The Vampire and the Virgin

(The eighth book in the Love at Stake series)

Kerrelyn Sparks

With all my love to my hero at home,

My husband and best friend,



Robby MacKay had murder on his mind as he approached the rendezvous site in Central Park. The peaceful scene did little to dissuade his violent thoughts. Moonlight sparkled on the still lake and gleamed off the aluminum hulls of overturned rowboats along the shore. The boathouse sat nearby, empty and quiet. Robby only took notice because he was checking for signs of an ambush.

He and his companions halted in front of a series of steps that descended into a dark gully. At the bottom was a tunnel with a Malcontent waiting inside. Waiting for his death, if Robby had his way.

He started down the stairs with Zoltan and Phineas. Angus MacKay and his wife Emma charged over the hill with vampire speed so they could investigate the far side of the tunnel.

“I told you…come alone,” a Russian-accented voice whispered from the black interior of the tunnel.

Phineas stopped on a landing halfway down the stairs, his hand curling around the hilt of his sword. “You’ve been trying to kill me for months, Stan. Of course I brought some mean and nasty dudes with me. One wrong move and they’re gonna make you look like beef Stroganoff.”

After surviving entirely on blood for almost three hundred years, Robby wasn’t sure what beef Stroganoff looked like, but he took grim pleasure in being called a mean and nasty dude.

Unfortunately right now, he was more of a clumsy weakling. Each step felt like he was sinking into wet shifting sand. The casts and bandages had been removed last night from his feet and hands, so tonight he’d claimed he was ready for action. It was a bluff he could pull off only if he didn’t fall down the stairs.

Meanwhile, the other mean and nasty dude, Zoltan Czakvar, zipped down the stairs at vampire speed and positioned himself against the brick wall to the right of the tunnel entrance.

The Russian had insisted earlier on the phone that he would come alone to meet Phineas. Robby and his fellow Vamps suspected a trap, but the question was, where? No doubt the Malcontents realized a group of Vamps would accompany Phineas to Central Park. Did the Malcontents plan to attack in the park, or were they hoping the Vamps would leave their base at Romatech Industries understaffed and vulnerable? Either way, the Vamps knew they had no choice but to divide and protect both Phineas and Romatech.

Robby had asked to go with the group to Central Park, figuring it afforded him the best chance at killing a Malcontent. One wouldn’t be enough, but it was a good start. He made it to the bottom of the stairs and stationed himself to the left of the entrance.

“Yo, Stan,” Phineas called to the Russian. “You paying rent for that tunnel or what?” He drew his sword and affected a gangster voice. “Come out and say hello to my little friend.”

The Russian vampire, dressed in black cargo pants and a black sweatshirt jacket, eased slowly from the tunnel. The hood was pulled over his head, casting his face in shadow, although the icy blue of his eyes glittered as his gaze darted nervously about. He flinched when Zoltan whipped his sword out, the blade gleaming in the moonlight mere inches from the Russian’s shoulder.

Robby followed suit, reaching overhead to draw the claymore from the sheath on his back. When his grip faltered, he grasped the hilt with both hands to keep from dropping the weapon and making a dent in his thick skull. Bugger. He should have brought a lighter weight sword. He lowered the sword and rested the tip on the ground.

The Russian lifted his hands in surrender. “I did not come to fight. I have no weapon.”

“And he’s alone.” Emma emerged from the tunnel and sprinted up the stairs to stop on the landing next to Phineas. “The tunnel’s clear.”

Angus exited the tunnel, returning his claymore to the sheath on his back. He patted the Russian down from behind, then moved in front of him to pat him down again. He jerked the hood off the Russian’s head, then stepped back to glower at him. “Stanislav Serpukhov. What are ye up to?”

Robby stiffened at the sight of the Russian’s spiky white-blond hair. He’d seen that hair before. His newly healed fingers flexed jerkily around the hilt of his sword. “Ye were there. In the cave.”

Stanislav whirled around toward him and his eyes widened. “You?” He moved back, stumbling onto the first stair step. “You’re alive?”

Memories shot through Robby’s mind. Images of the torturers with their twisted, gleeful faces. The stench of his burning flesh. The snap of his breaking bones. “Ye bloody bastard. Ye were there.” He used both hands to raise his sword.

“Robby, stop!” Angus ordered.

“He was there!” Robby lurched toward the Russian, who scurried up the steps to the landing.

“I said stop.” Angus planted one hand against Robby’s chest and his other hand on Robby’s arm, forcing the sword down.

Robby glared at his great-great-grandfather, who only looked a few years older than himself. “I require revenge. Ye canna stop me.”

Angus glared back. “I expect you to follow orders.”

Robby pulled away from Angus’s grip and focused on the Russian. “I know who ye are now and where to find you.”

“I do not want trouble.” Stanislav sidled closer to Phineas.

The young black Vamp gave him an incredulous look. “What the hell are you doing, man? You think I’ll protect you? You’ve been trying to kill me.”

“I did not want to,” Stan grumbled. “Jedrek said I must kill you…or he will kill me. But he is dead now. Everyone who heard the order is dead. So I do not feel that I must kill you now.”

Phineas scoffed. “That’s real sporting of you.”

Stan glanced warily at Robby. “I did not like what Casimir did to you—”

“But ye stood there and watched,” Robby growled. “Ye helped tie me to the chair with silver chains. Did ye enjoy the smell of my burning flesh?”

Stan’s jaw shifted. “Nyet. But I tell you this. If they catch me here, talking to the enemy, they will do things to me that make your torture look like…walk in the park. Instead of thirty pieces of silver, they will take thirty pieces of flesh from me, and the first piece will be my tongue.”

“Then let me kill you now and save you the misery!” Robby lunged toward the stairs, but ran into Angus’s outstretched arm.

“Enough, lad,” Angus hissed softly. He turned toward the Russian. “Are ye thinking of betraying yer master?”

“If you mean Casimir, I never met him till he came here to America and said he was our leader. I am not killer. I never was. I was…farmer. I stayed with Russian vampires because I am Russian, and they helped me learn how to live here.”

“And ye learned how to kill mortals,” Robby grumbled.

“I never killed,” Stan insisted. “I feed from mortals, that is true. But I never kill mortals.”

Zoltan snorted. “He expects us to believe that?”

Stan stiffened. “You are one to talk. You killed my best friend at the Battle at DVN. I lost another friend in South Dakota. You Vamps act like you are…better morally, but when it comes to war, you do the most killing.”

Phineas cocked his head with a grimace. “He has a point there. We’ve been whipping their ass.”

Angus shrugged. “They’re bloody fiends. They deserve to die.”

“Then I can kill him now?” Robby muttered.

Angus ignored him. “Ye have two minutes, Stan. Talk.”

“And then I can kill him?” Robby asked a bit louder.

Angus shot him an annoyed look.

“I came to America seven years ago,” Stanislav began. “Me and three vampire friends from Moscow. We wanted…new life with no tyranny and no terror. We went to coven in Brooklyn so we could learn English. We hoped to get jobs someday and our own place—”

“The American dream.” Phineas pretended to wipe away a tear. “I’m getting choked up.”

Stan scowled at him. “But all we found was more tyranny. Ivan Petrovsky liked to capture mortal women for food and sex. If we did not follow orders, he would kill them. He killed so many, and he abused the vampire women. I was glad when Katya and Galina murdered him.”

“So you just fell in with the wrong crowd.” Phineas rolled his eyes. “Where have I heard that one before?”

“My friends and I, we hated following orders from the ones you call Malcontents, but we knew if we try to escape, they would kill us. I lost two friends in battle. And last night—” Stan glanced away, his eyes watering. “My last friend died. Nadia killed him because he was blond.”

Phineas winced. “Tough break.”

“Isn’t she the one who stabbed Toni?” Emma asked Zoltan, and he nodded.

“Nadia is crazy bitch,” Stan growled. “And Casimir put her in charge of the coven.”

“Bummer. So what do you want from us?” Phineas motioned to Stan’s white-blond hair. “Some L’Oréal hair color? I’m not sure you’re worth it.”

“I want asylum. If you can hide me from Malcontents, I will tell you everything I know.”

The Vamps grew silent as the Russian’s request sank in.

“Doona trust him,” Robby whispered. “He did nothing while they tortured me.”

“Robby has a point,” Angus said, regarding the Russian sternly. “Ye’ve never given us reason to trust you.”

Stan glanced nervously about. “You checked the area? It is clear?”

“Yes,” Emma answered. “What can you tell us? Do you know where Casimir is hiding?”

Stan licked his lips. “You scared him very much. He thought Apollo’s place was secret, but you knew about it. And he thought his camp in South Dakota was safe, but you attacked with no warning. I do not understand how you knew about his camp.”

Robby snorted. “He’s fishing. He’s still working for them. Let me kill him now.”

“No!” Stan raised his hands. “Please. I can see how it is going. Ivan, Katya, Galina, Jedrek—they are all dead. You killed over sixty Malcontents in South Dakota. Casimir will lose. He must lose. He is evil.”

Вы читаете The Vampire and the Virgin
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату