A/N: Huge thanks to my awesome prereaders, Keye, Sandy and Aleea, for their valuable input and feedback. I'm eternally grateful to my awesome betas, jkane180, wmr601, and Katmom, for wielding their Sparkly Reds and helping rein in my stream-of-consciousness writing.
~Hunt the Hunter~
The early morning sky is filled with pale streaks of color as the sun rises on another day. I watch it from the window of my twelfth floor apartment. Down below, the people of Port Angeles are beginning their day: buying a paper from the newsstand, getting their morning coffee at Starbucks, hailing cabs, catching buses, walking quickly along the sidewalks. From up here, I can see them clearly, feel them clearly, hear them clearly.
With a sigh, I rub my hand over my bare chest. Apathy has set in, and I long for something—anything—that can overlie the weariness that I'm not supposed to be able to feel.
The girl in my bed stirs, sitting up as she lets out a wide yawn. Finally, her blue eyes seek out my form leaning beside the window, and she takes me in, her eyes roving over the low slung, black sleep pants to linger on the bare skin of my torso. Subconsciously, she licks her lips, thinking back to last night when I picked her up in a bar six blocks away. She eye-fucked me as I played the piano at Scottie's, and I decided to take her home.
"You need to leave," I say quietly.
"What?" she asks, confused. Her mind was moving along the lines of another romp in bed.
"I have early appointments today, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with you." Well, half of that is true—I enjoyed my time with her, although not for the reason she's thinking.
"Oh, sure." Her voice and mind are dripping with disappointment. "Will I... see you again?"
"It could happen, but my business takes me all over the country, and I tend to move around a lot." I walk over to the bed and take her hand, placing a kiss on the back of it. "Having you was my great pleasure." The taste was delectable.
A tempting blush rises to her cheeks as I help her out of bed and into her clothes. Thankfully, she's not outwardly clingy and leaves without argument.
I don't know her name, but it doesn't matter because I'll never see her or taste her blood again.
My cell vibrates on the nightstand, and I snatch it up, noting the display shows: unknown caller.
"What?" I ask curtly.
"You're going to be offered a job later today. Make sure you accept."
"I'm dying for a job, Alice. Why wouldn't I accept, and why do you care?"
Alice Brandon-Whitlock is my... sister, for better lack of a term. I haven't seen or spoken to her for five years, and yet she expects me to follow her guidance—just like that. Nothing ever changes in our screwed up version of a family, which is why I'm out on my own, doing my own thing—living a lifestyle none of them approve of.
"Just trust me, Edward."
"I've heard that before." I roll my eyes. "Anything else?" I ask impatiently.
"Come home." There's a quiver in her voice, and it incites a flicker of anger inside me.
"Not happening. Talk to you some year, Alice."
Before she can protest, I hang up on her. Interfering little pixie. I only decide to keep her request in mind because, as much as I hate to admit it, she's usually right.
Five minutes later, my phone rings again.
"Masen!" I snap, thinking it's likely Alice on the other end, ready to spew more platitudes.
"Good morning, Edward. I have a job offer for you." The person on the other end of the line is Jason Jenks, shady attorney and purveyor of certain jobs out for hire. Nobody reaches me with assignments except through him.
"Set up a meeting with the client and let me know the time."
I always meet with my clients before accepting a job, so I can ascertain their true intentions for myself.
"That's the thing... the client, Senator James Hunter, is out of the country. He did specifically request you, however."
"Did he now? What's the job?"
"I can't disclose the details unless you agree to take it on."
Normally, I'd tell Jenks to advise Senator Hunter to go fuck himself, but I'm bored to the tears I can no longer shed. It's something intriguing—at least in the short term—and Alice did urge me to take a job I would be offered today.
"I'll do it for double my usual fee, plus expenses. How do I get the info?" I don't need the extra money; I'm just being a prick.
"Done. I'll courier over the dossier. I think you'll find it intriguing."
"I rather doubt that." A sardonic smile plays over my lips. There isn't much that can catch my interest anymore. One hundred plus years of this existence, living among this most predictable of species, has fallen flat.
"I'll talk to you soon, Edward," he says hesitantly before disconnecting.
Jenks suspects I'm something other, but so far, he hasn't even come close to figuring out what I am.
My name is Edward Masen, and I'm a bounty hunter. A vampire bounty hunter able to read the minds of my quarry, which greatly assists me in ascertaining their guilt or innocence. I also have a hobby of drinking blood—both from those I hunt and those who hunt me; I tend to be quite popular with the ladies.
The members of my former 'family' don't approve of my habit of feeding off humans. They all subsist on animal blood—a practice that turns my stomach. It's unnatural to attempt to deny our vampire nature. On the other hand, I understand their desire not to kill innocents. Those I kill deserve death. The vile filth, the dregs of society, are deaths easily justified, but I find that women in the throes of sexual pleasure taste best, which is why I employ the art of seduction. I get what I need, and in return, the ladies receive an experience that transports them to the heights of ecstasy. Once I'm between their legs, they rarely notice the slight sting of my sharp thumb nail as I gain access to their femoral vein. After drinking of their velvet wine while playing with and suckling on their heated, moist flesh, I simply close the wound with a swipe of my venom-coated tongue, and they are none the wiser. Far more fun than making a kill and needing to dispose of the remains. Everybody wins.
An hour later, I hold a manila folder with the details of my next job.
Subject: Isabella Marie Swan-Hunter, Age 26
Reason for Warrant: Jumping bail
Charge(s): Attempted murder; no specifics provided
Assignment: Take the subject into custody and deliver for trial on March 3rd
Hobbies/Interests: Not provided
Background: Daughter of Charles Swan, former Chief of Police of Forks, Washington, deceased, and Renee Harper Swan, housewife, deceased. Graduated Washington State at top of class. Married Senator James Hunter immediately after college four years ago. No priors. Has been out of the public eye due to a mysterious illness which remains undisclosed at this time.
I continue on. This has to be the sketchiest dossier I've ever received. The girl is squeaky clean: no priors, not even a parking ticket. She's been absent from the public eye for nearly three years, which is a small miracle considering she's married to a senator. According to the charges, she tried to kill her husband when she 'allegedly' caught him in flagrante with his press secretary.
A photo is clipped to the inside flap of the folder. It's a well-worn black and white photo of a young woman with long, dark hair. Her skin appears pale, and her eyes don't meet the camera. She's gazing off to the side, but by the set of her jaw and the tense posture, I'm going to wager she wasn't happy the day this was taken. The background of the photo depicts grass and trees, and I can see the corner of what looks like a large house off in the distance. A man in a dark suit that screams 'security' is hovering just behind her. I'm going to venture a guess this photo was taken at Senator Hunter's estate.
Considering I'm being hired by the senator to find his errant wife and drag her back for trial, he's provided scant information. Because I'm bored, and this is a bit of a challenge, I'll take the job. The obvious lack of information suggests there's more to the story than meets the eye. Since the senator wasn't available for me to interview, I'll just have to read his wife's mind to determine her innocence or guilt. After all, I may be a bored vampire, but I have a strong sense of ethics when it comes to my work as a bounty hunter. I never take in innocents; I simply return the fee and beg off. Still, my track record is better than any human bounty hunter. There's no way a bail jumper can run far or fast enough to escape a vampire.
The only bounty hunter that has a slightly better track record than me—due to his blatant lack of ethics—is Demetri. I try to stay out of his way, but on occasion, we butt heads.
Demetri cut himself loose from the Volturi—the vampire royalty who make the rules for my kind—with the agreement that they could 'hire' him at any time for his tracking services. I have no idea how he cajoled them into such an agreement, since the mere suggestion of leaving their ranks has often been met with a purple cloud of smoke as the offending vampire is dismembered and burned.
Firing up my laptop, I do my own research. Isabella Swan-Hunter hasn't been seen publicly for three years. Unheard of. The back of the picture I was provided is date-stamped six months ago, and she doesn't look ill—she looks unhappy and bored, but she was standing under her own power. Regardless of her health status, she has to be a drag on the senator's campaign.
I bring up a few press conferences and find that any reporter that dares to bring up Isabella is immediately shut down by the senator—politely, but there's a steeliness in his eyes. Sampling conferences over a year-long span, I find that reporters have been trained not to ask about her because the senator doesn't call on those who dare to bring her up at future appearances—it's the equivalent of being black-balled. Interesting.
Apparently, Senator Hunter is a prime candidate for the presidency—at least, he was until his wife tried to kill him. Now he's dropped from the public eye with the excuse that his family is 'devastated' and asking the public to 'respect his privacy during this dark time.' Even more interesting. Depending which way he spins this, he could still end up in The White House.
I'm definitely taking this job. I dial Jenks on my cell.
"I'm taking the Swan-Hunter job."
"I had a feeling you would." Jenks sounds smug.
"All other job requests are on hold until I complete this one. I have a feeling it's going to take up much of my time."
I hang up before he responds, my mind already occupied with doing more research into Isabella Swan-Hunter.
A/N: This story has been running around in my head since last year, and when a fundraiser for one of our own, Mal (Mostlyalurker), came up, it was tapping at my heart. Naturally, it went out of control, growing beyond a one-shot. The portion being donated to the fundraiser is about 10K words and is only the first half of the story. Part two is being written, and the entire story will be posted in chapters starting in January, once the fundraiser is over. Please consider making a donation, and you will receive a compilation of stories by many talented authors. Beta services—including my own—are also up for bid. The link to Mal's fundraiser is on my profile.
If you'd like to read the rest of this story, please add to alerts. Chapters will begin posting weekly after January 1st and will continue until the story is completed. Thanks for reading!