“I wouldn’t go that far,” I giggled.

“Luv, you’re gorgeous and they don’t see a lot of women around here. Trust me when I say they’ll be drooling.”

When I entered my office I was confused for a few seconds to find some blokes inside wearing white overalls that were stained with paint. Then I realised they’d probably spent hours in here fixing the plasterwork and replacing the broken filing cabinets. Oops. They seemed to be repressing giggles as they left. I suppose it wasn’t hard to gather that Jared and I had been duelling again.

While Fletcher was busy doing the research that I’d requested, I carefully examined the personal files of the recruits. They had been waiting nicely on my bureau for me. Maybe Jared had had an attack of conscience. Unlikely.

The first file belonged to a Pagori vampire named Reuben, who was originally French. He was Turned at the age of thirty and had been a vampire for sixty years. Aptitude tests showed him to not be the brightest bulb, but he certainly made up for it in the physical department; he was by far the strongest and was built like a body builder. He had shoulder-length brown hair and a beard of stubble that added to the wild look. His gift was power augmentation, meaning that he could weaken or strengthen the gift of another.

The second file showed a half American half Australian Pagori vampire, Stuart, who had been eighteen when Turned over thirty years ago. Average intelligence, average height and weight. His curly fair hair tickled his broad shoulders and he had a wide, clown-like smile. Like an old vampire friend of mine, he was a Shredder: his gift allowed him to disband until he was nothing but molecules and then reform again at will.

Next was the thorn-exhaling vampire from the tryout. Chico was Spanish in origin. Although the dark haired, moustache-wearing Keja was a little on the podgy side he was physically just as able as the others, and was the smartest of the squad. Apparently the poison in the thorns caused the victim to instantly lose consciousness for a period of up to five hours. How delightful.

File number four was of a Pagori vampire – also at my tryout – from Miami, Robert Richardson, who went by the name Butch. His photograph showed him to have an extremely smart appearance, especially with his slicked back bronze hair, but his dark eyes and crooked grin spelled wildness. He was well built in the upper body area and had notable speed. Butch was a Negator: he could completely cancel out any power aimed at him.

Oh next was Slap-head; an army brat who had spent his childhood moving constantly round the US. At the age of twenty-six he had been Turned and had been a vampire for just over twenty years. Like Butch, he was notably fast. His weakness, however, was in his agility. On his photograph he had the same cheeky, warm smile that he’d flashed me at the tryout – oh and a nicely defined upper body. I could remember how he had completely paralysed the senses of his opponent in the tryout.

Recruit number six was especially interesting, and not just because he was British like me. David was a Keja vampire and the youngest of the squad; Turned at seventeen and had only been a vampire for three years (same vampire life-span as me). He was tall and grey-eyed with copper, dishevelled hair. He didn’t have much to boast off with regards to strength and speed, but he had an amazing power to attack an opponent with: a psionic boom, something which caused extreme pressure on the skull and completely overwhelmed the brain, leading to either a temporary coma or death depending on the strength of the blast.

The seventh file concerned an African-American, excessively muscled Pagori named Damien who was only a year older in vampire years than David and me, and was Turned when twenty-four. He was apparently the fastest of the squad and excellent at one-to-one combat. Damien’s gift was Astral Projection, but apparently his consciousness wasn’t able to travel far from his body.

Eighth in the squad was a blonde Pagori born in Ireland whose birth name was Edward but went by the nickname Salem. I definitely wanted to know how he came by that. Turned at the age of thirty-six just over forty-eight years ago, Salem was tall and brown-eyed with incredible strength despite that his physique wasn’t a statue of pure defined muscle. His gift enabled him to emit an invisible blast of psychic energy that could render an opponent completely unconscious. Basically, he had a psychic punch.

Next was a very exotic looking American Pagori, Harvey, who I thought was over-muscled for his short size. He was just nineteen when Turned just under twelve years ago. His strength was higher than average but his intelligence left something to be desired. He was quite cute with his child-like smile and short dark hair that looked more like pure silk. Harvey was telekinetic; which meant that he would be able to move something or someone without physically touching it.

Lastly was Dennis, or Denny, who was an American Pagori vampire from a tiny rural town with a very innocent appearance; scruffy dark hair, blue guiltless eyes and a dimply smile. His athletic physique didn’t do his strength and speed justice. He also had the best reflexes of all the recruits. A vampire for over seventy years, Denny had been twenty when Turned. I’d never encountered anyone with the gift of animal mimicry before so I was eager to see which animal-like abilities he had up his sleeve.

Fletcher proved to be fantastic with researching. No sooner had I finished consulting the files than he had handed me the list of contacts that I had asked him to find. I then made call after call to conduct my own research on the recruits as part of my little plan, jotting down plenty of notes. Before lunch had even begun I had all the information I wanted and was feeling very optimistic and very pleased with myself. Until Jared teleported to the office.

“So you went through the files,” he observed, nodding toward the untidy pile on my desk.

“Yeah,” I replied simply. Oh he was looking way too gorgeous in that knee-length leather jacket. He knew that I thought so, going by the smug smirk he wore. God I had to get out of this room. “Fletch?” I called out while I gathered my notes together.

His adorable face popped through the door seconds later. “Yes, luv?”

“I’m off to get some NSTs. You want me to pick you up anything?”

Fletcher squinted. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”

“Yes or no, Fletch?”

“Honey flavoured ones please, luv. Oh and could you get me some snacks as well?”

“Yeah, course.” I folded my notes and tucked into the pocket of my khakis. Not that I thought I’d need them. I was reasonably sure that I had all the details memorised.

“You’re not going to ask me if I want anything?” griped Jared.

Tags: Suzanne Wright Deep In Your Veins Vampires
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