Diablo - Patricia A. Rasey

Chapter 1

Dante “Diablo” Santini’s head snapped to the side, blood flying from his nose and split lip. Motherfucker. Being a vampire, he might heal quickly but it didn’t take the sting out of a punch he hadn’t seen coming.

The large man sporting a flattop and a long black beard stood no more than two feet from him, scowling. He bared tobacco-speckled teeth as he snarled, right before drawing back his hand to deliver another blow. Dante moved at the speed of light, another trait of being an immortal, causing the guy to stumble into the immovable bar that Dante no longer leaned against. The jerk looked as though he might outweigh Dante by at least fifty pounds and stood a good six inches taller.

He was one big son of a bitch but still no match for a vampire.

Of course, the fool had no way of knowing he had picked a fight with someone other than human. Dante bit back the rising devil inside him. The human race wasn’t ready to know about vampires’ existence. There were far too many idiots in the world gunning for a fight.

Case in point, the snarling man before him.

Understanding that someone might be different and being okay with it wasn’t about to happen in this fucked-up society.

Flattop turned and grabbed for Dante, a move he easily dodged. Dante could dance circles around him all day. Instead, he drew back his fist and punched the guy in the gut … hard. Enough to bend him at the waist, allowing Dante to deliver an uppercut. His vampire strength brought the man off his feet, landing him flat on his back atop the bar, scattering glassware and bottles. Broken glass tinkled to the old laminate flooring.

Flattop’s five buddies circled Gunner Anderson and Adrian “Smoke” Wellman, two of Dante’s Sons of Sangue MC brethren who watched the festivities with amused smiles on their faces. Other bar-goers wisely kept their fists to themselves, given the ass-beating Flattop was presently receiving. Flattop’s buddies positioned themselves between Dante and his crew in an apparent attempt to keep the fight fair. Which was laughable at best, considering Dante didn’t need his brothers’ help, nor would the idiots stop Gunner and Adrian should they decide to get involved.

Blood poured from Flattop’s nose while Dante’s wound had already begun to heal. Grabbing the man by the front of his T-shirt, he ran Flattop’s back down the bar, knocking bottles and glasses to the floor and scattering patrons until the man’s thick skull made contact with the far wall. Hopefully, it would knock some sense into him. Drawing back his fist, Dante drove a punch into the man’s side, earning him a grunt and the sound of a few cracking ribs.

Just as he was about to yank him to his feet, Flattop finally got wise and raised his hands, coughing and spitting up small amounts of blood. “Jesus, I give already.”

Dante let go of the man’s shirt and dusted off his hand on his own black T-shirt, wiping away spilled alcohol and blood. “What the fuck’s your problem, man?”

The big guy rolled from the bar and landed on what looked like size sixteen work boots. He shook his large noggin as though clearing the fog. “You’re wearing an MC cut.”

Dante raised one brow. “And that gives you the right to throw a fucking punch? Start a fight with a stranger?”

The human rolled his shoulders, probably stretching out the aches and pains caused by the beat-down he had been on the receiving end of, then stood to his full height. He looked down on Dante as one hand covered his side. “Wanted to show you that you and your motorcycle club buddies over there aren’t as tough as you think.”

“Guess I just proved you wrong.”

“You aren’t welcome here. This is a good ol’ boy country bar. We don’t take kindly to strangers coming in and hitting on our women.”

“I don’t recall any of us making a play on your women, but okay. If you say so.”

Flattop grabbed a handful of bar napkins from the bartender and mopped the blood still flowing from his nose.

“Might want to get that looked at.”

“Might.” The man smiled crookedly. “But I won’t. Name’s Brutus.”

Dante chuckled. “Seriously?”

To which Brutus shared in the humor. “Mom calls me Robert, some call me Bob. But most who know me call me Brutus … because of my size.”

Of course, they would. “My friends call me Diablo.”

Brutus shook his head and snickered. “It sure feels as if I just