A VAMPIRE'S SALVATION
Also featured in VAMPIRE SURRENDER (Anthology)
by Alexis Morgan
eISBN: 978 1426885549 (US)
ISBN 978 0 263 91410 8 (UK)
From Vampire Surrender:
Their blood may be their only redemption . . .
Giving in to temptation has deadly consequences, as one taste arouses both a hunger and a desire that is uncontrollable.
These human and vampire entanglements lead to the surrendering of souls in more ways that one . . .
Every touch ignites an undeniable spark of longing, which means giving in to passion is their only option.
But danger lurks when enemies focused only on vengeance are headed their way with a force they could never have predicted.
My story: A Vampire's Salvation
Life imprisonment has a whole new meaning when you live for centuries...
It's been fifteen long years since vampire Cord Kilpatrick was sent to prison for his business partner's disappearance. Chancellor Olivia McCabe is the only investigator who doesn't think he's guilty...and she's the one woman he can't stop thinking about. When Olivia gets the chance to prove his innocence and has him released into her personal custody, Cord is tempted by the beautiful vampires more than ever. Can he hope to find salvation from his past and the passion he's longed for in Olivia's arms?
The sun had disappeared beyond the horizon more than three hours ago, yet the night air still hung heavy and damp with the day's heat. Cord ignored it just as he ignored everything except the rhythm of the work. As part of the prison's night crew, he'd been at it since sunset and had at least another six hours left to go.
Swinging the pickax up and over, his shoulders ached with the effort despite fifteen years of practice. On the downward slide, his vampire strength drove the steel blade deep into the asphalt, sending a jolt straight up the handle that jarred every joint in his arms and back.
Raising it up; slamming it down. Again and again, each swing of the ax marking another minute of Cord's life lost forever, wasted in this hell. The clank of his chains played in counterpoint to the sound of steel biting into stone.
The overseer barked the order a second time although there was no need. To a man, the entire crew had all stopped working as soon as the guard had checked his watch and opened his mouth.
Cord hobbled over to join the break line. Each man was allowed two ladles of water. He drank the first one, poured half the second one over his head, and then gulped down the rest. The water helped cool him down and restore his energy, but only a little. What he really needed was blood, preferably straight from a pulsing vein.
He closed his eyes and tried to remember the spicy taste of fresh blood, rich and coppery and full of life as it poured straight from his lover's neck. It had been fifteen long years since he'd last had that particular pleasure, way back before his business partner Dwayne had gone missing, and Cord had gone to prison for his murder. Now he lived on outdated blood and old memories.
Cord slammed the door shut on that line of thought. To look back at the past made no more sense than looking beyond the next half hour. As a vampire with no future, nothing mattered other than losing himself in the monotony of the work assigned him. Life imprisonment had a whole different meaning when a man's existence could be measured in centuries.
Cord shuffled back to his place in line, automatically adjusting his gait to the length of chain that connected his ankles, always a few links short of a comfortable step. He retrieved his pickax and went back to work. Up and over and down, the clang of steel against stone. But before he could reestablish his rhythm, the closest guard stepped into Cord's line of vision and waved to catch his attention.
Cord stopped mid-motion and lowered his tool to the ground. "Yes, boss?"
"Kilpatrick, you're wanted!" the guard yelled, jerking his head in the direction of where the jumbo prison transport was parked. "Report to the crew boss."
Cord nodded, doing his best to hide his shock. In all the years he'd been loaned out for road work, he could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times one of the convicts had been allowed off the line except during breaks. Two of those times it had been because the convict in question had dropped dead while working. Twice prisoners had to be subdued by the guards when they lost control and tried to escape.
But it was the fifth occasion that still sent a shiver of cold fear straight up Cord's spine. The convict involved had been serving time for murder, found guilty even though the body had never been found. Under Coalition law, murder carried a mandatory death penalty. In cases where the corpse wasn't found, the execution was placed on hold only until such time as the body was eventually recovered.
Throughout the years, that night had played out over and over in Cord's mind like a 3-D horror movie. It started with the convict being called away from the line. He'd innocently approached the transport where the crew boss was waiting. At the last minute one of the Coalition's top executioners stepped into sight. As soon as the convict spotted the chancellor standing there, he'd frozen in place for a heartbeat before he broke and ran.
The chancellor caught up with him in seconds. At least the guy had made the execution quick and merciful. The worst part was how everyone had just gone on with their assigned duties as if death had meant nothing to any of them.
Maybe it didn't, but for Cord it was the stuff of nightmares, especially since he'd been tried and convicted on even less evidence. He wasn't sure exactly what he was feeling as he walked toward the transport, but he was very much afraid that it was relief. One way or another, his time in hell was about to end. Cord approached the crew boss, doing his best to look respectful and only mildly concerned about what was going on.
Sure enough, just as he reached the transport, the side door opened and a chancellor stepped out. Not just any chancellor, either, but Olivia McCabe, second only to Ambrose O'Brien, the top dog himself. What had happened to bring the biggest, baddest female chancellor in two generations all the way out here? A curiosity to be sure, and certainly not reassuring. Of course, if Cord were about to die, it was nice of the Coalition to send their very best to carry out his sentence. He supposed he should be honored.
He wasn't. To make matters worse, the mere sight of Olivia McCabe left him frozen in place, speechless and horny as hell. Thanks to her silver-blond hair, flashing pale green eyes and incredible body, she always had that effect on him.
Olivia walked toward Cord, her expression unreadable. When she got within arm's length, she stuck her hand out. Cord just stared at it, not knowing what to make of the friendly overture. After a second, Olivia let it drop back down to her side.
"Ms. McCabe, I wasn't aware that you were due for another visit. I'm sure there was no mention of it on my appointment calendar."
The chancellor smiled, her amusement genuine. "Gosh, Cord, I'd hate to think you weren't glad to see me."
"Any reason I should be?"
If Cord sounded bitter, they both knew he had reason to be. If the chancellor was there to end Cord's existence, he planned on meeting his end with dignity.
Olivia looked past him for several long seconds, focusing instead on the mixed bag of prisoners breaking up the asphalt behind them. What was she thinking? Pity for the poor bastards slaving away night after night? Satisfaction that justice had been served? Cord didn't know and frankly didn't care.
"Look, I don't mean to be unsociable, Ms. McCabe." He waved his hand in the direction of the work party. "But as you can see, I have pressing plans for this evening. Is this a social call or did you have a real reason for stopping by? I'm fairly certain this place isn't exactly on your way home."
Olivia's brows snapped down, her fangs flashing. "You used to be a better host, Cord, and since when does your voice sound like a pissed off bulldog?"
Cord's own canines dropped down in a defiant show of aggression. "My vocal cords were severed in a knife fight two months ago. They didn't heal right on the outdated blood they feed me, not that it's any of your business."
Cord was in no mood to play games. He forced himself to ask the hard question, his voice a harsh rasp. "Let's cut to the chase, Chancellor McCabe. Did you finally find Dwayne Delaney's body?"
Olivia's expression softened just a bit as she nodded. "We did indeed."
Cord straightened his shoulders. He had little left to call his own except for his pride. No matter what, he'd show no sign of weakness. "Then I guess you're here to end this party for me."