Home > Vincent (Vampires in America #8)(2)

Vincent (Vampires in America #8)(2)
Author: D. B. Reynolds


And just thinking that made him feel like a grumpy old man bemoaning the good old days of his youth. It was bad enough that he was an old man, even if he’d never look it. But he didn’t need to think like one, either.

His cell phone rang from inside—it was his lieutenant, Michael, checking in as the night began. Strictly speaking, Vincent wasn’t supposed to have a lieutenant since he was actually Lord Enrique’s lieutenant himself. Especially since he’d made Michael a vampire without gaining Enrique’s permission ahead of time. His lord and master hadn’t been pleased with him about that, but Vincent hadn’t particularly cared. If he’d waited for Enrique to give him the go-ahead, he’d never have a vampire child of his own making. The old man held onto his prerogatives like a spoiled toddler with his toys or a greedy miser with his money.

When confronted with the done deal of Michael’s existence, however, Enrique hadn’t had the guts to order the new vampire’s execution, even though it would have been within his rights. He’d probably been reluctant to challenge Vincent, suspecting he wouldn’t obey the order. And he’d have been right. Vincent would have told him to go fuck himself, and that could have gotten ugly.

Vincent wasn’t Enrique’s lieutenant out of love or respect. He’d clawed his way to the top the old-fashioned way, by killing everyone who stood in his path. He was the strongest fucking vampire in the old man’s stable and had been for well over a hundred years. He fulfilled his duty to Enrique, who was both his Sire and his lord. He was loyal and, when it suited him, obedient. He pretty much ignored everything else by staying away and avoiding confrontation, while Enrique pretended he still ruled the territory with absolute power.

Vincent picked up the cell phone on his way to the walk-in closet. “Yo, Michael. What’s up?”

“Good evening, Sire,” Michael said dutifully. When necessary, the two of them could be as formal as ancient Vampire protocol required. But they were friends more than anything else, each the one person the other could rely on without question in the dog-eat-dog world of Enrique’s rule.

“Yeah, yeah,” Vincent replied. “Any blowback yet from that mess in Acuña?” Vincent didn’t know all the details, but a group of European vamps had made a play against Lord Raphael just two weeks ago. It had all gone down in Acuña, which was a small city just this side of the U.S. border, thus placing their little tête-à-tête neatly inside Mexico.

Reports had it that Raphael had wiped the floor with the visiting vamps. That wasn’t exactly a surprise to Vincent, but what was surprising was the fact that the meeting had taken place inside Enrique’s territory. Vincent had no proof that Enrique had played a role in that particular clusterfuck, but he had strong suspicions. There was no way in hell that a group of vamps powerful enough to think about going up against Raphael could have crossed into Enrique’s territory without him knowing about it.

And Vincent also knew that Enrique suspected Raphael’s hand in all of the recent territorial changes in North America, and that Enrique didn’t like it. He thought Raphael was trying to take over the continent, and that Mexico would be the next domino to fall.

Vincent predictably disagreed with his Sire on the subject. Not even Enrique could deny that the European vamps had their eyes on North America, which made it a smart move for the Council members to form alliances with each other. But Enrique saw no reason why he should risk himself and his vamps defending anyone else’s territory. Vincent sided with Raphael in believing they would all be stronger if they stood together.

“You mean other than the strange piles of dust in some old church?” Michael asked in response to Vincent’s question about the confrontation in Acuña.

“Yeah, other than that,” Vincent replied dryly.

“I’ve had reports . . .” Michael hesitated, which made Vincent’s attention sharpen.

“Michael?”

“I need to double-check the details. I should have some answers for you by the time you get to the office.”

Vincent frowned. He suspected Michael had all the information he needed, but didn’t want to discuss it on the phone. Enrique’s spies were always listening, and cell phone signals were way too easy to intercept. He glanced at the digital clock by his bedside. It was nearly eight. Spring was upon them, which meant the days were slowly getting longer. It wasn’t the best time of year for vampires.

“All right. I’ll see you in the office then,” he told Michael.

“Yeah, about that. You have an appointment tonight.”

Vincent trolled through the files in his brain, but came up with nothing. “No, I don’t.”

“Yeah, you do, jefe. Some bounty hunter. He comes with a referral from Raphael himself.”

Vincent frowned. What the fuck was Raphael up to? First a battle on Enrique’s territory and now this?

“A bounty hunter with a referral from Raphael? Why?” he asked.

“Don’t know. The guy called from the road today, spoke to Lou in the front office. Lou made the appointment and left a message for me.”

“What time’s the appointment?”

“Ten.”

“Well, fuck. There goes my evening. I gotta get dressed. See you in thirty,” he said and hung up. But he couldn’t help wondering what it meant that Raphael was referring people directly to Vincent instead of going through Enrique. Especially since Vincent didn’t think he’d exchanged ten words with the powerful vampire lord in the entire time he’d known him.

He started pulling clothes out of the closet for the evening. A pair of jeans—black since he had a business appointment—and a long-sleeved T-shirt, also black. Sitting on a bench inside the walk-in closet, he pulled on socks and his favorite cowboy boots, ditto on the black. It wasn’t that he was giving in to the stereotype of how people thought a vampire dressed—all in black—but clothes just didn’t matter to him. Going with one color made it easy. Besides, he wore blue jeans as often as he did black. That was enough variety for him.

He glanced in the mirror before heading out, doing a quick fingercomb through his longish black hair and a more detailed check of his beard and mustache, which was his one true vanity. He had his hair cut once a month, but his beard he trimmed every night. He knew he was considered handsome, and God knew he used his looks when it came to attracting women—because if there was one thing on this earth that he loved, it was a soft, willing woman—but other than the beard, he didn’t worry overmuch about his appearance. He showered, he shaved, and he kept in shape because it was a matter of survival. And that was it.

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