Night of the Living Dante (Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter, Vol. 4.5)

BOOK: Night of the Living Dante (Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter, Vol. 4.5)
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www.NikkiJefford.com

 

Cover by Najla Qamber Designs

 

About
:

 

Dante has just been assigned Aurora Sky’s mentor.
Before they meet, he goes on a mission up north in the Alaska interior with his
old partner and informant, Janine. Full of thrills, chills, and … Dante!

 

Night Of The Living Dante

An Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter Story

 

By Nikki Jefford

 

They waited until dark to leave Fairbanks.

As Dante drove south on the interstate, the last traces of
city lights vanished in the rearview mirror. There were no streetlights along
this part of the Parks Highway—only the eerie glow of trees darting past the
headlights like creatures in the night.

Dante’s partner, Janine, had the location on a small gang
of vampires holed up in the Alaska Interior. Fortunately for the agency, one of
the suckers had a drug addiction. That addiction brought him into Fairbanks
from time to time, and no vampire flew under Janine’s radar in Fairbanks.

She stretched her long, lean legs in the seat beside him.
Tonight, she wore black lace up boots over sleek vinyl pants. With legs like
those on full display, Dante had trouble keeping an eye on the dark road. It
was further distracting when Janine began massaging her neck while staring out
the window.

This wasn’t the first time Dante had seen her in a corset,
but tonight her midnight blue bodice was attached to black fishnet sleeves that
stretched from her shoulders to her thumbs.

Before Dante’s snowboarding accident and recruitment with
the agency, he wouldn’t have gone for a Goth chick. Side by side, he and Janine
looked like a complete mismatch with Dante in his clean-cut blue jeans and
fitted tee.

But they were both committed to fighting evil and Dante
didn’t care how she came packaged.

Then again, maybe Janine wasn’t really Goth. She was undercover.
Dante wondered what she looked like beneath all the makeup and black hair dye.
He’d only ever seen her with layers of paint.

Dante punched the gas pedal. Chances of a moose wandering
onto the road were low, since Alaska was experiencing uncommonly little
snowfall for January. That meant the big animals kept to the woods where they
could walk and munch. These light dustings made for easy meandering.

Meanwhile, the East Coast kept getting hammered in snow.
Mother Nature. Fickle creature. Just look at what she could do to a person with
AB negative blood. Make them undead or, in his case, a hunter capable of
poisoning the undead with his blood.

Once they neared the town of Healy, Dante slowed the Jeep.

“Where’s the turn?” he asked.

Janine lowered her arms and peered out the window.

“About a mile up.”

A mile further, Dante slowed the Jeep and scanned the dirt
roads leading into the woods.

“This one?”

Janine squinted out the window. “Drive further.”

Dante slowed at the next road. “This?”

“Nope.”

At the next, “this?”

“Nope.” Janine sat up. “Wait. This one. Here.”

Dante didn’t bother with a blinker. They were the only
ones on the road. How many people got a whole highway to themselves at any
point in their lives? Only in Alaska.

Two minutes in, Janine inclined her head. “Take the dirt
road on the left.”

Dante grinned. “Your ability to retrace a vamp trail in
the dark is uncanny.”

Janine’s thickly coated lashes fluttered. “My dad always said
I was born with an internal compass.”

“Nice."

Janine shrugged. “You could do the same if you paid more
attention to your surroundings.”

What was it with women never being able to take a
compliment? Janine waved his flattery off like a swarm of pesky mosquitoes.

Dante cranked the wheel with both hands. The Jeep’s
headlights cut across a wooded road.

Howling winds the day before had scattered branches across
the narrow pathway and blown the snow clean off the trees. This time of year,
the trees were nothing but bare limbs—mere skeletons without their leaves.

The dark landscape looked sinister at night, but that was
nothing compared to what awaited them at the end of the road.

They bounced in their seats as they started in over the
dirt path.

“How long is this road?” Dante asked.

“I don’t know. I didn’t follow him all the way.”

Dante’s heart pounded in anticipation. Adrenaline pumped
through his veins. His fingers itched to grasp the hilt of his hunting knife.

Instead, he reached forward and turned on the radio.

Static.

He surfed through channels.

Static. Static. Static.

He switched it off and glanced sideways at Janine, who
picked at her cuticles. The longer he stared, the more she kept at her nails.

A smile spread across Dante’s lips. He began humming and
snapping his fingers. He kept it up for a good seven seconds before starting
into the lyrics of “Thriller.”

Janine lowered her hands and looked over. “Lord help me."

Dante stopped singing. He leaned against the steering
wheel and stared at his partner. “What? It’s Michael J.”

“No, it’s not. It’s you and, no offense, you’re no Michael
Jackson.”

“You sure about that? I’ll stop the car right now and bust
a move in the middle of the road. Moonwalk, you know what I’m saying?”

Janine rolled her eyes. “Please, don’t.”

Dante jut his chin front and back, humming a few more
bars. Janine went back to picking her cuticles. Dante stopped. “All right,
let’s talk cinema, instead. What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?”

Janine shook her head. “Why would I watch scary movies?
We’re already living in a horror show.”

“You mean starring?” Dante winked. “I love scary movies.
They’re so fake, they’re funny.”

“Not for me,” Janine said.

“Come on, no Frankenstein?” Dante gave Janine’s shoulder a
gentle shove. Her fishnet sleeve rubbed against his palm. He let his fingers
linger a moment longer before returning them to the steering wheel.
“Poltergeist?”

“No.”

“Night of the Living Dead?”

“Ugg, no. Zombies freak me out.”

Dante chuckled. “Zombies, but not vampires. Good thing
you’re not working for a zombie hunting agency. Think maybe they really exist?”

Janine’s grimace turned into a wide grin. “Don’t even
joke.”

Dante’s eyebrows jumped. “I wouldn’t have thought so, but,
then again, until recently, I didn’t think vampires existed, either.”

“Just stop now.” Maybe Janine would be more convincing if
she didn’t smile.

She clearly liked it when he joked.

“You sure this road leads anywhere?” Dante asked.

“Guess we’ll find out,” Janine answered.

“Anyway, it’s nice to get out of the city.”

The Jeep rattled as it followed a dip in the road.

Janine snorted. “Anchorage not doing it for you?”

Dante tapped the steering wheel. “The university is great,
but you and I both know Anchorage isn’t the real Alaska.”

Janine flashed him a smile. “Plus all the action is up
north.”

In more ways than one. Dante shot Janine an appreciative
look. Four months ago, they’d hooked up after completing a particularly bloody
mission in North Pole. He’d never forget how Janine wiped the gore off her
palms onto her jeans as though it was nothing but sweat. Damn sexy, a woman not
afraid to get messy.

Since then they’d fallen into a routine of kill, screw.
Kill. Screw. Killing suckers was a reward in itself. A roll in the hay afterwards
was the scoop of vanilla on the cherry pie.

Pie. Yum. Even better. Any night where Dante could do all
three—kill vamps, get laid, and eat pie—was an epic win.

From what he’d seen passing through town, there weren’t
any cafes serving pie. He’d probably be lucky to get a twenty-year-old Twinkie
from a mini-mart in these parts.

Speaking of Twinkies, his tackle was thinking about
activities other than eating. Several times during the drive it had pulsed
against his fly like a damn heartbeat. Hang tight, little buddy.

There hadn’t been any assignments up north in five weeks.

Five very long weeks.

He and Janine weren’t exclusive or anything. She’d been
clear on that from the start. But after a while, he lost interest in regular
human girls. Or maybe Dante needed more than dinner dates and movies to get in
the mood. Nothing like blood, death, and sex. Nothing in the world.

Janine wasn’t a vampire hunter like him, but she was part
of his secret life. She was a damn good informant with almost a sixth sense for
stumbling onto vampire activity.

It was more than that. Janine was a pro. She knew how to
blend in with drug addicts, devil worshippers, and Goths who hung around
vampires like anemic groupies.

Besides, with Janine Dante didn’t have to feign the whole
safe sex, protect against STDs, and wear a condom bull crap. He could neither
transmit nor contract an STD. Nor could he impregnate a woman. This might have
upset him if he didn’t love his job so much. Children had no place in his life.
Humanity needed him and fatherhood was a sacrifice he was happy to make.

“Keep sniffing out vampires and we can spend more time
together,” Dante said.

“Yeah, well, I’ve sniffed out a particularly foul rodent.”

“Yeah?” Dante asked, sitting up in his seat.

“Name’s Renard. Nasty piece of work.”

“So, let’s wrap things up here, head back to Fairbanks,
and kill him,” Dante said. “That’s what I call a doubleheader.”

Janine shook her head slightly. “Trouble is he doesn’t
stick around town for more than a weekend here and there.” She gave a soft
sigh. “What’s the vamp activity like in Anchorage?”

Dante shrugged. “Don’t know. Melcher said he’d rather send
me up here for now. He keeps promising some local work. But I do have an
exciting piece of news. I’m going to be a mentor.” Dante puffed out his chest.

When Janine didn’t say anything, he looked over. “New
recruit needs my guidance.”

Janine smirked. “Poor guy.”

“Young woman, actually. Senior in high school.”

Janine stiffened. After a long pause she said a
begrudging, “Lucky you. You get a sweet little high school girl to follow her
hot trainer around like a puppy.”

Hot.

Dante grinned wide.

“Nah, I’ve already got Tommy.” He glanced at Janine from
the corner of his eyes. Her shoulders relaxed the slightest bit.

Suddenly, the Jeep’s headlights reflected off something
and beamed back into Dante’s eyes. He slowed the vehicle and squinted. A small
truck appeared in the headlights. Beyond the truck, a small cabin loomed along
the faint edges of light.

Dante stopped the Jeep, left it in first gear, and turned
off the headlights and ignition. Darkness engulfed the vehicle and with it,
Dante and Janine inside. He could barely make out the cabin twenty feet in
front of them.

"This would make a great set for a scary movie,”
Dante said.

Janine looked over. Dante couldn’t read her expression,
but he did hear a soft grumble.

“Come on,” Dante said. “You can be my leading lady.”

“So long as I’m not the damsel in distress.”

“Never. You know I don’t go for that type.” Dante reached
over and squeezed Janine’s knee.

She became quiet and still. Dante’s hand traveled slowly
up her thigh. He slid his fingers into the warm space between her legs. Janine
tensed. Any second, she’d bat his hand away. She was one dedicated informant—always
thinking of the mission first. It was yet another turn on in Dante’s book. Once
a vampire bit her, she’d get in the mood.

A faint light appeared inside the cabin’s small square
window.

There’d be time to mess around later. He pulled his hand
away. “Don’t look now. The natives are restless.”

Janine’s hand shot forward. The glove box sprung open, and
a light popped on inside. She pulled out a pistol and clip. She rammed the clip
into the chamber with the palm of her hand and holstered it against her hip.

Damn, she was hot right before a kill.

“Who am I going in as?” she asked.

“How about Janet?” Dante grinned. “As in Janet Jackson.”

Janine sighed. “Let’s just do this.”

“I’m ready to do it.”

Finally, Janine laughed… and smacked him against the
chest.

As they stepped out of the car, two vampires emerged from
the cabin holding flashlights. From where Dante stood, they looked like
featureless silhouettes behind the beams of light.

“Who are you?” one of the silhouettes demanded.

Dante shielded his eyes from the penetrating light with
his hand. “Peter and Janet,” he called out. “Did we come to the right place?”

“Who are you looking for?”

“Not who, but what,” Dante said with a grin. “Blow.”

“What makes you think we have cocaine?”

“Friend in Fairbanks said there were some dudes down this
road who could hook us up.”

“Dudes?” the other shadow figure asked.

“Yeah, so are we at the right place or not?” Dante asked.

“Why don’t you come inside where we can see you better?”

Dante looked from Janine back to the silhouettes and
shrugged. “Sure.”

The light beams swung around and pointed at the cabin.
Dante lowered his hand away from his face and followed the vamps to the door.
Once they stepped inside, he could make out their faces and features. They
looked to be in their mid-twenties. One guy had an inch long scar on his cheek.
He held a riffle against his leg.

“Leave the piece outside,” he said to Janine staring at
her waist. His eyes narrowed when he looked at Dante. “You got any weapons on
you?”

Dante held up his hands. “I’m the money man and this here
is my bodyguard.”

“Pat him down,” Scar Face said to his companion.

Dante widened his stance and raised his eyebrows. A
vampire in red flannel went straight for Dante’s pant legs. He crouched beside
Dante’s right leg, squeezed, and abruptly looked up.

“What’s that?”

“What’s what?” Dante returned.

The flannel wearing vamp lifted Dante’s pant leg, exposing
a hunting knife holstered around his ankle.

“Can’t be too careful,” Dante said.

“No weapons inside,” Scar Face said. “You can pick them up
on your way out.”

BOOK: Night of the Living Dante (Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter, Vol. 4.5)
9.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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