“Sébastien wants to see you. He’s on his way down, now.” Abigail looked up from her receipts. Her lips parted for a moment before she pressed them together instead of asking why she was summoned. The reason didn’t matter. “Thank you, Calypso. Tell Bette to have a decanter ready in the VIP lounge and make sure she knows the offering is for Sébastien. Have one of the boys keep a look out. Buzz me the minute they sense him approaching.” Abigail flicked her hand, dismissing the young woman and returned to her accounts. Calypso stood in the doorway, fidgeting. “What? For God’s sake, stop twiddling and speak up.” “He…he…” the young Créole swallowed. “He never steps foot in the club. Should we be worried?” Abigail put down her pen, her undead eyes fixed on the girl. “We?” Calypso’s gaze fell to her feet. Inhaling, Abigail took in the swash of nervous color pinking the dusky hollow of the young woman’s cheeks, the telltale rush of blood making the vampire’s mouth water and her semi-retracted fangs, tingle.
“What the master wants is none of your concern. You will do as you’re told.” Abigail’s blasé tone said one thing, but the staccato tap-tap of her pen on the desk hinted she shared the girl’s misgivings, at least somewhat. “We all have a role to play, Calypso, and it is best you remember the pecking order explained when you were given a second chance with us.” Stifling her nervous drumming, Abigail clasped her hands together on the desk and studied the girl. “Compassion is not a virtue inherent in the undead. You have Rémy to thank for us not casting you from the shadow house you helped infect with that disgusting virus.” She snorted, glancing toward the pile of invoices on her desk. “HepZ. More like Werewolf rabies,” she murmured to herself before sliding her eyes back to the jumpy human. “If the decision were left to me, I would have fed you to the youngbloods.” A small grin let the tips of Abigail’s fangs glint for effect. “Youngbloods are so…enthusiastic. But what can I say? There’s something lusciously addictive about cracking open a thick-with-marrow bone once you’ve drained the body.” Calypso fled and a satisfied smirk ticked the corner of the vampire’s mouth. With a sigh, she pushed herself from her chair and eyed the ornate mirror hanging above the credenza across from her desk.
Why Sébastien insisted on decorating The Red Veil with so much of the silvered glass was beyond her. It was the same in their private lair at Les Sanctuaire. Arrogant and vain. Then again, that described their master vampire to a tee. Nonetheless, Abigail checked her look and smoothed her strawberry blond hair and straightened her pencil skirt, giving the deep, ruffled neckline of her sleeveless shirt a brush. Matched with a pair of strappy stilettos, the classic style was her signature look. She was sex appeal wrapped in voluptuous sophistication, taking pains to maintain a certain je ne sais quoi, an elegant old Hollywood style that doubled as both lure and camouflage. Except for Sophia Loren, the iconic starlets she rivalled were all dead, but there was an undeniable timelessness about them that fascinated Abigail, and time was something a vampire had in abundance. The fact she shared the same goddess-lush curves, full hips and breasts made the fascination all the more real, letting her revel in her statuesque body. As for the mirrors, one didn’t question the head of New York’s Vampire Council. Sébastien DuLac’s word was law as far as she and everyone else was concerned. A knock on the door took Abigail from her thoughts. “Yes?”
The door cracked open and Bette tilted her head in, the usual humor in the young vampire’s eyes tempered by the unexpected visit. “He’s coming through the doors, now.” “Is everything prepared?” Bette nodded. “AB negative. Fresh and warm, with an I.V. tap in case the boss wants more.” “Perfect, thanks. I’ll be right out.” Abigail noticed the spidery blue rising in conspicuous outlines across the white column of Bette’s throat. “When was the last time you fed?” Serious concern laced her usually clipped tone. The short, full-figured vampire shrugged, and her black chin-length bob swung forward to hide the trace evidence of her thirst. “I haven’t had the chance. You know Sébastien refuses to drink bagged blood. I had no choice but to use outside assets.” That meant calling around to nearby shadow houses for available donors with the right blood type. Once again, Bette proved herself both quick-witted and invaluable. Abigail exhaled. “You can’t allow yourself to hunger, Bette. It’s bad…both for you and for business. Since I took over the club, you’ve been my right hand and my best friend. I won’t have you suffering. Find Calypso. Take what you need from her, but don’t kill the little twit. She may prove useful at some point.” Bette’s lips twitched. “Some point? You know, people are taking bets on how long it will take for you to eat her—and I don’t mean opening a vein.”
Abigail’s lips parted, but then she pressed them together. “That’s none of their business.” A snort of laughter escaped the young vampire’s mouth. “You’re right. It’s no one’s business, but for cripe’s sake, Abby, you’re wound so tight you’re going to snap. You need release, and with something that doesn’t require batteries.” Abigail’s eyes snapped toward the young vampire. “You do realize I’m your boss, right? Not to mention an elder.” Bette waived a pale hand. “Yeah, yeah. I know who and what you are, Abigail. You’ve played the credentials card more times than I can count over the past century, but I’m your best friend. I want to see you happy.” Abigail’s eyes dropped to a file on her desk and she opened the dull manila, pretending to scan one of the pages inside. “I am happy. I have the ear of the master vampire and his trust. What more could I want?” Bette moved to perch on the end of one of the chairs in front of Abigail’s desk. “Plenty. I’m not talking about true love here, Abs. I’m talking about taking a lover—preferably one who’ll fuck you so hard, your toes will curl in an orgasm to make a century of celibacy worth the wait.” Abigail snorted. “You watch too many movies.” The young vampire stood, but crossed her arms in front of her chest. “I don’t watch movies.” Tapping her pen, Abigail eyed her.
Bette grinned. “Okay, I do, but not to the extent you think. I get my freak on in the flesh and so should you. Hell, Abby—blindfold a youngblood and ride him raw, or take a human and make a night of it, sex and dinner. Just take someone.” “Bette, please.” Abigail exhaled, lacing her fingers again. Inhaling, Bette shut up. “Okay, I get it. It’s none of my business. At least promise me you’ll think about it? Your cranky is reaching epic, Abs. For realz.” “Realz? What are you, a millennial? Last I checked you were ninety-something years old.” A smirk tickled the corner of Abigail’s mouth and she waved the young vampire out. “Go feed, Bette. I hear what you’re saying, but I’m asking you to stop or I might have to snap on you.” She angled her head at her friend. “Calypso is probably hiding in the employee’s lounge. She’s Aneg. Your favorite.” Bette’s nostrils flared and her eyes dilated with thirst. With a quick pivot, she turned on her heel toward the door but then looked back at her friend past her shoulder. “Not fair, Abby,” she added with a wink. “Not when you know I have no willpower.” She disappeared, leaving Abigail alone. The vampire locked her office door and walked down the hall toward the club’s private entrance, the subtle red paisley carpet beneath her feet muffling her already stealthy footsteps.
Anticipating her approach, a youngblood bouncer held the door open and she glided by, trailing her fingers across his muscled chest. There were perks to being in charge, and one of them was hand picking the eye candy. Male and female. Living and undead. Her eyes traveled the length of his body, pausing at the thick bulge behind his fly. Maybe Bette was right. “Come find me after my meeting,” she said, ignoring the mix of fear and startled surprise on the man’s face. “—and don’t disappoint.” Her teeth grazed her full bottom lip, one fang scraping the tender flesh as a tease. She didn’t need a reply. The youngblood would come for her in more ways than one. A smug smile tugged the corner of her mouth. Control made her panties wet. She grinned to herself. Maybe a bit of fear was good and the youngblood would work even harder to please her. She moved passed the velvet ropes and into the VIP lounge to await Sébastien, making a mental note to do something nice for Bette without her knowing. Too many people were ass kissers. It was nice to have one person to give it to her straight. As instructed, the private meeting was set towards the back. One glance told her everything was as requested, with a crystal decanter in place flanked by two long-stemmed champagne flutes. The red tufted couches were freshly brushed, but Abigail didn’t dare sit. Years of acting as both
emissary and assistant for the Head of the Vampire Council taught her that. She caught a trace of lavender in the air and her eyes moved toward the carpeted steps. Sébastien swept passed the staff, ascending the stairs as though floating. As always, he was ageless and impeccable. From his fitted charcoal suit to his soft soled, handmade Italian leather shoes. “Chéri.” His dark eyes flashed with continental charm, and he leaned in to kiss both her cheeks. “You look as lovely as ever. I hope our little meeting doesn’t take you from more pressing matters.” As if she’d ever admit the imposition. Abigail greeted the man’s sly smirk with a disarming smile. “Meeting with you is never an imposition.” He chuckled. “How well you’ve learned, my dear.” He inhaled and a full grin spread across his lips. “And you remembered my favorite. How thoughtful.” Sébastien took a seat, and that was her cue to pour. Abigail picked up the decanter and gave the crimson contents a gentle swirl to gauge its clotting level. “It looks perfect.” Nostrils flaring, Sébastien held up his glass, licking his lips as the coppery liquid filled the cut glass. “Please, pour a glass for yourself as well, and we will toast the club and all you’ve done to make The Red Veil a success,” he complemented.
She did as she was told and then placed the carafe on the table before taking a seat across from the master vampire. “My dear,” Sébastien began. “I fully grasp the pitfalls inherent in attaining a certain level of notoriety in a city such as Manhattan, while at the same time maintaining the secrecy of our kind. You are to be applauded, especially in keeping the privacy of our backrooms unequaled anywhere in our world.” Abigail inclined her head. “It’s been my pleasure.” He raised his glass in salute and then drained it dry, smacking his lips. “And that brings me to the purpose of our meeting.” She cocked her head. “Privacy?” “No, mon petit. Pleasure.” Confused, she raised one eyebrow. “I don’t understand.” He placed his glass on the small, round drink table and then wiped his mouth on a napkin. “Pleasure is the purpose of this club, is it not?” She nodded. “I suppose—” He shook his head at her pause. “Your hesitation is unnecessary. The pursuit of pleasure is the primary reason we opened our doors. That, and to provide our kind with a steady flow of fresh blood. “The club has stocked the blood vaults of many a shadow house in this city and beyond, but sadly, those reserves have been severely diminished because
of the recent viral unpleasantness. If it wasn’t for certain connections, none of us would be here today.” She gave him a wary nod. “It is those connections I wish to discuss.” Abigail refilled his glass, waiting for him to elaborate. “We have backrooms to satisfy every desire our kind can fancy, is that not so?” Abigail quickly bobbed her head. “It is, although we try very hard to keep certain appetites under control and within the confines of human law. Especially when mortals are the chosen plaything.” It was his turn to nod. “Yes, yes. And again, you are to be commended.” He sipped from the refilled champagne flute, considering. “You are aware of the debt of gratitude we owe the Were community, are you not?” The question was rhetorical, but she nodded anyway, ignoring her inner cringe. “Good. The Alpha of the Brethren is sending new envoys to help us maintain the health of our shadow houses, now that we know irregularities are possible.” “Irregularities?” she asked. The master vampire’s raised eyebrow made her wince inside. The last thing she wanted was for the master vampire to think her inept. “The new envoys are coming to sniff out those infected who slipped through the preventative measures originally put in place.”
“Sébastien, I wasn’t aware there were enough cases to merit additional envoys.” “Our collaboration with the Weres was done in haste. We had to stem the pandemic threatening our community here and beyond, and as with anything done in haste—” he shrugged, not offering any more of an explanation. His eyes found hers, nonetheless. “In any case, these envoys are not additional. They are replacements.” “Mitch isn’t coming back?” she asked, surprised. Sébastien shook his head. “He accepted his birthright as Alpha in his own territory. I knew this was a possibility, and to be honest, it is as it should be. He is from the northern climes and deserves to claim what is rightfully his.” She shuddered, thinking about the cold and isolation of the Canadian north. “What about Detective Martinez? He did us quite a service during the ugliest part of the epidemic. He is only half-Were, but he knows our kind and our inner workings.” “Ryan has chosen to stay in California. He will be missed.” Nonplussed, she lifted a hand. “Then who does that leave?” “Sean and Lily are coming to introduce the two they’ve chosen to take over. As you know, I trust them implicitly.” Abigail exhaled harshly. “So the king and queen of the Weres are coming to deliver us a pair of pups who have no idea of our world and whom you expect
me to pet sit.” Her hazel eyes flashed as she looked at Sébastien, ignoring his warning glare. “Please, Sébastien,” she pressed. “Don’t allow this. It wasn’t that long ago Weres and Vampires were polite advisories at best. Hell, our kind is still considered a taboo in their circles!” “Your insolence is bordering on insubordination Abigail and I will not have it. The Alpha of the Brethren and his mate are not only allies, but friends. This show of sarcastic contempt is beneath you. You will do well to treat them with the respect due their station. If not for their intervention we would have all tasted final death.” She sighed. “As you wish, Sébastien. When are they and the envoys set to arrive?” “Tonight.” Abigail balked. “Tonight?” Aghast, she put her untouched glass on the table, its crimson contents sloshing over the rim. “And how am I supposed to welcome these envoys?” She lifted an agitated hand and then let it drop, her voice raising an octave. “What preparations do you expect on such short notice? Are they to be given rooms in Les Sanctuaire? Is there a full moon element I need to be aware of? I have no idea how to provide for the fanged and furry, Sébastien. What if they start howling at the disco ball?” It was on the tip of her tongue to add dogwalking services and regular flea baths to her rant, but Sébastien’s scowl left her biting her tongue.
“Enough!” Sébastien’s lips were a thin line as he waited for Abigail to compose herself. “I am well aware of your dislike for our dualnatured allies, but you will do everything in your power to make them comfortable. “So far they have shown themselves worthy of an alliance. They are a far cry from the ill-mannered, wild beasts we once knew. As a show of good faith, I have invited them to partake of the pleasures here at the club.” His fixed glare met her eyes. “I will leave the particulars to you and trust you to stay within our constraints. As for the new envoys and their accommodations, Sean has already provided them a place for the duration of their assignment. We are simply to welcome them to our city.” “Will Sean and the woman be here as well?” “Why is it so hard for you to say her name? It’s Lily, and Rémy’s little witch is hardly a threat, Abigail.” She frowned at Sébastien’s casual use of the endearment. “Perhaps. But there are still those of us who feel she has too much sway over too many of our kind, moreover, Rémy’s pet name for her only adds to the perception. Hell, the woman’s not even a born supernatural.” She stifled a smirk. Anything fourlegged and furry deserved a pet’s name. “Abigail—” Sébastien’s warning tone reminded her, he missed nothing.
She wiped the amused grin from her face. “I’m sorry. Of course, I will do what I can to welcome them properly.” Sébastien stood. “Trés bien. They will arrive at eleven tonight. And to answer your earlier question, no, Lily and Sean won’t be staying. They’ve invited me to accompany them as they race the moon along the beaches on Long Island.” He grinned. “It should make for an interesting night.” He swept past her toward the exit, leaving her to deal with the details. “Interesting? Try cringe-worthy,” she muttered, with a frustrated exhale. She caught Bette’s eye as the young vampire poked her head in from around the side of the bar. “Come out, come out, little mouse.” Bette chuckled, grabbing a clean glass from the bar and walked straight to the decanter. “Waste not, want not, and I certainly want.” “Please tell me you didn’t kill my assistant,” Abigail ground out, sitting back with her own glass. Bette shook her head. “She’s gone M.I.A. To be honest Abby, the girl’s not cut out for our way of life.” Abigail looked at her halfway into pouring. “What makes you say that?” Bette shrugged. “Gut feeling. Plus, she’s been hanging around the paparazzi staked out nightly in front of the club.” She took the decanter from Abigail’s hand and finished pouring. “Maybe it’s time
to show her the backrooms. If she survives, she’ll never go near the press again. If not—” she shrugged, again. “Maybe the best thing would be to change her. Nothing coerces team spirit like thirst,” Abigail suggested, but dismissed the thought. Bette tipped the crimson liquid to her waiting lips. “Did I overhear Sébastien say the wolves are at our door?” Abigail clicked the inside of her cheek. “That you did.” The dark haired vampire licked her lips. “Well, you certainly used the right adjective, then.” “Yup. Cringe-worthy,” Abigail replied, circling the rim of her glass with her finger. Bette smirked, laughing. “No, babe. Interesting.” “Babe?” Abigail made a face. “I hate that slang word almost as much as I hate when you call me Abs.” She eyed her underling. “For a vampire created nearly a century ago, you’ve certainly embraced this modern culture.” Bette shrugged. “I embrace what makes me happy. Back in the day, the very definition of a flapper was a fashionable young woman intent on enjoying herself and flouting conventional standards of behavior. So why change when I’ve got even more reason to push the envelope?” “You and Sébastien both seem to enjoy challenging convention.”
Bette eyed her with another smirk. “You’re doing it again.” “What?” “Your face.” Instinctually, Abigail touched her cheek and then she looked into the chrome bar. “Look harder, Abs. You look as though you sucked the juice out of a lemon instead of blood from a juicy vein.” Abigail crossed her arms in front of her chest, her vise grip on the stem of her flute threatening to snap the cut crystal. “I do not.” Bette laughed again. “Grip that glass any harder, babe, and you’ll need my tweezers to pick the shards out of your fingers.” Abigail put the glass on the table. “So, I’m a little tense.” She shrugged. “It’s no secret how I feel about Weres.” Bette poured herself another glass of crimson gold. “You think?” Making a face, Abigail smoothed her hair. “I don’t get the allure, and you certainly won’t find me drooling over them the way you do.” Bette looked at her. “You know, I’m starting to think beneath all that haute style and red carpet glamor, is the same buttoned-up puritan Sébastien turned 250 years ago.” “That’s not only untrue, it’s unfair.” Her eyes shifted to the tall, muscular youngblood pacing by the door for her. “Smell that?” she asked her friend.
“That’s the scent of lust and anticipation waiting for me at my request.” Bette lifted a hand and smiled. “Wow, Abs. I guess you were listening. Good. I get it. Vampires. Great. We love to fuck each other and feed from each other, but there are more flavors than just vanilla.” “I like vanilla. It goes with anything on top and I like to be on top.” She scoffed. “So I’ve heard, Ms. Rough Rider.” “Bette!” “Come on, Abigail. Give in. Let your wild side take you places you’ve never been. Immortal life gets very boring otherwise, and don’t tell me you don’t agree. Take advantage of what fate placed in your lap. Open your knees and let whatever happens, lap up the juice. You like control? This is your club, in your city. You call the shots.” Abigail didn’t comment. “I’m not saying you should take up howling at the moon, but don’t hate on the Weres simply because they walk a different supernatural path. After all, we all like to play in the dark.” A wicked grin tugged at her lips. “So go chase a little tail tonight. Literally.” “Ugh. I’m not into bestiality, thank you very much.” Bette lifted a frustrated hand. “Vampires are sex incarnate. We’re all about seduction.” She paused, licking a droplet of blood from her thumb. “Think about it. The lure, the hypnotic caress, the tingle in your fangs and between your legs at the scent of fear
and arousal. The visceral pleasure from fangs sinking beneath fragrant skin to penetrate a pulsing vein.” She shivered with a laugh. “I’m getting myself hot and bothered. I’d better feed for real or a clubjockey is going to be missing a pint or more, tonight.” Bette waggled her eyebrows. “But I always make it worth their while.” “What you just described doesn’t count.” Abigail sniffed. “That’s for feeding purposes only. It has nothing to do with the smelly, furred and fanged. Frankly, I want my meals the same way I like my sex, without hair in my mouth.” Bette shrugged. “Have it your way, but I heard feeding from an aroused Were can quench a vampire’s thirst for a month. Besides, —” She leaned in close. “I’ve been told when a male Were comes, his cock head swells to twice its size and won’t release until every last drop is spent.” Abigail made a face. “That’s gross.” With a snort, Bette shook her head. “Speak for yourself. I, for one, want to see if it’s true or not, and these pups tonight might be just the ticket.” She winked at her friend. “Interested?” “Not a chance, but you do you. Just don’t come running to me if you end up with fleas.”
Chapter Two Abigail tugged on the youngblood’s hair. “More tongue, less dribble. If I wanted a spit bath, I’d take one.” With an exhale she gripped the back of his head, forcing her slick folds further into his mouth. “That’s it, Mmmm…use your fingers.” The muscled vampire wrapped his arm around her lower back, pulling her ass toward the edge of the office couch. Her legs spread wider to accommodate his broad shoulders. The youngblood slid two digits into her wet cleft and curled his hand, rubbing her sweet spot. She moaned again and the sound urged him deeper. He grazed her clit with his fangs. Sucking her hard nub, he ramped up his finger-fuck to supernatural speed. Abigail’s head dropped back, and she inhaled through her teeth, her breath catching in her throat. “Yeah, baby—right there.” Visions danced through her mind as he worked her. A faceless Were, his body covered in sweat as he gripped her hips, his large cock, engorged and thrusting, its swollen head ready to burst. The youngblood licked her deep and then pulled his fingers from her dripping sex. He unbuttoned his fly, freeing his member.
Grabbing her by the legs, he plunged his hard length into her hot, wet core. With a cry, she ground her hips up, matching him thrust for thrust. Her body tensed as her inner walls convulsed. With a snarl, red eyes flashed, and she threw her head back, her body trembling as she exploded against his shaft. The youngblood bared his fangs and forced his cock deeper, his razor tipped teeth sinking into her bared throat. With a vicious shove, Abigail pushed him from her, her own blood dripping from her neck to her breasts. Flickering images of the Were tantalized and taunted her mind, and she crawled forward, predatory and ready to strike. Holding the youngblood down, she straddled his waiting cock, impaling her wet pussy. Plunging her teeth into his chest to draw heart’s blood, thick and black, she rode him hard until he cried out. In her mind’s eye, the Were howled and she shivered, spent, but wanting more. Wanting the wolf. With a frustrated scowl, she pulled the youngblood’s face to her throat and he licked her wounds closed before she did the same for him, sealing the bite on his chest. “Get dressed and get out.” She climbed off his hips, giving his thigh a shove. “You’re done here.” His eyes locked on hers as he used her panties to clean the blood from his skin before tossing the
ruined lace back. “Glad to be of service, ma’am,” he said before tonguing her scent from his fingers. “Get out!” Abigail slumped onto the couch, throwing her soiled panties at the closing door. She exhaled hard, dropping her head against the leather sofa back. “Damn you and your big mouth, Bette.” Memories flooded her mind unbidden, and with them came remembered hurt and shame. She pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes, smearing her makeup. “Who’s there?” A young man’s voice called from the riverbank. “Show yourself.” Fear skittered down Abigail’s spine. She was warned to stay away, to keep her presence hidden. Sébastien said there was much she didn’t yet understand about her new existence, but she couldn’t stay away. Each night she ventured close to the settlement, hoping for a glimpse of her family. The youth pushed through the trees, ducking the hanging branches. “Show yourself!” Abigail froze holding her breath, but a distinct growl followed the sound of heavy paws hitting the earth. Ground birds took to the sky and she screamed. Panic gripped her throat and she ran, newborn preternatural speed taking over. Unaccustomed to the pace, she slowed, swallowing back on the blood and bile forced into her mouth. She no longer needed to breathe, but she sucked in large gulps of air regardless and steadied herself against a tree.
“Stop! Don’t be frightened. I only wish to speak with you.” Silver light dappled through the trees from the full moon, its glow illuminating the dark with long shadows. The young man’s voice jerked her gaze toward the dark thicket. How did he catch her? He slipped past the low hanging branches and stood naked in the patchy light. Abigail’s lips parted. He was beautiful. Radiant in ways she couldn’t comprehend. And his smell—Good God! An involuntary sigh caught in her throat. Every sense was suddenly alive and a strange tingle formed in her lower belly, a damp itch between her legs. She’d heard the young wives talk in the village, but she’d never felt it herself. This feeling had a name. One the reverend warned against from the pulpit. Lust. Desire, hot and demanding, coursed through her body. She wanted the young man’s hands and mouth on her everywhere, and the itch between her legs turned to a throb. Abigail’s mouth watered and her new fangs tingled with a need of their own. “Who are you?” His voice was soft, but his eyes burned as they traveled her length, his nostrils flaring slightly. “Where did you come from? Are you a child of the moon?” His tone seemed lonely, with a desperate edge. Abigail understood. Since the awful night she awoke to darkness, loneliness was her constant companion as well. She shook her head. “I…I don’t know.” “Does the moon rule your life?”
She nodded. “It is my only friend.” Her gaze dropped to the leaf covered ground. “And so it is with me. My name is Nathan…” He walked closer and she tensed, until warm fingers slipped beneath her chin and he lifted her face to his— Memories fast-forwarded lightning fast behind her lids. Their friendship. Their laughter. Their first kiss. The way their bodies twined and fit. How he left her breathless and craving more. Her palms dug further into her eyes at the remembered feel of his hands on her body. A desire that grew urgent and pounding, until one unguarded moment changed everything. He ripped himself from her. “Get back! Devil’s spawn!” Abigail’s hand flew to her mouth, covering her bloodstained lips and teeth. “Nathan, please! I’m sorry.” “Sorry? You led me to believe you were like me, but you’re an aberration! Unclean!” “Don’t say that! What I am is as much outside the realm of nature as you!” she begged. “Nature? Vampires possess no nature except what they steal from living veins as you did from mine!” “It was a mistake,” she sobbed. “I love you!” “Love? Your undead flesh mocks the very notion. Leave my sight before I drive a stake through your fiend’s heart!” Abigail cursed again, pushing the memories deep into the closet of her mind. Annoyed, she closed her eyes and shoved her hand between her legs to purge the residual from her body and her brain, but all she
saw was the full moon and a pair of angry, lust-filled eyes.
Chapter Three Music thumped and the very walls vibrated with the heavy bass. The concrete dance floor pulsed with their energy as people from all walks of life packed the three bars and the upstairs balcony of The Red Veil. “Didn’t I tell you? This place is off the chain!” Gehrig laughed, shoving his brother’s shoulder. “Just look at all the hotties.” He spread his arms and inhaled. “God, I love the scent of estrogen-soaked air.” “Estrogen? Seriously?” Gehrig snickered. “The promise of sex, bro. Can’t you taste it? The atmosphere is thick with untapped lust, like a throbbing, erotic fog.” “Ignore it. We’re here to do a job, Gehrig, not hunt for pussy in heat.” “You’re here to do a job, Dash. I’m here for the fun.” He crossed his arms and eyed his older brother. “Remember fun? Excitement? The rush from an illicit night out? You used to be up for anything. That is until you started getting all political on me. Tonight I’m looking for a hook up. Preferably one whose name I don’t know and won’t care to remember.” “Jeez, crude much, Gehrig? I know we’re wolves, but do you have to be such a dog about it?”
Gehrig howled, giving his brother a teasing shove. “Lighten up, Francis. My nocturnal prowling is practice for the real deal.” “Real deal?” Dash rolled his eyes not really wanting to know. “Yeah.” his brother winked. “When I take a mate I want her to pant for me and what better way to make sure that happens than to hone my boning skills in a sea of anonymous pussy.” “Watch it. Sean is the Alpha of the Brethren, and he’s the only reason we’re even in New York.” Gehrig snorted. “If it wasn’t for his hot wife, our top wolf would never step foot in this city. I’ve heard the stories. Lily’s a live wire.” He clicked the inside of his cheek. “Good ole’ Sean needs to lighten up even more than you do. I swear, if he reads us the riot act one more time about keeping our professional distance from the vampires, I’ll snap.” Dash’s brows knotted. “He’s right to worry, Gehrig. Our truce is too new. It has no roots yet. Any step over the line could break the contract, not to mention get us served up as a warm lunch with our hearts in a wooden box sent back as a warning.” “Yeah, yeah.” “Gehrig, don’t be a douche. You may play it cool, but keeping the peace is just as important to you as it is to the rest of us. Besides, I really need your help with the shadow houses. Leave the politics to Sean and Lily.”
Gehrig flashed a wide smile. “No problem, bro. I’ll do whatever you need during the day, but once the sun goes down, I intend to experience everything this city has to offer in the time we’re here. Uptown, downtown and everywhere in between.” “Which won’t be long if you keep eyeing the vampires like that—are you even listening to me?” Dash jerked his brother’s arm, turning him back to the conversation at hand. “What? I heard you, man—” Gehrig cut his retort short, his eyes tracking a pretty woman across the bar. “Dude, look at that one! Talk about a ringer for Marilyn Monroe!” He slapped Dash’s arm. “I bet it is her!” Thunderstruck, his mouth dropped. “I’ve heard stories about her death being some kind of cover up, but I always thought they meant the CIA. Now it makes sense. Like Elvis—holy fuck, she smiled at me! Marilyn Monroe. A fucking vampire!” Gehrig gestured for Dash to head toward the crowd at the bar. “Get us a couple of beers. I’m going in. I gotta get me some of that!” “Gehrig, no.” Dash grabbed the back of his brother’s shirt. “What? Let go! Do you know how many guys still masturbate to her nude pics? I know I do. It’s fucking Marilyn Monroe and she’s a vampire. Two bucket list hits in one night.” Dash made a face. “First off. TMI, dude. Second. No. And thirdly. NO! Vampires are still taboo,
regardless of the truce. Sean would never allow it, and I’ve got news for you, neither would Sébastien.” He slid his eyes toward the 1950’s blonde bombshell. “Besides, I guarantee you’ll be very disappointed if you try and tap that.” “Disappointed? Not a chance. I’m going to nail that legendary sex symbol—” “Bro, she’s not a vampire. She’s a guy.” Gehrig blinked. “Huh?” “You heard me. She’s a dude, as in female impersonator.” Gehrig shot his brother a doubtful look and then glanced at the starlet, again. “No way.” He snorted, but then his smug grin faded when he caught a quick glimpse of her rearranging her balls in the mirrored wall. “Oh man! Talk about a boner kill.” Dash burst out laughing and clapped the young Were on the shoulder. “Like you said, there’s plenty of fish here tonight. Just be careful where you cast your net, little brother. Manhattan is not Maine.” Gehrig glanced at the woman again and then looked at Dash. “Is Sean meeting us or did he and Lily leave us on our own to meet the council?” he asked, suddenly all business. Dash chuckled at his brother’s sudden about-face. “Sean’s already here.” He pointed toward the VIP lounge at the back behind the dance floor. “It was his idea for us to meet the vampires on their own turf. Show of trust and all.” “Excuse me. Are you Dash Collier?”
The older Were turned and his eyes locked on the pretty dark haired woman waiting for his reply. “I am. And you?” “Sent to fetch you. If you’ll follow me, please.” She was pretty and pert, with terrific curves. Her pale skin faintly lined with blue made it clear she was undead. Dash gave his brother a quick nod, and the two fell in step behind the vampire. “Let the games begin,” Gehrig muttered, earning a sharp look from Dash. The vampire’s hips swung with natural grace as she led them toward the velvet ropes prohibiting general admission. She paused, flashing a brilliant smile as white as her skin. “Thank you, Miss?” Dash asked as she unclipped the brass hook. “Elizabeth Mason, but everyone calls me Bette.” “Ms. Mason,” Dash replied with a nod before stepping past her and heading up the stairs. “Is he always so P.C.?” she asked with a laugh, watching the older Were smooth the front of his jacket. “I mean, who wears a suit to an underground fetish club?” Gehrig raised an eyebrow. “One who’s been entrusted to help keep you leeches happy and healthy.” Bette slid her eyes to Gehrig. “Attitude and a protective vibe.” She smiled letting her fangs descend. “Yummy. The combo gives your scent a little something extra that makes my mouth water.”
He let his eyes travel her fully fleshed curves, and smirked. “And I smell more than curiosity behind that fanged swagger. Makes me wonder if anything else on you is wet?” She laughed giving him an appreciative nod. “Quick. I like that.” “Gehrig!” Dash motioned for him to come. Bette’s lips spread into a teasing grin. “Better go, Fido.” Gehrig raised an eyebrow and met her smirk. “I come when I feel like it, and I promise, there’s nothing quick about it.” “Gehrig!” The young Were winked at Bette, and then took the trio of stairs in one leap, falling into step with his brother without missing a beat. “Seriously, bro? In less than ten minutes you went from fantasizing about nailing Marilyn Monroe to chatting up bloodsucker Bettie Boop. Pick one pussy and point your erection there. You’re starting to give me whiplash.” “What’s the matter, jealous?” Dash held up his hand not bothering with a reply, and the two Weres walked side-by-side in silence toward the back table to meet Sean. All eyes focused on them from the bar. “We’re surrounded,” Gehrig murmured under his breath. Dash answered with an almost imperceptible nod. “Eyes and ears open, bro. This is not a drill.”
Sean stood, leaving one hand on Lily’s shoulder as he greeted the two wolves with a nod. “Sébastien, may I present Dash Collier and his younger brother, Gehrig.” The alpha eyed the two in silent communication not to be rude. “It’s an honor to be here,” Dash replied, earning a close-lipped smile from Sean. He nodded to Sean and then took a step closer to Lily, seated on the low, plush couch. “Hey, gorgeous,” he whispered leaning in to give her cheek a peck. “How goes the howling?” A sound of disgust jerked Dash’s attention from the alpha’s mate, his eyes turning toward the unexpected grumble. Sébastien frowned, and his hard eyes swept Abigail’s face, his displeasure locked on her. “You’ll have to excuse my subordinate, Sean. As you may recall from the last time we met, Abigail is not as accepting as we’d like, and she’s unaccustomed to public displays of affection that aren’t sustenance based.” The master vampire’s words addressed Sean and Lily directly, as the alphas of their group, but Dash knew the explanation was for everyone’s benefit. Neither he nor Gehrig had ever set eyes on the woman before, and he stifled an involuntary cringe at what the man meant. Sex for blood and blood for sex. The taboo images rang through his mind, but at the same time his crotch tightened as his eyes found
Abigail, again. His cock thickened at the sight of the stunning vampire. Despite her scowl, she was a haughty cross between Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy, with all the beauty and mystery plus a hint of real danger. Sex incarnate with death on the side just for kicks. Dash glanced at Sean first before addressing the beautiful vampire. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention to make anyone uncomfortable. Lily and I are friends, and I haven’t had the pleasure of her company in a while.” Abigail exhaled again. “It’s not your friendship I object to, nor your silly words. It’s the need for your presence here at all—” She paused, ignoring Sébastien’s warning glare. “And you reek of wet dog.” She wrinkled her nose. “Abigail!” Sébastien stood, and the motion was menace made flesh. He didn’t utter another word, but his expression spoke of punishment no one wanted to think about. She shifted her eyes from the master vampire to Dash, dipping her head slightly. “My apologies.” A tiny smirk played at the corner of Dash’s mouth. “Well, you’re not that far off the mark. It is raining out.” Gehrig burst out laughing and Sean pressed his lips together, stifling a chuckle. Tension diffused, Lily placed her hand on Dash’s arm, giving Abigail a small smile. “Pheromones. It’s a male thing, Abigail. It has to do with the proximity of
the moon. When its waxing is close to full, their instincts get a little wired, if you get my meaning.” She gestured to the three Were males before looking back at the vampire. “Trust me, if you were an unmated Were female, you’d be squirming in your seat, eager to roll in their scent.” “She’d want to roll around with more than just our scent, that’s for sure!” “Gehrig…” Sean warned. Amused, Sébastien pursed his lips, sliding his eyes toward Abigail. “It’s settled then.” Everyone stopped. “What’s settled,” Abigail asked, the pitch of her voice rising in apprehension. “Not what, but whom. The one I choose to be my ambassador and escort the wolves to our shadow houses.” “Certainly, you can’t mean me, Sébastien?” He waved a dismissive hand at Abigail’s balk. “My dear, you will spend the next few days with both Dash and his younger brother. The moon will be in full flush during that time, and in my stead you will be as accommodating to them as Sean has been to us in our time of need.” “But, Sébastien—” He shook his head. “It is my wish, Abigail, and you will do as instructed.” His unblinking stare met hers. “Or do I need to show our guests how easy it is to bend you to my will?” At the naked threat, Bette sucked in a breath, and Abigail’s white skin paled even more.
“That won’t be necessary.” Abigail’s reply was no more than a whisper, but loud enough to earn the master vampire’s nod of approval. “Good.” In a very old world gesture, he held out his arm for Lily before turning to Sean. “Shall we then? The sunrise awaits and it has been decades since I’ve indulged in its pink and gold splendor. I can think of no more glorious place to watch the dawn break, than over the ocean.” Lily placed her hand on Sébastien’s arm and stood. “Sunrise?” she asked. Sébastien flashed an indulgent smile. “Dearest child, when you achieve my great age, there is little left that is a threat, including the sun.” He cast his eyes toward Abigail. “Even my impolite progeny is old enough to suffer the sun on cloudy days.” Gehrig looked at Bette toying with her drink, her straw submerged in a thick, red liquid and it wasn’t cherry slush. “What about you? Want a playdate in the park?” She angled her head giving him a sideways smirk. “New York has strict leash laws, Fido.” At the look on his face she grinned, shaking her head. “Technically, I’m still a youngblood, so the sun is still a no-no for me. Then again, I prefer to play in the dark.” Sean laughed, picking up the keys to his Harley from the small corner table. He winked at his wife. “Whaddaya say, Lil? Feel like holding tight and
riding the wind behind a Were that smells like wet dog with a hard-on?” Lily flashed him a sexy, seductive smile. “Is there any other way?” Eyes flashing red, Sébastien snapped his fingers and Calypso moved to his side from behind the bar. He took her arm, his long finger trailing the length of her bare skin to her chin. “Abigail, since your assistant will be seeing to my needs this weekend, I suggest you let Bette help see to your responsibilities.” The master inhaled, his eyes dilating at the nervous pulse visibly beating in Calypso’s throat. “Don’t disappoint.” His words were directed at Abigail, but his gaze never left the pretty Creole as he steered her toward the club’s private exit. The four left, leaving the others to watch as the door to the street closed behind them. “Is your assistant going to be okay?” Gehrig gestured toward the exit door. “Sébastien looked at the poor girl like she was a hot lunch.” Unconcerned, Abigail lifted one shoulder and let it drop. “One. I don’t know, and two, what else would she be to a master vampire?” “Okay then. On that note, what time should we get started in the morning?” Dash asked, redirecting the conversation. Abigail shrugged. “Why wait? Shadow houses are at their busiest this time of night.”
“Because I’d rather not spot check the donors when they’re otherwise occupied.” At the sour look on Abigail’s face he exhaled. Clearly, this was not going to be as smooth as Sébastien hoped, whatever his threat. “How about a compromise, then? We can investigate a shadow house that’s close by, tonight. Hopefully, one that doesn’t have too much traffic.” Dash didn’t know how else to phrase it. “Then tomorrow we can start wherever you feel is best.” “Whatever,” Abigail replied with an offhand wave. He frowned. “With an answer like that, you should be snapping gum and twirling your hair, instead of negotiating with me as Sébastien’s agent.” At Bette’s snort, Abigail shot the younger vampire a dirty look, but didn’t respond. Dash exhaled. “Look, like it or not, we’re on the same team. HepZ nearly destroyed the Weres, and we all have Lily to thank it didn’t do more damage to either of our races. We need to get beyond this Vampire versus Were bullshit and do what we came to do.” “Fine,” she snapped. “Fine?” Abigail eyed him with bored annoyance. “You heard me, dog. In my world, I say things once, and I don’t plan on spending the next three days repeating myself for the benefit of two ham-fisted canines.”
“You’re a real piece of work, you know that?” Gehrig moved from where he leaned on a chair beside Bette. The younger vampire put a staying hand on his arm and shook her head. Abigail ignored the younger Were, keeping her eyes glued to Dash. “You think you know so much, but you don’t know a thing about vampires.” Dash snorted. “And you think you know about Weres? Trust me, honey, you haven’t a clue. If it wasn’t for Were blood, you’d be a maggot magnet in some worm ridden grave, but then again, vampires are nothing more than walking corpses, anyway.” Abigail’s eyes flashed red and she shot to her feet, fangs fully descended. Dash answered with a low feral growl at the back of his throat. “Okay. Show and tell time is over!” Bette insinuated herself between the two. “You two need to cool off, so why don’t we postpone this little powwow for now. You can meet early in the morning and hit the shadow house on Jane Street before the sun becomes a danger. It’s one of our bigger houses and has at least twenty donors in residence at a clip.” Neither Abigail nor Dash said a word. “Good idea,” Gehrig added. “And I plan to learn as much as I can about vampire culture, tonight.” His eyes took a walk over Bette’s lush curves. “Care to be my personal tutor?”
Abigail threw her hands in the air, her fangs retracting with a snap. “Fine. Meet me here tomorrow at eight a.m.” Dash licked his lips, trying to ignore the sexy way her anger made her chest heave, highlighting the gorgeous swell of her breasts and her trim waist. She stood and smoothed her pencil skirt over her hips and he watched her hands travel the lush curves before she straightened. His body tightened with need he hadn’t felt in ages and his senses tingled at the exotic scent of her. The sexy vampire was fire and ice and the fact that she was close enough to touch and taste, but completely taboo, made him want her even more. As if she could read his thoughts, Abigail walked away in disgust, leaving the three of them standing at the table. Gehrig slipped his arm around Bette’s shoulders, but kept his eyes on his brother. “Go home, Dash. Get some sleep, because that one’s going to put you through the paces.” He gestured toward Abigail’s retreating figure. Bette went up on tiptoe and licked the pulse beating in Gehrig’s carotid. “She’s not the only one.” Gehrig growled low and slid his hand down to cup her rounded ass. “Bring it on, babe.” She kissed his throat, but then pulled back to look at him. “What about your taboo?” He cupped her chin. “Rules are made to be broken, baby. Consider this a fact finding mission for
us both. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” He grinned. “Just don’t kill me, okay?” She laughed. “Deal.” Arm in arm they moved toward the stairs. “Don’t wait up, bro—” he called over his shoulder and the two disappeared into the crowd. Dash watched them leave. “And then there was one,” he muttered. “With a raging hard-on for the vampire queen bitch.”
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About the Author
Marianne Morea was born and raised in New York. Inspired by the dichotomies that define ‘the city that never sleeps’, she began her career after college as a budding journalist. Later, earning a MFA, from The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, she moved on to the graphic arts. But it was her lifelong love affair with words, and the fantasies and ‘what ifs’ they stir, that finally brought her back to writing.