“Mmm, just like my mom used to make,” I said, choking on my disgust as I unlatched my mouth from the whiskery neck of a Mage. I hated relying on my Vampire nature, but sometimes it was a necessary evil to subdue my victims.
Not one to leave evidence, I wiped a drop of blood off the brown tile.
The paunchy man curled his lips where he lay on the floor, his face ashen.
I launched to my feet when someone outside the door jiggled the handle to get inside the private bathroom. The club had public ones farther down the hall, but there was always one joker who wanted a room to himself. The knocking finally ceased, and I listened as the footsteps grew distant. Taking down evildoers in human clubs was easier since there was less chance of someone calling the Breed authorities, especially since humans didn’t have a clue about our existence.
I caught my reflection in the mirror as I turned—my black hair askew, burgundy lipstick smeared across my chin. Then I glared down at the man lying at my feet. “You shouldn’t take advantage of humans. Stealing energy from a weaker species is just vile.”
He didn’t have any strength left to move. “Who are you?” he groaned weakly, his eyelids fluttering.
I knelt down and offered to shake his hand. “I’m Raven Black. Pleased to make your acquaintance, human killer.” When he stared at my hand nonplussed, I flattened my palms against his and hovered over his face. “Maybe you’re a high-five kind of guy.” Before he could struggle, I proceeded to drain his energy.
This repugnant juicer was about to find out that I wasn’t just a Vampire, I was a crossbreed—a one-of-a-kind combination of Vampire and Mage. Vampires have black eyes, and since mine were mismatched, it had confused him when I had to drain his blood to weaken him further. Now he was even more puzzled as to how it was possible I could pull his Mage light. It didn’t matter to me. Only the dead knew my secret.
Breeds who can have children frown upon interbreeding. The magic between two different Breeds cancels each other out, creating a watered-down version of a species. Once in a blue moon, the powers weave together in a dangerous way.
After all, I was proof.
The difference being that I had once been an ordinary human who—like everyone else—didn’t have a clue that the Breed world existed. Vampires can offer the gift of immortality to humans just as a Mage can, but a human body can’t accept the power of both at once. You’re either one or the other. Except in my case.
Magic will always find a way to bend the rules.
I glared into his beady little eyes, his dark light beginning to contaminate my own. “What did humans ever do to you? They’re not disposable goods. You can’t go around juicing their light and then throwing them away like an empty cup. I’ve been following you around for the past week, and I know all about your light addiction. You’re littering the streets with their bodies like they’re Popsicle sticks. I bet you didn’t think anyone was watching, did you? I see everything,” I hissed.
“What are you going to do?” he asked, choking on his own fear.
I squeezed his palms tightly. “You’ve had your opportunity for redemption. Sorry, human killer. Lights out.”
“You can’t kill me; it’s against the law.”
A smile touched my lips. “You’re a declared outlaw. I asked around. That means you’re wanted dead or alive.”
“Then turn me in.”
A little reward money would be nice, except for one tiny problem: I didn’t exist in the Breed world. I’d been living as a rogue since the day I was illegally made.
Why couldn’t this guy have been a Shifter? Or even a Relic? The only ways to kill a Mage involved decapitation, burning alive, and other gruesome methods I wasn’t eager to entertain. We weren’t magicians or sorcerers as humans believed, but immortals who manipulate energy as a weapon or source of power. Every Mage has core light, and even if you drain all their energy, that core will always replenish. That’s what makes them immortal.
Unless someone has the ability to remove it.
The first time I discovered my rare gift to remove core light, I let my victim go. I thought it would be sweet revenge for him to live out a miserable human existence. Later I discovered that he’d located a Creator—a Mage with the rare gift to make another—and paid him good money to become immortal again.
Then I had to kill him for real.
“Hold still,” I said, dreading what was to come. “This will only take a second.”
His eyes hooded as he struggled to remain conscious. “Jesus, I’ll pay you.”
Usually it was empty threats and cursing my immortal soul; this was the first time someone had actually offered me money. “How much?”
“I’ve heard about you,” he grunted. “I’ve got money… Lots.”
I rubbed my palms against his, considering the offer. Was I an easy sellout? I hadn’t held a job in the years since I was human. Having a place to live would be nice. The Vampire part of me didn’t need sleep, but the Mage side did, so I spent a lot of time napping in movie theaters or Laundromats. It saved on rent, but I missed having a bed of my own.
“How much is lots and lots? Or did you just say lots?”
His chin pressed against his chest. “In my pocket there’s a bank card. I’ll tell you the PIN—you can take it all.”
“How many lives have you destroyed, can you count that? All because you wanted to get high from their light. Does that card belong to one of your victims?” When he didn’t answer, I sighed. Letting him go would mean issuing a death sentence to countless humans. “Sorry, Mage. The pity parade just left town.”