WHEN SHE DREAMED, she dreamed of death and madness. Of the deep and of forgotten things. The moon shone full through the water, and the drifting weeds surrounded her as she stared into the night sky.
The water enveloped her. The pulse of the current took her, and she drifted deeper.
Past the edge of land.
Beyond the silken brush of reeds.
She sank past the touch of moonlight, where the chill of the water crept into her bones and settled her soul.
But the hunger…
The ever-present gnaw in her belly, like the ache of a newborn, stalked her.
In the cradle of darkness, she bit down and drank her own blood.
THE MAN SAT ACROSS from Murphy with desperate, angry eyes. He knew he had no recourse . Nothing he could say to the vampire leader of Dublin would make Patrick Murphy change his mind.
“Andrew,” Murphy said, his voice cool, “what did you think was going to happen? Did you think I was going to sit idly by and watch as you tried to maneuver the Blue Delta contract out from under me? That was my contract, Andrew. Just because the Americans will always go with the lowest bidder doesn’t make that the way we do business.”
“Just Murphy, Andrew.” He spread his hands, palms up. “We’re not strangers. I thought I knew you better than this. Thought we had respect between us.”
He saw Brigid roll her eyes in the corner, but he ignored her. His eyes kept focus on the nervous human across from him.
Garvey wore a work shirt and pants. His clothes and carriage spoke of a man who worked on the water and had since he was a boy. But Murphy also noted that the man’s shirt was carefully pressed, even if the pocket was torn. Murphy noted things like that because the measure of a man was often seen in the details.
Garvey was no slob; he had ambition.
Nor was he a threat to Murphy. The man knew about vampires; his father had worked in the docklands before him and knew how things ran. The American contract was Murphy’s to turn down. He had a reputation to maintain after all. He needed to make a point with the human, and he wouldn’t let a little thing like actual business interests stand in his way.
“I do respect you, Murphy.” Garvey’s voice said one thing, but his eyes said frustration. The young man had grown up working with his dad and had hustled through the grey areas of the docklands in order to improve his lot. Murphy could respect that. He also knew that Garvey was leaning closer to the darker shades of grey on a few deals lately. “You know my da—”
“Never would have expected Tim’s son to pull something like this.” Murphy made sure to keep his voice low. He didn’t need to project anger. Not anymore. He was aiming for disappointment. “I had people lined up for that contract, Andrew.”
“I had plans for those people.”
“And now what do I tell them, Andrew? What do I tell those people who were counting on me?”
Murphy took a deep, considering breath he didn’t need. Vampires, after all, had no need to breathe. As long as he had blood and water to draw his elemental strength, he’d last until God and all the saints returned. The breath wasn’t for Murphy, the breath was for Andrew Garvey.
He looked down and shuffled some papers on his desk. Papers he’d had his assistant, Angie, bring in a few moments after Andrew Garvey had sat down across from his desk. He lifted up the “Blue Delta Industries” file and paged through it.
You’re a bastard, the first paper read.
Murphy didn’t let the smile break through his solemn exterior as he perused the papers Angie had typed out at her desk outside his office.
You had no interest in that shipping contract until you heard Blue Delta went to a human first.
He flipped through them one by one, scanning the mostly blank pages as Garvey squirmed across from him.
Pint after work, boss? One of the new lads thinks he can beat you, and I need the money. Declan must have slipped that one in. Declan was full of it. Murphy knew the man lived like a monk and saved like a miser. He didn’t need the money. He just wanted to show the new employees what was what.
Andrew Garvey is a nice young man, and his wife just had a baby girl.
Angie was being a touch dramatic, wasn’t she? It wasn’t as if he was going to kill the human. He just needed to scare him. And maybe remind Garvey why Murphy had been stricter about who did business on his docks the past few years. Despite what Angie thought, this was about more than just a minor human shipping contract.
“I expected courtesy from Tim Garvey’s son.” Murphy steepled his fingers together and leaned his elbows on his desk.
“I never intended…”
Murphy brought his dark eyes up to lock on Garvey’s exasperated gaze, and the man fell silent.
“It’s not respectful to bring cargo into my city without knowing what it is, Andrew.”
The human’s face want from frustrated to downright pale.
“I… There hasn’t been any—”
“Don’t ever lie to me.”
Garvey shut his mouth.
“It’s one thing to take a bit that doesn’t go on the books.” Murphy’s voice was barely over a whisper. “We’ve all shipped a few crates of this and that, haven’t we?”
Garvey was trying to smile, but it wasn’t working. “Just a few crates, sir. Even my da—”
“But you didn’t know what was in those crates, did you? And ‘we don’t ask questions’ isn’t an acceptable answer anymore, Andrew. Not for anyone who wants to call me a friend.”