Antonio’s smile was smug. “Fortunately, as Sandra was familiar with that particular area, she was able to recognise the avenue.” Oh, fab.

Jared nodded approvingly. “Were there any other names? Anything that could be linked to the vampire who’s running the operation?”

Sighing disappointedly, Antonio replied, “They merely referred to him as ‘the boss’. They talked to each other about ‘Lynne’ and ‘Moira’, both of who I suspect take care of the babies.”

“Then Lynne and Moira die too,” I said simply, to which Jared nodded.

Antonio rose from the bench. “I suggest you leave promptly. Regrettably you’ll be missing tonight’s entertainment, but I will not have you miss or delay the ceremony − it will happen in two evenings’ time. Tomorrow evening must be a time that you can relax and prepare for it. As such, if all is not resolved tonight, I will hand over the assignment to another squad.” He held up a hand when both Jared and I went to speak. “I appreciate that this is a sore spot for every squad, but I will not let your work interfere with your Binding.”

We gave Antonio ‘fair enough’ nods. He was right; we couldn’t place an assignment before our Binding, no matter how delicate this particular assignment was. That simply made me more determined to end it tonight.

Okay, so the plan had been simple enough. Using the same technique we used at the secluded bungalow, we get inside, kill the occupants, and rescue anyone that needed rescuing, if applicable.

Of course, at first we needed to find out just how many people were inside, where exactly they were, and what it was they were doing. That was where Stuart would come in. From the roof of the late night café on the corner of the avenue, we had been able to tell that the gated house had plenty of security cameras. That wouldn’t be an issue as nobody monitoring the footage would notice Stuart travelling around as molecules. His role was to get inside, investigate, and report back with whatever information he found.

There turned out to be a huge problem with that.

“What do you mean you can’t get near the house?” I asked him. Jared and the squad all huddled closer on the roof.

Stuart looked at me helplessly. “The building’s surrounded by some kind of psychic alarm. I might not have noticed it, but a guy in the legion has the same gift and he’s placed one around his apartment so that if anyone even gets close to his door, the activity will trigger the alarm. You can’t see the alarm, but it makes a really low buzzing sound. I probably would have ignored the noise if it hadn’t been so familiar.”

Harvey flapped his arms. “So now what?”

“There’s something you guys should know,” began Stuart. “I heard two voices talking. One of the windows had been slightly open. Anyone passing wouldn’t have heard it…if they hadn’t been a vampire. They were talking about picking up a ‘package’ shortly to take to ‘Moira’, and that ‘the boss’ was impatient. They were also frustrated that some of the other ‘Docs’ hadn’t contacted them with a ‘package’ yet.”

“He obviously means Erik, Sandra, and Mitch, then,” said Jude, her eyes gleaming. The woman knew justice was close, and it was making her both anxious and restless.

“By package, they clearly mean they’re going to pick up another baby soon.” Jared sighed. “Well, if we can’t get in there, maybe the best thing would be to wait for them to come out. Then we follow them. We let them lead us to Moira and Lynne.”

“And we stop that baby from being sold,” stated Jude.

Jared nodded. “This ends tonight.”

Enter the new plan…

That plan entailed me sitting in the passenger seat of a car that Jared had parked outside the café. Courtesy of the vampires that Antonio sent, we were in possession of four cars that had been ‘borrowed’ for the night. It was a given that if we screwed this up and the vampires realised that someone was onto them, they would disappear and we might possibly lose any chance of getting to them or the person behind the op. Worse still, that would mean not only would babies continue to go missing and their mothers be killed, but we would be unable to track the children that had already been sold. None of that was acceptable to any of us.

With all that in mind, it was agreed that in order to follow the Handlers without attracting their attention, we would need to be extremely careful. While watching from a car seemed beyond cliché and could often attract suspicion, Chico had been right when he said that a car parked outside a café wasn’t going to look suspicious. As an added precaution, he had instructed me to go shotgun, reading a newspaper; that way, it would simply look as though I was waiting for someone.

Inside the café, Jared was having a coffee at one of the tables near the window with David and Butch, who would soon be using the car that was parked beside mine. All three of them were very subtly monitoring the target. Of course, a human would have extreme difficulties with monitoring from such a long distance, but our enhanced vision gave us that advantage. What we had to bear in mind was that Zeke and Blake also had that advantage and would be able to see us as clearly as we could see them – hence all the cautiousness.

Helping the situation, Stuart and Denny were hovering near the house in their alternate forms, ready to report back with any movement from inside the building. As the house was on a one-way street, it had made it possible for Chico and Jude to wait in another vehicle around the corner – the Handlers’ car would have to drive in their direction, and so Chico could pick up the tailing from there.

Salem and Reuben were waiting at the bus stop that was one hundred yards in front of Chico’s car, who would pick them up as he passed by. Chico felt that for all four of them to be sitting in the car on watch would attract the attention of passers-by or neighbours, and attention wasn’t what we needed. I wasn’t all that convinced that so much cautiousness was necessary, but as he had been on stakeouts before, I trusted his intuition. Apparently, he had been on a couple of stake-outs that had been ruined by simply a nosy old woman seeing a strange car parked near her home. These days, people were wary of strangers hanging around. They had every reason to be.

Max, Harvey, and Damien were sitting in another car in the parking lot of a store located not far away, awaiting telepathic contact from Jared. Basically, everyone was in position, and all we needed now was for the Handlers to get moving.

Tags: Suzanne Wright Deep In Your Veins Vampires