The Librarian’s Vampire Assistant, Book 5 Excerpt

The Librarian’s Vampire Assistant, Book 5

CHAPTER ONE

Michael

“Request denied!” I snarl at the vampire, dressed in his cheap brown suit, kneeling on my office floor. “And do not return with such ridiculousness again, or I will take your head!”

I rap my fingertips on the arms of my leather exec chair. Being vampire king is a demanding role, but it is great to be back in Cincinnati, working in a proper office, living in my well-appointed home, and surrounded by my fine collection of first-edition books. My books. Clean books. No more of those vile, filthy library things I was forced to touch back in Arizona.

Blech! Libraries! Sharing is so unnatural.

That hot-and-miserable episode all began over five long years ago, when my maker was allegedly murdered during a trip to Phoenix. The next thing I knew, I was there looking for his killer and embroiled in a plot so dark and ridiculous that vampires for generations to come will be speaking of it: the Uprising. Thwarted by yours truly.

All right, fine. I suppose the librarian helped, too.

No. Do not think of her. Do not say her name.

I turn the channel in my mind away from thoughts of her, her library, and that other thing. Those days are over. No more sleuthing. No assistant librarian-ing. No more messing around. I care only for vampire laws and enforcing them.

But let us not get ahead of ourselves. Soulless, ruthless vampire or not, I am still a gentleman, and a gentleman always makes proper introductions.

My name is Michael Vanderhorst. And I am a four-hundred-year-old vampire who does not look a day over twenty. And though I have worn many hats throughout the history of my kind, I am best known for three things: One, being a legendary assassin, who delivered a smashing victory for our side during the Great War some three hundred years ago. Two, my looks—six-one, thick dark hair, and classically handsome features, if I do say so myself. And three, I am king. And I have big plans for the future of our kind.

Team Uprising wanted vampires to return to their caves and days of savagery, but I mean to take things in a different direction. I care for my people and their future.

Which is why they have put me on the throne. I am the lawmaker, judge, jury, and executioner. My word is absolute. No one defies me and lives to tell about it. As it should be.

“Sir?” My new guard, Freddy, who’s dressed in a plain black dress shirt and slacks, enters my office as my visitor bows repeatedly and shrinks backward out my office door in vampire headquarters. We are situated in a nondescript, five-story office building near downtown Cincinnati.

I look across the fine mahogany desk I acquired in the 1800s and note the worry in Freddy’s dark eyes.

“Great. What is it now?” I grumble.

He remains standing near the door some twenty feet away. It must be very bad news, and he fears I will kill the messenger because I have developed a reputation for ruling with a heavy hand. It is true, actually. Simply put, there is no other way to maintain vampire world order among our five hundred and eighty-two societies (our modern term for “coven”). Just this morning, after several lengthy trials, I executed two hundred vampires with my own hands. Well, hand, really. I only used one. I could not be bothered to put down my coffee—a fine Tanzania Peaberry.

Ahh…coffee. No morning is complete without it.

Now, if you are wondering what a vampire is doing drinking coffee, it means you are among the billions of humans who have been successfully duped by movies, books, and those ridiculous TV shows where all the vampires are constantly running around crying and having all those soppy, goopy feeeeeelings.

Wrong!

We are not pussies.

Fine, fine. Damon from season one of The Vampire Diaries was fairly on point with all his indiscriminate killing, so I will give him that; however, these shows are wholly inaccurate, and you will get no complaints from me. Human ignorance is our cloak. Keeps us flying under the radar.

No, no. We do not fly. We also do not live exclusively on human blood, though we do require it to stay alive. I myself prefer spicy vegan dishes. Lately, I’ve been on a veggie pad Thai kick. With extra ghost peppers. Delicious.

Another fact that may interest you is that vampires can walk in the sun. Yes, you heard it here, directly from me. We day walk. Vampires simply prefer not to. (A) It is hot; and (B) it weakens us. Nevertheless, I do it all the time. Just need to add a little extra “vitamin B” to my diet.

What is factual from these myth-based vampire shows is that we are stronger and faster than humans. Generally, the older one is, the more superior his or her strength. It is why it behooves a vampire to become a skilled fighter. As we grow older, our blood becomes a sought-after power pill by younger vampires.

So. Now that we have those minor details out of the way, let us get on with the business at hand: ruling my people with an iron fist and rooting out traitors who participated in the Uprising. Once that task is complete, I will begin appointing new council members for our various geographies.

Oh, and there is also the chore of hunting down Mr. Nice—a deadly, ancient vampire who is more than just a little insane. He may not be a traitor, but he has wronged me. For the past few weeks, I have had hundreds of soldiers out looking for him, and just this morning, I dug up a lead. All on my own, I should add. I suppose my days of being a detective—profession #7—were not entirely a waste.

“Well,” I say to Freddy, who remains standing at attention by the door, “spit it out.”

“Sir, I come with a summons.”

But I am king. I do the summoning, not the other way around. “You may tell whoever sent the notice that they can come here and make an appointment like everyone else. And be sure to place them on the dusting list when they arrive.” Dusting is a term we use for death. We become a pile of fine gray ash when we meet our maker. I mean the other maker. Not the vampire one.

Freddy’s back straightens, and he refuses to meet my eyes.

“For heaven’s sake, man, what is it? Speak!” I command, wondering if the Indian place around the corner has run out of their extra-spicy baingan bharta again. Freddy knows how that upsets me.

“Sir, may I have your word you will not yell?”

“I give you my word that if you do not tell me what is going on inside that hollow undead head of yours, I will rip out your tongue.” I flash a sadistic smile.

He gulps, still refusing to look me in the eyes. “The summoner included a strongly worded message. She said, ‘If that pompous, heartless moron refuses my summons, and I am forced to go to Cincinnati, tell him I won’t be coming to talk unless it’s with my crossbow.’”

Crossbow.

There is only one person I know who has the balls to speak to me in such a manner and uses such a weapon.

Who does that little librarian think she is?

I rise from my desk, scowling every inch of the way. “You may tell the summoner that I do not care what weapon she carries. No one threatens the king, so bring it on.”

Freddy’s Adam’s apple bobs again.

“What now?” I snap.

“She said you might say that, sir, and if you did, I should tell you she has not and never will accept you as her king, and technically, you never sent in your formal resignation to the library, which still makes you her assistant. Therefore, she is still your boss, and the boss has given you an order.”

What the devil?

This might be a good time to explain that the Michael Vanderhorst who once worked for the librarian in Phoenix was an entirely different man. He was weak. He had those pesky feeeelings. He spent far too much time worrying about the librarian’s well-being, making decisions that put her before his people.

This Michael killed that part of himself, using a time-honored technique taught to me during the Great War. It allowed be to become a ruthless killing machine. The Executioner. That coldhearted Michael is back for good this time, and he places his kingdom first.

“The librarian has overstepped, thinking that our past relationship will grant her leniency.” I calmly take my seat again. “Send five soldiers to detain her and bring her here to our prison.” Let us see how brave and insolent she is from our basement prison.

Freddy bows his head. “Very good, sir. Shall I send in your next appointment?”

“Yes. I have a schedule to keep, and we have a vampire kingdom to whip into shape.” Literally. I have a mass whipping at three this afternoon. It is for the vampires who were known to have socialized with traitors of the Uprising. I am a fair man, so I will allow them to confess before executing them.

“Yes, sir.” Freddy takes his leave, and I grab a folder from the towering pile atop my desk, wanting to make use of my time. We have twelve geographies, all without councils to oversee them. There is much to be done, such as approve travel visas, resolve complaints between families or vampire business owners, and send soldiers out to societies to ensure some of our less human-friendly vampires are behaving. Just yesterday, a troublemaker named Dali the Damned, down in Tijuana, Mexico, took ownership of a taqueria. Vampires own all sorts of businesses, so no big deal. Until a neighbor noticed that people were going in, but not coming out. She is on the run, but we will find her.

As I read the request for additional security resources from one of our societies in Russia, my mind begins to drift to the last time I saw my librarian. And that-that-that…thing. The child.

I note the hollowness in my chest and utter lack of affection. Good. Soon, everything I have ever worked for will be on the line, and I cannot afford the smallest of distractions. If I succeed, the victory will make my accolades of the Great War seem like breakfast cereal—nothing more than a mundane snack.

As for the librarian, tomorrow I will set her straight. Like it or not, she is my subject and will not undermine my authority. If she does not like it, well, that is simply too bad. She only has herself to blame for becoming a vampire.

Return to The Librarian’s Vampire Assistant, Book 5 page