Life gets complicated for a shape-shifting former NYPD narcotics officer when the local Vamp nest hosts the regional vampire summit.
“What do you want from me?”
“I want you to analyze my operation and identify the traitor. I want you to prevent the disruption of the summit.”
I shook my head. “Oh you’re not asking much. Why me?”
“I need an outsider. You worked undercover for many years. I hear you’ve worked well with wolves in the past. No one would think twice about you coming on board as a security consultant. You’re perfect for the job.”
“You don’t even know me.” Obviously, the vamp had spoken to someone in the sheriff’s department or had a contact in NYPD. “Look, I’ve never had much to do with vampires, and no offense, but I don’t want to. You’re asking me to step in and take a look at your operation, and then you want to use me as a scapegoat when the whole thing goes south. That’s a can of worms that no one in their right mind would even consider.”
“You will of course be compensated for your services."
“Yeah, right.” Walking away from a chance to find Karl wasn’t something I wanted to do, but getting involved with a bunch of vampires was crazy. "How many vamps gonna be at this shindig?"
"I will of course provide you with the logistics.”
I shook my head. “No way. Besides, there's a contract out on me.”
“Yet another reason why you are perfect for the job. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I will tell the others that you are being considered as a potential replacement for my entourage. You will be well-protected on the estate.”
The thought of sleeping in the same house with a bunch of vamps gave me the shivers. Of course, they probably slept in the basement.
“Sorry, no can do. I’ve got my own place.” I nodded toward the sagging porch. “Suits me fine.”
The vampire looked around, obviously unimpressed. “Very well. I’ll make you my blood servant right now. No one would dare infringe on my property.”
My stomach tightened in revulsion. It took everything I had not to turn and run. I didn’t know a lot about vampires, but I knew all about predators, and running away only made things worse.
“No way.” Working with Vamps was a slippery slope, and I could feel my feet slipping out from under me already. Maybe Karl’s disappearance had nothing to do with his job after all. Maybe I should go back to the sheriff and ask to see Karl’s file. Dixon had a reason for wanting to find Karl, and it sounded as if he and his men had done a thorough job of the investigation. They’d seemingly pursued every angle except this one. Oh man, I did not want to do this.
“Why did you file the missing persons report for Karl Newsome? Wouldn’t it be safer for you, um vamp guys, to keep a low profile? Why bring this to the attention of the sheriff’s department?”
“The missing wolves were all reported as soon as they were discovered. None of them disappeared from the grounds of the estate. All of them disappeared after they had left the premises at the end of their shift. I had nothing to do with the disappearance of my Beta, and his loss has hurt my pack. I want him found. I want all of them found. Alive or dead, I want to know who is responsible.”
“What if I don’t find what you’re looking for? How do I know you won’t turn me over to Wickham?”
The vampire crossed the distance between us and had me by the throat in an instant. Oh, right. Don’t piss off the vampire. My nuts hopped a quick flight north for the winter. It took real effort on my part not to struggle; his hands could have been stone. The pulse in my throat beat unhappily against the iron grip on my neck.
“You’ll be dead in less time than it takes you to breathe if I so wish it. I do not beg for favors. There has never been any question that you would do this for me. Do not imagine that this is a choice for you to make. If you are successful, and all goes well, you may present your grievance to the Tribunal at the close of the Summit. I will personally advocate for the nullification of the complaint against you. If you do not comply, I will drain you and claim your contract myself.”
“Gee.” All I could do was whisper. “When you put it that way, how can I refuse?” I shoulda stayed in Queens.