Vampire Enforcer (Hidden Blood Book 1), page 1
A New Me
A Desperate Call
Taking It Outside
The Real Boss
Getting My Orders
Breaking the Law
More Questions Than Answers
The Hidden Club
An Impatient Wait
Spoiling the Mood
Do Me a Favor
No Time to Rest
Dreams of Being Human
How to Escape Hell
On the Hunt
Just Warming Up
Time for Magic
Breaking and Entering
Into the Fiery Pit
Rumbles and Grumbles
The Metal Beastie
Not Mechanically Minded
A Green Menace
House a Mess
I Need Coffee!
Pain and More Pain
On the Road Again
Change of Plan
A Reluctant Awakening
Kisses, No Hugs
Fun at the Fair
The Goblins Get Busy
Picking Them Off
A Regular Disaster
Furry and Fast
Things Get Personal
Bringing on the Magic
A Wild Ride
A Fighting Chance
And We're Done
Hidden Blood Book 1
Al K. Line
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Copyright © 2017, Al K. Line. All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
"What?" I snapped, wishing people would stop calling.
"Kate, is that you?" asked Dancer, friend, Head of the UK Hidden Council, and boss to my husband. Also a necromancer, if that makes any difference.
"Who else would it be?" I asked, trying to calm myself. "Has Faz got any other women living with him I've somehow failed to notice?" I was rather tense in case you can't tell.
"Okay, no need to be so sarcastic. I was only asking. Is he still, you know...?" Dancer sounded truly sympathetic, but he'd been having a hard time of it in the months since we returned from our honeymoon where things had gone so right in one regard but so wrong in another.
"Yes," I said with a sigh, "he's still weak as a kitten. He can hardly move, has only just stopped losing weight. He's up and about but no, he isn't ready for an enforcer job." I left it at that, wondering if he ever would be again.
"Damn. How long do you reckon? I need him."
"I honestly don't know," I said, wishing I did. After what he'd done for me, for us, I wanted nothing more than for Faz to be back out there, blasting the dark arts and draining the magic out of the bad guys until they were Regulars rather than Hidden.
"Okay, look, how about the other thing? The, er, baby situation?" Dancer sounded embarrassed talking about it, like mentioning anything to do with my lady parts was liable to force him to use actual words for said parts.
"He can hardly walk!"
"I know, but I bet that hasn't stopped him, has it? Sorry to ask and all." There was an awkward silence then he said, "Kate, are you there?"
"I'm here. No, it hasn't stopped him, and no, no babies yet. It will probably take time, years is my guess. I'm not really sure how it works. He's a seasoned wizard, and I have all this magic inside of me and it's still settling, becoming a part of me. I don't know, it's confusing."
"But you are doing it?"
"Sorry, sorry. So, best guess on the baby front is that as this is a unique situation, it will take quite some time for you to get pregnant? Maybe even until Faz is fighting fit again and ready to return to work?"
What was he getting at? Why was he talking like he was doing something official, saying all the facts and talking weird? I got a sneaking suspicion. "Are you recording this?" I accused.
"Um, shouldn't I be?"
"Oh." Another uncomfortable silence. Dancer was relatively new to the role of Head, but did a great job of keeping all manner of magic users in line within the UK. Be that humans, wizards and witches and the like, or true supernatural Hidden that either lived here or liked to visit. But he relied on Faz, a.k.a. Black Spark, and now he was out of action.
After the unfortunate zombie thing when Faz had only just returned to work after a five-year hiatus, Dancer was relieved to have him back and fighting fit. Then he went and gave me the Hidden magic he'd inherited and had returned to noob status. Not in how he used magic, or would be able to, but in the pain it caused when he took it from the Empty. Stole it.
He'd given it to me, something my kind rarely had. It was taking some getting used to I can tell you, and it scared me, him too.
"Sorry, I was miles away."
"Did you hear what I said?"
"No, say again."
"I said I've cleared it with Oskari, so if you don't mind can you please come to HQ so I can give you the details."
"What are you talking about? Cleared what?"
"Why, you taking Faz's place until he recovers or until you are with child. You're my new number one enforcer, Kate. You're hired."
"Oh no you don't! No bloody chance. I don't know the first thing about it."
"Kate," said Dancer patiently, as if about to explain something to a child, "you are adept at chasing down, glamoring, and killing the scum of this country. You have inherited more magic than most Hidden accumulate in a lifetime, true Hidden magic I might add, and I'm down one enforcer. You're it."
"No." Like I would do what he told me; he wasn't the boss of me.
"Okay, I didn't want to do this but here's the deal. I order you."
When I stopped laughing, Faz too, who was listening as I had Dancer on speaker phone because it was fun to mess with his head, I said, "Dancer, I love you as a friend, but never try to pull the boss thing on me again. Even Faz doesn't take jobs if he doesn't want to. You have no hold over me."
"I'm the Head," he protested. I could picture him sitting at his desk, running hi
"And I'm a vampire. You may be the Head, but have the vampires ever answered to you? No, and even if they did, which they don't, I won't do it."
"Right, that's it. I didn't want to play this card but you've left me no choice. Faz owes me one, and since you now have part of him in you, er, you know what I mean, I can take that favor back from you."
"No, you can't."
"Okay, then here's my final, ultimate, you can't say no and you have made me do this, offer. Please? Please will you come and help? This will be good for vampire-human relations and to be honest I haven't got anyone else."
"Fine," I said after leaving him to sweat for a while. "Why didn't you just ask nicely in the first place?"
"Um, I did, didn't I?"
"No, you didn't."
"But you'll do it, take the position?"
"I will." I hung up and smiled. Truth be told, Faz was driving me nuts and anything that got me out of the house was worth a little risk.
I just hadn't realized how much of a risk.
Hi, I'm Kate Pound, reluctant Vampire Enforcer.
"Told you he'd ask," said Faz, looking smug as he laced his hands behind his head.
"Shut up and drink your coffee," I ordered, smiling despite myself.
"He'll try to boss you about but don't let him. You know he's a softy really." Faz eased himself forward in the chair at the kitchen table and sipped his coffee. He was still terribly thin, pale and drawn, his bleached-blond hair showing black at the roots. Every day he improved, but it was a slow process. I didn't mind as I love him, and after what he'd gone through he deserved the rest. But nothing stood in the way of him dressing same as always.
Faz is a dapper dresser, has a unique personal style. He is obsessed with nineteen-sixties suits, wears a black one every single day. Slim and fitted perfectly. He also wears red shirts as they cover blood the best, and a black tie he likes to fashion into various knots. And he always wears these weird pointed winklepickers, handmade shoes that cost him an absolute fortune.
I'm more of a jeans and t-shirt girl myself, but wondered if I shouldn't make more of an effort if I was to be an enforcer. Most of them have their own style, something to set them apart from everyone else. It helps to have a certain look that everyone remembers, something unique so the bad guys will run away.
"I know how to handle Dancer." I sat and put my hands out. Faz took them and we smiled at each other. "Should I do this? I know we talked about it, but it feels right."
"You know I'd never tell you what to do. It's dangerous, Kate, you know that, but the things I've got you involved in over the years, well, that's been rough too. And the vampires aren't exactly law-abiding, although Oskari is doing a good job."
"He's better than any other Head has been, keeps everyone mostly in order," I agreed. Oskari was in charge, ran the British vampires; the main Head. The massive country house he lived in had countless vampires as permanent guests. Some were new, others ancient, whiling away the centuries locked down in the basements, woken for a short spell then back to dreamless sleep. Like time travelers but only taking in the sights at night.
"Kate, promise me one thing." Faz leaned forward and winced but held my gaze.
"I know what you're going to ask, and the moment I get pregnant I'll stop. But I think I need this, need to do it. What you did for me, for us, it's bigger than that now, more important. If I can help keep things from getting crazy," Faz raised an eyebrow at that, "okay, crazier than usual, then I should try."
"There are plenty of other enforcers. Dancer knows that better than anyone."
"But none like me."
"No, none like you," he conceded. "But you're new to magic, you don't know how to control it. It takes years and years of practice to master spells, to regulate it all."
"To learn how to use magic taken from the Empty, to summon and use it, you need to know spells. But this Hidden magic is different."
"Yeah, it's different. You can use it with enough focus, but you still have a long way to go. I know you've been practicing, and I've done what I can to help you get this thing to do your bidding, but out there, when things get dicey, it's different."
"So you don't want me to work for Dancer?"
"I didn't say that," Faz protested. "I'm just saying be careful. I'm in no position to judge or tell you what to do, but please watch yourself."
We'd been over it a hundred times, talked late into the night about our future and how we'd handle this new turn of events. The one thing we both agreed on was that we loved each other and magic of one form or another was part of who we were, who we'd always be. Faz had tried to give it up in the past, and failed. The draw was too strong, the addiction overwhelming, and that was when it almost broke him to do what he did best.
With his new gift he'd become incredibly strong, had depths no regular wizard did, and the terrible comedown had faded, allowing him to act in ways that would have crippled him previously. But now things were different. He gave it up to allow us to have a child, and when he healed and was back to full health it would again be torture to use magic.
But it had never stopped him, same as all wizards. It was the price they paid for stealing and using what wasn't theirs by birthright. Faz was no normal wizard though, he was a dark magic enforcer, using his special skills to suck the magic right out of the users and abusers, those that sullied the Hidden or were a danger to others. He punished them, and his skills were always needed.
Now there was an opening and we both knew I was suited to the job, but I insisted on staying home to look after him. It was obvious he didn't want that, it hurt his manly pride, and I think he secretly wanted to be left alone to recuperate. Faz tried his best to remain upbeat but he's prone to being a moody bugger.
So he was happy when I learned how to control this new power to some degree, liked seeing me flourish even though he was still ill and weak, but I could see the longing too, and there was something else. He didn't want to see the magic wasted, knew he'd given it so we could maybe one day have a family of our own, but understood just how rare a gift this was too.
The annoying thing was I felt the same way, so here we were, both wanting the same thing, both scared of what could happen if I worked for Dancer. Yet I was excited, had been involved in enough with the vampires, Faz, Dancer, and a whole host of strange Hidden to know this was who I was now.
I was an addict the same as all human Hidden. I craved magic of one sort or another, needed the buzz and the excitement, the adventure.
But right now, after so many months of abstinence, I needed one thing above all else.
As if reading my mind, Faz pushed a piece of paper across the table. He'd obviously seen the signs and come prepared, knowing it was time.
"Here, I know you need it."
"I hate this part," I said, meaning it.
"I know, honey, but as long as you stick to the rules then you're still you. You won't be like one of them. Cold, twisted, and uncaring."
"Right," I said, trying to convince myself as much as him. "As long as I care, I'm still human."
Only problem was that sometimes I didn't care, or not enough.
I took the list and kissed Faz on the forehead. "I'll be back later, won't be long."
Then I went to kill a man.
There's a list. It's maddeningly, sickeningly long even though the names on it are of people living only a reasonable drive from my home on the outskirts of Cardiff.
Faz wrote this list not long after he and Grandma saved me from death. His grandma, but everyone calls her that and I'm family now anyway. It's been added to by both of us over the years, even though the number of crossed-out names is extensive. A terrifying, sad, yet liberating re
It's a list of bad guys, women too. Crimes get committed and never solved. People get off even though everyone knows they're guilty, whilst others live secret lives, pretending to be someone they aren't, doing things you can't imagine and wouldn't want to.
We know, us Hidden, us magic users, although that still sounds strange as I never thought I'd ever be a magic user myself. People like Faz hear things, whispers from those involved in the dark arts, favors returned with information, or news filtering through the network of wrongs that should be righted. Look deep enough and most people have a link to a human Hidden somewhere, even if they don't realize it.
When Faz and Grandma saved me I was lost. Weak, scared, and wild. I hated myself once I discovered what I was, and then the cravings began and I thought I'd go out of my mind. Faz felt responsible, even though it was the one that bit me who was in the wrong, and found a way for me to feed without it destroying the humanity that remains. Humanity that seeps away between the cracks of my defenses a little more each day as the vampire nature encroaches and I find myself a little more distanced from those I love and the life I once led that seems like a dream now.
He gave me a list, just a few names on it then. People who deserved to die. Those who were the worst of humanity, who shouldn't be here, who make the world a worse place. This was my out, my excuse to suck the blood from another human being and restore myself, allow the virus to thrive and make me almost invincible, immortal.
It's disgusting, the things I do, soul-wrecking and foul and it makes me sick to my stomach. It's also the most exhilarating experience you can imagine. Nothing else comes close to the high I feel, the pure, unadulterated joy that overwhelms me as I bite down into flesh as tender as prime ribeye and hot blood is my reward. It makes me feel whole again, complete, and like the immortal creature I am.
I sat in the car and read through the abbreviated file on Tom Pecking. What a terrible summation of a life. The things he'd done, and got away with, were so vile I felt anger stir just reading it again even though I'd read it twenty times before, looking at his file and wondering when the time would come for him to meet justice. Now was that time. I needed to feed, I had to be as strong as possible for what was to come.
Other author's books:
- Empty HeartKinky BonesAsh AddictDeath CallsBlood Moon (Wildcat Wizard Book 1)Neon Spark (Dark Magic Enforcer Book 5)Swift (Strangetown Magic Book 1)Demon Dogs (Wildcat Wizard Book 3)
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