Vampire The Requiem ed 3 - Carthians.pdf

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The first time Duce Carter saw Ofelia Chase,
he wanted to kill her. More than that, though, he wanted
to annihilate her, wanted to violate her, wanted to do some-
thing to her so awful there was no name for it, some obscene,
absurd, overblown punishment for her temerity, for daring to
exist in the same place as he did. Instant, total loathing. That’s
how he knew she was a vampire.
He blew it off and put on an easy smile. He cleared his
throat to get her attention and kept the smile going as she
instinctively snarled at him. The man across the table from
her twitched, clearly uneasy.
speed date men, or the glances of interest or intimidation or
both commingled from the speed date women.
The singles were taking their five minute turns in a Holiday
Inn conference room, with a few pathetic flower arrangements
trying to make it less sterile and more fun. Duce told himself that
he’d never hunt in this terrain even if the alternative was starva-
tion. He knew, of course, that if push came to shove he would.
He left for the bar. It was better, and he’d gotten a phone
number by the time Ofelia entered. She gave him a suspicious
glance, hesitated, but sat down by him.
“It’s all right,” Duce told him. “She’s not mad at you.”
“Um,” the guy said. “This is . . . uh . . . ”
“I’m her old boyfriend,” Duce said, tipping her a wink. “I’m
sorry to interrupt and everything.”
“This is his five minutes,” Ofelia said, even as a woman with
a clipboard and a strained smile came over to ask if Duce needed
any help. Her tone told him she was silently praying that he
was not going to make a scene, was not going to kick up a fuss,
was not going to disrupt this evening’s round of speed dating.
“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Duce said. “I’m very sorry.” He
let the woman with the clipboard pull him away, and he en-
joyed her relief as much as her nervousness, much as he en-
joyed the looks of curiosity or sour competitiveness from the
“Duce Carter,” he said, shaking her hand.
“Ofelia,” she replied. Her skin was lighter than his, but not
by much. Her features, however, were sharper, more typically
white. There was a dusting of darker freckles on her straight
nose, and on her cheekbones.
“You can do better, right?” he said. “I mean, sure, you can . . . ”
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business.” Her voice was sharp.
“Now, now, sister. Don’t purse your lips and schoolteach at
me,” he said. “I’m just observing, all right?”
“Checking out the new meat on the street, is that it?”
“No need to make everything sound ugly. You and me, we
have our needs, and if we’re not meeting them together, we
should at least keep out of each other’s way.”
áyouäre trying to be courteous?à
áyou ainät making it easy.à
He gave her a smile. He turned on the charm. She thawed a
little, he could tell.
“You’re new,” he said. “I saw you at court, and I was going
to introduce myself, but your Crone crew seemed to be
keeping you under pretty tight wraps. Your sire finally let
you off the hook to try something on your own?”
“Not quite.” It was a new voice that spoke, one mar-
ginally feminine and entirely humorless. It was un-
expected and unpleasantly close to Duce’s ear.
He did not flinch in surprise. He turned and kept
the smile working as he said, “Moyra. Didn’t see
you there.”
“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re try-
ing to do,” Moyra hissed. Her face was tight
with anger.
“You might want to check your tone,” Duce
said. His face was still mild and pleasant, but
he put a little steel behind his words.
“Keep away from my offspring, Douche .”
“Put the fangs away, Moyra. They’re making you lisp.”
Moyra ground her teeth, and he grinned wider, and then
she grabbed him by the sleeve and pulled him toward the back exit.
“Wait!” Ofelia called, but Duce gave her a little wave.
“You wait,” he said. “One way or the other, I expect this won’t take long.”
They were barely out the door be-
fore Moyra took a swing at him, but
Duce ducked it, giving his eyes a
moment to adjust, making sure no
one else was . . . .
Moyra had vanished.
“Aw shit,” Duce said, and
got his arms up around his
head before she reappeared,
this time holding a board
and swinging it into his
side. Since his arms were
already up, it was natural
to give her a series of quick
jabs to the face, snapping her
head back. Bruises rose on her
flesh and then faded as quickly as breath
on a cold windowpane.
“This is stupid,” Duce said as they circled.
“I know what you’re doing!”
She swung again, and this time he was ready. He grabbed the board and yanked hard, sending her face-first into a wall.
“But do you know what you’re doing?” he asked, then grunted. He looked down and saw a throwing knife in his gut.
“Bitch!” Now it was his turn with the board, and he cracked her on the skull, no subtlety, just rage and brute force.
It went like that for what seemed like a long time but was only a couple seconds before Duce realized that it was a pretty close
fight. Moyra just might kill him. So he said, “This is really stupid,” again, and swung the board close enough to make her cringe,
but checked the blow.
Her face was badly bruised, and this time the marks weren’t fading. She had a
second knife in her hand. Duce looked at it and dropped the board. He figured he
could always pull the blade out of his stomach if he needed to rearm. But Moyra
seemed to reach the same conclusion, that the match was too close to call, and
her knife disappeared as quickly as she’d drawn it.
“You’re not going to take her away from me,” she said.
Duce grunted as he pulled out her weapon and closed his belly wound.
“That sounds like a bet to me.”
When they went back inside, Ofelia was gone.
# # #
Initially, Duce hadn’t even wanted to go.
A couple of older, respected Carthians had
dropped by his place and shot the shit for
a while, watched some of the Duke game
on TV, grumbled about the crazies in
the Lancea Sanctum. Then they’d
gotten to the point.
“She’s a Crone neonate, just
brought in during the Indul-
gence,” Pete said. Pete was
gruff, blue-jeaned, wearing
a truck-stop cap and a
Teamsters ring. He had
clout. “Knock her.”
“Aw c’mon,” Duce said.
“You can’t expect me to
just walk on by, give her a
wink and bring her into the
Movement. Be real.”
“This is real,” the other
Carthian said. Her name
was Brenda, and she was
from the intellectual wing,
dressed in Elizabeth
Arden and wearing
jade earrings that
clashed with
her shoes.
“The re-
cently Em-
braced are the
most vulnerable
to recruitment,
and that’s especially
true of the Circle,
where the, the spiri-
tual milieu is alien and
therefore alienating . . . ”
While she prattled,
Pete dropped a folder on
Duce’s table. Duce opened it,
still grumbling.
“Why do I have to do it. Just last
month I . . . ” He saw her picture and
grimaced. “Oh, it’s like that .”
“No, it’s not,” said Brenda as Pete
shrugged and said, “I guess.”
“To lure away the black Acolyte, you figure
you need your go-to brother . . . ”
“We can talk around race all night,” Brenda
said, “But we’ll never get around it. She’s just started
her Requiem, she’s scared, she’s alone, anything fa-
miliar might . . . ”
“What the hell is biomolecular chemistry?” Duce asked.
“I’m curious ‘cause, y’know, when I got my GED in the
slammer they skipped that class, and she’s got a PhD in it.”
“How would I know?” Pete asked. “You gonna do this
thing or not?”
“Do I have to?”
Brenda and Pete exchanged a glance. Pete looked down at
his ring and turned it so the face was in.
“No,” the union man said coolly. “Not at all. No big thing.”
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