Home > Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)(11)

Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)(11)
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton

“Okay, be safe and watch your back like a motherfucker.”

“I always do.” He hung up. I hung up. We were done. We could go back to bed for a couple of hours.

I opened the door for Micah. He was one of the men in my life who didn’t argue over which of us got the door. I valued that, because sometimes you just want to open the damn door. We were in the corridor and it was just as empty as it had been an hour and a half ago. We all mostly worked nights here, so six or seven a.m. wasn’t a time that any of us expected to be awake to enjoy.

“Do you think the smallest bite is a child vampire?”

“I really hope not.”

“Why?”

“I’ve told you this before. All the child vampires go crazy eventually. Jean-Claude says that some of them go nuts immediately after rising from the dead. They just never adjust to it.”

We had a couple of child vamps that we’d inherited from Europe. They were both constant reminders of why it was a bad idea.

“At least Bartolome is old enough for everything to function like a grown-up,” Micah said.

“Yeah, but he still looks eleven to twelve, a young twelve.”

“Valentina is worse,” he said.

I nodded. “Five to seven years old forever.”

“Her mind isn’t the mind of a child,” he said.

“Just her body. I know.”

“I know the other vampires killed the one who made Valentina, but it didn’t really save her,” he said.

I took his hand in mine and said, “I really hope that she’s the youngest vamp I ever meet.”

“She’s older than Jean-Claude.”

“Her body isn’t,” I said.

I prayed that the vampires in Ireland were just female with small bite radiuses. I prayed that no one was creating more child vampires, because if any vampires were damned, it was them. Please, God, no more.

2

WHEN WE WOKE for the night, Jean-Claude informed me that there had always been vampires in Ireland, and in fact we had a vampire from there in town. Which was why I was sitting in a very model of a modern business office waiting to talk to our Irish vampire, who wasn’t actually Irish at all. He’d just died there. The office at Danse Macabre had once been Jean-Claude’s; it had been black and white with an Oriental rug and a framed antique Japanese kimono on the wall. Jean-Claude’s things left when he started to be too busy to manage all of his businesses. Damian became manager; he was good at it, but the office was so bland that I’d have never believed the person who decorated this room would be theatrical enough to run Danse Macabre, which showed what I understood about such things, or maybe Jean-Claude had spoiled me. He was theatrical about most things.

The office chairs matched the desk, all pale wood and neutral, as if they’d all been bought at the same time and were a matched set, which they had been and were, but somehow the red-haired, green-eyed vampire with his milk pale skin and six feet of ex–Viking warrior looked too exotic to be in this Office Depot–designed room. He needed Victorian furniture, antiques, rich dark colors to complement him, but instead the entire room was so normal it could have been any manager’s office in almost any business across America, except for the vampire in the room and me. We were both too colorful for the beige walls and pale wood. Him in his green frock coat, skintight pants, and knee-high boots. Me in my royal-blue business skirt-suit, the skirt a little too short for a lot of businesses, but at five-three a longer skirt made me look even shorter. Besides, I had a date later with Jean-Claude and I might not have time to change before I had to meet everyone for the talky bit beforehand.

Damian had actually requested a meeting so we could talk about something that was bothering him before I knew he might have insight into the case Edward was working on in Ireland. I’d come prepared to hear his problem first, but he seemed reluctant to talk about whatever was bothering him. Fine, we’d talk about crime and vampires first, personal issues second.

“There have always been vampires in Ireland, Anita, or at least for the last thousand years, because that’s when She-Who-Made-Me turned me into one, and she’d been there in her castle on the cliffs long before I tried to steal her gold and jewels.”

“Then how come the humans didn’t know about her?”

“You know as well as I do that if a vampire is careful, he can take a little blood from one person, and a little from another the next night. Our stomachs can’t even hold the quantity of blood in an adult human being’s body, so there’s absolutely no reason to kill your blood donors.”

“Unless you want to make them into vampires,” I said.

“Or you’re a sadistic serial killer who just happens to be a vampire,” he said.

“You’ve told me that She-Who-Made-You is exactly that.”

He nodded, staring at his hands where he’d spread them on the pale wood of his desk. “Yes.”

“Then how did the human authorities miss a serial killer all that time?”

“You have to remember the times she began her . . . career in, Anita. People vanished all the time. They died young and tragically. Life expectancy was less than forty years and most died much younger than that. By forty, people were usually grandparents, or even great-grandparents.”

“At forty?” I said.

He smiled. “The look on your face is priceless, and yes, at forty. Ireland has had a bloody history and a lot of battles fought especially since 1170 when the Normans invaded and stayed. It’s so easy to disappear someone when there’s a battle close at hand. Then there’re displaced people trying to escape from the fighting. No one questions if they don’t turn up at the next town, or a relative’s house, or rather they assume that the enemy killed them or took them prisoner. It can be months or years before they finally learn that no one knows what happened to them, and by that time it’s too late. The jail in the town was a place where people died of disease and starvation. No one ever questioned if they died a little quicker, and the jailer didn’t give a damn as long as the dead prisoner was one of the ones who hadn’t been able to pay him for better care.”

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