The sound of flesh striking flesh woke me before the stinging slap burned my cheek. I gasped in a lungful of air that made me cough it right back out. I was dying, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering. I’d had a good run, saved a few lives, pissed off a few people and left as little damage behind as possible. Collateral damage they called it, but complete and total fuckery is what it really amounted to. In my line of work, losing an innocent kid to the sick fucks currently beating the shit out of me had happened on occasion. I’d be damned if I let it happen again.
“You awake, sheep fucker?”
Oh yeah. It had happened again and now I was stuck with the assholes responsible.
“Fuck you,” I croaked back.
I didn’t even recognize my own broken voice. They’d starved and beaten me, left me without water or blood for days, then beat me again.
The vampire before me was a big, beefy fucker with meat-cleaver hands. They hurt like fuck when he hit me but I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of flinching.
“No thanks. I heard you like to fuck sheep. No telling what I might catch.”
He thought that was not only clever, but fucking hilarious. I watched through swollen eyes as he laughed and reared back to swing again.
“Enough, Marco. We don’t wish him dead…at this time.”
The cultured voice that cut off Marco’s fun belonged to the biggest sick fuck of them all, the man I’d been sent in to watch. Some days I wished I wasn’t a cop so I could do more than watch men like him.
“Yes, sir,” Marco said before stepping back.
His boss, the leader of the Blood Martyr’s southern division, Jonathan Crosby, stepped forward into the ring of light given off by a single harsh bulb hanging from the ceiling.
“You have no idea what you have done, stepping into the hornet’s nest, Mr. Parsons.”
He smirked before throwing a glance over his shoulder at Marco.
“He does have a mouth on him. Perhaps it’s time we did something about that.”
Marco chuckled as Crosby stepped back into the shadows again. They had already whipped me, burned me, shocked me and tried to drown me. What the fuck could they possibly do next?
No sooner had the thought crossed my mind when the most glorious scent filled my nostrils. Sweet and fresh, like newly baked bread, I inhaled greedily despite the pain n my chest.
“Ah yeah, lookit, boss. He’s getting hungry.”
I knew the joy in Marco’s voice couldn’t be a good thing, but I’d been too long without human food or blood to care. I was hungry, fucking starving to be honest, and whatever they had brought into the room smelled like heaven.
“We’ll see how long this hungry sheep-lover can resist a little human sustenance.”
And then I knew what they’d brought.
Marco moved back into the shadows with Crosby, pushing a bundle of cloth towards the chair I was strapped into. I looked down at the trembling blanket, inhaling its sweet scent no matter how hard I fought it. My fangs ached and my stomach growled, I wouldn’t be able to hold out much longer. Crosby leaned forward and snatched back the cloth to reveal a pretty little human girl with bright red hair. Her face was puffy from crying and her eyes were tightly shut.
“There you are, Parsons,” Crosby said. “I know you’re hungry and I know you want to prove your loyalty to the Martyrs. Here’s your chance to satisfy both.”
Hunger crawled through my gut like a snake full of venom until all I could think about was how sweet the first drop of warm blood would taste. I shook my head and breathed through my mouth to escape her enticing scent.
She’s only four and her name is Libby.
I repeated her information in my mind like a mantra as I continued to shake my head back and forth.
“No? No?” Now Crosby was pissed. “How about we make a deal then, hmm? I’ll take this little sheep back to her parents and bring you a bigger catch. Oh, but there’s just one thing. The other treat I have in store isn’t human.”
He cackled like a B-movie villain as the door swung open again. A gasp sounded like a gunshot in the room, but even that brief sound had the hair rising on my arms.
“No. No! Motherfuckers! That better not be my sister, Crosby, or I’ll—“
“You’ll what, Parsons? Run back to the chief of police? Tell the media?” he laughed. “Don’t be an idiot. You’ll drink from one of these offerings to prove your loyalty or your sister dies. It’s that simple.”
I closed my eyes though they’d barely been open from the swelling of the numerous beatings over the past few days. My sister sniffed, the scent of her tears acrid in my nose. I had no choice. All I could really do was make it as quick and painless for the little human girl as possible. I straightened against the hardwood chair and looked up at Crosby.
“Give her to me.”
He smiled, showing dried blood on his teeth, and that image followed me into years of nightmares.