Northern Bites (Aurora Sky Vampire Hunter, Vol. 2)

By: Nikki Jefford

Aurora Sky Vampire Hunter Vol. 2, Northern Bites



1





Sinners and Saints




If fate were kind the only thing I’d have to kill tonight is time.

Our target home, one of two, had yet to draw their curtains, lighting the inside like an aquarium as the last traces of daylight receded into the shadows.

The switch from day to dusk happened in a matter of seconds, at least in Alaska, turning everything black and white.

My tennis shoes crunched over the salted walkway, grinding down pieces so big they felt like small pebbles under my feet. Tennis shoes in winter—not really the best way to keep my toes toasty. Neither was the short pleather jacket, but my parka and winter boots felt too heavy on a mission.

There was no way our targets lived here. A vamp house with skylights…about as likely as the red, white, and pink Valentine’s Day flag hanging off the garage.

I wanted to ram a dagger through the limp heart as I passed the stupid flag on the march to the front door. Even if I didn’t eschew vandalism, I couldn’t have. Not since Agent Melcher revoked my right to bear arms.

Melcher’s idea of easing Dante and I back into active duty came down to assigning us each an informant/stand-in assassin. Our duty, our only duty, tonight was to do the poisoning (i.e. get bit) then step aside and let our partner go in for the kill.

“No way, I’m all about follow up,” Dante said the moment he heard we were on probation.

“You’re lucky we’re sending you back in the field,” Agent Crist had snapped.

She and Melcher weren’t very happy with how Dante’s “training” mission with me in Fairbanks resulted in the death of an informant and human, followed by the vampire Renard and his cohorts tracking us down in Anchorage. Of course, Dante missed all that while the Natives in Kotzebue honored his slaying of a rabid vampire with a blanket toss and an all-you-can-eat moose buffet. Dante returned with a bear claw strung from a leather cord around his neck, puffed up like Popeye on spinach until Agents Crist and Melcher lit into him.

Melcher called the incident “too close for comfort.”

I still didn’t see the harm in keeping a knife hidden in case things went south. I’d been out of combat training for a week while I recovered from the multiple stabbings Renard’s crony inflicted over my body.

Great way to start my second week at a new school.

Strep throat. That’s what Melcher’s doctor’s note said.

More like stabbed throat.

If we ended up with the vamp house, I wouldn’t mind stepping aside and letting my partner take the beating. To add insult to injury, Melcher assigned Valerie to me and Noel to Dante.

We hadn’t spoken since the moment we climbed inside Valerie’s red Honda Civic.

Once our addresses checked out we were free to part ways. The sooner the better.

Two nights ago, a pizza delivery boy headed out on his route and never returned. The next morning a jogger found his body at Westchester Lagoon, naked and drained. Melcher felt certain the culprit resided at one of the five homes on the boy’s delivery route. When the police questioned them, every resident said they never received their order. The manager at Midnight Pie confirmed that every household on the route had called in to complain that their pizza never arrived.

Dante and Noel were assigned three of the five addresses, Valerie and I the remaining two. The manager at Midnight Pie could only guess which residence the driver headed to first, though he believed the police’s theory that the boy had been killed in a carjacking before ever reaching the first home.

The home in front of me did not emit evil. From ten feet away I saw a colorful welcome mat and floral wreath on the door.

Valerie flipped her head from side to side, sending strawberry-brown waves over the shoulders of her pea coat. She looked older without her usual wench’s costume.

We walked in sync, neither of us wanting to follow the other’s lead. As we bumped shoulders to get to the porch, I spoke my first words. “There’s no way this is a vamp house.”

“Could be a cover. You’d be surprised the lengths some vamps will go to hide their activities. I’ve seen it all.” Valerie lifted her nose. “I’ve been doing this a lot longer than you.”

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