A Centennial City Novel
All Eve Faulkner wants to do is forget that she’s a Kumiho and live her life the way she sees fit. As a supernatural arbitrator, she considers her life to be chaotic enough without having to worry about keeping her identity a secret.
Unfortunately for her, a supposed “easy” job goes horribly wrong and a close colleague almost dies. Fired from her job, and a virtual pariah, the only person who’ll hire her now is one of the High Vampires of Centennial City, Vincent Sheridan, who wants nothing more than to jump her bones.
In between having her secret discovered by a sadistic alpha of the Were pack who seeks to use her, and finding out who’s killing people in the city sewers, Eve will come to grips with her reality and finally make peace with the person she is and will become.
Be Warned: violence, gore.
“You must help us. There are not many who understand the darkness as well as you do, Eve Faulkner.”
A vampire didn’t often ask for help. But hey, even the denizens of the night need help with contracts sometimes.
As a negotiator for the preternatural, I’m both lawyer and hunter. Lawyer because it pays the bills, and hunter because there are abominations that need to be taken care of. I’d hunt full time, but most of the work is pro-bono, so if all I did was tote around a semi-automatic with silver bullets and a case of salt water, I’d be living in a cardboard box pretty damn soon.
The tall vampire appeared too lean to be considered healthy. Then again, since when were vampires supposed to be healthy? Cheekbones jutted out nearly a mile from his face, and I could’ve split paper with the tip of his nose. Dressed in unrelenting black, he looked like a Dracula wannabe. All he needed was the black cape with the scarlet lining, coupled with that booming laugh, and even Bela Lagosi would roll in his grave.
Except he wasn’t a Dracula wannabe; he was the real thing.
And for some reason, it made him seem even more pathetic than he already was.
Watching him from across the massive desk, I tried not to stare too long at the jagged scars down his cheeks. “Uh-huh. Right. How about you tell me what I can do to help you, and we’ll see if I really can.”
He smiled, and I averted my eyes, trying to pretend I couldn’t see the tips of his fangs sticking out of his mouth. Most old-world vampires considered such a gesture as obscene. It’s like people doing the down and dirty in the middle of a busy shopping center.
Truth is, I used to be ashamed I knew so much about vamps. The only people who knew as much as I did were either vamphiles or the vampires themselves, and I didn’t want to be confused as either.
But all knowledge has a price.
Hey, what can I say? I like money. After all, money never betrayed me. Never stabbed me in the back. You always had to watch out for people.
The vampire, otherwise known as Malcolm, leveled himself to his feet and paced the length of my slightly shabby office. My boss, Owen, gave me enough money to decorate it, but I’d always thought interior decorating over-rated. So sue me if I preferred buying more firearms instead of stupid curtains that matched the stupid wallpaper. Paintings wouldn’t save my life, but a Glock just might.
“This is of the utmost importance,” he said, walking back and forth so fast I was half-afraid I’d get dizzy. “I wouldn’t have come to you if it wasn’t. My master does not want to bring in outsiders, but we no longer have a choice. Our last lawyer was scared out of town by the Weres, and we are in need of some…legal advice.”
He didn’t look very happy, and to be honest, neither was I.
I couldn’t even begin to count how many vampires wanted me dead. Preferably a painful death. Make that a very, very painful death. And who the hell wanted to work for things that wanted to kill them? Talk about pressure.
Leaning back in the therapeutic armchair I paid an arm and leg for, I steepled my fingers, feeling a bit like the evil rich man about to rob the common man blind.
And oh, did it feel good. Righteous, even.
“Of course. Don’t worry. Just tell me what’s going on, and I’ll try to see what I can do,” I said and grimaced as I thought about what Owen would say. He harbored no love for vampires and would never have accepted any sort of job from them, if it wasn’t for the fact that vampires paid pretty good money. But he was like me; he liked the money more than anything else. I’m still waiting for the wedding invitation when he gets hitched to a thousand dollar bill. “Besides, it’s my job. I go in, I talk, and things get settled. Easy as pie.”
Things couldn’t be any more understated, but he didn’t have to know that.
Malcolm stopped and stared at me. “Do you really believe what you’ve just said? That this will be easy as, how did you say it, pie?”
I didn’t answer and I didn’t think he was expecting me to.
Long, thin hands clasped behind his back. He paced to and fro once more, hair flying in oily strands around his face. He shook his head, and I didn’t know if it was because he really didn’t want to hire me, or if he just had a loose joint somewhere in his neck.
“This cannot go on. We’ve got our territory to protect.”
I couldn’t quite understand the concept of squabbling over a block of dirty, abandoned warehouses, but hey, to each his own.
“It’s a turf war?”
He nodded. “It’s the godforsaken shifters.”
Oh goodie, a vampire calling a lycanthrope “godforsaken”. A bit like the pot calling the kettle black. “Go on.”