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Hatsept Heat (Vampire Council of Ethics)
This just wasn’t happening. Yep, he’d wake up any minute and find himself in his apartment, tangled up in his sheets and covered in a cold sweat. There was just no way his luck could possibly be this bad that Kimora, of all people, would show up at the home of a woman he was eager to sink into and stay put for the rest of his days.
God, please, please let a bad guy cross my path right now. The need to hit something, anything, was so strong Kenoe clenched his teeth and shoved his hands into his pockets as far as they would go. He’d already had his love play interrupted. The last thing he needed was for someone to see him knock a hole into a wall and call the police to take him to the crazy house.
The moist, cool evening air sank through his jacket and into his skin, adding a chill to his already morbid mood. A soft breeze brought the scent of cherry, birch and Japanese pear, all so prolific in this country at this time of year. In the distance, the low-hanging clouds were lit up by the profusion of lights and signs typical of the city’s nightlife.
Kenoe’s keen hearing picked up the sounds of one of Shibuya’s main drags a few streets over. Auto and foot traffic, crowds congregating, discos, bars, coffee houses. Young and old, it was all about fun at night in this district. Surely everyone was enjoying what was left of the evening…everyone except him. And it was all that damned Kimora’s fault.
Kenoe had made it six steps from Shinju’s front door when his body slammed to a screeching halt. Instincts on full tilt, he picked up a slight, almost silent rustle off to his left. Aha. Just what he needed. Right there in front of him crouched behind a bush was the man he’d seen tailing Shinju before. The same one he’d sent a digital photo of to Bix this afternoon. And Kenoe was in the perfect mood to do a little interrogation. Too bad he didn’t have his tainted blade on him. Kenoe liked to call the film on his katana the Dr. Carin Vampire Puke Serum. One cut with the stuff and a full-blooded vamp would fall to his knees in seconds, hurling up his guts. Took the fight right out of ’em and made the scum that Seekers spent their time chasing a whole lot more cooperative.
Then again, this man moved like a vampire but didn’t smell like one. Would the serum smeared on Kenoe’s blade even affect him?
Well, since Kenoe wasn’t on duty and had left his gear behind in his apartment, his fists would just have to do. He eased up on the man without a sound, extended one hand and lifted him right up off the ground by the back of his collar.
The man responded by kicking backward with his heel to land a blow to Kenoe’s solar plexus. Even a vampire had to flinch at that one. Might even have a bruise in the morning, and the pain was just enough to piss Kenoe off some more. Dropping the guy to the ground, he moved in swiftly. Granted, the man got in a few good punches, but even with vamp speed he was no match for a full-blooded male Seeker in his prime. So Kenoe proceeded to kick his vampire-moving-but-no-smelling ass all over the front of Shinju’s porch. Finished playing with his prey, he’d just cocked his fist back to deliver a knockout blow when the door opened and a blur that looked like an enraged woman flew at him. Followed by a knee to the balls.
He went down like a ton of bricks.
Well, at least he wasn’t alone. Shinju’s talented knee made contact with his opponent’s balls too—a man who happened to be a hell of a lot more bruised up than Kenoe was at the moment. Well, except for his now-purple balls.
“Kenoe, what the fuck are you doing? No, never mind, don’t answer that. I can see what you’re doing,” she yelled, then rounded on the other man doubled over on the ground next to him.
“What are you doing here, Sasuke?”
“I was just coming to visit. I’d hoped to get some of that cake I saw on your table yesterday.” Each word was a gasped groan. “Damn it, Shinju, my balls were just fine where they were.”
“Mine too,” Kenoe rasped, then wished he’d kept his mouth shut when the crazy woman smacked him and the Sasuke guy in the back of the neck like they were little kids. Here he was, a Seeker for cripes sake, groveling at the feet of a five-foot-nothing human female. God, he hoped no one ever got wind of this ’cause he’d never hear the end of it.
Shinju stepped back, practically snarling. “Do you really think I’m buying that, Sasuke? Max has you here spying on me. Well you tell my brother that this is the last time he is to send anyone to babysit me, damn it.”
“He’s only concerned for you, Shinju,” Sasuke wheezed.
Kenoe lifted his head and growled, “What the hell are you talking about? She’s my woman and mine to protect.”
Sasuke’s head swiveled around to pin Kenoe with a puffy-eyed stare. The man’s eyes were already swelling shut and the bruises forming into an interesting pattern across his face. Boy, that was going to hurt in the morning. Not to mention the cuts oozing blood from his brow, lips and cheeks. Still, he was able to talk shit.
“Says who, you fucking long-haired, pasty-faced, white-haired…”
“Oh shut up, both of you. You both need Plexiglas bellybuttons,” Shinju fumed.
“Huh?” Sasuke and Kenoe both gurgled, hands jammed between their legs. Kenoe, for one, wondered if he’d ever get the feeling back in his testicles. He almost grinned when he saw Sasuke in the same sorry shape.
Shinju hissed, “You need a Plexiglas bellybutton so you can see when you’ve got your head up your ass. Now get the hell off my property.”
Kenoe made to step up on the stoop. Her arm shot out and landed dead center in his gut. Damn, the woman was strong.
“Both of you. Besides, I don’t have anything else to say to you. You’re street fighting? I don’t believe it. You’re supposed to be a cop. And as for whatever’s going on with Kimora, I don’t even want to hear it. Go away.”
For the second time tonight the door closed in his face. And his woman had just bested two grown men—one a vampire and the other with vampire traits. Kenoe and Sasuke both flopped down on the front steps to catch their breath.
“Is she always like that?” Kenoe panted, one hand holding his stomach, the other his sore sac.
“You have no idea. I’m Sasuke, by the way.” He wheezed just as hard, partly from the exertion of keeping his head attached to his body, which Kenoe had seemed pretty keen on removing, and partly from the swift kick to the nuts, compliments of Shinju.
“So, you’re not tailing her for any ill purpose. That much is clear,” Kenoe stated flatly.
“Glad you figured it out. I’d hate to have to finish the fight Shinju broke up. That woman.”
“So you’re a friend of her brother’s?”
“Something like that, yes. He worries about her but can’t always be here. Since he’s my boss, and Shinju is like a little sister to me, I sometimes take it upon myself to keep an eye on her.”
“She seems to be able to take care of herself.”
“For the most part, yes. But her brother is a very important man and the last thing he wants is for her to be threatened because of it.”
Kenoe understood all too well. Alaan had cut himself off from just about every female in the vampire nation because his position in the clans would put any female he chose to mate in terrible danger.
“It’s not unheard of…ow!” Kenoe’s leg smarted and throbbed. When had that happened? He’d have to check himself over thoroughly when he got back to his apartment. “As I was saying, it’s not unheard of for some to use family members for ransom and extortion. What does Shinju’s brother do that would make her a target?”
With a sigh, the man rose shakily to his feet.
“Nice to meet you, Kenoe.” Sasuke’s hand reached out, grabbed Kenoe’s and pumped it up and down quickly. Then he walked daintily to a black-on-black motorcycle parked in front of the house next door. Easing himself onto the crotch rocket, he started the bike and took off.
On the way home, all Kenoe could think about was the possibility of Shinju in danger. After a quick shower he eased into bed with an ice pack over his balls and called Bix to share what he’d learned tonight. The man, Sasuke, did indeed have a few vampire traits. But more importantly, during their fight, he’d caught the scent of a rogue vampire near Shinju’s house for the second time in as many days. Something foul was afoot, and he had a feeling he needed to get to the bottom of it. And quickly.