Sunday, August 13, 2017

Good to the Last Drop, Chapter 2: Many Happy Returns

Good to the Last Drop, (book four of Love at First Bite) chapter two: Many Happy Returns

This is the first one that takes place to really kick off the story.

Surprising, isn't it?

Okay, this doesn't kick into high gear here. By the end of my sample chapters, trust me, it will. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about spoilers. I have barely begun to spoil.

When last we saw our hero, Marco was in a hospital bed. He had been a little beaten up ... and blown up ... and slightly charred... and a touch of smoke inhalation.

It's now about two weeks later, and Marco is back out and about in public.

And letting Marco out in public will never end well.


Two items to discuss before the chapter begins.

Chapter 2: Many Happy Returns

January 1st San Francisco

Marco looked at his phone, reading email. There was yet another email from his… “friend”… Yana, who had the unmistakable handle of CyberWicca and a bunch of numbers afterward that meant nothing to him. Email had become the primary mode of communication with Yana; her cell phone bill wouldn’t handle the amount of information she wanted to give him.
Besides, I get the impression she’s distracted half the time as she writes these.
The source of the presumed distraction wasn’t hard to figure out: a woman named “Jackie.” All communication with Yana had gone from mournful and depressed over the death of her girlfriend Tara to overly excited over a new woman named Jackie, who was apparently…very fast and overly affectionate.
While Marco was familiar with the old practice of Irish wakes taking people out into the potato fields for a roll in the clover, he didn’t think a turnaround of less than a month was included.
Marco frowned to himself. Eh. I suppose she’s happy?
He saved her email as new, wondering if he should bother replying other than asking about the rest of the San Francisco brigade—the email was overly hormonal for Yana, who he hadn’t suspected had a sex drive.
Then again, after Nuala, I guess I should be glad that she’s going near sex ever again. I suppose it’s healthy? He sighed, wondering if he would have attempted the redemption of a vampire had he known what the assassin had done with, or to, his witch.
Marco sighed and scrolled down the rest of the email list. The one email account he was looking for wasn’t there. Which shouldn’t be a problem, because why send an email when you could be doing some…other things.
And, seriously, what are you worried about, moron? You made out, you both love each other, she told you her real name … maybe, assuming that wasn’t the pain killer … She’s not a scared teenager in her first relationship, is she? And me, I’m a predator, a self-trained killer, I am…
such an idiot. He who hesitates is roadkill. You’re now a smear on the pavement. You let her get away. I don’t care if this Bosley person called her away. I should have told that blonde bloodsucker to suck my –
The PA student growled to himself and closed the phone, a hairsbreadth away from smashing it. He had been in the hospital now for weeks, but no one had even blinked in his general direction. Not a single vampire, good or ill. Not even the one he wanted to see.
He’d even missed Christmas. Freaking vampire assassin.
He closed his eyes, and did what he’d been doing every time he got angry for no reason at all. He said an Our Father, and ten Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be to round it off.
Marco looked around the hospital parking lot, cursing the darkness outside. Why did I have to be kicked out of the hospital after dark? Seriously, San Francisco, what is your damn problem? Or is everyone just out to get me? Honestly, why me? Did I do something to offend You, Lord?
He picked up his luggage, and prayed very hard that his ride would be there, and hadn’t been turned into a snack along the way.
This the bruiser we want?”
Marco flicked his eyes left. He whirled, and grabbed the woman approaching him. He lifted her up in the air like she was a leaf, a moment before kissing her.
His broad smile caught the light as he let Yana down on the floor. “Um, hi, Marco.”
How are you, sexy lady?”
Yana, who still didn’t know what to do with him, said, “Ah, good. Marco, I’d like to you meet—”
Marco whirled on Yana’s companion, an olive-skinned brunette, and smiled, remembering Yana’s emails. “You must be Jackie, I could smell the hormones.”
She smiled and shook hands. “You must be Marco; I can smell the attitude.”
He gave a Gallic shrug. “That may just be my aftershave.”
How are you?”
He glanced the woman up and down. Objectively, he was certain she was attractive. She was a sturdy 5’6”, with a frame that was more inverted triangle than hourglass, with wider shoulders and a larger upper body. Her outfit was standard leather jacket, even leather pants – which he saw as nice, knife resistant clothing. Though her jacket was zipped up part of the way, and he couldn’t tell if she wore a shirt underneath. He was a little worried about reading too much into that.
Well, Yana at least went for a woman who could probably hit well enough. Body strength helps. Legs have enough muscle on them for kicks, if one is into that sort of thing.
Take a picture,” she told him, “it’ll last longer.”
You even steal my lines,” he muttered. His smile didn’t flicker. “You’ll do. You’ve got the right attitude. I presume you’re already in the know on the vampire thing?”
A little. Though Yana tells me there aren’t many of those left kicking around.”
Marco arched his brows. He knew that San Francisco didn’t really have a vampire population until recently—so little that they didn’t have a local Vampire Association—but this was ridiculous.
Marco looked to Yana. “Are we thinking that the vampire infestation is over?’
Um, Merle has a thought on that.”
Marco cocked his head. “And that is?”
That aside from the initial influx we saw, you may have attracted them. And you’ve dealt with most of the ones who came in before you did.”
Marco opened his mouth to object, and then thought it over. He had been going through a few busy months. He had gone on several rampages, including one that may have lasted a few months, depending on who you asked. After someone blew up his father’s hospital, he had kicked over all the vampire nests in the area. He had proceeded to launch a reign of terrorism that leaned heavy on terror. Then hed killed a whole club full of vampires by locking them in and set it on fire. Then blew up an assassin with a swarm of ninjas. That had been eventful.
Maybe the general extinction of vampires in town wasn’t that much of a surprise. Marco had made the town a little off-putting for the locals.
The brunette punched Marco in the arm. “Don’t look so depressed, we’re doing our jobs.”
Marco arched a brow. “Our? How long have you been at it?”
Jackie shrugged. “A few months. Surprised I didn’t run into you guys earlier. Especially in September. I guess you were behind all the devastation?”
Yana shook her head and jerked her thumb at Marco. “Him.”
Jackie blinked, then nodded. “Oh, he led it.”
Yana shook her head. “All him.”
Jackie looked Marco up and down, and… Sheesh, she actually just licked her lips. Wonderful, Marco thought.
Niiiiiice,” she stated. “Not bad. But you’re not that much to look at.”
Marco didn’t object to that. She was right. He was 5’9”, and most people described him as having a body like a dancer—more like capoeira than ballet, though. His blond hair and blue eyes went strangely with the last name of “Catalano,” and probably better paired off with “Hitler Youth.”
Ah, so charming.”
They walked Marco outside to a large black SUV, which looked more like a small truck with armor plating—in fact, if he didn’t know any better, Marco would’ve sworn it was a fully-armored Army Ford F-350—mobile video system, on board PC, night-vision screen, high-voltage door handles, bomb detection, that sort of thing.
It’s a loan from Merle,” Yana explained.
Marco merely raised an amused eyebrow.
The passenger side door opened, and Tiffany sat in the driver’s seat. Tiffany was as vapid as her name implied, and she was a walking stereotype—blonde, buxom (silicone, not natural), and would have fit in better with Los Angeles than San Francisco. The only reason Merle kept her on was that she was good with numbers. The only reason Marco didn’t kill her was that he was too busy to hide the body.
Oh, Marco,” she huffed. “No one’s eaten you yet? Now we have to waste our time on you.”
Marco rolled his eyes. “No need. Just get me to the city. I’ll be fine.”
Yana pouted a little. “You sure? Okay…how’s Amanda?”
Marco sat in silence, looking at the scenery go by him. He didn’t ignore Yana so much as consider her query. He had barely spoken a word to Amanda since shed left for the city. It was as if nothing had happened between them.
She’s fine,” he answered.

He closed his eyes, and started praying again.

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