A Bead of Blood - R.E. Butler
R.E. Butler - Wiccan-Were-Bear #5 - A Bead of Blood
A Bead of Blood (Wiccan-Were-Bear #5)
From my high vantage point, I steadied myself on the ledge as I watched the dark alley behind the vampire club, Fang. My heightened senses revealed that there was nothing going on except a few rats hanging around a dumpster that smelled unpleasant even from several stories up.
The North American Vampire Council had dispatched me to Cleveland two weeks ago with only a vague idea that something bad was going on. People were disappearing, and when people disappeared in a city with a master vampire and a fairly large vampire and were-population, the humans got twitchy and wanted answers and promises that whatever was going bump in the night was going to either stop bumping or go away.
A man slinked out of the back door of the club that was one of many Mishka, the master of the city of Cleveland, owned. I trained my eyes on him. He was nervous; his heart rate was high, and he panted. A dark sedan without lights on pulled into the alley a few feet and stopped. The passenger door opened and a man exited slowly, looking around carefully before walking to the man at the back door.
“Here,” the back door man said after he cleared his throat. He held out a folded piece of paper.
The man from the car snatched it. “Are these all the addresses?” he demanded.
The back door man whimpered and took a step back, pressing his narrow shoulders into the door. “It was all I could get. The bears all live in one place west of here, but the wolves are scattered all over.”
The man from the car grunted. “We already have bears and wolves. I want those damn birds!”
“S-sorry, Hector. I tried to follow the bird-men that were with the witches on the solstice like you told me to, but they flew into the air, and I lost them in the trees.”
Hector slammed him into the door. “Never use my name!”
The back door man whimpered again, shaking his head furiously. “I won’t, I’m sorry!”
“Get me those addresses within the next week or I’m calling in your debt to The Doc. We clear?”
He nodded and slumped to the ground in relief as Hector released him and stalked away. I pointed my smartphone at the car, using the night vision software to read the license plate and record it for later research. As soon as Hector shut the passenger door, the car backed out of the alley quickly and sped away. I tucked the phone into its holster on my hip and leapt down to the ground. My feet absorbed the impact nearly soundlessly when I landed next to the man and covered his mouth before he could scream.
The switchblade that had been resting in my pocket now pressed against his throat. “You scream, it will be the last thing you do, understand?” I hissed. He nodded. I released my hand but kept the knife pressed into his flesh. “What’s your name?”
“You work for Mishka?”
I sniffed and smelled only human with a fresh bite wound in his wrist.
“You food?” I asked derisively. I hated the thought of paying for food. Hell, we might as well be humans at restaurants if we couldn’t seduce a nice, hot meal out of a human.
He nodded, realized the knife was still there and went still. “Yes.”
“Tell me about the addresses you gave to Hector, and don’t think about lying because I heard the whole conversation.”
“I got in bad with a loan shark from some gambling losses. When I couldn’t pay, the loan shark threatened my family and I got kids.” He started blubbering and I sighed.
“Save the waterworks, Frank. I’m not interested. What happened next?”
He sniffed loudly. “S-Sorry. I promised the loan shark I’d do anything to pay off the debt, and he sent me to someone they call The Doc. He said because I worked for the master vamp I could be helpful, and he’d call my debt even eventually. But I’ve been working for him for months now, and he says I’m still not done!”
“You get addresses for him? Whose?”
“Any were-animals or other supernatural creatures within a hundred miles.”
My fangs elongated in rage. “Vampires? You betray my people?”
“What? No, no! They’re only interested in weres and things like fairies or elves. The Doc is a vampire.”
I let my fangs recede. “Who is this ‘doc’?”
“I don’t know. He’s got some kind of project that he uses were-animals and