Phinneas perched atop the rocky cliff above the midnight blue waters of Lake Travis. He lifted a set of binoculars and surveyed the restaurant and multi-leveled party decks floating against the opposite bank. Using the night-vision setting on his binoculars he patiently combed through the faces of the crowd until he found her.
“Cyrus,” he commanded in a subdued voice, “take the girl.”
Phinneas passed off his binoculars to the Vampire at his side and touched off the ground. He took a quick flight through the fluffy tops of the trees that covered the rolling hill country. Every ten feet he was saluted by a pair of Vampires dressed in black, standing obscured in the brush or hidden among the jagged peaks of the limestone hills. He sighted Joshua across the waters of Devil’s Cove and landed next to him.
“Do you find the positioning satisfactory?” Joshua raised one eyebrow in question. Phinneas motioned away a Vampire hidden in the trees and waited until they were alone.
When Phinn spoke his voice was so faint that only a Vampire could hear it. “If Black City Vampires are roaming the hill country, they are doing so in stealth. This concerns me the most. I don’t like an enemy I can’t see.” Phinneas squinted across the lake. “What I find rather alarming is the bewildering absence of a demon presence. Look around us. Not one demon has come. They wouldn’t miss a chance to watch a Vampire battle. Besides, this is a place of drunkenness and debauchery. Demons of Shadow would find it irresistible, a fertile playing ground to wreak their madness. And yet, no demon has come to join the festivities.”
Phinneas turned to peer down into Devil’s Cove. The dark waters were covered by boats and yachts crammed against one another, spaced from hill to hill, spilling out the neck of the cove. Not even a pass way was left. Every watercraft floating in the waters of the cove was trapped and sealed inside. Topless women danced on the roofs of the boats surrounded by half-naked men who drooled at their feet. People jumped from boat to boat with ease, carrying beer bottles as they howled like dogs spotting a female in heat.
“Seems like fun to me,” Joshua grinned, eyeing a lanky woman who was draped across a man’s shoulder as they disappeared into a cabin.
Phinneas gave him a mild look of reprimand.
Joshua turned and scrutinized Phinn. “I’ve noticed something different about you.”
Phinn narrowed his eyes to slits.
Joshua’s smile hinted at apprehension before proceeding. “You seem….involved.”
“What do you mean by this?”
Joshua shrugged his shoulders and shifted his weight onto his left leg. “This doesn’t seem like business as usual for you. There is an emotion present in your demeanor. Is it the girl?”
“She is interesting, as she should be. She is the first mortal woman any of us has interacted with in over a thousand years. I feel no emotion for her outside the allure of her blood and body—it’s nothing new, only lust. Surely, I’m not the only Vampire in the vicinity that is challenged in her presence. I’m not the only one tracking her scent, powerless to do nothing else. Tell me you don’t struggle the same way that I do and I’ll tell you that you’re lying.” Phinn replied in a voice laced with defiance.
Joshua raised an eyebrow.
Phinneas dismissed him with a sharp wave of the hand. “I’m on top of my urges. They’re under control. Don’t speak to me of this again.”
Joshua nodded obediently and turned away from him to continue staring across the waters. “What of the traitor?”
“Charles found an anomaly in the communication records. From inside the Kingdom, three calls were placed in the days leading up to the attacks from a phone not registered to our master list. We traced them to a pre-paid phone purchased through a CVS chain in San Marcus. We’re no closer to discovering our betrayer than we were when we discovered we had one. We’ll have to wait for him to make another move. When I sniff him out, I’ll take a front row seat to his execution. I can’t deny I will enjoy watching his skin melt to ash.”
Joshua gave a sympathetic grunt.
“Keep an eye out. I want to be informed the moment a Black City Vampire comes out in the open. And notify me when you spot a demon,” Phinn ordered crisply, his eyes sweeping the sky.
“You mean if I spot one. I would have thought we’d have seen twenty or thirty by now,” Joshua said as he began to chew on a long blade of grass. He watched Phinneas leave and pulled a pack of cigarettes from his back pocket. He lit it on fire and took a drag, releasing the smoke in a collection of vaporous circles.