Good, the Bad, and the Vampire

By: Sara Humphreys

“I-I mean if you wanted to.” Lifting one shoulder, she stared at the phone in her hand. “It…it would be okay. I had one of my visions, you know. It was fuzzy, like always, but anyway…you should go after her.”

Everyone shifted his or her attention to Dakota, but the knowing smile on Olivia’s face gave him pause. The czar obviously knew he was attracted to Trixie, and based on the look she exchanged with Doug, so did everyone else. Shit on a shingle. Why did he suddenly feel like he was on a freaking vampire-dating game show?

“Thanks for the tip. I better be gettin’ out on patrol.”

Dakota tugged the door open and stilled when Trixie’s sweet spicy scent, an enticing peppermint with a hint of whiskey, wafted by. Gripping the doorknob, he fought the urge to unsheath his fangs as a swell of longing rolled through him. Damn, that woman smelled like Christmas morning and conjured up images of a cozy night by a fire. For a split second he remembered what it felt like to be human—warm and alive. But the sensation was gone as swiftly as it came.

His jaw clenched and a flicker of frustration shimmied up his back.

“Damn,” he whispered.

“Dakota? I think it would be wise for us to listen to Suzie.” Olivia kissed Emily’s head of red curls. “Why doesn’t Doug go out on patrol in your territory tonight? Just for a little while. That way, you can follow Trixie and make sure everything’s alright.”

“Good idea.” Doug rose from his chair and gave Dakota a thumbs-up. “I’ve got it covered, man.”

“Well…” Dakota began slowly, “I could check on her, y’know? Make sure she’s not gettin’ herself into any trouble.” Hands on his hips, he stared into the empty hall. “Suzie? Did you see somethin’ that worries you?”

“No,” she said in a barely audible voice. “N-not exactly.”

“Fine then.” He squared his shoulders and nodded at the well-meaning but meddlesome coven. “Happy to oblige. Once I know she’s safe, I’ll be right back on duty.”

* * *

The door shut behind Dakota and the room fell silent, except for Emily’s high-pitched babbling.

“Suzie?” Olivia placed Emily on the floor and the little girl wasted no time in starting to play with her new horse. “Is Trixie going to be okay?”

“Eventually, yes.” Suzie nodded, whispering, “Dakota is her bloodmate.”

“I knew it!” Maya shouted.

“Interesting,” Shane murmured. He kissed the top of Maya’s head and smiled as he exchanged a knowing look with his lover. “I may not be a modern man, but I do know what that poor bastard is about to go through. If you’ll all excuse me, I have something I need to take care of.”

“You’re not going to tell him that he’s her bloodmate, are you?” Suzie asked quickly. “They should figure that out for themselves…I think.”

“No, I’m just going to give him some reassurance.”

Without another word, Shane whisked out of the apartment in a blur.

“Am I crazy,” Doug said slowly, “or is Quesada about to give Shelton advice on his love life?”

“You’re not crazy,” Olivia said with a chuckle. “But this coven sure as hell is.”

* * *

Dakota stood on top of the stone wall of The Cloisters garden and wrestled with whether or not he really should follow her. Trixie sure acted like she hated him, so how would she feel if she found him spying on her?

Her form grew smaller in the distance as she flew through the night sky. He had to make a freaking decision soon or her trail would vanish. Hands on his hips, he swore under his breath. He hated feeling so damn confused.

“I suspected I’d find you here.”

Shane’s voice cut through the night and pulled Dakota from his thoughts. He didn’t flinch but kept looking in the direction where Trixie had flown off. It would be a bad move to let Quesada know that he’d actually been able to sneak up on him.

Damn, his infatuation with this woman was makin’ him crazy and sloppy.

“What are you talkin’ about, old man?” Dakota settled his hands on his hips and cast a glance at Shane, who now stood on the wall beside him. “And what are you doin’ out here? That party is still goin’ strong.”

“I’ll overlook the insult about my age, given your current state.”

“What state would that be?”

“Let’s just say, you seem distracted lately.”

“You sayin’ that I’m not doin’ my job?” Dakota squared his shoulders. “Because if you’ll recall, I was the one who took down those two drifter vamps last month. Humans didn’t even get a whiff of the trouble they were causin’.”

“You misunderstand me,” Shane said with his typical calm. “I may be far older than you, Shelton, but it was not long ago that I was in your position.”

“What are you talkin’ about?” He shifted his stance to get a better look at his partner.

“I was new here as well. An outsider.” He folded his hands in front of him, his expression calm but serious. “I know how odd and almost unnerving it can be to be around their family unit. It took some time for me to feel at ease here.”

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