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Now for the Excerpt:
The Silver Cross by Debra L Martin & David W Small
Damon Harte looked up as the last of the regulars left the bar. It was two in the morning and had been a long night. He still gave them a warmhearted smile and wave, knowing they would be back the next night.
Damon’s bar, The Phoenix, was a popular watering hole in Dorchester. The place boasted two pool tables, a couple of dartboards, and a dozen small tables around a fairly large-sized dance floor. The bar also had a grill and deep fryer in the back that Damon kept for the never-ending orders of burger and fries his patrons seemed to live on. He intentionally hired local bands to play at night, making the bar even more popular with the young crowd. The low prices of the drinks, the entertainment, and the atmosphere attracted both the working class of the surrounding neighborhoods and the nearby university students. The bar was located on a side street off Columbia Road, and seemed to be crowded every night of the week.
He was cleaning up and stacking the shot glasses when he heard the front door open again. “Sorry, we’re closed for the night.”
“Maybe you can stay open for a little while longer.”
Damon sighed as he recognized the voice of Charlie Reno, a street informer of the lowest caliber. Charlie peddled tidbits to everyone and anyone for the right price. He was known to play both ends against the middle, selling information to interests on both sides of the fence. Most of what he sold was untrustworthy, useless drivel, but occasionally he produced something worthwhile.
At one point in his life, Charlie had worked for Damon. He’d been a feeder in his younger years, but like all vampire feeders, the time came when he had to stop or be permanently addicted, both physically and psychologically, to the high he experienced when he was feeding a vampire. Damon had to forcibly cut him off from the feeding den because Charlie didn’t care if he became hooked or not. He had the type of addictive personality that would make it hard to quit anything no matter what it was. It was something that Damon regretted not seeing before he signed Charlie on. Now Charlie used his previous role to his advantage in peddling information to the highest bidder, either to Boston’s vampire community, the police department, or both.
Damon looked up to see him standing just inside the doorway, ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble. Charlie was a slight, balding man of average height who seemed to have a perpetual hunch in his stance. Damon didn’t like the man because of their previous history, but more so because of the business he was in now – selling information. Unfortunately, in Damon’s line of business, he could not afford to ignore a potential source with an ear close to the streets no matter how shady the informant was. Damon always needed informants, and though Charlie’s information was usually straight out of the sewers, he was still a source.
This better be good.
“What do you want, Charlie?” Damon asked, trying his best to keep the annoyance out of his voice.
Charlie sidled up to the bar and spoke to Damon in a conspirator’s whisper. “I got some info that’s worth plenty to you. No one knows about this yet, but it will hit the fan soon enough.”
“So what makes you think I care? If this ‘news’ of yours is coming out anyway, why would I pay for it now?”
“Cause it’s something that’s related to your kind, that’s why. Gimme two bills and I’ll tell you everything I know,” Charlie said.
“Tell me what you know and if it’s worthwhile, then I’ll give you fifty.”
“Damn man, a guy has to eat, ya know. How am I gonna support my family if you keep going cheap on me? I got a wife and kids depending on me.”
Damon sent an icy stare Charlie’s way. “You’re not married and you have no kids. You’re a street rat whose information is not usually worth the time it takes to spill your guts. Now either talk or get out, choice is yours,” he said.
“All right, all right, I’ll tell you. Gee man, don’t get all riled up.”
Charlie wasn’t about to fool around with Damon. Not only was Damon a member of the Nightlife, but he also stood 6’2” with large, broad shoulders and the muscular arms of a professional weightlifter. He wore his long, black hair tied back in a ponytail that highlighted the sharp angles of his hawk-like features and dark, fathomless eyes. When he was angry, he had an unnerving way of looking right through a person as if he was sizing them up as his next meal, which Charlie knew may or may not be true. Damon was a genuine badass, and while that may be attractive to his female clientele, it had quite the opposite effect on anyone who crossed him.