Blue-Blooded Vamp, p.1Part #5 of Sabina Kane series by Jaye Wells
The St. Charles streetcar lumbered its way toward the Garden District like a mourner in a funeral procession. The rocking motion should have soothed me, but I was pretty sure I was beyond ever relaxing again.
Adam sat next me. His warm hand on my leg helped dispel some of the chill. He wore his trademark brown duster and heavy boots. The goatee and muscled frame added to his general air of menace, but the mage’s real danger lay in his ability to wield magical weapons.
In addition to being my partner, he was also my… boyfriend? No, too high school. Lover? Ugh. Consort? Meh.
I guess when it came down to it, he was just my mancy, plain and simple. And his presence had become as critical to my equilibrium as gravity or blood. So when he’d insisted on coming with me to Erron Zorn’s house, I hadn’t refused.
However, we’d opted to leave Giguhl behind at Madam Zenobia’s Voodoo Apothecary. Some situations just demanded a distinct lack of Mischief demon. Besides, staying back gave my minion a chance to mend fences with his friend Brooks, a Changeling who had stormed out of New York a few days earlier after a nasty argument with Giguhl about his lifestyle choices.
To say I wasn’t looking forward to our errand was the understatement of the millennium. Not only would I have to recount the shitty news of recent events in New York, but I also knew the favor I’d come to ask of Erron Zorn might get a door slammed in my face.
Adam squeezed my thigh, bringing my thoughts back to the present. “Whatever Erron says, try and keep your cool, okay?”
I nodded but didn’t agree verbally. Even though Adam’s sentiment was reasonable, I’d force Erron to go to Italy with us at gunpoint if I had to. Our mission was too critical to put up with squeamishness or attacks of conscience.
With each block’s progress toward Erron’s Garden District mansion, the more the memories of recent days weighed on my shoulders like a lead yoke. I picked up the moonstone amulet I wore around my neck. It had been given to me by my sister, Maisie, and advertised my position as the High Priestess of the Blood Moon. While the title was mostly symbolic, the amulet reminded me of better days when my twin was still alive. When lots of people were still alive, actually. I squeezed the round stone in my hand and closed my eyes, drawing on its strength.
The streetcar’s wheels hissed against their tracks, signaling a stop. Frowning, I squinted out the windows, trying to see how many more until we reached First. But the trolley hadn’t stopped at an intersection. Instead, it had squealed to a halt in the middle of the grassy median that held the tracks. I looked around to check if any of the other passengers had pulled the emergency stop cord.
The birthmark on my left shoulder suddenly itched and burned, like a warning. That’s when I realized all the other passengers were unnaturally still. Two old ladies near the front leaned toward each other with their mouths open. One had a hand raised in midair to make a point, but it didn’t move.
My gaze swiveled toward Adam. His head was bowed like a man at prayer. His hand was still on my thigh, but he wasn’t moving either.
I shook his shoulder. “Adam?” I whispered.
I waved a hand under his face.
“Shit. ” I turned and looked at the other passengers—the middle-aged dude with his much-younger mistress, the gangly teen with headphones glued to his ears, even the streetcar operator—everyone, frozen. A quick glance outside the windows revealed that every car and body on the street had gone still as well. It was as if someone had hit a universal pause button.
So why was I still mobile?
The ominous quiet roared in my ears. My heart beat like a spastic metronome. I rose slowly, looking for any sign of life. Panic rose in my throat like a fist.
Whatever was happening was bad. Really, really bad. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew I needed to get out of the trolley and into the open. If an attack was coming—and I was pretty sure one was—I didn’t want to be trapped in the trolley.
But before I could make good on that plan, the doors opened with an ominous click-clack. A foot clad in a leather sandal appeared on the bottom step, followed by a male hand and the edge of a white sleeve. I reached back for the gun in my waistband. If this bastard thought I was easy prey, he was about to get a nasty surprise.
A mass of gray hair appeared next, on top of a face bearing a thick, white beard. With the help of a long staff, the intruder hefted himself up the rest of the steps. Finally, he turned toward me and smiled.
I frowned back and raised my gun. “Who the fuck are you?”
The old male sighed and waved a careless hand. My gun flew from my grasp and skittered down the aisle to land at his sandaled feet. “Your mundane weapons are useless here, Mixed-Blood. ” His voice was deep and strong, but also weary like he had little patience for my resistance. “You mortal realm beings are so lazy. Not to mention rude. ”
Instead of answering, I gathered my powers up into my solar plexus.
“Ah, ah, ah,” he said. “You could try it but I’m afraid you won’t like the results. ” He waved his staff menacingly. “Besides, is that any way to treat someone who’s helped you?”
I crossed my arms, annoyed. “When have you helped me?”
Instead of answering, his face shifted and swirled until it morphed into the muzzle of a black dog. Seeing the familiar canine visage, I relaxed a fraction. “Well, shit, Asclepius, why didn’t you just tell me it was you to begin with?” I waved a hand in a circle to indicate the frozen tableau around us. “And why all the drama? You could have just appeared in my dreams or whatever. ”
“Where’s the fun in that? Besides, it’s been too long since I visited the mortal realm. ”
“So what do you want?”
“Don’t play coy. ” His friendly expression hardened into something more menacing. “You know why I’m here. ”
My stomach sank. “You’ve come to collect the favor I owe you. ”
“Correction: I’ve come to collect the favors, plural. ” He held up two fingers.
Shit, that’s right. I’d made two blood sacrifices to the god of healing in exchange for his help. Once when Rhea and I performed a dream incubation healing rite on my twin, Maisie, to help her regain her gift of prophecy, and the second when I went into the Liminal to save her from Cain.
Or tried to, anyway.
“Is there any way this can wait? I kind of have a lot on my plate right now. ”
“No, it cannot wait. Your promise was to do my bidding at a time of my choosing. There are no rain checks. ”
He stabbed the tip of his staff into the floor. “I am well aware of your… issues. You’re just going to have to figure out how to make it work. However, I do think you’ll find my errands dovetail nicely with your own mission of vengeance. ”
My eyebrows slammed down. “How do you know about that?”
He shrugged. “Being a god has its privileges. ” As far as explanations went, it was actually pretty good. After all, deities knew all sorts of things. But hearing that my quest to kill Cain had become supernatural gossip worried me.
“Okay, what are these errands, exactly?”
“Actually it was quite fortuitous that it was you who owes me. Your former profession makes you the perfect tool for my needs. ”
In a former life that felt decades ago instead of mere months, I had been an assassin for the leaders of the vampire race. So, it didn’t take a genius to guess he wanted me to kill someone. No sense telling him I was out of the killing business. Especially since we’d both know it was a lie. “Who?”
“A vampire, she goes by the name
“Never heard of her. ”
“I’m not surprised. She was last seen in Italy…” He let the word hang there like a juicy pint of blood on the end of a stick. I kept my expression impassive, but he saw right through it. “Which, I understand, is exactly where you’re headed. ”
“Why do you want her dead?”
Asclepius pursed his lips and shot me an offended glare. “Normally I would smite you for your impertinence, but since this is our first deal together, I’ll overlook it. ” He paused as if collecting his thoughts. “Like you, Nyx made a blood offering in exchange for my aid. But she isn’t as smart as you because she squelched on her promise. ”
I had to admire the way he managed to weave a threat into his explanation. “Why can’t you just strike her down with a bolt of lightning or something?”
He tilted his head and shot me a pitying look. “I am a god of healing, Sabina. I cannot directly cause harm or death to anyone. ”
I supposed that made some sort of sense, but clearly his moral code didn’t prevent him from extorting others to do his dirty work.
I pursed my lips and thought it over. “What’s the second favor?”
“Nyx’s request was for an item of power. A magical vest that protects the wearer from all weapons—magical and mundane. After you kill her, I want you to bring it to me. ”
“Um, not to split hairs or anything, but why would she want a vest to protect her from harm? As a vampire, she’d already be immune to most weapons. ”
“She had her reasons. ”
“What does she look like?”
“She’s a redhead. ”
I rolled my eyes. “You just described one hundred percent of the vampire population. ” Because the race is descended from Cain, the biblical dude who was marked by the mortal deity with a shock of red hair, all vampires were gingers, too. “Are we talking deep auburn or strawberry blond?”
Asclepius pursed his lips and did a little wishy-washy head shake. “In between. More like cherry red. ”
I nodded. That meant I would be dealing with a youngish vamp, maybe a century or so old. Good, she would be easier to kill. “Any other distinguishing characteristics?”
“She’s a hottie. ”
Again, this described most of the race. Because of their predatory advantages, vampires were usually incredibly attractive, which lowered the inhibitions of their mortal prey.
Blue-Blooded Vamp by Jaye Wells / Fantasy have rating 3.4 out of 5 / Based on17 votes