hint of that taste assaulted her senses. She closed her eyes for a brief moment, concentrating on the location from which it emanated. Sonnet had been heading north for the past five miles, and the pull was coming from the northeast vicinity. Modifying her direction, she eased onto to the eastbound freeway. Once the course had been corrected, the thread that linked her to the vampire thrummed wilder.

  Sonnet’s lips parted into a grin.

  “Gotcha.”

  Chapter Five

  Sonnet’s hunter instincts led her to an upscale community. It was the kind of neighborhood where all the houses, built behind fences, had acres upon acres of sprawling landscape separating them. From there, finding the vampire would be simple. The metaphysical cord was heady with his essence.

  The large gate began to swing open as Sonnet neared. She slowed the motorcycle down to a snail’s pace and watched as a uniformed guard signaled for her to pass, with a wave and a friendly smile. She smiled back, confused, but not stupid enough to question it.

  She continued down the community’s suburban road for about two miles, until she reached a grand-scaled palatial home. That’s where the signal was blaring out the strongest. Sonnet smiled and took a good look at the house.

  “Hello, blue eyes.”

  After entering through another ornate gate, Sonnet parked next to a fountain. The stone structure was imposing, about ten feet tall and twelve feet wide. It was a majestic phoenix, wings spread, simulating flight. Water gushed forth from its open beak, tinted red by strategically placed lights.

  She got off the bike, stowed her gear, and made her way up a set of cobblestone steps, which led to the front door. She was more than mystified about how easy it had been for her to gain entry to the estate. It was almost like he was rolling out the red carpet, welcoming her every step of the way. And then, as if to prove that theory true, she found the door unlocked. She pushed it open and entered into a large and elegant foyer.

  “Hello?”

  Her voice skipped off of the shiny tile floor and echoed throughout the mansion. There was no reply.

  She gulped down a nervous lump and walked farther inside, stopping at the arched entryway between the foyer and an opulently appointed living room.

  “Hello, is anybody home?”

  Only the echoes of her voice answered.

  A soft clicking then came from overhead. It sounded like a door shutting. Sonnet looked up, squinting, as a sharp glint of light, from a chandelier, pierced her eye. Through the all-around silence, a dark, smooth voice preceded its owner’s appearance.

  “I wondered how long it would take for you to find me, hunter.”

  Surprise flickered across Sonnet’s features.

  How does he know what I am?

  She did a quick scan of the second floor landing. Within seconds, the vampire appeared. They stared at each other. He was fresh from the shower. His hair was wet, spiraling over the ridges of his naked chest, in the way it did when left to dry on its own.

  Sonnet licked her lips, trying not to think about how scrumptious he looked in nothing but a towel. The red cloth was wrapped around his hips and draped to his knees. As he descended the spiral staircase, she noticed how effortlessly he moved. Each step, arm swing, hell, even the smooth sway of his hips was flawless, as if he’d made each movement a million times over, all of it executed without the hefty weight of thought.

  His neck muscles corded as he turned to watch her. Dark lashes slashed down like tepid rain, lifting less than a second later to reveal keen eyes that focused solely on her.

  With a lift of her chin, she stared right back at him. Why let him know that he’d caught her—the so-called hunter—off guard? Or that he could evoke any kind of emotions from her at all.

  “You were easy enough to find. You practically rolled out the red carpet for me. Why is that?”

  She watched his every move as he walked the last few steps. The towel covering the mid-portion of his body flapped open, exposing thick well-built thighs. His silent footfalls stopped several feet away from her. The excess water continued to flow down his limbs, making shimmering puddles on the tile under his feet.

  Sonnet swallowed a groan. The vampire’s physique was a thing of splendor, a masterfully chiseled work of art. She was on the verge of turning around to leave, when he spoke again.

  “Did you get rid of the body?”

  The question reminded her of why she was there, strengthening her resolve. All thoughts of naked thighs and glistening muscles became insignificant.

  “About that... I’m not sure if I should curse you or thank you for the gift you left for me in the trunk of my car. Tell me, do you leave morbid stuff like that for all the ladies you come in contact with?”

  She watched his cocky expression clear into a canvas of sincerity.

  “I’ve never bothered with another female besides you, Sonnet. Not in a very long time. Centuries, actually. And let me be clear. The body wasn’t a gift; it was my way of protecting you from yourself and from that foolish friend of you
rs.”

  “I’ve done nothin’ to encourage any of this.”

  “Ah, but you have, my little fox. You exist, a real and true thing of beauty in a world full of ugliness. That’s enough.”

  Baffled, she shook her head.

  “What does that even mean?”

  “It means when you refused to watch as your friend slew Bastian, you showed true compassion. That’s an amazing attribute, especially in a magic-born hunter.”

  “Magic-born?”

  “Not vampire, but a human born with rare and special gifts. You have the powers associated with that of a hunter, and they are brutal. They stalk their prey almost mindlessly, and when they catch them, the kill is wild and frenzied. In our world, your kind is feared.”

  She scowled at him, ignoring all of his frenzied-hunter nonsense. She was always in control, not one of those freaks.

  “You put a lot of faith in my compassion. For all you know, I could pull out a gun and shoot you in the heart, while you spout all this poetic crud at me.”

  He raised his brows in a way that said I dare you.

  “By all means, do it.”

  Her eyes went wide. She didn’t expect that. She was bluffing.

  Sonnet bit her bottom lip, not sure what to say next. The vampire groaned. The sound shuddered over the few feet separating them. She gazed up into his eyes, still worrying her lip. His lids were heavy, stare transfixed on her mouth.

  “So you mean to torture me to death, then? Instead of piercing my heart with a bullet, it will be with lust?” He took a step forward. “So be it. I face this fate you assign to me readily.”

  She could feel her face heating up in response to his shameless words. That wouldn’t do. Nope, not at all.

  She rubbed her arms as if she were cold. It was a put on. Sonnet was feeling the complete opposite of cold. The motion was more to cover the goosebumps skittering across her skin.

  “Cut the bullshit, vampire.”

  “Bane.”

  “Huh?”

  He took another step closer.

 
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