Blood. Not visible, but he could smell it. A lot of it. Impossible to detect inside the parlor, because it always carried a faint scent of blood due to the needle work, but outside, Bash had no doubts. Those who knew about him being a Seer knew his hunches were never wrong.
A man sprinted toward him and was stopped cold when Bash shot out an arm to catch him by the throat.
No, not a man.
The hiss and growl and snap of fangs made it difficult to hold the creature at bay, especially since he was strong—incredibly strong. Bash could barely contain him, which should not have been a challenge as an Alpha against a newborn, but that’s what this vampire had to be, because Bash recognized him, and he hadn’t been a vampire a few hours ago. The sire had to be powerful to create a fledgling this strong on its first night turned.
“A shame we couldn’t offer you that job, Mr. Lambert,” Bash said evenly. Poor man never even made it out of the neighborhood after his interview.
Lambert—Ethan Lambert, Bash recalled—snapped again with a click of fangs. A shame indeed, but this had to be Ethan. Bash would have known anyone else lurking about these streets, shifter or human, and the young vampire had natural red hair and a handsome face beneath the raging hunger, just how Siobhan had described him.
Shifter eyes glowed with power when they gave in to their true forms, but a vampire’s changed entirely. They shone yellow when fed, amber when hungry, and red when feral. Ethan’s eyes matched the moon above. What little control he might have had if he wasn’t a newborn was buried in the back of his mind by the overwhelming need to feed.
“The hell?” Deanna bellowed from the mouth of the alley, throwing back her shoulders and letting her fangs and claws extend, her skin darkening to a deep indigo-black, fur sprouting rapidly across her skin. She was ready to tear the vampire to pieces as soon as Bash threw him her way, which was what Bash planned to do….
When he caught the glow of the scarlet moon above Ethan’s head.
Somewhere deep within the red of Ethan’s eyes was green. Bash couldn’t see it, but he knew, like a vision of the man Ethan had once been, beautiful and smiling and utterly enchanting.
With a howl, Bash slammed Ethan’s head down into the pavement once, twice, three times before he stilled.
“What did you do that for?” Deanna growled. “Rip his damn head off!”
“No,” Bash said, the claws of the hand that had seized Ethan the only part of him changed, and now that too shifted back. He bent beside Ethan, whose fangs were still visible with his lips parted, but his eyes were closed, chest still since he no longer needed to breathe. “We’re bringing him back to the den. I have questions.”
“What?” Deanna balked, all towering force even as she shifted human, save the glow of her burning violet eyes. “That’s a vampire, Bash! A parasite!”
“I’m aware, and we are taking him back with us. Now pick him up.”
“Deanna, I am your—”
“Fuck you, big shot Alpha! When you’re being an idiot, you’re just Bash, and you can’t go bringing some fanger home when negotiations with Russell are heating up. If you ever thought a Halloween was the night, this is the one. Kill the guy and be done with it.”
That was the easy answer, but if it was easy, why bother with a prophecy? When had a vampire even entered Bash’s city? And what did it want? It couldn’t be a coincidence that Ethan had been turned and left on Bash’s doorstep.
Vampires were vermin, an infestation to be rid of if even one was discovered in pack territory. As they aged, they became far stronger than shifters, which was why they had to be eradicated before they spread, or they might take over. They were messy and foolish and too easily made feral, just like their wild newborns. Better to kill them on sight, always. Bash couldn’t even remember the last time a vampire had been spotted in Centrus City.
But if the prophecy meant for Bash to kill Ethan, why have his art so entrancing? Why have his eyes cut through Bash like bullets? Why have every part of Bash’s instincts screaming at him that killing was not the answer? There were too many connecting pieces for him to take the easy route like his father would have in his place.
“Pick him up. If I’m right, my future betrothed never needs to know.”
“Yeah,” Deanna scoffed despite bending to do as ordered, “and if you’re wrong, we’re all screwed.”