Home > The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)

The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)
Author: Lisa Shearin

1

I was on a date, on a yacht, surrounded by New York’s glitterati.

It felt downright surreal. What would the folks back home think if they could see me now?

Being on a date with Rake Danescu was getting to be a regular thing for me, but being part of a floating A-list gathering was a first. Usually when I got to go somewhere this fancy, it was entirely work related. Tonight was only slightly about my job. Rake was the one here on business. I was here mostly for fun, partly in case Rake’s business became SPI’s business.

My name is Makenna Fraser, and I work for SPI. That’s Supernatural Protection & Investigations, to the world’s paranormal community. Humans had police, FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, and Interpol. Paranormals had SPI. We were all of the above rolled into one. SPI was a worldwide organization, headquartered here in New York. I was one of five seers in the entire agency.

Criminals, supernatural and otherwise, often used disguises. Supernatural bad guys and gals used more advanced means of going undetected. “Advanced” as in magic. Any paranormal criminal worthy of his, her, or its rap sheet had an arsenal of wards, glamours, veils, shields, and various and sundry spells that helped them go undetected. A good seer could see through any and all of them. It was a talent that made us popular with supernatural law enforcement organizations—and a target of supernatural crime syndicates.

There were high-ranking representatives of some of the latter here tonight. It was my job to know their faces without letting them know mine. But these weren’t the people who committed the crimes. Their hands were clean and their reputations pristine. Organized crime most definitely paid, and the ladies and gentlemen at the top of those organizations were especially keen to spread goodwill through philanthropy. In fact, that was the reason for tonight’s gathering on a hundred-and-fifty-foot yacht cruising the Hudson River on a balmy evening in late June.

Some of the oldest people on board looked the youngest, and it wasn’t due to plastic surgery. Their fountain of youth was an endless series of throats and the blood that flowed through them.

The yacht’s owner was a vampire. Bela Báthory was the nephew and presumed heir of Ambrus Báthory, the head of the most powerful vampire crime family on the East Coast.

The yacht’s name was the Persephone. A little dose of vampire irony there. Demeter was the name of the ship that had brought Dracula to England. Persephone was Demeter’s daughter.

The men were in black tie, and the majority of the women were wearing high heels and even higher hemlines, or flowing gowns with slits up to there. The yacht was big, but it wasn’t big enough to be stable enough for me to walk around on high-heel-elevated-tippy-toes. For me, it was lower heels, lower hemline, and Dramamine, with no alcohol. Dramamine plus drinking would equal me falling overboard. A midnight swim was not in my plans for this evening.

Rake made sure that I could hear him walking up behind me. He didn’t want to go for a swim, either. Now that I was duly forewarned, Rake slid a hand, then his arm around my waist. My pulse kicked up for a few beats. A normal man wouldn’t have felt it. Rake wasn’t a normal man. In a satisfied response, he tightened his hold ever so slightly. When it came to Rake, my pulse—and hormones—refused to go along with my better judgment, which dictated extreme caution. They were more along the lines of tossing caution to the wind—along with my undies. For now, my better judgment was in the driver’s seat.

Rake and I stood together gazing out across the river to the lights of Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“He was receptive to my offer,” Rake said. “My cards are on the table. The next move is his. Now, I wait.”

Rake’s seemingly impromptu meeting at one of the yacht’s bars had been with a private investment banker. Rake was representing a group of entrepreneurial businessmen looking for capital. At least that’s what it was on the surface. In actuality, Rake represented his government’s intelligence agency looking to get a foothold in a new technology before the competition.

However, none of the parties involved were human.

Rake Danescu was a goblin. The competition was, is, and probably would always be the elves. They hadn’t been at war for several centuries, but that didn’t mean they played nice, especially not on our world.

SPI didn’t get involved in goblin/elf politics. That being said, we’d found it prudent to know what was going on. Very often what was considered by goblin and elven governments to be a “private matter” spilled over into criminal activity affecting others. Then it became SPI’s business. Rake didn’t let us in on every aspect of his business dealings, but he had agreed to bring us into the loop when his business was about to cross the streams with our job—namely keeping the peace between supernaturals, and keeping the supernatural world secret from humans.

The streams had been crossing an awful lot lately.

Rake’s business was booming. Unfortunately, so was ours. Some of it was a direct result of goblin/elf dealings, but most of it was not.

I’d been appointed by my boss, Vivienne Sagadraco, as the official go-between. She knew that Rake and I were seeing each other, so “SPI/goblin intelligence liaison” had been added to my job description—at least, as long as Rake and I were dating. If our relationship ever went down the drain, we’d reevaluate my additional responsibilities at that time. Even my boss—who was a multi-millennia-old dragon in the guise of a fierce businesswoman who reminded me a bit of Judy Dench—recognized the awkwardness of continuing to professionally liaise when a liaison of a more personal nature had gone south.

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