Angels' BloodBy: Nalini Singh
A flash of light in the street.
There was the target, chomping away on a cigar and boasting on his cell phone about how he was a Made man now and no prissy angel was going to tell him what to do. Even with several feet of distance between them, she could smell the sweat pooling under his armpits. The vampirism hadn’t yet advanced enough to melt away the fat he wore like a spare coat, and he thought he could run out on a contract with an angel?
Walking out, she pulled off her knit cap and stuffed it in her back pocket. Her hair tumbled around her shoulders in a soft cloud, distinctive and bright. It wasn’t a risk. Not tonight. She might have been well known by the locals, but this vampire had a distinct Australian accent. He’d recently arrived from Sydney—and his master wanted him back in that city, pronto.
“Got a light?”
The vampire jumped and dropped his phone. Elena barely stopped herself from rolling her eyes. He wasn’t even fully formed—the canines he’d flashed in surprise were only baby teeth. No wonder his master was pissed. The bonehead had to have scuttled after not much more than a year or so of service.
“Sorry,” she said with a smile as he retrieved the phone and weighed her up. She knew what he saw. A lone female with bimbo blonde hair, dressed in black leather jeans and a form-fitting long-sleeved top in the same color, no visible weapons.
Because he was young and stupid, the image made him relax. “Sure, sweet thang.” He reached into his pocket for the lighter.
That was when Elena leaned forward, one hand sweeping behind her back and under her top. “Tut-tut. Mr. Ebose is very disappointed in you.” She’d retrieved and locked the necklet into place before he processed the meaning of that huskily spoken censure. His eyes bulged red, but instead of screaming, he stood silently in place. A hunter’s necklet had a way of freezing a man. Fear was a live thing skittering across his face.
She’d have felt sorry for him if she hadn’t known that he’d torn out four human throats in the course of his escape. That was not acceptable. The angels protected their get but even they had limits—Mr. Ebose had authorized the use of any and all force necessary on this one.
Now, she let that knowledge bleed into the open, let the vampire see her willingness to hurt him. His face lost what color he’d managed to retain. She smiled. “Follow me.”
He trotted behind her like an obedient puppy. Damn, but she loved the necklets. Her best friend, Sara, liked to shoot the targets with honest-to-god arrows—the arrowheads were doctored to contain the same control chip that made the necklets so effective. The instant it touched skin, the chip apparently emitted some kind of an electromagnetic field that temporarily short-circuited a vampire’s neural processes, leaving the target open to suggestion. Elena didn’t know the science of it all, but she knew the limits and advantages of her chosen method of capture.
Yeah, she did have to get closer to her targets than Sara, but conversely, there was no chance of missing and hitting an innocent bystander. Which Sara had once done. It had cost her half a year’s pay to settle the lawsuit. Lips curving at the thought of how pissed her friend had been at not making the shot, Elena opened the passenger-side door of the car she’d parked nearby. “Inside.”
The baby vamp squeezed in his girth with effort.
Making sure he was belted in, she called Mr. Ebose’s head of security. “I’ve got him.”
The voice at the other end instructed her to drop the package off at a private airstrip.
Unsurprised by the chosen location, she hung up and began driving. In silence. It would’ve been a bit redundant to try to make conversation, as the vamp had lost the ability to speak the instant she clamped him. The muting was a side effect of the neural straitjacket created by the necklet. Before the inception of the chip-embedded devices, vampire hunting had been something of a suicidal career choice, as even the babiest vamps had the ability to tear a human to pieces. Of course, according to the latest research, vampire hunters weren’t quite human, but they were close enough.
Arriving at the airstrip, she cleared security and was directed onto the tarmac. The team charged with escorting the vampire back to Sydney was waiting beside a sleek private jet. Elena took the captured male to them and they immediately nodded at her to go on in. She had to stow the package personally, as they didn’t have the license to handle him at this point in the journey. Clearly, Mr. Ebose had good lawyers. He wasn’t taking any chances that could lead to him being brought up on charges by the Vampire Protection Authority.
Not that the VPA had ever managed to make cruelty allegations stick. All the angels had to do was display a couple of photos of humans with their throats torn out, and the jury was ready not only to acquit, but to give them a medal in the process.
Elena escorted the vamp up the steps and to the large open crate at the back of the passenger hold. “Inside.”
He walked in then turned to face her, terror pouring off him in a wave that had already soaked through his shirt.
“Sorry, bud. You killed three women and one old man. That tilts the pity slate way over in the wrong direction.” Slamming the door on him, she padlocked it. The necklet would go with him to Sydney, from there it’d be returned directly to the Guild, as per the agreed protocol with all chip-embedded devices. “He’s ready to go, boys.”