This week’s Snippet Saturday theme is (wait for it, wait for iiiiiitttt…), the Moment. Now which moment, you ask? Well, it’s authors choice so I actually took the easy way out and asked my daughter to pick one of her favorite scenes from any of my books.
Oooohohoho, you guys should have seen her squirm! I thought that I was the only one that had a hard time picking my favorite pieces and parts of books, but seems like my daughter does, too ;D Kinda nice, actually. That means she actually really does read the darn things…and luckily loves ’em as much as I do.
So, this week we’re going to get into the mind of one of our bad guys. He used to be a mouse, easily manipulated and persuaded by other bad guys. But he’s not playing that game. Not anymore.
Please enjoy a bit from Hatsept Heat, Vampire Council of Ethics Book 3, then be sure to visit all the fabulous Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of this post.
Vampire Council of Ethics, Book Three
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Dan hung up the phone, tucked it in his pocket and pulled back the drapes. Surveying the city around him through the wall of glass with a huff, he watched the nightlife of Tokyo light up below him. The clubs didn’t close until five a.m. here. The night was young…but there was no way in hell he was stepping out into it. Not with the news he’d just received.
There was a Seeker, definitely not a local, hanging around the sister of Max Maruyama. Dan wondered if it was one of the huge bastards that had almost made him pee his pants on the streets of San Diego three years ago. In fact, it had been three years, eight months and fourteen days since the night he’d never forget, nor forgive. Fucking vampires. A mean-assed Aleth Sidheon had marched into Idac Pharmaceuticals where Dan worked as a scientist. Part of what he’d loved about his job was working on the same floor as Dr. Carinian Derrickson. But that crazed bloodsucker had gotten Dan tangled up in a mess that cost him his dreams, his job and almost his life. And all because the freaky vamp couldn’t keep his dick in his pants where Dr. Carin was concerned. Well, that and a need to bring the entire vampire nation to its knees if they didn’t kiss his ass. Needless to say, it backfired in a major way. But Dan had escaped with his skin intact and fled to the east. As far east as he could get.
Dan stood and looked twenty stories down at the tiny bodies swarming through the crosswalks at specific intervals. Animated ads marched across gigantic billboards hawking everything from soft drinks to music to television shows. His brow furrowed as his head filled with thoughts of another time and place.
Oh, what a mouse he’d been back then, letting that Sidheon idiot pull his strings and make him dance to his tune. But those days were long past. Dan was a bit rougher around the edges than he’d been the night he believed he’d never draw another breath. Two Seekers, one dark as night, the other a platinum blond, had shaken him like a rag doll and threatened to literally peel his hide if he didn’t hand over the information to help them get to Dr. Carin in time to save her life. In fact Dan had never been so happy to pass out cold than he had upon waking on the chilled concrete sidewalk.
Later, he’d learned the dark-headed one was Head Seeker for the Vampire Council of Ethics. And that Seeker was Jon Bixler—just the mention of that name caused every vampire he’d met since then to cut him a wary glance or flat-out refuse to do business with him. Dan had later discovered why. Jon Bixler, now Dr. Carin’s husband, was the meanest, baddest, most feared fang-bearing bastard with a badge. In short, the Head of the Seeker Corps, and those like him, were known for kicking butt, taking names and asking questions later. And the Seekers’ favorite prey was rogue vampires, the very scoundrels Dan needed to make his schemes pay off. Then there was the blond refrigerator that worked with the Bixler asshole, Alaan Serati who served as second-in-command. And Dan had no intention of ever tangling with either of them again in all his natural-born days.
So he’d dealt with rogue vampires instead. Here in Tokyo they tended to remain underground—not literally, but they flew well under the radar. Every vamp declared rogue was a criminal in one way or another and had done something to get himself excommunicated from the ten clans of the vampire nations. Only a fool would deliberately bring himself to the attention of the Seeker Corps.
The rogue vamps also knew that in order to gain territory they’d have to fight not only the ruthless Clan Li Seekers, but the human yakuza clans too. And those tattoo-wearing mobsters were more cutthroat, if not more dangerous, than the vampires. In fact the only difference between the two factions’ modus operandi was the vamps just kicked ass with a little more class and flair.
Yep, self-preservation rated high on these boys’ list of important things in life, so they specialized in smuggling black-market-type stuff. Simple things like firearms, ammunition and good old-fashioned pornography, which were all illegal in this country. Now, thanks to Dan, they peddled those things along with special biotech agents, like the physical strength enhancers that emulated vampire traits in humans.
That Dr. Carin was a true genius.
In fact, just after that little run-in with Jon Bixler and Alaan Serati, the two vamps left him unconscious on the sidewalk and rushed to Dr. Carin’s home. And Dan had taken off out of San Diego like a man with the hounds of hell on his ass, but not before breaking into Dr. Carin’s labs to borrow some of her research. Sidheon was in the middle of ripping her throat out on the other side of town while Dan shook and trembled as he tucked a few vials of samples and compounds into his pants pocket. He’d actually cried as he quickly and carefully went through her files and specimen carts. Afterward, he made sure to put everything exactly the way he found it, though he doubted Carin would ever be back in that lab again.
The grimace on his face from recalling the unpleasant memories morphed into a small smile as he thought on the day he’d received news on Dr. Carin. Dan had always liked her and had been glad to learn a year after her terrible ordeal that the two men, vamps rather, who’d jacked him up had been able to save her. It would have been a shame to see such genius snuffed out.
After Dan had a chance to really examine the items he’d snatched helter-skelter from Dr. Carin’s labs, he’d discovered that the woman had quietly developed a compound that, when given in the proper doses and intervals, produced agility, speed and unusual strength in humans. Basically, vampires without the fangs or the need for blood. Only one problem—the formula was incomplete and Dan hadn’t been able to perfect the serum. The end result was the human trial participants, as he liked to call them, had all become deathly ill after several months. In the end it was as if the enhancements not only reversed themselves, but did so with a vengeance, practically nuking the specimens’ immune systems. They’d have been better off with AIDS than the side effects of his treatment.
Since then he’d managed to tweak the formulation enough to stretch the deterioration time out to a year, which was plenty of time for Dan to do business, get the hell out of wherever he’d temporarily set up shop, and head somewhere else. And he’d keep right on milking that cow until it dried up altogether.
And dry might be coming up soon with a Seeker skulking around the home of one of the relatives of a human who should be approaching the illness stage of the enhancements.
Did the Seeker know about the flawed treatments? Worse, was Max Maruyama working with the Seekers to get revenge on Dan for giving him a short-lived treatment? Never mind the fact that Dan hadn’t bothered to reveal the side effects. Maybe the ghosts of his past had come to haunt him, come to take him to task for the punishment he’d escaped three years ago the night Aleth Sidheon had attacked the innocent Dr. Carin.
A deep tremble seeped into the core of each limb, as if his old cowardly self was clawing to get out and run for the hills. For a moment, terror gripped his lungs and sped toward his heart. His lungs seemed to have a fierce determination to hyperventilate.
He forced his logical mind to the forefront.
“No!” he yelled to no one. “I refuse to be the victim ever again. This time I am in control. This time, I’m the perpetrator. I’m the savant, damn it.” And he refused to ever go back down the hill he’d fled up so long ago.
Come on man, think, think, think. Thumb and forefinger squeezed desperately over the bridge of his nose as Dan pulled in deep, fortifying breaths.
“Okay, Dan, relax. It was only a sighting of a stranger who happens to be a Seeker.” A Seeker who his sources claimed was dressed like a common man and hadn’t bothered to speak with any of the territory leaders in regard to his arrival. Just because a vampire cop was sneaking around didn’t mean anyone was on to him. Besides, Dan never stayed in one place long enough to get caught by humans, and could only be reached through the rogues he’d brought into his employ. And not even they always knew where he’d be at any given time.
He’d escaped before. He could do it again. And this time, he was a whole lot wiser, richer and could at least be comfortable while on the run. Shaking himself out of the cadaverous grasp of the old specters, Dan pulled up his resolve and began to plan.
Angry at himself for allowing fear to send him pacing through his living room—well, his living room this month—he forced himself away from the windows and commanded the muscles in his thighs to relax enough to sit.
Settled in a comfortable chair, he put his feet up on a settee and picked up the remote control. Perhaps there was something good on the science channel tonight. With a snap of his fingers, his companion of the moment, a beautiful little human female, all dark hair, dark eyes and dark lashes, scurried into the room and knelt at his feet. In her hands was a silver tray with four of his favorite drinks and a few snacks displayed to his satisfaction.
God, he was tired of sushi, sake and soba noodles. What he wouldn’t give for a piece of southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy.
Sipping a dark brown liquid from one of the glasses, Dan sucked in a breath as the liquor burned a path down his throat, leaving behind a hint of mint and lime.
He turned his lip up at the whitetail sashimi but ate it anyway, then chased it down with the next glass of alcohol—grape liqueur and sake.
Perhaps recent events were a sign that it was time to head for greener pastures…pastures with more unhealthy food. But first, there was a manufacturing facility to clean up and a yakuza clan war to start to cover his tracks
Saturday Snippet Authors
Helen Kay Dimon