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The Blood Diamond (The Hunters Trilogy #1)

By RJ City All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

Blurb

Hunting vampires is little more than a profession for Antoinette ‘Toni’ Drake, it just comes with ease these days. On the trail of Henri Sinclair, the richest of the undead, Toni finds herself plunged deeper into the sinister world where foul beasts and undesirables lurk in the grime and darkness. Mixing business with pleasure, Sinclair’s new club - The Blood Diamond -provides a sanctuary for the very beasts Toni has sworn to eradicate. Delving further into enemy territory in a dark new world, Toni will have to face more than just these demons if she’s to truly survive.

A Hunter's Mission

“Tonight’s the night, John! Can you believe it? Yet another New York venue for both tourists and natives to the nightlife is opening in the next twenty-four hours. It’s been plugged and advertised for weeks in advance, but as you can see, this newest hotspot is not about to disappoint. Yes, The Blood Diamond is now open for bus-”

ZAP!

Black coated the flat screen television set, and the pretty news lady was no longer spouting her enthusiastic ignorance in my face. Her glossy blonde hair and blinding white smile had just screamed gullible and fake, as were the rest of them. Those damn media hounds were painfully unware that they had just openly glorified a deathtrap waiting to happen. Yes, The Blood Diamond Nightclub was indeed open for business, but a vast majority of its customers and patrons wouldn’t be the everyday tourist. No, they wouldn’t have a heartbeat.

They wouldn’t be alive.

At this point, I can probably guess what you’re thinking, right? There’s no such thing as vampires and werewolves and witches, a rational person might say. What they won’t say is that the supernatural community is, in fact, real. It’s so very, very real.

Unbelievable? I’d think so too if I didn’t know the truth. With a new nightclub so advertised, it was obvious why the Order wanted the place monitored. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the publicity the venue was receiving. It happened every time those bloodsuckers tried to ingrain themselves into society. Of course, the very best site for this occurrence was the Manhattan peninsula.

Heavily populated areas always seemed to be vital to the undead community. I mean, it was obvious why this was all true. If a person went missing in the big city, it would definitely go unnoticed.

Unfortunately, with the Order and its Agencies on standby, this usually didn’t last very long. The nightclubs were targets of plenty undercover missions, which I seemed to excel at in particular. Why?

Why did I always have the dangerous missions? Well, I guess it could’ve been because I loved the thrill of the experience. Like some damn adrenaline junkie craving her next death-induced hit, I just kept coming back for more.

That’s it, alright.

I craved that exhilarating rush that came from filling a vampire’s skull with lead and bullets and then staking them right in the heart for extra measure. It was what I lived for all of my teenage life.

If you couldn’t tell by now, that was sarcasm.

Anyway, I always seemed to receive the perilous tasks; those assignments that were naturally too difficult for the less experienced, i.e. the police. Not that I was complaining or anything…

Oh, wait. I was.

Why did this happen to me, you ask? Have I always been so in tune to the dangers and this overly-extreme thrill-seeking task? To be perfectly honest, it never crossed my mind that my constant risk-taking occupation was bad for my health overall. Who knew, right?

The vampire hunters throughout history have been known to be fearless, non-stop killing machines; sort of like the beasts they’re supposed to protect the public from. The safety of this city depended on the hunters. We kept the peace on a nightly basis, which is much harder than you might think at this point. We were only human, after all.

I didn’t choose to become a vampire hunter. No one does, I think. Trust me when I say there wasn’t a ‘How to Be a Vampire Hunter’ course you could take in college, or in any private schools surrounding the Manhattan area, for that matter.

Believe me, I checked.

Use Google if you have doubts, which I’m sure you have.

As it turns out, I was sucked – sorry, that’s a bad use of the word – unwillingly into this way of life and strife after my parents died at the hands of a vampire. Cliché sounding, I know, but it was the truth. My little sister, Liz, and I were practically forced to watch as our Mom and Dad perished. Now, I wasn’t usually one for morbid memories and recollections, but this one moment in particular stuck with me throughout the remainder of these years, even to this very day. In the end, I was actually able to recall more details of the attack than Liz could. She didn’t even remember what the killer looked like. She was lucky.

Boy, was she lucky…

I, on the other hand, remembered that horrific event of my childhood all too well, and I would never forget that face. It still haunted my dreams relentlessly. It didn’t seem to let up any time soon, either.

Regardless of my past encounters with the undead, I’d become a vampire hunter to protect my loved ones. This job – Hell, it was more of a lifestyle, now that I thought about it – was bred through vengeful thinking and grudge holding, but these days, it was more than that. Sure, I hadn’t meant to choose this life, but I wasn’t exactly in constant danger on a daily basis.

Damn it, I was!

These past few years have been Hell, and I’d seen a lot, learned a lot, and overall had become a hunter to be reckoned with. What, you don’t believe me? During my training, I was at the top of my class in the Manhattan sector. I sent powerful monsters to the grave, but that was a story for another night.

Right now, I had to focus on my current mission. Remember the nightclub I mentioned earlier? You know, The Blood Diamond. Hell, if you hadn’t heard of the joint, I’d be shocked. It had a spiffy name right?

I hated it.

Not for the reasons you think, mind you. The issue I had wasn’t the too-obvious name of the club, nor its also-too-obvious motto: We promise to raise your pulse. Just ask. Oh, no. I hated this club because the owner, Henri Sinclair, just so happened to be one of the richest vampires in New York City.

Yeah, that’s right a vampire. Wait, you haven’t heard of him either? Damn, where have you been, living under a rock? Okay, okay. Fine. I’d explain, but I didn’t exactly have the luxury of wasting time. This mission wouldn’t be easy, and it certainly wouldn’t be safe.

I’d left my apartment with a note to my sister. She would be out studying with her friends tonight until 9. This was my chance. I didn’t have to worry about her. Now, sighing lightly, I trudged through one of the back alleys behind my apartment complex.

If you ever visit New York, your best bet is to remain ignorant. Seriously. That way, the monsters have no reason to target you. Trust me, it’s better that way. But if you do happen to attract unwanted attention, there are some ground rules for surviving. Just take it from a vampire hunter:

Rule #1: never ever look a vampire in the eye. No matter what. I really couldn’t care less if that’s considered a rude gesture and it’ll ruin your family honor or some shit like that. Your safety should be more important. Direct eye contact often is a common indicator and trigger for vamps to use compulsion and control your mind, so don’t you dare look!

Rule #2: wear holy objects – preferably blessed and doused in holy water – at all times while at nighttime venues, especially nightclubs. It might just piss off the vamps present, but whatever. Hey, at least you’ll be protected.

Rule #3 is very, very important: please use some common sense and don’t go to a vampire-infested nightclub in the first place! It’ll save a lot of trouble, paperwork and – more importantly – your life. If you take my word for it, good for you. If not, well… don’t come crying to me when you or your loved ones are bleeding to death on the nicely polished dance floor. It’s a real inconvenience for slaves of the vampires to have to clean up your naïve mess.

So, yeah, life can be rough if you know the ins and outs of the city, but that’s a given no one can afford. Then there were the hunters, AKA me. We had to deal with this sort of situation daily. A club opens, the public rejoices. The next few weeks? People go missing all the time in New York, but the criminals involved were more dangerous than the humble police could ever hope to handle.

What else was there to know? Wish I had a clue. I was only a kid, some seventeen-year-old who lived with her sister in a decent apartment, all thanks to the Agency I bled out for. No, just kidding. About the bleeding, not the obligation I had to the hunters and their authorities.

I was still learning, even though I’d been a hunter for a little more than two years to this day. I still wasn’t the best in my field. That job title went to-

The bushes on my right rustled suddenly, ominously. I stopped in my tracks, the heels of my boots squealing in protest against the cool concrete. The streets surrounding me weren’t deserted. Not yet, at least. Shop windows were still lit, promising the high-end fashion Manhattan seemed to be known for most of all. The wind picked up some more. I pulled the leather jacket closer. Just around the corner…

I was almost at the club’s entrance. Just then, a shadowy figure emerged from the bowels of the alley, the one I’d just come through. Fearing the worst, I stood my ground, awaiting the danger. The figure – a young boy with a brown mop of hair – took a step closer, and the streetlights finally unveiled his face to the light.

It… it was…

“Damn it, Ethan, you didn’t have to scare me! Next time, speak first,” I growled harshly as the teen gave me a brilliant grin.

“What the Hell are you doing anyway?” I continued when he didn’t speak. “Stalking me?”

Ethan shrugged. “I thought it was obvious. I followed you from the apartments, just to see where you were going.” He leaned into me, ice-blue eyes unusually bright. “I figured you wouldn’t mind, seeing as this is a mission.”

“H-how did you-?” I began with a questioning curl of my bottom lip. Ethan beat me to it. “Hannah told me about it. Well, not all of it. She just gave me your location, that’s all.”

My scowl softened a bit. “Don’t you have anything better to do?”

“Nope.”

I sighed softly. Ditching Ethan would not be easy at this point. I took my eyes off of him and proceeded down the sidewalk. Like the loyal friend he was, Ethan scampered to keep up.

“Ethan,” I groaned, causing the teen to pause in his advancements. I turned to face him once more. “Look, this mission is dangerous, and I don’t want you getting involved. I don’t think you understand-”

“But I do,” Ethan pressed, eyes eager for some strange reason. I bit my lip. Ethan couldn’t continue on with me; he was far too conspicuous as the hunter he was

“What is your mission anyway?”

He wanted to participate in something he knew absolutely nothing about?

Right.

Harder. Incisors and molars pressed against the flesh of my lower lip. I couldn’t tell him… I just couldn’t!

“Well… Uh, did you hear about the newest nightclub? The Blood Diamond?” Watching my friend’s expression carefully, my body tensed for a reaction. I’d decided to tell him. He’d find out some other way. We were still a few blocks from my destination, but attracting attention now was too simple this far into the night.

Ethan’s dark brows furrowed, and his eyes sharpened in the moonlight. “Yeah, it’s been plugged for weeks now – even made the news. Why?”

We locked gazes. “The place is being hosted and catered to vampires, and the Agency gave me the task of infiltrating the club.” I’d said so with confidence, when on the inside, none would be found. This wasn’t my first nightclub, yet I still felt unease course through me the more I thought about my mission.

Ethan seemed to contemplate my explanation, and then tilted his head to the side, boyish features peeking through as he grinned suddenly. “That’s it?”

Excuse me?

“I thought there’d be more hazard involved in the operation. After all, you do have a reputation, Drake.”

I pursed my lips at his comment. Ethan Frazer was normally like this; a carefree, flippant teenager with the looks and wit to make it far in any career he could choose.

Too bad he’d been born a vampire hunter.

“So,” my friend broke the silence. “Are you nervous?”

“Is it obvious or something?”

“Not really.”

I scoffed at that. “Bullshit. You just want me to admit it.” When Ethan’s grin only widened, I gave in. “Yeah, I guess I’m a little nervous.”

“A little?” he echoed. “What’s there to be afraid of, really? Death?” He let out a mock gasp. “The great Antoinette Drake is afraid of dying at the fangs of a bloodsucker!” He proceeded to block my path. That bastard. My scowl came out half-heartedly. “Ethan, you’re stalling. If anything, you’re trying to keep me from my mission.”

Ethan pouted, raked a hand through his shaggy dark locks, and stepped onto the edge of the curb. “Fine, Drake. I just came to tell you that I’ll be back-up if you need it.”

My forehead creased with slight irritation. “You think I’ll need backup?”

He winked playfully as he placed a foot on the blacktop. “Oh, I know you will. It’s a mission, and I don’t sense much confidence in you, regardless of your current arsenal.”

His eyes traveled over my person, and I became aware of the weapons I had on me: a sharpened wooden stake, a mini-crossbow that I barely ever made use of, a clip of silver bullets, a vial of holy water – make that two – and for extra décor, I wore a silver cross necklace that belonged to my Mother. That should’ve strengthened me at least…

I turned my head to watch Ethan. “If I need backup – which I doubt, by the way – I’ll let you know.” He nodded as he began to stride away, without so much as a goodbye.

Huh. Okay.

Ethan moved like a shadow when he wore his uniform. I’d formally ditched mine, since it would be a dead giveaway. Speaking of which, I’d temporarily dyed my hair blonde in order to throw off any familiar face while at my destination.

With Ethan gone, I advanced forward. Rounding the street corner, I’d found it. During the day, it could’ve easily been mistaken for someone’s garage or even an abandoned warehouse.

Night had transformed it into a hellhole.

Neon lights of red and white flashed the stylized words: “The Blood Diamond Nightclub”. Just below the flaunty sign waited a mob of people. It was opening night, after all. In this crowd, I could easily fit in without much effort. I’d thrown a snug leather jacket over a mint green halter top, which was joined by black skinny jeans and even darker knee-high boots. The boots only contributed to my height, and allowed an advantageous range over people’s heads. The people in line appeared anxious as they waited for the bouncer to let them pass.

When I’d finally reached the end of the line, I was in shock. So many people. So many possible victims that had no idea what they were getting themselves into. Or worse…they knew exactly what would happen.

With my luck, nothing could happen tonight, or just the opposite. Exited whispers drowned my thoughts as the line continued to expand behind me. Farther and farther it sprawled. This was definitely a turn-out.

I took out my phone, fixed my hair so it concealed the cross, waited in anticipation. Finally, the line began to crawl. At this pace, it’d be midnight by the time I reached the bouncer.

My fake ID felt heavy in my hand, though not as much as my personal stash of weaponry. The card proved my age as 20, although that probably didn’t matter. There could be no age restriction, with the way things seemed, but… better safe than sorry.

The Agency had given me the alias Cornelia Hall in the hopes of getting me in without so much as a suspicious glance. And that could’ve worked…if no vampire recognized me, that is.

Faster than expected, I soon realized that I was at the entrance to the nightclub, which was pounding with such a powerful base, that anything could be drowned out by its intensity. The bouncer, a broad-shouldered, bald man with a fire-breathing dragon tattoo on his bare shoulder, glared down at me through imposing black sunglasses.

Oh, those sunglasses…

This figures.

He put a pale hand out to stop me, and I ceased all movement. “You got a name, gorgeous?” he drawled, pulling down those shades to reveal narrowed scarlet eyes.

Vampire.

I didn’t flinch. I didn’t even blush at his comment. I gave him a sweet smile instead, handing him my ID. Slightly amused by my odd reaction, he checked my card, then made me sign the main roster. “Welcome to The Blood Diamond, Ms.-”

Cornelia Hall.”

The voice swept over me, so damn familiar that it sent my hand shaking. I clumsily dropped my ID and struggled to reach for it. Damn it

That silky yet masculine voice hadn’t come from the bouncer currently blocking my path, and it obviously hadn’t come from me.

The door to the club had opened now, I realized, wide and ready to reveal its secrets and mystery. As I blinked, surprised, a tall figure brushed past the towering bouncer to stop right in front of me. His sharp features, half consumed in shadow, made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

I recognized him.

Damn it, I recognized him!

It was Henri Sinclair, the owner of The Blood Diamond Nightclub.

I was so dead.

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