Trace stood in the shadows of the alley and watched to make sure the vamp was dead. It smelled dead, but with a vamp, it was hard to be sure. Most of them always smelled dead. A couple of rough-looking men came out from an alley and checked for a pulse, which would tell them exactly nothing. But since it didn’t leap up and kill them, it was at least unconscious. One man nudged the corpse with his foot and got no response. The head lolled to the side, and Trace caught a glimpse of a severely fragmented and partially missing skull. Yep, it was dead.
Wasting no time, Trace melted back into the alley and began making his way toward a more trendy part of the city. He wanted crowds to blend into if the police arrived. Or anyone else. He was also getting damned curious about the driver.
Though he hadn’t seen her, he’d smelled her once the window was broken. Her perfume and fear reached him in the alley he’d been passing through at the same time as the squeal of the tires. He’d reacted without thought, chasing the speeding car. His admiration for her spunk and quick thinking had grown as she’d tried to knock the vamp off, and he’d partially changed to put on an extra burst of speed. In two bounds, he’d grabbed its feet and yanked it from the car.
Now as he wove through the city at an easy lope, keeping to the shadows, he wondered about her. He flashbacked to how she’d looked this morning. She reminded him of a 1950s blonde bombshell. He shook his head. That didn’t tell him anything useful, like if she was a freak like him. She hadn’t smelled like a vamp. Or a witch. She definitely wasn’t a were – her scent would’ve given away the animal genes immediately. But odds were she had some kind of magic, or she wouldn’t have known to run.
But why were the vamps targeting her?
It could’ve been a coincidence but probably not. Especially not twice in the same day. On the other hand, the first vamp probably couldn’t target anyone on purpose. And the second one was still too feral to track a car. Unless she was the one transporting them. And getting attacked? Trace snorted and walked faster. No, she was too weak for anyone to expect her to move vamps without getting killed. Unless that was the point.
Trace scowled and stilled in the shadows as a group of ragged teens passed by. Too much wasn’t adding up. It was time to do a little research on the blonde. He felt an unexpected surge of restlessness at the thought and was nearly twitching as the kids paused to talk and laugh.
He glared with impatience and almost smiled when they started moving again. Then, as the last one passed him, he caught a whiff of something else. Death. And it wasn’t them. His head shot up, and his eyes darted for every visible inch of the alley as he sniffed, trying to pinpoint the source. Oil. Bricks. Trash. Rats. Beer. Piss.
There! A scruffy humanoid perched on the wall of the next building, barely visible over the parapet. Even as he found it, the vamp was diving off the low wall and speeding silently for the oblivious humans. Without conscious thought, Trace intercepted it, forcing it back around the corner to the empty alley.
“What was that?”
“Let’s get out of here!”
Snarling low in his throat, Trace held down the struggling vamp that hissed and snapped at him. No fangs. A hand reached for him, and Trace jumped back before it had lifted an inch off the ground. Was that where its teeth were? He didn’t see any markings on the hand, but that didn’t always mean anything.
The vamp darted forward, and Trace barely dodged the reaching fingers. This one was fast, and it recovered quickly too. As he avoided each hand, Trace found himself backpedaling. He couldn’t keep this up long. His back hit the wall, and the vamp’s eyes widened triumphantly. Before its hands made contact, Trace’s muscles bulged as he shifted further and leaped. He kept an eye below him, but the vamp was too shocked to do more than watch the suddenly furry man leap over his head.
This time the snarl was a growl, octaves below the reach of the human throat. It reverberated against the bricks and warned anything with any sense of self-preservation to run like hell.
But the vamp was too far gone. It darted forward with that same reaching movement. This time, Trace grinned wolfishly. He was exponentially faster in this form. Before the vamp could do more than blink, he grabbed both arms, pushed it to the ground, and pinned its hands palm-down on the pavement. Too late he realized his mistake as fangs cut through the front of its shirt and scratched his skin. He sprang off in an instant, before it could sink them in.
It must grab people and hold them to its chest. Tracking his prey with narrowed eyes, Trace debated changing completely. He couldn’t leave it running around, but the city was no place for this kind of fight.
Too many- His ears twitched as he caught the tread of feet, and he bared his own fangs in frustration –interruptions. The vamp was already charging again, and in that instant, Trace made a decision and spun away, leading the vamp down the alley and away from the approaching humans. He didn’t need to glance behind him to know it was following. In this form, he’d smell and hear immediately if it veered away or fell behind. He used both senses to monitor its position and match its speed, keeping tauntingly out of reach.
Don’t want it to lose interest. He snarled with deadly anticipation. He knew exactly where he would lead it. There was an abandoned warehouse a handful of blocks away. Adrenaline rushed through him as his bestial nature thrilled at the oncoming fight. His feral smile widened, and he put on a burst of speed so that he’d reach the intersection with a little leeway. This street was bigger, and he’d have to time it right to get them both across without incident.
Why the hell were there so many cars? Even as he cursed the idiots on the street, he heard and smelled the vamp coming closer. So damn predictable. Trace stepped to the side quickly and it flew past him into the road. A screech of brakes preceded a thump and a crunch. The smell of old blood and decayed flesh filled the air, and Trace snorted reflexively. Shifting back slightly, he snorted again with relief as the intensity of the smell faded somewhat. He glanced out at the street at the cars and the body, what was left of it.
It wasn’t moving, and it wasn’t going to.
That works, too. Shifting completely back to his human form, Trace shook himself, stalked back into the deepening shadows, and left the humans to deal with the mess. He was beginning to think cars were a good strategy with vamps. The thought reminded him of the blonde, and he paused in the shadows. He could go back to the apartment now and look her up. He moved restlessly at the thought.
No. He was too wired from the chase to sit at a computer now. The dark sky thrilled his over-stimulated instincts. Nice weather for hunting – and he had just the prey in mind. Trace grinned. It was going to be a long night.