"Indeed, we do, Lilith, but we also have other more legal business matters to attend to, and think about it for a moment. How odd would we look walking around sniffing those we encountered?" Hunter asked.
He admitted it was illegal.
"Fair enough, but why vampires? Why not faeries, gnomes, or like other weres?" Lilith asked.
"Because the vampires are the only ones who have given my family a reason to loathe their existence," Hunter said.
"Fair enough, I'll bite. Show me the money. I want to see cash, not a check," Lilith demanded.
"My type of lady," Hunter said winking at her, "I think you'll do very well in our business."
Hunter placed his briefcase on the table and opened it. Not caring much what he thought, Lilith counted it out. He wasn't lying. The briefcase contained exactly five thousand dollars. The money changed Lilith's life forever. Her mother and she were able to move into a nicer apartment, and Lilith, now being able to do the normal activities of a teenager, found making friends was second nature to her, but none of those friendships had ever lasted. One time of having to help aid in the capture, torture, and murder of a friend's relative was enough to bring Lilith back to reality, but it was too late. She was ass deep in werewolves, and quitting wasn't an option, at least it wasn't if she wanted to stay alive.
Melissa and Lilith had taken to one another, as teenage girls with common interests are prone to do. They could have stayed good friends for many years, if Lilith had been able to look her in the eye after sentencing her step-father to his death. Lilith met him a few months after she began to hang out with Melissa. It had been a hard call for her to make, but her mother was behind on the car payments and they desperately needed the money. Lilith was learning that receiving an increase in their income quickly set them on the path of spending money they didn't actually have yet. She traded her friendship for thirty grand, and the promise of her own car by Christmas, but Lilith still didn't feel right about her decision. Hunter assured her that the first time was always the most difficult. It would become easier in time.
"Mom, I don't want to work for Hunter anymore!" Lilith blurted out during dinner.
"Dear, it can't be that hard. After all you're just ease-dropping on animals for him," her mother said frowning.
"Mom, I.. Can I be excused?" she asked.
"Sure, honey. Why don't you go for a walk to see what the squirrels are chatting about," her mother suggested.
To protect the privacy of her employer, Lilith was forbidden to tell anyone, even her own mother, the true nature of her employment. Doing so would result in her immediate termination. Lilith often feared that it would be more than just her job that was terminated. Lilith discovered that Lingstons were not a family to mess with, and often found herself wishing she hadn't been so naive. Nothing was free, and while the pay was great, the mental anguish wasn't. She wasn't using Hunter. He was exploiting her gifts. Most nights Lilith would wake screaming from dreams filled with bloody images of Melissa's step-father's murder.
Lilith walked to the park close by their new home and flopped into a swing. Tears rolled down her cheeks and onto the ground. Since beginning to work for Hunter, Lilith felt increasingly isolated. There was not another living creature she could be herself around, and besides who would want to be friends with her if they knew she was an accessory to murder? She didn't even like herself.
Lilith was startled and had to grip the chains of the swing to stop herself from toppling off of it. Hunter appeared out of nowhere, like he did more often than not. His face was twisted into its usual unnatural grin, which made Lilith want to flee from his sight.
"Good afternoon, Lilith," he said, "I've brought you a present. I was walking by the pet store and couldn't resist the temptation."
Lilith arched an eyebrow wondering if he planned to leash her or something just as insane. After all, Hunter seemed to believe that he owned her now.
Her worries fell away when Hunter pulled a tiny cinnamon colored Yorkshire Terrier out of his coat.
"She looked like she could use a friend as much as you can," he said putting the puppy in her arms.
"Thank you, Hunter!" Lilith said and gave her employer a quick hug.
"Hi!" Cinnamon said wagging her tail.
"Hi," Lilith answered, "What's your name?"
"Name? What's a name?" the puppy asked tilting it's too big head to one side.
"A name is what you are called. I'm Lilith," she explained.
"I don't have one of those!" the little dog squeaked, "Is that bad?"
"No," Lilith laughed, "I'll give you one. How about I call you Cinnamon?"
"I like that!" the puppy said wagging her tail.
As Cinnamon grew up, she and Lilith became inseparable. Every evening the pair went on a walk to look for vampires. Together they had become pretty observant, finding at least two a month. In their early days of scouring the town for vampires, Lilith and Cinnamon thought that surely the Lingstons would eventually kill off the whole species and they would be out of a job, they had underestimated just how many vampires the world was home to
Somehow Cinnamon's company relaxed Lilith. Having someone to share her dirty secrets made her job easier to bear.
After years of practice, Lilith could spot one without trying. In her early days of working for Hunter, her gift would kink up at times. Lilith always blamed it on her nerves. There had been a few vampires she wasn't sure about so she never reported them to Hunter. She would have hated to sign the death warrant of an innocent person, and once she let a guilty person go.
Lilith had stumbled upon a man and woman making out in an alley way. She walked by and immediately knew that he was a vampire, and the young woman was about to become his willing victim. She bared her throat to him and wrapped her legs around him. The scene had made Lilith blush, so she hurried away. Lilith was punching in Hunter's number when the woman came chasing after her.
"Please don't!" she begged, "I'm a psychic, too. I know what you are. Please don't. I love him! Damn to hell, I love Richard!"
Lilith blinked at her, wondering if she was entranced or telling the truth, but after what she had eye witnessed in the alleyway, she figured the lady was most likely telling the truth. Lilith never understood vampire groupies, but she guessed that everyone had the right to be crazy in their own way.
"Fine!" Lilith said rolling her eyes, "but if his little vampire cronies come after me, I'm turning over your description too."
"They won't, I promise!" the lady said and tried to hug Lilith.
"Don't touch me!" Lilith warned and balled her fists.
"Okay, sorry," the lady cried, "Here take this, as a thank you."
She shoved a ring into Lilith's hand and ran off. Lilith looked at the ring in her hand and was confused. At first she had feared it was a method of tracking her, but once a few months had passed without incident she wore it proudly. After all, she had given up quite a chunk of change by not turning that vampire over to Hunter.
Lilith thought vampires were easily spotted in a crowd, because their beauty was unnatural. It radiated through the crowds, entrancing those around them. Lilith was grateful that she had never been affected by them the way most mortals were. Often she compared their beauty to that of large cats. Beautiful, breath taking, but always hungry and fickle in nature. Vampires tended to seduce and then kill, like a cat playing with its food. Over the years it had become her inside joke, and Cinnamon had come to enjoy chasing down cats with her. The pair was content with their simple, but sometimes exciting lives.
Several of her clients had offered to introduce her to eligible men, and even Hunter had tried to match-make Lilith to his own relatives, but she always politely declined. The thought of marrying a werewolf made Lilith cringe, and Cinnamon's teasing never helped.
"It would definitely be a furry experience!" Cinnamon howled in laughter.
Lilith couldn't imagine trying to find time for a relationship. Her two occupations kept her busy and sleepless most nights, but it was more than that.
"Any one I'm around with is in danger," Lilith had told Cinnamon, "Either from Hunter if they find out, or the vampires if they ever discover my identity."
"We'll never have puppies!" Cinnamon whined.
"Afraid not girl," Lilith had told her.
Cinnamon's whines drew Lilith back into the present. Their evening walk had proven to be a failure. The pair had only encountered humans and one werewolf that Cinnamon swore Hunter had sent to spy on them, but neither of those species would increase Lilith's net-worth.
Sighing, Lilith asked, "What do you think about going to the lake this weekend, Cinnamon? I bet we can make all sorts of new friends, maybe even some with cats that we can challenge to a game of chase?"
To anyone else, she would sound just like any other pet-lover talking to their dog, and Cinnamon's tail wagging response would be seen as her love for her owner. Though to Lilith, Cinnamon's whines and body language told Lilith much more than any passerby could have imagined. It told Lilith that the lake would be colder than she liked, but this time of year it would be crawling with tourist. Where tourists are, vampires were always close by. They liked to vacation just like everyone else. Not to mention traveling around offered them a more varied diet. Lilith figured that vampires liked variety as much as humans did. She shrugged and they continued their walk home.
Caught up in her conversation with her four-legged companion, Lilith almost walked into a very tall man carrying what looked to be a very heavy box. Only Cinnamon's insistence that she stop saved Lilith from what could have been a very painful experience. Moments like this made Lilith grateful that she could understand animals.
"Oh my God!" she said blushing at her clumsiness, "I'm so sorry."
"Not a problem," the man said, and sat the box down on the curb.