With perfect calm, Angelo said, “Release him, Jackson.” As if Crandall had some disease that disgusted him, Jackson drew his hand back. With a stumble and a curse, Crandall told the vampire what he thought of him even as the beast bared his fangs in a snarl.
“Enough!” Angelo barked. Jackson drew himself up, covering his fangs, but not turning away from the redheaded hunter.
Crandall kicked the stake into the entryway. It bounced and spun erratically, but landed far from either vampire. “What answer do you want?” Crandall demanded. “Other than get the fuck out of my house.”
Angelo’s short, sharp laugh set Mike’s raw nerves on edge. That vampire tolerated some of Crandall’s attitude because it seemed to amuse him, but only to a point, and then he’d get pissed. A ticked off vampire, even one trying to conduct business, was not something Mike wanted in his apartment, nor near his lover.
“He wants us to play tomorrow,” Mike said. He crossed his arms over his chest, warding off the inevitable explosion from his do-it-or-die singer. He felt bare, not just because he didn’t have a shirt, but because his instincts screamed to destroy these two monsters in his home and he didn’t have a stake within reach.
“So what’s the fucking problem?” Crank said.
“I don’t want to.” Mike frowned at Crandall. “Did you forget what happened last time we played Blood Moon?”
“I didn’t forget.” He turned on Angelo, ignoring the second vampire sliding behind his back as he stepped closer to his focus. “If anyone threatens me this time, I won’t wait for him to remember the fucking agreement.”
Mike interrupted, turning his scowl on Angelo. “Is it a normal business practice for you to demand a better answer when you don’t get your way?”
“I’m going,” Crandall said.
Mike kept his eyes on the vampire because, if he acknowledged Crandall’s reply, they’d fight about it. There was no middle ground with Crandall when it came to Inertia Stand playing anywhere, including the vampire run Blood Moon. Crandall had loved the crowd’s reaction to them, and conveniently downplayed the beating they’d taken afterwards. To hear Crandall refer to it, you’d think they just exchanged words with bullies. The aches and bruises of two vampires slipping past security and knocking them around in the back hall only faded as quickly as they did because Angelo had fed them the offender’s blood to heal broken bones and offer retribution for the infraction occurring in his territory.
Angelo grinned at Mike. “Since I haven’t received an answer from your elected contact, I’m considering promoting Crandall to the decision maker.”
“That’s not how this band works,” Mike said.
“Do it. Sign us up.” When the vampire turned his attention to the singer, Crandall added, “But we expect ten percent more to make up for the lack of security at your club.” He crossed his arms and met the vampire’s stare with cold, hateful eyes.
Angelo chuckled, and then exchanged a look with his companion who coiled tense muscles, ready to abandon negotiations for violence. “Security will not be a problem this time. I have already made corrections for the breach during your last performance.”
“Make it fifteen, because I don’t appreciate being woke up simply because you have issue with normal working hours.”
“I’ll give you five because you have the nerve to ask,” Angelo said. Ignoring Mike, the vampire studied Crandall as the singer stared him down.
“Fifteen, or go the fuck home.”
Angelo’s lip wrinkled in a small snarl, but then smoothed out into a humorous grin. “You have guts, kid,” he said. He nodded and a lock of black hair fell over his eyes. He brushed it back, and then gestured his partner to the door. “Done. Same time for unloading and set up. There will be two bands ahead of you, and the house band after, so plan accordingly.” He turned and, as he did, Jackson opened the door for him, and then followed him out.
Mike stood fixed to his spot, staring at Crandall with his mouth hanging open. Crandall glared at him and said, “Sleep in your own fucking bed tonight.” He spun around and stalked down the hall to his bedroom.
Up Next: Not Everything Is About You