Blood & Curses

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Chapter 16: Alastor

David sat in the lounge with a drink in his hand as he waited to be seen by Adrian. His dealings with the vampire had become more frequent since visiting New Orleans at the behest of his boss. While he didn’t approve of his part in the exchange, he thought it best not to confront his superiors about any suspicions that he had. Plus, his cut of the deal left something to be desired.

He did, however, worry about Kate. While he had told her it wasn’t her business, he did feel that she had a right to know what was going on. It wasn’t like him to keep secrets from his fellow Hunters and the whole idea of it made him feel dirty. Kate was right about him in that regard. He was up to no good.

Swallowing the rest of his liquor, he gazed into his empty glass as if trying to discern his future. David knew that his dealings would have a negative outcome for him but he couldn’t refuse his mission—whatever that truly entailed.

Alastor wasn’t very forthcoming with why David was accepting Adrian’s blood money. It disgusted him even more that his boss was in whatever game Adrian was buying. That vampire had all the hunters in his city wrapped around his finger because Alastor couldn’t or wouldn’t stand up for his own kind.

“Would you like another one?” a waitress in a skimpy outfit asked as she placed his empty glass onto a tray. David gave her the slightest nod and she walked away, swaying her hips seductively.

It had been so long since he had even thought about touching a woman, but here he was, in a notorious vampire club thinking about banging his waitress. Leaning back on the couch, he rubbed his face with his hands. The suspense was eating at him hard.

A woman strode through the crowd and finally met him across the coffee table. She smiled and sat in a lounge chair opposite him. Crossing her legs, she looked him up and down. Her smooth legs glistened in the light of the club as her hair fell around her shoulders in dark brown waves. Just by her features, he could tell that she was of Italian decent. His senses piqued and he knew he was in the presence of a vampire.

“I’m Melaina,” she said in a smooth, silk voice. “Mr. Clemente sent me to fetch you.”

“Couldn’t greet me himself, I see,” David remarked in a brisk tone.

She arched an eyebrow, studying him. “Adrian is currently entertaining another guest. I believe you two know each other. Mr. Alastor Boucher?”

David stiffened. His boss wasn’t supposed to be in town for another two weeks and he hadn’t been informed of any new arrangements in travel plans. Melaina’s grin widened revealing perfect white teeth behind her sultry lips.

“I see you’re confused,” she commented.

David remained silent, unsure if he should admit the truth she seemed to already have observed. Vampires had their own abilities that made them dangerous and unpredictable. He knew that Melaina was no different.

“Who exactly are you? You’re not just an assistant to the man behind the mirrors,” David replied, hoping that would get her to talk a little more.

She cocked her head to the side. “Men. Always wanting to fish for answers instead of just being direct. And they say that women play the mind games.”

“If you’re here to take me to Adrian then why aren’t you doing your job?” David inquired more forcefully. If she wanted to mock him then she deserved his anger.

Her smile disappeared from her face, striking a nerve. “Or I could just drain you right now and no one would ever miss you, Hunter. Your boss would have no problem getting your demise ruled as an accident as per the usual for your kind when they go missing. No friends, no family. Must be difficult knowing that no one would even care.”

The waitress came back over and set David’s drink down on the coffee table between them as they glared at each other. She backed away from the couple and left quickly, feeling the tension in the air.

David picked up the drink and sipped its contents, trying to remain calm as his rage flared within him. He could handle Adrian but this woman made him want to slaughter all their kind in one fatal swoop.

Melaina looked up at the wall of mirrors above them and back towards David. “Adrian is ready for you now. Follow me.”

Standing from her chair, she walked away without glancing over her shoulder to see if David was following her. This woman didn’t care if that man even had time to pick himself off the couch.

David shot from the couch and swiftly followed Melaina to the employee entrance and up the stairs to Adrian’s office. As much as he disliked her, she had a nice figure that any man would die for.

She opened the door and entered, waiting for David to step over the threshold before closing the door behind him. Adrian was seated on one of the couches in the center of the room while Alastor was seated on the other, his back towards David. David walked around to stand in front of the two men as Alastor turned towards him.

Suddenly, David was being grabbed by both his arms by two men and a chair was being pulled up behind him. Slamming David down into the seat, the two men tied his wrists and feet to the arms and legs of the chair. He bucked against their attempt to restrain him but his strength was no match for vampires.

Alastor and Adrian watched as David struggled against the bindings as they cut into his flesh. Alastor was tall with a slender, oval shaped face. He was bald on top with silver hair around the sides of his head. His eyes were a dark green, with a thin nose and lips. This was the first time David had met Mr. Boucher in person and he immediately sensed that something was terribly wrong.

“Thank you for joining us, David. I’ve been dying to meet you,” Alastor said as David ceased his struggling and reverted his attention back to the pair. “Melaina, thank you so kindly for being a good hostess for us.”

“My pleasure,” Melaina replied with a bow of her head.

“What’s going—”

“You will not speak unless spoken to,” Alastor growled as David tightly sealed his lips.

“Have another drink, Alastor,” Adrian said as he poured the man a glass. David gulped, sweat beading on his forehead.

Alastor picked up the glass and drank the brandy offered to him. “This is quite exquisite, Adrian. I see my investment is paying off.”

“With your generous donations to the rehabilitation center, I’ve been able to expand the business and increase manufacturing of Lust and this little experiment here. Pretty soon, Thirst, will be available to vampires all over the country as well,” Adrian confirmed.

David was starting to make sense of their conversation. Mr. Boucher, who had taken over as head of the sect of vampire hunters, had fooled everyone. He wasn’t sure how, but a vampire had been appointed to one of the highest positions in the Order.

“I believe he’s starting to understand,” Alastor said in reference to David. “David, how long have you worked underneath me?”

David clenched his jaw. “Two years.”

“And all this time, you had no idea you were doing the bidding of the very creature you claim to hunt?” Alastor had no problem adding insult to injury.

David let out a shaky breath. “No.”

“Marvelous, isn’t it?” Alastor remarked, peering over the rim of his glass at Adrian. “I have the whole Order fooled.”

“How?” David questioned. As soon as the words left his mouth, one of the vampires near him slugged him in the gut causing him to cough up blood.

“Watch your strength,” Adrian demanded. “He’s human.”

“Sorry, boss,” the vampire muttered under his breath as he stepped away from David.

Placing his glass down upon the coffee table with a clink, Alastor straightened his tie. “Vampires have unique abilities and some of those abilities include fooling humans like you. It took centuries to perfect the technique on more skilled Hunters. Some of you possess highly coveted psychic abilities that even I had trouble overtaking, but after capturing and torturing enough of your kind, it was achievable.”

David’s gaze fell on Adrian. As much as he hated dealing with Adrian, Alastor was proving to be worse. He had to get out of here and warn the other Hunters.

Adrian leaned forward and slid an envelope over to Alastor. Taking it from the table, Alastor briefly glanced at its contents and tucked it away inside his jacket pocket.

“I expect my next cut to be taken next week. I’ll send someone to pick up the money,” Alastor said.

Those words made David stiffen in his chair. David was the one who had been picking up his cut of the blood money and for Alastor to say that someone else would be doing his dirty work only meant one thing.

Standing from the couch, Alastor made his way over to stand in front of David. Gazing down, Alastor crinkled his nose in disgust.

“Oh, David,” Alastor sighed. “I can’t have any loose ends within the Order. I know that you’ve been talking to Kate and unfortunately for you, her abilities are more useful to me than yours.”

“She doesn’t know any—”

“Shh…” Alastor shushed, placing a finger over David’s mouth while kneeling in front of him. As he took his finger away, his long fingernails sliced in his bottom lip, spilling blood. “I know she doesn’t and I need it to stay that way.”

Before David could protest, Alastor swiped his hand across his throat. Sputtering to breathe, he felt the wetness of his blood seeping through the top of his shirt. Looking down, he saw the crimson liquid pour from his slit throat as he drowned in the blood flowing down his trachea.

Alastor watched with a grin as he held his hand up, blood dripping down his fingers. He pulled David’s head up by the back of his hair so he could watch him as he licked the blood from one of his fingers. A gurgling sound erupted from David’s mouth as the light left his eyes, a dull, lifeless body staring back at him. Alastor released his head and it drooped back down.

“Clean this up,” Alastor instructed Adrian’s men. Adrian watched as his men complied with the order, cutting the ties around David’s arms and legs, before lifting him out of the chair and onto a plastic sheet on the floor as not to spill his blood.

“You may feed from him if you like, gentlemen,” Adrian told his men as they wrapped him up and carried him out the door to the back of the club in the alley.

Alastor returned to his seat, taking a handkerchief from his jacket pocket and wiping the rest of the blood from his hand. Adrian sat in silence knowing that Alastor wasn’t one to be trifled with. Although they were business partners, Alastor was much older than Adrian and therefore had more friends.

“Shall we get back to discussing business?” Alastor said as he reached for his brandy on the table.

“I don’t think killing him was necessary. Why would you want to deplete your ranks?” Adrian asked.

“I’m slowly replacing the Hunters,” he replied.

“With who?” Adrian questioned. While he admired Alastor’s commitment to his ruse with the Hunters, he didn’t want his city to fall to a man such as him.

“More of us, of course.” His laughter boomed throughout the silent office as Melaina stood in the corner listening. “Just imagine. A world without Hunters, without the fear of being destroyed. We would be truly immortal.”

“That does sound nice…” Adrian sighed. Hunters had always given him a hard time but with Alastor in charge, things were starting to get easier. It also helped his business to help vampire kind. “How did you trick them?”

“I call it Signaling,” Alastor explained. “I developed the ability over the years, discovering it only after trying to escape a Hunter centuries ago. While a Hunter has a sixth sense to discern vampires in a crowd, I found a way to confuse and eventually block those senses around me. In my presence, the Hunter believes me a normal human being without their body signaling to them that I’m any different. Of course, it took practice to perfect.”

“This is just phase one,” Alastor continued as he set his empty glass down. “You’re doing good work here and I do believe you and I will make a great pair when we decide to go public.”

“You mean, in the vampire community,” Adrian replied.

“Oh, no. I do mean public,” Alastor repeated. “You don’t expect to hide in the shadows forever do you?”

Adrian swallowed hard. It was becoming clear that his plans for the community differed vastly from Alastor’s.

“Don’t look so shocked. It was only a matter of time. Once the Hunters are under my full control and those that don’t fall in line are eradicated, we can take our business public, setting an example for all vampires. No more living in fear and hiding. This is your home and I hope to one day be able to make it a central hub for vampires.”

“What about humans? Going public won’t ease their fears about us,” Adrian pointed out.

“Humans are sheep,” Alastor said with a frown. “Some of them will be turned and the others will be used for this.”

Alastor tapped the decanter of Thirst on the table. Melaina gasped lightly at the revelation of Alastor’s words. Adrian remained seated with an unreadable face, one of his many talents.

“And what of the opposition from other vampires?” Adrian asked.

A slow smile spread across Alastor’s face. “Then they can share in the same fate with those who won’t comply. You may want to take a look at what happened to the Clan in Romania as an example.”

Alastor’s phone vibrated in his jacket pocket. Taking it out, he read the caller ID and quickly stood up for the door. Adrian stood as well and walked closely behind him.

“I’m sorry to cut this short, Adrian, but business is calling. I enjoyed your company and will send a new messenger within a week. I see great things for our future.” Alastor extended his hand to Adrian who shook it firmly before he headed through the door.

Walking quickly over to his desk, Melaina followed Adrian over, standing in front of him.

“You can’t be serious, Adrian. Making a deal with a vampire like that?” she exclaimed.

“I know, Melaina,” Adrian said. “When I spoke to Alastor years ago, he wasn’t like this. I thought he genuinely wanted to help the community but I see now it was just a ploy to get me to invest in his ideas.”

Adrian crashed his fist down on his desk, splitting the wood underneath and leaving an indentation.

“His aura…” Melaina began. “He’s so angry, full of rage. I don’t know what happened to him but there’s also a tear…”

“A tear?” Adrian raised his eyebrow.

“Yes. There are holes everywhere. I’ve only seen a hole once and that was in an extreme mental patient. There’s no telling what multiple holes like that indicate,” she pointed out.

“He thinks that coming out as vampires will somehow make us superior to humans, but if there’s one thing I know, they’re resilient,” Adrian remarked.

“Should we call on Derrick from the bayou?” Melaina asked.

“No. This is between vampires. I don’t call on him unless it affects all supernatural beings,” Adrian insisted. “His pack is safe for now.”

“How many humans do you think he’ll turn if that happens?” Melaina wondered aloud.

Adrian sighed as he stood up from his chair and walked over to his windows, staring down on the people in his club below. “I’m more concerned with how many humans he’s already turned for his cause.”

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