VAMPS AND THE CITY - By Kerrelyn Sparks

Chapter 1
Is she or isn't she?

She was perfection.

Her long hair was a mixture of golden brown, honey, and sun-kissed platinum. She held it back from her face with combs that sparkled in the dark and begged to be removed. She had to be tall because she was visible over the cars from her head to her sweetly curved breasts. Holy mammary glands, it was enough to turn a face man into a breast man.

She left the car, walking away on seemingly endless legs. Her tight skirt had a back vent that twitched open with each step to reveal a few inches of slender thigh. Good God, it was enough to turn a newly converted breast man into a leg man.

Her hair swayed from side to side in a way that could hypnotize a man and enslave him for life.

Vampire or mortal?

He had to know...

Chapter 1

"Eight-twenty P.M., male Caucasian, five-foot-ten, pounds, mid-twenties, leaving a white Honda Civic," Austin Erickson murmured into his mini-recorder. He adjusted the telescopic night lens on his binoculars and zoomed in on the subject across the parking lot. The guy didn't appear to be armed. More importantly, he was carrying a king-sized cup of gourmet coffee and a bag of doughnuts. Lucky bastard. Normally, that would be considered... well, normal. But this was the parking lot of the Digital Vampire Network. Nothing was normal here. Especially after sunset.

Austin exchanged his binoculars for a 35-mm camera and took another look at the guy. "Subject is human. He's going in."

The guy was taking breakfast inside DVN? Didn't he realize he could be breakfast? A shaft of light cut across the parking lot, then slowly disappeared as the door swung shut. It was dark once more. Austin had parked his black Acura in the shadowed corner of this lot in Brooklyn. The large warehouse that contained DVN was dark, all the windows blackened out. Only three letters, DVN, glowed in fluorescent red lights over the black-lacquered front door.

With a sigh, he dropped his camera on the passenger seat. He supposed the guy would be safe. Austin had been watching the vampire-owned television station for four nights now, and every night, several humans ventured inside. His conclusion - DVN actually employed a handful of mortals. Did the poor saps know they were working for demonic creatures? Were their minds being controlled? Maybe the vampires offered a great dental plan. Whatever their reasons for being there, as far as Austin could tell, all the humans left about five in the morning still alive and apparently in good health. It was strange, but then, there were a lot of strange things about the vampire world.

He had learned of their existence about six weeks ago when CIA operations officer Sean Whelan had transferred him to the Stake-Out team. Sean had explained what vicious killers these vampires were, so Austin was eager to protect the innocent. He had expected action, lots of action, ramming wooden stakes into nasty green creatures with rotting flesh and bumpy foreheads. Instead, he'd found himself staking out a television network where the vampires looked and acted too much like humans.

In fact, the only way Austin could tell a human from a vampire was to look through the 35-mm camera. Both the living and the undead showed up in a digital camera, but vampires could never appear in a 35-mm for the same reason they never showed up in a mirror. Their image could not be reflected.

He moved the 35-mm to the floor in front of the passenger seat. The rest of his equipment was there - night-vision goggles, digital camera with night lens, Glock with silver bullets, laptop, and his new favorite, his CV-3 video viewer. God, he loved working for the CIA. He had the coolest stuff.

He'd also been issued a box of wooden stakes. Made in China by a company that specialized in chopsticks. The box was sitting on the back seat of his car, open and ready for emergencies.

He opened his laptop on the passenger seat and typed in the secret frequency for receiving transmissions from DVN. The screen came into focus. Good, the vampire news was still on. And free for the taking. They naturally assumed no one could figure out their secret transmissions, and they didn't post guards around their facility. It was all indicative of what Austin considered their most obvious weakness. Their arrogance. He supped in his ten-gigabyte thumb drive and began recording.

This was his mission - stake out DVN, acquire information, and