01 2.0 The Light Who Binds2Jack Tanner

July 9, 2022, Red Ages

As I pull in front of Blue’s apartment, she comes rounding the corner, her hair flowing behind her. The lean silhouette of her softly rounded body arrests my attention. Varg walks on the street side of the walkway with his nostrils and ears on high alert, protective as always. The neighborhood is quiet, and the firefly lampposts gleam softly on the street pavers, but still I’m glad she has him, especially after dark.

Blue lets Varg in the back seat, then slides gracefully into the front where I’m immediately assaulted by her scent: clean notes of mint and tea tree oil overlapping her earthy, womanly essence. Varg smells equally strong but far less enticing. He sniffs me a few times; then settles down for the ride, apparently no more enthralled with my scent than I am with his.

As she sets her bag on the floor and pulls the buckle closed with one hand, the other hand, absently fingers the Belladonna necklace. It peeks out from beneath her white ruffled collar shirt, an unusual departure from the casual knit tops she typically wears under her vest. “Does the necklace bother you?”

Her lovely face twists into a grimace, and her stunning blue eyes spark with annoyance. “It bothers me in the sense that it’s sitting on my neck and I have nothing to wear with it.”

I glance down at the subtle but delectable curve of her breasts at the collar opening. “What you have on seems fine to me.”

Blue’s grimace deepens and she pulls her fingers away from the necklace, tucking her hair behind her ear. Her mark, the streak of blue tinted hair, stands out in vivid contrast to her long, dark chocolate tresses. She asks, “Do you think she’ll be able to get this thing off me?”

“If she can’t, I’ll be surprised.”

As I put the car in gear and head over to the Dragomir Magical Artifact Shop, she reaches over and turns the radio to soft jazz. When the track ends, a broadcaster comes on. “The dramatic and frightening increase in Dark Vampire turnings continues to plague the city of Crimson Hollow. Seven deaths were reported yesterday, and the numbers continue to climb. Be sure to stay inside when the sun goes down, and don’t forget to pick up your holy water. The city’s churches have banded together to donate up to five vials per family. Just stop by your local church for a supply.”

Blue turns to me. “Jack, you should let me help with those cases. I’ve got time now.”

The idea of her chasing after Dark Vampires turns my insides cold. Rarely do Norms or even the Gifted take on the job of exterminator, and usually it means an early grave. That job is best left to Daylight Vampires who can compete on an equal playing field. “We aren’t there yet,” I assure her. “I’m bringing in some new exterminators to help with the problem.”

“When? Because the death toll is rising, and we’re bordering on all-out panic. Plus the Dilectus Deo are using this to strengthen their platform. We can’t afford for this to continue, or all the supernatural breeds will be at risk.”

“Well, the Dilectus Deo is upset about it, no doubt. But for some reason they’re fixated on the magical community.”

Blue scrunches her eyebrows. “Maybe they’re worried about retaliation from the Vampires and think the Gifted are an easier target.”


Blue chews her lip as she ponders the situation. “It is odd, though . . . Is this issue still limited to Crimson Hollow?”

“So far, though the Dilectus Deo are riling folks up across the continent.”


She continues to chew her lip, and erotic thoughts slip into my mind. Oh, how I would love to pull over right now and take that lip into my mouth, biting it gently until a drop of blood forms, then soothing it with my tongue. Don’t think of her that way, I scold myself.

Her damn lucky teeth . . .

Don’t think of her that way, for Christ’s sake!

“How’s your training coming?”

Blue’s entire countenance brightens, a stunning smile appearing on her face. Damn it.

“Well, besides the fact that Wang and Yao are evil incarnate, and I’m utterly exhausted from the workouts, I love it. But, seriously, four hours a day?”

“We’ve got to get you in shape quickly. What should I have them omit? Speed? Strength? Weapon use? Hand-to-hand combat?” I shake my head. “It has to be done, all of it.”

She sighs in resignation. “So where did you find Wang and Yao? I knew you were getting me a trainer, but I never expected the two great warrior lovers of the Cathay.”

I smile at that. “Who’s more suited to train the future savior of the world?”

Blue smacks my shoulder. “Shut up! I don’t believe that myself, and even if it were true, you better not go advertising it like that. Besides, if I do somehow manage to fulfill the prophecy, love is supposed to be my weapon, and I doubt that Wang and Yao will help me there.”

I chuckle at that. “No, I don’t suppose they will.” But then I sober up. “You’re too important to the future of all breeds and too vulnerable to attack from anyone who might wish to harm you. For your own safety, you have to be able to defend yourself.”

Blue frowns and starts to fidget. “Light is my palisade, so that’s my defense. Justice is my design, so that’s my motive. And love is my instrument, so that is what I should use to destroy her. But how do you destroy with love? It doesn’t even seem right. Love isn’t destructive. It builds a person up.”

“It will come to you when it’s time.”

Blue glares at me. “I guess I need to find someone to love, and since you aren’t up for the job, I should probably start dating.”

A deep pain strikes me in the depths of my chest at that thought, but thankfully at that moment we arrive at the Dragomir Magical Artifact Shop. Not a moment too soon, by my estimation. I don’t care to get into that conversation.

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