Dead & Dealing


Vampires, for whatever reason, are not the gift giving type.

Any "gift" was more likely to be a reward for a service done, like my cane sword from Ryuu. So I was not entirely surprised when Sarah presented me with a gift when we finally arrived at Hunter's Pub in Lynbrook, Long Island.

Traffic was light, light for Brooklyn during the holiday season, and I quickly took the Belt Parkway and followed it east. Traffic slowly lightened as we made our way through the rest of Brooklyn and skirted the bottom edge of Queens. Once we were on Long Island, I merged onto Route 27, known locally as the Sunrise Highway. Throughout the drive, I had explained to Sarah all that had occurred after our maker had turned me. She kept quiet and listened intently, occasionally asking a question or for me to explain something that escaped her.

While she listened, her hands did not sit idle. I was too angry with Flood and his attack at The Patient Gentleman to notice she had retrieved an old guitar case from under the Trans Am. She explained that she had hidden it when she arrived at the bar and had planned recovering it later after securing Carl. She went on to inform me it held only a small selection of her arsenal and it could vary depending on her bounty, like tranquilizer darts if she was ordered to bring her target back alive.

I pulled into a gas station and asked Sarah to pump the gas while I made phone call. I gave the attendant, a middle age plump woman with graying hair, fifty dollars to fill the tank and dollar in quarters for the payphone. She took my money and handed me the change without a word and I nodded my thanks before I walked around the corner of the store to the payphone. I fed fifty cents into the phone and quickly dialed the number to Yojimbo's.

"Moshi Moshi!" answered a bored male voice. "This Yojimbo's! Freeport's premiere Japanese inspired club. How may I serve you?"

"Watashi wa, Ryuū to hanashitaidesu." I said in Japanese.

"And whom may I say is calling?" He responded in kind

"This is the Ductor."

"One moment please."

I waited for all of thirty seconds. In that time I heard excited cheers mixed with clinking of glasses, dozens of muffled conversations, and thumping music. I gathered Ryuu must be doing quite well this close to New Year's and no longer having to worry about raiding werewolves.

"Hello, Ductor." Ryuu said pleasantly.

"Hello, Ryuu-sama." I greeted. "I'm afraid I am in need of your assistance."

"What do you require?"

"You own a bar in Lynbrook." I said "Correct?"


"Open to both vampire and Were?"


"I need the address."

Nothing more?"


"You could of simply checked the phone book." Ryuu informed me. "It is listed."

"Under Werewolf or Vampire?" I rolled my eyes.

"It is a normal human bar during the day." Ryuu explained. "Only when dose the sun set do the magical wards spring into place."

"I see." I noted it made sense in business sense. Human, vampire, Were or hardly mattered. Money was money. "But since I already have you, you could save me trouble and give it to me regardless."

"That is true. It is called The Hunter's Pub." He gave me the address. "Do you require anything else, Ductor?"

"No, Ryuu-sama." I said politely. "That was all. Arigatō"

"Saraba da." Ryuu said and hung up.

I hung up and went back to the car where Sarah was waiting. I explained where we were head and she nodded once before returning to the passenger seat. I wasn't sure what to make of Sarah as I drove. She clearly was a woman of few words. She also struck me as the type to let her actions speak for her. She seemed to be my polar opposite in a number of ways. While I might try to talk and scheme my way out a dangerous situation, like I had with Flood and his men outside of the bar, Sarah would take the less complicated route and fight her way out and God help anyone or anything that got in her way. If she desired something, she'd probably ask once in way that dared the other to deny her whereas I might ask politely and try to charm my way to my goal.

Going by the weapons she used, she was not one for invitation. She was of the mind that if it wasn't broken, then why fix it? If she had been turned sometime during the American Wild West then she stuck to it. Modern they be, but she still preferred Single Action Army Colt revolvers. Her revolvers were actually third generation revolvers that had been manufactured between 1976 and 1982, but I was willing to wager she had owned the original models from 1873 and on. I wouldn't be surprised if she had a Winchester or a Henry Rifle in that guitar case of hers. Her clothes were the same, except for her duster coat, modern with authentic vintage design. All that was really missing was the metallic clink of spurs on her boots.

As fate would have it, we were relatively close. It was hardly ten minutes away from the gas station. While I had grown up and had seen every part of it, I always found Long Island strangely eerie at night. During the day, the streets were filled with cars and people going about their lives. Now the streets were deserted with only the occasional car passing by or single passerby with only the lamp posts and traffic light providing any illumination. There were still the late night gas stations and endless amount of all night diners and 7 Elevens'. Hard to believe that after only a few short years in the city that never slept, despite being familiar with every single town and road, my former was alien to me as a tourist.

The Hunter's Pub sat across from an Italian bakery with a small alley way big enough for a supply truck between it and a deli. Farther down the road was another gas station that had closed for the night. In the opposite direction was closed dry cleaners and post office. The pub sported a fairly large parking lot for its size and all twenty spot were filled. Fortunately, the spot directly in front in the street was open. I remembered that even on Long Island, such choice parking was nothing short of a gift from God. With such a high population, and this close to the city, you were lucky if you only had to park a block away from your destination.

"This is it?" Sarah sniffed the air. "More Weres."

"Yep." We got out. "But it's not them I'm worried about."

"Your nestmate is not foolish." Sarah seemed unsure. "She will not risk harming you. She knows how valuable you are to her master."

"She won't kill me." I agreed. "But she can still make things difficult."

"That is true." She handed me a piece of leather. "Here."

"A belt?" I held it up. "With two buckles?"

"Wrap the long piece around your waist." She instructed. "Then wrap the small one around your thigh just above you right knee."

"Alright." I did as she instructed and saw what it was. "A holster?"

"Obviously." She tossed me a long piece of metal and wood. "For this!"

It was a sawed off double-barreled shotgun just slightly longer than my forearm and significantly thicker. I examined it as Sarah explained.

"That is a 1889 Model Remington Twelve Gauge Shotgun." Sarah said proudly. "Dual triggered and hammered with a beaver tail release. For concealment and maneuverability indoors, I've shortened the barrel so it is level with the hand guard and the stock so it can be wielded in a single hand."

"Hmm." I held it out, surprised by it's lack of weight.

"Even at your age, our strength eliminates its immense recoil and our speed allows you to quickly draw it from its holster faster than any human is capable of. However, it is not meant for distance nor precision." She motioned to me. "It will serve to compensate for your lack of experience with its very wide spread."

I opened it and closed it with a quick, but gentle, flick of my wrist. "Groovy!"

"Here!" Sarah tossed me two small objects.

I caught them and saw two shells with red plastic covering the length of them.

"Low brass shells." Sarah explained. "Load them into the barrels, but do not thumb back the hammer."

I popped open the chamber and slid a shell into each barrel.

"The front trigger fires the right barrel and the rear trigger fires the left. If your require extra power, you can pull both simultaneously, but you will need to reload."

"Just showing it off should be enough." I slid my new weapon into its holster. "One look and they'll think twice. What about you? RPG?"

"Do we really need weapons for this?"

"I just like them." I offered a smile. "They make me feel all manly."

Sarah muttered something to herself in German as she shook her head. She put six more shell into my hands and went inside the bar. I carefully slid the shell into the little slots along the holster before I retrieved my coat from the passenger's seat. I quickly threw it on and followed my sister inside.

The Hunter's Pub looked like a cross between a bar and fur trading post. There was a row of twelve cushioned booths opposite a bar spanning the length of the booths. On the wall, overlooking each table, was stuffed animal head. Most of them were deer, but there were moose and elk as well. They all had metal plaques with dates and names. Some even had Polaroid photographs taped to it with either men posing with rifles or, in the case of most, of large group of wolves with the full moon in the night sky.

Speaking of wolves, there were at least a dozen and a half in the bar. They wore what I had come to call their uniform, denim and leather with wolf images, as they drank from large mugs of beer that they used to chase shots of whiskey. There were vampires as well, but only a dozen at most and that was including Sarah and I. They all occupied twp table near the exit far and away from the Weres.

Sarah and I walked to the bar. It was there that we met the only other vampire. He was tall and muscular, but not overly so. His blond hair was cropped short, not unlike Flood and his men, and had a long scar that went from his hairline down over his left baby blue eye to his jaw. Around his neck was a collection of two dozen dogtags which jingled like keys as he polished a glass with a rag. Going by the lone tattoo on his right bicep, an M16 rifle over a red and yellow stripped Native American drum with feather and the words Vietnam Era Veterans over the rifle, I surmised he had been turned while fighting or when he returned home from the war.

"Hello." He greeted gruffly. "Name's Dave. Still got some blood, but its all A Neg. Shipment's due any day now."

"Ave, David." I repeated my gesture that I made when I met John earlier in the night, clenching my fist over over my left breast before holding it out so I formed a right angle with my elbow. "Actae sis tuo."

"And to you as well." David repeated the gesture. "I think."

"David, did a female vampire arrive here not too long ago?" I asked politely. "Within the last couple of hours or so?"

"Yes." He nodded once. "The progeny of the sheriff. She wished to speak my maker as she runs the bar for him."

"Can you please inquire after her?" I placed a hundred on the counter. "And two bloods while we wait."

"Who should I say is asking for her?" David placed two glasses and filled them with warm flood from a large wine bottle from under the bar. "Two bloods."

"Thank you." I took a glass and handed one to Sarah. "Tell her it is the Ductor."

"I will." He inclined his head. "Please have a seat."

I raised my glass to him as way of thanks before finding one of the few tables that was not a booth. The tension in the bar had shot up significantly the moment I said the word Ductor. A booth would be a deathtrap with one way in and out. A table at least gave us some wiggle room. The table sat next to a jukebox that was probably ancient thirty years ago. Still, I fished in my pocket for some change and fed the machine. A quick scroll and hit the corresponding buttons. I waited for a moment and nodding approvingly as the great and late Ella Fitzgerald began singing alongside a jazzy melody being played on a piano. I bobbed my head to the tune for a moment before I sat down.

In old Savannah, I said Savannah

The weather there is nice and warm

The climate's of the southern brand

But here's what I don't understand

They've got a gal there, a pretty gal there

Who's colder than an arctic storm

Got a heart just like a stone

Even nice men leave her alone

They call her, "Hard hearted Hannah"

The vamp of Savannah

The meanest gal in town

Leather is tough but Hannah's heart is tougher

She's a gal who loves to see men suffer

"Interesting choice." Sarah remarked as she placed her boots on the table and sipped from her glass. "Considering our present company."

"I'm not entirely sure what you mean." I said with a smile and also placed my feet on the table. "How can anyone not like Ella Fitzgerald's performance in Pete Kelly's Blues? It's a classic."

Truth be told, I hadn't really thought it through. I merely found a song I had not heard in years and wanted to past the time. If I really wanted to rile up the Weres, I would have played Duran Duran's Hungry Like The Wolf. Although all that might have achieved is a group of two Were and two Shifters approaching after one minute instead of three which did happen.

I had seen them approach and made sure to not make any sudden moves other than sip from my drink. Sarah did the same , but I did notice that she slowly slid her free hand down to her pistol. In all honesty, I had come to accept my more violent tendencies, but I decided Ryuu wouldn't like it if I had to burn down this bar. Mae was probably at my apartment with a bill for damages.

As they came closer, I saw they looked like average humans. They also appeared very young and I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of them was still in high school. It would explain why, after dropping the name Ductor, they thought four would be enough for two vampires. Youth combined with the high emotions that came with a rapidly approaching full moon was deadly cocktail.

"I'll deal with these whelps." Sarah growled and reached for her pistol.

"I've got this." I whispered to before speaking to the approaching group. "Can I help you?"

"You got a lot of nerve." growled the leader of the group. "Showing your face to us."

"I was about to the say the same." I sipped from my glass.

"You really think you can take us?" He motioned to his group as well as the bar. "Ain't no way for you to take us by surprise."

"Now I wouldn't say that." I set my empty glass down.

"Why the fuck not?!" He demanded.

"I will count to three." I quickly drew and shoved my new shotgun an inch from his face. "And may your god help you if you are still there." I noticed he looked angry but cast a worried glance at the rest of the Weres in the bar. I did the same and saw some might jump in if I did fire. "Know that you will die first. The rest of them might kill me, but not after I paint the ceiling and floor with your blood and what passes for a brain."

"He's bluffing." said the one to his right. "Rush him!"

"No!" barked their leader. "He ain't bluffing."

"One!" I thumbed back the left hammer and saw one shifter back up a few steps before returning to an empty table. "Two!" I thumbed back the second hammer and this time they all left. "I thought so."

"Smarter than they look." Sarah observed as she set down her glass.

As if they had been waiting for a play to end, David came from around the bar from a back room of sorts with Kim following closely behind. It was impossible to discern her state. As most vampires, Kim had decades practicing hiding her emotions behind a blank face. She did show a hint of curiosity at Sarah's presence, but that was understandable.

"Took you long enough." Kim said. "I was beginning to wonder if you sent me on a wild goose chase."

"I did." I admitted. "But it was not intentional."

Kim raised an eyebrow.

"Okay. It was."

"Kisama." Kim hissed flashing her fangs.

"What did she just call you?" Sarah asked calmly, but not taking her eyes off of Kim.

"You." I translated. "But it's incredibly informal. It's the equivalent of calling me a bastard or an asshole."

"Oh really?" Sarah's eyes flashed Kim a world of warning.

"Who the fuck is this?!" Kim demanded.

"Passen sie ihren mund , säen!" Sarah shot up to her feet and snarled.

I watched as they both leaned over tables, gripping the edge with their hands, growling like two dog fighting over a scrap of meet.

"Allow me to introduce my sister." I said standing up between the two. "Perhaps you've heard of her. Dose the name Jagerin mean sound familiar?"

Kim just stared at me, dumbfounded.

"I know." I shrugged. "My words exactly."

"Is this true?" Kim looked to Sarah.

"I am the Jagerin." Sarah confirmed. "Now, is this truly the Ductor?"

"Yes." Kim sat down. "I also assume he is your brother?"

"It appears so." Sarah settle back in her chair. "We share a bond that only comes from our maker's blood."

"I do not wish to alert you." Kim said quietly. "But you are walking into a trap."

"Excuse me?"

"Actually, Kim." I stood up. "You're a bit behind. Come on, I'll explain on the drive back to the nest."

Sarah and Kim followed me back to the Trans Am. It was a tight squeeze, but we made due. With Sarah's guitar case of weapon resting in the small ledge behind the only two seats and after much debating, Kim sat in Sarah's lap as I drove back to Soho.

I decided to use the Long Island Expressway, known to others as the I-495, since I did not have to make any stops like I had earlier in the night. I drove north on Ocean Avenue, skirting edge North Lynbrook and Malverne, and merged onto the Southern State Parkway heading west back towards the city. I expected Kim to demand answers, but she kept quiet in Sarah's lap like petulant child. It was too quiet for my liking so played my "Driving Mix" tape and enjoyed the blurring scenery.

I didn't stay on the Southern State for too long before we reached its end and I took exit for the Cross Island Parkway to continue north. Part of me wished it was summer or spring instead of winter. While the nights were considerably shorter, I would be able to give my new Trans Am a proper road test. While I had loved my '78 Cressida, I was too afraid of putting too much stress and have the engine break. However, although technically older, the Trans Am was a different case. As much as I wanted to through caution to the wind and, as Smokey and the Bandit often said, put the pedal to the medal, I had no desire to hit a patch of black ice or large pothole created by the fleet of plows. Kim, Sarah, and I might be vampires and would probably survive any wreck, it was best err on the side of caution. Knowing my luck, the gas tank would explode and vampires are very vulnerable to fire.

Once we passed the Grand Central, I kept a lookout for and took exit thirty west for the Long Island Expressway. From there, i sped through the more residential part of Queens. After blurring by Kissena and Flushing Meadow Corona Park, we hit some traffic as I took exit seventeen towards Brooklyn to merge onto the I-278. Once I did, I resigned myself to going back from second and third gear when the posted constructions sign informed everyone that chose to take the Williamsburg Bridge would be consigned to a single lane. The traffic had already backed up to the exit so I growled and jerked the wheel to my left, ignoring the horn of at least three cars.

Lucky for me, I still had two options without having to turn around. I continued south until the I-278 became the Brooklyn-Queen Expressway, or BQE for short, in all its six lane glory. Traffic lightened significantly up slight due to a majority choosing to waste their lives on the Williamsburg and the addition of four more lanes. If they wanted to watch the sunrise without even getting half way across then that was their problem. As I mentally patted myself on the back for such brilliant navigation when I saw a road crew putting up more signs, these about the Brooklyn Bridge.

"That's it!" I snapped.

I jerked the wheel and shot down the ramp of exit twenty-nine onto Tillary Street. I quickly passed Prince, Gold, and Duffield Street and drifted right on Flatbush to avoid being caught by the red light. I opted for the lower level, which was less crowded, and drove across bridge and over the East River. It was not until that I came to a red light to turn onto Canal Street that Sarah broke the silence, but not to me.

"Is this normal?" She asked.

"It is one of the cons of the city and Long Island." Kim said. "Constant traffic and contruction at all hours of the day and some of the night."

"I meant him." Sarah clarified.

"It gets to you sometimes." I growled.

Sarah accepted my answer and didn't say another word. Luckily for me, and any incompetent driver in my way, we were only blocks away. We inched along Canal Street until it finally crossed with Broadway. I made the right and braced myself to drop off Kim and Sarah while I spent another hour looking for a parking spot. That was until I remembered that someone had done away with the dumpster in the alley behind the building earlier this month. Apparently, it had been leftover from when the adjacent building had been renovated and hadn't been returned until someone had done inventory. It was the small alley where I used to park my old motorcycle. With the dumpster gone, garbage collectors had lost their only reason to visit the spot.

The alley was actually a dead end with an eight foot brick wall preventing passage from and to the other side. The dumpster had sat in the corner from the by the building and wall with enough room for a man to fit behind to push to the curb so it could be emptied. It still smelled of rotting garbage, but it was the price to pay for choice parking. Ignoring the honking and obscenities thrown my way, I turn right, temporally blocking both lanes, and backed up into the spot. Aside from the odor, it was perfect. It was wide enough so the doors of the Trans Am could be opened all the way and the length allowed to park far from the sidewalk to avoid notice, but not for another car to box me in.

"Finally." I said as we got out. "Some luck."

"Luck?" Sarah frowned. "How do you stand such a horrid smell?"

"I agree." Kim made a face.

"Kim," I said, amused. "If you're going to live in the city, then be prepare to smell something far from pleasant every now and then."

"Like that vagrant?" Sarah looked to the entrance of the alley. "He seems to know you."

I turned and I recognized him. "Oh, that's just Mark." I waved him over. "He's mine."

Mark was one of younger members of the Broadway Cast-Offs at about thirty-five or so, but he looked older. His brown hair and grisly beard was severely peppered with gray and white. He wore so many layers, regardless of the weather, it was difficult to determine what kind of build he had. He could be incredibly muscular and barrel chested just as easily as he could be simply portly. He was no rocket scientist, but he wasn't mentally handicapped as severely as other homeless.

"Hello, Mark." i said slowly.

"Hi." He said shyly and blushed when he looked at Sarah and Kim. "Who are they? They're pretty."

"Oh these are just my friends, Mark." I explained. "Did you want something?"

"They got rid of the dumpster." He said simply.

"And you're hungry." I nodded, understanding he often sifted through the dumpster for scraps of food. High income neighborhood like Soho and Tribeca tended to have better pickings. I took out my wallet. "Can you do me a favor, Mark?" I handed him two hundred dollar bills. "I need you to buy me something."

"Christmas presents?" He asked.

"Sort of." I smiled gently. "I need you to go buy a tarp for my new car. Do you know what a tarp is?"

"Like a big blanket?"

"Exactly." I nodded. "I need a big blanket for my car for when it snows and rains. Do you know where to find one?"

"Yes." He nodded enthusiastically and pointed northwest. "There's a store that sells car stuff."

"Then go there." I encouraged him. "It might be closed by now so just go back when it opens."


"When you have the tarp," I instructed carefully. "I want you to cover this car with it." I pointed to the Trans Am. "And you can keep the rest of the money."

"You don't want the change?" Mark asked bewildered.

"No." I shook my head. "I don't."


With that he walked down and out of the alley, humming like he didn't have a care in the world.

"One of your Cast-Offs?" Kim asked coming to stand next to me.

"Yes." I explained. "He's a little slow, but he's smart enough to follow simple orders."

"But not enough to bathe apparently." Sarah remarked.

"It's not like he can take a dip in a fountain in Central Park." I walked down the alley with Kim and Sarah following. "They shut off the water in the winter and even if they didn't, he'd get sick from the cold."

We walked around to the front of the building and crossed the lobby to the elevator. It was a short and quiet ride to the twelfth floor and led them to my apartment. I paused and knocked on Julie's door to retrieve Tux. To my surprise, she was awake. Tux refused to come out when she called out, but leapt into my arms when I did so. I thanked Julie for taking care of Tux.

"I know. I know." I said to Tux as she rubbed her head against my neck, purring like mad, while I retrieved my keys. "I missed you too."

"You care for this creature?" Sarah looked puzzled by Tux's reaction to my return.

"I found it strange as well." Kim added.

"I never had the chance to have a pet." I said unlocking the door. "I saw an opportunity to have one and did."

I would be lying if I didn't say I expected after the excitement of the night — Kim and and a vampire Elvis barging into my apartment, develop a method for vampires to have tattoos after being turned, picking up my childhood dream car, discovering I had an older sister who happened to by a famous bounty hunter, helping said sister fight a large wold pack with a Jerry-rigged microwave, driving out to Lynbrook, narrowly avoiding another fight with a large group of Weres, and fighting the unending beast that was New York traffic — that I had enough excitement for one night. However, the moment I opened the door, the night was still not over.

My living room looked as if I had just walked into the beginning of a hardcore BDSM porno tape with a very specific fetish in mind.

Bubba was still there, but his clothes were rumpled and torn in several places. There was dried blood under his nose than ran halfway down his chin as if it had been broken earlier in the night. Curiously, the missing patches in his clothes were oval-shaped and I had the strangest feeling a vampire had done the biting. I suppose a human could have done one or two, but even a mentally challenged vampire like a vampire could overpower even the strongest human.

Across from Bubba was another vampire, half sitting half leaning against the back of the sofa with his arms crossed. He was pale, as all Caucasian vampires were, and was average height which meant he was taller than me by a few inches. He looked he had been roughly thirty or so when he was turn and he possessed the broad shoulders and chest that only came with manual labor. He wasn't overly muscular nor scrawny, just a slightly lean look to him. He had neatly combed dark hair that was normal with his long sideburns looking as if they had come from a bygone era, but completing the look. He work rumpled khakis and polished loafers which was just asking to slip on a patch of ice. Tucked into the khakis was a simple, short sleeved, dark purple collared shirt. He had a couple of blood stains on his hands and one on his left forearm.

In between the two was someone tied to a chair. I say someone because that was all that was evident. Someone, either Bubba or the other vampire, had tied some poor human to the chair, draped one of the few Egyptian cotton bed sheets over him, and then secured it all with several lengths of unpolished chain.

"I need to have a word with the agency." I said. "I specifically asked for two impersonators and a clown."

"Miss Kim!" Bubba exclaimed. "She woke — "

Bubba stopped when he caught sight of Tux in my arms. Tux hissed and growled as she tried to back up into my chest. Bubba licked his lips as he eyed Tux.

"Go ahead." I growled drawing the sawed off. "Give me an excuse."

"Bubba," Kim ordered. "You are to leave that creature alone. No matter how hungry you are."

"But — " Bubba began to protest, but thought better. "Alright."

Still aiming, I set Tux down who shot across the room past everyone and into my room. She even closed the door behind her to put something between her and Bubba. He did watch her every move, but made no movement himself.

"Bill," Sarah said to the new vampire."I'm surprised you found him so quickly."

"It took nothing more than a few phone calls." the new vampire, Bill, responded coolly. "Did you find your bounty?"

"Yes." She motioned to me. "With the assistance of the Ductor."

"Ductor?" Bill gave a once over, reevaluating his initial assumption, and revealing a slight southern drawl. "It is an honor." He inclined his head to me. "I apologize for the intrusion, Ductor. I am Bill Compton of her majesty's, Queen Sophie-Anne, Louisiana."

"It is a pleasure, Bill." I returned the nod. "Might I ask your purpose in journeying so far north?"

"I was sent to retrieve Bubba." He sounded annoyed. "As you know, he is not altogether there, but can follow orders well enough. We often pass him between Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. However, he likes to wander now and then which has lead to the rumor he faked his death among the humans." He motioned to Sarah. "Our paths crossed and we realized our destinations were the same so we traveled together."

"Small world." I commented before motioning to the chair. "And this?"

"An unseen circumstance." Bill said coolly. "She is strong for one so young, but fortunately Bubba was strong enough to restrain her and the silver chains were enough to weaken her until she arrived." Bill nodded towards Kim.

I turned to Kim who was speaking with Bubba.

"What do you mean she woke up?" Kim demanded.

That was when I put two and two together. I walked to the person tied to the chair. Whomever it was, and I had a very clear idea, must have sensed me approached and lifted her head as if to see me through the sheet.

"Do me a favor. I said to Sarah. "Go to the refrigerator and get me one of the six packs of beer.

Sarah nodded and casually made her way to the fridge. She opened the fridge and retrieved a pack of Coors beer. She was clearly curious as to why I wanted something I could no longer drink, but she must have decided it was best to just indulge me and she'd find out soon enough.

"Thank you." I said. "Just hold on for a moment."

Kim had been too occupied with her conversation with Bubba to notice us, but it didn't last. She was walking towards me when I ripped a hole in the sheet to reveal our mystey guess. Although mystery and surprise nestmate would be closer.

Suddenly, Latasha Carter was looking up at me with pleading puppy dog eyes and a trembling lip as she was on the verge of crying again. I say again because it was impossible to ignore the drying crimson streaks running down her face.

So Kim had turned Tasha into a vampire.

I put it together in the time it took to roll my eyes. Kim had turned Tasha roughly three nights ago and had unceremoniously, and quite literally, stuffed her body in a trunk. I held back my tongue. Kim had been beyond reckless. Regardless of the fact she had three nights of time to find a new nest, she should have simply stayed with Ryuu and the rest of her nest.

What if Bubba and Bill hadn't been in the apartment when she woke up?

God only the damage she could have done in her state. A locked door would have stopped her any more than the trunk would. Best case scenario, she wandered the halls of the building in search of blood with only the late hour and lack of invitation protecting the humans from harm. Worst case, she managed to reach the streets and attacked the first human unlucky enough to wander by which was all but guaranteed to happen with the massive increase to an already overpopulated city. I briefly wondered if I was over thinking things. After all, hadn't I done just that? But I was a special case. My gift had allowed me some slight control, but it would have been disastrous had someone fell and cut themselves near me or stepped on a piece of broken glass with thin shoes.

"Yours?" I asked calmly.

"Yes." Kim said just as calmly.

"We'll talk about this later." I said. "Agreed?"

"Agreed." Kim nodded.

I took a bottle from Sarah. I twisted the cap with a slight hiss. At least one thing was going right tonight. The moment I did Kim jerked towards me, her new fangs flashing bright in the light. I ignored her and drew my sword.

"What are you doing?" Kim asked.

"Freeing your progeny."

I slashed at the chains which broke with few sparks. Tasha shot to her feet with her new speed and tossed the sheet away. Before the sheet fell half an inch, Tasha cowered away from the chains and my sword behind Kim. Tasha might not be aware of it, but she would be drawn to Kim and instinctively seek her protection. She hissed at me like a cornered cat. I sighed and sheathed the sword as I held out the bottle. Like before, Tasha sniffed the air and snatched the bottle from my hand. As she chugged the blood, I took the six pack from Sarah and handed it to Kim. She accepted it and opened another bottle for Tasha.

With that taken care of, I went to the fridge and retrieved another six pack. I set it down and took five bottles with me back to the living room. I wordlessly handed one to Sarah, Bill, and Bubba and kept one for myself. I hung my coat on the coat rack by the door before collapsing into a recliner. I twisted the cap, pleased at receiving the hiss that came with it, and took a large mouthful. I saw that only Bubba had opened their bottles.

"It's not really beer." I assured. "I just kept the label."

"What is it?" Sarah asked.

"Blood." observed Bill as he watched Bubba. "We cannot drink anything else."

"But why the hiss?" Sarah examined the bottle.

"Pressure." I took another sip, enjoying the slight tingling in my throat. "The pressure inside the bottle is much higher than the pressure outside the bottle." I motioned to the cap. "When the bottle is opened, there is a sudden pressure differential. The initial loud hiss that is heard is this pressure differential equalizing itself. All of the additional pressure found within the bottle pushes gas out of the bottle until the pressure inside the bottle is the same as the pressure outside the bottle. The movement of this gas causes that initial loud hiss."

"But why bother in the first place?" Bill twisted the cap, but was unsure if he should drink. "Unless you mean to keep the blood fresh."

"Same reason soda manufacturers do so with their products." I wiggled the bottle slightly so the sound could be heard. "It helps keep the liquid carbonated. That is, the additional pressure at the surface of the liquid inside the bottle forces the bubbles to stay dissolved within the soda."

"You mean . . ." Sarah was puzzled.

"I got the idea when I saw child drop a bottle of cherry soda on East Twenty-First between Second and Third Ave in Gramercy Park." I finished the bottle and licked my lips. "Now I see why humans enjoy a cold beer after a long night." I saw Sarah was staring. "It's carbonated blood. Like beer or that drink humans are found of, Coke?"

Sarah twisted the cap and took a swig. She licked her lips evaluating the flavor. "It tickles the throat." she remarked. "But pleasantly so."

"You do realized you've developed a way for us to feed in public without rousing suspicion?. Bill asked casually as he drank. "Is there a way to serve it warm?"

"Unfortunately, no." I said. "Warming it without removing the cap causes the bottle to explode from the built of pressure and removing the cap during the warming process boils away the gas which defeats the purpose."

"Is there anymore?" Kim asked.

I turned to see Tasha had finished the entire six pack. If experience was any help, it wouldn't be near enough. "There should be a dozen left. It should hold her over until tomorrow night." I motioned to the first door in the hall. "You can use the first room on the right if you want some privacy to explain things to her."

Kim nodded and led Tasha to HER old room. I was going to be in for one hell of night tomorrow, but I had other things to deal with. Namely, I needed to keep Sarah her in New York without starting an inter-kingdom incident with Louisiana.

"So with Carl and Bubba in custody," I began. "Are you going to go straight back to Louisiana?"

"It certainly seems that way." Bill said. "I can see no reason to stay."

"Clearly you've never been to a Broadway show." I teased. "I've heard excellent things about this year's rendition of A Christmas Carol."

"Perhaps I should have said I can see no official reason to stay." Bill offered a polite smile. "I'm afraid Queen Sophie-Anne would not take kindly to such a frivolous delay."

"Well, you are in her court." I asked Sarah. "But are you as well? A single monarch could only need a bounty hunter of your caliber every so often, but multiple monarchs on the other hand would be perfect for your profession."

"I have served her for the past five years." Sarah seemed to be weighing the options. "But officially I am a free agent. As you say, I travel where I am needed. I could stay if I choose to if I was free of any obligation." She frowned. "However, I swore an oath to serve her until she released me."

"Come again?"

"It is a standard practice." Bill explained. "It is to prevent the bounty from fleeing to rich allies whom can potenially pay the hunter to turn traitor. It is understood by both that obedience is temporary, but absolute until the hunter is released from service. It is traditionally done in person with members of court as witnesses."

"And is Queen Sophie-Anna a stickler for rules and ceremony?"

"It depends on the occasion." Sarah answered.

"Hmm." I thought about it for a moment and saw I had no choice but to risk it. "Bill, do you have a cell phone and the queen's number?"

"Yes." Bill looked puzzled. "Why do you ask?"

"I would speak with her." I held out a hand.

Bill looked to Sarah who spared me a glance before nodding once. Bill took out a cellphone from his back pocket and placed it in the palm of my hand. As i scrolled through his contact list, I guessed this was Bill's personal phone rather than one issued by the queen herself. I found Sophie-Anne's number at the very end of the list, under Queen, and hit send.

I held it to my ear as it rang. I looked at my watch and remembered New York was one hour ahead of Louisiana. There was still plenty of night left even if the Sophie-Anne went to bed early.

"Hello, Bill." answered a cool male voice. "All is well I trust?"

"I apologize for misleading you." I said cheerfully. "But this is not your associate Bill Compton."

"Then to whom am I speaking to?" He asked doing a very perfect job of hiding his surprise, if he was surprised.

"The Ductor." I said nonchalantly. "And to whom am I speaking with?"

"Andre Paul, progeny of her majesty, Queen Sophie-Anne of Louisiana." He answered, sounding a bit smug. "Before we continue, I must ask what has become of Bill Compton?"

"Oh, he is right here." I assured. "Bubba as well."

"That is good to know." Andre said calmly. "As I am sure you are aware of, they are under the protection of Louisiana."

"I assume Jagerin is as well. Or as a free lance bounty hunter dose she not warrant the same courtesy?"

"You have no right to hold them!" Andre snapped. "Only the king — "

"Who's holding?" I interrupted. "They are enjoying my hospitality in my own nest. They are free to leave whenever they wish."

"I would like to speak with Bill Compton." Andre demanded.

"Here." I held out the phone. "Apparently the south's propensity for manners has diminished."

Bill took his phone and began to speak with Andre. He explained and swore that I was not holding him and Sarah hostage for some perceived insult and nor was I acting under orders by the king of New York, whomever he was. As he did so, Sarah leaned and began whispering in my ear.

"Andre is not one to be trifled with." she warned. "He was turned not long after Sophie-Anne and she is over one thousand years old."

"You could have told me that before I dialed the phone." I whispered back. "Anyway, he's intelligent to have survived so long which means he won't risk a war with New York without a really good reason and the queen's consent."

"And if he merely decides to take matters in his own hands and makes thing personal?"

"Do you have any idea how many people live here?" I paused to see where Bubba was and saw him standing by my piano in the corner of the room occasionally tapping a key. "You would have to combine the populations of LA, Chicago, and Houston to match it. Looking for one person, without a face or a listed address, would make looking for a needle in a haystack easy." I began counting off my fingers. "He would be forced to turn to the sheriffs which are greatly indebted to me. That's ignoring the fact I've memorized and know every street in all five boroughs. And don't even get me started on Long Island."

"And if you ever need to travel to New Orleans?"

"I'll tell him the truth about who I am." I smiled. "I'm a baby vampire hardly three years old."

"You're only three years old?!" She hissed in my ear.

"Precocious little scamp ain't I?" I winked.

"I understand."Bill handed the phone to me. "Ductor, Andre wishes to speak with you."

"Thank you." I took the phone. "I take it you are aware of the situation?"

"Yes, Ductor." Andre said respectfully. "Please accept my apologies as the king of New York is not known for its tolerance."

"Funny." I mused. "Humans would say the same of Louisiana. May I speak with the queen?"

"Allow me to inquire after her. Please wait."

I waited for hardly thirty seconds. Either the Sophie-Anne was eager to speak with the great Ductor she had heard so much about, or, the far more likely reason, she just happened to be in the next room.

"Hello." greeted a smooth, slightly sultry, accented female voice. "This is Queen Sophie-Anne of Leclerq of Louisiana. I am told the Ductor wishes to speak with me."

"My apologies, your majesty, if I interrupted something important." I said politely. "I am the Ductor."

"You have been causing quite a stir among the two-natured." She informed me. "Tales of your deeds have even reached my ears. I long to say other wise, but not all of them flattering."

"Oderint Dum Metuant." I said casually.

"Let them hate so long as they fear." Sophie-Anne said approvingly.

"Say what you will about Lucius Accius, but he had his moments."

"I was under the impression it was Caligula whom said the phrase."

"I'm afraid you are mistaken, your majesty. Lucius Accius was first, but due to his infamy it stayed with Caligula."

"So to what do I owe the pleasure?" Sophie-Anne asked now that we had broken the ice. "I doubt you wished to educate me on the more subtle facts of Ancient Rome."

"Sadly no." I said. "I wished to speak with you about the bounty hunter you sent after a Were that had so gravely wronged you."

"You speak of the Jagerin." Sophie-Anne concluded. "I was not aware she had chased him so far north."

"Well, she did. However, should you ever have dealings with the king of Mississippi please inform him to keep the Hounds of Hell on a shorter leash in the future, for their sake." I chuckled. "And if he could have them pay for the damages I was forced to commit to save myself and Jagerin."


"They stormed a bar I happened to be in at the time. Long story short, I severely burned the floor and furniture of the main room with some improvised Molotov cocktails and utterly destroyed the kitchen with a hastily constructed bomb."

"While I am grateful for your assistance, as am sure Jagerin is, I must ask why did you interfere?"

"Besides the fact they shot me with a crossbow?"

"Yes, besides that."

"She is my sister."

"Excuse me?"

"The vampire you know as the Jagerin is the sister the Ductor." I said. "And I am the Ductor."

"My apologies." Sophie-Anne told me. "She told me that her maker was a woman whom was turned in the very early fourteenth century."

"And I am certain that is what her maker told her, but I am sorry to inform you that our maker was not always as truthful as she should have been. There was a time where I thought she resembled Venus."

"What reason would she have to do so?"

"We each have our own ways of avoiding boredom. Some are more harmless than others."

"That is true enough." She paused as if to consider something. "So what do you wish of me in regards of your newly discovered sister?"

"As you can imagine, we much to discuss." I said. "It is my, and her, desire to remain in New York for a time. In short, I am asking, as favor to me, to release her from her oath."

"And what of the Were she is tracking? Am I to allow such arrogance to go unpunished?"

"Of course not. Which is why he is currently passed out drunk in the trunk of my car."

` "Alive?"

"Last time I checked."

"Then I will gladly release your sister from her obligations to me the moment the Were stands before me." she said firmly.

"And is there nothing I can say or do that might change your mind?"

"I'm afraid not." She said sounding smug. "The sooner they reach New Orleans the sooner I will release."

Now I was annoyed.

We had both been pleasant and polite with each other. Logically she had no reason to keep Sarah if all she wanted was Carl. Bill could easily glamor Carl to drive him and Bubba to New Orleans or take a flight from JFK Airport. Did she think I was lying and this was merely a test to see if I truly wasn't holding Sarah and Bill captive? Had Andre, like a petulant child, gone crying to mommy because of my little quip? Did I not kiss her ass enough?

Then a thought came to me. Assuming Sarah was a stickler for some rules, Sophie-Anne could order her to tell hr everything she knew about me including my age. Even if Sarah resisted, which she might, I didn't imagine for a moment the great Sophie-Anne was above torture. My initial impression was, one way or another, Queen Sophie-Anne got what she wanted. So either comply with her demands and risk it coming back to bite me later on or refusing and incur the wrath of an ancient vampire queen with unknown resources at her disposal. I would be a severe disadvantage. Sophie-Anne would potentially have a fountain of knowledge to work with while the only person with any information for me was Sarah. It seemed that I had over reached and Sophie-Anne had boxed me in. No matter what I offered or said, nothing would make Sophie-Anne release until Carl was standing before her.

Wait a second . . .

"Very well, your majesty." I said trying to sound I was hiding my annoyance, but failing just enough for her to catch it. "I'd prefer it otherwise, but as you said the sooner the better."

"Do not fret, Ductor." She assured me. "If there is one thing we both possess is infinite time."

"That is true." I nodded. "But please, to show there is no ill will, I will send a gift."

"A gift?"

"Yes." I said sweetly. "A gift of knowledge."

"That will not be necessary."

"I insist." I told her. "I will entrust it to Bubba. I am told he is suited for such task and it should keep him from wandering."

"I look forward to it, my Ductor." Sophie-Anne assured me. "Please know that you are welcome in my kingdom should you find yourself tiring of New York and would like experience a city that truly knows how to celebrate."

"May that night come soon, your majesty." I hung up and handed the phone back to Bill. "Sorry if we burned through your minutes."

To my surprise, Bill did not take his phone. I looked around and saw Bill and Sarah were conversing over by the refrigerator. They both had fresh bottles of carbonated blood. Sarah was recounting our fight against the Hounds of Hell in the Patient Gentleman. That was incredibly lucky. Had Bill remained where he had been, he would have heard every word the queen had said and my plan would be thwarted before it even started.

"He fashioned a bomb with a microwave and cleaning spray?" Bill sounded skeptical.

"With silverware for shrapnel." Sarah took a sip from her drink. "I would not have believed it myself, or even thought it possible, if I had not been there."

"Here, Bill." I walked to them and handed Bill his phone. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." Bill pocketed the phone.

"It seems the sooner the Carl is standing in her presence the better." I said carefully. "How did you plan on returning?"

"I hired a hearse with false documents to transport me in a coffin." Bill explained.

"I am curious." I asked. "Dose the queen provide for your expenses?"

"Yes." Bill informed me. "Due to unforeseen nature of my assignments, I pay out of pocket and she reimburses me upon completion."

"No doubt to keep you from spending on yourself." I concluded. "Then might I suggest, in regards to saving time for everyone, arranging a plane. It shouldn't be more than a three hour flight non stop from JFK to New Orleans."

"That would be preferable to driving the entire way." Bill observed.

"If you wish, I could speak with the sheriff on Long Island about securing passage onto a plane. He owes me a favor." I offered. "There are a fair number of smaller private airports on the island. It shouldn't be too difficutl to find a pilot willing to overlook a lack of paperwork or at least persuaded to not look to closely."

"In that case." I handed him my car keys. "Go around the building to the Trans Am and retrieve Carl from the trunk before he suffocates. I suggest glamoring him to find a quiet motel and meet up once night falls."

"Thank you, Ductor." Bill took the keys. "I am in your debt."

"Never say that all New Yorkers are rude monsters with no time or want to help others." I smiled gently. "I will send Bubba down with the address and number of the sheriff along with directions. I'd offer to host for the night, but with both Kim and her progeny my sister and I will already be sharing a coffin."

"You have done more than is necessary, Ductor." Bill inclined his head. "There is enough night for Bubba and I to find a suitable place to rest for the day."

Bill quickly left to retrieve Carl. Sarah did not say a word as she followed me back to the living room. I quickly found a blank page and began writing a letter to Sophie-Anne.

Dear, Queen Sophie-Anne Leclerq.

I hope this letter find you without delay. I would like to thank you for sending my sister to me. I know it was not your intent to do so, but I am grateful nonetheless. Assuming nothing has gone awry, the Were that was foolish enough to wrong you stands before you, no doubt begging for mercy that will surely not come. As you stated clearly in our previous exchange, you preferred to not release my sister from obligations until all of the i's are dotted and t's crossed, and her prey stood before you. No doubt you are eager to deal with the issue and move on to more pressing matters. It is for that reason, calling upon those who are in my debt, I arranged for your underling Bill Compton to fly straight to New Orleans rather than delay several days and nights by driving the entire length.

I trusted Bubba with gift. I am aware of your age and this will surprise your palette. I am not certain or not if you tire of the same each and every night. I know I have to an extent, a trait of mine that I carried over from my human life.


The Ductor.

P.S. If you ever tire of New Orleans and would like experience all that the greatest city in the world has to offer, know that you to merely call on me and I can guarantee a night you will never forget.

I folded the letter into three and began writing on another sheet.

"What are you doing?" Sarah asked.

"A gift for Sophie-Anne." I started writing down a list of supplies and instructions step by step. "I'm going to send Bubba with a message along with a list of the necessary equipment and the process for carbonating blood."

"Did she release me from my oath?"

"Yes and no." I folded the second letter. "Bubba, would you come here?"

"Yes, mister Ductor?" Bubba came over from the piano.

"I have a job for you." I held up the first letter. "Interested?"

"That kinda depend on how much you're paying." Bubba said as a matter of fact. "And the job?"

"I want you to deliver these two letters to Sophie-Anne when you go to New Orleans with Bill tomorrow night."

"That's it?"

"Yes, but you can't read them or let anyone, except for Sophie-Anne, read them. Don't even tell anyone about them." I took out five twenty dollar bills. "I'll pay you one hundred dollars. Fifty for each letter. Cash. Right now. Would you do this for me?"

"Sure thing." He held a hand for the letters. "You can count on me."

"Here." I watched as Bubba placed the letters and money inside his jacket. "Remember, Bubba. No one can know about those letters and only give them to Sophie-Anne."

"Will do!" Bubba nodded firmly.

"Good." I motioned to the door. "Now go. Bill is probably waiting for you."

"Okay." He inclined his head to me. "It was nice meetin' ya, mister Ductor." He then did the same with Sarah. "You too, Miss Jagerin."

"Farewell, Bubba." Sarah offered a slight smile. "Try to stay out of trouble."

Bubba, encouraged by his role as a royal courier, quickly left and closed the door behind him. I glanced over to HER old room and saw neither Kim or Tasha had opened the door. I caught some muffled noises, but it was too faint and unclear to make out. It was impossible to know how things were going in there. Tasha could still be feeding as Kim explained things to her. Equally as probable, Tasha had fallen prey to her baser urges after finishing the blood and Kim had obliged her in order keep her calm and delay the talk they eventually would have.

"Explain!" Sarah demanded, snapping me out of my mind. "Did the queen release me or not?"

"Alright," I glanced at my watch and saw sunrise was still off by a few hours, but I felt spent. "Follow me." I rose from the chair and began walking to my room. Sarah followed. "Technically, you're still under oath, but only until Carl reaches New Orleans."

"What were her exact words?" Sarah asked accusingly.

"Verbatim?" I opened the door and saw Tux curled at the foot of the bed. "I will gladly release your sister from her obligations to me the moment the Were stands before me." I scratched behind Tux's ear to wake her. "It's alright. He's gone."

Tux yawned before she hopped off the bed and walked out of the room to her favorite spot on the couch.

"So I am to return to New Orleans." Sarah said firmly, sounding far from pleased.

"She didn't say that." I sat on the couch and took off my shoes. "Not exactly anyway."

"Excuse me?"

"You are free the moment Carl stands before Sophie-Anne. It's what I wrote in my letter to her which she should receive sometime tomorrow night thanks to Bill taking my advice about charting a flight instead of driving back all the way. " I removed my socks and enjoyed the feeling the carpet between my toes.

"You are insane!" Sarah hissed. "That verbal kind trickery might pass in human court, but with our kind and most certainly not with Sophie-Anne. Regardless of the words she chose, her meaning was clear!"

"Of course it was." I frowned. "She wanted information on me."


"If all she wanted was Carl then would she insist on your return?" I demanded. "With you under her command, she would have you divulge any and all information you had of me. What I looked like, the location of my apartment, my standing with the king of New York, my abilities, anything that could give her an advantage over me besides her age." I growled. "Unlike her, you, or most of our kind I don't the luxury of age. My survival depends on others assuming they'll be courting certain death if they cross me as does my freedom.


"Imagine if you're Sophie-Anne." I sighed "You've just discovered that the infamous Ductor is merely an infant with a gift. You want this gift for yourself, but he politely declines. So you threaten to or inform the Were of New York and Long Island that the Ductor is not some ancient general of the Roman Empire, but is some weakling runt and even provide a description of his likeness. This causes them to begin searching for him in earnest making not only the city, but entire kingdom unsafe to reside in. Then all you would ave to do it extend your safety with stipulation that he work for you, effectively cutting off his home-field advantage and his anonymity. Not only will you gain a powerful and useful pawn, but the bragging right that you plucked him from right under the nose of the king of New York."

"Which would cause a war." Sarah pointed out.

"Against an already prepared an intelligent adversary who has just gained a treasure trove of the inner workings of New York City, not only the crown jewel of the kingdom, but one of the few in the entire country." I opened my hands and asked. "Now do you understand why I did what I did? She will be displeased, but she won't risk a war with New York over a single vampire. She'll just have to settle for Carl and my process for carbonating blood as a consolation prize."

"And if she should try again?"

"I'll cross that bridge when I get to it."

"I was not entirely certain if you possessed a gift, but now I am." Sarah sounded amused. "Strange. Usually gifts tend to be the same all children, but as you've said proficiency with weapons if not yours."

"I thought you just had centuries of practice."

"No." Sarah smiled nostalgically. "As human, I was an average shot. It was until I was turned that my skills improved exponentially. Still, I would trade my gift for that of flight. To soar the sky over prey like a bird of prey would be glorious."

"That reminds me, do you have a cell phone?"


"May I have it?" I held out a hand. "I need to call in a favor."

Sarah handed me her phone and I dialed the number for Yojimbo's. I was informed the bar was closed and Ryuu had left for his nest hours ago. I introduced myself and asked for the home number, thanking him when he recited the numbers. I hung up and dialed Ryuu's number.

"Dare ga yonde imasu ka?!" snapped an annoyed Ryuu before saying in English. "God help you if this a telemarketer."

"Gomen'nasai, Ryuu-sama." I said. "I thought you might like to help me avoid something of an international incident."

"Kisama." He growled. "Need I remind you that you do not reside in my area. Go bother Matthew for once!"

"There are two vampires from the kingdom of Louisiana." I explained. "They will call on you for assistance in procuring a private plane and pilot to return to New Orleans. I told them you would help."

"And why would I wish to do that?" Ryuu demanded.

"Because the sooner they reach New Orleans the less likely the queen is to send more and possibly cause problems. Problems no doubt both you and and king would like to avoid." I went on. "It won't cost you nothing more an hour or two. Three max. You can just send one of your progeny. All they need is the name of a pilot. They'll pay for everything and the queen will reimburse them. I'll pay back any money you spend, for whatever reason, double."

I metaphorically held my breath while Ryuu mulled it over, or mentally cursed me in language he knew. Probably both.

"Very well." Ryuu growled. "But do not presume I will be so accommodating in the future. We are not equals. Regardless of your gift and past service, you are under Matthew's command and mine when in my area, not the other way."

"I'll remember that." I said, pretending to sound cowed. "I'll think things through the next time."

"See that you do!"

With that, he hung up.

"Well, that take cares of that." I set down the phone and looked up. "Uh, what are you doing?"

All of Sarah's clothes laid in a heap around here, gun belt and all, except for her bra and panties. Instead of answering me, she pounced on me in the blink of eye and forced me down on the bed hard. She loomed over me, her fangs out.

"I need you inside of me." She said calmly.

"Uh, what now?"

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