Sucker Punch (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #27) - Laurell K. Hamilton Page 0,1

parked in the grass beside the runway.

“Duke is a good man, Newman. He’s just never seen anything like this.”

Newman kept us moving toward the Jeep as he called back over his shoulder, “I’m not questioning Sheriff Leduc’s competency, Jim.”

“Good, but you watch out for his deputy, Wagner.”

That made Newman stop and look back at the pilot. “What’s wrong with Wagner?”

“He gets rough when he thinks he can get away with it.”

“Does the sheriff know?” Newman asked.

“I don’t know, but everybody else in town does.”

“Thanks for the heads-up, Jim.”

“Not a problem. I hope you and Marshal Blake work this out.”

“Me, too, Jim. Me, too,” Newman said as he opened the back door and tossed my bag of weapons in.

Since I already had the Springfield EMP 9mm in an inner pants holster, with my marshal’s badge on the belt next to it—so if I had flashed it on one of the larger planes, they’d see my badge—plus two extra magazines in the cargo pockets of my pants, a folding Emerson wave knife from Gerber in another pocket, a small tactical flashlight, a very slender man’s wallet, and my smartphone, I was okay being out of easy reach of the rest of my weapons and body armor. I went around to the passenger-side door and let myself in. I’d add two more knives and switch the EMP for my Springfield Rangemaster full frame .45 in a drop leg holster when I got the chance. I had a hip holster for it, but if I had to wear the body armor, I’d have to change to the drop holster anyway, just like the EMP would switch to a holster on the MOLLE strap system on the chest of the vest. Inner pants holsters were for concealed carry when you didn’t want to spook the civilians. On an active warrant, by the time I was all geared up, concealed carry was an impossibility.

“Did you know that this Deputy Wagner had a rep for roughing people up?” I asked.

Newman settled himself behind the wheel of his Jeep and shook his head. “I hadn’t heard the rumor, and as far as we know, that’s all it is.”

“How well do you know Jim the pilot?”

“Well enough to roust him out of bed on a Saturday and get him to fly you from the main airport to here.”

“You knew he was Bobby Marchand’s friend, so he’d be motivated.”

“I did.”

“Is this your home base now?”

“It is.”

“It’s not exactly a great post for a marshal. Did you choose it, or did you piss someone off?”

He smiled wide enough for me to see it as he pulled the Jeep out on the runway and drove like we were a plane getting ready to take off. I realized that there didn’t seem to be any other paved area nearby. We passed a shed with a windsock, but that was it. It was the definition of middle of fucking nowhere.

“I chose it.”

I looked at him and he laughed. “Don’t look at me like that, Blake. I know it’s not a hotbed of career opportunities, but I met a woman on a case, and it sort of rearranged my priorities.”

I grinned at him. “And she’s local to here, I take it.”


“So, you sank your career to follow the love of your life to the Michigan wilderness?”

“No, but I decided that a quick rise through the ranks wasn’t as important as being near the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”

I spread my hands and said, “Hey, I don’t throw stones at anyone’s love life, Newman. My house has too much shiny glass on it, which reminds me, I promised to text them when I finally landed.”

That made him laugh. It was good to hear the sound; it meant things hadn’t gone completely to hell. It was bad, but he could still laugh. Some crime scenes stole laughter along with everything else. “It’s nice I’m not the only one that has to text home. Some of the other marshals give me grief for it.”

“Fuck them if their relationships aren’t as good as ours,” I said.

He laughed again. I smiled reflexively, typing on the phone. I was metaphysically tied to all the people I loved, which meant I could have just dropped my psychic shields and contacted at least some of them mind to mind, or they could have reached out to me, or in an emergency they could crash my shields, but that was damn distracting in the middle of a fight,