Ashamed didn't even begin to cover how I felt as Kevin finished telling the story

Ashamed didn't even begin to cover how I felt as Kevin finished telling the story. Damn, I loved that man but sometimes I could stand to punch him. As I had the yearning to disappear into thin air, or maybe melt into the floor, I rolled my eyes at my brother who had just revealed one of my more stupid moments in life, gritted my teeth, and laughed with everyone else around the table. Sometimes, I wish I were an only child. Thinking that self-indulgent thought, I heard glass break and felt claws set into my shoulder.

X

I felt the night set about me like some great cloak of restless silk. I looked about me, at these walls of stone and ached for the open spaces of the wild. As each scent reached my nose, I couldn't believe I had come here willingly. I scanned the crowded club as some ruckus was blasted out from the stage I tried not to allow all of my senses to be raped by the wretched carousing people. I smirked at the title and mocked myself for calling them such.

They weren't people. They were more like cattle – ignorant of truer intentions, uncomprehending of the danger that walked amongst them. These creatures were so much less than what they presumed of themselves. Running my tongue over my fangs, I watched with some delayed interest with the pretty, young thing moving in my direction.

X

Calling myself six kinds of idiot, I stumbled into my house. What moron gets totally trashed the first day of the week of the full moon? Me, that's what moron. Damn Rachel and her hormones. If I hadn't caught her and – of all people - with her English professor together, I wouldn't me drunk as hell and about to shift. Of course, with the shift, the alcohol would leave my body but I'd feel queasy for the next two hours. Some days you just can't win.

X

I heaved out an exhausted breath and put the heels of my hands to my tired eyes. This was the second night this week that I was going home with a hell of a headache and about four hours of overtime. I worked better at night anyway, daylight just slows me down. I saved what I'd been working on, swearing to myself if I ever saw an accounts payable I'd shoot myself. Well, I wouldn't – not really. At least, I don't think I would.

I shut down the computer that was from the more recent period of the Dark Age. I grabbed my jacket and gun, set the security system, and left like a bat out of hell.

I tossed my windbreaker over my left arm and started walking. Was walking down the darkened streets of Baton Rouge, Louisiana the brightest idea I'd ever had? Probably not, but almost daily, I'm accused of having a death wish. Besides, I had a gun and a killer's instincts and a predator's speed, and my all-consuming rage.

I continued at my brisk pace even as I heard the footsteps following my own. What was it behind me? It's a sorry time and place when one has to ask what is behind me not who. Actually, it could be a very human a mugger, rapist, gang member, etc. Or it could be something a little scarier: a vampyre, a shifter, and god only knew what other possibilities were open.

I walked down the street and stopped abruptly, pivoted and faced the thing following me. I watched with an icy calm stealing over me as he slinked out of the dark street, smirking a nasty little smirk. He was all of six feet but no more than that, too scrawny to be very old when he died. His complexion, or rather the lack of color to his face told me he was very, very dead. More importantly, the near translucence of his skin told me he hadn't fed and I was on the menu. I looked at the vampyre in front of me and felt the goosebumps break out on my skin. I watched the body that would never reach full adulthood move forward. I found myself looking straight into those dead gray eyes and saw his meal ticket right off the bat. You can't seduce someone's mind unless they let you, and they won't let you unless they find you appealing.

Looking at that face that had never seen a single morning shave, I guessed him at about seventeen when he died. Jesus Christ, I was going to kill a kid – a baby. Of course, that baby had a set of fangs and mental abilities that rivaled most living psychics and the strength to kill about anything he set his mind to.

"Walking these streets alone, baby?" the vampyre asked softly, his words laced with compulsion to touch him - and that compulsion would have worked, had I not been trained against the mental attack and had I not been dead set on shooting a hole the size of a dinner plate through his chest. I smiled a smile that bared teeth as I drew the KZ-45, I watched as his eyes widened and narrowed on the combat weapon. He looked from the gun to me and back to the gun. "You wouldn't." He said, disbelief hanging on every word. The smirk that crossed my face wasn't pleasant but it conveyed the point that I didn't need to say as I punctuated it with pulling the trigger not once, but twice.

With a nearly needless coldness I watched the vampyre stumble back and open his mouth to scream. In the silence after the soft sound of the silenced weapon, I crossed the distance between us as he tried to get his lips to work. I watched his eyes as he slipped into a shocked state as his body shut down. But what I was looking for couldn't be found on his face. I let out a low whistle as I looked at the meaty crater in his chest. Silver bullets with explosive rounds. I truly owed Travesty. That man was a fucking genius. I stepped back and pulled the trigger one last time and was gratified with the sight of asphalt under all the blood and muck. Tucking the KZ in the back of my jeans I turned and walked away from the corpse of vampyre.

X

Yet another of my brethren was dead and no explanation but a massive burnt hole through his chest. Before it had merely angered me that a creature was out there that was strong enough to kill one of the vampyre and stupid enough to flaunt it in my face. Judging by the burn marks, whatever went through him was silver. I remembered well what silver felt like as it pierced flesh. All too well.

This hunter intrigued me now, which was either in it's favor or it wasn't. I relaxed as I sat on the edge of the desk. The vampyres that had been killed hadn't been very old or experienced however, they were still dead. I'd begun to wonder if this killer was strong enough to take on one of the older ones. I glanced at the door just before Margot knocked, or rather tapped, on the door but opened it before I said a word.

Anger sparked within me, first at Jesse, the dead vampyre, then at Margot who knew I enjoyed my solitude. I found myself shoving it back, drowning it in ice. I glanced at Margot and watched her brother Artois flow into the room behind her with a look of derision on his face. Where Margot was a simpering, yet manipulative example of the female form, Artois was the chauvinist, dominant example of the male.

"Cheri, I've told you, it is nothing." Artois said in that chiding tone that he always used with his twin. I looked between the pair of flaxen-haired vampyres. The shorter of the two, Margot, looked near tears where her brother looked scornfully annoyed. Artois looked pointedly at me. I could practically hear what was going through his head.

"What is going on?" I found myself asking them. Why, I do not know. I've learned not to encourage the spats between them because I always end up having to choose a side which in turn gets me into good graces with the one I sided with, but the exact opposite with the other. The major problem with that was Artois was enough trouble when I did agree with him - imagine making him angry.

"Foalan, it is nothing. You know how she is." Artois said. I glanced back at him caught his gaze, and let it flicker across my face that I was unappreciative of his opinion of his sister, or females in general for that matter. He frowned at me and I glanced back to his sister.

"The…oh, just show him, Artois." Margot said, not looking at me as anger crossed her soft face.

"Cheri…" Artois began in a low voice.

"If she is wrong, what is there to hide?" I asked calmly, crossing my arms over my chest. I watched as Margot began wringing her hands over her short red skirt. Artois let out a half-growl but artlessly removed his black t-shirt.

I looked at the pasty, loose skin that fell about his belly and saw that I could trace each vein and artery with my fingertip over that translucent skin. A pair of red-black grooves made their way back from his nipples, as I walked around him I saw, they disappeared into his jeans. Some of the lengths were oozing more blackish blood than others.

"How long has this been here?" I asked quietly.

"Each day it's gotten worse since the dream." Margot said I felt myself frown as I looked back over the scratches. About a week and a half ago Artois had dreamt when he slept which in itself was unusual, but to further the oddity he'd waken screaming. Upon examination, we found the scratches and several markings, bruises, burns and such. They had faded, but the scratches had remained. I looked at him as I moved back around him. He'd deliberately hid them from me, that alone could be a sentence for punishment. However, I had deliberately hid from him the probable fact that it hadn't been but a dream but a message, due to that fact he didn't know how dangerous it could be. But as master, I couldn't be punished. Lucky me.

X

I shrugged my jacket on and drummed my fingertips on my jeans. Irritated, I wandered about the open warehouse again. I knew I was missing something. I had followed that damn vampyre in here and she'd disappeared. Into nothing.

As far as I knew vampyres couldn't do the Dracula mist or the whole wolf shifting thing. As far as I knew. I picked up my gun from the crate and threw a second glance over my shoulder. Someone was watching me or I was loosing my mind.

Stalking I could deal with… the other, that just wasn't an option.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw it coming. A flying figure coming at me. By the time I moved it was too late, she landed a pair of heeled feet in my chest.

If I was human that alone would have broken my breastbone, if not killed me. But I wasn't so it just hurt like hell. Definitely vampyre. Nothing human could have picked up that kind of force coming across a room at me.

She waited until I was back on my feet before she went after me again.

"Impressive, sweetheart. That should have hurt you more than it did." She paused and eased golden hair behind her ear, smiled. "But I think you know that."

I leveled the gun with her chest. She laughed. A soft, tinkling sound. But she jerked back when I fired point blank into her chest. She struck out at me again.

I dimly felt the blood start from my lip and the soft throb of my jaw. She was stronger than the others. Older. More dangerous.

Then it clicked. Someone watching, and a stronger enemy.

I'd been set up by them.

They could try. I smiled and fired a pair of shots into her as something equally quick and silent landed behind me. She hit the cement with a gaping wound in where her heart should have been. Her golden hair was dyed orange with the blood splatter and her lovely teal pantsuit ruined.

The vampyre behind me screamed in rage and shoved a sword into my side. Thwarted, disturbed, and shocked I fell to the floor.

X

The hunter was a woman. A woman. After two nights, it still blew my mind. Not that women couldn't be hunters, but ones that killed a thousand year old vampyre? That was unheard of.

The hunter was in a coma, of sorts. One that she would have to be brought out of tonight. Or risk losing everything I'd worked to achieve. And everything I'd worked to overcome.

I strode out the door, closing it behind me. As I fled down the hall, toward my personal demon I had one thought in my head: there are no coincidences.

X

Due to the massive headache and the dead quiet, I did the sensible thing. I concluded that whomever stabbed me with the sword was keeping me. What great fun. I sat up in time for the door to be swung open and light to burst into the room like a levee that burst. I saw stars, shortly there after and lost the contents of my stomach.

When the heaving subsided, I heard a pair of male voices.

"She clearly has a weak constitution. Remind me why this was worth the loss of my sister?" his tone was vicious, but righteous.

"Leave." The crispness of the second voice told me he was the scarier of the two beasties. Beastie number one left in a storm of power billowing about. And when I say billowing about I mean I got smacked in the face with it. Somehow I think that might have been part of the intention. The door closed. Oh shit.

I was alone, defenseless in the presence of something I had a bad feeling could rip me apart in a matter seconds.

But truth be known, it wasn't the physical part of it that scared me the most.

"I'm not going to attempt to breach your shields," the vampyre muttered, Irish leaking with every syllable. That's funny 'cause five seconds ago he'd had no accent. "Sit on the bed. Do avoid the vomit."

I retraced my hurried steps and sat on the bed, in no position to argue. Not that I wouldn't later. The lights flicked on.

Damn. I shut my eyes and tried not to throw up again. Surprisingly enough the nausea backed off.

I slowly opened my eyes.

He looked normal. Sandy blond hair, blue eyes, no outstanding scars or huge fangs to speak of. I shook my head at the image. Something wasn't right. He looked human but nine times out of ten that was a bad thing.

Most humans didn't order vampyre s around like a commander does his troops. Most humans didn't have much to do with vampyre s. I tilted my head and looked at him. Just a little over six foot about two hundred pounds in jeans and a plain black t-shirt. Looked like my next door neighbor growing up, now why wasn't I impressed?

"What do you want?" I asked quietly. He chuckled as his gaze latched onto me like a leech onto skin. It was that look that sent my pulse jackrabbiting through my veins. He wasn't right.

"Not who are you? We just jump to what do you want?" His tone clearly said I amused him, as he moved forward. That's the only word for it. Humans move in a slightly jerky manner, due to the jarring impact walking has on our pelvis and spine. He moved, like water. Oh damn. Vampyre. Older than any I'd ever met. More powerful at least. Oh, gods above what had I waltzed my skanky ass into? "And all I want is in this room,"

X