Dawn was only two or three hours away, and Jerry Cooper was nearly finished securing Celina Holston in the warehouse. The black blood box was effectively keeping Celina from mentally reaching out and calling any creature to her. He felt lightened by the drawing of energy coming from the box. Fears and anger were rolling off the vampire he'd carefully strapped to the crash cart, after nearly draining her dry. A small infusion of her blood now fueled the magical box that severed all ties between a vampire and their family. She couldn't touch anyone she'd created or controlled. Her minions and fledglings would be easy pickings for any vampire. From what he'd discovered in whispers and half-told tales was that once the box severed the vampire from their clan they were all vulnerable. They were considered rogues that could be taken by Master vampires and their kin without repercussions. He knew from his own incarceration by the Council's vampires that his fledglings and minions had been brutally picked off the same night that they'd captured him. Once he'd been freed he hadn't found a single soul he'd once owned.
"Well, my dear one. It looks like I'll be leaving you now." She half opened her eyes. He'd taken care to use some hefty silver dipped chains that he worked around the gurney and fastened to the bolts screwed into the cement. The worker who'd done the eyebolt installation into the flooring in the warehouse had thought it was for the large generator in the event a hurricane blew through. The bolts weren't going to be easily yanked out of the concrete, and he'd been careful to test them. Not at his full vampiric strength, but close enough that he knew not just any vampire would be able to pull the bolts free. The chains were large, solid links and the locks were heavy construction gauge. He'd paid dearly to have them all silver-plated. His story was that they were for an exotic art show and with a bit of blood drained from the jeweler and a memory or two pushed it was done. The thick leather gloves protected his hands from burning immediately but even with them on his hands he could feel the warmth and all too familiar tingle of pain that silver caused vampires.
He'd made sure to brush one of the heavy chains against Celina when he was securing her to the flooring and let it sizzle her forearm just a touch. Nothing like the brands and burns he'd had all over his body from what had happened to him back in Michigan, but a simple 'taste' of what she'd get if she tried to escape. The leather soft-restraints that kept her confined to the cart weren't vampire proof, but she wasn't in any shape to move much less pull against the straps.
Jerry watched her eyes fly to the bare windowpanes up high on the walls of the structure. There were a few trees swaying in view but it was obvious that without black out blinds the sun would come streaming in after dawn broke. That too was part of Jerry's design.
"Oh, those windows? They really allow quite a bit of the Florida sunshine to stream in by the middle of the morning. And there's such a lovely eastern facing exposure on that side of the warehouse." He laughed as her eyes grew round and horrified. He knew that she was remembering that the Vampire Council's death decree for him had included verbal and physical torture and sun exposure. He'd been stuck inside a windowed coffin set in the front of a bay window and was daily exposed to the brutal elements without any sympathy.
"Don't worry. You should be able to last one day of full sun. After all, you have been a nice little rogue vampire for quite a few years, and without a Master Vampire to pull from you there is a bit of power that you've built up all on your own. Naturally nothing nearly as close to what I had when you tempted me off the mean streets of Detroit and tried to destroy me. I lasted months of daily doses of sun with no blood and no fledglings to feed from to sustain me. Well, except for you and the one idiot vampire that got too close." He felt compelled to remind her, as if she'd forgotten.
His smile was filled with fangs and a bit of anger. Even years afterwards, he was still bitter about being captured and nearly killed by the Council's enforcers, because truly there'd been no good reason for them to try to kill him. He had never recognized the Council as his masters and found them to be little more than nuisances for all their posturing. But they were seizing control of anyone who stood their ground, and they were actively trying to dominate all vampires. It wasn't anything he wanted to be involved in, but they'd found him to be too strong and too out of control and tried to end his clan.
The southern vampire he now controlled started that ball rolling and he intended on finishing it.
She moved her mouth as she tried to speak. He knew how draining that magically crafted box was, and he also personally knew that she didn't have very much blood left in her. Celina closed her eyes tightly and hissed out, "Dead."
"Yes, you will be dead shortly." He saw in her thoughts she didn't mean her death but his. She'd yet to realize that he could hear her thoughts, even if somewhat muffled, but clearly enough to know what she was thinking.
Celina's eyes snapped open and she hissed softly again, this time allowing him to see her fangs. He laughed and patted her face condescendingly, easily avoiding her mouth while saying, "Such big teeth you have!" He didn't bother to add grandma and bit back a grin of his own as he heard her mental scream of anger and frustration. She really did have quite the mouth on her and if she'd been able to speak more than a word or two at a time the air would have been blue with cursing. Her skin had begun to dry out and she was chilled to the touch. He really couldn't neglect her for long, because she'd be dead for sure inside the week. They just didn't build vampires like they used to. Jerry was pretty disappointed in how he felt now that he was in control. He'd built her up in his mind as a worthy adversary from the time spent in Michigan fighting for his life, and now it looked like she was nearly mortal, she was so lackluster and useless. The nearly three years since he'd last seen her hadn't strengthened her skills, but diminished them from what he saw and heard.
"I sure hope I drive home safely! It would be horrible for you if something happened to me before I came back to feed you," he stepped away from the cart and the need in her eyes. The mere mention of 'food' sent a wave of longing for a vein to tap from Celina. She was craving blood since he'd drained so much from her. The blood she'd taken over the past few nights was all gone, and without any connections to her minions or fledglings she was beginning to finally panic a bit. Not enough for his pleasure, but that would change soon enough.
He decided to leave her car inside the warehouse to avoid being seen with it. Once her disappearance was noticed, the police would send out pleas for tips and information about her and her vehicle. With the corpse in her home the manhunt would be spread over the entire state, not just along the Fort Lauderdale-to-Miami corridor. It was going to be entertaining to watch how her fellow news folks covered her 'horrible sex crime' and her 'escape from justice.' That alone would keep him grinning for nights.
With dawn quickly approaching, he finished up the final touches around the warehouse. He left the gurney where it could not be easily seen, yet she'd still catch a few rays, weather permitting. While he'd been inside the warehouse pulling blood and setting her in place, it had rained again. He left from a side door that he bolted quickly. There weren't any two-legged creatures lingering in the shadows, but quite a few creatures that slithered. Trolls and vampires weren't the only non-native species that found the Floridian environment to be attractive. A large python was coiled around a stray cat than had lost the last of its nine lives. It took him a second to spot the snake but once he did he couldn't help but admire the teeth of the python as it pulled the animal inside its unhinged jaw. Its eyes were rolled back in a splendid display of reptilian delight as it did what came naturally to snakes.
Jerry did what came naturally to vampires; he made for the shadows and quickly raced back to Deerfield Beach to collect his car and make his way back to Boca Raton. It was a bit after four in the morning by the time he crossed the drawbridge on Camino Real and headed towards his home. The city was dead and he was exhausted.
He felt like he'd no sooner laid his head down to rest when there was a heavy hand pounding on his front door. Groaning, he glanced at the clock in his room and found out he'd been correct and he'd only been sleeping a few hours. He yanked on a pair of sweat pants and went to the door shirtless. He knew from the scent that the visitors wouldn't be leaving without talking to him. They smelled like guns and testosterone laced with a bit of fear. There were two heartbeats and he opened the door just as the larger of the two cops was ready to pound again on the door.
Raking a hand through his hair, he sighed and said, "Can I help you, officer?" Somewhat surprisingly, the smaller cop wasn't a man but a woman. She was just as tense and filled with pumped up energy as the six-foot-two partner. Nearly a foot shorter she was the one that answered.
She flipped open a small notebook and said, "Mister Cooper?"
"Yes, ma'am?" He leaned against the doorframe, blocking them from entering. He watched her eyes flicker up and down him, lingering on his half-naked form. She wasn't in the least attracted to him, but instead mentally cataloguing him for a report. She noticed the marks on his skin and categorized him as some sort of freak. Her manner wasn't overly professional, but bored and a bit frightened. Since they'd yet to ask him anything other than if he was Mister Cooper he didn't feel the need to fill the silence.
He really was going to have to move out of the neighborhood soon, with all the unannounced visitors showing up. Between the troll and now the police he wasn't feeling safe in his gated community in the least. He amused himself while out waiting the cop. She fidgeted slightly then said, "Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Cooper. May we come in?"
She looked over his shoulder in expectation of an invitation. She didn't appear sorry in the least to disturb him. Her partner had his hand resting on his gun in a heavy handed attempt to intimidate Jerry into saying yes.
"Why?" He stayed in the doorway and arched an eyebrow at the cops. He wasn't intimidated, but he was tired. He yawned widely, keeping his fangs in check despite the hour. He could hear there was activity further down street and knew that snacking on the public servants would be noticed no matter how quickly he pounced. Tempting though it was. It wasn't often he had angry, hot meals show up for breakfast.
He waited for her to answer as his reply caught her off guard.
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