Bad Blood(Aurora Sky:Vampire Hunter, Vol. 3)

By: Nikki Jefford

For the real life heroes of the world who stand up for who they are and what they believe in every single day.





1





Fifteen Minutes





Tonight I had to kill a vampire.

I had yet to hear the details, but once I passed this final field test I could leave boot camp and go home.

Jones, one of the female drill sergeants, entered the mess hall shortly after dinner. Five of us sat around a table playing “Go Fish” with a deck of cards. I had three sevens and I knew exactly who had the fourth because she’d asked Amber for it and was told to “Go fish.”

“Sky,” Sergeant Jones called in her megaphone voice.

Now? Really? I looked at her over my hand of cards.

“It’s time to get ready.”

The ladies at my table pounded the surface in unison. Amber whistled. The women playing dominoes at the next table joined in the ruckus, banging their table with their fists.

“Stake that sucker, Sky!” someone yelled through the din.

“All right, that’s enough,” Jones said. “Sky, come with me.”

I set my cards face down.

“Hey, Sky,” Donna called from across the table. “Catch a big one.”

Easy for her to say. She’d killed a vampire yesterday and had only to pass the time before going home next week. I did have an advantage over everyone in our group, though. They had only killed one vampire in a locked room during initiation, whereas I had killed four out in the real world. Marcus really ought to count as ten, but who was keeping track?

Donna mimicked flinging a fishing rod across the table, reeling it back in with gusto. The girls tittered.

I blew them a kiss before following Jones out. The mess hall wasn’t big. There were between fifteen and twenty of us girls at any given time, which meant lots of one-on-one with the sergeants and instructors.

Jones supervised our warm-ups in addition to random inspections inside our sleeping quarters. She walked me there now.

“Your clothing for this operation has been laid out on top of your bed,” she said at the door.

The barracks felt more like one long hallway than a room. Florescent lights hummed above the dingy laminate floor and two rows of metal-framed beds on either side. The hall was empty save for two newbie recruits sitting on top of their beds, textbooks open, cramming for written exams.

They had beds on opposite sides of the hall, closest to the double-doors that remained open until lights out at eight o’clock.

Jones stopped in the doorway.

“Be ready in ten,” she said.

The two recruits looked up briefly before sticking their noses back in their books.

I approached my bed at the end of the hall.

I’d gone six whole months without shedding blood or being bitten. Boot camp was no picnic, but it had been a necessary respite from my old life even when it felt like it would break me.

Now I had one final test before I could go home. Obviously I couldn’t carry out an assignment in army greens, but the outfit waiting on top of the bedspread stopped me in my tracks. Jones had done her best to fold a skimpy pink halter top and denim mini skirt. A pair of black stilettos crowned the thin pile. The halter top looked obnoxious compared to the olive green cotton T-shirt I’d grown accustomed to wearing day in and day out. I took it they weren’t sending me to the suburbs. This outfit screamed club or worse… escort.

I unlaced my boots and dressed quickly. I needed all the extra time I could spare to practice walking in heels. Before putting the stilettos on, I eyed the shoes and wondered if my assignment would involve stabbing a vamp to death with the heel.

God, I hoped not.

After folding my pants and T-shirt, I set them neatly inside my locker, propped against the wall beside my bed.

I took my first tentative step, followed by the next, trying not to wobble past the rows of single beds. Five steps in, I concluded that walking in high heels belonged on the long list of physical tortures I planned to avoid at all costs in the near future.

So this was what it was like to walk on stilts. I had to remind myself I was getting ready for a mission, not a circus act.

I attempted to glide gracefully across the room, but the floor threatened to connect with my ass every time my heel landed on the ground.

How in the world did my instructors expect me to kill a vampire while wearing five-inch stilettos without first breaking my neck?

I wouldn’t know the assassination details until the last minute. Donna said Sergeant Hansen gave her an icepick right before he instructed her to take out a vamp operating an ice cream truck in the suburbs of Portland.

I’d come to boot camp willingly, but now I wanted out. My first semester of college started in just over a week, and I needed to move into the house Agent Melcher had secured near campus. I wanted my privacy and freedom back, to say nothing of the stifling heat I’d suffered through all summer.

Melcher had sent me to the high desert. If this was his way of getting me to appreciate the Far North, it was working. I felt like I couldn’t breathe in this inferno. And forget about sleeping. People wondered how we slept with the continual light all summer long in Alaska. It was called tinfoil! But how did people sleep in over ninety degree temperatures? Air-conditioning, I guess, but no, not at boot camp. No, sir. Let the recruits suffer. It built character.

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