~San Francisco, 1984

Blackness surrounded her, carried her inside it's seductive embrace. Her life's blood ran through her veins like a river of molten lava, as she dragged herself through the murky streets. One hand pressed against the open wound in her neck, the other clutched her swollen belly. Her only concern was for her unborn child. She was dying. But her baby would not.

It began to rain. The drops felt cool against her skin, while her blood felt hot as it trickled through her fingers spilling to the pavement below. Reaching the street corner, she stumbled and fell gasping against a wall. With every drop of blood she was losing the fight. Her heart thudded painfully inside her chest and crying tears of despair, she slid down the wall and fell to the rain-drenched ground. The fight gone. She was too weak. It was over.

Her eyes flickered closed and the blackness welcomed her like an old friend. Her short, young life flashed before her. The people she had loved and lost. The happy memories and the sad ones, too. The fire that claimed her father's life. The mother she never knew. Her first Junior Prom. And Michael, her first love. Her only love. The father of her unborn child. His last words to her echoed through her head.

I'm not ready to be a father, Sarah. I'm too young. There's college. I have a life.

Sobs wracked her body, the grief and pain was becoming unbearable. But then, like some kind of miracle, she felt the life inside of her flutter and kick.

Get up, it said. Get up. I have a life, too.

Slowly she opened her eyes. With a renewed strength, teeth gritted, she groped for the wall behind and pushed herself to her feet.

My baby isn't going to die.

Moving as quickly as her heavily pregnant body would allow, she crossed to the other side of the street. And then through the blinding rain she could see someone, a man. He was whistling softly as he locked the door to the late-nite convenience store he had just left.

'Help me.' She pushed the words free. 'Please help me…'


Landon was looking forward to going home, nuking a TV dinner and spending a couple of hours watching the baseball game. He was beat. Since opening up the store that morning he'd had only the two breaks and one of them included his fifteen minutes for lunch. It hadn't helped that one of his employees had gone home with some kind of stomach-bug. Or that one of the drinks machines had broken down, spilling water and soda everywhere. Or that he'd had to call the cops three times when he'd caught some kids shoplifting.

With a sigh he pushed the store keys into his jacket pocket. It's over. I can go home, relax and I don't have to come back until tomorrow.

He made his way down the sidewalk, stepping over puddles and pulling up the collar on his jacket. He fumbled around in his pocket for the car keys, wishing he had parked nearer to the store. But then again Landon Carter wished for a lot of things. He wished his girlfriend of five years hadn't moved out three weeks ago. He wished that she hadn't slept with that other guy. He sometimes even wished he had never found out. There was a lot to be said for ignorant bliss.

I'm going to end up alone. Just my store and me. Now that's sad.

He was twenty-nine years old and every relationship he'd had had ended in tears. All he'd ever wanted was to meet a nice girl and settle down. Was that so much to ask? Right now the only thing he was married to was his job. Even though there were times he hated managing that damn store, it was the only constant, reliable thing in his life. Even his mother who had shot through when he'd been five years old leaving him with a drunken father, had failed him on that score.

Don't go there. Remember what your therapist said. Let go of the mother issues.

He was so wrapped up in thoughts that he didn't see the girl staggering her way towards him. Her clothes and skin soaked through with rain. And blood. The pain in her pretty face, the tears in her sad eyes. She clutched at her swollen belly as she dragged herself nearer.

I wonder what the therapist would have to say about unfaithful girlfriends. Or even - what the...?

He saw the girl, and she was hurt. Badly. Even in the dark he could see the blood stains on her clothes. He picked up his feet and ran towards her. It wasn't until he was closer that he saw she was pregnant, and that her jacket was soaked through with blood as she clutched desperately at her neck. For one scary moment he thought her throat had been cut.

'Jesus! Miss, what happened to you?'

She reached out a shaking hand and gripped at his jacket sleeve. 'My baby,' she croaked. 'Help me...' She fell against him and he caught her weight, as her arms dropped almost lifelessly to her sides. He propped her weight up against him and looked frantically around. There was no one in sight. The street was deserted. There was never help when you needed it. He reached into his jacket pocket for his cell phone and realised he had left it on the counter back at the store.

Damnit.

He looked down at the young girl in his arms. She was just a kid, no more than eighteen. Pregnant, too. Blood trickled from one corner of her mouth, then he saw the open wounds on her neck. Two perfectly round puncture marks. Like a bite mark. But then her eyes fluttered open and closed and he knew she was slipping into unconsciousness.

Landon gently shook her to keep her awake. 'Open your eyes. Hey.' Another shake. 'Don't fall asleep on me. I need you to walk. Can you do that? My car's just around the block.'

Her eyes fluttered and opened as she looked up into his face. His eyes were searching hers and she knew he was afraid. She was afraid, too. He had a nice face. Honest and kind. Not like the thing that had done this to her...

'My baby,' she gasped. 'Look after my baby...' Her legs gave way beneath her and Landon caught her before she hit the floor.

'Don't die on me. Shit!' He would have to carry her. Lifting her into his arms, and stumbling slightly, he began to walk as quickly as his legs would carry him. But realising time was of the essence he picked up the pace and broke into a slow run.

Eventually, he reached his car and carefully dropped her into the back seat, laying her down flat. Her head rolled to the side, her eyes were still closed. But she was still breathing. And the blood...there was so much blood.

He jumped into the driver's seat. His hands shook as he tried to fit the key into the ignition. 'Come on,' he told himself through gritted teeth. 'Come on.'

The key slipped into place and the car roared into life. He plunged it into first and hit the gas before speeding towards the nearest hospital.


'Sir?

Landon woke to someone shaking his shoulder. His eyes felt heavy and sore. Like he hadn't slept in a week. He blinked, focused and looked up at the person standing over him. A woman, wearing pale-green scrubs. All around him were white walls and bright lights. And the smell. Clean, like disinfectant. Where the hell was he again?

'Sir?' she said again.

He saw the fresh blood on her scrubs and suddenly remembered. Hospital. 'The girl,' he said, suddenly wide-awake. He dragged a hand over his face. His mouth felt dry, he cleared his throat and tried to swallow. Pulling himself up in the chair he looked at the doctor. 'How is she?'

The doctor briefly dropped her eyes, then slowly shook her head. 'I'm sorry. We did everything we could.'

A wave of nausea crashed over Landon. He lifted his arms, crossing them behind his head. 'She didn't make it.'

'She lost a lot of blood. The carotid artery was badly severed.'

He squeezed his eyes shut, his fingers gripping and pulling at his hair. She was dead. The girl was dead. 'The baby,' he suddenly said. 'What about - '

'We managed to save the baby by performing an emergency c-section. She's a little small, but she's strong. A real fighter. Sir, I'm so sorry for your loss. There are people here who can help you with - '

'I didn't know her,' Landon interrupted. His voice was flat as he stared straight ahead. 'I didn't know the girl.'

'I see,' replied the doctor. 'So the baby's father...?'

'No idea.' He shook his head. 'What'll happen to her?'

The doctor drew herself up and exhaled. 'Well, we'll go through all the proper channels and try to locate the father. If that fails and there's no immediate family, then the child will be placed with social services.'

Landon let out a long breath. A young girl had died leaving a helpless baby without its mother and possibly no remaining family. What a great start. The kid would be screwed up before her first birthday. But then he remembered something.

Look after my baby.

There was no father. No immediate family. She had been alone. She had been trying to tell him that. But what was he supposed to do? What could he do? He looked at the doctor.

'Can I see her?' he quietly asked. 'The baby?' He didn't know why, he just wanted to take a look. Tell her how sorry he was. How sorry he was for not getting to her mother sooner.

The doctor nodded. 'I'll let you know when we're ready.'

Landon nodded almost carelessly, as the doctor made her way back towards the emergency room. 'Wait, doc.' It was more an after-thought. But he was curious. 'Those marks on her neck...I've never seen anything like that. What were they? They looked like bite-marks,' he said, thinking how ridiculous it sounded.

So when the doctor nodded her head, he was surprised.

'Yes they were.'

'So she was attacked by a dog?'

'Not a dog,' the doctor said solemnly. 'It was something else.'


~Sixteen Years Later

The girl was definitely having second thoughts. As she and her date walked through the dark, she could feel herself growing nervous. He hadn't said half a dozen words since they'd left the club and there was just something different about him that hadn't been so obvious back there in all the noise and bright lights.

And all the people, she thought to herself. 'Sure is dark.' She made a feeble attempt at conversation, but it didn't make her feel any braver.

'It's night,' her date replied.

'That's a dark time...Night.'

They walked farther. Again she tried to start a conversation. He wasn't as chatty as he'd been back at the club.

'Are you sure this way is quicker? Because y'know, there's another coffeehouse just down this way,' she said directing him.

'I know a short-cut.' He took hold of her hand and smiled at her, and then led her toward the cemetery into the darkness of the woods.

She had passed the point of nervousness and was easing into quiet panic. Her mind spun as she tried to figure out how she'd managed to get herself into such a situation and how on earth she was going to get herself out again. Hadn't her mother warned her about situations exactly like this one?'

'Hey,' her date spoke. 'You ever been in one of these?'

She realized they were standing outside a small mausoleum. She stared at the crumbling entrance. A wall of thick blackness yawned before her and a cold chill crept up her spine. When she finally spoke, she tried to keep her voice from shaking, tried to sound assertive. 'No. I don't think I have.'

'Come on,' he said teasing her. 'What are you afraid of?' And then he pushed her through the doorway.

She stumbled into the blackness, terrified. She couldn't see a thing and after a few agonizing seconds, her eyes adjusted to the dark and she was able to make out a small room with carved stone walls. A huge tomb stood in the center. She spun around, and saw her date's silhouette filling the entrance, blocking her escape. Her heart thudded frantically.

'That wasn't funny.' She tried to sound calm, but she was dangerously close to tears.

'I respectfully disagree,' he said. 'I think it was very funny.''

'I think I'm just gonna go,' she said moving forward.'

'Oh really?'

There was no playfulness in his voice. She heard danger and instinctively took a step back. And then another. Then she bumped up against something or someone behind her and let out a squeal as she turned and looked into the eyes of a young, blonde woman. Her face was all weird-looking and her eyes were shining yellow. There was blood at one corner of her mouth and when she opened her mouth to smile she revealed a pair of razor-sharp fangs.

'Oh, my!' the girl gasped. 'Y-Your face! You're a...?'

'A vampire, yes,' the blonde finished dryly. She looked at the girl's date and shook her head. 'Is this the best you could do? She's not very sharp.'

'I didn't think it was a requirement. She's fresh, isn't she?'

'Hardly enough to share. She's all bone.' The blonde circled the girl like a panther would its prey.

'By the looks of things,' he replied. 'You've eaten already. Maybe I should keep her all for myself.'

The blonde flicked out her tongue and licked the blood at the corner of her mouth. 'You were taking too long and I got hungry,' she shrugged.

'P-Please,' said the girl, her voice trembling. 'Please...just let me go.'

The blonde laughed. 'You're not going anywhere,' she informed her. 'Not until we've fed anyway. And even then, you won't be going very far.'

'No!' the girl cried. She stumbled backward and fell to the floor. Through her haze of terror she could see her date coming towards her, his face had changed, it was every bit as hideous as the blondes. And she knew she was going to die. She watched, unable to move or scream, as they closed in on her, mouth's drooling, eyes glistening hungrily, teeth bared as they laughed.

I'm going to die. This is it.

So when the voice suddenly spoke out from the entrance she thought at first that it wasn't - that it couldn't possibly be - real.

'Well, this is nice,' the voice said pleasantly.

The two vampires froze then turned toward the voice, while the girl saw her chance to scramble away. They eyed the young girl who was standing in the doorway to the mausoleum. She didn't look much older than the one they'd been about to eat. Short black hair, luminous green eyes, pretty in a street-urchin kind of way; and dressed from head to foot in black.

'A little bare,' the girl observed, running one hand down a wall, 'and dusty. But a dash of paint, a few throw pillows - call it home.'

'Who the hell are you?' growled the blonde.

The girl feigned surprise. 'You mean, there's actually somebody around here who doesn't know already? That's a relief. I'm telling you, having a secret identity in this town is a job of work.'

Nothing had prepared the vampires for this unexpected turn of events. They looked at one another and then back to the girl. Then the blonde nodded her head.

'She's the slayer,' she said.

The girl smirked, luminous eyes narrowing slightly. 'Oh, I'm so much more than that.'

'Wait. I know who she is,' said the date. 'I've heard of her. She's the one they call the day-walker.' The distaste was obvious in his mouth.

'Great. You know who I am and I know who you are, so now the introductions are over can we do this? I'm on a schedule.'

'Fine with me,' hissed the blonde. 'I'm going to enjoy roughing you up. Day-walker.'

'I have to warn you, it won't be pretty,' the girl persisted. 'We're talking violence, strong language. Full-on adult content.'

'I like the sound of that,' the blonde snarled.

'Yeah. But you do know I meant you and fang-boy, right?' Even as she spoke, the date rushed at her, charging with lightning speed. With one graceful motion the girl held out her arm and a long, sharp wooden stake appeared from her sleeve. There was a dull puncture sound as the vamp impaled himself. He stopped, eyes round with surprise and then exploded into dust. 'See what happens when you roughhouse?' she sighed, pushing the stake back up inside her sleeve.

The blonde was wide-eyed and wary, but definitely not intimidated. 'He was young. And stupid.'

'And now he's dust.'

The blonde snarled while the girl glanced across at the young girl cowering in the darkened corner. 'Time to leave,' she ordered her. The young girl didn't waste any time, she scurried towards the entrance.

The vamp lunged, but the girl was faster, she blocked her path and met her head-on, parrying her blows with martial arts precision. They traded vicious punches. Then lifting one leg she slammed her boot into the vamp's face. She hit the ground with a low grunt. Suddenly the girl wasn't in the mood for joking anymore. All the humour had drained from her pretty face.

'I just wanted to be like everyone else,' she said peevishly, planting one foot on the vamp's chest. 'Have some friends, maybe a dog...but no. Your kind interfered in my life plan and put paid to that. Even after all these years it still pisses me off. I should just let go, right?'

The blonde glared up at her, fury in her eyes. She couldn't move, she had her pinned down and she was strong. Stronger than anything she had ever encountered.

'Right?' the girl repeated, jamming her foot harder into the vamp's chest.

The vamp bared her teeth. 'Right,' she snarled.

'But I'm working through it. Wanna know how I deal? It's a blast, works every time and cheaper than therapy.' The girl pulled another stake from her back pocket and twirled it once. 'Say Hi to Mr. Pointy.' Then with lightning quickness, she drove the stake straight through the vampire's heart. She shrieked as her body crumbled to dust. 'Besides, therapy's overrated,' the girl muttered and then tucking her stake back in her pocket, she turned and headed out of the mausoleum.

Once outside she was glad to see that the young girl was nowhere in sight. She hated it when they hung around to thank her for saving their life. It wasn't about that. It was about so much more than that. She walked across the cemetery and towards the path which led to the huge, iron entrance gates which were never closed, let alone locked. Every now and then she heard a owl up in the trees softly hooting. The branches rustling in the gentle night breeze. The path seemed to stretch endlessly before her. Maybe it was just because she was tired. She'd been patrolling for the last five hours. Her footsteps echoed hollowly in the dark. And then something made her stop. A noise in the bushes told her that she wasn't alone. She turned slowly around and sure enough she could see a figure standing there, shrouded in blackness.

'Hey, Sir Stalk-a-lot, your cover's blown, may as well come out,' she said. The figure moved slightly, but didn't say or do anything. The girl rolled her eyes. 'Whatever, I'm already bored.' She turned to walk away. 'Should you decide to pursue me, I should warn you I'm armed and extremely dangerous.'

'Is that so?'

Startled at the sudden voice in her ear, she whirled around and was a little shocked to see him standing right behind her. There was only one kind of creature that could move that fast.

Vampire.

In one swift move she grabbed him and threw him up against a tall, crumbling headstone. As she closed in she whipped out her stake, then realized he was making no move to attack her. In fact he seemed to be faintly amused by the situation. She eyed him, wondering what his game was but she didn't let her guard down. She never let her guard down.

'Is there a problem, Officer?' he drawled.

'You. But not for much longer.'

He held up his hands in a "don't shoot me" gesture. 'Not gonna hurt you,' he told her with a faint smile.

'Thanks for the heads-up. Afraid I can't say the same.'

'Kinda gung-ho, aren't we?'

'Works for me,' she said. 'Y'know, I'm surprised any of you have the guts to still hang around this town. I'm guessing you're all stupid, deficient in some way. It can't be a lack of B vitamins, on account of the whole blood-sucking thing, so maybe you're all just brain-dead. And what is the deal with lurking around cemeteries? Kinda cliched.'

'Works for me,' he smirked.

She narrowed her eyes, no longer in the mood for idle chit-chat and lifted the stake.

'Maybe we got off the wrong foot,' he said. 'Look, I wasn't following you to hurt you and I don't want any trouble.'

'Oh, really?'

He smirked again and she decided, surprising herself in the process, that for a creature of the night he was pretty good-looking. Average height and build, dirty blond hair, prominent cheekbones, but there was an unmistakable arrogance in his midnight-blue eyes. There was something else too. Glowing far back beyond his gaze. A strange sort of knowing that made her feel slightly uncomfortable. She couldn't explain it, so she didn't know what it was.

But right now that wasn't really bothering her as much as the fact that he was making no attempt to fight her. That, and why she hadn't staked him yet.

'Can we let go of the threads, sweetheart?' he said cutting into her thoughts. 'Guy I bought it from assured me it was a one-off.'

She briefly ran her eyes over the dark blue expensive-cut 3/4 length coat. 'Hope you kept your receipt. Then again you can't return soiled goods. Blood, dust or otherwise,' she said, curling her fingers harder into his chest.

'Watch it,' he laughed. 'You're a lot stronger than I thought. I like a girl who can look after herself.'

'You've been watching me?'

'For a while now. Just wanted to see how you operate. And I gotta say,' he dropped his eyes down the length of her, smirked, and and met her cool green gaze again, 'you operate like a well-oiled piece of machinery.'

She twirled the stake in her right hand and jabbed it beneath his chin. 'Either you start saying something that's worth my time or I use this.' She jabbed it harder. 'Strike that, I'm gonna use it anyway. Why have you been watching me?'

'Isn't it obvious? I know who you are, Quinn.'

For a moment it threw her that he knew her by her first name. Most, if not all, of the vamps in town knew her and the ones that didn't soon would. But they knew her as the day-walker, not by the name given to her by her step-father.

'So you know who I am,' she said carelessly. 'No big surprise there.'

'It's more than knowing who or what. I know why. Why you do this. Why you're on a crusade to wipe out the entire vampire nation, and I know all about your inner struggle, too.'

Quinn licked her lips and swallowed back the split second of surprise. 'So as well as stalking, you're pretty fly with the info,' she said recovering herself. 'What do you want, a pat on the head?'

'So defensive. I guess that's understandable. Given everything you've suffered.' He smirked. 'I can help you, Quinn. If you - '

'The day I need help it won't be from the very thing I'm trying to eradicate,' she announced.

'I know how to put an end to the struggle inside. You fight hard against what you are. I can take you to someone who can help you with that.'

'Does fang-boy have Dr. Phil delusions? I think he does. You gonna talk me to death or - '

'When was the last time you fed?' he interrupted. 'I mean a proper feed. None of this pig's blood crap. When was the last time you tasted fresh, warm hu - ' She brought back her fist and slammed it into the side of his face. His head flew back, hitting the headstone behind. It stung and left him slightly stunned, but he shook it off with a faint smirk. 'I'm going to overlook that, because you're clearly upset,' he said licking the blood from the corner of his mouth. 'You can't stand it when you're reminded of what you are, can you? You are what you are, Quinn and you can suppress it all you like, but you can't escape it.'

She rammed the stake harder under his chin poking it's sharpness into his skin, and making him flinch slightly. 'I'm getting tired of this speech of yours and I'm tired of you,' she said through her teeth. 'Let's hurry this along. Any last requests before the wind blows away your dusty ass?'

'Go right ahead, stake me,' he said. 'I can't stop you. You're a lot stronger than I am. I'll make it easy for you. I won't put up a fight.'

She hesitated. Then a frown split her brow. 'What the hell's wrong with you? Did you not receive your copy of "Vampires for Dummies" when you were turned?'

He just smirked. 'To you I'm just another pill to ease your ongoing pain. But in reality, I'm the answer to all your prayers, sweetheart.'

'I need one of those pills right now for the headache you're giving me. I had to get a chatty one. I can't believe I'm still letting you drone on. I must be going soft in the head.'

'I think it's more curiosity,' he said with a wry smile. She looked him directly in the eye. 'Interest caught and netted. I just wanna help.'

'Really getting sick of hearing that.'

'Hear me out.'

'I've already heard way too much. But I always was too curious for my own good, give me one good reason why I should trust a filthy, soulless, blood-sucking animal.'

'Ouch,' he said all mock-hurt. 'The fact that I'm still standing, pretty much answers all the questions you've been asking yourself.'

She narrowed her eyes at him. 'I don't need help from you or anyone. I don't need saving and I don't need any prayers answered. Newsflash, I don't pray. Gave that up a long time ago. There's only one thing that concerns me. What you are and what you're gonna be. Dead.'

She shifted her arm, and was about to ram the stake into his heart when his hand shot out and snagged her wrist just before the stake made contact with his body. They eyed one another for a long moment, then Quinn lifted her knee and rammed it into his gut. He doubled over, but he hadn't let go of her wrist.

'Okay,' he said, grimacing as he straightened up. 'What part of me being all noble didn't get through?'

'Oh, goody, the talking thing again. Yeah,' she slammed her fist into the side of his head sending him reeling back, 'still bored with that.'

As he stumbled backward his fingers slipped and he let go of her wrist. Just as she came for him again he delivered a spinning kick, knocking the stake clean out of her grip. Quinn merely whipped another out from beneath her jacket, and they began to circle one another.

'Enough with the games already,' he snarled.

'Maybe this is like Scrabble to you,' she retorted. 'I think of it more like pest control.'

'I don't want to have to fight you, Quinn.'

'Ooh, now that is noble. But just so we're clear on the rules of this particular game, you vermin, me exterminator. Got it? Let's do this.' She spun up into the air and slammed the toe of her boot underneath his chin. His head snapped back and drove him to the ground. While Quinn landed smoothly on her feet, he gave himself a shake and quickly got up. Now he was pissed. His face underwent a metamorphosis. Became more feral. Yellow eyes and fangs protruding. She smiled knowingly. 'There he is,' she mocked. 'Still reckon I should trust you?'

He growled low as they began to circle again, eyes locked, fists at the ready. 'I don't want to do this,' he told her.

'The noble thing's old now. Let's try something new.' As quickly as his face had changed it changed again, back to his normal visage. 'Not exactly what I meant, but I can work with that,' she said.

'I'm not doing this,' he said. 'Just listen to me. You still feel all pissed off after, then get stake happy.'

Quinn's eyes narrowed, she had never been more intrigued, more suspicious of anyone her entire life. Maybe that was why she allowed him to talk.

'I know a guy,' he went on. 'He has something, a serum you can take to control the hunger. It's a form of anti-toxin. He manufactures it himself and sells it to people who have been bitten.'

'I wasn't bitten,' she interrupted.

'It won't stop the inevitable, but it suppresses the hunger. I can take you to him,' he finished.

'Is this how you get off? I mean, what is this? Some kind of stunt to - '

'No stunt.'

'Don't you think if there was some kind of miracle cure, I'd know about it?'

'It isn't a cure. More like a put off. But it works. I've seen it with my own eyes.'

Quinn really didn't trust this guy. But she was curious about him. Curious as to why he'd been watching her; curious as to why he even wanted to help her. Curious about this so-called serum. She wasn't stupid. She knew it could be a load of bull. That it could be a trap. He could lure her to this guy's place with promises of put off's and there may not even be a guy.

But what if there was a guy?

She pondered on it briefly. What if there was someone who held the key to helping her sleep a little easier? It wouldn't end her torment, but anything that could ease it had to be a good thing.

'Clock's ticking, Quinn,' he said.

She looked at him. Fully aware that in those last few moments she had actually allowed herself to zone out - something she never did - and that in those brief moments he'd had ample opportunity to pounce. Or maybe he didn't want to pounce, maybe he wanted to lure her back to his lair with false promises, so that he and his vamp buddies could tie her up and torture her and brag about killing the day-walker.

And she was zoning out again.

'The next question is...do you want to follow through?' he finished.

'What's in it for you?'

'Not a thing.'

'Everybody wants something.'

'Not me.'

'Because you're so different.'

'I like to think so.'

'I don't trust you.'

'I'm not asking.'

'That's exactly what you're asking. If you want to help me, just cut to the chase and tell me where this guy is. If there even is a guy.'

'There's a guy. But you won't find him around here. El Paso.' He gave a slow smile. 'You think there's a population drought going on around here? Wait until you wing it down to New Mex, they've got a vampire problem like you wouldn't believe. The guy makes a killing with his juice. No pun intended. So what do you say, Quinn? Feel like donning a sombrero and hitting the dusty road to Freedomfrompainville?'

'I don't need a road buddy.'

'So that would be a yes?'

'I'm not going anywhere with you. Just give me this guys address and I'll be on my way. But be warned, if this is some sort of trap and I get there and it's a big, old vampire mardi-gras, then when I get back - because I will be back - I'll hunt you down and the only road you'll be walking will be the dusty one headed for Deadville. Got it?'

'After what you've put me through tonight I'll stake myself,' he returned. 'I was kind of looking forward to the trip and everything, but if you wanna go alone, fine by me. I guess we have a deal.' He held out his hand to her.

She glanced briefly at it then back at him. He was smirking at her. 'We have nothing,' she told him coldly. 'Just tell me where I can find this guy.'