Blood Moon had an unspoken circle of protection. No vampire fed within its territory without permission from its owner, the dangerous and protective, Angelo diRossi. Other areas of the city were fair game; Angelo laid out no rules, nor did his Bethrothed object. Her lands sprawled north of the metropolitan jungle, and Angelo, while aware of Immortale activity throughout the city, did not begrudge his family the sustenance they needed, so long as they remained discreet in their liquid meals.
A lone vampire prowled through the city passing from darkness to the sickly yellow glow of old street lamps and then back into shadows again. Immortality gave reason to walk the worst parts of the city unconcerned and the red tinge of his eyes would ward off even the most daring criminals looking for quick and easy marks. When he blinked, a bloody tear escaped and trickled down his nose.
Across the street, a gate opened and a boy squeezed out of a dark stairwell pulling a bike through before letting the heavy iron seal the doorway again. The squeak of the gate as it swung shut would’ve been enough to alert the beast to the presence of another, but the scent of blood pulled the vampire into action.
Before the boy could throw a leg over his ride, the vampire crossed the street and latched onto his shoulders with both hands, fingers digging through the hand-me-down flannel shirt worn to ward off the chill of the early fall night. The boy tensed and threw his weight into his attacker. He’d spent fifteen years defending himself from bullying, gang pressure, and a constant stream of druggies looking for cash with the point of a blade or the barrel of a gun.
His attacker growled and held his ground, pulling the boy backwards and off balance. As he fell, the boy continued to fight even though his instincts screamed run. The vampire spun them both as they toppled, throwing the boy to the ground and landing on top of him. The boy kicked and rolled, attempting to roll over without success. The beast pressed him down, ripping his head sideways with such force that the boy heard his neck break before he felt a thing. As his vision faded into a black void, the boy sensed more than felt thick fangs sinking into his flesh and piercing the vessel of the vampire’s meal.
Crouching in the shadows of a broken streetlight, huddled near the corner of a brick and concrete building long abandoned to urban decay, the vampire paused, lifting his head, frozen and waiting. The moment passed and he dropped over the lump on the sidewalk. A low growl emanated from the darkness, from the creature, if one had dared to draw close enough to know, but anyone that close would’ve joined the body on the concrete beneath him. The boy’s life fed the beast as the soul of the child walked on to other worlds.
Headlights flashed at the end of the block. The vampire’s head whipped up, briefly framed by the cones of light thrown out by a nondescript car with a nondescript driver. He snarled and withdrew from the burning brightness, wiping blood from his lips with the back of one thin hand. Long fingers tangled in unkempt and scraggly blond tresses. It stepped back, tripping over the forgotten bike, handed down from brother to brother, now discarded, leaning against the building at a precarious and unnatural angle. The beast leapt, reaching for the window sill of the second floor, vaulting upward, swinging onto the roof and deeper into the night.
The car slowed, its occupant wary of ambush, but also not immune to humanity’s concern for its children. Leaving the safety of the vehicle, an elderly woman eased into the spotlight of her front end to call out to the boy. The fine hairs on the back of her neck quivered. Her head whipped around, but she saw nothing where she felt eyes watching. Still cautious, but shaking off unwarranted fear, she crouched down and touched the boy’s cheek. The chill already settling into the bloodless skin startled her.
She stood, stepping back, her eyes darting around quicker than her body, stiff with age and impending death, could. She lowered herself into her car and locked the doors. She looked around the deserted streets once more before digging through her purse. Her daughter had insisted on buying the cell phone. She had said she’d feel better knowing her mother could call for help should she need it. She never thought she’d have to call for someone else in a neighborhood where she assumed all of her neighbors were drug dealers or pimps.
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