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“What do you privately consult about?”

“Haunted houses, exorcisms, that sort of thing,” he answered.

“Wow. You're like-”

“Don't say it. ”

“-Giles from Buffy. ”

He rolled his eyes. “If I had a quarter for every time someone said that. ”

She smiled impishly at him. “Okay. I'll be there. I don't want to be in the apartment when her skanky ass wakes up anyway. ”

Jeff couldn't help but laugh. “Well, considering everything you have told me, I actually think it will be safer for you not to be there. ”

Samantha pouted, nodded her head, and then suddenly said, “Oh! Oh! You are going to tell me about your Dad and Cian, right?”

“Yeah. I'll tell you all about that and some other stuff. But you have to promise me that you will help me deal with this. ”

“Like Buffy?”

He took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. “Yes. Like Buffy. ”

“Yay!” She grinned at him as he handed her his card. “I'll be there! Eight o'clock. ”

Jeff watched her as she bounced away, obviously feeling much better than she had earlier. He understood what it was like to be consoled by the thought of actually being able to do something about a dire situation.

Sliding into the Range Rover, he turned it on and listened to the engine try to turnover, then catch after a slight cough. He definitely needed to get the SUV into the shop soon.

He pulled out of the parking spot and turned down the alley toward 29th St. He did feel satisfied with how the lecture went, but the conversation afterwards had him deeply concerned. The pact between Cian and his father had remained intact since the Seventies and he would hate to think that things were changing. The terms had been explicit. No other vampire but Cian would be allowed to live in the city. Cian would kill or turn over any new vampires to the hunters. In exchange, the hunters would leave Cian alone.

Sighing, Jeff donned his sunglasses and turned up the air conditioner. It was time to grow up and fill his father's shoes. He just hoped he was up to it.

***

Amaliya awoke to utter darkness. Feeling drugged with sleep and needing blood, it took her a moment to process that she was tightly bound. Abruptly claustrophobic and terrified, she began to struggle. Something slick was pressed up against her face and she was compressed into a small space. She tried to move and realized her hands were taped together and against her chest. Panic began to grip her, but she fought it back and tried to think straight. Managing to squeeze the plastic between her fingers, she began to try to push her nails through the slick material.

“Damn,” she whispered, and tried not to completely lose her mind. She was terrified, but she had to remember she didn't have to breathe, therefore, she couldn't smother to death.

Her nail poked through the plastic and she wedged her fingers through it. Desperately, she began to tear at the black plastic. Filthy garbage began to leak around her fingers and she cursed loudly. Losing all patience and losing her battle against panic, she began to throw her body back and forth as hard as she could.

There was a loud cracking noise and then she fell sideways onto her side. She was still bound and her legs were trapped in something that was pinching them hard, but now she was laying on the ground. Instead of more black plastic and garbage being outside the hole she had torn, now she could see the cement roof of a building. With renewed vigor, she tore at the plastic until she could push her head through and looked around frantically.

She appeared to be in a multi-level parking garage. No cars were around and looking down the sloped floor she saw the area she was in was roped off. Heavy blue tarps were hanging from the ceiling to keep anyone from entering. A sign nearby read “Danger” and she realized the area must be under some sort of renovations.

Sitting with her head poking out of the plastic, she could see her body was tightly restrained in two trash bags with duct tape wound around it. Pissed, she began to tug at the tape around her legs.

“If he wanted me gone, he could have just said so,” she mumbled.

It took awhile, but she finally got the tape off her legs and kicked the bottom bag off her. Taking advantage of her hunger, she used her sharp teeth to gnaw through the tape on her wrists. At last, she stood up, threw the ba

gs away from her and looked around. She had busted her way out of a large plastic trash bin and her duffel bag was still inside under a bag of garbage.

Disgusted beyond belief, she grabbed her stuff and noticed a note pinned to it.

“Fucker,” she hissed. He could have just told her to leave.

She tore the note off, crumbled it up and tossed it in with the other garbage. Feeling like shit, she moved toward the plastic curtains cutting her off from the rest of the parking garage. She pulled back an edge and realized she was in the parking lot for the Riverwalk Mall in San Antonio.

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