“I swear if you’d just tell me what they paid you, I’ll double…even triple the amount!”
Drake Black shook his head while the last living member of Detroit’s Elder Council tried to negotiate for her life. He’d been in this situation before, and no matter how many times he thought it might go differently, it always had the same ending.
He’d stand right here, in the middle of the pitch-black room, while the lone survivor huddled under the heavy oak table throwing out reason after reason why they should be spared. They’d state how they’d helped their chosen city, how well they’d treated the humans around them, and then either how they didn’t deserve to die or how he didn’t know them.
The last two changed on occasion.
“I’ve done nothing but help the people of this city have a better life. I’ve treated them exactly like I’d treat anyone else. I don’t deserve this. Damn it! You don’t even know me!”
Drake chuckled. That was a first. Usually men argued they didn’t deserve death and women were the first to say he didn’t know them. He’d always chalked it up to men never being able to admit when they were wrong and women always wanting to tug at the heartstrings.
Unfortunately for her, he’d left his heart in a different shirt and his give-a-shit was broken. Not to mention, his name tag said executioner in big black letters, not judge or jury. The judge in her case was the Lord of Detroit, who’d arranged for his own Council’s execution, and Drake had killed the jury of her peers right before she’d scurried under the table.
“You don’t have to do this! I’m sure if we spent some time together you’d see this is all a mistake. I’m not like those other idiots. They deserved to die, but not me. I can make you a better offer. It doesn’t even have to be money.” Her shrill voice took on the calculating, seductive quality of a scheming Elder vampiress. “You have to be lonely doing what you do. I’m sure we could work something out.”
Drake responded by spinning the custom silencer into the barrel of his .50 caliber Desert Eagle. He didn’t care for most female vampires to begin with, but ones who thought they could personally end his suffering just by being in his company occupied an even darker place in his heart.
He’d been there once – he wasn’t about to go back.
He moved to stand near the side of the table when his mark finally poked her head out. It quickly became obvious she hadn’t honed her ability to see in the dark as her head slowly turned from side to side, her narrowed eyes searching the large room.
“What do you say? Do you think we could be friends?” She licked her perfectly painted lips. “I think we could be great friends.”
Drake rolled his eyes. He usually didn’t talk to his targets, mainly because he didn’t want to instill any false hopes for negotiation, but she refused to take silence as an answer. “Lady, I don’t wanna know you. I don’t want your drug money, and I sure as hell don’t want your company.”
“I promise I’ll make it worth your while,” she all but purred.
When the air around him thickened and charged with an overwhelming and completely unnatural feeling of acceptance, Drake glared down at the top of her soon-to-be-missing head. There was nothing in the entire world he hated more than someone trying to manipulate his emotions.
He opened his mouth to tell her exactly where she could stick her offer of friendship and her forced acceptance, but snapped it shut when he realized his thigh was vibrating. He pulled out his phone and stared down at the dark screen.
NEW CONTRACT: MARK ARRIVING AT THE RIVERS BUILDING, CHICAGO, @ 2 AM. MEET ME ON THE ROOF DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET IN 30 MINUTES. YOU ARE DONE IN DETROIT ALREADY, RIGHT?
Drake ground his teeth together and jammed the phone back into his coat pocket. So much for sleeping, or eating, or anything else he might want to do after two straight weeks of killing self-important vampires.
“Well, do you have an answer or not?”
He took a deep breath as the irritated note in her voice woke the beasts sleeping in the pit of his stomach. Crimson sparked at the edges of his vision. He was about to be done in Detroit all right. “Shove it, Lady.”
“Fine!” She crawled out a little more, fangs bared, her eyes glued on the one and only exit. “Have it your way, you pathetic waste of blood.”
He cocked his head. He was the pathetic waste of blood in the room? Really? He raised the gun. At least he could see in the dark. “Took ya long enough to find the door.”
In less than the time it took for her to suck in a complete breath, she burst out from under the table and made a run for the exit. Before she’d even taken that breath, Drake squeezed the trigger. He squinted as the phosphorescent round left the chamber with a bright flash. The bullet struck her dead center in the back of the neck, instantly separating her head from her shoulders. Less than a second later her entire body burst into a golden red haze, signaling not only her very permanent exit from the world, but the end of Drake’s contract.
He caught the expended shell as it flipped through the air then waited for the shadows to consume what remained of her blood mist before he willed his gun away. It didn’t happen often, but every now and then one of the old bastards managed to reform, and he really wasn’t in the mood to deal with her again.
One round with a female vampire was more than enough.
He stretched and yawned as his darkness receded and six days without sleep finally caught up with him. He pressed the heels of his palms against his eyes and tried to rub away the gritty sandpaper feeling. Fortunately, the quick massage worked for the most part, but the muffled growls and grumbles of his empty stomach couldn’t be fixed so easily.
Hopefully his next contract would be over fast, but just in case it wasn’t, he needed a plan. He concentrated on his good friend, Odin Nelek, and then waited for him to accept the mental connection.
No more than a few seconds passed before he heard Odin’s much too happy voice in his head. “What’s up, Big Man? Kill anyone lately?”
Drake smiled. Leave it to Odin to ask the most obvious question in the world. “Why yes, yes I have. I just finished up in Detroit. Would you be willing to do me a favor?”
“Always. What ya need?”
“Food and beer.”
“On it. One large pizza with everything but fungus and a case of beer. Where would you like that delivered, Sir?”