Аннотация: "These days my life is a cross between preternatural soap opera and an action-adventure movie". The sixth book in the Anita Blake series finds the vampire hunter with a bounty on her head. With a million dollars offered for her dead, Anita turns to an alpha werewolf and a master vampire for help.
Laurell K. Hamilton
Book 6 of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series
The most beautiful corpse I'd ever seen was sitting behind my desk. Jean-Claude's white shirt gleamed in the light from the desk lamp. A froth of lace spilled down the front, peeking from inside his black velvet jacket. I stood behind him, my back to the wall, arms crossed over my stomach, which put my right hand comfortably close to the Browning Hi-Power in its shoulder holster. I wasn't about to draw on Jean-Claude. It was the other vampire I was worried about.
The desk lamp was the only light in the room. The vampire had requested the overheads be turned out. His name was Sabin, and he stood against the far wall, huddling in the dark. He was covered head to foot in a black, hooded cape. He looked like something out of an old Vincent Price movie. I'd never seen a real vampire dress like that.
The last member of our happy little group was Dominic Dumare. He sat in one of the client chairs. He was tall, thin, but not weak. His hands were large and strong, big enough to palm my face. He was dressed in a three-piece black suit, like a chauffeur except for the diamond stickpin in his tie. A beard and thin mustache lined the strong bones of his face.
When he'd entered my office, I'd felt him like a psychic wind tripping down my spine. I'd only encountered two other people who had that taste to them. One had been the most powerful voodoo priestess I'd ever met. The second had been the second most powerful voodoo priest I'd ever met. The woman was dead. The man worked for Animators, Inc., just like I did. But Dominic Dumare wasn't here to apply for a job.
"Ms. Blake, please be seated," Dumare said. "Sabin finds it most offensive to sit when a lady is standing."
I glanced behind him at Sabin. "I'll sit down if he sits down," I said.
Dumare looked at Jean-Claude. He gave a gentle, condescending smile. "Do you have such poor control over your human servant?"
I didn't have to see Jean-Claude's smile to know it was there. "Oh, you are on your own withMa petite . She is my human servant, so declared before the council, but she answers to no one."
"You seem proud of that," Sabin said. His voice was British and very upper crust.
"She is the Executioner and has more vampire kills than any other human. She is a necromancer of such power that you have traveled halfway around the world to consult her. She is my human servant without a mark to hold her to me. She dates me without the aid of vampire glamor. Why should I not be pleased?"
Listening to him talk you'd have thought it was all his own idea. Fact was, he'd tried his best to mark me, and I'd managed to escape. We were dating because he'd blackmailed me. Date him or he'd kill my other boyfriend. Jean-Claude had managed to make it all work to his advantage. Why was I not surprised?
"Until her death you cannot mark any other human," Sabin said. "You have cut yourself off from a great deal of power."
"I am aware of what I have done," Jean-Claude said.
Sabin laughed, and it was chokingly bitter. "We all do strange things for love."
I would have given a lot to see Jean-Claude's face at that moment. All I could see was his long black hair spilling over his jacket, black on black. His shoulders stiffened, hands sliding across the blotter on my desk. Then he went very still. That awful waiting stillness that only the old vampires have, as if, if they held still long enough, they would simply disappear.
"Is that what has brought you here, Sabin? Love?" Jean-Claude's voice was neutral, empty.
Sabin's laughter rode the air like broken glass. It felt like the very sound of it hurt something deep inside me. I didn't like it.
"Enough games," I said, "let's get it done."
"Is she always this impatient?" Dumare asked.
"Yes," Jean-Claude said.
Dumare smiled, bright and empty as a lightbulb. "Did Jean-Claude tell you why we wished to see you?"
"He said Sabin caught some sort of disease from trying to go cold turkey."
The vampire across the room laughed again, flinging it like a weapon across the room. "Cold turkey, very good, Ms. Blake, very good."
The laughter ate over me like small cutting blades. I'd never experienced anything like that from just a voice. In a fight, it would have been distracting. Heck, it was distracting now. I felt liquid slide down my forehead. I raised my left hand to it. My fingers came away smeared with blood. I drew the Browning and stepped away from the wall. I aimed it at the black figure across the room. "He does that again, and I'll shoot him."
Jean-Claude rose slowly from the chair. His power flowed over me like a cool wind, raising goose bumps on my arms. He raised one pale hand, gone nearly translucent with power. Blood flowed down that gleaming skin.
Dumare stayed in his chair, but he, too, was bleeding from a cut nearly identical to mine. Dumare wiped the blood away, still smiling. "The gun will not be necessary," he said.
"You have abused my hospitality," Jean-Claude said. His voice filled the room with hissing echoes.
"There is nothing I can say to apologize," Sabin said. "But I did not mean to do it. I am using so much of my power just to maintain myself that I do not have the control I once did."
I moved slowly away from the wall, gun still pointed. I wanted to see Jean-Claude's face. I needed to see how badly he was hurt. I eased around the desk until I could see him from the corner of my eye. His face was untouched, flawless and gleaming like mother of pearl.
He raised his hand, one thin line of blood still trailing down. "This is no accident."
"Come into the light, my friend," Dumare said. "You must let them see, or they will not understand."
"I do not want to be seen."
"You are very close to using up all my good will," Jean-Claude said.
"Mine, too," I added. I was hoping I could either shoot Sabin or put the gun down soon. Even a two-handed shooting stance is not meant to be maintained indefinitely. Your hands start to waver just a bit.
Sabin glided towards the desk. The black cloak spilled around his feet like a pool of darkness. All vampires were graceful, but this was ridiculous. I realized he wasn't walking at all. He was levitating inside that dark cloak.