Bloody Acquisitions (Drew Hayes)
$5.99 – $17.99
Fred Book III
The third book in Drew’s outrageously adventurous and satirical series, including THE UTTERLY UNINTERESTING AND UNADVENTUROUS TALES OF FRED, THE VAMPIRE ACCOUNTANT (Book 1) and UNDEATH & TAXES (Book 2).
With a thriving parahuman accounting practice, a steady relationship, and a circle of trusted friends, Fred’s undead life has become more enjoyable than his normal one ever was. Unfortunately, it also seems that he’s no longer the only vampire to appreciate the up-and-coming city of Winslow, Colorado. A new clan of vampires is moving in, and they aren’t well known for tolerating outsiders in their territory.
Now, Fred must cope with the growing presence—and threat—of other vampires even as he struggles to keep up with his business’s demands and make time for his friends. Between hidden parahuman towns, crazed vampire hunters, quarreling mages, and the world’s least subtle spy, it will take all of Fred’s wiles just to keep his head above water. And as the new clan sinks their fangs deeper and deeper into his city, the undead accountant is faced with a choice between two equally unappealing options: flee his home, or stand against an entire clan of fellow vampires.
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Read The First Chapter
“While I’m glad you don’t fall into the old female stereotype of having lots of shoes, part of me wishes you did. I’d much prefer to be lugging around high heels than yet another box full of guns.” As gently as I possibly could, I set the cardboard cube down on Krystal’s empty counter. Normally, there was nowhere near enough kitchen space cleaned off to fit even a single glass, let alone a whole box of armaments, but today was different. Today, her entire apartment was almost stripped bare, with much of the furniture going off into storage or being returned to the rental locations they’d been taken from.
Today was moving day, which was why I’d been roped into helping to haul the possessions she was keeping—including what had to be an illegal amount of firearms even for an agent—off to her new home.
“Don’t be such a baby. My collection is nothing. You should see the armory that Arch carts around everywhere.” Krystal emerged from her bedroom, a duffel bag packed with more of her knives, batons, and other melee gear rattling on her shoulder. “Plus, like I’ve been saying ever since the word came down, this is ultimately all your fault. Once the Agency found out what a deal you’d gotten for Arch, they didn’t see the sense in paying for me to have a more expensive, less defended apartment.”
While “fault” seemed like an aggressive term, there was no denying that I had set in motion the chain of events which resulted in Krystal’s fellow agent, Arch, moving into the animated house on the outskirts of Winslow, Colorado known as Charlotte Manor. On top of coming with three meals a day and all utilities included, Charlotte was also something of a magical fortress, built by a commune of insane mages and meant to repel all but the most powerful of attackers. Granted, not everyone would be thrilled by the idea of living in a home that was self-aware and always watching, but for people like Krystal and Arch, the loss of privacy was well worth it to be able to sleep with both eyes shut.
But perhaps I should step back briefly, in case those last few lines seem like the raving of a madman or incomprehensible gibberish. My name is Fredrick Frankford Fletcher, and I am a Certified Public Parahuman Accountant. Also, a vampire. Despite what film and television might have led to you believe, joining the undead does not inherently make one suave, cool, or even particularly more socially competent. What it does do, however, is thrust you into a community that lives in the normal world’s shadow, a society comprised of parahumans. That very community has technically endangered my undead life several times, but it has also helped me meet a variety of friends I would never have run across in my mortal days, so it’s not that bad of a trade. Krystal, my girlfriend, makes her living working for the agency that polices our kind, ensuring that all the laws and treaties of our various peoples are upheld. It keeps her on the road a lot, which is just one more reason why moving to Charlotte Manor made more sense than her previous arrangement.
We hauled our respective loads down the stairs, setting them into the back cab of Krystal’s pickup truck, where she’d saved a space specifically for the weaponry. My hybrid was already filled with the more mundane objects like clothing and dishes, rather than firearms and blades. She had the security clearance to be walking around with half a riot squad’s arsenal; I didn’t, and even for vampires, traffic stops are still a possibility.
“And that . . . is it.” Krystal slammed the door closed, causing me to jump as I waited to hear the guns go off, despite her assurances that they were all unloaded. She chuckled, but didn’t call me out on being startled, likely because I was in the middle of doing her a favor. “Bubba and Amy should be about done with their load by now, so once we get the dangerous stuff inside, we can break for night-lunch.”
Much as I wished she’d think of a new term for our customary meal around midnight, being my equivalent of a mid-day point, I was never going to object to enjoying Charlotte’s cooking. While it’s true that I primarily need blood to survive, I can still dine on human food. My body gains no nutrients from it, but that’s never really the best part of eating a fine meal anyway, is it?
“I just have to swing by my place real quick to fire off an email,” I told her. “Promised to have some acquisition forms sent out before morning.”
“Can’t Albert do that?” Krystal asked.
“You already dragged Albert and Neil into helping you move,” I reminded her. “They took the first couple of boxes. And anyway, there’s a bit of prep work to do, which puts it out of Albert’s depth. Great assistant or not, some tasks require my personal touch.”
Krystal leered at me for a few seconds—her way of letting me know I was on thin ice—before finally relenting with a sigh. “I’ll let it slide this time, but don’t take too long. These boxes aren’t going to unpack themselves.”
“I promise to be as quick as possible,” I assured her.
“I’d prefer you promise to hire some more help,” Krystal shot back. “Even vampires need rest, you know.”
She had me there. When I first got my CPPA license and began courting parahuman clients, I’d been fearful there wouldn’t be enough business to sustain the investment. What I discovered was that this was a hole in the market that desperately required filling, and over the past few months, it had been all I could do to keep up with the influx of new clients. Fletcher Accounting Services needed to expand, which was far easier said than done. Parahumans might be in ample supply, but precious few of them wanted to make their living as accountants.
“It would be nice,” I agreed. “My original plan was to get Albert trained up as he grew more familiar with the practice, and then pay for him to obtain the necessary accounting degrees. But with the sword training, that’s just not viable.” Several months prior, Albert had pulled the Blade of the Unlikely Champion from its sheath. Technically, that didn’t come with any built-in responsibilities; however, everyone had agreed it was best he get comfortable using it, just in case. Which, in fact, was why Arch had moved to Winslow and needed somewhere to stay in the first place. Despite seeming human, Arch was quite old, and renowned for his abilities as a trainer, among other things.
“I’ll keep an ear to the ground, just in case I come across any good candidates.” Krystal pulled open the door to her truck, then paused to lean in and give me a short, but forceful, kiss. “Don’t take too long with your work, or I’ll let them start night-lunch without you.”
“Only a few minutes, at most.” She let it be, getting into her truck and heading off before I’d so much as gotten my own car’s door unlocked.
The truth of the matter was that I knew exactly how long the work would take, and it would be seconds, at most. I’d purposely left it undone specifically so I’d have an excuse to split up from her when the last load was packed. I’m not a terrible liar, but Krystal is an agent for a reason, and telling the truth made it far less likely that the real reason I was going back to my apartment would be uncovered.
After all, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise housewarming party without the surprise part. Or a cake, specially ordered from a bakery back in Krystal’s and my hometown of Kent. It was a favorite of both of ours, and a nice way to ring in the new with the old. But I needed to hurry. The plan was for everyone to distract her with unpacking while I picked up the cake and brought it to Charlotte Manor.
Turning on my engine, I started to floor it, then remembered my car was full of Krystal’s possessions—some of which were almost certain to be illegal for a non-agent to have, dishes or no—and resumed a far more moderate pace.
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