The Tit Crypt hadn’t changed much over the years. The neon sign over the mausoleum-shaped building still featured a pair of breasts that throbbed with each blink of the lights. Letters under the enormous glowing rack warned passersby this club was strictly members only. It didn’t mention all the members were vampires.
“So, Sabina,” Adam said, “your friend isn’t exactly into subtlety, is he?”
“With a name like Fang was there any doubt?” I hefted a duffel bag onto my shoulder. Adam clenched the twin to my bag in his right hand.
“Okay,” I said, “everyone play it cool in there.”
A voice came from inside the bag I held, “Please, my middle name is Cool.”
A female voice from Adam’s bag responded, “You said your middle name was Hung.”
“Whatever,” I said. “Just remember to keep a low profile, okay? We don’t want the Dominae to know we’re in town yet. Just about the only thing we have going for us right now is the element of surprise.”
Once the demons in the bags mumbled their agreement, we set out. Other than a couple of drunken vamps stumbling out the front door, the place looked tight. We skirted the front and made our way to the back of the building. Although frankly, if we’d gone in the front door, chances were good the patrons’ eyes would have been on the strippers. But we didn’t want to take any chances.
I banged on the heavy steel door in the alley behind the building. A couple of seconds later it opened to reveal six foot five inches of leather-clad vampire. Adam stiffened at my side. Couldn’t blame him, really. In addition to his impressive size, Fang’s scowl and full-sleeve tattoos of vampire pinup girls gave him a decidedly threatening air.
“Hiya, Fang,” I said, unable to contain my damn-it’s-good-to-see-you smile.
“Come give me some sugar!” He hauled me up into his massive arms for a bear hug and a grope. I laughed and hugged him back.
Seeing Fang again brought back memories of the good old days—simpler times when I made my living killing vampires for the Dominae. Now I was the one being hunted, and the word complicated didn’t even begin to describe the shitstorm that was my life.
When he finally set me down, I turned to Adam, who watched the reunion with arms crossed and eyes narrowed.
“Adam, this is Fang. He owns this den of iniquity,” I said. “And Fang, this is Adam, the mage friend I told you about.”
The two males eyed each other, sharing terse nods and a white-knuckled handshake. They might as well have whipped out their dicks for a little compare and contrast.
But to their credit, this wasn’t an average territorial, tough guy greeting. Each also had to weigh whether their mutual acquaintance with me meant they could trust each other. Mages and vampires weren’t easy allies as a rule. Especially now with a war between the races all but inevitable.
Scratching noises came from inside my duffel bag, followed by an “Ahem!”
“Oh, right.” I held up the bag. “And this is my demon minion, Giguhl.”
Fang peeked into the panel on the side of the bag. A shadowed outline of a cat with huge, hairless ears appeared against the mesh. “Hey there, Mr. Kitty.”
An evil hiss ripped through the air. Fang jerked his hand away and shot me a worried look.
“Um, Fang,” I said, “he’s kind of sensitive about the cat thing.”
Fang’s eyes narrowed as he looked inside the bag again. “I’m sorry?”
“You should be, asshole,” said the bitchy kitty.
I dropped the bag on the ground. A muffled yelp followed, along with a word that sounded suspiciously like bitch. I shot Fang a lame smile and mumbled a quick apology. Then I motioned to Adam, who lifted his own bag obligingly.
“And this,” I said, motioning to the small blinking eyes and beak just visible inside the bag, “is Valva.”
Fang’s smile froze. “Did you just say—”
“Vahhhl-va,” the peacock purred from the carrier.
“Okay,” he said slowly, eyeing the bag. “Why don’t you and your”—he struggled for the proper word for a second before finally settling on—“friends come on into my office.”
I nodded and made to follow him in, but Adam put a hand on my arm. When I looked at him, he was frowning. “Are you sure we can trust this guy?”
I sighed. “Adam, do you really think I’d bring us here if I didn’t?” I couldn’t really blame the mage for his suspicion. But I wasn’t any more interested in finding trouble here than he was. “Fang and I go way back. He’s cool.”
Adam jerked his head toward the door. “Lead the way then.”
As we made our way toward Fang’s office, the pulsing beat of the club’s music made the walls throb. The noise made it unlikely Fang had overheard my hushed conversation with Adam. And thank the gods for that—I didn’t need to offend my only ally in Los Angeles.
Fang slung a heavy arm across my shoulders and led me to a doorway at the end of the hall. “Godsdamn, it’s good to see you!” His voice boomed over the music. “Didn’t think I’d ever see you again after that trouble you got into with the Dominatrixes last month.”
I smiled at the derogatory term for the Dominae. “Believe me, I didn’t think I’d be back, either.”
He opened a door and flipped on the light. Fang’s office was actually a storeroom with one metal desk and an ancient rolling chair shoved in a corner. The rest of the room contained shelves filled with jugs of baby oil, cases of toilet paper, and several kegs of beer. Through the crack in a door at the rear of the room, I spied a cot and some cleaning supplies. Probably for dealing with the oil slicks Fang’s skanks left behind on the stage. It wasn’t the Four Seasons, but it beat sleeping in the truck we’d boosted. If Fang let us stay there, that is.
“Um, Sabina?” Giguhl’s plaintive voice came from inside the bag as I set it down on the floor.
“What?” I said, flashing Fang an apologetic smile.
“Can we switch back now?”
I sighed. “Hold on.” To Fang, “Do you mind if I let the demons take their true forms? They’ve been stuck in these bags for a while.” We’d flashed into LA using what Adam called “interspatial travel.” It’s kind of like the magical version of having Scotty beam us up, except with more nausea. Regardless, Adam insisted the demons travel in their animal forms since we’d need to be mobile the second we touched down in the City of Angels. Besides, a cat and a peacock were easier to hide than a seven-foot-tall Mischief demon and his golden-skinned, blue-tailed Vanity demon girlfriend.