Title: Oceanfront Dining
Author: J. Joseph Vouono
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3
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Thane Harmon, a dedicated monster hunter, travels to Ocean City, Maryland to investigate into a possible werewolf incident upon the area’s sandy shores. Unconvinced of a threat, he allows himself to relax, breaking protocol by becoming emotionally involved with a woman from his past. However, when the threat to the resort town is found to be worse than ever imagined, the hunter is forced into action. Through a series of flashbacks, he recalls the moments that led him to his current lifestyle and finds himself questioning the world he’s known for over a decade. The resort beaches close and the bodies begin to pile up. Now, Thane must confront the current danger and battle the scars of his past, facing down the toughest choice of his life.
He stalked softly to the mounds and stood over the creatures. The vamps were lying on their backs, arms at their sides, eyes wide open. On the left was a young woman, blonde hair, black eyes and a slender figure, definitely a victim of a Seductive. The pin-striped blue business suit she was wearing was dirty and tattered, fraying around the hem. She must have gone to the wrong happy hour after work. Had he encountered her in a bar, Thane would have been tempted. But as a member of the undead, she was just another target.
On the right was a middle-aged man, chubby and balding. Thane smiled to himself, thinking this was the only way the bald fellow would get to lay next to anyone nearly as attractive as the blonde Reluctant beside him. It was a shame he had to contract the blood thirst to get to this point, but at least he'd spent his last night so close. The chubby man's gray t-shirt was splotched with blood from the pets piled up in the corner, and his jeans caked with mud around the knees. This vamp didn't match most of the normal profiles for a Reluctant, but no self-respecting Seductive would feed on dogs and rest huddled in a basement. He must have been an out-of-towner who stumbled across this safe house, a mistake that proved to be his undoing.
Thane knelt down on his left knee between the vamps and leaned over the blonde in the business suit. He placed the stake in his right hand softly on the woman's chest and quickly inspected the tool in his grasp. The ash was sanded smooth and the point was sharp to the touch. It was thirteen inches from tip to the rounded end, just enough room for two hands to grip. Ransom members rarely used mallets anymore to stake a vamp, though most still carried one. It took far too long, and in this business, time was often the difference between a successful eradication and the hunter taking a hit. He placed the point of the stake against the woman's left breast, and chose his mark. Extending his arms upward, Thane tensed up for the final blow. He held the spot for a moment, building momentum then slammed the stake downward into the vamp's chest.
The point entered the target and slipped through the suit toward her now still heart. In an instant, the stake was embedded in the vamps chest. She sprang up at the waist, mouth open in a muted scream. Her blood caked fingers wrapped around the small portion of the wood that protruded from her breast.
Thane slid backward on his knee, watching as the creature writhed in pain.
She stared back at him, eyes slowly closing.
Less than fifteen seconds after Thane staked her, the vamp slumped back. Her head hit the ground with a sickening thud. Within a minute her skin would shrink around her body and her bones would crumble to dust. Within five minutes there would be nothing left but a sharpened ash-wood stake and a pile of gray and white powder.
Job well done, Thane thought to himself.
Behind him, the male vamp moved.