Hunter’s Prey

Shaun spent six years training to be an agent for the Necro sapiens Containment Agency. On her first mission, she freezes, ending up the captive of Armand Toussaint and Foster St. Claire. She’s afraid of dying, but they want something completely different—her total surrender to the sensual pleasures offered by the two of them. Duty conflicts with desire, and everything she believes might just be a lie. In the vampires’ arms, she can’t tell who is the hunter, and who is the prey.

Excerpt

They went ten feet before discovering another door. Torres again gestured he would take point, and Shaun didn’t argue. As a rookie, it was her duty to defer to his judgment. And she wasn’t eager to go blindly into the room. Having the scanners fail was a blow to their efficiency and placed all the agents in greater danger.

He moved low and quick, checking the knob. Upon finding it locked, Torres used his rifle to blast the door. As it swung open from the kick he applied, he moved inside, hunkered into a crouch. Shaun was right behind him.

An inhuman shriek pierced the air.  Two necros rushed out of the darkness, fangs bared, and hands grasping with obvious need.  They lunged, and Shaun grunted, falling to the floor under the beast’s impact.  It slashed at her face, barely missing her eyes, and she screamed. The creature drew back, its strangely elongated fangs protruding obscenely.

Upon closer examination, as she brought up her rifle to block the necros, Shaun realized the necro’s fangs weren’t extra-long. The flesh on its face had shrunk, just as it had everywhere else. It looked more monster than human in its current state of starvation. Though she had seen victims of their feedings with her own eyes, this vampire’s emaciated state indicated it had not received blood for quite a while, or had subsisted on only a small quantity.

The necro snarled at her, trying to wrench away the rifle, so it could tear into her throat. She forced aside her clinical examination, reminding herself a starving necro was even more dangerous than one who fed regularly and was in good shape. The scent of her blood must be driving it mad.

Her fingers slipped on the rifle, and the talons of the necro dug into her hand.  Shaun yelped and released her hold on her gun. The necro fell forward, unprepared for the slackening of her resistance. Even as it geared up to feast on her neck, she was reaching for the sprayer of garlic water. Her fingers were nimble, grasping the sprayer to bring it close to the necro’s eyes. The thing was oblivious, its fangs brushing against her carotid just as she let loose a steady stream. The creature’s terrible screams filled the room as it writhed in reaction to the pain. Distracted and in agony as the necro was, she found it easy to roll away from her attacker to gain her feet.

Automatically, she scooped up her rifle and turned to look for her partner, freezing when she saw him battling a necro in better shape than her opponent had been. While scrawny, this one didn’t appear to have been starved to the extent of the other one.

Taking a step closer, she leveled the rifle at the necro’s head, able to identify this one as female because she was in better shape than her companion, with enough meat left on her bones to reveal withered breasts and slight curves. “Let him go.”

A cold laugh escaped through her gaping maw, but that was the only response she gave. Her eyes never wavered from Torres’s pulse pounding steadily in his throat, and her hands remained firm around his wrists, holding him to the floor with what seemed like a minimal expenditure of effort.

“Shoot it.”

At his words, her finger tightened on the trigger. She made sure the red dot was centered on the necro’s head. Everything was in place, without the necro paying any attention to her. Now was the perfect time to shoot, before the woman pinning her partner to the floor conquered her bloodlust and came after Shaun.

Shaun tried to depress the trigger, but her hand trembled. Her finger slipped off, moistened with her sweat. She blinked and repositioned on the guard, ready to fire. Except she couldn’t take the shot. Mouth dry, Shaun tried again, but found her finger wouldn’t cooperate.

“What the fuck’re you waiting for? Kill this fucking cunt.”

His harsh words shocked Shaun back into action, and she managed to fire the rifle, but didn’t compensate for the kick. The shot angled away from the necro, causing the bullet to lodge in her back instead of taking out the back of her head as she had planned.

With a howl that was part rage and part pain, she reeled away from Torres, frantically scrabbling at the wound, as if trying to tear out the lump of silver that was no doubt burning through her skin.

As if trapped in molasses, Shaun reacted slowly.  Before she could reach Torres, he gained his feet and decapitated the necro with his sword in one smooth motion. For a moment, she stared at the head as it rolled toward her, stopping inches from her feet. The expression on the severed head was one of terror, and she turned to throw up on the carpet. Confusion filled her upon seeing its fear. If the necro feared death, was it really dead? Did the transformation mimicking death necros underwent classify them as dead if they still walked around? Would they be afraid of their existence ending if they weren’t alive, by some measure?

As she lost the contents of her stomach, Torres dealt with the necro she had left blinded from the garlic water, removing its head with a clean slice. “Buck up.” Though insensitive, the words weren’t delivered harshly. He even patted her shoulder as he walked by. “There are more where those came from.”

With a nod, pretending a certainty in the mission of exterminating necros she hadn’t felt for some time, Shaun helped him examine the rest of the room, determine it was clear, mark the door, and move on down the hall. As she followed him, she tried to push aside the doubts crowding her mind, doubts that had crept in more with each passing day that brought her closer to exterminating them. Telling herself her second thoughts came from experiencing the necros’ deaths firsthand didn’t explain the doubts she’d had before entering the mansion. The necros’ fear had shaken her, but she should have expected that. Like any beast, they were driven by the survival instinct. It didn’t mean anything. Not really. She wasn’t still questioning having devoted six years of her life training to wipe out the necros, who posed a threat to humans’ way of life. Was she? Not because of that incident. It must just be aftermath or reaction fueling her doubts, she decided, trying to push the thoughts from her mind. She had to continue with the mission, to prove to herself she had made the right decision in becoming an agent.

At the next door, a chill touched her spine, and she hesitated, wanting to tell Torres not to open the door. Something was on the other side, and she didn’t want to face it, but knew not to express her fears to her partner. He would rightfully dismiss them as nerves.

He checked the knob and opened the door upon finding it unlocked. Her sense of danger increasing with each step, she couldn’t help feeling they were making a mistake as she followed him into the room.

The darkness was absolute. Their lights didn’t cut through any of it. It was so thick it settled on her skin like a cloying caress. The coldness in the air made the hairs on her neck stand up. The quality of gloom indicated it wasn’t natural. “Torres?”

“Relax, O’Grady.” He sounded as unflappable as always.

“I don’t like this. I think we should…” Get the hell out of here right now. “Call for backup.”

“Just calm down and switch to your night scope.”

Maintaining a tight grip on the rifle, Shaun used one hand to flip down the eyepiece on her helmet. The scope was supposed to magnify any ambient light by 80,000, but the room remained as purely black as it had been before. She flipped the useless scope back up, removing it from her line of sight. “Now what?”

“We just need to—” He broke off suddenly, with only a tiny gasp of air.

She reached out in front of her. Her hand brushed flesh.  Cold, cold flesh. Arms came around her, locking her into an embrace as solid as steel.  Shaun screamed. “Torres?”

“He will not answer.”

The whispery voice of the necro caused shivers to course down her spine—shivers not solely inspired by fear. The husky male pitch made heat pool in her stomach, and her limbs went numb.

He was mesmerizing her. There wasn’t another explanation. She tried to school her body to resist, but melted against her captor when he lifted her into his arms.  Shaun realized there was another necro in the room as he stepped up beside her captor. Though she wouldn’t have thought her fear could reach any greater heights, it swelled into a ball filling her throat. Short gasps were all she could manage.

They strode into the hallway, and the thick gloom dissipated for just an instant, allowing her to see her captors’ handsome countenances. Black hair framed the face of one, and caramel-brown curls distinguished the other. The darkness of their hair served to emphasize the paleness of their skin, though it was flushed with a hint of pink. Torres’s blood had given them that glow, no doubt.

Caught up in a mind-haze, she struggled for a rational thought.  They moved up flights of stairs, one after another.  Finally, they exited through the attic and stepped onto the roof. Sunlight seared her eyes, and the jolt brought a return of reasoning. Shaun held her breath, waiting for the necros to burst into flames.  After a moment, she moaned her fear. The intelligence had been wrong. There were two masters in attendance. How could they have missed it?

“Come, Armand, let us depart. We have what we came for, and there is nothing we can do for the younglings.” Was it the brown-haired one who spoke? She couldn’t be sure.

“I know, Foster.” The necro holding her tightened his grip. “Damn your Agency for your persecution.”

Her mind grew hazy again, and it took several minutes to realize they were flying. A scream rose in her throat, but emerged as little more than a mewl of terror when she looked down. Terrified he would drop her, she gripped the arms of the necro holding her.

Ignoring her reaction, he flew on, his companion nearby. As they traveled via levitation, not true flight, Shaun wondered if it wouldn’t be better to have the necro drop her. It might be a more appealing end than whatever they would do to her once they reached a safe lair.

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