~Sequel to Midnight~


Author: UtsSQ

Rated: Soft R for violence and implied sexual scenes, language-beware…I get kind of gross in this one…lol


All right-I went ahead and did it-this will complete what I am going to call my ‘Death & Darkness’ Trilogy, for lack of a better title.  This one features Batista with support from my other characters that most of you should already know…lol.  Enjoy!






The music was the worst part.


Loud, thumping, pounding, it shook the walls, rattled the glasses at the bar.


The women did not seem to care.  They danced on, moved to the beat, their faces never losing the bored, far-away look he’d come to associate with most of them.


On some occasions, something was different.  One of the women would stand out.  She’d be dancing, moving just like the others, but more into it. She’d smile at the men who sat around watching her, making eye contact, enjoying every minute of her power over them.

That’s what he was looking for.  And that is what he’d found.  One girl, hardly more than twenty years old, gyrated her hips to the heavy bass.  Something about her made her seem more…there, more real than the other women on the stage.  A certain vitality seemed to flow from her, reaching across the room to grab his attention. He met her eyes and saw them widen, saw her suck in a breath as he beckoned her to him.


She made her way to his table.  Without a word she began dancing for him, for him only.  Her eyes never left his.  He enthralled her just as she had enthralled him at first glance. She had such innocent blue eyes.  He smiled slowly.  This was definitely the one he’d be leaving with tonight.


The song ended.  Instead of going backstage, the girl stood before him unsure of what to do. He let his smile widen.  He rose to his feet and held out his hand.  The girl took it with no hesitation.

He led her through the club, out the back door.  There was a dark alley, a place he was very familiar with.  He’d come to this very club on several occasions, seeking a suitable woman for his games.


It was a bit chilly out.  The girl did not seem to notice.  He pulled her against him and kissed her deeply, his hands roaming her bare skin.  He felt power building up inside him as it always did when he took another one.  He made short work or removing the tiny panties she was wearing and lay her on the cold concrete.

With a laugh he pulled out of her mind, letting her take control back.  Horrified at her position beneath him, she began struggling.  Ignoring her useless screaming, her biting and scratching, he entered her brutally, thrusting again and again at her body, reveling in her pain.


She screamed again and again as he used her.  It did not matter.  The music of the club was too loud, the club itself was on the outskirts of the town limits.  No one would hear.


Her nails raked at his face.  He laughed again, coldly, relishing the brief flash of pain that faded into pleasure at her hands.  He loved it when they fought. It made the finish that much sweeter.


With a hoarse shout he climaxed, sorry that it was over so soon, but knowing the best was still to come.  The girl lay on the ground, sobbing softly into her hands, curled onto her side.  He got dressed and kneeled over her, his hand stroking her side.  He smirked, his eyes glowing in the cold night air as his fingernails grew.  The tips sharpened, became pointed.  Satisfied, he gave her one last caress.  Drawing back, he slammed his fingers into her side, feeling the skin split against his forceful entry.  The girl had time to wheeze one more scream out before he took her heart in his hands and began pulling it, using his nails to slice at anything that got in the way.

Triumphantly he got to his feet, her still warm heart a pleasant weight in his hand. His nails had returned to normal.  He’d gotten no blood on his clothing.  He studied the body for a few minutes, basking in the glory of his kill.  He reached down and grabbed the dead girl’s hand, and began dragging her along the alleyway.  He did not want her body discovered just yet. That would ruin his fun.


He carelessly tossed the corpse into his car and drove toward his house.  Her heart was still in his hand.  He glanced at it repeatedly, his grin growing wider.  She had been something, all right.  He could feel her heart calling to him, telling him what to do.  It was hard to resist the urge to pull to the side of the road, but he managed.  That was also the same every time.


At his house in the wood, the man climbed from the car and began dragging the lifeless girl to the back.  There was an old barn there, unused for many years.  He had found a use for it. 


With regret he set her heart aside, careful not to damage it. The girl he took into the barn and after thinking for a moment, put her body into an old water trough that rested against the wall.  Hanging over her head was the body of another woman although that one was well into decomposition. There were bodies throughout the barn, some playfully posed, some strung up, some torn apart in rage.  He could not always control it.  Tonight had been a good night.  He’d done well, and he’d earned his reward.


He tenderly traced a finger down the dead girl’s face, then shifted her head until she appeared to be staring at the woman hanging above her.  Satisfied with her positioning, he went to reclaim her heart.  It was still a bit warm.  With a grin of pure happiness the man walked into his house, cradling the organ against his chest. She’d like this one, he knew she would. She had to.  He was starting to lose his patience.  She had to see what he’d be willing to do to be with her.  That was all there was to it.




Someone was crying.


Dave stepped onto the back porch and looked around.  It was just past noon, and although the sun was shining, it was chilly outside. He scanned the yard, his eyes coming to rest on Alex, who was sitting under a tree with his knees drawn up, crying as if his heart were breaking.


Alex was Samantha and Glen’s young son.  He’d just turned five a few days before. Dave walked over and sat down on the grass next to the little boy.


“What’s wrong, kid?”  Dave asked affectionately.  Alex sniffled and looked up, wiping at his eyes with his hands.


“They’re so sad. It hurts.” Alex spoke as if that explained everything. 


Dave just shook his head in confusion.  Alex pointed to the left, toward the woods.  Dave glanced that way, frowning a bit.


“Is somebody out there? Did they hurt you?” Feeling angry at the thought, Dave started to rise to his feet.  Alex stopped him.


“Nobody’s there.” The little boy sighed and looked down.  Dave could see how frustrated he was, that he didn’t have the words to explain what was bothering him. 


“Should I go get your mom?” Dave asked Alex softly. 


“No.  She can’t make them stop either.” Dejected, Alex stood up. 


Dave grabbed his hand.  “The only thing over there is an old graveyard.  Through the trees.  You haven’t been playing out there have you?  That place might be dangerous.  Those stones fall over all the time…” But Alex was shaking his head before Dave could finish the lecture.


“Nobody plays there anymore.” With that Alex tugged away and wandered toward the house.  Dave sat for a few minutes, wondering what the hell was wrong with him.  He’d been acting weird for a while.  Glen was worried, he could tell, but there wasn’t anything they could do. Alex seemed to be struggling with something big, and refused to say more than a few words about it.


With a sigh, Dave rose to his feet, intending to find Samantha and tell her what he’d seen.  It was amazingly easy-she was coming downstairs when he ventured into the living room, following a grumbling Katie.


“Jack gets to go all the time…” The little girl was muttering under her breath.


“Well Jack is sixteen, pumpkin.  He’s almost grown up.  You still have a bit of growing to do.”


“It’s not fair.” She pouted, the spotted Dave standing at the foot of the stairs. Katie dazzled him with a sunny smile.  “Hi, Uncle Dave.”

“Hey, handful.” Dave grinned back at her.  He was always in awe of how the six year old could change gears so quickly. “You giving your mom a hard time? Cuz I totally approve.”


Katie giggled.  Samantha playfully swatted her as she moved past her daughter. “Keep encouraging her.  I’ll send her to live with you.”


“Threaten me why don’t ya.” Dave said with a smirk.  “What’s going on?”


“Miss Know it all here thinks she’s old enough to go out hunting with her dad and Jack.”


“I am old enough.” Katie said emphatically, crossing her arms over her chest.


“Not quite, darlin’.” Dave tweaked her on the nose.  Katie refused to be joked out of her mood. 


“Jack was hunting when he was ten! That’s just four years older!”


“Jack never hunted when he was ten.  He had to fight in self-defense.  That’s not the same thing. Stop trying to twist it to suit your argument, future lawyer.” Samantha said wryly.


“Mom…” Katie sounded so frustrated it made Dave laugh. She shot him a withering glance.


“I’ll tell you what…I’ll hire you to work for me.” Dave grinned at the way her eyes lit up.  “When you’re eighteen.  After you’ve have training.”


“How is that fair?” Katie said, huffing. 


“She may not need training.  She might be able to argue the fangs and dogs to death.” Samantha nudged her daughter.  “How about you go downstairs and finish your homework? And help Nick out a little.” All the kids were home schooled, except for Jack, who decided he was ready to go out and give high school a shot.


“Nick never needs help.” Katie muttered under her breath.  She walked toward the kitchen.  Samantha watched her go, a smile on her face.


“Poor kid’s gonna be just like you when she grows up.” Dave observed.


“I know.  That’s probably why we butt heads so much.” She glanced at Dave, then frowned.  “What’s wrong?”


“How could you know something is wrong?” Dave asked, leaning against the wall.


“My spidey senses are tingling.  Is it Glen? Jack?”


“No and no.  It’s Alex, actually.” Dave pushed from the wall and wandered to the sofa across the room.  Samantha followed, leaning on the arm of the couch.  “He was outside crying a few minutes ago.”


“Is he all right? Is he hurt?” Samantha half rose, but Dave waved a hand at her.


“He’s fine as far as I can tell.  Physically anyway.” He paused, thinking.  “He said that ‘they were sad’.  And that it hurt him.  And he pointed to the woods.” Dave shrugged.  “I told him there wasn’t anything there but an old cemetery.  I think he got made and walked off.  He said they weren’t playing there or anything, so I don’t know…”


Samantha’s frown of worry smoothed out as he spoke.  He trailed off, not knowing what exactly he was trying to say.  “I think I might have a good idea what it’s about.” Samantha finally spoke.


“Well, I’ll be glad to hear it. Kinda freaky, how he was talking.” Dave said with a lift of his eyebrow.


“I think Alex might be a little empathic.”


“Empathic? That’s a new one on me.” Dave frowned.


“He can sense what people are feeling.  Or in this case, what the dead are feeling.  And he feels it too.” Samantha shrugged.  “I had a suspicion a while back about it.”


“These kids and their weird powers...” Dave muttered.


“Tell me about it.” Samantha laughed.  There was Lily with her super strength.  Nick with his telepathy. And now it seemed that Alex was developing a skill of his own.  “Poor Katie’s gonna feel left behind again.”  Of all the children, save Jack, Katie was the only one so far who had exhibited no signs of being anything other than a normal human girl born to normal human parents.  Samantha was glad, but also knew that Katie felt different from the other kids.  And she didn’t like it.


“He’s pretty upset.” Dave said, bringing the conversation back to Alex.


“I’ll talk to him.  He’s gonna have to learn to control it or go crazy.” Samantha rubbed her eyes wearily.  “Glen still planning on coming in tonight?”


Glen, Jack, and Mark had been out on a hunting mission.  Well, the actual name for it was a ‘security’ mission.  In the past few years, police and lawmakers had started to crack down on hunters, branding them vigilantes.  Dave had decided to market the house as a security firm.  It seemed to satisfy the local cops, who wanted nothing to do with the rogue fang or dog that occasionally popped up.


There had been reports of a wolf that had been tearing up a town a few hours away.  Glen had hoped to wrap everything up today.  Samantha hoped he was right in hoping. They’d been gone almost a month, and she was tired of living in this house.  Although it was huge, and she liked the people there, she felt most at home at Glen’s big Victorian house on the other side of town.


“As far as I…” Dave didn’t finish.  Ashley, a young girl who had taken over some secretarial duties, stepped into the room. 


“Dave…you have a call.  The woman said it was urgent.” She shrugged.  “I tried to get a name, but she wouldn’t tell me.”


“That’s all right Ash.  I’ll take it, anyway.” Dave was bored. Hopefully it would be something to do.


Samantha followed his lead, meaning to find Alex and have a talk with her boy.  Ashley smiled at her uncertainly.  Samantha patted the younger girl’s shoulder on her way past.  “Don’t worry, you’re doing a good job.”


“Not as good as Allison, but I’m trying.” Ashley said with a laugh.  Allison and Dave had broken up and it had not been pretty.  Allison had decided it was best to seek her fortune at another house.  Dave had not been too sorry to see her go.  She’d been pushing for more permanence in their relationship and he resisted every step.  Samantha moved on, seeking out Alex for a little heart to heart talk. 



Dave took the cordless phone into the kitchen, planning to grab a drink.


“David?” The feminine voice was smooth, soft.  Dave recognized it but could not place it.


“That’s me.  Who is this?”


There was a pause.  “This is…it’s me, Diane.” Her voice seemed to get softer at the admittance of her name.


“DJ?” Dave almost could not believe it. Diane Jones, affectionately known as DJ, had been his longest lasting relationship.  It that case, she had been the one to shy away from commitment, leaving him to give her an ultimatum.  She’d refused to be pushed.  He moved on, getting his hunting job with Mark.  DJ had seemed to all but disappear after that.  Deej…how the hell are you? What’s going on? Ash said it was urgent…”


“It is.  I wish this were a social call.  I have a problem.  I’m hoping you can help me with it.”  Her sultry voice brought back memories, memories Dave thought he’d left behind for good.  He closed his eyes and took a deep calming breath. 


“All right.  I’m listening.” Dave sat at the table, grabbing a nearby pen and notebook.  He took notes as DJ spoke, spilling out the story of what had been happening to her for the last few months.




“I just get home and you’re telling me you’re leaving with Dave to go help one of his friends, and you don’t even know what’s going on?”


Glen stared across the bed at Samantha, who was calmly packing her bag.  “I’m not leaving this very minute, but yes, I am going. You got your fun, now I get mine.”


“You think this is fun?” Glen asked his wife, incredulous.


“After spending months at a time playing babysitter, yes, this is the best time I’ve had in years.” Samantha grinned at him.  “And don’t question my motherhood status.  I love the kids.  But I can’t sit here at home all the time.  You aren’t the only hunter in this family.  I’m going stir crazy.”


Glen couldn’t help but smile at her, although that little frown of worry still clouded his features. “I just don’t want anything to happen to you, that’s all. We have our family to worry about.”


“Look, bud.  I let you go runnin’ around, killing all the fangs and dogs you want.  Just give me this one thing.”


“Mmm…and this one thing will lead to another. And another.” Glen shook his head.  “I can’t believe Dave even asked you to go.  I thought he’d rather have a rattlesnake watch his back than you.”


“All the snakes are hibernating.” Samantha said glibly, zipping her bag shut. 


“I was hoping to spend a little time with you, Sammy.”


“We have all night.” She said, grinning at the suggestive tone in his voice.


“There is that I suppose.” Glen said with a smirk.  “Although I did want to see the kids…”


“They’re sleeping.” Samantha tossed her bag to the floor and climbed onto the bed.  “If you want me, come get me baby.  It’s been a while.”


“That it has.” Glen followed her lead, joining her on the bed.




In the basement of the main house, Dave was pacing the floor, occasionally running a hand over his head.  Mark and Christine were watching him, a bit amused, mostly concerned, as he explained what little he knew.


“She just outta the blue calls and asks for help. She says somebody is stalking her, and that this somebody might be right up my alley.  Meaning a fang or a dog.  DJ always knew what I was, that I was a hunter. I didn’t try to hide it from her.”


“So she’s not sure who it is?” Christine asked, toying with a lock of hair.  Mark put his arm around her comfortingly.  


“She didn’t say one way or the other on the phone.”


“Is she sure this guy is dangerous?” Mark asked.  “I mean, you said before that she was pretty hot.  Maybe he’s just moonin’ over her.”


Dave laughed.  “Yeah, she’s a looker.  But she’s scared to death. I can tell. I want to go help her.”


“I don’t mind running things while you’re gone.” Mark said with a shrug.  “I’m sure Glen will help.  He always does.”


“Try not to kill Sammy, though.  It might piss Glen off.” Christine said with a laugh. 


Dave rolled his eyes.  Yes, he’d asked Samantha if she wanted to go with him.  She’d jumped at the chance to get out of the house and do something.  They both shared that same feeling of being boxed in.  He hoped he would not regret asking.  They did not get along as a general rule, it was just the way they were.


“I won’t kill her.  I might need her.  You know…she’s got the vamp skills.”


“She might be rusty.  Glen’s been keeping her close to home.” Mark chuckled.


“It’s like riding a bike.” David said with a smile.  “Besides, she’s strong, like Lily. I hate to admit it but I need her on this.” He glanced at Mark.  “Are you sure you don’t mind?”


“Hell, why would I? It’s temporary.” Mark laughed. “When are you heading out?”


“Tomorrow night.  I didn’t want to just up and leave everything in the air.” Dave sounded a bit frustrated at that.  Mark smiled at Christine.


“You don’t have to stick around on our account.” Christine said with a laugh.


“It’s not your account.” Dave rolled his eyes.  Mark and Christine both started laughing. “Trust me, if I thought Glen would let her leave, I’d go right now.”


“Good call.” Mark chuckled. “If you need anything, extra hands, anything at all, you call and let us know.”


“I will.”


“And you can tell Sammy not to worry.  I’ll keep an eye on the kids. She’s done it enough for us.”


“I will.” Dave sighed and once again rubbed his head.


“You really like this girl, huh?” Christine asked, sounding awed.

Dave decided not to lie.  “I asked her to marry me.  She said no.”


“She must be crazy.” Christine grinned at him.  “And not want to deal with all this?” She gestured, indicating the room, the house, the life they led.


“It wasn’t just that. But I’m sure that probably played a part.” Dave shook his head.  “I should go pack.  I want to leave as soon as I can get Sammy away from Glen.” With that he turned on his heel and headed for the door. Mark and Christine exchanged another knowing look.


“Think he still has a thing for her?” Mark asked sarcastically.


“Oh, that’s a given.” Christine grinned wickedly.  “How about you take me upstairs and show me that you still have a ‘thing’ for me?” Mark laughed and happily obliged her.




Dave made one last stop in the kitchen for the night, wanting to grab a bottle of water to take to his room.  Lily and Nick were there, sharing a bowl of popcorn.


“You guys are up late.” He said, ruffling Nick’s hair on the way past.


“Mom said we could watch a movie.” Lily said, sighing, looking at her brother.  “Dork here won’t decide which one.”


“I’m not a dork, Lil.” Nick’s voice was all serious.  He looked at his sister with dark eyes, a smile on his lips.  “I don’t wanna watch that kissing crap that you like so much.”


David laughed at that. “I wouldn’t want to watch it either.” He said, agreeing with the boy.  Lily was red-faced.


“I don’t watch that stuff. That’s for mushy grown-ups.” She huffed. At ten, she was still a tiny little thing, but she made up for it in attitude.  “I like action movies.”


“Since when? Five minutes ago?” Nick said with a smirk.


“What would you know, you’re still a baby.” Lily said it with a worldly air.  Nick rolled his eyes. 


“Dad still calls you his baby. How’s my baby today?” He pinched Lily’s cheek.  He did a fairly accurate imitation of Mark’s deep voice.  Lily heaved a put-upon sigh.


“I still think we can trade you in for a kid sister.” She said, casting a withering glance at him.


“Aw…you love me.” Nick laughed and playfully punched his sister’s arm.  Dave shook his head and left the kids to their argument. He had a lot to do, and not a lot of time to do it in.




DJ paced her living room, fighting the urge to lift the shades on the windows and look outside.


After that morning’s little ‘present’ she wasn’t entirely sure if she would ever go outside again.  She’d stepped out to get the paper and had kicked the small box on her porch.  She was hesitant to pick it up but knew she would have to.  She also knew she should call the police, but could not make herself do it.  They had done nothing for her so far, in fact they treated her problem as a joke, a scam played on her by neighborhood kids.


It was easy for them to say that.  And it was obvious why they said it.  DJ was not just pretty, but beautiful.  Soft dark hair, blue eyes, creamy skin.  She used to be an actress, nothing major, just a few small parts on television.  It had been boring though, not the glamorous life she’d imagined.

So she’d come back to her hometown to try to settle down. She was a writer, a damn good one according to her publisher. Under her penname, she’d published four books, each one progressively more popular than the last. 


Her life had been good until a couple of months ago when she’d gotten the first card.  It was in her mailbox but there was no stamp, no return address.  Just three words were printed on it in block letters: I LOVE YOU.


DJ dismissed it as a joke, of course.  The last person who had said those particular words to her was Dave, and that had been a long time ago.  She’d had flings since then, of course, but had never come close to that kind of relationship again.


Too bad she’d ruined it with her freak out and cold feet. 


And it was so strange.  Even after all this time, the first person she’d wanted to call had been Dave. She fought the urge and called the police when she got the third card.  It had been written in rusty red ink that she had been sure was blood. Once again, the words I LOVE YOU had been inked in block letters.  In smaller letters was the word ‘forever’. 


It sent a chill down her back.  A few days after that she’d gotten the first package.  It had no note, and contained only a lock of dark hair, close to her own hair color.


The police had done nothing with that either.  A hoax was what they called it.  She had their attention at the next several packages, but once again they could not do anything about it.

The packages got progressively gorier.  After the hair came an ear.  After the ear, a finger.  Then a hand.  Female, all of the pieces he left for her.  DJ did not know how she knew it, but she did.


She’d stopped going to the cops.  They were looking at her as if she were the crazy one. They would do nothing to help her, were not even trying to find the guy who was doing this.  They had no bodies, no missing persons reports, no clues as to where he was getting the parts for his little ‘gifts’.


The worst one, until that morning, had come just three days ago.  Inside a small green box was a mound of tissue paper.  On top of the paper were two pieces of dark flesh.  It had taken a moment, but DJ realized that what she was looking at had once been the rosy nipples on some girl’s chest. She’d gagged and thrown up in the sink at the thought of it. 


She did not know how it could have possibly gotten worse, but now she had an idea.  In the box that was on her porch that morning, which she had opened in some kind of strange trance.


It was red, fist sized, glistening.  Fresh.  A human heart, the arteries and veins jagged.  It had obviously been ripped from someone’s chest, some woman’s chest.  Crying, DJ had closed the box and had gone to her phone.  She called the one person in the world that would do something.  At least, she hoped he was still that person.  She’d hurt him, but he would come.  She needed him now more than she ever had. 




“Wanna know my opinion?”


Dave sighed and shifted in the driver’s seat.  Samantha had been unusually quiet during the trip.  She’d barely spoken on the plane, and they’d driven for an hour before she decided to chime in.


“Not really, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me anyway.” He said sarcastically.


“Of course I am.” Samantha smiled at him.  “I can’t imagine why you would want me along on this little trip.  Although one small thing comes to mind.”


“Oh, and what’s that?”


“This woman of yours kinda scares you.” Samantha poked his arm.  Dave laughed.


“Yeah.  I’m scared to death.”


“You are.  So I’m supposed to be the chaperone of this mission.  Babysitting again.” She heaved a sigh.  “You’re a grown up.  Why would you need me to run interference?”


“It’s complicated.” Dave decided it was probably best not to lie to her. Samantha could smell a lie a mile away. 


“Try me. It’s not like I can do anything to get away from you.”


“Funny.” Dave bit his lip thoughtfully.  “Look, a long time ago DJ and I were pretty heavy into each other.  It ended.  I’m not sure if I’m wanna even see her, let alone think about what might have been.  So…”


“So I run interference.  Keep your mind on the job.”


“I was hoping.”


“Damn.” Samantha started laughing.  “I lost that bet.”


“What bet?” Dave risked a glance in her direction.


“Christine and I had a bet on this top secret mission of yours. She said I’d be playing mediator.  I said you would try to talk me into pretending I was your new girlfriend-or even wife.”


Dave snorted.  Samantha laughed merrily.  “Shoot me if the thought ever crosses my mind, please.”


“Oh, you like me and you know it.” She leaned back in her seat.  “Are we there yet?”


Glad she’d changed the subject, Dave turned his attention back to the road.  “Another twenty minutes or so.”

“This place is weird.” Her voice sounded suddenly serious.  Dave glanced at her again. Samantha was staring out the window at the buildings that went by at even intervals.


“What? The town?”


“Yeah.  Strip clubs out the ass.  What kinda perv background do you come from?”


“It’s the army base.” Dave said with a sigh.  “And there are a couple of underground casinos around here.  The clubs do good business.  The only thing that might outnumber ‘em are they tattoo parlors.”


“And this is where you grew up?” Samantha sounded interested.  Dave wondered if he was just giving her ammo for some later insult-fest.


“Mostly.  I worked at one of the tat places when I was a kid.  Then I met a guy who thought I’d be a good hunter.”


“The abridged version is never as good as the uncut.” Samantha stated.  The buildings faded from sight.  There was nothing now but trees and road, and the dark sky above.


“That’s all I’ve got right now.” Dave signaled a turn even though they were the only car on the road.  It was almost dawn.  The town didn’t really wake up until noon or so.


Fifteen minutes of driving down winding country roads brought them to DJ’s house.  It was set back from the road, surrounded by trees, and every window glowed with light from behind the curtains that were drawn over them.


“She’s definitely scared.” Samantha stated the obvious as Dave parked the car and climbed out to stretch.


“I guess we’re going to find out why.” Dave shrugged and led Samantha toward the porch.  The front door opened and the light over the steps flashed on.


A woman appeared in the light.  Her dark hair was pulled up, away from her face. She looked tired.  Too tired to be scared at the moment.  But apparently she’d been waiting for them.


“Dave?” The name was a question in her soft voice.  Dave stepped toward her and wrapped his arms around DJ, hugging her close, feeling her shudder against him.


It’s gonna be all right, Deej.” He rubbed her back affectionately.  DJ sniffled against his chest, holding him tight. 


“I didn’t know who else to call.” She whispered.


“Well, you made a good choice.” Dave touched her chin, bringing her eyes to meet his in the glow from the porch light.  “I’m gonna do whatever I can Deej.” They held each other’s gaze for a few long moments. 


Samantha cleared her throat.  Dave and DJ jumped.  They had forgotten she was there. “I’m Sammy. Since clod is not going to introduce me anytime soon.”


This got a smile from DJ as she extracted herself from Dave’s arms, embarrassed.  “Sorry.  I’ve had a horrible couple of months.”


“So I’ve heard.” Samantha grinned at the other woman, then looked to Dave.  “How about we take this reunion inside, away from any prying eyes?”


DJ looked around, her expression losing its brightness at the thought of being watched. Dave took her arm and led her toward the door with Samantha at their heels.


Once inside, he made sure the locks were engaged before following DJ into the living room.  He had not been in this house in so long yet everything felt as familiar to him as if he’d just left yesterday.  Although the furniture was new, it was in the same style and color that it had always been.  The television was bigger. Those were the only differences he noticed.


The three of them took seats and looked at each other expectantly.


“It would help, I suppose, if I knew exactly why we were here.” Samantha said, breaking the silence that had fallen over them.


“Oh…” DJ blushed a bit and stole a glance at Dave before turning her attention to Samantha.  “Well…a few months ago I started getting postcards…” She filled them in, telling them about the progression of ‘gifts’, tearing up a bit at the most recent one.  She managed to choke back her emotions long enough to pull a small box from under the couch. “I gave copies of the notes to the police. I kept them all.  I don’t know why, probably because I just couldn’t believe this was happening…”


Samantha sorted through the box, glancing at a few of the notes.  “Blood.”


“You think so too?” DJ sounded relieved.


“I can smell it.” Samantha wrinkled her nose.  “Did you give the cops the rest of the packages?”


“Most of them.  They didn’t seem to want them though.” DJ shrugged. “I didn’t know what to do with them, so I stuck them in the deep freeze.  I don’t use it anyway.”


“You’re keeping body parts in your freezer?” Samantha laughed.


“I didn’t want them near food I was actually going to eat.” DJ said by way of explanation.


“Sounds like something in one of those books of yours.” Dave said, reminding the women he was still there.  He was slowly reading through the notes, feeling anger building inside him. 


“You’ve read my books?” DJ asked, surprise in her voice.


“You read?” Samantha said, almost at the same time.


“Yes. And yes.” He shot a dark look at Samantha, who was looking at him in mock awe.


“Wonders. Never. Cease.” She said slowly.  Dave rolled his eyes and turned to DJ and smiled.

“All four of them.  I wouldn’t miss ‘em.” He shuffled the postcards in his hands then tossed them into the box.  “Do you have any idea who would do this? Anyone you’ve dated recently, worked with, pissed off?”


Samantha raised an eyebrow but said nothing at Dave’s attempt to pry a bit into DJ’s private life.  They had to know some of it. 


“Nobody I can think of.  I haven’t gone out in forever, I work alone on my computer, and I don’t see enough people to piss them off.  My publisher does get mad, and my agent, but they’re in New York for Pete’s sake.”


“It was worth asking.” Dave shrugged again. 


“I don’t even see the mail man half the time.  I work all day writing.  At night I watch movies.  That’s pretty much it.” DJ sighed and leaned back against the couch.  “I don’t even know my neighbors.  I’m a bit antisocial.” She seemed to want to explain it to Samantha.  It was something Glen already knew.


“How about your acting days?” Dave asked, pressing her.


“I was a nobody.  Who the hell would remember that?” DJ grimaced at the thought of it.


“You’d be surprised.  There have been quite a few documented cases of stalkers going after the strangest of celebrities. You’re a famous author now.”


“Famous and with a pen name.” DJ said dryly.


“Easy enough to figure out who it is.  I did.” He held up a hand before Samantha could chip in a smart comment.


“That’s silly.  Who would bother me over a couple of books? They aren’t a reflection of who I am.  Just stories.”


“Seems to be someone is taking the story just a little too far.” Dave rubbed his head. “DJ…you know this is not what I usually deal with…”


“Fangs and dogs…” She said softly, nodding.


“That’s right.  So I’m not sure what exactly we’re gonna do yet. Unless it is a fang or dog stalking you. I know how to deal with their kind.”


“Well it can’t be a vampire.  Whoever it is leaves the stuff right after dawn.  I tried keeping an eye out for him, but he doesn’t come.  It’s like he knows when I’m watching and when I’m not.  He manages to sneak in a out before I know he’s here.” She shuddered again at the thought.


“Dogs don’t like the light much either.” Dave stated.


“Yeah, but in human form they can walk in the sun.” Samantha spoke.  She was staring at the curtained window, thoughtful.


“I don’t see why a dog or fang would go to such lengths.  They usually just take what they want.  They don’t play games.”


“Maybe this one is the exception.” Samantha said, her voice still thoughtful.


“He thinks he’s something else.” DJ finally spoke up.


“What else is there?” Dave asked, reaching for her hand.  DJ smiled at him then reached for the box of postcards.  There was a folded up piece of paper amongst them.  She carefully smoothed it out and handed it to Dave.

Dave looked at the paper, a frown appearing on his features.  “A demon?”


“Demon?” Samantha echoed the word with surprised eyes.


“That’s from him.  He sent it with the heart.  It was underneath the…the heart.” DJ closed her eyes.  It was not just a postcard, but a letter, the front of the paper filled with neat lines of red-tinged print.


“Gimme…” Samantha held out her hand.  Dave gladly passed the paper over to her and rubbed his hand on his jeans.  She glanced at the first words and snorted. “My love. Does he really think this is the way to make you fall for him?”


“I don’t know what he thinks. Except for what’s in that letter.  He claims he’s an incubus, and he wants to have a baby with me.  The ‘gifts’ are his way of wooing me.”


Samantha skimmed the note and looked thoughtfully at DJ. “Incubi do not kill.  At least, not in the normal legends. They usually just want to get laid.”


“I know. I’ve done some research.”


“You don’t seriously think this guy is possessed by a demon do you?” Dave asked, incredulous.


“No.” DJ hated to kill the relief the flashed on his features. “I think he really is a demon.”




Dave decided that everyone was too tired to think straight.  DJ was falling asleep on the couch.  Samantha had gone back to thoughtfully looking at the curtained window.


“I guess we could all use some rest.” He told them.  DJ smiled in relief.


“I think that I might actually be able to sleep, now that you guys are here.” DJ admitted.  “I hated being alone in this.”


“Well you’re not alone anymore.” Dave returned her smile.  “There are only two bedrooms.  I’ll take the couch.”


“No, no. I’ll take the couch.” Samantha said, waving off Dave’s protest. “I won’t be able

to sleep for a while.  New places freak me out a bit I guess.  Besides, I want to call the kids.”


“Ok, ok.” Dave held up his hands.  He helped DJ to her feet and followed her out of the living room after saying good night to Samantha.


DJ stopped at her bedroom door and looked up at him with a sad smile on her face.  “I don’t think I said this, but thank you for coming.  You’re my hero.”


Dave grinned.  “Yeah, well, I haven’t done anything yet.”


“But you will.” Her voice was sure.  “You always made me feel safe.  I guess that hasn’t changed.”


Dave shrugged and shifted on his feet, but said nothing.  He did not want to go into a big talk about their past.


“If you get up first, come wake me up.  We’ll have to sit down and talk about what we’re going to do.” Dave decided to go back to safer territory.


“Ok.” DJ sighed tiredly and ran her hand through her hair, shaking it loose.  “I hope I don’t have nightmares.  It seems like every time I close my eyes, I have bad dreams.”


“Well you can come get me for that too.  I’ll talk you down.” Dave smiled at her.


“Like the old days again.” DJ’s smile was even sadder.  He did not know how that was possible. “David…”


“Good night, Deej.  Try not to worry too much, we’re right here in the house.” Dave did not let her finish what she had been going to say.  He turned and went into the guest room, closing the door behind him.


After Samantha made her phone calls, she’d gone into the bathroom and changed. She was a little tired, and attributed that to the trip.  She wouldn’t have a problem sleeping, she just wanted Dave and DJ out of her way in case she decided to do some snooping around.  By nature she didn’t need much sleep, just a couple of hours here and there. 


Samantha stretched out on the couch, tugging a blanket over her shoulders.  Like always, sleep came easy to her.  She’d never had a problem with nightmares or dreams.  She was like a fang when it came to that.


She woke early in the afternoon, stretched, and rose to her feet.  The house was silent.  Dave and DJ were obviously still sleeping.  Samantha took a quick shower and got dressed.  She found the key to the rental car and wrote a quick note, telling the others that she was going to go explore town a bit and try to find a lead. They had to start somewhere.


It had snowed sometime during the day.  There were a couple of inches of the white stuff on the grass, but the road was mostly clear.  Samantha steered the car over the pavement, driving aimlessly, trying to get a feel for the small town that DJ called home.


It was strange…considering that there was an army base and so many outlying homes, Samantha did not sense the presence of any fangs.  Usually she got a tingling sensation at the back of her neck when there was one near.  It did not mean they were problem fangs, it just meant that they were there. Two hours of driving and she still had not gotten even a small sense of a vampire.

In a town this size, with its army base so near and its countless strip clubs of transient workers, there should have been at least one.  And more likely five or eight.  The fangs tended to go where the feeding was easy.  This bothered her, more than she could put into words.


She stopped for food and gas at five and resumed her slow study of the town.  It was starting to get dark.  The clubs were opening, the parking lots filling slowly with cars and trucks.  Samantha picked one at random and pulled into the lot.


Samantha went toward the door.  There was a cover charge but the guy working the door let her pass with a wave of his hand.  They obviously did not get many women customers.  The guy kept his eye on her as she passed.  Samantha grinned at him.


She took a table near the back of the club, out of the way of general traffic.  There were twenty or so men seated at the tables surrounding the dance stage.  A woman was moving to the music, her clothes seeming to melt from her body.


A waitress appeared and Samantha ordered a beer.  She had just taken her first sip when her cell phone rang.  She glanced at the number that appeared and smiled.


“Hey baby.” She greeted warmly.


Glen chuckled into her ear. “Are you guys doing all right? Sorry I missed you this morning, I had a few things to deal with.”


“Yeah.  Chris told me.” Samantha resettled the phone against her ear and listened as Glen filled her in on what was going on at the house.  Alex had pretty much stayed in his room all day, which was worrisome.  Samantha told Glen not to get worked up.  Alex had to figure out his power on his own.


“So what are you doing?” Glen finally asked with a laugh.


“I’m sitting here, watching some chick flash her boobs at a bunch of horny farmers.”


“Seriously.” Glen was laughing still.


“I am serious.  This place is like one giant strip club.  I’m trying to find a sympathetic fang and all I get is T and A.”  This made Glen laugh harder.


“Need some backup? I can come up and help you research.” He offered, still grinning.


“I think I can handle it, darlin’.” She said wryly.  “I didn’t know you were into this kinda thing. Interesting.”


Glen was chuckling again.  “What guy isn’t into that kinda thing?” He asked rhetorically.


“Well, when I get home I’ll strip for you.  You should probably go ahead and install a pole in the bedroom.”


“Don’t give me any ideas.” He was still laughing when they hung up after saying they loved each other. 


Samantha put her phone back into her pocket and froze. That sense….the vampire thing…was suddenly working.  She felt as if spiders were crawling on the back of her neck.  She glanced around and let her eyes fall on a tall, well built man at the bar.


He was not drinking, he was buying a drink for one of the dancers.  Samantha knew that without even talking to him. He looked to be in his late thirties.  Of course, being a fang he could be a lot older. Samantha stared at him until he looked in her direction, a slight frown on his face.  She cocked her eyebrow.  He spoke briefly to the woman beside him and ignored her protests as he abandoned his spot by the bar.


The fang slid into the booth across from Samantha, a slight smile tilting the corners of his lips.  “Hunters don’t make a habit of coming here.” His voice was tinged with a drawling accent.  He didn’t look worried, just amused.


“Seems to me it’s the same for fangs.” Samantha sipped her beer.


“Fangs don’t make it a habit to come here.”


“Want to tell me why?” Samantha caught his eyes with hers.  The fang took a deep breath and sighed it out.


“Outsiders would not understand.”


“Try me. I’m sure I’ve heard more unbelievable things.”


The fang looked at her, as if measuring her. “Some say this whole town is cursed.”


“A curse? And why is that stopping the fangs from coming in and taking over?” Samantha finished her drink.


“There aren’t a whole lot of fangs in the surrounding area anyway.  This place is out of the way, quiet.  The people are not necessarily the friendly type.”


“And this curse?”


“We’ve had a few disappearances.” The fang stroked his hands together as if warming them.


“Tell me.”


“Young fangs, for the most part.  Women.  Somebody turns these young girls and leaves them, they don’t know what to do, they come here to work. Then they drop off the face of the planet.”


“You wouldn’t happen to know who is doing it, now would you?


“Don’t look at me.  I don’t turn anybody, not after the first time.  It was hell, and I don’t like that kind of responsibility.”


He sounded amused.  Samantha was not.  “Do you think it’s possible that some fang is turning them on purpose, just to hunt them later?”


The fang shrugged.  “Your guess is as good as mine.  No one knows who is doing the turning.”


“So why exactly are you here?” Samantha said, frowning a bit in concentration. 


“I’m looking for my sister, if you must know.  She disappeared a few nights ago after coming here to work.”


“Wait…she worked here?”


“Yes.  Undercover, so to speak.  And she vanished, just like the rest of them.  No one here cares-the girls that come and go are transient.  They don’t leave forwarding addresses when they leave. So no one is alarmed.”


“What about the police?”


The fang started laughing.  “The police around here? There are only four of them, which is amazing considering the army base.  They’re a bunch of drunks.  I don’t think they’ve ever done any real police work. And I wouldn’t be surprised if someone were paying them to fumble the ball.”


“Fuckin’ cops.” Samantha morosely toyed with her empty glass. “So what do you think is happening to the girls?”


“Honest answer? I do not know. They disappear, that’s the only thing I’m sure of.  Frannie would have called me if she couldn’t come home after work.  She was a fang but she was afraid, you see.  She was never one to like crowds, or strangers, so she’d call me or one of our brothers just talk say hello during the night.  I got one call.  After that, she dropped off the face of the planet.”


The fang was silent for a moment as the waitress came with another beer for Samantha. After she was gone, he looked to the woman across from him. “Do you know what is going on here?” He asked.


“I don’t have a damn clue. At least not yet.” Samantha drank her beer, the studied the fang thoughtfully.  “Do you know?”


He smiled.  “I know that there is something here, something bad.  I can smell it.  I’m not worried about myself. I’m worried about them…” He gestured at the stage where three women were now gyrating to the music.


“Are they fangs?”


“No.  Not at the moment.” He gave her a meaningful look.  “The ones who turn…”


When he didn’t finish, Samantha gestured at him with her glass.  “I’ve thought about it, you see.  The ones he turns, these girls, all have to use their body, their youth to make ends meet.  He’d offer them eternal beauty because fangs don’t age.  Most of these girls would have a hard time resisting.”


“Great.” So maybe it was some psycho fang they were dealing with.  That made Samantha feel better. “Thanks for the talk.” She threw some money on the table and rose to her feet. The fang reached out and took her arm, stopping her from walking away.


“You mean to stop him, right?” His voice had gone low. His blue eyes caught hers.  Samantha nodded slowly.


“I mean to kill the fucker.” She gave the fang’s hand a pat and he let her go.


“A hunter in action. It’s been a while…” He said it with a smirk.  “I’m Steve.  If you ever need help from a fang, just look for me at the casino.”


“There’s a casino here?” Samantha asked, remembering Dave saying something about an illegal one.


“Oh, yeah. You’ll have no problem finding it.” Steve smiled again.  Samantha found herself smiling back.


“I’m Sammy.  You have another girl disappear, you find me.” Now it was her turn to catch his eyes. Steve nodded.  Samantha left him there in the bar and stepped into the frigid night air.


It was time to get back to DJ’s house.  They needed to sit down and talk about what they were going to do, get a plan.  With a sigh, feeling tired as if she’d never slept, Samantha turned the car back toward the house.




He could not believe it.


The man stood in the trees, watching the house. For the first time in days she had the curtains open, mindless of the night that surrounded the house.  He could see her in there, sitting on the couch, talking to a stranger.


Not just a stranger, a man.  After all he’d done for her, she was entertaining someone else, probably giving the stranger credit for his work.  He began pacing, anger filling his features, hands clenched at his sides.


Ungrateful bitch.  That was what she was. 


He suddenly stopped and stared in the window at her, once again admiring her beauty.  He could not be mad at her, damn it, although he wanted to, although he knew his rage needed a vent.  He needed something, some gift, that would prove his love for her. 


A car was pulling into the driveway.  He stared as a woman got out and climbed onto the porch.  She stopped and looked around. She seemed to be looking in the very spot he was hiding.  The man held perfectly still, waiting her out.  The woman finally entered the house, slamming the door behind her.


He stood for a few more minutes, confused, angry, sullen. He did not know what the hell she was up to, but he was determined to find out. And God help those people if they stood in his way.  He would have her, they would not stop him.




“And where have you been?” Dave asked almost before Samantha could close the door.


“Out. Did you not read my note?” She shook her coat off and hung it on the rack that was by the door.  “I don’t ever want to see that much naked woman again, I can tell you that.”


Dave started laughing.  DJ looked confused.  “Out bar-hopping? What would Glen think?”


“He wanted to know if he could come up for a visit.” Samantha sank onto an overstuffed chair and sighed happily.  “Any news?”


“Nothing. It’s quiet.” Dave studied DJ for a moment.  “We decided to open up the curtains. If this guy is watching, we think having visitors will set him off.”


“Good idea.” Samantha stretched. “I met a fang.”


“What?” DJ sat up straighter. She’d heard of vampires of course, knew they existed, but had never seen one.


“Don’t worry, he’s not our guy.  He was clean.  Pretty refined for a fang.” Samantha said with a laugh.


“Did he know anything?” Dave asked softly.


“Only as much as we do. Although I think he was hinting that your body parts are coming from disappearing strippers. One of them was his sister.  And…he thinks the strippers were all turned fang before they died.”


“So we are dealing with a fang.” Dave said, looking meaningfully at DJ.


“Still can’t figure out how he goes out in the daytime.” Samantha said, the frown of concentration on her face again.


“Maybe he’s a dog.”


“Dogs can’t make fangs.” Samantha reminded him.


“So he’s a fang that snapped. You know what happens when they go over.” Dave reminded her, not wanting to bring up Mark.  He knew that Samantha had heard the stories.


“It still doesn’t explain the daylight thing.”


“Maybe he’s a hybrid. Like you and Lily.” Dave refused to drop his opinion. Samantha sighed.


“Maybe. I doubt it.” She refused to give in to his ideas. She wanted to keep her options open.


“He says he’s a demon.” DJ took advantage of the lull in their conversation.  Dave gave her hand a reassuring pat.


“If he’s a fang and he’s gone crazy, he could think he’s the president.  We don’t know.”


“I still say we shouldn’t be looking for just a fang.” Samantha said.  She hesitated. “Although…”


“Yeah?” When she stopped, Dave looked at her exasperated.


“I don’t know. When I got back here, I could have sworn there was a fang nearby, watching.  It was there and gone like that,” she snapped her fingers. “Weird.”


“Very. But it supports that we’re dealing with a fang.  A crazy one, but a fang anyway.” He squeezed DJ’s hand. “And I know a thing or two about taking out a fang.”


“He’s not just a damn vampire.” DJ met his eyes, then looked away, seeking commiseration from Samantha. In the other woman, she found it. “He’s evil.  More than evil. I can’t explain it. You haven’t been living it for months, I have.”


“So let’s see what we have.” Samantha sat up and spoke before Dave could begin arguing with DJ. “Girls turned fang.”


“That’s a vote for fang.” Dave said, sounding smug. Samantha shot him a look.


“Dismemberment. That shrieks of dog. They like to play with their victims.”


“Ok. So wolf gets a vote.” Dave admitted. The smugness was gone.


“If the heart were really ripped out, like DJ said, that would take a certain amount of insane power.”


“Fang again.”




“Damn it. Dog. Although they don’t like it either.” Dave said sourly.


“In human form it doesn’t really bother them,” Samantha reminded. They were silent for a minute, each thinking.


“So what the hell am I dealing with here?” DJ finally asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.


“I hate to say it, but I don’t have any idea.” Samantha’s voice was soft, apologetic. “Something new. That’s all I can say for sure.”


“Can you stop it? Stop him?” Tears rose in her eyes as she looked from Samantha to Dave.  “I’ve written enough about serial killers to know that they escalate.  And it’s just a matter of time before I’m the victim.”


“I’m not going to let that happen.” Dave promised, staring into her eyes. “I’d die first.”


DJ laughed harshly. “I think it might come down to that. You’re an obstacle now, one he won’t be able to just go around. He probably already knows you’re here. He’s going to come after you too, because you’re in the way of something he wants.” She took a shaky breath. “I’m sorry I dragged you into this. I should have just let the cops do their job…”


“All right, stop right there.” Samantha had heard enough. “We know what we’re doing. If this guy wants to try anything, we’ll deal with it. The cops aren’t going to do anything, and you know that. We will. We can stop him. We just have to be patient, wait him out. It’s his move, and I don’t think he’s going to wait long to take the next step.”


“I just don’t want the next step to be either one of you.” DJ said with a wry smile.


“Oh, if he fucks with us he’ll bite off a bit more than he can chew.” Samantha said with a laugh. Dave was nodding in agreement.


“You gotta understand, Deej. This is what we live for. We like it when the chips are down and the odds are against us.”


“It helps motivate.” Samantha said with a grin.


“So this guy, whatever he is, doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.”


“Well thanks for trying to make me feel better.” DJ smiled up at him, a genuine smile that seemed to light up her whole face. Dave felt his breath catch in his chest.  She had a way of doing that to him, even after all this time.


Samantha cleared her throat, pulling him back to the matter at hand. “This fang, Steve, said he’d help us.”


“You trust him?” Dave asked.


“I don’t know. I just met the guy.” She shrugged. “He seemed all right. He was kinda hot.”


“Don’t tell me you’re going to start judging the fangs on looks.” Dave said rolling his eyes.


“Gotta start somewhere.” Samantha rose to her feet. “I hate waiting, damn it. Hopefully this guy will trip up, and soon.” With that she left the room, heading into the kitchen.

DJ and Dave looked at each other, neither knowing what to say. DJ hoped that Samantha was right, that they guy would do something foolish, that all this would end sooner rather than later.  She felt as if she were falling apart. Dave seemed to sense her thoughts and pulled her against him, offering her some comfort. For now it was enough, having him so close, to help her forget briefly that she was in deep trouble.




He paced his barn, stopping every now and then to admire one of his ‘collection’.  What was he doing wrong? Why couldn’t she see that he loved her?


Seething, he kicked at a woman’s arm that was lying on the ground.  It thudded against the wall with a satisfying thump.  He looked around, eyes wild. A body hung from a frayed rope against the far wall.  He went to it and yanked, pulling it to the ground. With a cry of anger he began ripping at the decayed flesh, taking comfort in the destruction he caused.


Fifteen minutes later, his anger faded into a more manageable level.  He was disgusted with himself, with the mess he had caused.  He’d ruined his display, his treasures. A smile curved his lips as he thought of her.  He’d just have to start over.  And what better place to start than her auburn-haired houseguest that he’d seen last night? She was quite pretty, lithe, slim.  It did not matter that she was not one of his usual victims. Perhaps that quality would be what pulled her to him finally, once and for all.


The smile still playing on his lips, he went into his house to plan for the next night. He’d give them one day, then he’d take her friend, and decide what gift he’d make of her to his beloved. The man she was entertaining could wait.  He’d deal with him when he was ready.




“That’s crazy and I’m not gonna let you do it.”


Samantha was already pulling her coat on. She stopped and shot Dave a withering glance. “Gosh Dad.” She cracked a smile. Dave did not return it. It was a damn fool idea, and he couldn’t let her leave. Glen would kill him if anything happened to Samantha, and more than that, it would kill Glen if anything happened to her.


“You’re nuts. Stay here, we’ll brainstorm.”


“I am not gonna sit and wait for him.  Look…” Samantha finished tugging her coat on and looked from Dave to DJ, who had said nothing thus far. “He’s obviously romantically obsessed. If I leave, he’s more likely to come around, thinking you and DJ have something going on and I’m just watching.”


“In the meantime, you’ll be making a target of yourself.” Dave grumbled.


“Maybe. Maybe not.” Samantha shrugged.  It was nearing dawn.  They’d spent the night talking, discussing possible plans.  Dave hated to admit it but Samantha was right. The guy would more likely be drawn out when he and DJ were alone. He’d think he was protecting his property.  “I’ll be fine.  I’ll stay at a motel in town, scout the bars at night, see if there are any more loose cannon fangs hiding out. We can meet up here, or out on town a few times a day.”


“I can’t let you just go out there alone.” DJ said finally.  She was shaking, scared to death.  “What if he decides we’re friends and he comes after you?”


“I can take care of myself.” Samantha said wryly. Her fingers wrapped around the knife she carried in her coat pocket. It wasn’t her usually, but it was wickedly sharp.  She felt safer having it on her.


“Glen’s gonna shit twice then come up here.” Dave said with no humor. “Which will put him in danger. Do you really want that on your head?”


“Glen is going to stay home with the kids and let us handle this our way. Trust me.” Samantha smiled. Glen would have a bit of a freak out, sure, but he was smart. He’d realize they were doing the right thing. Eventually. “I’ll call after I check in.  And I’ll call Glen and make sure he knows you are one hundred percent against this.”


“Damn straight you will.” Dave finally cracked a smile. “I still say this is a bad idea.”


“Yeah, me too. But it’s the only one I have right now. You kids have fun.” Samantha turned and left the house.  DJ and Dave looked at each other.


“She’s going to get herself killed.” DJ said softly.


“Nah. She’s too crazy to die.” There was a bit of admiration in his voice.


“You like her.” It was not a question. Dave laughed.


“Like I’d like a brain tumor.” He looked at DJ, who was confused. “We pretend not to get along. It’s our thing. She’s married to my best friend.”


“Oh.” It was soft. DJ smiled shyly.  “You guys fight like an old married couple.”


“Shut up.” He said it with affection. “I wouldn’t wish her on my best friend. Unfortunately he wished her on himself.” With a laugh he led DJ toward the living room where they could sit and talk for a while before heading to bed.


Samantha stopped at the first motel she reached, just two miles from DJ’s house.  She accepted a key from the sleepy looking clerk and took her bags up to her room. She would not get anything done before dawn, that was a given.  She decided to call Glen before heading to bed, to let him know what was going on.


It was well afternoon when Dave was awakened by the soft squeak of the floorboards in his room.  He sat up and peered through the murky darkness, picking out DJ’s shadow from the general gloom.


“What’s wrong?” He came all the way awake.  DJ perched on the edge of the bed, shoulders slumped.


“I told you…I have nightmares…” Her voice was a whisper. Dave reached out and tugged her to him, taking her in his arms. 


“Wanna talk about it?”


“I don’t know…” She sighed. “I don’t remember much. I’m in a dark place. Someone is after me. I feel myself dying…”


“Well I’m not gonna let that happen.” Dave soothed her, rubbing her back.


“I know you won’t. I don’t deserve it, but I know it.”


“What do you mean, you don’t deserve it?” Dave asked, pulling away to look at her.  He could make out the contours of her face in the dark room, that was it, no sign of the emotion she was feeling.


“You know what I mean. After I practically threw you to the dogs, you come back as soon as I ask you to. I don’t deserve any of that…kindness.”


“Believe me, it’s not just kindness.” Dave said with a smile.


“Oh? Then it’s a call of duty I suppose, just…”

Dave shushed her. “I still love you, you know.”

DJ was silent. He felt her shake a bit in his arms and hugged her closer. “David..,”


“I’m an idiot, I know. I thought that was all behind me. I thought I could come here and help you and that would be it, but I can’t just ignore what I feel.” He stroked her hair.  “I tried to move on, but couldn’t do it. I hurt a couple of people, women, and for that I am sorry. They weren’t you. I couldn’t give them more than what I had already given them.”


“I am so sorry. For what I did to you back then. You can’t realize how sorry I am…” DJ said softly.


“It’s all right. You weren’t ready. I was pushing you.” Dave nuzzled her hair, breathing in its clean smell.


“I got scared. You were my first boyfriend, you know. My first…everything.”


“I remember.” Dave sighed and kissed her head.  “It’s not something I’m ever likely to forget.”


“I fucked up, huh? Nothing was the same after that. I pretended I was happy. I wasn’t. And now this…like some kind of punishment for being stupid.”


“You are not stupid. I was the dumb one. As usual. I wanted something, I had to have it, to hell with how you felt. That’s the way I was.” He chuckled. “That’s the way I still am.”


“I never thought it was a bad quality.” DJ said, smiling.  “I wish I could go back.”


“Don’t we all.”


“I would have said yes.”

Dave was stunned to hear it.  He sat there, holding her, eyes closed, feeling like he’d been hit by a ton of bricks.


“If I could change things, if I had the power to change things, I would have said yes.” DJ repeated softly. “I loved you. I think I might still love you. I think that’s probably why I hid myself away here, away from people, from men, who might try to challenge my feelings for you.”


Dave chuckled again. “I threw myself into work. Oh, I had a couple of girlfriends over the years…although I would never call them that. They chose not to stick around after a while. I just didn’t want to go further than…what we were doing.”


DJ laughed. It was a beautiful sound in the dark, lifting Dave’s heart a notch. “I’m not going to lie and say I was a nun or something.  I had a few dates myself. I always pushed them away though. Probably not as aggressively as I pushed you.”


Deej…” Dave sighed.  “We were always the most fucked up couple.”


“Beauty and the Beast.” She said with a smile in her voice. That was the affectionate nickname they’d given each other, although DJ always said Dave was the beauty part. “If we make it through this…”


“We will.” Dave’s voice held a certainty that made her feel warm.


“I don’t want to lose you again.” She admitted as if he had not interrupted.


Deej…” Again he said her name, his voice a mix of emotions that hurt her heart to hear. She’d caused him so much pain, she did not know if she’d ever be able to heal him.


“I don’t think I can lose you again. I’ve never felt this way about anybody. It scares me.”


“You’re not the only one.” Dave felt as if all their years apart were melting away. It was their last night together all over again. It was bittersweet, heartbreaking. For the second time in his life he felt like crying.


“I shouldn’t be dumping all this on you now. Not when we could be killed by some crazed guy at any time.” DJ pulled away from him and swiped at her eyes, rubbing away the moisture that had gathered there.


“I love you, Diane.” Dave said it so low she wasn’t sure she heard him.


“Even after what I did?”


“Probably even more after what you did.” He said with a bit of humor. “There is nobody else I’d rather be with. I always knew it. I thought I’d just have to accept it and go on alone.”


“I’m so sorry, David.” She sighed. “I love you, too.  I always have.” She moved, meaning to stand.  Dave grabbed her hand and pulled her back down to him.


“I think maybe Samantha left us alone so we could sort this out.” He said, grinning. “I don’t wanna waste the time she’s given us. She’s a pain in the ass, but every now and then she has a decent idea.”


DJ laughed shakily, resting her hand on Dave’s bare chest.  “I think I might need a little time to sort out…”


“Nope. Not this time. I told you, I’m used to getting my way.” Dave smiled and leaned forward, claiming her mouth with his.


When they finally broke for air, DJ was laughing a bit. “I always did have a weakness for giving you what you wanted.”


“Umm…gonna prove it?” He asked seductively.  He pulled her down into the bed, the years falling away once again, and joined with her as if he had never left. 




Night was falling.

Samantha had talked Glen out of coming and offering support, assuring him that she’d be fine.  She’d dealt with worse on her own and at least in this case she had Dave as backup.  She wasn’t about to underestimate their adversary, but it was just one man.  Small fries to someone who had fought off a dozen fangs at one point in her life.


She dressed carefully in black leather pants and a blood red long sleeve t-shirt.  It was too cold to wear anything skimpy; if she was going to catch this guy’s attention, she’d have to use something other than her body, that was for sure.


Sure that Glen would not like that line of thought, or that Samantha was trying to lure the killer to her, she left the hotel and headed for the nearest bar that did not boast strippers as its main form of entertainment.


She checked her pockets, making sure she had her knife, cell phone and room key before entering the bar.  She found a table and ordered a beer, not really wanting it, just wanting the waitress to go away so she could think and watch the crowd.


This being a weekday, the people in the bar were older, working class types. A few were in conversation with each other, but for the most part the only sound was the jukebox in the corner playing old country songs at a volume just below deafening.


“We have got to stop meeting like this.” The deep voice pulled her from her thoughts.  Samantha looked up at Steve and watched as he sat down opposite her.


“What are you doing here?” She asked, taking a sip of her beer. “I thought you were trolling the booby bars, looking for action.”


“I was. I had a weird feelin’ you’d be in here, so I decided to check it out.”


“Are you stalking me now?” Samantha eyed him speculatively.  Although it was possible they were looking for a fang, she had a feeling that Steve was not it. He seemed stable, especially for a vampire.  As if he’d made peace with what he was and enjoyed the benefits immensely.


“I wouldn’t dream of it. But having a hunter here, now, kinda makes me wanna go where the action is. That would be where you are.” He took her beer and sipped it, keeping his eyes on hers.


“An alcoholic fang. How precious.”


Steve laughed. “I like the taste. The alcohol doesn’t do anything for me. So have you found anything?”


“Yeah. The motel I’m staying at doesn’t have cable.”


“Cute.” Steve offered a lopsided smile.


“Yeah, you are. What’s a nice fang like you doing in a town like this?”


“I told you. I’m looking for my sister.” He shrugged.


“Any luck?”


“About as much as you’re having apparently. Nobody talks in this town. It’s like pulling teeth. And believe me I’ve been tempted to do just that a time or two. Torture just isn’t my thing though.”


“Oh, and what is your thing?” Samantha decided to bit at his suggestive tone.


“Enchantment usually. It doesn’t seem to be working with you though.”


Samantha laughed. “It usually doesn’t on married women.”


“Damn. I knew it.” He grinned boyishly. “How married?”


“Extremely married.” She took her beer back and finished it. “Better luck next time.”


“It was worth a shot.” With that he rose to his feet. “I’m meeting a friend. He was supposed to talk to someone for me today. I’ll see ya around.”


“Don’t be a stranger.” Samantha called after him, smiling. Steve waved over his shoulder but did not turn around.


With a sigh she paid for her beer and stood to leave. Outside it was even colder than earlier.  Snowflakes were drifting down.  Samantha decided to walk for a while, to clear the cobwebs that seemed to cloud her mind.  That was what a couple of years of being out of commission did.


There were no people out, and why would there be? It was cold, it was dark, and it was the deadest town Samantha had ever seen. There were four blocks of dark businesses separating her from the next bar on her list.  She began walking in that direction. 


Her breath puffed out in little clouds. It was strange how quiet the town was, even at night. There wasn’t even a dog barking. She had time to contemplate Steve, who seemed to be the only fang within miles. It was very strange. The fangs obviously knew something was up, but they were being as close-mouthed as the townspeople.


Samantha was lost in thought when rough hands grabbed her from behind and dragged her backward into a small alley that she had not noticed.  Too surprised to cry out, she started struggling against the arms that were around her.


The unknown assailant grabbed her hair and slammed her face first into the wall of the building in front of them.  Samantha saw stars and felt her knees buckling.  With all the strength she could must she lifted her feet and pushed against the wall, knocking her attacker back, falling on top of him on the ground.

He was quick to recover. She felt him wriggling under her, turning too fast for her to react. That knock to the head was slowing down her reflexes, scaring her.  The man was on top of her, rolling her over. Samantha tried to see his face but the lights from the street did not penetrate the alley.

She felt hot breath on her as hands latched around her neck. She bucked against the weight holding her down, summoning all the energy she had left.

The guy went flying.  She hadn’t thought she’d been able to get him off of her.  And then she realized that someone else was in the alley.  A large shadow moved after the attacker, chasing him to the far end before turning back to Samantha.


“Are you all right?”

Steve’s drawl was the most welcome sound she’d heard in ages.  Samantha struggled to her feet, shaking her head, trying to rid herself of the pain.


“I’m good. What the fuck?” She gasped out, feeling pain in her throat. The guy who attacked had been surprisingly strong.  She rubbed her neck and swallowed a few times experimentally.


“I don’t know. I heard noises, I looked, I helped.” Steve took her hand and pulled her toward the street where there was light.  “You look like hell. I guess he caught you unaware.”


“I was stupid. Wasn’t paying attention.” Her voice was scratchy.


“It’s easy to forget around here. It’s too damn quiet.” Steve said, patting her shoulder.


“Did you see him?”


“Kinda. He had something over his face. Dark hair. Dark eyes. That’s all I got. About my size.” He shrugged. “I could run after him, but he was quick. Fang quick.”


“I know. And fang strong.” Samantha settled her jacket around her.


“You want an escort back to your motel?”


“Like I need a fang to protect me.” Samantha tried huffing but it hurt.


“So are you saying I shoulda let him choke you to death?” Steve said with a grin, falling into step beside her.


“I woulda kicked his ass.”


“I don’t doubt that a bit.” Steve chuckled and led her through the falling snow to her room.  Samantha thanked him at the door and watched him walk away. Strange.  She still didn’t know if she trusted him. Sure he’d helped her but it was passing weird how he’d been in the right place at the right time. 


With a sigh she glanced in the mirror at herself.  She had red marks around her neck and a bruise forming on her forehead. “You should see the other guy,” She said, her voice a croak.  She sighed again and grabbed her car keys, meaning to head to DJ’s house to talk to Dave about what had transpired. Things were going to happen quicker than either of them had thought.




She’d barely driven two miles when her cell phone started to ring.


Samantha took her eyes off the snow drifted road for a moment and snagged the contraption from her pocket. She didn’t bother looking at the caller ID.  She had a pretty good idea who it was.




“Sammy, are you all right?”


Glen’s voice was dripping with worry.  Samantha smiled a bit.


“I’m fine. What’s wrong, do you miss me?”


“You sound weird. What’s wrong with your voice?” Glen refused to be joked with. Samantha tried to clear her throat, but it still ached. It would heal and be good as new in a day, but right now she was going to have to suffer.


“I had a little scuffle. I’m fine.” She repeated.  Glen heaved a sigh.


“Alex woke up screaming, crying. He said you were hurt.” Glen’s voice was still concerned although some of the alarm had drained from it.


“Well I’m not.” Besides the headache and sore throat, she added in her mind.


“He kept saying he wanted water because his throat was hurting.  And his head. He asked for aspirin, and he choked on them because of his throat.”


“Glen…seriously, I’m good. Like I said, I had a scuffle but I’m all right.” She swallowed, trying to work through the hoarseness. “Put Alex on the phone. Let me talk to him.”


Glen muttered and Samantha heard voices.  Her son whispered a soft ‘hello’ making her grin.


“Hey, baby doll. I heard you had a bad dream.”


“It wasn’t a dream.” His voice was still soft.  She got the feeling he did not want anyone to overhear. “Mom, are you all right? Did the bad man hurt you?”


“Baby, I am fine. A little bumped and bruised. Don’t worry. I’m gonna take care of him.”


“Good.” The boy’s voice was filled with relief.  “He’s angry…” There was a pause and Alex’s voice dipped lower. “Really pissed off.” He waited to be yelled at for the rough language. When Samantha didn’t correct him, he went on. “And he’s cold.  Cold and angry, not warm and angry like when you argue with Uncle Dave.”


That made Samantha laugh, and she was immediately sorry.  “Kiddo, thanks for the information.”


“Did it help?” Alex’s voice was back up to its normal level.


“Bunches. Sweetheart, from now on when you start getting those crazy things coming at you, I want you to do me a favor.”


“Sure, Mom.”


“I want you to try to block them out. Think of something else, anything.  A song.  Just run the words of the song through your head over and over.  It’ll make it not so scary.”


“I’ll try.” He did not sound convinced it would work.  Samantha smiled.


“I love ya, baby. Now you go back to bed and give your Daddy the phone. I’ll be home before you know it.”


There were more noises and Glen came back on the line, sounding much more relaxed now that Alex had calmed down.  “I don’t know how you do that.”


“I have a mother’s touch, that’s all.”


“I do miss you.”


“I know you do. I’ll be home soon though.”


“How soon?”


“That remains to be seen, love. Now let me get on with driving. It’s snowing and the road is a little slippery.”


“Be careful, babe. I love you.” Glen hung up, leaving Samantha to drive on in the dark.


She finally pulled into DJ’s driveway and stopped the car.  The snow was coming down harder now.  She rushed to the porch and went through the door, frowning. It should have been locked.


“Hey! Anybody home?” Samantha’s hand was in her jacket pocket, touching her knife.


“Yeah, we’re in here!” Dave’s voice called from the living room. Sighing, she locked the door and followed the sound of laughter.


DJ was watching Dave try to start a fire.  She was still in her robe.  Dave was wearing a pair of jeans and nothing else.


“My, my, my. Am I interrupting something?” Samantha said, her voice scratchy. Dave looked up at her, his smile dying.


“What the hell happened to you?” He was up and standing in front of her before she registered the movement. He took Samantha’s chin in his hand and turned her head, studying the abraded flesh on her forehead and neck.


“Had a close encounter with a wall. I’m all right.”


“I’m calling Glen.”


“I already talked to him.” Samantha smacked Dave’s hands away and shrugged her coat off. “The door was open.”


“I know. I left it open. I was hoping the asshole would be bold enough to walk right in.” Dave grinned.


“Nice. Too bad he was busy in town trying to kill me. And he hasn’t even met me yet.” There was humor in her voice.


“I’m so sorry, about all of this.” DJ said, tightening her robe. “If I hadn’t called, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”


“Nonsense.” Samantha waved her hand. “Shit happens. I’ll get over quick enough. I did have another encounter with our friendly vampire though.”  Samantha quickly ran through the events, not editing anything out.


“Kinda weird, him being there when you needed him.” Dave said thoughtfully, wrapping an arm absently around DJ’s shoulders.


“You don’t have to tell me. I was there, I know.”


“You think he’s going to be trouble?” DJ asked, snuggling against Dave’s side.  Samantha shook her head at the display.


“I don’t know yet. He’s not being totally straight with me. I don’t like it. I might have to let Mister Knife have a word with him.” She laughed. It was a strange sound with her voice not working right.


“You’re not going to hurt him are you?” DJ asked, eyes wide. “I mean, he did save you. Even if he’s got an ulterior motive.”


“I was kidding.” Samantha rubbed her throat. “I need a drink of water. I feel like I’m still choking.” With that she rose to her feet and headed for the kitchen.  Dave waited until he heard water running before leaning forward and snatching his cell phone from the table.


“What are you doing?” DJ asked, running a hand through her hair.


“Calling Glen.”


“She said she called him.”


“I know. I also know her, and knowing her means knowing that she probably failed to mention some of the details.” Dave dialed Glen’s number.  He answered on the first ring. Obviously he could not sleep and something was worrying him. Dave recapped everything that Samantha had told him, and waiting while Glen processed the information.


“If that fang touches her, I’ll kill him.” He was referring to Steve, Dave knew.  He smiled.


“I think the fang is the least of your worries. Some hopped up thing tried to kill her tonight. I don’t think he’s gonna want to leave it unfinished.”


“I’m coming up there.”


“Good. Glad to have you.”


“Don’t tell her unless you absolutely have to.” Glen instructed. “I have to call Mark, see if Christine can take the kids. I can be there in…” There was a short silence. “Six hours or so. If I hurry I can get the last flight.”


“I’ll pick you up.”


“No, I’ll rent a car. Better we have two.” Glen said goodbye and hung up before Dave could reply.


“Her real knight in shining armor is on the way.” He said softly to DJ, who had listened to Dave’s side of the conversation in silence.


“She’s gonna be mad, huh?” DJ asked, trying not to look at the open windows. It made her nervous, not being able to see out into the night.


“She’ll get over it.” Dave kissed the top of DJ’s head. “Besides, we can use the help. There’s something you should know about Sammy…”


“Why are you talkin’ about me?” Samantha reentered the room in time to catch her name.


“I was just going to give Deej here a bedtime story. Even though we’ll be up all night.” Dave smiled and looked down at DJ. “Sammy here is part fang.”


“What?” DJ sat up and stared at the other woman.


“I’m the best part.” Samantha said sweetly.


“Born of vampire parents. So she has some of their traits, including their strength. So if that thing tonight managed to overpower her…”


“He caught me unawares. There’s a difference.”


Dave went on as if she had not spoken. “Then he’d probably make mince meat of me. Much as I hate to admit it. I’m just a regular old human.”


“This is sadly the truth.” Samantha said, her tone very serious. Then she laughed. Her voice sounded better after drinking some water, but she still felt as if she had to cough. “It won’t happen again. Guaranteed. He’s a sneaky fuck but I can be sneakier. It’s how I survive.”


DJ laughed at that.  Dave just rolled his eyes. He looked down at her, trying to convey with his eyes that she could not say anything about Glen coming. DJ nodded imperceptibly. Unfortunately, Samantha was not born yesterday. She noticed the gesture and narrowed her eyes.


“You guys are plotting anything retarded are you? Because I have been known to kick a team member’s ass from time to time.”


“No, no. Just sharing some afterglow.” Dave said with a smirk.  Samantha made a face.


“Gross. Just…spare me the details. I don’t wanna know.” She sighed. “I told you people I make a terrible babysitter. Now maybe you’ll start listening.” Dave laughed. DJ gave him a confused frown. He began explaining that Samantha’s main job for the last few years had been motherhood, and she felt like an unpaid babysitter most of the time. Not only to the kids, but to the hunters who called the house home base.  Then he told DJ of Samantha’s comment in the car about being the mediator between them.  DJ had a good laugh. It was the first time in a long time she had been tempted to do it.



He stood in the shadows, watching the house. He’d almost had her, had felt her blood throbbing in her veins as his hands tightened around her neck. And then that damn fang had come along and ruined everything.


He’d had a hunch that Auburn would come back to this house.  He’d been waiting for an hour when she finally made an appearance. Now she stood in the living room, waving her arms, telling some story or other by the look of amusement on the faces of the man and the woman that he loved.


And they were sitting on the couch. Cuddling. That should be him in there, not that dark haired man.  She was his damn it. She’d been his for a long time.  They looked just a little too comfortable with each other.  And they were hardly dressed. It did not take him much to put two and two together. He began balling his hands into fists as he watched the three people talk into the night.


A movement to his right brought him out of his rage.  He looked, at first not seeing the man, but then his eyes found him amongst the shadows.  The fang from earlier in the night. The one who had stopped him.  He was looking at the house thoughtfully, standing just beyond the trees as if he didn’t care if he were seen.


He could take the fang out.  He had not been seen. But he was curious as to why this fang would want to help these people. The dark man and Auburn were hunters, vampire killers. It was not something he knew, but something he could smell on them. He’d run into their kind a few times before, but had managed to get out unscathed.


And this fang was not bothered in the least that there were two people within shouting distance that would kill him as soon as look at him. Interesting.  Very interesting.


He stood silent as the fang seemed to melt back into the trees, disappearing with no sound on the snow padded ground. He waited until he was sure the fang was gone before giving the house one last lingering glance. A change in plan was in order. Auburn would not be caught out twice so easily. He would have to do something to draw her away from the others. And he would have to do it soon.  He could not wait any longer to have his woman.  He’d waited long enough.


Perhaps it was time to send her another message. He smiled at the thought, already planning out the next night in his head. He'd have one more lowly girl, then Auburn, then the prize would be his. He rubbed his hands expectantly. After losing his chance with Auburn, he relished the thought of an easier target. For practice. Still smiling coldly, he moved away from the house toward home. 




“And what exactly are you doing here? I told you I was fine!”


Samantha was standing in the doorway of her motel room, looking at Glen as if she were going to rip his head off.


“You look fine, all right.” His voice was laced with sarcasm. It made her smile. Glen reached out and grabbed her chin, turning it to get a better look at the bruising on her head and throat. “I’ll kill the fucker myself for this.”


“Oh. You.” Samantha playfully punched him in the stomach. Glen was not going to be easily joked out of his anger.  He moved past her into the room and dropped his bag on the floor. “So I suppose Dave ratted me out. Remind me to thank him later.”


“You think this is funny?”


“No, what I think is funny is now instead of just me in trouble, it’s going to be the both of us. Good thing Mark and Chris agreed to be the godparents.” Her tone was still wry. She did find it funny actually. She was having a good time, almost getting killed included. It had been a long time.


Glen heaved a sigh and studied her again, this time keeping his distance. “And I though marrying a hunter would make the relationship easier.”


“Well it would not be the first time you’ve been wrong.” Samantha laughed at the sour look on his face. “Have you traveled all night?”


“The better part of it.”


“You don’t waste time, I know.” She grinned. “I was getting ready to watch a movie and pass out, but since you’re here, I suppose I can find a better way to wind down.” She winked.

Glen fought a smile. “I’m still mad about this, Sam.”


“Be mad later…” She stepped into his arms and kissed him on the neck.  For a while all problems and arguments were erased in the storm of their passion.




He found his next victim by chance.


He had not meant to go into any of the bars, solely so that he would not be tempted to rush himself. He could not resist though. He was always weak when it came to beautiful women, and this was no exception.

She was on stage right now. Jet black hair that almost looked blue in the light.  Pale, flawless skin.  Her eyes were dark, looking almost black in the club.  He chanced a closer look, moving toward the stage. Dark blue, like the deep fathoms of the night sky. She was smiling as she danced, her lithe young body moving to the music. The men in the club could not take their eyes off of her.  She would be his. He’d treasure her perfection as the newest addition to his macabre collection, but more importantly, her eyes.


He would send those dark blue orbs to the one he really loved, as a way of showing that his eyes were indeed only for her, that these other women were just passing fancies. She would understand this time. How could she not know how he felt after gazing into eyes the color of a limitless night sky?


He forced himself to leave before he could even begin to get impatient. The next night was plenty soon enough. Of course, thinking of the dark goddess on stage was not going to make it go by any quicker. He paused at the door and looked speculatively at the bouncer, a young man who seemed more interested in staring at his tattoos than at all the bare flesh the club exposed.  He worked a bit of his magic.  He asked the name of the girl currently performing. Getting his information, he erased all memory from the bouncer’s mind. He would not recall anything that had just transpired. It was a useful trick, but very taxing on this human body of his.


Jesselyn.” Her name was a murmur on his lips. He had never bothered learning the names of the other girls, but they had been nothing in comparison to this one.

And she was nothing in comparison to the one he really wanted.  Too bad he’d have to wait an extra night. First Jesselyn, then Auburn, then Diane. His Diane. He smiled thinking about her, already mapping in his head the events that were soon to transpire.




Someone was knocking on the door.

Night had just fallen.  Glen and Samantha had called a truce and had shown up at DJ’s house in good spirits. They were eating when the pounding started.


“I’ll be back…” DJ had no more than shifted in her seat when Dave was grabbing her arm.


“I’ll get it. You don’t need to be going to the door.” He scolded, a frown on his face.


“I’ll get it. Damn.” Samantha was up before anyone else could speak.  Glen shook his head and rose to follow her, still not wanting to leave her alone after what had happened.


Samantha threw the door open, hoping to surprise whoever was knocking. They would expect caution. 

Steve stood there, the appropriate wide-eyed look on his face.  Samantha grinned at him and leaned against the doorframe.


“Takes a damn brave fang to wander into the hornet’s nest. What are you doing here? And an ever better question is…how did you know where I was?”


“I tried to motel first. Then I…” Steve shuffled his feet, looking positively bashful. “Ok, truthfully, I followed you last night, just to make sure you were all right.” His eyes fell on Glen who was walking toward the door. He gave the taller man a measured look, then turned his attention back to Samantha. “Something’s happening. I can’t explain how I know, or why I know, but you have to believe me.”


“What do you mean, you can’t explain?” Samantha asked. She was already reaching for her coat.


“Look, sometimes I just know things. And right now is one of those times. We have until midnight, maybe, but I’d just as soon go there now and scope things out. I just thought you would want to know since we seem to be after the same thing here.” Steve stared at her, his clear eyes showing no sign of deception. Samantha was not one to question her instincts about a person. Or in this case a vampire. So she’d trust him a little, see where it went.


“All right, let’s go.”


“Wait up.” Glen was tugging his coat on. Steve shot him another look.


“Steve, my husband Glen. Glen, this is Steve, a relatively normal fang.” Samantha introduced them as she checked her pockets for her necessities.


“Hi.” Glen offered a wave. Steve was smiling.


“Relatively normal, huh? You obviously don’t know me very well.”


“Well. I try. The hubs came running when I told him you were tryin’ to seduce me.” Samantha deadpanned it.  Glen was frowning at her, then at Steve. She started laughing. “I’m kidding. Calm down Glen, you’re going to have a heart attack before we ever leave the house.”


“I am calm.” For a second there he had been worried. He was silly to be, and he knew it, but he could not help it. “I need to tell Dave where we’re going. Do NOT leave without me. I mean it, Sammy.” With that Glen turned on his heel and walked back toward the kitchen.


“He seems to think you’re going to run off.” Steve observed, amused.


“Yeah well, I do have a habit of doing such things.” Samantha pulled the knife from her pocket and flicked it open.


“That thing actually good protection from a fang?” Steve did not sound impressed.


“Wanna find out the hard way?” With a practiced flip of her wrist, the knife folded into itself. Steve laughed again as Glen rejoined them.


“Did I miss something amusing?” He zipped his coat. Glen’s eyes caught the glint of Samantha’s knife as she tucked it back into her pocket. “Threatening him, huh?” He was smiling. Samantha tucked her hand into his as they left the house.


“You know me too well. I need to shake things up a bit. Maybe I should start carrying a gun.”


“You’ll get no argument from me.” Glen kissed her forehead, mindful of the bruise that still colored it. “Where exactly are we going?”


“A bar downtown, called The Bar.” Steve looked at them. “I’m not kidding. When original names were handed out, this place was last in line.”


“And why are we going there?” Samantha said with a laugh.


“Because he’s going to attack someone there tonight. I want to stop him. If I can.”


His tone was dead serious. Glen and Samantha exchanged a look. 


“Steve…how the hell could you know that?” Samantha asked as they climbed into Glen’s rental car.


Steve settled into the backseat and ran a hand over his face. “Look, when I was kid I had these prophetic dreams. Most ended up coming true. When I turned fang it was like putting an amplifier on it, cranking it to eleven. So tonight as I was walking around, I just happened to go past this place. And I got pissed off. So angry I couldn’t see straight. And I saw in my head that something was going to go down in that place. Not in, but near. It was dark. That’s all I know for sure. There was pain.”

His voice faded to a whisper then stopped altogether. Samantha turned to look at him, then shared a glance with Glen. “Are you still feeling anything from him? It? Them? Whatever it is you’re pulling from?”


Her stumbling for words did not even get a smile. “A little. It’s not so bad.” He was quiet for a minute then raised his head. “I told you I followed you last night.” It was not a question. Samantha nodded her head. Glen remained silent. That was news to him.


“I felt the same thing when I was looking at the house you were in. Everything was red, like it was soaked in blood. Like I was looking out through blood. If you don’t mind, I’m going to take that as a bad omen.” Some of the humor returned to his voice. “So what do you think?”


“I think we’re probably going to need a hell of a lot more than my knife.” Samantha said wryly. “I also think we need to hurry. We have to stop this guy. Now.”




She was dancing.


Her body was like water, like a river, flowing with the beat of the music. He admired her from his booth in the corner, watched as she slowly took her clothes off.  Jesselyn. Just thinking her name was enough to arouse him to new levels.  He wanted her. It was too early though, much too early. Not yet midnight. Not everyone here was drunk enough for him to get away with leading the woman outside.


And something else was bothering him too. That damn fang, the one he’d seen at Diane’s house, was here. He moved through the crowd with as much grace as the goddess on the stage, his eyes piercing the crowd as if searching for something.


As long as he stayed on that side of the bar, that was all right. He’d deal with the fang if the fang needed to be dealt with.


The song came to a resounding end. The crowd gave Jesselyn a standing ovation. She seemed to bask in their attention, and he could see a golden glow around her taut young body.


It was time. Fang or not, vampire or not, he wanted her. Now.


She was on the other side of the stage, in conversation with people he could not see. He did not care. When she turned her eyes immediately fell on him. He smiled as a slightly vacant look came into her dark eyes.


Too easy sometimes, this enchantment thing. He so enjoyed the power he had though.


Jesselyn was coming him way, ignoring all those around her.  She stopped inches from his table. He got a good look at her. She was wearing nothing but a pair of lacy boy-cut panties. Her skin was lightly glistening with sweat. He studied her up and down, from the fall of raven’s wing black hair, to the high breasts, the flat stomach, down her endless legs to the spike heeled shoes she was wearing.

Rising to his feet, he offered his hand. Jesselyn took it, very willing to go wherever he would lead her. And right now he wanted to go to the alley, the very same alley he’d used on numerous other occasions.




“It’s gotta be her.”


Steve had walked through the crowd, keeping his senses open. He felt sick to his stomach. There was something here, something evil, but he could not pinpoint its location or cause.


The girl on the stage caught his attention. He watched her dance for a few minutes. Usually the strippers were under his radar-some were quite pretty, and some were good for a quick feed if need be. This one was different. He did not know how he knew, but he did.


She caught his eye and cocked an eyebrow in his direction. Steve gave her a half-smile. She tilted her head to the side and then back, then forward. Even without words he caught her meaning. Sit. Wait.


He went to the corner table that Samantha and Glen were seated at. Samantha was sipping a water, Glen a beer. Steve made his announcement and waited to see what they thought.


“Probably is. She’s the headliner, if there is such a thing at this kind of place.” Samantha toyed with her glass.


“There is, and she is.” Glen had looked briefly at the woman but spent most of the time studying his wife.


“How would you know about strippers baby?” Samantha laughed and gave him a sly look.


“I read books.” That was all he was going to admit. He was grinning. “And yes, I think she’s the one. We need to get her attention.”


“I think we already did.” Steve said as the song came to an end. He slid into the booth next to Samantha and watched as the dancer made her way slowly through the crowd.


She stopped at the table, mindless of her undressed body, and looked from Steve to Glen to Samantha. “I think we’re all here for the same reason, so let’s not waste time on explanations right now. He wants me, I can feel it. When he takes me, I want you all to get him. Understood?” Her seductive voice carried a note of command in it. Samantha felt Glen’s hand on hers, squeezing, urging her not to argue.  “I’m Jess. Or Jesse. Do not call me Jesselyn. That’s a dancer’s name. And after this I am no longer going to be a dancer.” With that she turned her attention to the other side of the room as if someone called her by name.


Before they could say anything she was moving through the crowd, her body moving with the fluid grace of a cat.  To another booth on the other side of the stage.


“Fuck me runnin’.” Steve’s drawl was more pronounced when he got a look at the man who had captured Jesse’s attention.


“What, do you know who he is?” Samantha squinted in the barely lit club. She could see him, barely. The only real defining feature he had was his blonde hair. So blonde it was almost white.


The man stood and began to lead Jesse away. Steve rose to his feet. “I don’t fuckin’ believe this!”


“What?” Glen gripped the other man’s shoulder before he could take off through the crowd. Time was short, but he sensed this would be important. “Who is he?”


“A fang. His name is…was…Kennedy.” Steven looked at Samantha and shook Glen’s hand away. “He was killed last year.”


“Killed? Obviously not.” Samantha couldn’t help but be sarcastic.


“I killed him. I had to. He went wild the last few months he was with our group. We couldn’t control him. We had to take him out before he brought hunters down on all of us.”


“Went wild?” Glen asked, falling into step beside Steve. Samantha led the way through the crowd. They seemed to part easily enough.


“He had a thing for women. Not willing women, either.” Steve sighed in aggravation. “We didn’t know when we found him. Somebody turned him. He tried to rape a fang and got turned for his trouble. He hid it for a while, then went nuts one night and killed a few of our own.”




“Women he had fixated on. I knew this whole setup was familiar. I knew it but I couldn’t believe it.” They came to the short hallway that led to the restrooms. Samantha pulled her knife out, flicking it open once again, the business end looking dangerous in the dim light. “He can’t be alive. He can’t be.”


“Maybe you just thought you killed him. Fangs are fuckin’ resilient.” Glen muttered, testing a door at the end of the hall. It opened into a storeroom. There was another door. They moved toward it.


“There wasn’t any thinking to it. I snapped his neck. Then twisted it off.” He said it as if it were no big deal.  To a fang, it wasn’t.  “Fucker was after my sister. I had to do something.”


“And you did. Now wanna take a guess at how the hell he came back?” Samantha pushed on the door. It opened silently into a dark alleyway at the back of the building.


“I know only one way…” Steve did not get to finish the thought. There were sounds from the end of the alley.  They could see two shadows struggling in the meager light from the street.


Without thinking, Samantha ran forward, ignoring Glen’s hand at her shoulder, trying to stop her.  This asshole had tried to kill her, now she was going to return the favor. The man had Jesse pushed against the wall and everything around him was lost on him as he nipped at the skin of her neck.


Jesse looked amazingly calm. That was all that registered with Samantha before she leaped at the attacker, her knife flashing.  She sunk it into his back to the hilt and twisted it.


The man lurched backward, knocking Samantha off her feet as he became aware of what was happening around him.  Samantha had managed to pull her knife out while she was falling. It was still gripped in her hand. He took a menacing step forward.


Samantha sprung to her feet. And almost fell down again as Glen and Steve rushed the bastard, knocking him back again. Seeing he was outnumbered, not liking the odds, the man turned and ran toward the street, going faster than he had any right to be going.


Glen and Steve gave chase, leaving the two women in the alley.  Their footsteps faded into the night.  Samantha leaned down to catch her breath.


“That as close.” She finally said, standing straight.


“I won’t be able to get him to attack me again. I should have just taken him out when I had the chance.” Jesse’s smoky voice sounded petulant. Samantha looked at her, eyebrow up. She flipped her knife, that well practiced trick, but nothing happened.


Looking down, she saw the blade was twisted into a lump, the metal a rough shape in the dark.  “What the fuck?”


“Might as well toss it. It won’t do any good against him anyway.” Jesse crossed her hands over her chest, not to cover up her nakedness, just to have something to do with them.


“How the hell do you know?” Samantha was starting to feel a little frumpy in comparison to the perfect female body before her. She realized something even as the thought formed. Jesse was not cold. She was not shivering. She did not even appear to be slightly shaken by almost getting raped and murdered. Samantha eyed her curiously, all sarcasm gone from her voice. “Who are you?”


“I’m the one who can stop him.” Jesse stated simply. She smiled. Samantha felt as if the alleyway were suddenly lit up with neon. “We need to get your friends and find a safe house so I can explain. Then we need to go hunting. This time we have to take him out. If he gets to Diane, we’re really in trouble.”

Samantha could do nothing else but follow as the mostly naked Jesse led the way out of the alley. This damn situation got stranger the longer she was involved in it. Shaking her head, she tossed her beloved knife down on the street, mourning its loss as if she would a friend. Apparently Jesse had more answers than any of them had come up with. And hopefully the time had come to find out what was really going on.




They made one stop on the way to DJ’s to pick up Samantha and Glen’s bags from the motel. No one spoke on the drive. Glen offered Jesse a shirt. She took it with a sigh. Samantha got the feeling that she put it on more out of respect for her company than out of any kind of shyness.


Kennedy had gotten away. Steve and Glen had been right on top of him when he seemed to disappear in a swirl of snow. The men had plodded back toward where Samantha and Jesse were standing, shoulders hunched against the cold wind that blew.


Dave was almost tripping over his own questions as Samantha, Glen and the two strangers came into the house. The dark haired woman was barefoot, not seeming to mind or even notice the snow she tracked in.  Glen’s T-shirt hit her about mid-thigh, but she gave no outward signs of being cold.


Samantha handled introductions while Glen went to the car for their things. Everyone settled in the living room near the crackling fire. No one spoke. Outside snow began falling again, this time so heavily that it was hard to see much past the window.


“I couldn’t have ordered up a better night than this for storytelling.”


Jesse’s voice was soft, but it caught everyone’s attention. Samantha rested in the circle of Glen’s arms on DJ’s overstuffed chair, looking at the other woman speculatively.


“So are we going to get some answers, or should I just go get some popcorn and hot chocolate out for this fairy tale?”


“Oh, answers. Although hot chocolate does sound lovely. Perhaps later.” Jesse smiled at Steve. He grinned back at her.


“You two know each other?” Dave asked, catching the interplay between the two new members of the house.


“The secret’s out, Jess.” Steve was still smiling.


“Had to come out sooner or later.” Jesse sighed and pushed her dark hair back from her face. “Let me see if I can simplify this. The man you are after is not a man, but a demon. Steve…and myself…were sent here to stop him.”


“So he really is a demon?” DJ asked, eyes widening.


“Most definitely. We don’t come from heaven or hell. We roam the earth like you. Doing our good deeds, trying to earn our way to either level.” Jesse shrugged.


“You guys are demons too?” DJ shrank back from Steve, who was sitting to her right on the couch.


“Hell no.” Steve said, his drawl more apparent as he blushed at his outburst. He looked at Jesse again as if awaiting the Ok to go ahead. She nodded imperceptibly. “When I was alive I was…well…not a very good person. Not bad enough to go to hell, not repentant enough to go to heaven. So I came back, in a sense. Found this body, this man who had turned fang. He was repentant. He was a good man, honest. He let me take over because he understood that I would have to, because I had a higher purpose that he could not understand.”


“Ok, you’re talkin’ crazy.” Samantha interrupted him. “So if you aren’t a demon, what are you? Vengeful ghost?”


“No.” Again he looked at Jesse. Then he sighed. “We’re guardian angels.”


“Angels.” Dave stated flatly, looking from the big man on the couch to the half-dressed woman standing near the fire.


“Not quite yet. Like he said, we were not the best people in the world when we were alive.” Jesse spoke, a bit of humor tinting her voice. “We were given a chance to correct our mistakes, to do selfless acts for others as a way to earn our wings. Or…to go the other way and do hateful, evil things to become a minion of hell.”


“This is nuts.” DJ said, taking Dave’s hand.


“You believe in vampires, werewolves, but this you have trouble swallowing?” Jesse asked, arching an eyebrow at her. “There are still people in this world who think fangs and dogs are storybook ideas, dating back to darker times. I think we all know better.”

Steve was nodding. So was Samantha. Glen remained neutral.


“So you are a guardian angel.” Dave said, looking at her with his head tipped to the left.


“Well, for lack of a better term, yes.”


“Who do you guard? I mean, who’s interests are you looking out for? I always thought you had one specific person you had to help. Of course, that could be more storybook ideas talking.” DJ looked around the room at everyone.


“Well…” Jesse hesitated and looked to Steve. He shrugged. She turned to Samantha and gave her a smile. “I guess it doesn’t matter now, if you know or not. I was assigned to your son, Alex. He asked me to come help you.”


“What?” Glen spoke before Samantha could.


“I’ve been with him since he was about two months old. He’s got strange powers, and I’ve been trying to help him. He’s still too young to understand, and I’m afraid I might be pushing him too hard.”


“So…” Samantha shook her head. “Alex knows about you. He can see you?”


“My real form, yes. The way I used to look when I was alive.” Jesse shrugged. “This body is nice and everything, but in reality I was shorter, chubbier, and filled with confusion. Not a good combination.” She smiled again. “Of course he can see me like this too, well, more dressed but in this body. I’ve bonded with it, you see, and sometimes it’s hard to forget that it’s not really me.”


Glen was rubbing his temples. “So last year when Alex went on and on about his invisible friend…”


“That was me.” Jesse grinned.


“And how about that time he was crying, right before we came here? What was that about?” Dave asked, bringing her eyes to him.


“Oh, his power is just waking up. It was the cemetery that was freaking him out. He could hear voices from there. No one there died peacefully in their sleep, you know. He was feeling their pain, their anger at being snuffed out. He can’t control it yet but he’s made wonderful progress.”


“So he has a guardian angel guiding him through this empathic stuff. But why?” Samantha was still trying to wrap her mind around what she was hearing.


“I thought it was obvious. That boy is special, Sam, more special than you or Glen could know. I have to protect him, so he can fulfill his destiny. And that’s all I can say about it, because I think we are already telling you people too much.”


There was silence for a minute. Then Samantha turned to Steve. “And what about you? You said your sister was a victim, so who are you watching over?”


“I thought it was kind of obvious.” Steve smiled at her.


“What? Katie? Or maybe Lily. Was your sister actually in any trouble?” Samantha questioned him.


“Well, technically she wasn’t my sister. Steve, the real Steve, had a sister. And yes, she was a victim. Even though he was a fang, he still had a streak of valiant intent. And family.”


“I get that. I’ve seen it myself.” Samantha sighed. “So who?”


Steve was smiling again. “You, of course. Why else would I just happen to show up just when you needed me, how else could I have found you when you were running all over town?” He looked at Glen. “The best thing you ever did was meeting this guy right here. That’s my unsolicited opinion. You weren’t taking so many risks. Made my…uh…life a lot easier.”


Samantha was looking at him, her mouth open, at a loss for words. Glen cleared his throat. “So does everybody have a guardian?”


“Not every one.” Jesse paced to the window and looked out at the falling snow. “Only the truly good do, the ones who are needed later in life for some big thing.” She looked over her shoulder at Glen and smiled. “You have one. But I think it’s more out of a labor of love than any special power you have.”


“Angie.” It was not a question. His first wife had been his world for five wonderful years, it made sense that she would still be looking out for him.


“Is that her name?” Jesse turned fully to face him.  “She’s not allowed to show herself. There is too much of a bond between you. It keeps you from focusing on life here and now, too much living in the past.”


Samantha tucked her hand into Glen’s and squeezed. “That’s kinda sweet actually.”


“DJ.” Jesse sighed. “Diane. You are a different story. This fledgling guardian was assigned to you because there was a fang who had developed an interest and he was supposed to protect you.”


DJ shuddered. “You said he was assigned. What happened?”


“Kennedy happened.” Steve spoke up. He’d been looking thoughtfully at Jesse. “The fang that I…this body…killed was the one obsessed. Your so-called guardian took over the body. And was immediately obsessed. You tend to carry some emotions from the body you take over, you see. This guy was probably already leaning toward the dark side. Kennedy pushed him the rest of the way over. He became fixated on you, thinking that if he wins you he’ll win his way to hell. He’s doing a damn good job of paving the path with blood.”


“He says he loves you, am I correct?” Jesse said, turning back to the window.


“Yeah. In one of those notes.”


“He’s convinced himself that he does because there is no surer path to hell than killing someone that you profess to love. It may very well be his ticket in. It may only be another in a long line of murders. We can’t know for sure. He operates on a different wavelength from us.” Jesse nodded toward Steve. “I can read his mind, for instance. I knew what was going on here…even while I was with Alex during the night last night. He has nightmares, you know, because his defenses are down when he sleeps…”


“We figured that part out on our own.” Glen motioned with his hand, cutting her off. “What I don’t understand is how we’re going to stop this guy.”


“Right. He melted my knife like it was butter and he was the sun.” Samantha said sadly.


“Conventional weaponry does no good. The body he’s in is already dead.” Steve said, rising to his feet. “There is only one way to kill him for good. To send him to hell not as a prince but as a sufferer.”


“And how do we do it?” DJ asked from her seat.


“We have to start by giving him exactly what he wants.” Jesse brought all eyes to her with her announcement.




“There is no fuckin’ way I’m gonna let you do that.”


Dave was the one who broke the silence that had fallen over the room. He wrapped an arm protectively around DJ’s shoulders. She was looking at everyone else like they were crazy.


“It’s the only way. Besides, we’ll protect DJ. Nothing will happen to her.” Jesse’s voice was soft, even. As if she were soothing a wild animal.


“The hell you say.” Dave was scowling.


“Look, I know that it seems extreme…”


“Only a little.”


“But it’s the only way to lower his defenses. He’ll be so happy she’s come to him that hopefully that obsession of his will completely take over. He’ll bond with the body he’s in even more and become that fang. Then we can deal with him.” Jesse pushed her hair back from her eyes and looked at Dave as if daring him to challenge her again.


“I don’t like it.” Dave muttered, squeezing DJ to his side.


“Duly noted. And I’d like to add that if we don’t do this, now why he still thinks he loves her, then he’ll kill her anyway. Eventually he’ll start resenting her for not giving in.” Steve moved to stand next to Jesse. “He thinks that when he rapes these women, he’s giving them something that they want, you see. Like they came to him.”


“So he thinks he’s irresistible.” Samantha said softly.


“That’s right. And he doesn’t understand why DJ isn’t moved to be with him. He wants her to be willing, he doesn’t want to force it, but he will eventually.” Steve looked at the people sitting in the room, expression serious. “We have to do this soon. He’s starting to crack. It’ll happen pretty quickly after that.”


“How do you know?” Glen asked, adjusting in his seat.


“Because the same thing happened with Kennedy.” Steve looked at the bigger man, then to Samantha. “He’s been denied something he wants twice. Do you think he’s happy about that? Hell no. He’s probably throwing a fit right now. And that anger is going to focus on DJ.”


“How do you stop him once I…go to him… DJ’s voice faded out as she spoke. Dave looked at her as if she’d lost her mind.


Deej, you don’t have to…”


“Yes I do. I want this over, David. I can’t take it anymore.” She smiled sadly up at him before turning her attention to Jesse and Steve. “How do we kill him for good?”


Steve and Jesse shared a look.  “I believe this is where Samantha’s love of sharp objects will come into play.” Steve said, grinning. “The demon that took over is really just floating there, controlling the body like a puppet. If he gets mad enough…or if he gets sexually excited…he comes forward and becomes the person he’s controlling. You’ll have to get him in the heart at the right time, when he’s as close to mortal as he’ll get.”


“You aren’t suggesting we send these two women in alone are you?” Glen asked. His voice had taken on a strange tone, as if he were trying not to yell at the two people he’d just met.


“And me.” Jesse said, her voice again soothing. “He’s tried Sam, he’s tried me, he wants DJ. I think if the three of us were to go in together, he’d be quicker to nail.” She laughed. “That’s not a sexual comment either. He didn’t get Sam, he didn’t get me. He’ll want to take care of us too. He’s not used to being denied. He’s like a spoiled kid that way.”


“Well I’ll go.” Samantha said, shushing Glen when he started to protest. “It’s not like we have a real choice here. Either we go in and get him or he follows us for the rest of our lives…and eventually succeeds at killing us. And this asshole is not following me home where my kids are.”


Glen was surprised into a laugh. “I still don’t like it.”


“I can take care of myself.” Samantha said. Steve cleared his throat. “Ok, and I have a little help. I can handle him.”


“I hope so.” DJ extricated herself from Dave’s arms and paced away from the couch. “When do we go?”


Deej…” Dave’s voice held a warning.


“David, I’ll not run from this bastard for the rest of my life. He’s already stolen a few months. I’m tired of being scared.” DJ looked into his eyes for a long moment.


“We have to figure out where he is before we can go anywhere.” Samantha said from her perch on Glen’s lap.


“Leave that to us.” Steve gestured to Jesse. “Now that I know who it is, I think I’ll have an easier time tracking him.” The two shared another look. “Do you have a bed we can use?”


“This is hardly the time for that.” Samantha deadpanned.


Steve laughed. “It’s not for that…” He looked at Jesse again, and conveyed the message that he wouldn’t mind a bit if it was. Jesse blushed prettily. “We’re going to have to dump these bodies for a while. It’ll be quicker that way.”


“Dump the bodies?” Dave asked, curious in spite of himself.


“We’ll have to leave them briefly. It’s easier to get around without lugging the flesh with us.” Jesse explained. “And when we leave, these bodies will for all intents and purposes be dead. Until we get back in them.”


“You can use my room.” DJ said with a sigh. “I don’t mind. Not like I’m going to be sleeping anytime soon.”


“Lead the way. The sooner we do this, the better.” Steve gestured toward the door. DJ led them out of the room.


“I still think this is a bad idea.” Dave grumbled, looking down at his hands.


“You don’t honestly think we’d let anything happen to your woman do you?” Samantha asked, leaning back against Glen.


“I think we’re in way over our heads here.”


“Well, stop thinking. Shouldn’t be hard for you. I’m not gonna let that asshole get her. You can count on that.” Samantha gave him a look. “He’ll have to go through me first anyway. Might as well make it a challenge.” She felt Glen’s hands go around her. “And you…stop being so overprotective. I got along fine before we got together.”


“Can’t help it.” Glen kissed her neck. “I don’t like it. If this guys builds up a big enough head of steam there’s no telling what he’ll do. I don’t want you to get hurt.”


“As long as he doesn’t chop my head off, I think I can handle him.” Samantha felt Glen shudder. “That was a joke. As far as I know he hasn’t collected any heads yet.”


“There’s a comfort.” Glen said with a sigh.


Samantha gave the arm that was around her a pat. “Poor baby. I suppose we need to find something to occupy ourselves while Steve and Jesse do their thing.”


“I can think of a few things…” Glen murmured and kissed her neck again. Samantha laughed.


“I was thinking more along the lines of finding myself a nice, heat-tempered knife.”


“You want to go shopping? Now?” Glen shook his head. “That guy could be anywhere. We can’t go out. I won’t risk it.”


“That guy is probably wherever he goes to hide out, fuming.” Samantha rose, smiling at the protest that Glen uttered. “You wanna come with me?”


“You couldn’t leave me here.” Glen stood up. They nodded at Dave and went toward the door.

Dave sat there, fuming a bit himself. He could not believe that DJ was so willing to put herself in danger. There had to be another way. He just could not think of one. With a sigh he followed Samantha and Glen’s lead, standing to his feet. He could hear noises from upstairs, footsteps as DJ moved around. He felt a sad smile tug his lips. He couldn’t lose her, not when he’d just found her again after all this time.




That was the second time in as many nights that he’d failed.


He was in the barn again. He didn’t bother turning on any lights. He could see in the dark, after all he had a pair of vampire eyes to look out of. Right now they were glowing red in his rage, giving everything a scarlet tint.


He methodically went from one end of the barn to the other, tearing apart anything he could get his hands on.  His tantrum went on for hours until he finally collapsed, all of his energy spent.  He looked around at the destruction he’d caused.  Ruined, his whole collection, ripped to shreds and tossed aside carelessly.  He’d taken his rage out on the dead women’s bodies, unthinking, blinded by his emotions.


It was not good. When he’d first claimed this body, he had been a cold, calculating machine. Now the slightest thing could set him off. Although Kennedy had been a fang, he was a human before that, and those old feelings were still powerful way down at the bottom of his mind. He didn’t need emotions. He just needed his woman. Diane.


With a groan of frustration he rose to his feet with effort.  He was very tired. He would have to rest now, something he hadn’t done in weeks. That was the other problem with taking over a human body. They had to rest and be refueled constantly. Taking over a fang had been a good idea, it could go longer without sleep, without food. And still, he grew so tired at the expense of a good amount of energy that he would have to rest or risk the body failing.


Sighing, tired, he trudged toward the house. When he woke up, when he was in a calmer state of mind, he’d decide what he was going to do about Diane and her friends. He had all the time in the world while they talked, spinning their wheels. It was almost enough to bring a cold smile to his face. Perhaps tomorrow night he’d pay Diane’s house a little visit. The time for hiding in shadows was past. He went directly to bed, falling down into sleep filled with images of fire, of pain. And loving every second of it.




Glen and Samantha returned to the house just before dawn. They’d driven around for a while, talking, planning. Glen did not like the idea of Samantha getting even more involved than she was, but she of course was not hearing it. She was in her element.


David sat in the kitchen with Steve and Jesse.  They were talking quietly, Dave with a cup of coffee in front of him. He looked at Samantha and Glen with weary, tired eyes. “Find what you were looking for?”


“Several.” Samantha had a bag in her hand. They’d found a store about an hour away that did not mind opening up for them to browse around. Glen had chuckled as she’d picked through their various blades, remarking on their traits. To him a knife was a knife. Samantha looked at them as some women looked at shoes, or jewelry. She was infinitely picky.


“You won’t need them. They’d just be ruined.” Steve said from his chair. He was toying nervously with something in his hand.


“Yeah, well. It helps me with my peace of mind.” Samantha put the bag on the counter and pulled a box out. They were silent as she opened it up and experimentally flipped the blade. 


“Good thing fire’s not your thing.” Dave muttered. This got a snicker from the others.


“Fire’s all right.” Samantha said, putting the knife away. “Too uncontrollable though.” She looked at Jesse, who was looking morosely at the wall next to her. “Are you all right?”


“I’m fine.” Jesse sighed. “We might have found him. He was exerting a lot of energy, it ended abruptly. He’s probably sleeping right now, recharging.”


“So this would be a good time to go after him?” Glen asked, taking the other empty chair. Samantha hopped onto the counter and thoughtfully began unpacking her other purchases.


“Not at all. You see, when he’s sleeping he leaves the body. We could go in and destroy the body, of course, it would be easy. But the demon himself would still be around, still able to take over another body and continue his quest.”


“So we have to kill the body while the demon is in it.” Steve finished when Jesse appeared to become lost in her thoughts.


“And that will in turn bind the demon to the body. He’ll become its soul and be snuffed out like a candle.” Jesse’s voice was dreamy. Samantha and Glen exchanged a look and stared at her. Dave just shook his head.


“They insisted that DJ not be here for the strategizing.” He said, unable to hide the trace of disbelief that tinged his voice.


“What? Why not? Don’t you think she should be hearing whatever we plan?” Glen turned his full attention to Jesse.


“Actually…” Steve spoke for her. Jesse was once again staring at the wall. “It’s better she doesn’t hear much. Just the basics. We want her going into this thing as if she were scared. We don’t want her giving away too much of what we’ll be doing at the same time. He may be able to read her once she’s close enough to him. We can’t risk him finding out we’re there too.”


“Makes sense.” Samantha was chewing a piece of gum she’d pulled from her bag. “So what’s wrong with you, Jess?”


“Nothing’s wrong with her.” Steve once again answered for Jesse. “She’s keeping DJ asleep. She was pretty well wired, nervous. So Jess here is working a little magic, putting her out.”


“Forced sleep. Hmm.” Samantha made a noise. “I guess I know who to call next time I can’t go to bed before five in the morning.”


“I can only use it in extreme cases. It’s very draining.” Jesse said softly, her voice sounding mildly robotic. Monotone. She suddenly shook her head and looked at the group around her. “Sorry. Wow. She really was fighting it.”


“She’s asleep now?” Dave asked, sounding concerned.


“Very deeply.” Jesse assured him. “She’ll need the rest.” She looked at Steve and nodded. Steve hesitated and turned to Samantha, flipping the object in his hand through the air.

Samantha snatched it out of her air without thinking, reflexively. “What’s this?” It was heavy, small. A ring. The yellow gold was dull with age.  Twin blades were etched into the band. In the center was a deep purple stone, round, so dark it appeared black.


“A gift. I’ve been waiting for a long time to give that to you.” Steve ducked his head. “I think you’ll find it more useful than your knives.”


“A ring?” Glen cocked an eyebrow.


“Make sure it fits.” Jesse said with a smile.

Samantha slid the piece onto her right ring finger and held it up, admiring it. “It’s pretty. What am I supposed to do, cold cock the fucker with it?” Although it was not a huge ring, it certainly had some weight to it.


“You’ll figure it out.” Steve said, grinning. “There’s a house across the street, through the trees.”


“There is?” Samantha was still looking at her new trinket as if mesmerized. It took effort to pull her eyes from it. “I thought we were on our own out here.”


“DJ was. Until our friend Kennedy moved in.”


“What?” Glen could not believe it. “This thing has brass balls, setting up ops so close to DJ.”


“It’s not a question of his testicles. It’s a question of his confidence. That’s how he was able to keep an eye on her. At least, that what we think.” Steve said with a sigh.


“As soon as we left our bodies we sensed him close. All that power he was using…” Jesse shook her head. “I don’t think anybody realized that place was there. No one has lived there in a long time. The house is falling apart. There’s an old barn in the back.” She paused and fitfully toyed with her hair. “That’s where he keeps them. His victims. At least…it was.”

“What, he’s moved them somewhere else?” Dave said, leaning forward, coffee forgotten.


“No. He’s…” Steve curled his hands into fists. “He’s destroyed them. By hand. Torn them apart in a rage. I think it’s because he was thwarted, and he’s taking it out on women he’s already victimized. An easy victory. Good for his ego.”


“I think our best plan is going to be to fuck with him.” Jesse said with a grim smile. “Keep him off balance. The angrier he gets, the more out of control he gets. And the more out of control he is, the better our chances.”


“So how do you suggest we fuck with him?” Samantha said, her tone serious but her eyes dancing. Digging for clues was all well and good, but now was the part she really enjoyed, the proactive part where they actually did something to win their battle. She was pumped for it.


“Why, by messing with his belongings, of course.” Steve sounded as excited as Samantha felt. Glen looked from one to the other, a smile tilting the corners of his lips.


“No wonder they picked you.”


“Huh?” Steve looked confused. Glen laughed.


“To watch over her. I think you share her craziness. Just a little.”


“Oh. Probably.” Steve grinned. “Great minds think alike.”


“Ahem. So what is the plan?” Samantha said, drawing them back to the matter at hand.


Jesse smiled. “Well…it’s going to be a little gross…” The others listened as she filled them in.




Samantha was covered from head to toe with blood. And other fluids. Steve and Jesse looked just as bad. As if they’d just went for a swim in a slaughterhouse.


After making sure that Kennedy was out for the day, they had silently treaded the woods, keeping to shadows. They avoided the house. Jesse said that the demon would not venture far from his body of choice, having a need to protect it while it is vulnerable. The demon itself had expended large amounts of energy and would be doing its own version of resting.


They gone into the dilapidated barn, and Samantha had gagged. The smell was horrible, worse than anything she’d ever experienced before. Steve had given her a reassuring pat on the back, then had whispered what they were going to do.


Three hours later, reeking, drenched in blood, they left as quietly as they’d entered. Samantha was tired. She felt slightly sick to her stomach. She’d dealt with a lot of things in her life, had killed uncountable fangs and dogs, but this…this was almost too much for her.


Glen had offered to come, but she’d waved him back to the house. He needed to stay on guard while Dave and DJ slept.  He’d agreed reluctantly, and had watched the three of them disappear into the woods.


Now as they crossed the road, Glen stepped onto the porch, hands in his pockets against the cold air.  Samantha gave him a weak smile. “I need three showers, two baths, and some new skin.”


“I think we can deal with a shower.” Glen’s smile felt forced, he was too concerned to do more than that.


“Steve and I will stay up and keep an eye on things. You two get some sleep.” Jesse said, nodding at Samantha. “I think he’s going to wait until dark to wake up. It’s the fang body. He can force it to go out in daylight, but it’s much easier in the night. So we have some time yet before we need to go there.”


“Good. I need a nap.” Samantha’s smile that time was more natural. “Wanna get the door for me, hot stuff? I don’t want to touch anything. Oh, and turn on the shower, and get me some towels, and soap…”


“Yes, your highness…damn.” Glen chuckled and held the door for her. She kicked off her shoes on the way in so she didn’t track gore everywhere in the house. “Was it really that bad?” Glen asked, following her to the downstairs bathroom.


“What’s worse than bad?” She asked, grimacing as she tugged her shirt over her head.


“Horrible, awful, disgusting, terrible…”


“Yes. It was all of that.”


“Do you think this is going to work? Glen started the shower as she finished stripping. She held her soiled clothes in her hands and looked at him.


“It’s going to piss him off. As for how it’s going to work…I don’t know.” She waved the clothes. “Can you get me a bag? I’ll never wear this stuff again.” Glen nodded and went to the kitchen to find a garbage bag. Samantha deposited the clothes and looked relieved. She grinned and stepped into the shower.  She planned on scrubbing away at least a layer or skin. She rinsed her hands and turned the water as hot as she could stand.


“When you get halfway clean, how about some company in there?” Glen said, peeking around the shower curtain. Samantha looked at him through squinted eyes. Her hands were in her hair, working shampoo through the long locks.


“I suppose you could come in here and get my back for me…” She grinned at him through the rising steam in the enclosed space. Glen nodded and leaned against the wall, waiting for her to signal she was ready.


They moved from the shower to the bed they were sharing, falling into an exhausted, sated sleep sometime later.  Samantha dreamed of blood, it was understandable after what they had seen that day. She would not classify them as nightmares, though. She had dreamed so strangely for so long that they rarely had the power to frighten her or even disturb her rest.


She cuddled to Glen, head on his shoulder, her hand on his chest. In the dim light of the bedroom the ring, the heavy gold ring Steve had give her, began emitting a faint purple glow. Samantha murmured and snuggled closer to Glen’s warmth, unaware of the light that was filling the room.




Samantha was in the kitchen, chewing on an apple, the first one out of bed.


Steve walked in and gave her his crooked smile, then took the seat across from her. “Nervous?” It was a little past four in the afternoon. They would have to leave shortly to get into place for their plan to work.


“Surprisingly…no.” Samantha tossed the apple core into the garbage. “It’s weird.”


“Nah. You just know what you’re doing.” Steve looked past her. Samantha turned her head. DJ was walking into the room, looking rested and smiling a bit.


“Good morning. Er…evening.” She corrected herself with a laugh.


Samantha shared a look with Steve. “Howdy. You sound like you’re in a good mood.” Samantha said, watching the other woman prepare a pot of coffee.


“Well…” DJ, glanced at them again, then turned on the faucet to fill the pot. “I’m just glad something is finally getting done. That’s all.”


“Yeah, then your worries will be over.” Steve said, leaning back in his chair. “Everybody can go back to normal. I kind of miss the quiet life.”


Samantha rolled her eyes at him. “What good is a guardian angel if I don’t put myself in danger every now and then? Give you exercise.”


“I’m dead, remember? I don’t need exercise.” Steve said with a smirk. “We’re going to have to wake everyone up soon. Get this thing started.”


Samantha nodded and rose to her feet. “I’ll get them. Where’s Jesse?”


“Out. She needed to pick up something.” Steve evaded, watching DJ make coffee as if fascinated.


“All righty.” Samantha knew a lie when she heard one, but decided to let it go. She didn’t want to start any arguments before they went out that night. They needed to focus. She turned and left the kitchen, heading for the stairs.


Jesse reappeared before they came back down. Samantha was talking quietly to Glen as they went downstairs, a morose looking Dave behind them. Jesse was carrying a sizeable white box as she entered the house. She grinned at the trio coming down the stairs and ducked into the kitchen.


Glen and Dave at a quick breakfast, listening as Jesse told them she’d gotten a present…for Samantha.


Samantha was once again sitting on the counter, swinging her feet. She looked at Jesse surprised. “What is it?”


“Well, I’m pretty sure it’s something you’re going to need tonight.” Jesse set the box on the kitchen table and removed the lid. Nestled inside white paper was a knife.


“Ahh…more weaponry.” Samantha did not sound impressed.


“This is special.” Jesse hefted the knife with a bit of difficulty. “It’s gold, so it’s heavy.” She explained.


“It’s black.” Samantha said with a grin. It was not a knife as she’d first thought. It was too long for that. A dagger then, two feet in length, made entirely of some black metal. In the hilt were more of those purple stones.


“Trust me…it’s gold.” Using both hands, Jesse tossed the dagger in Samantha’s direction.


Samantha caught it one-handed. It was not heavy, as Jesse said, but lightweight. The grip fit comfortably in her hand as if it were made for her. She admired the dark metal for a moment, then squinted as a light seemed to flash from the blade.


“What the fuck was that?” Dave choked on his coffee. The purple light had been fiercely bright, and no one had been ready for it.


Samantha was still looking at her new weapon. The metal had changed color with the flash, becoming smooth yellow gold. “Is this thing for real?”


“It can’t be. Who has that much gold? And what the hell was up with the light?” Glen was rubbing his eyes.


“It is. And you’d be surprised who holds so much gold. And that light was Samantha accepting her gift. It’s hard to explain. But the dagger likes her.” Steve said with a smirk.


“The dagger…likes…her.” Dave said it slowly.


“It’s the simplest way to put it.” Jesse said, grinning. “I decided to visit a higher power. After a heavy three minute debate, they sent me back with that for Sammy.”


“First a ring, now a knife. It’s a good thing I’m not the suspicious type.” Glen had risen to his feet and stood in front of Samantha. She willingly held out the dagger when he opened his hand for it. She dropped it into his hand. He grimaced at the weight of it. If he tried to use it in a battle, he’d get his head bitten off before he could finish swinging it once. Samantha held it with no trouble, taking it back from him and experimentally cutting the air with it.


“I’d look weird tryin’ to carry this thing around town with me, but I like it.” Samantha said with a laugh.


DJ was silent through this whole exchange, her eyes riveted to the gleaming blade of the dagger. Dave reached over and squeezed her hand. “Don’t worry. Sammy’s not good for much, but she is good with anything sharp.”


DJ smiled at him. “That’s good to hear.” She cleared her throat. “When are we leaving?”


“Right now would be good.” Steve glanced at the clock on the wall. “We have to get ready. He’ll be up soon.”


Glen looked a bit nervous as Jesse led them from the house. “I still think there has to be a better way than putting Sam, DJ, and yourself in danger.” He said, falling into step behind Jesse.


“If you’ve got a better idea, I’d love to hear it.” She said with a grin. “We’ll catch him off guard. After what we did this morning, I think he’s going to be about ready to snap.” She sighed. “It’ll make it easier. I want you, Dave, and Steve outside, ready to step in. But don’t rush in too early. Let us handle it as far as we can. He would have no second thoughts about killing a man. It doesn’t fit his scheme, but he’d do it for the joy of it.”


“Duly noted.” Glen sighed. “I still don’t like it.”


“What’s to like? We could all get killed. And that’s the bright side of what could happen.” Jesse sounded humorous. Glen frowned at her.


“You think that’s a bright side?”


“Considering the fact that this guy likes to rape, torture, murder and apparently destroy the bodies?” Jesse looked at him. “A quick death is preferable.”


“Great.” He slowed his step until he was walking next to Samantha. He took her hand protectively in his.


“What did I tell you about buying trouble?” She seemed to be exceedingly calm. Glen could detect no nervousness in her voice, her posture, or her hands. The dagger Jesse had given her was strapped to her thigh.


“Not to do it.” Glen said with a smile.


“Don’t distract me by making me worry about what you’re going to do, Ok? I love ya, but this has to be done. If you get hurt because you think you need to protect me…”


“I live to protect you, Sam.” Glen squeezed her hand. Samantha smiled at him.


“Well, you need to live for the rest of your family too. Keep the kids in mind.”


“And is that what you’re going to do?” Glen let go of her hand to wrap an arm over her shoulders.


“Of course. All I have to do is imagine this fucker messing with my kids, and it’s go time.” Her smile turned predatory.  Glen was happy to see it. Samantha was a hunter, even after all this time, and the old instincts were never at rest. Feeling a bit reassured but still wary, he did not speak again as they made their way through the woods.




He rose slowly, stretching, taking satisfaction at the pops and cracks that issued from the body he was using. After resting he felt much better about things. He’d had time to cool off, to refocus on his goal.


The vampire body wanted to feed. It was one of the things that annoyed him. The body tried to revert to its old ways. With little effort, he tamped down the urge. He’d feed the body when he went to town. Right now he had to visit his barn, to inventory his damage and decide what gift he’d send to Diane that night.


At first he didn’t notice anything different. He was lost in thought. Something caught his eye though and it took him a moment to figure out what it was.


The barn was clean.


There was not one drop of blood, not one trace of hair, no body parts, not bodies. The floor was poured concrete. Someone had converted it to a garage years ago. On it were no signs of the gore he’d left behind last night. The gray concrete only sported the ghosts of oil leaks past.


He rushed around the room, seeking any sign of his work. Nothing. Even the water trough had been scrubbed, the metal looking almost new. Infuriated, he spun on his heel, meaning to exit the barn and seek out the intruders who had destroyed his handy work.


He stopped in his tracks.


Unbelieving, mouth open, he stared at the woman who had entered the barn behind him as he’d panicked and searched the room. He finally gathered his thoughts and a smile formed on his features. “Diane.” Her name was a soft whisper of voice. She nodded. She did not look frightened. She had finally accepted his gifts. He knew without asking. And now Diane was his, all his. With another cold smile he stepped toward her.




Samantha watched from her hidden spot in the loft as DJ stood in the doorway of the barn. The gold dagger that Jesse had giver her was in her hand. The metal seemed to be getting warmer.


Jesse caught her eye. She was on the first floor, behind the water trough. She made a motion with her hand. Samantha nodded and turned her full attention to the man who stood in the middle of the floor.


DJ was smiling at him. Samantha had to hand it to her, she seemed to be a pretty good actress. There was no sign of the nervousness or terror that had plagued her the last few days. She knew that the five others were around, but did not know where. Jesse had wanted DJ to be as left out of their plans as possible, just in case Kennedy had any kind of mind reading power.


Kennedy took a step forward. DJ’s smile widened. She moved into his arms with no hesitation when he held them open to her.


Samantha watched in shock as they kissed. “What the fuck?” She whispered under her breath. DJ was pulling away, looking into Kennedy’s eyes.


“The others are here.” DJ’s voice was soft but it carried through the empty barn.


“Including our special ‘friends’?” Kennedy’s voice grew harsh on the last word.


“Oh, especially them. You were right. Again.” She grinned. “How do you like the body?” DJ backed up and turned. Kennedy was eying her hungrily.


“Fantastic. Did she give you any trouble?”


DJ made a dismissive gesture. “Only at first. She was already too scared by your little gifts to put up much of a fight though.”


“Where are the others?”


“I don’t know. I think that Jesselyn suspected you were telepathic. They wouldn’t tell me anything.” DJ smoothed a hand down Kennedy’s chest. “There are five all together.”


“Piddling.” Kennedy shook his head and smiled. “That’s all they have for us? I would have thought I’d rate higher than that.”


“Well, DJ did underplay her concern.” DJ said with a giggle. The sound sent a chill down Samantha’s back.


“Hmm…well I think we have a little game of hide and seek on our hands.” Kennedy raised his voice, making sure that if anyone were in the barn, they’d be sure to hear. “Go to the house, DJ. Wait for me. It won’t take long.”


“I want to help.” Her tone dripped petulance.


“You will. I’ll deal with these hunter friends of yours, then it’s just us. And our special guests.” He stroked her cheek, then leaned down and kissed her again. “Go on now. Like we talked about last night.” DJ nodded and hurried across the barn. There was a back door set into the wall, hidden in shadows. Kennedy watched her go, a smile playing on his lips.  “Now…the fun.” With two strides he was at the barn wall. He flipped a switch, dropping the building into darkness.




Glen was gritting his teeth.


Steve looked at the taller man, wry smile on his face. “That’s startin’ to work my nerves.”


“Sorry.” Glen stopped for a moment, squinting through the darkness at the structure that was the barn. The lights had gone out. That could not be a good sign. His started gritting his teeth again. Steve sighed tried to ignore it.


“I don’t hear anything. If something were gonna happen, wouldn’t it have happened by now?” Dave said in a whisper.


“Most likely.” Steve shook his head. He refused to give into the anxiousness that settled into his stomach. “He knows we’re here.”


“How? Besides the barn being cleaned, how could he know?” Glen clenched his fists, then relaxed. Then clenched them again. At least he wasn’t gritting his teeth.


“I don’t know.” Steve felt his own jaw clenching as he felt the beginnings of righteous anger flow throw him. “We were careful.”


“We should go in.” Glen took a step forward. Steve stopped him with a hand on his arm.


“No. Wait for the signal. If they need us, they’ll signal.”


“Maybe they can’t signal.” Dave said, sounding frustrated. “Can’t you check on them? How the hell have you been keeping tabs on Sammy all these years?”


Steve sighed. “I can check, I guess. It’ll use up some of my energy though. Energy I might need later.”


“We’ll watch over you.” Glen said. “I gotta know she’s…they’re all right.”


“All right.” Steve sighed again and closed his eyes. For a few minutes there was nothing but the sounds of the night around them as he concentrated. Then he laughed. It sounded strange, as if from far away.


“She’s all right. Samantha.” Steve did not open his eyes. He’d used a little trick he’d learned, sending a part of himself to her. Instead of being silent observer, he’s spoken to her mind. And the laugh had been her smart comment right back at him, also in her mind.


“What’s going on?” Dave shifted his weight from foot to foot, ready to go running at the first sign they were needed.


“They’re hiding. Kennedy turned off the lights. He knows someone is there. He thinks the dark gives him an advantage.” Steve’s voice still had a distant quality to it. “DJ knew. DJ was helping him.”


“What?” Whispery voice gone, the word was out of Dave’s mouth before he could check himself.


“Shhh…” Glen looked at he barn again. It remained unchanged. “Can she elaborate a bit?”


Steve was silent again, just for a few seconds. “They killed her. Killed her spirit. They sent her the body parts to weaken her mind so another demon could take over.” Steve’s eyes opened. “Christ.”


“Diane…” Dave’s voice had dropped back to a whisper. Glen looked at his friend and put a hand on his shoulder.




“Don’t.” Dave jerked away from Glen. “Just…don’t, all right?” He turned to Steve. “There has to be a mistake.”


“There’s no mistake. I saw it with my own…uh…eyes.” Steve rubbed his chin. “It’s kind of like hitting repeat on a movie.” He looked at Dave. “We have to kill her too. You know that right? We can’t let them destroy anyone else.”


Dave was shaking his head. “I can’t…”


“You can.” Steve was adamant. “It’s not DJ anymore, not the DJ you knew.”


“I can’t believe I fell for it.”


“Why not? You hadn’t seen her in a while right?” Steve hesitated. “It was really, honestly DJ when she called you. That I’m sure of. I don’t know when this demon took her over, but it had to be after that. They wouldn’t care if you came or not. They could find someone to kill anytime they want.”


“That’s not comforting. At all.” Dave felt like sitting down and crying. It was shocking to him. He had not cried since he was a kid. Even when he and DJ had split up, he’d choked back his emotions and buried himself in work. And now that he’d found her again…


He shook it off.  And squared his shoulders. He knew that DJ would not have wanted her body to be used as it was. They’d talked about fangs and dogs, and she’d always said she would rather he kill her than let her live like that. This was no different. He just had to keep telling himself that. Inside, deep down, there was still that feeling of betrayal, of disbelief. He could not focus on it now, could not ask questions he would never get the answers to. With a sigh Dave nodded at Glen and Steve. “Let’s go in there and end this. Now.”




Although it was pitch black in the barn, Samantha could still see.


Not as well as a full fang, but well enough to make out the outlines of objects. She did not see Kennedy though. He was just a shadow among shadows on the barn floor.


When she heard Steve’s voice, seeming to come from nowhere, she’s stifled the urge to jump. She didn’t want to talk out loud, to give away her position, so she’d mentally cursed him. He had laughed. Then he’d asked what was going on.


Samantha filled him in, once again without words, on everything that had happened thus far. Steve had withdrawn.  Now Samantha lay still in the darkness, waiting for a noise, a sign of Kennedy.


There was nothing. Five minutes passed, ten.  She was beginning to wonder if she should just come out from her hiding spot and get this thing going. No sooner had the thought formed than something caught her eye. Not Kennedy, he was still in silent stealth mode. Her hand. More specifically, the ring that Steve had given her. It was glowing, the purple tinted light seeming to pulsate with her heartbeat.


Samantha gingerly covered the ring with her hand. She figured she had just given away her position.


‘He can’t see it.’ Steve’s voice again in her head.


‘Great.’ Was her sarcastic reply.


‘Consider it an early warning device. It tells you when demons are close.’


‘How close?’ Samantha had been shifting on her feet, peering into the darkness even as she conversated with Steve in her head. Now she froze, straining even hard to hear.


‘Very close. Stay low. We’re gonna come in.’


‘No. Damn it. We haven’t had a chance yet.’




‘Don’t you Sam me. Get outta my head.’


She heard Steve sigh and then he was gone. Relieved, Samantha let her hand wander to the dagger that was strapped to her thigh. She froze again. This time because she’d spotted movement out of the corner of her eye.


It was Kennedy. Even in the darkness his white-blonde hair shimmered a bit. Samantha did not know how good his eyesight was, but there was not way, if he were a fang, that he couldn’t see her. He stood less than ten feet away and looked around. There was a flash of white. Samantha understood that he was grinning.


“Gotcha, sweetheart.” He sounded playful. Samantha sighed and stepped forward.


“I suppose it’s your turn to hide.” She said, standing so that he could not see the dagger strapped to her leg.


“Hide?” He tilted his head, looking at her quizzically in the darkness.


“Hind and seek? You know, you found me, I’m it, I’ll count to ten and let you hide then I’ll come looking for you?” Sarcasm was creeping into her voice. It was lost on the man standing before her.


“Sounds like a fun game. I have a better one.”


“Oh? Freeze tag?” Samantha grasped the dagger, waiting.


“No. I call it, kill the nosy bitch who ruined my place.” Kennedy chuckled. “I was hoping to find my special friends first, but you’ll make a nice start. Too bad there isn’t time for…you know.”


Samantha rolled her eyes. “As if I would ever.” Kennedy had tried to sound seductive. She could not believe that he was still thinking sex during all of this.


Kennedy shrugged. “Have it your way.” He took a step toward her. “Too bad really. There’s something about you…” He trailed off, voice sounding far away.


“Like I haven’t heard that line before.” Samantha stepped sideways. Kennedy looked at her, his head once again tipping sideways. Studying her. Perhaps changing his mind about time enough for raping her.


When he dove at her, Samantha was ready. The gold dagger flashed in the darkness, cutting the air. Kennedy threw his weight against her, dragging her down to the floor. She could not get the dagger at a good angle to stick him.


Samantha decided to go with another idea. Instead of fighting him off, she relaxed under his weight. Kennedy was ripping at the front of her shirt. She could hear the soft sound of buttons bouncing away into the darkness.


“That’s right, baby. See, you want me…” His breath was hot against her throat. Fighting against the nausea that rose in her at the sensation, Samantha brought her knee up between his legs with all her strength.

Kennedy screamed and rolled away from her, cupping his crotch, cursing her under his breath. Samantha was on her feet in seconds, spinning to face him again. He was quick to recover, gasping as he rose to his feet to stare at her. She could feel his anger coming from him in waves. Good. She wanted him angry. She could deal with anger. She did not want to deal with his fake seduction technique.


“That’s the last mistake you’ll ever make, bitch.” There was not playfulness in his voice this time. No longing, no pseudo-passion. He was pissed off. Samantha grinned in the darkness.


“Come on and prove it, asshole.”


Kennedy took a step toward her. Then grunted in pain. Jesse had snuck up behind him and knocked him on the head with a metal pipe she’d found on her way up to the loft.


Kennedy spun on her, trying to keep track of both women at once. His gaze settled on Jesse.




“Yep, me.” She grinned.


With a cry of anger, Kennedy rushed her, knocking her off her feet. Samantha was running, leaping into the darkness, landing on is back. The dagger seemed to heat up in her hand as she raised it above her head to strike him in the back with it.


Kennedy’s hands were wrapped around Jesse’s throat. Jesse was trying to wheeze in air, gasping and clawing at him. She pushed him up with all of her strength as Samantha jumped him, trying to give the other woman a good angle for the dagger.


With a cry of anger, Samantha swung the dagger down, over Kennedy’s shoulder. It sunk to the hilt into his chest, the tip of the blade coming out of his back. Kennedy wailed in pain and got to his feet, knocking Samantha away. He staggered, hands going to the handle of the dagger, and fell to his knees.


Samantha went to stand before him, watching as he gasped for air. The jewels on the dagger began to glow, matching the ring that she was wearing.  Kennedy screamed once, his face a mask of rage and pain. He fell onto his side, twitched once and went still. The soft purple glow from the ring and the dagger winked out at the same time. They did not fade, but stopped glowing as if they were candles that had been snuffed out.


Something was happening to Kennedy’s body. There was muffled snapping noises, strange gurgling sounds. Samantha made a face then leaned down, grasping the dagger in her hand. With one foot she pushed back on his chest as she pulled with her hands. The dagger let go reluctantly.


As soon as the knife cleared his chest, Kennedy’s body began melting. That was the only way Samantha could describe it. There were more of those strange liquid sounds, more pops. In the darkness she could see his skin. It seemed to boil from the inside out. Samantha backed up, bumping into Jesse. They grinned at each other.


“He’s gonna blow.” Jesse said, pointing. Samantha turned back to Kennedy, watching as his body seemed to swell.


“Gross. Is that what happens?” She sounded fascinated. Jesse smiled in the darkness.


“Not all the time. Sometimes they turn to dust.” The gurgling was louder. “I would suggest we get outta here, unless you want to be covered by that shit.”


“I’m with ya.” Samantha gave the bloated corpse one last look then turned and hurried after Jesse. “What about…”


“DJ?” Jesse sighed. “Dave is not going to like it. We’re going to have to take her out. She was helping him you see. That makes her just as dangerous as he was, if not more so.”


“Well, I’ll let you break the news to him.” Samantha said, her voice sad. Poor Dave. She felt sorry for him, for having to lose his woman for a second time. There was a loud pop from upstairs, much louder than the noises from earlier. “There he blows.” With a grim smile the women found the door and exited the barn.




Glen was shouting something.


Samantha turned her attention from Jesse to her husband, who was standing just inside the tree line. Of Dave and Steve there was no sign. She raised a hand in a half-wave then realized he was not waving back. He was yelling and motioning at something behind her.


Turning, feeling as if she were moving in slow motion, Samantha barely had time to see the crazed look on DJ’s face as she leaped at her, a knife flashing dully in the moonlight. Samantha was knocked backward into the grass with a shrieking DJ on top of her, swinging the blade wildly.


Samantha managed to hit DJ in the arm. The blade that was aimed for her heart veered right and sank into her shoulder. With a grunt of pain Samantha rolled to her side, throwing DJ off of her. She slowly got to her knees, the handle still sticking out of her shoulder.


DJ rolled and gained her feet quickly. She snarled at Samantha and came toward her again, nothing in her eyes but pure hatred and rage.  Jesse stepped forward, her arms snaking around DJ’s writhing body, holding onto her with ease.


DJ screamed and thrashed, fighting against the woman who had grabbed her. Samantha was slowly getting to her feet. Glen had appeared, rushing forward as soon as DJ had knocked his wife down. Dave and Steve were right behind him, both looking grim.


“You killed him! You bitch!” DJ was still trying to get to Samantha. She neither noticed nor cared that the three men had joined them.  Jesse shared a look with Steve and nodded. Steve stepped forward and helped her hold onto the fighting woman.


Samantha smacked Glen’s hand away from her and settled her grip on the knife in her shoulder. “You knew we were going to.” Was her simple statement as she tugged once and the knife slid free.  She threw it to the ground in disgust. Her shoulder already had a tingly, itchy feeling, meaning it was healing.  She tugged the golden dagger from its sheath on her thigh.


Dave stepped in front of her. “Don’t.”


“You know we have to. It’s not like I want to.” Samantha motioned for him to move but he did not budge. Dave held out his hand.


“Give it to me.”


Samantha stared up into his eyes for a moment, trying to read his blank expression. She hesitated then put the dagger into his hand. She did not immediately let go.


“DJ’s dead.” She said softly.


“I know.” Dave’s voice was just as soft. Samantha finally saw something in his eyes that almost broke her heart. She released the dagger and watched as he turned to face DJ.


DJ saw Dave with the blade and immediately went still. A cold smile twisted her face.  “Killing me is killing her.” The hateful creature laughed.


Dave stopped in front of her, looking down into the eyes of the woman he had loved for so long. There was no sign of his Diane there, nothing, just a deep hatred and empty heart. “Diane is already dead.” He said softly. He watched her eyes widen as he brought the blade up.


“Too bad really. We were good together, you and I.” Again a cold laugh. “You never even knew the difference when I took her over. Pitiful, stupid human male.” There was no pity in her voice. Dave almost thought he heard a tinge of fear.


Dave hesitated again, settling the blade in his hand. “I’m sorry Deej.” He barely muttered it. Without thinking he swung his arm, slicing through her neck with the razor sharp edge of the dagger.


DJ gurgled, her eyes round in surprise as her blood rained from the wound in her neck. Jesse and Steve let her go and she dropped to her knees, her hands going up to try to block the wound.


Dave let the dagger fall from his hands and stood there, head down, eyes closed, listening to the sound of his beloved dying. He felt a hand slip into his and squeezed gratefully, glancing to his side to see Samantha standing there, shoulder bleeding, trying to comfort him.


She gave him the saddest smile he’d ever seen in his life. “It’s over.”


Dave nodded. The sounds had stopped. There was silence for a few minutes. DJ’s body was crumpled at his feet. Jesse stooped down and checked her.


“She’s dead.” With a sigh she rose to her feet. “I don’t think we’re going to have a show like we did in the barn. This wasn’t a heart wound.” She kept her tone neutral as she looked at Dave. He was staring down at DJ, expression unreadable.


“I’ll take care of her.” His voice was still soft. He gave Samantha’s hand another squeeze then released her, kneeling down to gather DJ’s body in his arms. The others watched in silence as he took her into the barn.


Steve shuffled his feet. “As soon as he’s done we need to scatter.” Everyone nodded. He cracked a smile at Samantha, who was experimentally shrugging her shoulder. “Good job. And congratulations.”


“Congrats for what?” Samantha rubbed her shoulder. It was sore, but it was manageable. She’d live. She’d been wounded worse in her time. “Not to be a party pooper or anything but I don’t think any kind of celebration is in order…”


“Not a celebration.” Steve bent down and picked up the dagger. It had returned to its dark metal color, and seemed somehow smaller. He held it out for Samantha to take. “This belongs to you now.”


Samantha took it from him. It was smaller. And lighter. “I don’t get it.”


“You don’t need it right now.” Jesse said with a sad smile. “It only changes when it’s needed. And your ring…”


Samantha looked at her hand. The stone in her ring was no longer purple. It was pure black. It also seemed smaller.


“Kind of an early warning device. It’ll also work when you need it to.” Steve took her hand. “I suppose this is sort of a promotion.”


“A promotion?” Glen looked as confused as Samantha felt.


“No more fangs and dogs. A demon hunter, from now on. And your children…”


When Jesse paused, Samantha looked at her expectantly. “What about them?”


“All demon hunters as well. From birth. Not earned as you have earned it.” Jesse grinned. “Even little Katie. She’ll wake up her power sooner or later. They will need training. Lots of training. But I think we made the right choice in their teacher.” She stepped forward and took Samantha’s hand. “We have to go now. Back to our real mission, which is to watch over you and the kids and guide you.”


“You don’t have to…”


Steve smiled crookedly at her. “Yeah, we do. You don’t know what kind of energy it takes to keep these bodies going.” He stepped forward and kissed Samantha on the forehead. “I’ll still be with you for a while yet. Don’t ever wonder if you’re alone, got me?”


“I do. And thank you.” Samantha touched his face. Steve gave her one last look then reached over and shook Glen’s hand.


“You take care of her.” He told her husband. Glen was nodding.


“Always.” Glen gave Steve’s hand a squeeze then let him go. “And thank you. I’ll feel better knowing you’ll keep an eye on her.”


Steve grinned and backed away, heading for the barn. Jesse was smiling serenely. “I have to get back to Alex. David will be all right. With time. I can’t give away the future but I know it’s true. So don’t worry about him too much.” She reached over and hugged Samantha, then Glen.  “Don’t worry about the kids either. We’ll help guide them.”


“I know you will.” Samantha grinned at the other woman. “Thank you. For everything.”


“Think nothing of it. It’s a gift and a curse at the same time. Just depends on your mood when you think about it.” Jesse smiled and turned to leave. “Knowing you people like we do, we tend to look at it as a gift.”


“Agreed.” Samantha said. She wrapped an arm around Glen’s waist. They watched as Jesse disappeared into the barn. A few minutes later, Dave reappeared, looking more tired than Samantha had ever seen him. “You all right?”


“I will be.” Was his simple statement. He watched as the fire he had started in the barn grew, the orange and yellow flames licking at the dried wood of the building hungrily. “Let’s go home.”


“Good idea.” Glen gave Samantha a hug and turned to lead them from the burning building.  Dave hesitated, sparing one last glance before following his friends away from the flames.




Five years passed in the blink of an eye.


The family was gathered once again at Mark’s house. It was July fourth. The kids were excited about fireworks and food, and little else that day.


Glen was sitting on the porch steps with Samantha one step below him, cradled in his arms. They watched as Lily, Alex, Katie and Nick played a very involved game of tag. Lily, although the oldest of the group, was still on the small side. Her brother towered over her, grabbing her playfully and spinning her around. She squealed and laughed, making the adults on the porch smile.


“Kid’s gonna be bigger than the both of us.” Glen said with a grin, watching as Lily finally got her ‘little’ brother to put her down.


Mark laughed and nodded. “Mutant genes.”


“Nick is not a mutant.” Christine rolled her eyes and smacked him playfully on the arm.


“We’re all mutants.” Samantha said, leaning back more comfortably against her husband. “Where is Jack?”


“Picking up his girlfriend.” Glen chuckled. “I guess it’s about time we got to meet her.” Jack had met a girl in school named Ellie. They had been inseparable for three years. She came from a family of hunters too, so there was no problem worrying about what her reaction to them would be.


Jack was not twenty-one. Glen and Mark had discussed it and had given him his own team. He’d shown more than prodigious talent for running a group of hunters. Glen worried about him, of course, but his oldest son was very adept at taking care of himself.


Things went on the same after DJ’s death, and yet they were different. Every now and then that ring that Samantha always wore would begin glowing. Glen worried about her too, but Samantha took to demon hunting the same way she took to everything…with confidence and skill. The kids were growing into it too, each one learning and controlling their special gifts. Even little Katie, who had been slow to start. She’d been in the kitchen one day when everything on the table just started to float. When he’d walked into the room, he’d ruined her concentration and the dishes she’d been levitating had crashed to the floor.


“Dave’s running late.” Mark said, glancing at his watch. He smiled at Samantha. “You don’t think he maybe got a bit sidetracked?”


“I try not to think about it.” Samantha spoke up with a grin.


A few months after the incident with DJ, Samantha had decided to retire from fang hunting all together. She had a replacement for her expertise in mind. She’d called her father and Alexander had sent Jade to them.


Jade was…something. They all agreed on that at least. Blonde hair, blue eyes, she looked like the dream of the American girl. She had an attitude though, and a mouth that was dirtier than any sailor’s. Dave had been determined not to like her, just as he’d been determined not to like Samantha. Especially since Jade was Samantha’s best friend.


Until she’d shown up. And Jade and Samantha had immediately shared a war of words and insults. It was how they got along and they both seemed to like it. Fascinated in spite of himself, Dave had asked Jade out. She’d agreed. They’d spent the night talking about their pasts, their jobs, their lives. They’d spent the day in bed. They had been together ever since.


Glen had worried briefly that it was too soon after DJ for Dave to be going into any relationship headfirst. Samantha had laughed and pointed out that Jade was nothing like Diane, that Dave was smitten, and that DJ was in his past once and for all.


Mark rose to his feet. “I’d better check the food.”

Christine laughed and followed him. “It’s about time. I’m starving here.” They playfully argued as they went down the steps. Samantha looked up at Glen and smiled.




“So?” He kissed the top of her head. “What’s on your mind.


“Nothing. Just weird how things work out, that’s all.”


Glen smiled. He knew exactly what she meant. If anyone had told him that he and his brother would mend their fences, that he’d get married and have two more kids, that Jack and Dave both would find women who seemed to understand them…he’d have laughed and called them crazy.


“I suppose this is what a happy ending is supposed to look like.” He observed. Samantha smiled and pulled his arms about tighter around her body.


“If it’s not it’s gotta be a damn close thing.” She tilted her head and pulled him down for a kiss, the smile never leaving her features. It was not the end, and probably would never be the end as far as their lives as hunters were concerned, but Glen knew that these moments when all was right in the world made everything else worthwhile.