"No!" shouted the vampire, his voice echoing everywhere.
To my utter shock, the medallion began burning my chest, so much so that I yelped. Steam was coming off my flesh, rising up from my blouse.
"You stupid girl!" he spat angrily. "You stupid, stupid girl. Do you realize what you've done?"
I looked up, confused as hell and wincing. The burning was not pleasant.
Bow Tie stepped closer. "You've sealed the medallion to yourself forever."
"I don't understand – "
"Of course not, because you're a stupid girl."
Pain or not, the guy was pissing me off. "Say that again, asshole, and see what happens."
But he was right. I reached down and immediately winced. My skin was tender, but already it was healing, and forming over the medallion. Amazingly, horrifyingly, the golden disk was now embedded into my chest.
Oh, no. No, no, no!
Bow Tie was shaking his head. "You and the medallion are one, forever, mademoiselle. Perhaps good for you, but not for me. And certainly not for your little one, whom you had hoped to save from an eternity of…this. There's no way to remove it." He paused and cocked his head. "Well, there is one way."
He pulled out a small pistol from inside his coat pocket. He pointed it at me haphazardly. "It's true. I cannot die from silver. Not anymore. Not ever." He leveled the weapon at me. "But you are not so fortunate, my dear. Five silver bullets. Only one needs to find your heart."
Not everyone is a great shot, even vampire assholes. The agency teaches you to be a moving target, which is always harder to hit than a stationary one.
I dove right, rolling just as the first shot was fired. The sound was so damn loud and echoing that it appeared he fired dozens of time.
I rolled again and had a brief glimpse of the vampire calmly taking aim. It's a surreal experience having someone take aim at you with a gun. To want to hurt you, to kill you.
All the talk of immortality was out the window. With a simple silver bullet, my six-year immortal run would be over.
They say your life flashes before your eyes, but mine didn't. Not then. I only thought of Tammy and Anthony. That's it. No more. I didn't think of Fang or my sister or even Kingsley. I thought only of my children and what would happen to them without their freaky mother.
I rolled again when he fired. This time I felt an impact in my right shoulder. I cried out, clutching my shoulder, incapable of rolling or even really moving.
"Hurts, doesn't it?" said the vampire. "We are elemental creatures, finely attuned to the days and nights. We crave the metals in blood: zinc, iron, copper, magnesium. Is it no surprise, then, that another metal, silver, can destroy us? Well, some of us."
He seemed to smile, but it was hard to tell. Tears had burst from my eyes. The pain was intense. Too intense. I could barely focus or function.
He leveled the gun again, and I could not imagine more pain. I could not imagine another impact. I couldn't handle it. It would be too much. Way too much.
I turned away, my reflexes still amazingly sharp.
The bullet went through my neck. The shock sent me into a spasm. I went from clutching my shoulder to clutching my neck. The bullet had exited the side of my neck, exploding out, leaving a massive crater behind. Blood pumped over my hands, down over my shirt, down into my windpipe and lungs. I choked and gagged and flopped on the ground, drowning in my own blood.
Except I didn't need air to breathe, and so I wasn't really drowning.
I backed away, clutching my throat, blood gushing everywhere. The wounds were capable of closing. I tried to cough but couldn't. I felt like I was drowning, but I wasn't.
Bow Tie stepped closer and took careful aim.
Somewhere inside me, I had kept count of the bullets. Three shots. Two left. So far I was alive. So far he had missed my heart.
He stepped closer and took dead aim.
"Missed again," he said. "But not this time. I hope to see you in the next life."
I tried to move, but I slipped on my own blood, I fell to my back, still clutching my bleeding throat. All thoughts of my kids were gone. I only saw darkness. I only saw the bastard standing over me, taking careful aim at my chest.
And that's when I saw something else. Something else moving rapidly, leaping down from the catwalk above and covering the space between us in a blink of an eye. Something impossibly big, impossibly powerful.
Impossibly, it was Kingsley.
A shot was fired, but it went wild.
It went wild because the great dark creature who had bounded over the railing and landed on the floor twenty feet below had slammed hard into the vampire. The force of the collision was enough to send the tall vampire hurtling off to one side, crashing beyond my field of blurred vision.
The gunshot had surely been as loud and echoing as the others had been, but to me it sounded distant and faint. I was seriously losing it and losing it fast.
I had a ground's-eye view of what happened next, although the images were sometimes too fast for even me to fully grasp.
The dark shadow was indeed Kingsley. He was in human form, which was no surprise since this was not a night of a full moon. But there was something about him. Something that was hard for my fading mind to grasp. But he seemed bigger, impossibly fast, and so damn…inhuman.
I tried to sit up, but I couldn't. Instead, I rolled my head toward the action, and as I did so, I felt the gristle and bone in my neck crunch. More blood pumped free and I choked all over again. And as I choked, a presence hovered over me. A handsome, smiling, angelic face. A face with a bloody lower jaw.
Leland was here and he was kneeling next to me, trying his best to hold my head in his transparent arms that faded in and out of solidity.
From this position, I watched with horrific fascination as a battle waged. The vampire was fast. Perhaps too fast for Kingsley. But every now and then the big guy would catch the fast-moving blood sucker with a powerful blow. To my horror, I saw that Kingsley's face was bloodied already. The faster-moving vampire had already landed blow after blow.
Leland crouched next to me, still clutching my bleeding face, watching the scene as well. I briefly wondered where Eddy was but knew he had to be safe somewhere.
Kingsley hadn't transformed, but he had taken on the mannerisms of a cornered wolf. He often crouched, his back hunched. Deep-throated growls reverberated continuously, some louder than others, all ferocious-sounding.
As the action moved across the floor of the dome, I turned my head to follow it, or tried to. Mostly I moved my eyes, all too aware that a deep darkness was encroaching from my peripheral vision. Two silver bullets had hit me. One of them, I was certain, was still lodged in my shoulder. The other, I was equally certain, had gone straight through my neck, exploding out its side.
That's going to leave a mark.
Vampire and werewolf were a blur. Fists flying. Blood flying. Shredded clothing flying. At one point, Kingsley grabbed hold of the Frenchman, and pummeled him mercilessly with fists that looked, from my perspective, as big as anvils. Bone crunched against bone.
One moment Kingsley was pummeling the son-of-a-bitch, and the next the French bastard was gone, having squirmed his way free, moving quickly.
Now the two men faced off. Kingsley, I saw, was badly beaten up, his clothing completely shredded. For all of Kingsley's might, he couldn't keep up with the speed of the Frenchman.
"Until we meet again," said the Frenchman, and in a blink, his clothing, including that damn bow tie, burst from his body. Before us was a massive winged creature. Next to me, Leland squeaked loud enough to be heard in the physical world and huddled next to me, afraid even in death. Kingsley stood unmovingly before the winged creature, taking great, heaving breaths.
A moment later, the creature's monstrous wings flapped once, twice, and then he was airborne. A few flaps later and he had burst through the top of the dome, raining wood and brick around us. Kingsley immediately shielded me, protecting me with his thick body. As he did so, blood from his wounded face dripped over me.
He looked down at me with wide, amber eyes. "I'm so sorry, Samantha. I'm so very sorry."
And that's when I blacked out.
I saw the yellow light first.
Two glowing disks that hovered in front of me. One of the lights was picking at me, digging into my shoulder, causing me excruciating pain. It was the pain that had forced me back to consciousness.
I opened my eyes slowly and saw two faces hanging over me. One of them belonged to Detective Hanner, my female vampire friend, and the other was an unknown man. The unknown man was finishing up working on my shoulder. He picked up a metal dish and held it up, rattling it. Hanner peered inside. "Good work, doc."
He said, "I would normally be stitching her up but, as you can see, her wound is already healing."
"Again, thank you, doctor. Speak to no one as you leave."
"Of course." He nodded, grabbed a small handbag, and left through the back door of an ambulance.
"This is beginning to be a habit," said Hanner. She was, of course, referring to one of our last meetings when she and I had ended up in an ambulance outside of an Indian casino in Simi Valley. "And don't try to speak, Sam. Doctor Hector tells me that your throat is shredded to hell. Even for us that will take a few hours to heal. Oh, and don't worry. He's on our payroll, so to speak. So your secret is safe with him."
Full comprehension of where I was or what was going on hadn't fully settled in. I heard voices everywhere. Shouting. One woman crying. A man crying, too. Sirens.
"You see, there are a few carefully selected mortals out there who work with us. The good doctor is one such man."
Why he would help, I had no idea, but I couldn't think about that now. She saw my eyes shift towards the sound of nearby crying.
"Yes, we're still at the Mission Inn. The boy you saved is with his parents, and we can only thank you. You are proving to be quite the superhero, Samantha." She leaned over and inspected my throat. "Nasty business, made worse because it was a silver bullet. But it will heal soon enough."
I heard more sirens, some nearby, and she saw the alarm in my eyes. "Not to worry, Sam. We're already forgotten by the Riverside Police. I have a few talents of my own, and one of them is, let's just say, persuasion. As far as the police are concerned, we're just another ambulance waiting to help."
I soon recognized another voice from outside, coming closer.
Hanner reached over and patted my knee. "I imagine you're going to want to speak with Kingsley." She smiled warmly and touched the back of my hand. "Well, you know what I mean."
As she left, Kingsley Fulcrum and his massive bulk eased into the ambulance.READ MORE >>