A hand slithering along his thigh caught Niles Gule completely off guard. The vampire glared as a handsome twenty-something African-American slid alongside him to feel him up. The man smiled. His eyes glimmered with promise.
“I’m taken,” Niles stated. He hoped his disapproving tone would drive his assailant away.
“Aren’t we all, sugar?” the gentleman responded. “Doesn’t mean two boys can’t have fun.”
Niles considered the environment in which he stood. The Hippodrome throbbed with a heavy base beat while a soulful woman belted out lyrics he thought might be “hurry home” or “curry comb”. He wasn’t sure. He hadn’t adjusted from symphonic music to the Beatles, let alone hip hop. This new stuff utterly confused him.
The dance club was awash with brilliant lights in red, green, purple and blue. Several hundred people packed the dance floor and bobbed in unison to the beat while the DJ in his booth pranced like a pony. Niles, with his excellent night vision, could make out every face, count every link of the chains on each man’s neck and even read the track number of the CD from clear across the room.
When the hand groped towards areas Niles considered off limits, he reacted with gut instinct. He bared his teeth, revealing his growing fangs, and let out a high pitched keen that pierced his assailant’s ears.
“Lord have mercy!” the man said, backing away. “I’m into kinky, but not that kinky. Nuh uh!”
Officer Cooksey, acting as a bartender, leaned over the bar. “Was that the signal?”
Niles fought to keep from groaning. “No,” he muttered. “Just some horny guy looking for action.”
Cooksey grinned. “Did you mention you really suck, Ghoul?”
The look Niles shot his fellow police officer should have slain the man where he stood. He wanted to slice Cooksey into pieces but knew the man wasn’t worth the effort. Instead, he returned his attention to his purpose in the night club. He was doing a job for which the Baltimore PD had found him exquisitely suited. Night surveillance in low light areas. An informant had told the police a high level dealer would be at the club that night and would use the dancing to cover a major transaction. Niles was stationed at the central bar with a clear view of the doors. His job was to signal when Lenny the Brute entered the club. An easy gig. Lean against a bar and study every person who entered. Unfortunately, the Hippodrome was frequented by much of the city’s gay population and Niles was a tall, blonde, stunning man. Half the clientele had been staring at him.
Officer Williams, pretending to be a waiter, shot him a glance, seeking direction. Niles shook his head.
A change in scent twitched Niles’ nose. As a supreme carnivore, a Vanapir could discern each individual human he met simply by smell. The Hippodrome was awash with enticing odors of blood, sweat and testosterone. The spicy gumbo made Niles’ body ache with a hunger he refused to satisfy. No humans was his mantra. Ever. Some days humanity made keeping that stance difficult.
Sensing a danger he didn’t understand, Niles abandoned his surveillance of the door and allowed his eyes to wander over the crowd. He caught a familiar scent to his left. Knew the person to which it belonged. Couldn’t place a name or face to it however. Immediately thereafter he caught another, stronger smell. Cool and crisp it contrasted profoundly with the rich aroma of humans. A vampire was in the club.
Niles gestured to Cooksey behind the bar. Alert. Something was wrong.
The familiar human smell focused into a name. Marcus Williams. Jesus!
Niles located Officer Jonas Williams’ new location too late. Marcus, his estranged cousin, had found the undercover policeman. In the uncertain, wildly flashing light, Niles saw the gun. Knew Marcus was ending his feud with his cousin right there.
Niles couldn’t reach his fellow officer through that crowd. He therefore resorted to the only other trick in his arsenal. He screamed.
A human scream in the hot, pulsing atmosphere would have barely registered, but a vampire scream cut at such a high pitch that it ripped human ear drums and tore a hole through the cacophony of sound. As if a bomb had been dropped, the entire club winced and the dancing stopped. The DJ slammed his hand on the control board, instantly cutting the music. A gunshot rang through the silence. People screamed. Pandemonium engulfed the Hippodrome.
Niles fought through the crowd of maddened humans racing away from the gunfire. From the corner of his eye he saw Cooksey bound over the bar with his pistol drawn, following Niles. Shoving people aside, Niles plowed towards the Williams cousins. Jonas Williams had been hit in the arm by his cousin’s first shot. Now he was fighting for his life, trying to wrest the gun from Marcus.
Niles threw himself into Marcus’ back. The man stumbled and Jonas spun away. Cooksey was on Marcus, wrenching the gun free. Niles scrambled for the man’s hands and caught them. While he held the wildly flaying Marcus, Cooksey slapped handcuffs on him.
“You okay?” Niles panted at the wounded officer.
Williams nodded, holding his right hand to his bleeding left arm.
Niles swallowed and fought down the sudden rush of lust at the sight of all that blood.
“So much for catching Lenny the Brute,” Cooksey complained.
His partner glared then turned to Niles. “Thanks. I’m sure that noise, whatever it was, came from you. Saved my life.”
Niles shrugged. “No problem. Just doing my job.”
Now that his team was safe, Niles hastily surveyed the disaster. Most of the crowd had bolted. Baltimore PD officers were securing the scene and ushering the remaining bystanders out of the building. Niles eyes sought the vampire he knew had been somewhere in the club but found nothing. The scent, too, was gone.
Sergeant Tan Lo appeared looking hot and flustered. “What a disaster!” he complained.
Niles nodded. “It’s worse than you know.”
Lo lifted his brows.
“We’ve got another one, Sergeant,” Niles said grimly. “There’s a new vampire working Baltimore.”
© 2016 Newmin