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Authors: James R. Tuck

Tags: #Fantasy, #Vampires

Blood and Bullets

BOOK: Blood and Bullets
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BLOOD AND BULLETS
There was a blink, a tiny fraction of a moment, with her becoming motionless like only the dead can. It was less than a second, but she stiffened and her skin became like stone. In a breath it was over and her imitation of life flowed back into her like magick. She acted like she was breathing, and her skin became soft and pliable again. If I had been a normal guy or maybe not holding her so close, I would have missed it, but now I had what I needed. If Gregorios was here, he was in that room, behind the metal door.
Now I just had to get in there without getting me or Larson killed in the process.
“I'm sorry, sugar, that room is not open right now; it's being remodeled.” She batted her long eyelashes at me.
Grabbing my coat sleeve, she pulled me to a room. My mind was racing. I needed to figure out how to get rid of Blair, get in the dungeon, deal with a 600-year-old vampire and whoever he had guarding him, and keep Larson alive. All before dawn. Should be no problem for a big damn hero like myself.
Yeah, right.
Advance praise for James R. Tuck and
Blood and Bullets
!

Blood and Bullets
is bursting at the seams with picture-painting language and satisfying surprises. Deacon Chalk is so vividly drawn you can almost reach out and stroke his goatee. Rapid fire action never stops, and Deacon's irresistible voice propels you along for the ride. When I finished this book I was out of breath!”
—Annabel Joseph, author of
Club Mephisto

Blood and Bullets
certainly lives up to its name. Sort of a cross between
Kill Bill
and
From Dusk Till Dawn
, James R. Tuck's debut novel delivers a fast-paced, action-filled story that kicks off his new series with a bang. Literally. This is not your daughter's vampire book! There are no brooding, star-crossed lovers (sparkly or otherwise), no sexy vampires searching for their soul mates. Tuck gets back to basics in a world where monsters are evil and someone has to kill them. Enter the hero: a tattooed and tortured gun-slinging, vampire-slaying bad ass. If Dirty Harry and Anita Blake had a love child, he would be Deacon Chalk. I was hooked from the beginning to the end! Ladies, if Dark Urban Fantasy is not your cup of tea, then buy it for the man in your life. It's an action movie in print and the guys will love it!”
—Jenna Maclaine, author of
Bound By Sin
“Tuck's Deacon Chalk is one bad-ass vampire killer with an arsenal to rival a small nation's and an unlikely posse—a priest, an Immortal and a lycanthrope.
Blood and Bullets
will keep you on the edge of your seat page after page. I loved it.”
—Jeanne C. Stein, National Best Selling Author of the Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles
BLOOD AND BULLETS
J
AMES
R. T
UCK
Kensington Publishing Corp.
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
To the Missus. I could not have done this without you. When you believe in me, I can accomplish miracles. I love you.
A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS
This book is something that couldn't have been done without the support of several folks. First of all, thank you to my Editor Extraordinaire John and all the wonderful staff at Kensington Books. It has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you to the members of my writing group, a most excellent selection of writers on their own. Thank you to my family. I love you and appreciate your support while I do this writing thing. My wife, son, and daughter have all been more than amazing through this all. Thank you to my staff at Family Tradition Tattoo for holding down the shop while I wrote. Thank you to my mom, you are the best. Last, but certainly not least, thank you to all of you readers, my Loyals and True Believers. This is for you.
1
Some nights are destined to go to hell. Not literally, at least not usually. From the start of them, you know they are going to turn on you like a rabid dog. I was having one of those nights.
Which is why I found myself with a semiautomatic pistol aimed at a vampire who wore my daughter's face. My eyes were fixed on the laser dot that screamed red against her forehead, but my mind was racing back through memories of my little girl. The pain was a surgical strike. It was inside before I could close my guard. So quick and clean that I didn't feel it until scalpel hit bone.
Memories of her, along with my wife and son, are acid-etched in my mind. It has been five years since they were killed, stolen from my life by a monster. Their deaths had started me on the road I am on now: hunting monsters for money until the day I run up on one that is nasty enough to take me out so I can go be with them. Their deaths burn in the wound where my heart once was—ugly, venomous, and cruel.
I keep all of that locked tight just so I can function and move through each day. Now this vampire girl looked like my daughter and all the pain was rushing back through my mind like a flood of boiling water.
Some small movement on her part clicked me back to the present. I studied her through narrow eyes. She had the same thick blond hair, although the vampire's hadn't seen the business end of a brush in a long time. The same wide, blue–gray eyes and dash of freckles scattered across her nose. Different lips, although this vampire's lips still looked made for laughing, not drinking blood.
She was similar to my daughter, but not the same. Cut from the same cloth, she would look like a part of the family. A niece, a cousin maybe, but she was not my daughter's twin. I blinked and stared to make sure. The resemblance had triggered those deep buried memories, but that was all it was. Fucking memories.The breath I had been holding pushed out of my lungs and I began willing my heart to slow its turbo-charged pounding. Sweat bathed my palm, making my skin oily and slick against the grip of my gun. I had no way to measure how long I had been lost in my own trauma. A moment. Maybe two.
It happens. I'll be fine for a while and then suddenly, from nowhere, a random thing will smash my world askew and I'll be back to the pain of losing them. I get a bit jumpy when that happens and do things like pull out my gun. Stepping back, I kept it pointed at the vampire. Her wide eyes were focused on the barrel.
They should have been, it's an impressive gun. Desert Eagle .357 Magnum. It has black finish and ten heavy-grain, silver-jacketed bullets, if you are willing to keep one in the chamber.
I always have one in the chamber.
Damn thing weighs almost five pounds fully loaded. However, it will put a softball-size hole in even the toughest vampire, or any other bogeyman I run into in my line of work. Vampires are monsters, even if their packaging looks like an innocent fifteen-year-old girl. You don't play games with them. You kill them or you leave them the hell alone. The red laser dot stayed on her forehead as I took another step back, increasing the distance between us. I was back on the job.
I had just come out of Polecats, the strip club I own and work from, to find this vampire leaning against my car. I don't like humans leaning on my car, but a vampire? Oh, hell no. She is a fully restored 1966 Mercury Comet and she deserves better than that. This vampire had called out my name.
Oh yeah, I'm Deacon Chalk, occult bounty hunter, sometimes vampire slayer.
This should be interesting.
“Stay right there and tell me what you want.”
She did not move except to tilt her head sideways, regarding me like a snake does a wounded bird on the ground. “I want you to protect me from the Nyteblade.” Thin arms held out the flat package in her hands. It was a manila envelope. “I have information here to help you find him.” She looked earnestly at me in the sodium light. Small white teeth bit her bottom lip and she had the good grace to keep her fangs sheathed. The effect was scared little girl and it pulled at that non-logic place inside me again. “There is money in here. I know you get paid to protect people from monsters. I want to hire you.”
What?
Wait.
The vampire wanted to
hire
me?
I have had vampires try to kill me, and I have had them run from me, but I have never, ever had one try to hire me. It went against my one and only rule.
“I don't work for monsters. I kill them.”
That thick mess of hair hung low around her face in what looked like shame. Her voice was quiet. “You know I am a vampire? How?”
“It's my job to know.” And that was true. Most normal people would think she was strange since she was barefoot and barearmed in a summer dress when it was deep Georgia fall. It wasn't cold enough to think too much about it, but it was a pretty cool night. Jacket weather. So her wearing just a sundress was weird, but not a reason to be alarmed.
I knew what she was because she was just
off
. Moving either just a bit too fast to be human or stopping a bit too still like only the undead can. The thing that unmistakably marked her as a vampire was the smell. Vampires smell like big snakes, all venom and shed skin. I don't know why, but they do. And a little like roasted almonds.
Heat began to build in the muscles of my neck and shoulders. Widening my stance, I shifted the angle I held the gun at. You can't hold any gun, much less mine, for very long in one position. You have to keep moving around or your muscles fatigue pretty quickly. The problem with moving around is it's not conducive to shooting your target. A target like the vampire standing in front of you.
“So, exactly what is a ‘Nyteblade'?”
She swayed in the sullen, sodium lighting of the parking lot. Back and forth, back and forth, over and over, just slightly back and forth. The manila envelope slipped completely from thin fingers, spinning to fall at her bare feet. Narrow shoulders hunched, drawing her chin down to her chest like an owl, and she wrapped both slender arms around herself. A fine tremble raised tendons to stand in stark relief against her skin like steel cables.
This vampire chick was really freaking me out. I know vampires, and they don't act like this. They are usually either an oil-slick smooth, diabolical predator or a bloodthirsty, slaughterous, vicious predator. What they did
not
act like were scared, little-girl, meth addicts. My whistle made her skin jump. She didn't look at me, but it got her attention.
“Again,
what
is a Nyteblade?”
The voice that answered was a strangled whisper from inside the tangled veil of her hair. “He is a monster. A hunter of vampires.” Her weak mewl faltered, the words coming in halts and stops. “He is an agent of destruction.” Her body was now shaking so bad it caused her teeth to rattle. My grip was tight on the Desert Eagle. Whistling again, I tried to derail her breakdown. “Please help me,” she squeezed out. “I
have
to convince you.” Her hands wrung together, bones clickety-clacking against each other. Hair along my arms began to stand on end.
A tiny move of my finger pulled the Desert Eagle's trigger to the break; another twitch would plant a bullet in her skull.
Nappy blond hair whipped as her head turned in my direction again. It was a jerky, too-fast-to-be-human movement. Those big eyes of hers were glazed over, chin waggling as her mouth hung open. She looked like someone who was listening to music no one else could hear. I felt the air snap as her attention came back to me. It made the skin on the back of my scalp tighten. In a breath of a moment, I watched black pupils dilate to cover the entire iris. Blood pooled from the corners of her eyes, turning the whites crimson. Muscles in her cheeks and neck knotted, distending her jaw and making fangs slide out of her gums wetly. She was still like that for the length of a thought. Then she
moved
. With a flash of yellow dress and chalk-white limbs, she leaped in the air toward me.
My finger squeezed the trigger that last fraction of an inch and a silver bullet spat across her hip while she was in midair. Black gore burst out and hung in space for a moment before splattering like rain on the asphalt. The impact canted her sideways in mid-leap, so instead of hitting me with fangs and claws, she windmilled past, slamming into the pavement. Bones rattled against the asphalt with a staccato beat.
Tracking the laser to the center of her chest, I squeezed the trigger twice. The recoil jolted up my arm and her chest exploded, more gore blossoming in inky wet flowers. It took the fight right out of her.
First rule of killing vampires: Take the heart and take the head. If you do that, then they are dead. My bullets are modified silver hollowpoints, wax sealed with silver nitrate in the tips. Most things otherworldly have weakness to silver. They are manufactured by Orion Outfitters, a company that provides items specifically for what people like me do. Looking down, I could see inside the gaping hole in her chest. The edges running black as the silver poisoning took effect. Heart taken care of?
Check.
My left hand pulled the phone off of my belt and flipped it open. If she was a recently turned vampire, then she was someone's missing daughter and maybe on a child watch list. If not, then maybe she would be in the database of bloodsuckers and I could find information about her. Maybe even why she tried to hire me and then freaked out and attacked me. The phone was silent as it snapped a picture of her face. Gore from the chest wound covered her collarbones and throat like a turtleneck, but left her face clean, calm, and smooth. The trauma of the bullet wounds had put her in a near-catatonic state. If I left her and she could find cover from the sun in the morning, she would be able to heal even this much damage. Vampires are like that. Because they are dead, they are really, really hard to kill. It took almost no movement to bring the red dot to the bridge of her nose.
Those big blue–gray eyes fluttered closed one last time just before I pulled the trigger.
I stamped my boots to shake dust off them. That is one good thing about bloodsuckers, they don't leave much behind to clean up. This one was fairly young, so she
crumbled
into dust instead of
exploding
into dust, but she was still just a pile of dust and a thin yellow sundress full of holes. Even her blood and viscera turned to dust when she did. I still had a nag in my conscience because she was so young when she was turned. I knew she was a vampire. A monster. Hell, she had attacked me, but that non-logic place in me still twinged at killing a young girl. Scooping up the manila envelope and shaking it off, I opened the car door and got in the Comet.
Opening it, I found a file folder with what looked to be a series of hand-scrawled notes and grainy pictures. Approximately $20,000 in rubber-banded bundles of $100 bills fell out in my lap. I put the money in the glove compartment and tucked the folder into the seat beside me.
So she had actually been trying to hire me. Weird. Now I know about weird, but even for me this was a first. The engine of the Comet roared to life as I turned the key. In my world, nights that started strange usually crash-landed in the town of Fucked-Upville before they were said and done.
The stereo kicked in with the winsome sound of a dark guitar run. John Lee Hooker started singing about a long night full of danger. Dropping the Comet into Drive, chain-link steering wheel sliding coolly under my fingers, I moved out into the night to see if John Lee knew what the hell he was talking about.
BOOK: Blood and Bullets
9.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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