Vampire Assassin League Bundle 4 - Eternity, page 1
Vampire Assassin League
Set Four - Eternity
Let Them Speak
Now or Forever
Hold Their Peace
Do You Take
By Jackie Ivie
Copyright 2013, Jackie Ivie
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portion thereof, in any form. This book may not be resold or uploaded for distribution to others.
This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Let Them Speak
by Jackie Ivie
A Vampire Assassin League Novella
“We Kill for Profit”
13th in series
He had blood in his future. A lot of blood. From the looks of things, it wasn’t going to be very hard to obtain. All he had to do was decide.
It appeared that making a decision would be the tricky part.
Devereaux eased back onto a lamppost, making sure the move didn’t alter anything. Not that he weighed more than a large man should, but immortality had its plusses. Super strength was just one of them. The last thing he wished to do was uproot one of these street lights.
He slid a glance both directions. Now that he’d noticed, there were more than enough large men milling about to harm historic landmarks. The lamp on his left carried a rainbow of cheap, plastic, metallic-colored beads that some enterprising gent had draped all about the top of it. That was a hard reach. Devereaux wasn’t certain he could manage it even if he stretched. Once he’d been stand-out tall, but each generation got larger. He had lots of company at six foot three anymore – including women, but he hoped they were in heels.
He was almost average.
What a depressing thought.
Devereaux narrowed his eyes on the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd clogging Bourbon Street; or Rue Bourbon if he used the French pronunciation; or Calle de Bourbon as it was known when Spain had claimed the territory of Louisiana.
The Spanish years. Now, those were some good times. Especially back when he’d first arrived. Just after the 1788 fire. During the building boom. There was a reason most of the buildings in the French Quarter or Vieux Carre looked Spanish. That regime was in control when they’d been designed and constructed. Most of the roofs were tiled and flat, while all sorts of fancy scrolled wrought ironwork graced their balconies. And back then a man could take a good feast without causing all sorts of sensation.
Because nobody would even notice. Or care.
Devereaux moved his eyes, scanning the crowd. There was a vast selection tonight. Hard to decide. His meal could come from any source. Everywhere he looked was a possibility, every size, shape, sex, and age. As long as they had a good dose of liquor in them. He’d prefer a teetotaler to a walking drunk but Akron was most specific. He’d put Devereaux Castillion under an ‘inebriation clause’. Cause and effect. Devereaux had to feed from someone drunk enough they wouldn’t remember. Or he had to go much farther afield. Anything else might bring attention again. Like that woman...
But she’d been so beautiful! So winsome. So sweet. So sensual. So easily mesmerized and romanced. And so bitterly accurate the next day with her police report. Because he hadn’t stayed as she’d demanded.
Devereaux Castillion stay with a woman? To what end?
The drawing they’d rendered was probably still pinned on more than one establishment billboard. It didn’t favor him much or he was better looking than he remembered. But it did bring about his ordered sequester at Vampire Assassin League Headquarters, the place called Castle Tirgoviste Number Two. It had also brought the ‘inebriation clause’. No member of VAL allowed activity this close to his home. They didn’t leave trace evidence such as puncture wounds. No weird DNA that stymied the forensics department. No witness statement about a large, muscular fellow with a foreign, semi-French accent; dressed in a midnight blue velvet coat that fastened with what looked like real silver buttons. And no listing of the sword he rarely left behind. The one with a hilt fashioned with the Castillion family crest. Especially that.
That woman had been too accurate. And he’d had to switch to this – a burgundy coat. Gold-dipped buttons. His hair pulled back into a queue. No weapon. He felt naked without the sword. He wouldn’t allow it to happen again. That’s the prime reason he was on this corner, watching this particular drinking establishment. If he had to select a drunkard, he’d rather one that was imbibing rum. Not the Kill Devil rum they poured into plastic cups from almost every doorway. Devereaux wanted dark rum. Over-proofed. The kind from the country of his birth. Produced from molasses and then aged for at least a year in heavily charred barrels.
Hard to find that kind of rum, even here in New Orleans. The kind his father’s family was known for. From Santo Domingo. Back before rebellions eliminated the entire Castillion dynasty, including the illegitimate line that came from his father’s fancy for a mixed-blooded woman. Devereaux hadn’t been around to see any of it. Why stay if all he could do was prowl the night, watching life happen around him? His half-brother inherited the plantation. His sisters married. His mother, rest her soul, passed on. Life just kept moving along and he was stuck. Undead. Unnoticed. But that’s what came of romancing and then bedding the neighbor’s daughter.
The duel that had killed his neighbor, and would’ve done the same to him was a result of being caught while bedding said daughter. And she hadn’t even been very good. Too many had already plowed that furrow. Devereaux had a lot of time to think it through during the seven days he’d suffered deadly infection. Alone. Disowned. Gangrenous. Akron had come to him the eighth night, his appearance locked into a fever-induced dream. He’d given Devereaux immortality. And this. A Friday night spent prowling the alleys of New Orleans. French Quarter. Bourbon Street.
Devereaux pulled his gold pocket watch from an inner vest pocket and checked it. It was past midnight. That made it Saturday morning. Early. Heat radiated off the crowd, adding to the mix. Hormones were in the air. Street hawkers shouted and cajoled, while all sorts of smells emanated from nearly every door, vying with each other for supremacy. A brass band added to the cacophony of sound, while several doors sent bass notes and other sounds out to throttle it. No other place was as wild as New Orleans, Louisiana. As alive. As visual. Dangerous. Sexy. Sinful.
A strand of purple Mardi Gras beads smacked onto his shoulder. Devereaux tipped his head and looked up. A half dozen women lined the railing above him, waving and calling and dangling more beads. They weren’t addressing anyone in the street. They were all young. Ripe. Effusive-sounding. Backed by some throbbing dance music getting pumped through the building about them. Perhaps they were also soused. And maybe... just maybe, they’d ordered their rum from the place across the street. As he watched, two more women joined the others. All with great figures. Pretty. Or disguising any lack with cosmetics. From the looks of it, there wasn’t much of a dress code up there, either.
He pointed to his chest.
Strands of beads got loosed on him from about two feet up. That’s what came of bending forward so far over the wrought-iron railing they were in danger of falling out of mor
“Ooooh! I misspoke! You’re not just handsome. Wow. What a hunk!”
“Where have you been all my life, Gorgeous?”
They were speaking of him? Hmm. Maybe those police sketches were accurate after all.
“You wanna come up here and join us?”
Devereaux cocked his head slightly.
“We’ve got the entire balcony reserved!”
The owners of these establishments didn’t have it right. That wasn’t a balcony. It was a gallery. Good thing, too, since even more women seemed to gather on it as they kept calling to him. A balcony would’ve collapsed. A gallery had posts holding it up.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, ladies.”
Devereaux finally spoke, putting too much volume in it. The area about him reverberated with bass tones. Too loud, Dev. He could sense the reaction to his voice happening all about him. He didn’t have to see it.
“Yeah? Why not?”
More of them spoke, all of it carrying the same general intent. And they were frowning. And tossing more beads. Devereaux started catching them and lacing them onto his left arm. Without even looking.
“Because I am a vampire.”
The resultant squeals were loud, gaining the scene even more attention. Good thing the Vampire Assassin League declared the entire city clean over a week ago. That was why he was out tonight. Hungry. Prowling. Devereaux wouldn’t have left his mansion if the Hunters hadn’t evacuated their lodgings and given up.
And then the ladies started talking to him again.
“A vampire? A real one?”
“That’s so cool!”
There had to be exceptions to the ‘inebriation clause’ if they knew he was a vampire first. Regardless of how drunk they were. Devereaux smiled up at them. He didn’t have his canines at full length, but it was enough for a peek. Several of the girls giggled, and bumped against each other, matching the thump of music from somewhere behind them.
“You ladies still interested, are you?”
“Hands? Who’s with me? Yep. Looks unanimous, Handsome.”
“Any rum up there?” Devereaux asked.
“All kinds of rum. All proofs. We even have the good stuff. 151. Along with whiskey. Wine. And we’ve got tequila. And vodka—”
“And why the hell would a vampire care?” somebody inserted.
“Any gents up there?” he asked instead.
“Why? You gay?”
“Oh. No. Just checking the lay-out, ladies. And the competition.”
“Competition? You’re joking, right? We’re just getting started, Hon. We’re pretty particular about who we invite up. It’s going to be hard to match you, though.”
“We still have to try. Come on, Shirley, there are... fifteen of us. Fifteen? Right?”
“Okay. There are sixteen of us. Up here. And just one of you. Down there. What kind of lay-out you want?”
“Sounds perfect,” Devereaux replied.
“So you coming up? Or do we have to come down there and get you?”
“You need to step back now. Give me some room.”
In answer, Devereaux took two steps to the lamp post, twirled once around it, and went airborne, easily grabbing the bottom of the gallery. He launched up from there to leap over the rail, landing right between about four of them. He didn’t need any of that, but he already had an audience out on the street. He could hear the applause and shouts and whistles at his ascent already. He turned and waved at them and then the ladies pulled him into the house, all seeming to talk at once.
“Screw that, Shirley. That was major wow!”
“You hiding a six pack under all that clothing, Love?”
“You got a name?”
“Devereaux. But you can call me Dev.”
“Dev? And you’re really a vampire? A real one?”
“Oh yes,” he replied.
“Wow. It just doesn’t get much better.”
She could say that again. This was probably an undead version of paradise. He’d never been around this many breasts. And arms. And pouting mouths. And really lovely... necks. Pulsing with elevated heartbeats. Pumping warm, thick, fluid...
Devereaux stabbed into the closest neck. Sucked. Heard moans. Someone relieved him of his coat. More hands took his silk neck cloth. He stabbed into another throat. This time his groan added into the mix. Somebody started unbuttoning his vest. His teeth sliced into another neck. Another. He was wrong. This wasn’t just paradise. It surpassed that. Somebody pulled at his vest. Devereaux shrugged his arms from it, remembering at the last moment to grab for his pocket watch, in order to shove it into a trouser pocket. Another neck came into view, the vein throbbing just beneath the surface. Devereaux stabbed into it. Rapture ensued. These ladies had definitely been drinking all sorts of spirits. He no longer cared if it was rum and what country had distilled it. His shirt got pulled off. His belt was the next casualty. He was well on his way to losing his pants when the first of a series of tremors occurred. The floor rocked with it, and then the sensation went through the soles of his leather boots and right up his spine.
Devereaux lifted his head, licked at his lips, and snagged the hands attempting to maneuver his pants off his hips, as if they’d find anything there other than disappointment. Another tremor came, riding atop the humid air as if searching him out somehow. Just him. Relentless. And instantly enslaving.
“What’s the matter, Love?” one of them asked.
“Oh... snap. He’s not going anywhere. Not with what he’s got.”
Dev smacked the speaker’s hands off his crotch. This was getting complicated. In hindsight, he should’ve stuck to the ‘inebriation clause’.
“Too much for you, Handsome?”
That question had a snide undertone to it. It would probably get him featured on another police sketch, too. He couldn’t help it. Or her. Or the orgy of feasting that he’d put into play and now had to leave. Something odd was happening. Something wonderfully odd. Perfect. Inescapable. He cleared his throat and looked over the tops of their heads.
“Apologies, ladies. Sincerely. I have to go.”
That was screeched from more than one throat. Devereaux didn’t care. They no longer mattered. The next moment, they’d ceased to exist. His entire focus right now was on the next tremor. And what it might mean. And the fact that each tremor seemed to be losing power. As if moving away.
“Seriously. I... need to leave. Now.”
He snagged his jacket, but couldn’t see his shirt. Or his neck cloth. Looked like the vest was going to be a casualty to this aborted feast, as well.
“And just how are you planning to manage that?”
“You tell him, Shirley.”
“Yeah. It’s sixteen to one. Remember?”
Dev launched upward, clinging to the ceiling as they seemed to collapse into the space where he’d been standing. They made a haphazard pile of shapely limbs and bare breasts, and if he wasn’t mistaken, more than one wasn’t wearing her panties, either. Yet, not one of them noticed where he clung to the shadowed space beside their chandelier.
“Holy shit! Did you see that?”
“I think that guy really was a vampire.”
“Well, I think he was gay. He probably frequents St. Ann’s.”
“I think we all could use some more tequila. Marge? Set up some shots!”
Good plan, ladies. And then Devereaux ceased hearing or seeing anything from the room below him. Another tremor finally occurred. Vibr
“Well... looks like we got the hot and steamy part covered. Even in the middle of the night, New Orleans is a sauna. With benefits.”
“Aroma. Music. Views.”
Sydney wrinkled her nose. “That isn’t aroma, Stan. That’s smell and odor and stink. That’s not music, either. It’s a blending of every raucous sound known to mankind. At ear-blistering level. Thank heavens the studio doesn’t want a locale in the party zone – that Bourbon Street nightmare back there. I’d quit.”
“You’re just having trouble with all the hunks that keep coming out of the wrought ironwork to block your path. Can’t say I blame them. Everybody wants a part in the movies.”
“Maybe you should’ve picked a realtor with a smaller mouth.”
“And maybe you shouldn’t run around with ‘studio location scout’ emblazoned across the back of your jacket.”
“Oh, shut up and help me.”
“I’m not pulling weeds if this isn’t our site. Do I look that stupid?”
“Do I have to answer that with a straight face?” she countered.
“Anybody see the realtor yet? We can’t select a site if we don’t get in and check rooms!” She yelled it over her shoulder toward her three-member crew before turning back to shine her flashlight on what might be a courtyard of a late eighteenth-century mansion. It was also the eighth building they’d checked. All vacant-looking. Most intact. Most of them with the characteristics of the vampire pilot the studio wanted. All she needed now was the inside layout. Damn realtor.
“We’re early, Syd. You said two. It’s five of. And you know those Southerners.”
Hmm. That looked like the innards of an old mattress against one wall. A rust pile that might be a chair. Sydney shuddered and kept moving her light. Oh look. Right next to her was a big fountain. Or bird bath. It was crafted of stone. And heavy. Probably why it hadn’t been carted off.
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