A drop of crimson, dark and cold, oozed sluggishly from the pale flesh of Algernon Gasgoyne's wrist. He held himself steady over Dominique's heaving breasts, bringing his wrist slowly, inexorably, toward her mouth. Her wanton tongue snaked out, oh so eager to taste eternity. The drop swelled, quivered and prepared to fall between her luscious kiss-bruised lips.
That's when I struck.
"I warned you," I yelled. "No turning!"
Gasgoyne stiffened and threw his arm out to fend me off, sending the drop of blood spinning across the room. I held him at bay while Dominique writhed beneath him in frustration. She desperately wanted his blood. She wanted to be turned, but her wishes did not concern me. Besides, she was under his sway, a victim of his oxytocin-saturated pheromones and the psychic power of his mind. She'd jump off a cliff if he told her to. So her moans of frustration, which quickly turned into growls of hatred, were simply an annoyance and nothing I'd not seen before.
Gasgoyne shot me a baleful glare before his beguiling features froze in agony and he toppled over, crimson flowing around the carbon fiber stake I'd thrust through his ribs and into his cold heart.
With a snarl, Dominique lunged at me, and I laid one on her jaw that put her lights out.
"Bitch!" Gasgoyne muttered before his lights dimmed as well, though permanently, I hoped.
I'd been called far worse and I could, at a stretch, forgive him for being peeved at my penetrating intervention. He should have listened to my warning. He was over a hundred years old and should have known better than to not take a woman like me seriously. It's the twenty-first century, for goodness sakes.
I pulled my beautifully crafted Sumatran machete from my bag and quickly lopped off his head. His eyes glared at me as I placed his heavy cranium into a large plastic baggie I carry for such purposes. I would have to dispose of it elsewhere to remove all possibility of him reconstituting himself in some weird Hollywood fashion.
As I closed the bag's zip lock, the head and the rest of his body, spilled fluids and all, crumbled into light gray dust. Natural, I guess, for a vampire that old. It was a relief in any case. If he'd been younger, like a normal mortal age, he would have remained like any corpse and would have taken some explaining. As it was, five minutes vacuuming would remove all trace of his foul existence, and the hotel robo-maid probably wouldn't even notice. Well, maybe it would, but it'd have no idea what the gray talcum-like silhouette really was.
I wiped the dusty machete on a kitchen towel, and then retrieved the stake from the floor -- good carbon fiber is expensive -- and with an emphatic snap, I collapsed its telescoping shaft into a convenient five-inch length. With the satisfaction of a job completed bubbling up into a self-congratulatory smile, I dropped it into my bag along with the machete and baggie of skull dust.
I hefted the comatose Dominique over my shoulder and was halfway to the door when it burst open and two exquisitely dressed vampires strode into the hotel room. The male was an attractive blond-haired surfer type dressed in an expensive Italian business suit. The female was a stunning raven-haired Asian. She was likewise dressed in an immaculate business suit of European design, and I guessed she was Thai. She was my height but more athletic, whereas I'm, as they say, waifish in a runway model sort of way. "Put you in a strong wind and you'll blow away," my mother used to say. She could talk. She did one day, blow away that is.
I can spot vampires anywhere. Their oxytocin makes love to your nostrils, and if your senses are tuned to it, their scent is like the sweetest chocolate. On top of that, their psychic emanations are like a pulsating aura of lust.
With my hands full carrying the unconscious Dominique, I decided I'd have to talk my way out of this one. As far as I knew, none of Gasgoyne's get (vampire offspring) were nearby. I'd have to deal with them eventually, but from what I hear he wasn't well liked so the probability of a vendetta against me was slim. If they didn't belong to Gasgoyne, who were they?
The male beat me to it and spoke first. "Katie Crusoe?"
"That's me," I said. "And you are?"
"Bjorn," he replied through a lopsided smile that I bet got him everywhere with young women.
"I'm Dao," the girl added in an accented but lyrical tone, her eyes alive with salacious intent.
That information was, of course, of absolutely no help to me. With the possibility that these were in fact Gasgoyne's get bent on revenge, I felt the need to explain myself before they launched themselves into an attack. "Listen, I'm sorry about Gasgoyne, truly, but I warned him that he was not to turn Dominique, that she was under my protection. He ignored me."
Dao glanced at the pile of dust. "A mistake, obviously."
"I'm asking you to let me pass. I must return Dominique to her family."
"May we give you a lift?" Dao offered.
"I have my own car downstairs."
Dominique moaned and I shifted her weight on my shoulder. She was beginning to get heavy, and the longer I stayed talking to this pair, the more likely I was to drop her.
"We'll arrange to have one of our people follow us in it."
"That won't be necessary."
"I'm afraid we must insist."
She had me there. With Dominique slung over my shoulder and gaining ten pounds per second, and my trusty garlic spray and carbon fiber stake all nicely zipped up inside my bag, I was pretty well defenseless. They obviously had reinforcements outside as well. I searched for options, but I found none that were remotely palatable.
The slight vertigo that swept over me and the expression of intense concentration on Bjorn's face told me he was trying to sway me. I could've told him that I was immune to the not so subtle art of mind control, but he was so adorable I didn't have the heart to disappoint him.
Dao smiled. "Dominique will be more comfortable in the limo, I'm sure."
I was being shanghaied, no doubt about it, but on whose orders? "Who is your master?"
"Mr. Anton Beziers."
I felt my jaw drop. "You have to be kidding me. The Anton Beziers?"
Her dark eyes pinned me like a specimen in a bug collection. "I'm aware of only one."
"You're telling me that Anton Beziers, the industrialist, philanthropist and just about everybody's Man of the Year, hires vampires?" Her disdainful expression hinted at something else. I laughed in disbelief. "You mean Anton Beziers is a vampire?"
"Mr. Beziers is waiting." Her tone, though beautifully lyrical, had become insistent. She'd lost patience with me.
"Well, we can't have that then, can we?"