Staked in the Midlife

Fanged After Forty, Book 2

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Bounty Hunter.

Middle-aged babe. Maybe?

Now that Hailey is solidly settled in Philadelphia and her new vampire life, she’s setting roots, tracking down criminals, and taking names. Things have happened so fast starting the moment she moved into her new home. 

But she’s not one to sit on her duff and let life pass her by. Even an undead life.

With her best friend, new friends, and her Mr. Buttinski Brother, Hailey is ready to take on the world and deal with what life has given her, one night at a time.

But she didn’t bargain for taking on the vampire elder council. Yeesh. This may be a little more than she can chew… er, suck. Bite? 

Somehow, Hailey must pass their challenges and survive the next bit of shocking news coming her way. Something a certain vampire maker is going to drop in her lap during the big trial with the elders.

She’s going to make it work and get herself and Jax out of this mess. These elders got nothing on Hailey Whitfield.



Chapter 1 


Vampires sweat. I had no idea. But here it was, nine on a Saturday night, and my drenched self was chasing the criminal version of Usain Bolt through the streets of Walnut Hill. 

Such was the life of a bounty hunter. 

And coincidentally, at nine on a Saturday, the seven p.m. showing of the new Clooney blockbuster had just let out, coinciding with a bar crawl, so with people left, right, and center, I couldn’t use my super speed to catch the creep. I had to run like a common human, darting and dashing around bodies. Well, not dead bodies, living ones that were pretty much all drunk, high, or both. Or maybe just drunk on Clooney, which was understandable. 

It took a lot more strength than I would’ve thought to control my speed. Hence, the sweat. 

We’d circled the same block twice, and I was a gnat’s eyelash from saying eff it and using my vamp speed to take him down, witnesses be damned. The night was slightly chilly for early April, and the sweat combined with the wind made me want to shiver. 

Kendra Justice, my BFF since childhood and fellow Bond Girl, had put the word out on the street that we were looking for Foley Breck—the skip’s AKA, which sounded more worthy of a Bond Girl chase than his real name, Herbie Goldsmith. I snorted thinking about it. Herbie. 

I’d been surprised when we’d gotten a hit within an hour. 

Then again, Kendra had connections, and those connections knew how to spread rumors in the underground crime sectors better than the busybody grapevine operators. 

Apparently, Herbie wasn’t very popular among his law-breaking peers. They’d been all too eager to throw him under the bus. Too bad they hadn’t literally done so. 

He turned another corner and looked over his shoulder at me, then ran full-speed into a brick wall, bounced off and twisted to catch his fall, but failed, and landed face-first into a puddle. I winced but kept running after him. 

OuchHe’ll definitely feel that later. 

It was about time I’d caught a break with this guy. Without hesitation, I hopped onto his back, but he bucked like we were a PBR team. Of course, I didn’t have cuffs because I’d lost my fanny pack somewhere between our last block and our second or fourth or maybe hundredth turn around this building, so I used my vamp-strong thighs to hold him down. “You already made me chase you fourteen blocks and two laps. Stop resisting before I drown you.” I gritted my teeth and tried to get ahold of his arms without making it super obvious I was way stronger than he was. 

I channeled my mother and gave his head a little shove into the puddle again. Not that my mother would have drowned me, but I’d been on the receiving end of the occasional slap on the back of the head for mouthing off. She hadn’t been afraid to discipline on the fly. 

A small crowd gathered while Herbie and I struggled, and with them, Kendra finally arrived, shooing the lookie-loos away from the scene. “Nothing to see here! Move along, you Nosey Nellies.” 

As per normal, no one listened, so she rolled her eyes and handed me a pair of zip-tie cuffs. I slapped those babies on Herbie, maybe with a bit more strength than I should’ve, and gave him one more shove into the water for good measure. My vamp side was in the mood to drain the bastard. But noooo. I couldn’t do that because us vamps had rules about killing humans. I’d managed to avoid it so far. The only being I’d killed had been a psycho vampire who wanted to kill me. 

When I stood, I glanced at the nearest cell phone videographer, cocked a brow, and hauled Herbie up beside me. “Hailey Whitfield. Bond Girl.” 

Someone nudged me from behind, and I stumbled, tripped over Herbie’s outstretched leg, and fell. Now, we were both dripping with rainwater, but to my credit, I sprang up like my boobs had springs attached. 

I didn’t look to see how many cell phones had caught my clumsiness. I’d be a GIF by morning, but not much I could do about it. 

I pulled Herbie to the bus stop, and we sat. I’d left my car fourteen blocks back and even if I hadn’t, this jerk was covered in slop. He was not getting in my vehicle. 

A month ago, I was an unemployed, jilted at the altar, almost bride. Now, I was a bounty hunting—makes Bond Girl all the more clever now, right?—vampire who worked with my witchy BFF, Kendra. We were a team, and our jobs sounded a lot more glamorous than they were, truth told. Especially with the sweating and the face plant into the sidewalk. 

We had a third Bond Girl, but she had a full-time job as Jax’s head enforcer. Paige was a dark-skinned goddess—beautiful, tall, and slender; a total badass. She’d been turned in her twenties, so human college guys hit on her all the time. Some older men also hit on her as well. 

When the bus came, Kendra paid our fares and I dragged Herbie to a seat. The bus was crowded so Kendra couldn’t cast a binding spell or even one that would shut this yahoo’s pie hole. 

“Help! I’m being kidnapped!” He implored the woman across from him, but she turned her nose back into her well-worn copy of a popular romance novel and ignored him. He tried again with an old guy who was either deaf or uninterested, and once more with a guy who was young enough to be my son. If I had one. 

The kid winked at me. “If you want to let him go, I’ll let you handcuff me without complaint.” He winked, and I almost fainted. He was cute, but I wasn’t interested in becoming a cougar on top of a vampire. I’d had my fair share of immature men who thought they were a gift to all women. 

“Yeah. Take Romeo.” Herbie knocked me hard with his shoulder, and I slid to the edge of the seat, one butt cheek hanging off. 

I scoffed while working my jaw and moved back to my spot. The image of me knocking him out flashed into my mind. It was so tempting. I resisted. If I did that, then I’d have to carry his ass off the bus and into the police station. I wasn’t doing it. 

“This isn’t about romance, Einstein. This is about you jumping bail.” I raised my voice for the benefit of the other passengers. The last thing I needed was someone actually believing the outlaw and playing the hero. I didn’t have time to call in vampire reinforcements to wipe the memories of everyone on the bus when I used my strength to apprehend another person. 

Geez. This whole night had been crazy since I’d picked up the perp’s trail. And it wasn’t even half over. 

Herbie was about five-foot-nine-inches of unbathed asshat, with stringy brown hair and dull blue eyes. He lived in a house that should’ve been condemned ten or twelve years ago, and I would’ve bet a week’s pay he was still a virgin. 

Did I say he was an asshole already? 

“I wouldn’t romance you, Hailey Whitfield, if you were offering dollars for dicks.” 

I laughed. “Well, Herbert, I heard a dollar’s about all yours is worth.” 

The kid laughed like I was doing stand-up. He almost fell off his seat. 

I rolled my eyes as the bus rolled to a stop outside the police department. “This is us, Herbert.” I hauled him to his feet and just about dragged him off the bus and inside the station to collect my bond sheet. 

Next stop—payday at Jordan’s Bail Bonds. 

Jordan Leslie was the man in the bail bonds trade. At least in our area of Philly. Mr. Leslie was ninety percent leprechaun, and ten percent Danny DeVito’s comb-over, though even that wasn’t stopping the rapid northerly ascent of his hairline. He treated his office like a giant garbage can, and I was pretty sure, despite city ordinances, he was using his back room as his living quarters. But he paid, and in the order of importance, pretty much nothing else mattered. 

He dragged himself out of the backroom and unlocked the front door to let us in. Jordan was used to middle of the night appearances from us, but this was a bit earlier than our normal after-midnight calls. It wasn’t even midnight yet. Still, he dragged his shirt over an obscenely hairy chest for a guy who still shopped in the little boy section at Target. 

“Lady luck is my favorite kind of luck, and you broads have it in spades.” He said it in his Michael Jackson-esque voice as he gave Kendra an up and down that should’ve peeled her skin off, but somehow didn’t. It took a couple of seconds before he noticed her scowl, then pulled his checkbook from under the counter. “Bond Girls…” He spoke as he wrote on the Pay to the Order of line. 

We brought in a lot of skips these days and so we were all making the big bucks. I eyed the amount and nodded at Kendra. This one was enough to get her the down payment on a new Kia she’d been eying, Cleo a couple of weeks in LA, and me a tidy little nest egg. I wasn’t peeing in my pants with joy, but I was pretty excited. 

Bounty hunting wasn’t my first or even third choice as a career. But I’d needed the money when I first moved to Philly a few months ago. I already knew a lot about what it took because my ex-husband, Howard, was one, and I sometimes used to help him with the leg work of tracking skips down. 

When I’d started working for Cleo as her in-home nurse, after she’d been shot on a job, I took one of her easy cases that she wasn’t yet up for. That turned out to change my life. The skip turned out to be a vampire and she’d nearly drained me to the point I was dying. Kendra had called our undead neighbor from across the street, and he’d saved my life. 

Of course, that had involved turning me into a vampire. Once the shock wore off about my new lifestyle, I found out that there were rules about turning humans with the permission from the elder council. 

Now the two of us were going to have to face the council for judgement, which Jax and I were trying to put off as long as we could. 

The sound of paper tearing drew my attention back to Jordan as he handed over the check. Kendra took it and tucked it in her bra—she was the accountant for our group, the business-mind. Without missing a beat, Jordan handed me a couple of files. “Like your breasts, these aren’t big ones, but…” 

Did I mention he was funny? At least, he laughed at his own jokes. 

I checked the names. No one I knew was on that list, which was always good news, and no big money, but enough to see us through the end of the month. I tucked the folders under my arm. “Thanks, Jordan.” 

“You ladies have been burning up the wire. Cops have stopped looking for the skips. They just leave it to the Bond Girls.” Word was spreading. “Maybe you’ll get one of those reality TV shows like the Swamp People.” 

God, I hoped not. 

Kendra smiled. “Maybe.” 

Things had been going really well for us. I didn’t have to worry about money anymore. Cleo was almost back at a hundred percent since the shooting that had almost paralyzed her. And Kendra wasn’t stuck collecting billable hours for bottles of champagne. We drank champagne whether she won her cases or not now. Though she tended to win. 

Bond Girls Skip Trace Agency was really starting to take off. And it turned out being a vampire wasn’t so bad either.