Chapter One

How to Elude a Vampire

**Giveaway at the bottom

Finn

Sometimes, I wonder how I’m still alive. I don’t think I’m necessarily reckless, although some might say that having a partner who is a vampire and joining a vampire-only police department makes me seem like it. But I honestly feel safer now than I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m surrounded by men and women who are faster and deadlier than any human, yet I feel like I’m covered by a security blanket. A blanket with fangs and grumpy personalities.

            Growing up, my security came from me relying on myself—my mother did little to protect me—so I learned how to care for myself and keep myself safe. But now… now I have Marcus to watch over me and it’s oddly comforting.

            “What are you contemplating over there?” Marcus asks.

            I smile at the handsome vampire who is looming next to me. “How you got so lucky to end up with me.”

            “I literally just asked if you wanted sprinkles on your ice cream and you got this far-off look on your face like you had to contemplate how sprinkles came into existence.”

            I narrow my eyes. “Don’t get sassy with me,” I growl.

            Karsyn, who’s in front of us in line at the tiny ice cream shop right next to the city’s main park, slowly turns to look at us. “Disgusting,” he growls, Russian accent coming through thicker because of his tone. The poor sweet man is just sexually frustrated because the man he spends all day ogling doesn’t seem to notice nor like him.  

            “So?” Marcus says.

            “So?” I ask, unsure what we’re “so-ing” about since I might have gotten distracted by Karsyn’s rancid, yet kind of cute, attitude. I love it when he gets really fired up and starts spitting shit at people in Russian. It makes me feel worldly to be surrounded by such diverse people.  

            “Sprinkles. Do you want some motherfucking sprinkles?” Marcus asks.

            “They fuck mothers?” I ask, acting aghast.

            A mother who is two people ahead of us turns creepily slow to glare at us. She gets one look at Marcus and quickly turns back around. Marcus can be a bit menacing before you get to know him. And then once you know him, he’s adorable.

            “I’m just going to get him a bowl,” Karsyn decides. “An empty bowl. And he can hold his empty bowl and forlornly regret being a smart-ass. He’ll be all like ‘Please, sir, I want some more’ and I’m going to laugh in his face.”

            There are still three people ahead of us in line, so I have time to kill while harassing my two favorite people.

            “I feel like you’re especially snarky today, Karsyn,” I say as I step forward and wrap my arms around his body. He instantly stiffens and starts barking stuff in Russian as I squeeze him tightly. I’m positive he’s saying stuff like “I love you” and “Hug me harder.”

            “I think he’s liking it,” Marcus says. While Marcus, my boyfriend of six months, hates me interacting with anyone who could even remotely like me, he does love it when I harass Karsyn. We both do. It’s kind of a bonding experience. We bond over torturing Karsyn and Karsyn bonds with us because he must secretly like it.

            “Get. Off. Me,” he growls, but it makes me squeeze him tighter. And then he’s spitting Russian words at me again.

            “Marcus, I’ve been studying Russian and he just said he loves me!”

            “Aw!” Marcus says, which sounds weird coming out of the often brooding and grumpy vampire, but again, it relates to annoying Karsyn, so everything’s game.

            When I first joined the Vampire Related Crimes unit, or the VRC, after leaving homicide, a lot of the vampires really didn’t like me. Even Marcus, who now confesses his undying love to me every time he sees me, tried his hardest to get rid of me. Karsyn, on the other hand, downright hated me for a good month or so while the others tolerated me. They weren’t used to working with a human partner, since the VRC had never had a human employee before. Thankfully, with my amazing skill of suckering people into liking me, I soon had them all declaring our best friendship.

            But out of it all, the thing that mattered to me the most was the way Marcus’s relationship with me changed. While I had plenty of things in my past that made me very grateful, no one has ever made me as happy as Marcus has.

            “I’m going to teach you Russian someday so you can understand that I was telling you how irritating you are,” Karsyn growls.

            “My one true love?” I ask Marcus.

            “Huh?”

            “After this… can we go to the park and have Karsyn push me on the swing?” I ask like I’m very hopeful that this will actually happen.

            It’s finally spring, so children have flocked to the park, even though the air is slightly cool with the wind cutting through it. The overcast sky allows the vampires out, but they’re still wearing dark clothes and sunglasses. Since the light isn’t too bright, my sunglasses are hooked on my shirt. Anytime the sun comes out, I have to slip them on since the bright light also bothers my eyes. But no one besides Marcus really knows why.

            “Next?” the cashier calls out.

            Karsyn steps up to her, a scowl still on his face.

            “Good afternoon, how can I help you?” the young woman says with so much cheer that it hits Karsyn’s impenetrable brooding bubble and tumbles off.

            “I’d like a cup, no ice cream, nothing in it at all for the human. No sprinkles, definitely no spoon. Just a cup,” Karsyn says.

            She looks confused as she stares at her notepad. “Just a… cup? Like to share?” she asks.

            “Do you see him?” I ask as I press into Karsyn even closer, but my height difference makes it hard to see much of anything. Karsyn is taller than me, but Marcus has about three inches on him and can actually see past him.

            “He’s in the back, right there. Jeffry Thompson, you’re under arrest!” Marcus shouts.

            When the man peeks over a shelf to look at us, I finally get a good look at him. Then I get a very good look at his back as he bolts, slamming through the door of the tiny ice cream place and out into the street, but Briar has been waiting on that side and DeGray on the other for a moment just like this.

            Jeffry is a vampire we’d pinpointed to this location after a string of break-ins and assaults. He’s also very well known for getting away from his pursuers, so the five of us decided to tackle it together, even though I generally work just with Marcus out in the field.

            “Can your tiny little legs keep up?” Karsyn asks.

            Marcus waves at him like he’s going to defend me. “Shh, Karsyn. He doesn’t like it when you make fun of his speed. You’re like a cheetah, baby,” Marcus encourages. Sadly, he doesn’t see me flipping him off as he and Karsyn zoom off, leaving the struggling human behind.

            Jeffry slams into Briar who latches on to him. He socks her in the face with an elbow and she tucks her head away as we rush toward them. He yanks something out that looks like a small handheld canister, but it’s hard to see with them struggling with each other. He brings it up, and just as he goes to press down, she catches his hand and turns it before pushing it herself.

            What Briar must have forgotten is that the wind is viciously whipping our way, so when she presses down on the canister, I realize exactly what the canister is.

            Especially when it hits Marcus, Karsyn, DeGray, and me right in the face.

            The pepper spray immediately attacks my senses. My eyes burst into tears as I accidentally breathe it in and begin coughing. I’ve been hit with pepper spray before but there’s no way to ever get used to the feel of it.

            “Holy shit!” DeGray cries out as Jeffry pulls free of Briar who’s stumbling away screaming something like “My eyes!”

            Marcus is heaving next to me and tears are pouring from my eyes, obscuring my vision. Seeing as they’re vampires and their senses are heightened, it seems that their ability to detect pepper spray is magnitudes above mine.

            “I can’t see him. Where’d he go?” Marcus yells as he rips his sunglasses off and crushes them in his hand like the sunglasses caused this issue.

            Thankfully, because of my “tiny little human legs” I was far enough behind that I got the aftereffects of the spray.

            “Maybe if you were like a cheetah, baby, you wouldn’t be so slow!” I say as I run past the heaving and sobbing vampires.

            “Dammit, Finn, don’t take on the vampire alone!” Marcus yells.

            “I can’t hear you over the sound of my speeding legs,” I shout as I watch the vampire dodge right into traffic. He hits the side of a moving car, careens over the top of it, lands on his feet like a cat and takes off again only to be shot in the back by one of my tranquilizers.

            He looks back at me like he’s offended I dare shoot him when he’s blatantly running from law enforcement. It’s clear he still has plans to keep running, since the drug takes a few moments to really sink in, so I stay close but not too close as I let him tumble over himself while a park full of people watch.

            I give them a reassuring smile and a friendly wave as I head over to the man sprawled out in front of some openmouthed kids on a swing.

            Their parents come rushing over and pull them away as I handcuff the man. I’m stuck waiting for my team to make their way to me seeing as I wasn’t blessed with amazing strength that would allow me to drag a two-hundred-and-twenty-pound man back to the car. So I sit on the swing and call Marcus.

            “Cheetah Legs has apprehended the perp,” I say.

            He sounds a little wheezy still. I mean, my eyes are still watering, and I seem to have an excess of snot, but come on! He’s a vampire! “W-Where are you?”

            “Cheetah Legs has apprehended the perp below the swings. I repeat, Cheetah Legs—”

            “I… apologize for making fun of—”

            “The fact I only have one leg?” I ask, knowing that’ll get him riled up. I love it when I say stuff like that and it flusters the unflusterable Marcus.

            “No! You know I’d make fun of you no matter how many legs you have, right? Say right. Don’t leave me hanging here. I can’t breathe, and you’re just evil.”

            “Good,” I say. “Cheetah Legs would like you to come push him. I repeat, Cheetah Legs needs a push.”

            “Are you on a swing?” he asks, like this sounds like a ludicrous thing for me to do as I wait for them to stagger over here.

            “Well… while you guys were busy rolling around on the ground, I thought it’d be alright for me to swing a little. Am I wrong? I repeat, is Cheetah Legs wrong?”

            He sighs. “No, you’re not wrong.”

            “Are you guys ever coming? Or can you just not face Cheetah Legs?”

            He groans loudly. “I’m staggering my way over there. It’s hard through the tears.”

            “Ah, makes sense, you’re so manly your eyes probably have no idea what tears are. Are they rejecting your body? Are they confused? Hurry up, Grandpa. Ooh, you know the whole Daddy thing? I don’t need a Daddy, I got a Grandpa.”

            He hangs up on me.

            “Well, I think that turned him on so much he was too flustered to hang on to the phone,” I tell an unconscious Jeffry. He’s a fantastic listener.

            I smile as my vampires walk toward me. The curious onlookers scatter and flee to avoid their glares but I really think the vampires are just squinting because of the whole pepper spray in the eyes thing.

            “What took you guys so long to get here?” I ask with an innocent smile. It’s the smile that got me just about everything from my adoptive father Orin when I was growing up. I felt like if I had to suffer through being small and cute my entire life, I was going to work that small and cute so damn hard.

            “Briar sprayed us in the face with pepper spray,” Karsyn growls, as if I’m not aware. I’m pretty sure my face is as red and blubbering as the rest of them. I have to keep wiping snot away, which is making my cute façade really hard to perfect.

            “I… forgot about the wind,” Briar whispers. She was the first one who was nice to me when I joined the department and she was the only one who didn’t seem to care that I was a human. She instantly liked me. It might help that she’s a young vampire and more open to human and vampire interactions. She has dark hair she always keeps pulled back in a tight bun. Ironically, she was also the first one to try to eat me, but I blame that on the fact that I’d had a pot of drug-infused blood dropped on my head.

            Next to her is DeGray. He’s kind of the handsome type who is really nice and even looks nice. Like how a superhero in a movie has that look about him that automatically tells you he’s the good guy. He’s who I think Karsyn is interested in, but so far, DeGray has shown no interest back, making me second-guess their dynamic.  

            I smile at Marcus as he walks up. “Push me, Grandpa.”

            He pulls out the brooding look that I love so much. The one he uses when he tries to pretend he hates everything that comes out of my mouth, and also the look that tells me he’s not digging this “Grandpa” nonsense.

            DeGray starts laughing. “Grandpa! I love it. You two crack me up.”

            I turn to my second-favorite victim. “Karsyn, push me since no one else will!”

            “Alright, sure,” Karsyn says, which really should have raised red flags in my brain, but sometimes I think my brain is broken.

            What does raise red flags is when Karsyn grabs the swing and yanks it back super quickly, and I realize that I’m about to go for the ride of my life.

            “I’m just joking! Save me! Marcus, save me!” I cry.

            “Do you guys realize everyone is watching us?” Briar asks.

            I look over at the mothers and fathers, the children and teens, all wondering what their law enforcement has come to. “There’s this stigma surrounding the VRC that makes quite a few humans fear us. So I feel like I’m just showing them that you guys are fun and sweet and can take down criminals. The complete package.”

            Marcus waves at me as I have a death grip on the swing that Karsyn is still holding up in the air. “You literally say this as Karsyn is preparing to send you into outer space out of spite,” Marcus says. “There are cameras pointed at us as people question whether Karsyn is going to see if the only human officer can fly.”

            I look back at Karsyn who is thinking very hard about his next move.

            “Okay, okay, I know how to fix this,” DeGray says. “Karsyn, I’ll go out about a hundred yards and prepare to catch him. Marcus, if I drop him, please don’t kill me.”

            Karsyn growls, literally growls, then lets go of the swing and I gently swing forward. Promptly, I get off before he decides that didn’t involve enough blood and gore.

            “Alright, let’s get this cleaned up before Brooks sees a video of this and we all get fired,” I say as if it wasn’t my idea to play on the swing.

            Once we have Jeffry handed over to the transport team who will take him to the local jail for holding, we pile into Marcus’s car. Because I’m special, I get the front passenger seat, even though it makes the three much larger vampires cram in the back. It started off as a joke, and now I’m convinced they’ll literally let me have whatever I want.

            I pull my phone out and see that I have a text from my sister Aria. “Marcus, my sister’s bringing her new boyfriend to supper tonight,” I say.

            “Well, this will be fun,” Marcus says. Although we’re not technically supposed to be partners and dating, everyone in the car already knows. It was pretty apparent about six or seven months ago when someone was harassing me and Marcus went barreling through the office shouting “He’s mine!” to everyone who’d listen.

            It was the hottest thing I’d ever experienced in my life and I was devastated when no one had taken a video of it.

            As what he said sinks in, I look at him in confusion. “What do you mean? Orin’s not going to care. He pulled you in with open arms. I’m starting to wonder if he’s considering replacing me with you so he has a ‘cool’ son or some nonsense.”

            Marcus dramatically runs his fingers through his hair. “I am pretty cool.”

Karsyn chokes in the back seat. He’s currently trying to pretend he’s not enjoying being crushed between Briar’s and DeGray’s bodies. It doesn’t help that he’s practically throwing his body into Briar to keep from touching DeGray.

            It’s kind of cute.

“I think you’re cool!” DeGray pipes in.  

            “Hold on… so… you think Orin’s going to throw a fit about Aria’s boyfriend even though he never cared about mine?” I ask.

            “Well, yeah, Aria’s his little baby girl and he was just trying to get rid of you. I didn’t see all the warning flags before you got ahold of me.”

            “Are those fighting words?” I growl.

            “Will someone record Finn so I can report this harassment to HR?” Marcus asks.

            “You mean we could get rid of the pesky human?” Karsyn asks as he whips his phone out. “Make him do something really bad.”

            I reach back to grab for Karsyn’s phone. Since I’m reaching back with my left arm, it means I’m reaching with my prosthesis. So when Karsyn clamps onto my wrist, I go, “Oh my god, my arm!”

            He jerks back, allowing me to snatch up the phone. I snicker as I sink into my seat with his phone.

            “Oh my god, he’s such a sucker,” I say to Marcus, who is also laughing.

            “That’s not funny, moj zanuda,” Karsyn growls. “Give me my phone back. Dammit. I thought I hurt you, you asshole!”

            Karsyn has enjoyed calling me Russian names since I met him. He started off calling me zanuda, which I learned you would call someone who annoys you or you dislike. But he’s since started calling me moj zanuda. And while he never spits out what it means, my friend Google told me moj meant mine or my.

            I’ll be his annoying person all he wants.

            I prove it by unbuttoning my shirt and pulling it to the side until my nipple is showing, then snap a few selfies of me looking absolutely ridiculous while trying to lick my nipple. Once I have the perfect one, I set it as Karsyn’s lock screen and as the picture that’ll show up when I call. Then I turn in my seat to face DeGray.

            “Come on, DeGray, give me a nip slip. Show off those abs.”

            DeGray starts laughing, but he shakes his head. “Sorry, these abs are closed.”

            I scrutinize him for a moment, wondering what that means, before tossing the phone back to Karsyn. I immediately send him a text.

 

            Me: Try not to get too turned on when you look at the picture of me.

            Karsyn: I already deleted it.

            Me: Bullshit. You love it.

            Karsyn: It already haunts me.

 

            My phone beeps again and I look down at the text from my sister Aria.

 

            Aria: Nick is a little concerned about tonight. I’m not sure why. Is it too much?

            Me: It’s never too much to introduce your next meal to your ancient father.

            Aria: Ha. Ha. You’re so funny.

Read the rest of chapter one when it releases on Thursday! 

How to Elude a Vampire will release on April 16 and is currently up for preorder. Get your copy here! Want a second chance to win a giveaway? Join my reader group here! (PLEASE make sure you fill out the questions to join or you won't be accepted!)

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