Home > Secret Life of a Vampire (Love at Stake #6)

Secret Life of a Vampire (Love at Stake #6)
Author: Kerrelyn Sparks


"I don't want to die... again," Laszlo groaned.

Jack knelt beside Laszlo's sprawled body. "Can I fetch you anything? A warm cup of Type O?"

Laszlo covered his mouth. "Don't talk about food."

"Mi dispiace." Jack patted the Vamp on the shoulder, the only spot on the guy's shirt that wasn't soaked with spewed Blissky. Poor Laszlo. He'd only drunk one glass of the whiskey-flavored synthetic blood when everyone had toasted the groom, but obviously the little chemist was better at making Vampire Fusion Cuisine than ingesting it. He'd promptly thrown up all over himself.

There wasn't much anyone could do for the poor guy, so the bachelor party had raged on in full force while Laszlo rolled on the floor, his face clammy and pale.

"Shall I help you move to the couch?" Jack asked.

"I might get blood on it," Laszlo mumbled.

Jack frowned at the rich upholstery on the Louis XV-style furniture. "It's already stained." What a mess. How would he ever clean this up?

He rose to his feet with a growing sense of doom. It had seemed like a great idea when he'd reserved an Edwardian suite at the Plaza on Fifth Avenue to celebrate Ian MacPhie's last night as a bachelor. But now he realized the hotel's housekeeping service would wonder how an innocent party could produce so many bloodstains.

Things had gotten out of hand after Dougal arrived with his bagpipes. Ian had insisted on teaching everyone a Scottish jig. A dozen tipsy Vamps hopping around with glasses full of Blissky had resulted in a few collisions and even more stains on the carpet and furniture.

And then the phone call had come. The ladies were at Romatech Industries having a bridal shower, though Jack had heard that Vanda was bringing a male stripper from her Vamp nightclub. The ladies' party had come to an abrupt halt when Shanna Draganesti had suddenly gone into labor.

Before teleporting to Romatech, Roman Draganesti had lamented that he was too inebriated to help his wife in her time of need. This had caused the other guys to rally around, declaring their undying support with a rowdy fight song. Then a dozen drunken male Vamps had teleported to Shanna's side to cheer her on to victory.

Jack grinned as he imagined Shanna's reaction, but the moment quickly faded. He had two hours before the sun rose to get this hotel suite back to normal.

A noise from the adjoining bedroom drew his attention. Had one of the guys stayed behind? Good, he could use the help. He strode into the luxurious bedroom and frowned at the na**d VANNA lying on the bed, dripping Bleer on the satin comforter.

That had been Gregori's bright idea. He'd arrived at the party toting two Vampire Artificial Nutritional Needs Appliances, otherwise known as VANNAs. The lifelike rubber females were sex toys in the mortal world, but for Vamps, they'd been modified with a battery-operated circulatory system. Gregori had filled the two sexy dolls with beer-flavored synthetic blood, and then he'd invited the guys to have a bite. From the looks of the lacy clothes strewn about, the guys had had more fun undressing VANNA than nibbling on her.

A man's voice drifted from the bathroom. "Oh, yeah, baby. Take it off!"

Jack knocked on the bathroom door. "The party's over."

"The party's never over for Dr. Phang." The door opened, revealing Phineas McKinney. "What's up, bro?"

The young black Vamp looked debonair in his maroon velvet smoking jacket and white silk cravat, although the cavalier effect was marred somewhat by his SpongeBob boxer shorts. Like any vampire, Phineas didn't reflect in the bathroom's gold-framed mirror, but the second VANNA did. The dark-tinted doll was sitting on the white marble vanity, wearing nothing but red silk panties and a silly grin on her face.

Jack was distracted for a moment when he noticed the words on Phineas's shorts. Ladies dig the Sponge. "Ah, sorry to interrupt."

Phineas's face turned a bit red. "I was just practicing, you know. When you're the Love Doctor, you gotta keep your mojo in top condition."

"I understand."

"I bet you do." Phineas grabbed the black VANNA off the vanity. Her legs jutted stiffly forward like a Barbie doll, and he pushed them down. "I heard you're a real Casanova."

"So they say," Jack muttered. He could never escape his famous father's reputation. "I suppose you were too busy to hear, but Shanna went into labor. All the guys left with Roman. Except Laszlo. He's still sick."

"No shit?" Phineas strode into the bedroom with the black VANNA clasped under his arm.

"The sun will rise soon, so we need to clean up."

Phineas glanced at the white VANNA on the bed in a pool of Bleer. "Damn, bro. We need professionals for this. How about Vampy Maids? They clean Roman's townhouse."

"That would be great. Can you ring them?"

"Don't remember their number, but they're in the Black Pages."

They would never find the vampire version of a telephone book in the Plaza hotel. "Do you-" Jack was interrupted by a loud knock on the door.

"Expecting someone?" Phineas's eyes lit up. "Maybe some real women?"

"NYPD," a male voice shouted. "Open the door, please."

Jack sucked in a deep breath. Merda.

"Hot damn," Phineas whispered. "It's the po-po." He looked around frantically. "We're in deep shit."

"Relax," Jack whispered back. "I'll use mind control to get rid of them."

"I don't do well with the police." Phineas backed away. "I'm outta here, man."

"You're leaving?" Jack winced as the pounding on the door grew louder.

"Open the door now!" the police officer yelled.

"I'll be right there," Jack shouted.

"Look, man." Phineas tossed the black VANNA into the bathroom and shut the door. "I'll go to the townhouse and call the Vampy Maids. I'll come back later to help you, okay?" His body faded away as he teleported.

"Grazie mille," Jack muttered. He strode into the living room, considering his options. He could grab Laszlo and teleport away, but the police would still come in and see the bloody mess. The suite was reserved under his name, so they might want him for questioning. No, it was better to take care of this now and use vampire mind control to erase the police officers' memory.

Laszlo struggled to sit up. "This is terrible." Sweat beaded his brow. "I think I'm going to puke again."

"Hang in there," Jack whispered. "I'll get rid of the cops."

"I'll call the manager up here to open the door," the police officer yelled.

"I'm coming!" Jack cracked the door two inches and quickly assessed the uniformed patrolman. Young, nervous, easily handled with vampire mind control. His gaze swept to the second officer.

Santo cielo. He forgot to breathe for a moment. Not that lack of oxygen could actually hurt him. His first impression: she was stunning. His second impression: she was trying very hard to minimize her looks. Golden red hair pulled back severely in a tight French braid. Fresh, creamy skin, a few adorable freckles, and big blue eyes. She wore very little makeup. And she was still stunning.

Her eyes widened as she met his gaze. Her mouth opened slightly, drawing his attention to her pink, sweetly shaped lips.

"Bellissima," he whispered.

She came to her senses with a heart-pounding jolt that Jack could actually hear. Her mouth closed with a frown. Her chin tilted up. Her hands gripped her belt. No doubt, she meant to intimidate him with her hands so close to her sidearm and baton, but he was more impressed by the way her belt accentuated her lovely hourglass figure.

She should be draped in the finest silks. She should be displaying her curves like a goddess. The fact that she was doing the opposite, covering herself from chin to toe in a mannish blue uniform, was intriguing.

The world had changed in two hundred years. If this lovely police officer had lived centuries ago in Italy, she would have been sought after by every artist who wished to immortalize feminine beauty on canvas. But here she was, trying to look tough and powerful. Didn't she realize she was already powerful? A woman like her could bring a man to his knees and make him grateful for being there.

The male officer cleared his throat. "Sir, we received a call from hotel security. You and your friends have been way too loud and rowdy."

"We were having a party," Jack explained. "A bachelor party."

"Hotel guests from three floors were calling to complain," the male officer continued.

"It was a very good party." Jack smiled at the female officer. "I'm sorry you missed it. Perhaps next time?"

She wrinkled her nose. "I can smell the whiskey from here."

"Your neighbors complained about a bagpipe," the male officer said. "And some loud clashing noises. Someone thought you might be having a sword fight."

"There's nothing to be concerned about, officer. Everyone has left." Jack raised his voice when Laszlo let out a low moan. "It's very quiet now."

"I think I heard someone," the female officer whispered to her partner. "He sounds injured."

"Thank you for stopping by." Jack started to shut the door, but the male officer wedged a booted foot in the way.

He pressed a hand against the door. "We'd like to take a look inside, if you don't mind."

"I do mind." Jack unfurled a wave of psychic energy. Both of you are under my control.

The male officer's arms dropped down by his sides, and a blank look stole over his face. The lovely woman stumbled backward. She grimaced and pressed a hand against her brow.

I am sorry to cause you pain, he said mentally. What is your name, bellissima?

"Harvey Crenshaw."

"Not you," he told the male officer.

Laszlo moaned again.

The female officer lowered her hand. "I knew it! There's someone in there. Step aside, sir."

Jack's mouth fell open. What the hell? She was supposed to be under his control. You will not enter.

"We will not enter," Harvey repeated.

"Of course we will." The woman shoved at the door.

Jack was so shocked, he stepped back as the woman barged in. Nine circles of hell! "Wait. You can't come in here."

She spotted Laszlo on the floor and immediately clicked the transmitter on her shoulder. "We have a stabbing victim. I need an ambulance-"

"No! No ambulance," Jack protested, but she was already giving the suite number to the operator. Merda.

Now he'd have to erase more memories. And why the hell wasn't she obeying him?

He hurled a wave of psychic power at her. You are under my control.

She shivered as she knelt beside Laszlo. "Hang in there, sir. Medics are on their way."

"Oh God, no." Laszlo gave Jack a beseeching look. I can't go to a hospital! Make her go away I

I'm trying. Jack concentrated hard. You will leave this instant.

"I will leave this instant." Harvey stepped back into the hallway.

"Harvey!" The female officer jumped to her feet and jabbed a finger at Jack. "You stay put." She dashed into the hall and grabbed her partner's arm. "Harvey? What's wrong with you?"

He just stood there, his face blank.

She shook him. "Harvey! Snap out of it!"

With a sigh, Jack reeled back his power. Keeping Harvey under his control would only make the female officer more suspicious.

Harvey blinked. "What? What happened?".

The female officer pointed at Jack. "Cuff him."

"What!" Now Jack wished he hadn't let Harvey go. "I didn't do anything."

The woman glared at him as she marched back into the hotel room. "We have a stabbing victim, and you're the most likely suspect."

"I didn't stab him." Jack aimed psychic energy once again at male officer. You will not cuff me.

Harvey halted next to him, the blank look once more on his face. Jack clasped his hands behind his back so the female officer would think he was handcuffed. She hadn't noticed, for she was kneeling beside Laszlo, ripping his shirt open. "Where were you stabbed, sir?"

"He wasn't stabbed," Jack insisted. "He just threw up."

"A pint of blood? Do I look stupid to you?" She glowered at Jack. "Where did you stab him? In the back?"

"I didn't stab him!"

I've tried controlling her, but it doesn't work, Laszlo told him mentally.

I know, Jack answered. She was every Vamp's worst nightmare. A beautiful woman who could not be controlled.

Perhaps she has psychic power, Laszlo continued. Or she could suffer from some sort of mental defect that's blocking our power.

"Did your mother drop you on your head when you were a baby?" Jack asked.

Harvey sniffed. "Yes, she did."

"Not you," Jack muttered.

The woman studied him suspiciously as she rose to her feet. "Harvey, watch that guy. Harvey?"

The male officer flinched. "What?"

"Watch him." She pointed at Jack. "Don't let him move. I'm going to check the rest of this place."

Harvey nodded. "Up against the wall."

Jack backed up so the woman couldn't see that he wasn't cuffed.

She scanned the area next to the wall-mounted flat-screen TV. "Someone was stabbed here. This is blood splatter."

"It's not mine."

She narrowed her lovely eyes. "Whose blood is it?"

"A friend's. He... cut himself accidentally." After guzzling down an entire bottle of Blissky, Angus Mackay had decided to become a blood brother with every guy in the room. He'd taken his Highland dagger to nick his wrist, but accidentally punctured an artery and spurted blood in a wide arc across the wall. He'd promptly wrapped a towel around his wrist and replaced his lost dinner with another bottle of Blissky.

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