A/N: Okay, so you might wanna read chapter 19 of RHGtM before you read this since it takes place right after.


"Five bucks says there's wood paneling in the rooms." Jamie said as they pulled up to the Argus Motel.

It definitely looked like that type of place. Probably had cheap paintings of forest scenes in every room, too. Driving through the heartland with only pit stops in the most out-of-the-way places had gotten Ailbe and Jamie well accustomed to the decor sensibilities of this region of America.

"Make it twenty." Ailbe said as got out of the car. "And it's for who can guess the number of deers there'll be. Paintings, post cards, figurines, they all count. No antlers, though."

Jamie followed, dodging a bit to avoid the stubbed-out cigarette Ailbe had thrown into the patch of grass behind him. He glared at the necromancer to let him know how much he didn't appreciate it, but Ailbe ignored him like always."Fine. I'll say six."

"I'm going five. Now, c'mon before the bars in this shithole town close."

"Five? Did you just underbid me like we're on the goddamned Price Is Right?" Jamie grumbled. Ailbe gave him a shrug and a smirk.

They entered the lobby of the hotel. At the front desk was a young man, probably early twenties. He put down the dog-eared paperback he had been reading and stood as the bells above the door tinkled. Ailbe looked at Jamie and got a subtle nod. Dude was a werewolf.

"Checking in?" The wolf asked, jiggling his mouse to get his computer to wake up.

"Yeah. You got any smoking rooms?" Jamie was glad he didn't have to worry about cancer anymore, because he would have died of second-hand smoke years ago—Ailbe was a fucking chimney. Being dead didn't have a lot of perks, but that was one of them.

"Yes, we do. I have a smoking room with two queen beds—"

"We just need one bed." Ailbe interrupted the kid, who looked surprised at that, but also like he was trying not to look surprised.

Probably to overcompensate for his not very subtle reaction, he asked. "How long have you two been together?"

"Twenty years." Ailbe answered without hesitation, while Jamie bit his tongue.

The guy was a werewolf, yeah, but Jamie didn't like going around and telling people what he was if it wasn't absolutely necessary. So, he couldn't clear things up, because then he would also have to explain why he didn't need a bed.

Instead, he looked around the lobby and counted the deers. Three so far, two in a painting and one on a brochure.

"Ah, congratulations." The front desk clerk said awkwardly—Jamie took the time to check out his name tag, which read Abel. He very clearly put the subject out of his head and soldiered on instead of wondering how that could be true since it looked like they would've been small children twenty years ago.

Well, Ailbe had been a kid, though he'd probably argue about hearing his fifteen-year-old self being described that way. I'm old enough to hunt down vampires, Grandpa, Jamie remembered said smart ass fifteen-year-old saying. Jamie himself had been twenty-one when they had met, an adult by any account. He'd be twenty-one until he died.

"So I have a smoking room with one queen bed available. How many nights will you be needing?"

"Let's start with three." Ailbe answered and dug his keys out of his pocket. "Here." He threw them at Jamie. "Go start getting the shit out of the car."

Jamie had caught the keys—undead reflexes were to thank for that, had he been alive, they would've smacked him in the face. He really wanted to lob them at the necromancer's head. Ailbe was a grade-A asshole sometimes. No, a lot of the time. Jamie sighed, left the lobby and got to work unloading the trunk.

Ailbe was also a good friend to have in a crisis. He was a pain in the ass of the highest order, but Jamie couldn't argue that he was steadfast, loyal, and very useful. The vampire wouldn't have the kind of cash he had now if it wasn't for Ailbe. Contrary to popular belief, once you're turned into a blood-sucking creature of the night, you're not automatically gifted with a fat bank account and a castle. Hell, even robbing people you ate didn't net all that much.

Jamie had met a few vamps over the years that worked at night shift jobs all nice and legal. But there were the start up fees that went with that kind of life, namely fake IDs, birth certificates, and social security numbers. And that wasn't taking into consideration that you'd have to do it all again in ten to fifteen years to keep people from noticing you didn't age. Plus, the hassle and danger of playing fast and loose with the sunrise. Jamie would never risk getting burnt and crispy for minimum wage.

With technology nowadays, there was the option to work from home. Never mind the fact that he'd still had to pay to prove you were a person, it definitely wasn't an option for Jamie, he'd go crazy if he was stuck in the house all night.

No, Jamie had chosen to go back to what he had been doing when he'd been alive. Burglary and general thievery. With a necromancer on your side, you could get the dead to talk and sometimes the dead had secrets that were worth a whole hell of a lot of money.

Besides the more mundane B&E's, they also targeted witches. Simple spell bottles—used even—fetched high prices. The Families were always trying to screw each other over, so they were easy to unload, too. Though, the stakes on those jobs were a lot higher.

A witch wouldn't call the cops if they caught him stealing from them. Nope, they'd light his ass up like a Christmas tree. And knowing witches, Jamie thought that they'd wake their kids so they could also rejoice in watching someone being burned alive.

Jamie closed the trunk just as Ailbe was stepping out of the office. "I wish you wouldn't do that."

"What?" Ailbe demanded.

"The one bed thing." He answered as he thrust Ailbe's bags towards the necromancer.

Ailbe grabbed his stuff and started towards one of the nearby numbered doors. "What? You don't sleep, you die, you don't need a bed." He unlocked the door and ushered Jamie in before him.

"Yeah, but what if I met a nice woman and wanted to get to know her?" Jamie threw his bag down near the dresser holding up the old fashioned TV set. Ailbe dropped, then kicked his duffel full of clothes further into the room, but laid his other bag on the desk with a lot more care. That was the one with his necromancer supplies.

"Well, then I guess you'll have to find a nice bathroom or alley to commune in." Ailbe said, lining up his next cigarette.

"You're such a cheap bastard, can't even spring for a second bed."

"Hey, I got a kid I have to put through college."

Jamie snorted. "You already put enough away to send Shiloh to a goddamned Ivy League."

Ailbe flopped down onto the bed. Jamie followed suit just to piss him off. The vampire got an elbow to the side, but that was it. Jamie smacked him back, throttling his strength so he didn't actually hurt his friend—he wasn't werewolf strong, but he could leave a nasty bruise without trying.

"His mom'll be happy if he agrees to community college."

"Teenage rebellion? Gee, I wonder where he got that from."

"At least I was being practical about my future when I was his age."

"Raising the dead is practical?"

"Damn straight. It also provides financial stability. Like I always say, you can't put a price on saying goodbye to grandma." Ailbe stretched until he could reach the ashtray on the bedside table. He balanced it on his stomach, flicked the ash off of his cigarette, and sighed. "CJ's all up in arms about it. She's been yelling at me to yell at Shy. I keep telling her that experience is the best teacher. I'm all for letting him try to pursue music. If he makes it, great. If not, there's a life lesson for him."

Jamie laughed. "You know I went to LA to try to break into the music business. I ended up dead." The thievery had been to pay the bills, but he had had goals back then. Dreams, even.

"Yeah, but Shy's smarter than you."

"Dickweed." They were quiet for a second before Jamie realized something. "Hey, look, paneling." He pointed to the wall the bed's wooden headboard was pushed up against.

"That's one wall. Doesn't count, you wouldn't've won."

"I just said wood paneling. I didn't specify complete coverage or just an accent wall."

"Okay, fine, you won the bet we didn't actually make. Accent wall, Jesus." Ailbe mocked. "You watch too much HGTV."

"It's a good channel." Jamie countered, indignant. He liked to watch things that were very formulaic and didn't slap him in the face with how fast the world was changing. Cortez lived for that kind of thing. Jamie's discomfort with it so soon in his vampiric life didn't really bode well for his chances of seeing a century, so he didn't like to think about it.

"Are we going out or what?" Jamie demanded.

"Yeah, yeah, hold your fucking horses. Remember, don't start any shit with the wolves. I'm not going to save your ass if they decide they want to tear you apart."

"Hey, if they turn on us, you should be worried. I can run a hell of a lot faster than you."


On their way out to the Mustang, Jamie tried to hand back the keys, but Ailbe waved him to keep them. Jamie was suspicious, unless he was dead tired, Ailbe never turned down the chance to drive. He got an answer when Ailbe pulled out his phone.

They both got into the car. Jamie pulled out of the parking lot as Ailbe returned the text he had just gotten. The vampire thought the fact that he so adamantly stuck to the deal he had made with his kid about not texting while driving was hilarious. And adorable—he was secure enough in his masculinity to admit that.

"The ol' ball and chain yelling at you some more?" Jamie asked, heading towards the main drag of town. If there was a bar anywhere in this tiny town, that was where it would be. They could have asked Abel, but unsurprisingly neither of them were the type to ask for directions. Winging it was more their style.

"We're not married. Me and CJ never even dated, for chrissakes!" Jamie grinned. It never failed. Ailbe always reacted that way whenever someone referred to the mother of his child as his wife or girlfriend. Jamie thought it was because he was still sour that he hadn't gotten to bang her at least a few more times before she had shown up at his place with the news that he was about to be a daddy.

It was also a lot of fun to listen to him get all riled up about her endless string of "incompetent, asshole, wannabe-step-dad" boyfriends.

"And it's Shy. He wants to come down here to hang out with his friend this summer."

"The kid with the Camaro?"

"Yeah. The fact that he's asking me means his mom already turned him down. I don't think she wants him in a town full of werewolves."

"That's prejudiced."

Ailbe shrugged. "She's human. All the monsters are scary to her."

"Oh! Here we go. No, wait, never mind." Jamie said quickly. The place had country music leaking out onto the street from the propped-open door, which didn't endear the place to either of them, but it obviously served alcohol. Unfortunately, Jamie could smell wolves. Lots of them.

"Werewolf bar? Ha, not exactly subtle." Ailbe pointed to the sign bearing the bar's name. The Teeth.

They moved along, but after fifteen minutes of cruising up and down the town's busiest streets, it became clear that if there was another bar in town, you had to be a local to find it.

"Fuck it, I'm gonna ask somebody." Jamie started to slow, trying to find someone on the street he could talk to.

"No, just go back to the wolf bar. It's not like we're here to kill anybody, we're here to help even. If they ask us to leave, we'll go. If they ask you to leave, you can head back to the motel and find something to jerk off to."

"You're the worst." Jamie grumbled, but pulled up the werewolf bar.

As they entered, not everyone stopped what they were doing to look at Jamie, but enough of them did for the vampire to notice. When the ones who obviously had pegged him as being a member of the undead started elbowing, whispering to, and bringing their friends' attention to him, Jamie took that as a sign. A big ol' caution sign.

"Okay, I'm out."

Ailbe passed him the room key and clapped him on the shoulder. "Don't get jizz on my bed."

Jamie didn't bother responding to that and headed out.


Jamie didn't go straight back to the motel, instead he drove around, trying to see what—if anything—North Ridge had to offer. The town went by in a flash, nothing really catching his eye, and he found himself heading towards the outskirts.

Hazard lights caught his attention. There was a car barely on the shoulder, a figure kneeling by the front left tire. Jamie slowed, but didn't hop out of the car right away. It'd be a perfect ploy to lure some poor, unsuspecting schmuck into being a vampire's lunch.

Vampires could always tell if other vampires were around, though Jamie's range was pretty limited. Cortez said that it would get better as he aged, but then Cortez had a ridiculous range and admitted that it had been that way since night one for him. Jamie figured Cortez was just trying to make him feel better about his lackluster vampire detector. He knew that if they were in a RPG, that Cortez would be a master vampire, and he'd be a regular run-of-the-mill one.

Still, his vampire detector wasn't that crappy. He was close enough that if whoever's car was broken down was a vampire, he'd be able to feel it.

He wasn't getting anything. Jamie parked behind them and got out.

"You can get back in the car, I don't need the help."

Despite the words, Jamie neared the broken down car to find a blonde woman muscling the lug nuts off of a flat tire.

"Are you sure?" Jamie asked, though he didn't know what he would do if she suddenly changed her mind. He didn't know jack shit about cars.

The woman suddenly straightened up and looked him up and down. Her gaze was appraising and suspicious, which made him nervous.

Then the wind changed and few more things made sense. Jamie could smell wolf.

"You gonna be dumb?" She demanded, readjusting her grip on her tire iron.

Jamie hurriedly took a step back and held up his hands. "No! I'm not—I mean, I just saw your car and—"

"And you thought I'd be an easy snack?"

"No, Jesus!" He was getting insulted now. He had standards and picking off stranded motorists was beneath him. "I'll just go." He turned to do so, but the woman sighed.

"You got a phone on you? Mine died about two miles back."

"Yeah." He dug it out of his pocket. It was an older model, but he didn't get why his phone needed to be smart. He could call and text people, that's all he needed his phone to do.

Jamie handed it over, she took it and started dialing. He looked out into the trees lining the road to give her privacy. Or at least, the illusion of privacy. He tried his best to block out the other side of the conversation, but there really wasn't anything he could do about this side of it short of going back to the Mustang and cranking up the radio.

"Yeah, I'm here. I got a flat right as I got into town. Yeah, I fucking know. Anyway, did you call Rowan? I don't wanna get my ass jumped. Okay, good. Of course, I'll tell him. It's why you wanted me to haul ass all the way out here. Yeah, bye. Here ya go."

Jamie turned around at that and accepted his phone back.

"No problem."

"Anyway, you said you wanted to help?"

There wasn't that much light out where they were, but that wasn't much of a hurdle for the vampire. He hadn't had much time to appreciate it before the accusations started flying around, but the woman was gorgeous. Which wasn't too surprising since she was a werewolf.

She had long blonde hair swooped up in a messy bun and full lips. She was wearing an old AC/DC t-shirt that had the sleeves ripped off and faded jeans tight enough to show off her sexy thighs. Jamie had a weakness for thighs. He didn't get the whole thigh-gap trend, he wanted to see them touch. The only gap he found attractive was the one where his face went.

None of this is to say that he wouldn't have offered assistance had he not found her attractive, he would have—his mother raised him right, mostly—it was just a bonus. He couldn't drink or get high anymore, the only vice left to him was sex with as many beautiful woman as he could manage.

"Sure. What did you need me to do?"

"Hang on." She said, kneeling again to get the last lug nut off of the tire, the she stood again. "Okay, I'm going to lift the car so I don't have to get out my jack. You're going to take the old tire off and put the spare on, capisce?"

"I could lift the—" Jamie started to offer, but she cut him off.

"We both know it'd hurt your little vampire arms. 'Kay, ready?" There wasn't any time to get offended since she was dipping down into a squat like a powerlifter and trying to get a good grip on the car.

Jamie hopped to as one side of the car started to leave the pavement. He got the flat off and rolled the nearby new tire on as quickly as his vamp speed let him, which was pretty fast. The werewolf was slowly lowering the car back to the ground in no time.

"I'm Jamie." He introduced himself as he wiped his hands on his jeans.

"Zee Zee." She started to put on the lug nuts while Jamie, wanting to be helpful, rolled the flat back towards her open trunk and put it inside.

"You know this is pack territory, right?" Zee Zee asked when he was back in sight. The words weren't threatening, she was just letting him know. Jamie took that as an encouraging sign.

"Yes, I was invited here as a matter of fact." Okay, so Ailbe had been the one they had invited, but whatever, he was cleared to be here.

"What does a pack need a vampire for?" She asked, done with the tire finally.

"Other vampires are being dipshits."

"Okay. So do you know any good places to eat around here? I'm fucking starving."

"Ah, no, sorry. Just got into town. And I don't eat."

"Oh, right." She laughed. "How about a hotel then?"

"That I can help you with. As long as you don't require something fancy."

"Do I look like I do fancy? I'll follow you. Hopefully they have some place that delivers."

"A werewolf pack lives here, I don't see why they wouldn't."

"Good point. Now let's go before my stomach eats itself."


It didn't take very long for them to get to the Argus. North Ridge wasn't exactly a sprawling metropolis. Jamie parked the Mustang in front of their room and got out. Zee Zee was only a few spots over.

"Well, if you'd like any company, this is where you can find me." He said, nodding towards his room.

She smirked and looked him up and down. "I might take you up on that offer."

Zee Zee went into the lobby as Jamie tried not to get too excited. It was always touch and go with shifters who weren't turned off right off the bat. He though it was because they knew what he really was. A murderer. Though Ailbe thought that was bull since shifter society was violent as hell.

All Jamie knew was that had he known the hot chick in the bar all those years ago had killed people, he wouldn't have been so eager to go home with her. The fact that vampires killed to survive wouldn't have made it any better back then, it was a lot easier to see it in black in white when you were on the other side and didn't have to make those kinds of decisions.

He had made his choice, though. Cortez had given it to him straight. He didn't want to hear any whining or crying about it. Vampires killed or they died. And death was a choice. He refused to hear any vampire claim that they had to kill. The truth of it was that as soon as someone was turned, they were dead and anything after that was stolen time. Yes, it was unfair, but it was the truth. Cortez told him to either own the fact that he was a murderer or go find a nice spot to watch the sun rise.

Jamie shook off his morbid thoughts. He was trying to get laid.

He was going back to his room when he heard Zee Zee's raised voice. "Oh, don't piss your pants. Just call your boss, he knows I'm here. No, not your actual boss, your pack leader. Christ."

Jamie stalled, though he didn't know why. Like before, he was useless in this situation. He couldn't interfere in pack business. Two different packs it sounded like since Zee Zee referred to Abel's pack leader.

When they got to talking about room types and stay lengths, Jamie went inside, he didn't want to look like a creeper. Being a vampire, he needed as much help in that department as possible.


It wasn't too much later that there was a knock on his door. Jamie turned off the TV and answered it. It was Zee Zee, of course—Ailbe was still off getting drunk.

"Care to keep a lady company?" She asked, leaning against the open doorway with a devilish smile. Which Jamie was a sucker for. If she wanted to kidnap him and sell off his body parts to witches for their spells, he was screwed, because his dick had officially taken over the decision-making.

"Sure." Jamie said. He locked up the room and followed Zee Zee to hers.

"Not that you'll care, but the pizza in this town is pretty good."

"I'll be sure to pass that along to my food-consuming friend."

Zee Zee's room looked just like theirs down to the ugly flower-print comforter on the bed, except there was a lack of the deep-seated cigarette smoke that came with theirs.

Jamie sat down on the bed. "So are you just passing through?" Like he hadn't overheard that whole conversation before. It sounded like she had come—had been sent—to this tiny town for a reason. Jamie wasn't going to pry, though, he was just making conversation.

Zee Zee straddled his lap instead of answering. "Oh, sorry. Was I not clear about why I invited you over?"

Jamie smiled, he liked forward girls. "I think I'm all caught up."

"Good." With that, she pushed him back down onto the bed.


Jamie thought there was nothing like a good nap and a cuddle after sex. Ailbe could keep his cigarettes. The vampire woke up a few hours later, Zee Zee was still wrapped around him, dead to the world. He extracted himself as gently as he could. He'd love to stay, but the sun was coming.

The motel wasn't ritzy enough to have their own personalized notepads in every room, so Jamie had to make due with writing his note on a napkin. Had a great time. If you want a repeat performance, you know where to find me.

He took lightning fast shower, got dressed and left, making sure the door shut and locked behind him—there were vampires running around town. He strolled across the parking lot to his own room, a little bounce in his step. The door was propped open, but Jamie wasn't worried, he couldn't smell any wolves, and there wasn't any of that itchy feeling at the back of his skull told him if any of his kind were lying in wait. No, all he could feel was the weird energy necromancers put out. It felt kind of like a lazy wind, very breezy and easy to ignore most of the time.

Left unchecked, however, it felt like invisible fingers were sinking into him, idly touching his insides, both the physical and the immaterial parts—he didn't know how accurate it was to call it his soul. It creeped him the hell out and he was glad that Ailbe was good enough with his power that it didn't spill all over, even when he was exhausted or unconscious.

Said necromancer was stretched out on the bed, idly channel surfing. He smelled like booze and smoke, like he often did.

"How'd you get back?" Jamie asked.

"Unlike certain people, everyone likes me. I got a ride. By the way, there's a little window in the bathroom."

"Damn it, why? Who wants windows in bathrooms?" Jamie grumbled as he went to his bag.

Ailbe shrugged, steadily demolishing his pack of smokes. "Exhibitionists? People who are afraid to see how they look under those harsh halogen motherfuckers?"

The vampire dug out a roll of aluminum foil and a some duct tape. "You told them about housekeeping?"

"Yeah, I told them we wouldn't need any. You baby."

"Well, excuse me, if I don't wanna be flash-fried by some poor housekeeper just trying to give you extra towels."

"You can sit against the door this time, it opens in. Viola, problem solved."

"I'm just worried about the day when they force it open and find a corpse. That being the best case scenario."

Ailbe laughed. "Good thing body bags are light-tight. And you'd have to hope that the coroner's office is backed up enough that they don't run an autopsy on you right away."

"Thanks for your concern." Jamie said sarcastically as he went into the bathroom. The small window above the toilet was frosted glass, but even that was still too much sunlight to survive. He got to work covering it with aluminum foil.

"I'll get the flashlight. Remember to bail me out if anybody calls the cops on me." Ailbe called from the other room. Jamie heard him leave.

Jamie had the window covered and taped down by the time he heard Ailbe tramping through the weeds on that side of the building. Jamie turned off the bathroom light and shut the door. "Okay, shining now. See anything?"

None of the flashlight's beam was getting in. There weren't any cracks or gaps in his work. Good, he could breathe easy before dawn came. Jamie knocked on the window instead of speaking. Motel walls tended to be paper thin, but he couldn't judge what a human would and wouldn't be able to hear all that well anymore.

Ailbe started making his way back to the room. Jamie grabbed the rolled up towels and started refolding them so they could be stuffed under the door to prevent any light leaking in from the crack between floor and door.

He sat down on the bathroom floor when he was done. The sun would be rising soon, might as well try to find a semi-comfortable spot. Not that it mattered all that much, but Jamie still wasn't going to try to lie down in the bathtub even if he wouldn't feel the cricks it'd leave in his neck when he woke up. He had a thing about bathtubs.

Ailbe knocked on the door just as the tiles underneath Jamie were starting to warm up. The vampire groaned. "You know it's after piss time, right?" He demanded.

That was the way they did things when they traveled together, once Jamie got his impromptu coffin all set up, there weren't any bathroom breaks allowed. Neither of them wanted dawn to catch him while he was waiting for Ailbe to do his business. Even if direct sunlight wasn't a problem, trying to haul a corpse back into the bathroom would be a pain.

It was a good thing that in most hotels, the sinks were set up outside of the bathroom. And there was the fact that Ailbe was mostly nocturnal as well, so he spent the day sleeping. Jamie had never asked what he did if his bathroom needs were more urgent than a piss during the daylight hours. He didn't want to know. Another good thing about being a vampire, he hadn't had to take a shit since 1992.

"No, I stopped by the desk and got you a blanket."

"Oh." Jamie opened the door, feeling a little bit like an asshole. Blankets offered extra protection. He didn't always use them, but they did make him feel better. Such was the life of someone who was as likely to be set on fire as a creme brulee.

Ailbe handed him the blanket then shut the door. Jamie fixed the towels then covered himself with the brown, fuzzy blanket. He heard the old springs protest as Ailbe got into bed.

"So you got some?"

Jamie grinned. "Yeah, I did."

"Should I tell RJ your wedding's off?"

Jamie flipped him off even if he couldn't see it. "She'll come around, just you wait."

"She doesn't mess around with dead guys."

"I'll change her mind." Jamie mumbled, mind already slowing down as the sun neared. Ruby Jean, or RJ as she preferred to be called, was a necromancer, too. She was fierce, had an attitude, had no problems taking care of herself, and had thighs and an ass he dreamed about regularly. She also had a strict no-dead-guys rule—vamps and ghosts—but she flirted back whenever he started. She made a point in telling him it wouldn't go anywhere, but one of these days...

Jamie didn't notice the sun's arrival. It was always like that. One second he was there, and in the next, everything was gone, even himself.


The first thing Jamie noticed when he "woke up" was the smell of blood. "Do you have to do that inside?" He grumbled, pushing the blanket off of him.

"Yeah, why don't I just go draw my blood out in the parking lot? That's not suspicious or weird at all. I'll just tell anybody who asks that I'm starting a homegrown blood drive. Grassroots type of thing. Blood of the people, for the people. No big Red Cross getting in the way."

Jamie left the bathroom, the light from the lamp on the bedside table stabbing through him. He squinted until he could adjust. Ailbe was sitting on the bed, arm tied off as he filled a bag with his blood.

"Does this mean there's been a new development with the junkies?" Like the wolves had already found and subdued them? Jamie could only wish. He wasn't too eager to go toe to toe with vamps hopped up on shifter blood.

"No, I'm just being optimistic." Ailbe wasn't at all apprehensive about any possible encounter, he was a necromancer, the dead were afraid of him. "Scope out any possible hideouts or get any tingles from your vampey senses on your cruise last night?"

"Nope." Jamie pulled out the chair shoved under the desk and sat down.

"Damn. If this hunt goes on any longer, I'm gonna get Cortez to come down and use his ass like a vampire LoJack." Cortez was a vampire magnet. No one, not even Cortez himself, knew if it was a legitimate vampire skill or a series of coincidences. Either way, Jamie was thankful for it.

Jamie had run into Cortez on the first night of his new vampire life. He hadn't had any idea of what the hell had happened to him. All he knew was that he'd met a hot chick in a bar, hooked up with her, and the rest was a blur except for waking up in a bathtub of a condemned house surprisingly still in possession of both his kidneys.

Cortez had explained the basics to him as he searched for someone to feed to Alexander. Alexander being his on-again off-again something. Even being stuck in the car with them on a road trip he had somehow been dragged along on, he didn't get what their deal was. They seemed to have only two modes, banging like rabbits and fighting like high school girls.

"You could've brought Tel." Jamie pointed out. Tel was older than Cortez. Not the most sociable guy, but a good one to have around in a fight.

Ailbe snorted. "Who do you think I called first? Couldn't get a hold of him. Probably living in a cabin off the grid somewhere, obsessively sharpening his swords."

There was a map of the local area spread out on the desk with a spot circled in highlighter. "What's this?" Jamie asked.

"That's where they found the body." Ailbe answered as he took the needle from his arm. Another reason they didn't want a housekeeper poking around their room. It'd look weird if they found packages of blood wrapped up in the mini fridge.

"They said they searched the area when they first started looking for the boy."

"So they brought him there after they killed him? That's new. They usually leave their kills at their hideouts. We only found them after they were long gone. Why the change? Did they really think the middle of the woods where the werewolves run was a better hiding place? These kids are dumb—drinking shifter blood proves it—but are they that dumb?" Jamie asked.

"Maybe they wanted him found." Ailbe said.

Jamie looked at him. The smell of blood was still thick in the air, but it didn't call to him. He would rather die than drink necromancer blood.

"Why the hell would they be trying to start things with a pack of werewolves?"

"Could be throwing down the gauntlet, could be something else. Remember that dead vamp we found at their last abandoned den?"

"Yeah," Jamie answered. The guy had been beaten pretty severely before someone had clumsily chopped off his head. They thought he was just a casualty of their group being composed of at least half shifter-blood junkies. Once vampires got addicted, they started to turn a lot more aggressive. Not to mention the mood swings were terrible. And withdrawal was enough to turn them into animalistic monsters.

"I'm starting to think there might be dissension in the ranks."

"About time, if I was part of their group, I would've peace-ed out the first time somebody thought it was a good idea to go try to eat somebody who could turn into a giant animal with claws."

"Dumbass baby vamps. When we catch them, I'm going to ask who made them, then I'm going to let that motherfucker know how much I didn't enjoy cleaning up their mess."

Jamie shoulders tightened up, the root cause of this whole thing still pissed him off. "Some asshole thought they were just pulling off a regular bait-and-switch and didn't think that their offspring would group up and start taking down shifters."

It was a common trick among the older vampire crowd. When they felt witches closing in, they'd turn a couple of people and run in the opposite direction. Newbie vamps with no one to guide them tended to attract attention, so the witches took care of them while the old vamp found another city to get lost in.

It was what happened to Jamie. That hot chick at the bar had killed him then left him to die again.

"Hey, how many deers did you count?" Ailbe asked, changing the subject. Jamie didn't know if he did it because he simply felt like it, or because he knew it was a sore subject for him. Either way, he appreciated it.

"Three in the lobby, one in here." Their room came with another crappy painting, just one deer this time.

"I was closer, pay up." Ailbe demanded, lazily holding out a hand.

"You went over, fuckface!"

"Oh, now who's playing The Price Is Right?"

"Those have always been the rules. Even before Bob Barker picked up a skinny microphone."

"Yeah, whatever, get ready. We have vampires to hunt."

One would think that Jamie—a vampire—would have issues hunting down his own kind. After all, these were dumb kids, things wouldn't have gotten so out of control had somebody sat them down and told them the facts of the undead life. But, Jamie was fine with it. There was a balance to maintain and they—dumb kids or not—had upset it in a way that put Jamie's own life in danger. Which meant they had to go.

It was selfish, yes, but he had come to terms with that a long time ago. Being a vampire meant being selfish enough to deem your own continued existence more important than the lives you ended. So Jamie would do whatever he had to do to see another night.