My hero, Jason, made a very brief appearance in the first Children of Night book, In the Dark. Ever since then, I've wanted to tell his story. But it just didn't happen. Until now!
Because even a vampire deserves a second chance.
When Jason Cook boarded the train to San Francisco, he didn’t plan on coming back. He never really thought he’d see Nebraska or Lizbeth Petersen ever again. But when an unexpected turn of events threatens the woman he’d loved and lost, he has no choice but to go back and try to make things right.
Lizbeth never thought she’d see Jason again, either—and she’s not so sure she wants to see him now. Her life’s a mess, but at least it’s her mess. And after a lifetime of other people making decisions for her, she’s looking forward to finally figuring out some things on her own. Besides, Jason already left her once when she needed him. Why should she trust him not to do the same again now?
Warning: This is not a drill. Vampires are invading your favorite, small Nebraska town this Halloween. Does this mean Type-O flavored booze will soon be the new rage in Sapphire Falls? Hopefully, it won’t come to that. But you never can tell…
The Friday before Halloween…
Jason scanned the area around Sapphire Falls’ town square, searching for others of his kind and coming up blank. Not a huge surprise. He’d been hanging around town for over a week, following up on a tip he’d received from Nate, a former nest-mate, and he had yet to find any sign of vampires. He was starting to wonder if perhaps Nate’s informant hadn’t been bled a little too hard. It was possible the man had been making stuff up toward the end, or no longer knew what he was saying.
Oddly, there was no dearth of paranormal activity occurring in and around Sapphire Falls this Halloween season. Jason had already had some interesting encounters. Just the other night he’d come to the aid of a Sidhe lord, a woman and…and something else. Something that looked human but was probably an elemental of some sort. They’d been in trouble and asked for his help, so he’d driven them all (along with a full complement of dogs) down to York to get medical help from some other creatures he hadn’t immediately recognized.
That had been an eye-opening experience. But as far as vampires went, they were scarcer than ghosts. There didn’t even seem to be any rumors floating around.
It was still pretty early, however—just coming on sunset—and most of the people currently enjoying the festival were families with young children. Not the most promising of settings for anyone wishing to feed unobserved. But just because Jason couldn’t sense any other vampires in the vicinity didn’t mean they weren’t here. Or that they couldn’t sense him.
He growled softly in frustration. Time was running out for the Allen vampires. If he didn’t catch up with them soon—before they were too far gone or before they did something irredeemably stupid—they’d be screwed. He should have already contacted Marc, or even Conrad, and told them what he’d learned. But it wasn’t much and it wasn’t good. So he’d waited.
He understood why he’d been chosen for this mission. Given his familiarity with the area, and his past relationship with some of Felicia’s family, it made sense for Conrad to have sent him here, rather than one of the others. And, if he were honest with himself, he’d wanted this. He’d have asked for it, if it hadn’t been offered. He’d have been disappointed as hell if the assignment had gone to anyone else. But, his personal feelings and experience aside, surely there must have been someone they could have found better suited for the task?
He wasn’t supposed to confront the ferals, he was merely supposed to track them and report back. To track them, for fuck’s sake. Might as well hire an opossum in place of a bloodhound.
It wasn’t often that Jason wasted time bemoaning his fate. Things were the way they were, and all the wishing in the world wouldn’t change that. He’d never asked to be a vampire. He hadn’t thought it would be “cool” to live forever. He’d felt no need to be faster or stronger—or, lord knows, more flammable—than nature had intended. It had happened, all the same, without regard to his wishes; and he’d accepted that. Along with all the pluses and minuses that were part of the package. Because, what other choice did he have?
But, if he had to be made Vampire, was it really too much to ask that he be made a moderately competent one?
In his human life, he’d at least had that. He might never have been the best at anything, but he’d still managed to be better than most at pretty much anything he’d tried his hand at. Becoming Vampire had taken that away.
So many of a vampire’s individual abilities were dependent upon the strength, at the time of his turning, of the vampire who’d sired him. The ease and distance at which he could recognize other night-walkers; his susceptibility to sunlight; even the frequency at which he must feed—all were determined by that one event.
Attempting to create too many spawn in too short a timeframe could wear a vampire out, leaving him or her temporarily the worse for wear. But for the unlucky spawn, the weakness was permanent. Not that Floyd had cared about that.
Floyd Hall had been a pompous ass; greedy, opportunistic, unwarrantedly cruel. Jason didn’t think he’d ever been particularly strong, even at the best of times, but when he’d sired Jason, he must have been abysmally weak. A fact Jason hadn’t been in any condition, at the time, to even comprehend. It was only after he’d begun to have dealings with vampires who actually were powerful that he’d learned to tell the difference.
His current sire, Conrad Quintano, was generally acknowledged to be one of the strongest vampires alive. It was only natural that those he’d turned would be exceptionally strong as well—or even uniquely gifted, like Marc, possessing skills that not even Conrad could lay claim to. Useful, potentially life-changing abilities. Such as the talent for rehabilitating vampires who’d gone feral.
It was that particular ability, and the fragile hope that hung from it, that had brought Jason back to Nebraska, that had brought him here to Sapphire Falls just in time for Halloween. Of all the rotten luck. Talk about bad timing!
Everywhere Jason looked, he saw reminders of the holiday. From the artificial jack-o’-lanterns grinning at him from every lamppost, to the amiable scarecrows and sheaves of corn that lined the sidewalks. There were gauzy ghosts hanging from the branches of trees in the park, comical “gravestones” in front of the haunted house. It was all so charming and picturesque and playful--and depressing as hell.
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More about PG!
Going Back to Find You
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