Hunted (The Tinder Chronicles)

BOOK: Hunted (The Tinder Chronicles)
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Hunted

Book
Two of the Tinder Chronicles

 

a
M/M paranormal novella

by
Alexa Land

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books
by Alexa Land Include:

Feral

Tinder
(Book One of the Tinder Chronicles)

 

And
the Firsts and Forever Series:

Way
Off Plan

All
In

In
Pieces

 

 

                                                                                   

Copyright 2013 by Alexa Land. All rights reserved. No
reproduction, copy or transmission in whole or in part of this publication is
permitted without express written consent from the author.

 

This is a work of fiction (in case the vampires weren’t a tip-off).

Names, characters, places and incidents are either used
fictitiously or are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to
actual persons, living or dead, events, business establishments or locales is
purely coincidental.

 

This book contains sexually explicit material and is only intended
for adult readers over the age of 18.

 

 

Chapter
One

 

Stop being such a wuss and pull the
goddamn trigger!

I sighted down the
length of the homemade crossbow in my hands and lined up my shot. I had to
adjust the angle slightly, because the slim wooden stake it fired would be
smashing through glass before it reached its target.

And again, I hesitated.

Come on, what the hell
are you waiting for?
I chided myself.
He’s a damn
vampire. Not only that, he’s a damn vampire that can walk in daylight. Just
shoot him already!

The vampire in question
was named Nikolai. And the thing that was stopping me from reducing him to a
snack for dust mites was the cute little human at his side. Nate.

During a recent
prolonged hostage situation, Nate and I had become friends (I had been the
hostage. And no, I wasn’t totally bonkers and suffering from a raging case of
Stockholm syndrome, but thanks for assuming that). Nate and Nikolai now incorrectly
believed they’d been erased from my memory. They thought they were safe from
me.

So there they were, in
the kitchen of their tiny light blue cottage, cleaning up together after dinner.
They did this every night, always with the curtains wide open. They were such
creatures of habit, which made Nikolai an incredibly easy mark.

I was sprawled out on
my belly, on the hillside directly across the street from their house. Since the
breeze was blowing my scent away from them, the vamp didn’t know I was here. That
was kind of stupid, though. I mean, scent or no scent, I wasn’t exactly
invisible in the dark. Not to a vampire.

Oh my God, just end
him!
I’d been out here for about an hour, and parts of me were going numb. Plus, I
was pretty sure some ants had found their way up the right leg of my jeans, and
it itched like crazy. It was so stupid that I was stalling like this. I shifted
slightly, lined up my shot…and failed to pull the trigger.

I was going soft.
That’s all there was to it. The fact that I’d let a hundred perfect shots go by
proved it.

What difference did it
make that he was married to a human, and that I happened to like that human?
The bloodsucker was dangerous, more so than most because of the incredibly rare
daylight talisman in his possession. It was completely irresponsible of me not
to dust him.

And for the love of
God, now the vamp was standing directly in front of the window, reaching up to
put something on a shelf above it. It was like he
wanted
to be shot. I
sighted down the crossbow.
Again
. And I didn’t pull the trigger.
Again
.
I sighed dramatically and whacked my forehead against the dry grass a few
times. When I looked up, the vampire was smiling at Nate, saying something to
him as he grabbed a set of keys and stepped out the front door.

Just shoot him!
I visually tracked him all the way to the beat-up old Jeep they shared, my shot
lined up perfectly the whole way. He got behind the wheel and started the
engine, and I rolled onto my back and stared up at the night sky. What the hell
was my problem? I’d ended hundreds of vamps in my lifetime. Since when did I
let sentimentality get in the way of doing my job?

The Jeep pulled out of
the driveway, then rumbled down the street and disappeared around a corner. I
sighed again and sat up, then scratched my right leg for a solid minute. Finally,
I trudged down the hill, the big, heavy crossbow still in my hand, and knocked
on the front door of the little cottage. Well, if I wasn’t going to kill Nate’s
husband, I might as well say hello.

When Nate swung the
door open, his expression changed from cheerful to horrified in an instant. “Oh
God, Tinder,” he stammered, his eyes darting to the big weapon I was holding.
“No. Please, no.”

I raised my hands – and
the crossbow – in an ‘I surrender’ position. “Hey Nate. Don’t panic, I’m not
here to kill Nikolai. Well, I
was
, but it didn’t work out. So I thought,
you know, I’d come over here and say hi instead.”

He staggered backwards
into the foyer and bumped into a little table, which sent a ceramic dish
heading toward the floor. I lunged forward and caught it, crowding Nate in the
process. He pressed against the wall, completely panicked, and mumbled, “But
you drank that potion. It was supposed to make you forget we’d ever met.”

I handed him the dish,
which he took from me hesitantly as I said, “A lot of times, stuff that’s
supposed to work on me just doesn’t.” I had various spells and protection
symbols tattooed all over my body, and sometimes they worked in unexpected
ways.

He looked like he was
about to hyperventilate, so I told him, “Nate, please calm down. I’m not here
to hurt you, and I realized tonight that I just don’t have it in me to kill
your husband. You’re both perfectly safe.”

“But you intended to
kill him when you came here.”

“Well, yeah. He’s a
vampire with a daylight talisman, for Christ’s sake, so of course I came to
kill him. But like I said, I couldn’t go through with it.”

“Why not?”

“Because of what
killing him would do to you,” I admitted.

He watched me for a
long moment as he set the little dish back on the table. And then he stepped
forward and drew me into a hug. I leaned the crossbow against the wall and
wrapped my arms around him, and we held each other for a while. When he pulled
back to look at me his eyes were still wary, but he offered me a little smile.
“Thank you, Tinder.”

“I’m afraid that one
day, he’s going to lose control and kill you, Nate.”

“I know you’re
concerned about that. Nikolai used to worry about it, too, he didn’t really
trust himself when he first met me. But he knows now that he’s in control of
his vampire side, he’s not just a slave to his instincts. And I think you know
that, too. I think that’s why you agreed to leave us in peace when Bane offered
you a way to forget us.”

“I guess deep down I do
know that. Although, Bane did something to manipulate me when he came here, he
used a spell. That’s what made me agree to forget you two and let Nikolai live.”

“He can do that?”

“Not anymore. At least,
not to me.” I raised the hem of my t-shirt to reveal a very new tattoo on my
ribcage. “Just a couple days ago, I found a protection symbol that makes me
immune to suggestion spells.” I poked the tattoo gingerly before dropping the
shirt over it.

Nate watched me for a
long moment, and then asked, “Is there something going on with you and Bane?”

“He seems to think there
is. For some reason, he has this crazy idea that he should look after me. Like
I need a vampire guardian angel.”

“There’s more than that
between the two of you.”

“Well, kind of. I…um…accidentally
slept with him,” I admitted. Nate’s eyes went wide, and I blurted, “It was
totally stupid, and I fully realize what a hypocrite that makes me. I gave in
to lust over common sense, and I’m not proud of it.”

“Come into the living
room,” he said, taking my hand.

“You don’t want me in
your home, Nate. I totally freaked you out tonight. It was kind of crazy to
come up and knock on your door, I don’t even know why I did that.”

He squeezed my hand
gently. “You did it because we’re friends. I was sad to say goodbye to you,
Tinder, I thought I’d never see you again. I’m actually glad you’re here.”

“No you’re not. I
scared the crap out of you by knocking on your door.”

“I was afraid that you
were going to kill Nikolai. But I see now that you’re never going to go through
with it, not just for my sake, but because you know Nikolai isn’t dangerous.
You really can’t justify killing him.”

I sighed and said, “My
job used to be so black and white. Vampires are monsters and I kill them, end
of discussion. I really don’t know what to do about these grey areas, like
Nikolai.”

“And Bane.”

I frowned at him. “No,
not ‘and Bane.’ He’s an evil son of a bitch.”

“From what little I’ve
seen, Bane obviously cares about you. You can’t really think he’s evil.”

“He doesn’t care about
me. He’s incapable of that.”

“Why? Because he’s a
vampire?” I nodded, and Nate said, “Nick not only cares about me, he loves me
with all his heart.”

“Nikolai’s a total
freak of nature.”

“I don’t know about
that. I really don’t have much to go on, I’ve only ever met two vampires in my
life,” Nate said, “But I tend to think, if those two are peaceful, there must
be more. I mean, surely you’ve gotten to know other vampires, weren’t some of
them like Nikolai?”

“Hell no, I haven’t
gotten to know other vampires. I really don’t make a habit of cozying up to the
enemy, aside from the one time I got way too cozy with Bane.”

“So, maybe you really
don’t know what you’ve been hunting all these years.”

That annoyed me, and I
dropped his hand. “I’ve been hunting the things that dismembered my mother
right before my eyes when I was four years old. The things that also killed my
brothers and sisters, and my father, and my grandfather, and every single person
that I ever cared about.”

“Oh God, Tinder, I’m
sorry.”

“See, most vamps aren’t
big, fluffy, love bunnies like your husband, your perspective is really skewed,”
I told him. “And they don’t just target hunters, by the way. I’ve come across
way, way too many slaughtered civilians in my lifetime. Hell, there were a
couple times when I found bodies piled up by the dozens in vampires’ lairs.”

Nate flinched, and I
continued, “That’s why I hunt, and why I think I have a pretty good handle on
my enemy. It’s not just some personal vendetta because they wiped out my family,
it’s because vampires are remorseless killers. So you found an exception.
Probably. And ok, maybe Bane’s an exception, too. But most vamps are nothing
like them.”

He said gently, “I’m
sorry for all the horrors you’ve seen in your life.”

“It’s just part of the
job.” I picked up my crossbow, and reached out and squeezed his shoulder. “I
apologize for freaking you out. I just…I missed you. But I shouldn’t have
dropped in, that was stupid of me.” I opened the door and stepped out onto the
little porch, and Nate trailed after me.

“Wait. Stay a while,
Tinder. I think you really need someone to talk to.”

I just kept walking,
cutting across his tidy front lawn. “I’ll see you around, Nate.”

Just then their old,
rusty Jeep pulled into the driveway. Nikolai leapt from the driver’s seat,
staring at me in near panic, clutching a carton in his left hand. I almost
rolled my eyes. Vampy had gone on an ice cream run.

I didn’t break my
stride as I called, “Hi, bloodsucker. Don’t worry, I’m leaving. You might want
to learn to close your curtains, just FYI, because any hunter that wanders by
here could kill you a hundred times over, and that’s just in the time it takes
you to serve up a bowl of that rocky road.”

“Yeah…ok,” Nikolai
mumbled, obviously rattled.

 “By the way, if you
ever harm a hair on Nate’s head, you should know that I’m not just going to
kill you. I’m going to make you suffer first, like no undead motherfucking vamp
has ever suffered in the history of suffering,” I told him. Then I cheerfully
called, “Have a nice day,” as I headed down the sidewalk.

BOOK: Hunted (The Tinder Chronicles)
10.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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