Chapter 2: Ambush

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I slouched up the sidewalk with my hands in my pockets. Alien dragon blood rushed through me, forcing my heart to beat like hummingbird wings in my chest. So much power and I didn't want it. My life might have sucked, but at least it sucked in the ordinary way. Now I was an immortal killer at the beck and call of a freaking dragon.

A dragon! The thought still knocked me sideways. What kind of dragon? A Chinese one with all the fancy frills around is face? All I could imagine were those costumes from Chinese New Year parades. But she'd breathed fire on her own arm to heal my bite, and her blood tasted so ... chemical. If she wasn't a dragon, she was certainly a monster of some kind.

Speaking of monsters, what in the heck was I supposed to do about Cindy?

Her house was around the corner and up the road a couple of blocks. Just my luck that my panicked flight had sent me straight to Jia-Li. Note to self--stay away from cinderblock walls. It was completely dark by now, the city's roar distant and subdued, like surf. Crickets chirped all around. It seemed so peaceful ... except that I could see perfectly well. Although once it would have seemed dark, now it only looked twilight. I was a creature of the night. A predator.

...who could only prey on dragons. If she was the only dragon Earth, where had she come from?

I shut that train of thought down before I could freak out too much. Cindy. Focus, Dalton. You have to find Cindy and ...

And what? Tear off her head? Jam a tree branch through her heart? My stomach lurched at the thought. A little while ago I'd been cuddling her and thinking eagerly of how we might pass the night.

I hadn't expected to pass the night trying to murder her.

I still hadn't made up my mind when her house came into sight. A lone figure sat in the porch swing, where I'd left her, swinging back and forth.

I froze on the sidewalk. I could kill her. I had to kill her. But I didn't want to, dammit.

Cindy spotted me. She rose, descended the porch steps and walked toward me. "Dalton ... are you okay?"

"No thanks to you." I folded my arms and waited.

She walked up to me, swinging her hips, and flicked her blond curls out of her face. "You must have bitten someone, if you're up and around already. Did you suck them dry?"

Her tone was so triumphant and smug, it sickened me. She enjoyed being a human-feeder. "I drained my first victim. Every drop. He wasn't even dead yet. It was so good!" She shuddered and hugged herself. "Almost as good as you, Dal. I wanted all of you. Good thing you ran." A laugh bubbled out of her throat.

Maybe I should kill her. I'd be doing the world a favor. I thought we'd had so much in common ... now I saw she was a shallow little wench without a decent thing left in her soul.

Cindy must have saw my face change, because her smile vanished. "Aw, you're mad at me, aren't you? Well, we can't hurt each other now! Why don't you come back onto the porch with me? I brought some blankets and pillows." She squeezed my arm and wiggled her eyebrows.

I followed her, but not for the reason she thought. I watched her rear and wondered why I ever thought she was worth doing.

She bounded up the porch steps and pointed to a makeshift bed in the corner of the porch, behind the low walls. We'd be mostly hidden from the neighbors and the house windows, too.

But a smell hit my nose, and I froze. It was familiar and sickening at the same time--where had I smelled it before? Mom, in the kitchen, cooking up--

Garlic.

We'd studied garlic in school. To humans it was a natural antibiotic with all kinds of beneficial properties. But to vampires it was a narcotic, and taken in large enough doses could cause a vampire to bleed out. A bled-out vampire is, of course, weak and vulnerable to whoever attacks it.

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