Moon Child (Vampire for Hire #4)

Chapter 1

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I was flying over the Pacific Ocean.

It was the next night. I had spent the day by my son's side, holding his hands, even as the doctors had raced in and out of the hospital room. Some screamed at me to get out of the way. One even shoved me out of the way. They fought for his life. They fought hard to save him.

I watched from his bedside as the doctors used all their skill and medicines and machines. One doctor told me to expect the worst. To start making preparations. I told him to go to hell.

My son, for now, was still hanging on. Still alive.

For now.

The ocean was black and infinite. Crazy, glowing lights zigzagged beneath the surface, some bigger than others, and I knew this was life. Ocean life. Some of the bigger shapes didn't zig or zag so much as lumber slowly through the ocean, sometimes surfacing and blowing out great sprays of water that refracted the moonlight.

I flapped my massive wings languidly, riding the tides of night. Cold wind blew over my perfectly aerodynamic body.

It had been a hell of a day. The black halo around my son was so dense that it was nearly syrupy. He had only hours to live, I knew it. Danny was by his side. And so was my sister and my daughter. Sherbet had stopped by, and so had Fang and Kingsley. Mercifully, at separate times. Aaron King, Knighthorse and Spinoza all stopped by, too, each bringing flowers. Aaron King checked out my healed jaw, saw me talking, and just shook his head in wonder. Knighthorse and Spinoza were both irked that they had not been invited to the big showdown at the casino, until I reminded them that I was a highly trained federal agent who could take care of myself.

The air was cold, perhaps even freezing, but I felt perfectly comfortable. The moon was only half full overhead.

Had it really been only two weeks ago that the hulking monster who was Kingsley had appeared in my hotel suite?

I had checked on Maddie, too. The little girl was going to make it. She had needed a full blood transfusion. The black halo around her little body had all but disappeared.

The wind seemed to pick up from behind me, and I soared effortlessly. Below me, the pod of whales seemed to be keeping pace, their glowing bodies surfacing and spraying. I picked up speed and quickly swept past them.

I thought of the water. The dark water. The world seemed to slow down under water. Sound became muted, and light diffused.

I looked down again…stopped flapping, then tucked my wings in and dove.

I closed my eyes as I broke the surface.

My aerodynamic body cut easily through the water, and I shot down into the dark depths. But the water, much like the air, wasn't truly dark. Sparks of light zipped through it, bright filaments that lit my way.

I flapped my wings and discovered, to my great surprise and pleasure, that I easily moved through the water, my wings expelling it behind me powerfully, moving me quickly along. Like a manta ray. I was a giant, bat-shaped manta ray.

I flapped my wings slowly but powerfully. Water surged past me, but did not hurt my eyes. This creature that I had become was amazingly adaptive and resilient.

I was amazingly adaptive and resilient.

But my son was not. No, my son was dying, and he would be dead within hours. I knew it. The doctors knew it. Everyone knew it. You did not need to be a doctor or psychic to see the encroachment of death.

I could stop his death. I could give him eternal life, in fact. I could have my baby boy by my side forever. Detective Hanner had told me how to do it. The process of transformation. Of turning mortal into immortal.

It was a crazy idea. A reckless idea.

But I could save him – and then later return his mortality to him with the medallion.

Maybe. No one seemed to know for sure.

I continued flapping, my heart heavy. A creature sidled up next to me. A dolphin. No, two dolphins. They kept pace with me, thrusting with their powerful tails. I knew very little about dolphins but if I had to guess, they looked perplexed as hell. I didn't blame them. No doubt they had never seen the likes of me. A moment later, they peeled away, their auras leaving behind brightly phosphorescent vapor trails.

My son was going to die within hours. Maybe sooner.

This much was true.

I could save him. Giving him eternal life.

And I possessed a legendary medallion that could give him back his mortality. A loophole in death.

Not too many people had that option.

Not too many mothers. Desperate mothers.

I heard Kingsley's words again. And what if you can't change him back, Sam?

Anthony would be immortal. At age seven. Doomed to walk the earth forever. At age seven. To drink blood for all eternity.

At age seven.

It was one thing to consider turning the handsome, love-struck Fang into my immortal lover, someone who wanted to fill my nights with pleasure and companionship, perhaps for the rest of my existence, which could be thousands of years, but who knew? It was quite another thing to doom Anthony, my precious, precious child, to that same fate – he would always be seven years old, and a vampire. I could not even imagine how to explain it all to him if the medallion did not work.

My heart gave a tremendous heave.

I didn't know what to do. Who could possibly know what to do?

Time was running out.

My son was dying.

I tipped one of my wings and veered back toward the direction I had come.

My mind raced as I flapped hard, surging through the water, scattering tiny silver fish before me.

And then I came to a decision.

God help me, I came to a decision.

I flapped my wings as hard as I could and burst free from the ocean and shot up into the night sky.

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