Please note: This story originally appeared in The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2, but it has been expanded for its digital release. For those who have read the story in print, you can read the expanded material as a free read here.
Demon slayer Andrea Cole has always taken down the demons and vampires she hunts without mercy. But when a fellow slayer is captured and turned into a vampire by a sadistic monster, she must choose between loyalty to her family and the man she loves.
Kaden Quinn has dedicated his life to slaying vampires, so when he is turned into one, his greatest nightmare comes to life. And when the woman he loves is thrown into a dungeon with him — as food — he must battle new instincts and old desires, and choose between his life, and hers.
*Note: This story takes place in the Demonica world, but is independent from the series and contains new characters. I place it in the timeline somewhere after book 3 only because of a vague mention of happenings from the first 3 books.
Andrea Cole had been hunting demons and vampires since she was eighteen, almost since the day she’d dropped out of college and returned home to witness both parents being torn apart by demons before her eyes. That was nine years, a hundred kills, and two dozen broken bones ago. Killing evil creatures had never bothered her. Not once. But tonight was different.
Tonight she might have to kill the love of her life.
She gripped her stake so hard that she was surprised it didn’t crack. Silently, she eased down the damp, narrow staircase that led to an underground chamber beneath the Oregon billionaire’s mansion. The human scumbag was in league with demons who The Aegis, a society of human warriors protecting the world from evil, had been watching for two years. Andrea’s division, a special vampire investigative unit, had concentrated all its efforts on bringing this guy down, starting with the vampires he harbored on his property. Beneath it, anyway.
Recently, an Aegis Guardian had disappeared into the bowels of the mansion. Under the pretense of delivering a kitchen order from a local bakery, Kaden had snooped around and got lucky when he spotted the butler opening a secret panel in the pantry. He’d followed the butler down a staircase, speaking softly into his hidden microphone as he described everything he saw. At the bottom, he’d found himself in a giant chamber filled with torture devices, several cells, dozens of tunnels and, unfortunately, more vampires than he could combat.
Andrea had listened in horror as Kaden was overwhelmed. When the sound had cut off, something inside her had died, and she’d done nothing but live and breathe revenge ever since. And now, revenge was within her grasp, because at this very moment, there were twenty Guardians swarming the mansion grounds, armed to the teeth and working on three separate missions.
One: Capture the billionaire scumbag, Blake Alden. Two: Kill as many vampires as possible. Three: Find Kaden.
Find Kaden so Andrea could kill him.
The thought rolled through her on a wave of nausea. Maybe he was okay. Maybe the vampires hadn’t turned him. And maybe she was freaking delusional, because she knew damned good and well they’d done it. Vamps got off on torturing Guardians — or worse, turning them. Nothing amused bloodsuckers more than dropping an enemy headfirst into their worst nightmare.
Cautiously, she stepped out of the stairwell and into a huge, cavernous basement. From the stone walls hung wicked-looking implements of torture. The floor was dirt. It wasn’t exactly a basement, it was more of a cave, with cells carved into the walls. The doors were solid slabs of metal, with only a small, eye-level slotted window shot through with steel bars.
Ahead were tunnels she’d be willing to bet led to living spaces, and dozens of exits that would come out all over Portland. Behind her, six Guardians filed out of the stairwell.
“This is weird,” Zach, a newer recruit, whispered. “There’s no one here.”
“They might have been tipped off and run.” Andrea moved toward the cells. “Or it’s a trap and they’re hiding. Be careful.”
Zach and the others disappeared into the tunnels, leaving Andrea to clear the immediate area. The first cell was empty, the shackles on the walls hanging dejectedly from their chains. Some sort of spindly, man-sized demon occupied the second cell, cowering in a corner and trembling. A colleague would dispatch the pathetic creature later.
She moved on, slowing when the small hairs on the back of her neck stood up as she side-stepped a dark stain on the ground. Her gaze tracked automatically to the ceiling. Above her, meat hooks swayed, grotesque even in the dim light from the wall sconces. And there, in the corner, were Kaden’s weapons, boots, and shirt.
Andrea’s heart dropped into the pit of her stomach. Where was he? Forgetting caution, she checked the third cell. The fourth cell.
The fifth cell…dear God, the fifth cell.
Inside, sitting with his back to the wall in nothing but jeans and a metal collar around his neck, was Kaden. Andrea’s breath lodged in her throat, her pulse went double-time, and though she knew better than to hope, she did exactly that.
His head swung around, his gray eyes bright and wide with surprise. His dark blond hair was alternately grooved and spiky, as though he’d been thrusting his fingers through it, and his tan skin was marred by fading bruises and cuts.
If the vampires had had him for the full two weeks he’d been missing, she was surprised he hadn’t been hurt more. Then again, maybe they had put him through hell, but he’d healed already, thanks to a vampire’s rapid regeneration abilities.
But so far, she saw no signs of him being turned. Maybe, just maybe, everything would be okay. God, please let it be okay.
“Kaden, don’t move. I’m going to get you out of there.”
“No!” He lurched forward, only to be drawn short by the chain linking his collar to the wall. Panic put a chilling, grim light in his gaze. “You can’t.”
Dread draped over her like a shroud, suffocating her last breath of hope. She knew what he was going to say. She didn’t want to ask, but the question fell from her lips before she could stop it. “Why not?”
“Because,” he said, opening his mouth to reveal two extra-long canines, “I’ll kill you.”