Home > Blood Debt (Kingdom of Blood #1)

Blood Debt (Kingdom of Blood #1)
Author: Callie Rose

Chapter One

 

 

I hear there are places in this world where the rain washes the dirt out of the sky and leaves everything feeling fresh and clean.

Not here.

The rain is as dirty as the air, and the water only serves to accentuate the pungent destitution of the streets below. Rotting wood and rotting flesh fill my nose with warning scents.

More human victims, or just dead rats?

I brush the thought aside, narrowing my focus as I skirt around weak spots on the rooftop I’m traversing. It would be stupid as fuck to lose my life to a fall at this point. Losing it in a fight? That’s a different story. I’m pretty sure that’s how I’ll go eventually.

Not tonight, though. Not this fight.

I heard the vamp making its kill, and that’s one point against the stupid fucker already. It’s careless enough to let its victim scream. Not that there aren’t plenty of other screams in this city on a nightly basis. This is Baltimore, after all. Screams happen. But screams that start with a gasp and end in a gurgle?

Those are unique.

Those are the screams of vampire food.

I’m watching the vamp run from above. He’s dressed to blend in—gray sweats and a black hoodie. Most bloodsuckers don’t really do the whole Renaissance thing with the way they dress, at least not above ground. What they do in their underground palace is a mystery to everybody but the poor souls stupid or unfortunate enough to get suckered into blood slavery. I couldn’t tell you how many people that actually is, but if you’ve seen the missing persons statistics around here, you can make an educated guess.

He’s heading for the Block. They all do eventually. There’s something about strip clubs that draws them—probably all that excited blood flow and exposed flesh.

This will work to my advantage though.

There’s a blind alley between here and there, right at the end of this row, where a busted fire escape dangles unexpectedly in the middle. I’ve ambushed more than a few creatures there and always had the upper hand. It’s a loud alley anyway, and the rain gives me even more cover.

I reach the corner before he does and get into position. He’s almost under me, looking back over his shoulder. He knows he’s being stalked, he’s just wrong about where the real predator is. From this perspective, I judge him to be about two hundred and fifty pounds of muscle on a five-foot nine-inch frame. I hope that means he’ll move a little slower, but I’m not optimistic. I only have a second to process all of that before he’s under me. I drop precisely, landing ass-to-chest with my thighs over each of his shoulders, knocking the wind out of him with the force of my twenty-foot drop.

“Heads up, asshole.”

I whip out my blades, one in each hand, and go for his throat.

Before I can touch him, he’s got his hand between my thighs, pressing outward to shove me off him. I curl my legs and kick off of his chest, knocking him back as I flip to land on my feet. His fangs gleam in the dull streetlights, and he growls savagely as he charges at me.

He’s trying to get me in a headlock. I’m slippery, but he’s strong. If he catches me, I’m done for.

I slip between his legs as he makes a grab for me, then turn and kick him squarely in the small of his back. He barely stumbles. Before I’m ready for the next attack, he’s lunging for me, teeth out, eyes blazing, aiming for my waist. I duck sideways and then shove him, using his momentum to send him to the ground. Then I raise my booted foot and kick as hard as I can, curb-stomping his head before landing on his back with my knees.

“Aaaah!”

With a feral yell, he flips over, tossing me away like I weigh nothing, then charges at me again.

He’s pissed. Off-balance. Out-of-control.

Just the way I like them.

In his rage, he leaves his throat open. In one smooth motion, I cross my curved blades, then uncross them with every ounce of strength I have at the exact moment that his throat is between them. Every fiber of his thick neck sends vibrations through my blades, his bones scraping like broken china on steel.

He doesn’t make a sound.

He doesn’t have the chance to.

His lifeless head falls to the ground, the snarl still frozen on his monstrous face. Within seconds, his head and torso both crumble to dust. Rain dribbles through the piles, turning them to mud, and that mud mixes with the common filth in the gutters.

One down. God knows how many to go.

I wipe the vampire’s blood off my blades and slide them into their sheaths on my thighs. Vamps don’t have as much blood as you’d expect, but what little they do have is hell on my weapons if it’s allowed to sit.

My nerves are on high alert, my senses taking in every sound. The vampire was working alone when I found him, but these fuckers always end up in groups eventually. Unless I want to risk getting jumped and outnumbered, I’d better leave before any of his friends show up.

I shove my hands into my pockets and put my head down. My phone vibrates against my leg inside my pocket as I turn out of the alley, and I walk a little faster. I don’t want to talk or make too much noise that close to my kill and risk giving my position away.

When I’m a few blocks away from the location of the dead vamp, I dig my phone out of my pocket and glance down at the screen. It’s Nathan.

I don’t know why the hell my brother is calling me at this time of night, but knowing Nate, it’s nothing good.

“What’s up?” I answer, glancing around at the rain-slicked streets and keeping my voice down.

“Mikka, I fucked up.”

That’s all it takes. Just those four fucking words. I can hear the panic in them, and it sets off every protective alarm bell in my body. I start sprinting toward the abandominium he’s recently claimed as his apartment. It’s only a few miles from here—and in this moment, I’m grateful as fuck for that.

“Did you OD?” My voice comes out choppy, and the phone bounces against my ear as I run.

“Nah—not yet—wish I did. I’m, um—I’m in a lot of trouble with a lot of people, Mikka. I had no choice. I had to do it.”

“You had to do what?”

He sucks in a shaky breath. “You have to understand, sis. Please. I owed a lot of people a shitload of money. Bad people, very bad people. I—I know you don’t have any left, or I would have asked you for help, I swear. I just had to call you to tell you before—before—”

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