Nicole first saw him around three a.m. leaving The Crimson Flame nightclub. He looked just like all the other little night Goths leaving the place. Or at least, he was dressed
just like all the others were. He reminded her of the traditional romanticized vampire so portrayed in the movies with his black britches and white undershirt with all the little ruffles and buttons. His overcoat was either black or a very dark maroon, she wasn’t sure which. She was so engrossed in looking at his face, she didn’t really care what color the coat was. He was pale like all the others, his hair black, but that was the end of the similarities right there.
His hair was black. Even in the dim of night, though, she could tell that it was naturally black, not dyed like most everyone else. His skin was pale, not just powdered, but truly pale, the black hair a stark contrast. His cheekbones were high, the classic “chiseled” look she supposed, his jaw strong and square, lips perfectly shaped and a very deep red. Had he had his back turned to her, she would have paid him no attention at all. But he had glanced her way. Not directly at her mind you, but in her general direction. She was immediately pinned in place by the depths of those black orbs, that momentary sizzling spark flaring from him before being doused. Nicole gasped in that instant as she felt her heart flutter in her chest. He immediately turned his back to her and hurried a few feet down the block before ducking into a black limousine. His black hair swirled around him for a brief moment as he turned to get into the car, the white skin flashing delicately in the moonlight before he was gone, the limo speeding down the road in the opposite way of her hotel.
Nicole felt her bodyguard guide her towards her own limo, his hand on her elbow firm as he helped her in, her green eyes unseeing as she replayed every movement of the black haired Goth that she had just witnessed. She sat by the window in the limo, staring out for the forty minute ride back to the hotel, but she saw nothing of the city streets as the car rushed along. She was too busy committing his features to memory, the black slanted eyes, the red lips, the black hair, and that unnaturally pale skin. Japanese. That was what had caught her eye more than anything, the slightly almond shaped eyes and high cheek bones. He looked exotic, oriental. Nicole was sure that he had at least one Japanese parent. It accounted for that luminous shiny hair and pale complexion, the almost delicate frame of his body. He looked almost pretty, like all those male anime characters in the Japanese cartoons. But the beautiful creature she had witnessed was all male, and his untimely appearance and quick departure from her life had left her with a deep set longing in the pit of her stomach. Who was he?
He had not approached her in the club. In fact, she had absolutely no knowledge of his presence until he materialized outside the door. Even if he had not been blocking his aura, Nicole doubted she would have been able to pick him out among all the others in the club. She could not even be sure if he had been inside the club. His ability to go completely unnoticed by her was almost as upsetting as his quick retreat. She had not felt him, which begged the question as to whether her glimpse of him was intentional or purely accidental. Either way, she saw no more of him in that city as she continued on her tour. Even so, he haunted her dreams for the next four weeks as she crossed through Texas and made her way towards Shadow Cove, a quant town about one hundred miles from New Orleans.
As she entered into the city, she quickly realized that the place seemed a spillover from The Big Easy. Even during the day, there were more Goths and Emo kids running around than you could shake your hand at. But despite this, she still did not let her alter ego emerge until she had an event regarding her book and could wrap herself in the cloak of darkness. Tonight was no exception as she walked down the darkening street towards The Underground, a combination fetish boutique and nightclub, clad in blue jeans and a tee shirt, her normal self blending in easily with all the other people rushing up and down the street.
She ducked into the boutique and was immediately greeted by an unseen voice, "Hello! I'll be with you in just a moment. Please feel free to look around."
“It’s Nicole, Madame, take your time,” she called back to her as she browsed her way through the shop, fingering corsets, leather boots and lace skirts as she waited. The delicate tinkle of the bell above the door was the only indication Nicole had that the unseen patron had left the premises. She merely glanced up as the door closed, seeing a flash of deep russet material and black hair disappearing around the corner of the building. Her brow wrinkled. The image of the Goth she had seen in Las Vegas flashed through her mind. But just as quickly as the notion formed in her mind, she dismissed it. She was hundreds of miles from him, a thought that immediately caused a cloud of depression to descend upon her.
“Ah, Miss Mitchell, a pleasure to see you! I heard you were in town for a book signing and private party at The Underground. I could hardly contain my excitement when I learned that you would be coming to the boutique to personally pick up your new wardrobe.” Madame Lunaria came rushing towards Nicole, her dyed black hair curled and coifed into a replica of a southern belle hairstyle, the corset cinching in an already impossibly small waist. She, like most other Goths, was pale as milk, thin and tall as a rod. Nicole sighed inwardly, unhappy with her own five foot five inch frame and overly wide hips. And even though she had Irish heritage that graced her brown hair with a red tint, her alter ego had to be the only Goth known to Goth-kind that had a year round tan, thanks to the Choctaw genes from her father. But she smiled for the Madame’s sake, opening her arms to receive the young woman’s hug of affection.
“Well I must admit it is my pleasure to be here. I never dreamed I would find so many beautiful clothes in one spot!” Nicole gushed over the diversity of the wardrobes scattered throughout the store. Madame had been furnishing her custom made clothing for well over three years now, but this was the first time she had had the enjoyment of actually visiting the little boutique.
“I aim to please as many as I can,” Madam Lunaria said with a laugh. “Now, I have everything you ordered ready for you to try on if you have the time. I also took the liberty of bringing in a few pieces of my own creation in, just in case you should find something you liked.” Nicole followed the tall woman to the back of the store, stopping to pick up a few knee and ankle length coats along the way. Everything that Lunaria had ever made her was of Nicole’s own design, custom fit. They had even discussed opening her own clothing line in Lunaria’s boutique. Since Nicole’s secret source of clothes had been revealed in an interview, it would seem that The Underground Boutique had been swamped with requests from around the states for Madame to make duplicates of some of Nicole’s designs. It was a venture worth investing in.
“I’m sure everything will fit just fine. If you don’t mind, please pack everything up. I’ll try them on later. I’m going to be here a few days, so I can let you know if I need anything altered.” Nicole looked at the black and red corset and skirt ensemble that she had asked for. It was beautiful, and she was sure it would fit her perfectly for the party she was scheduled to attend in under an hour.
“No problem,” Madame Lunaria said, the rustle of tissue paper crinkling as she wrapped up the new pieces of clothing. Nicole picked up a few more outfits, adding them to the pile of clothes. She picked up the freshly pressed red and black outfit, moving into one of the dressing rooms so that she could slip into the corset and skirt. Lunaria continued to talk about the boutique and clothing designs as she finished packing up the wardrobe and laced up the corset that Nicole wore. Thanking her, Nicole left instructions for her to send the packages to her hotel room. She left the boutique then, the little red stilettos on her feet making clacking sounds as she climbed the staircase to the club upstairs. Once inside, Nicole settled into a six hour evening of book signings, questions, photos, and more than a few too many glasses of red wine.
Nicole wasn’t sure what it was that made her look up from the book that she had in front of her. The pen in her hand had already made the inscription and was half way through the signature of her name when she had the sudden overwhelming urge to glance up. That’s when she saw him again for the second time. It was merely a flash of white skin, black hair, and the deep maroon waist coat that she had come to think of as his trademark. She didn’t even know if he had been looking her way. By the time Nicole spotted him, his face was already turning away from her, his long black hair shifting to reflect the dim lights overhead before his lithe body disappeared around the corner.
For a moment time stood still, her eyes locked on the departing figure and her hand poised over the book on the table before her. With a sudden start Nicole was yanked back into herself, her body seeming to act on its own accord as she found herself leaping to her feet. “Thank you,” Nicole muttered to the fan in front of her, snapping the book closed and pushing it towards him, the inscribed words ending with ‘Lots of love, Nicole” instead of the usual banter that she wrote for each person who came to her for an autograph.
In less than a minute she had crossed out of the VIP room and made her way across the club to the backdoor that he had disappeared through only seconds before. Nicole shoved the door open and spilled out into the cool night air. Her heart was pounding and her breasts were heaving behind the tight corset as she struggled to breathe. Her head jerked first to the right and then to the left before she finally did a full three hundred sixty degree turn, her blue eyes darting all over the back alley. Nothing.
Where the hell did he go? The thought bounced around inside Nicole’s head as she looked down the alley in both directions. There was no way he could have gotten down the alleyway and around the corner in that brief amount of time. Even if he had been running, there was simply no way. Her breath made a hissing sound as she exhaled, not sure if she was more upset that he had disappeared yet again or the fact that he had appeared in a city hundreds of miles away from where she had seen him last. It was not unusual for fans to follow Nicole around from city to city, but those fans always made themselves known. This guy seemed to be hiding from her more than anything else.
“Damnit,” she cursed under her breath, convinced that she was imagining things.
Nicole turned sharply on her heel, reaching for the door when an abrupt gasp stopped her hand in midair. She stood perfectly still for nearly a minute, the blood in her veins rushing through her ears as she strained to pick up any sound other than her own heartbeat. She had just about given up when she heard the slight gasp again, followed by the rustling of material against material. Curious, Nicole moved several feet down the alley towards the sound, rounding the side of a dumpster. She stopped short at the sight that lay on the other side.
A woman was leaned up against the brick wall, a pale white leg wrapped around the waist of a man clad in a black silk shirt and black pants. His head appeared to be buried in her breasts, her head tossed back in the throws of ecstasy.
“Oh! I’m so sorry!” she stammered, embarrassed that she had no doubt just interrupted a couple of fans in the midst of what appeared to be one hell of a fucking marathon.
Nicole took a step back, hoping she could slink away without bothering them further. The heel of her shoe caught in the tail of her skirt, sending her stumbling backwards and into the wall on the other side. Nicole groaned inward, knowing that she had not just interrupted the lovers but made a complete ass out of herself in the process.
The man lifted his head, pushing the woman’s leg down from around his waist as he turned slightly towards her. “Leave,” he said softly, almost under his breath.
“Please, I’m sorry for interrupting,” Nicole said as she tried to untangle her skirt from her stiletto heel, thinking the word he had spoken was directed at her. Nicole’s face was bent down to hide the fierce blush that had crawled up her skin. “I thought I saw someone I know come out the door and I came running out here like an idiot
,” her voice was getting softer and softer as she lifted her foot off the ground to get the hem of her skirt out from around the stiletto that she wore. The woman that had been there only a second ago had made her way all the way to the end of the block. “Damnit!” Nicole cursed again, both at her own foolishness and at her apparent inability to do a simple task. “I’ll be out of your way in a moment. Don’t mind me, I’ll just be leaving…..as soon…as….I can get this…..DAMNIT!”
In her haste to get away from the lovers Nicole succeeded in ripping the hem of her skirt. She grunted in disgust as a white hand with long, sharp fingernails reached down and deftly unhooked the now ruined skirt from around the red stiletto. “Thanks,” she said as she put her foot down and lifted her face to smile at her helper. “I’m really sorry about interrupting. I should---“ the words died on her lips and her face froze in a slight smile as she looked up into a pale face, slightly slanted deep brown, almost black eyes that were framed in shiny, waist length black hair.
Nicole gasped without realizing it, stumbling back into the wall. She might as well have seen a ghost, so shocked was she to see him standing in front of her. “You!” she hissed, her heart leaping back into her throat, sending her pulse racing and her breath once again heaving as she tried to breathe around the corset.
Nicole’s eyes moved up and down his five foot six inch frame, taking in the unbuttoned shirt that showed perfectly smooth, pale skin, broad shoulders, a small waist and a perfectly flat stomach, the outline of sculpted abs just visible beneath the skin. Her eyes raked upwards to stare at a face that still looked like a young boy at first glance. The skin was perfect, unmarred, unwrinkled, but behind those arresting eyes glittered an intelligence that made her shiver. He straightened up as she gazed at him, his shirt shifting to expose a set of pierced nipples. Nicole could only stand there, dumbfounded, her breasts rising and falling and her mouth hanging open. Time seemed frozen in that instant, her brain racing around in circles trying to make sense of who he was, that sizzling spark flaring up and out from him again.
In that instant something inside her snapped, causing unknown barriers to come crashing down. Nicole felt as if her entire being had been encased in cement, and it only took one look from him to cause all those walls to explode away from her soul, leaving her open and vulnerable to his scrutinizing gaze.
Those brown black orbs bore into her, looking past her eyes and into her soul, the essence of her aura swirling out from her body to flock around and into him, leaving Nicole weak at the knees. And just as suddenly, she felt her brain flex again, shoving the barriers back around herself with enough force that her body jerked backwards and into the wall behind her for the third time that night. Nicole took a ragged breath in, her lungs burning for oxygen as if she had been holding her breath for the last two minutes. His image swam in front of her eyes as the already dim alley grew even darker. She leaned against the wall for support, her legs rubbery and her entire body shaking. She brushed her hand over her eyes, trying to clear her line of vision.
As Nicole opened her eyes, she knew even before she saw the empty alleyway that he was gone once again. She let her body crumple to the dirt-strewn street, her feeling of loss so great that she sobbed aloud. Nicole cried uncontrollably for nearly half an hour before dragging herself out of the alley and back to her hotel room. She had never felt so alone as she did at that moment.
Nicole’s book tour had ended the week before, but she found herself hanging around The Underground come Friday night. She kept telling herself it was because she needed a vacation. There was plenty of night life, sights to see, and relaxation to be had. She refused to admit that she hoped if she spent enough time around the Goth clubs that she would eventually run into him again.
It didn’t take long before her luck turned. The very next night she was hanging around Madame Lunaria’s Underground boutique when she saw him leaving the nightclub. As usual he was dressed in black, head to toe, and seemed to be in a very big hurry to disappear into the night. This time as he glanced around him suspiciously, she turned her head, pretending not to see him. As he ducked into a limo, Nicole moved her skirt and tank top clad body towards a cab, ordering the cabbie to follow. She thought the guy would give her a funny look, but apparently he didn’t care how he made a fare so long as she had money to back up the odd request.
Twenty minutes later as they neared the outskirts of town, the limo pulled into a long driveway shrouded by huge oak trees. Nicole could just make out the glow of lights in the distance that signaled that there was, indeed, a dwelling at the end of the road. She had the cabbie drop her off half a block away. Intent upon finally finding out if she had made this guy up or not, she slinked through the wrought iron gate and wove her way in and out of the trees until she finally came into a clearing.
The house was huge, two stories, and was obvious an old plantation house. The trees had just about taken over the grounds, with only an acre of lawn on either side of the massive house. Even in the dim light of the moon the place looked nearly deserted. If it were not for the manicured lawn and limo sitting to the side, she would have thought the place abandoned.
The sound of a car door shutting caused her heart to leap into her throat as she dove behind a hedge bush. Peeping out, she watched as he got out of the car and disappeared into a side door. Without thinking she darted around the side of the house and slipped into an unlocked back door, slipping her flip flops off to tip toe barefoot up the backstairs. Nicole didn’t have a clue where she was going, only that she was compelled to keep going. She went into what she was sure had to be the master bedroom. It was straight from the eighteen hundreds, complete with huge four poster bed and pieces of oversized antique furniture. There were huge tapestries hung around the walls and candles sat on every available surface. Nicole walked slowly around the room, running her hands over the polished wood, sinking her fingers into the silk coverlet on the bed.
As footsteps approached, she panicked, slipping through a door on the far end of the room. She glanced around for only a moment, realizing she was in a bathing room nearly the size of the bedroom and done completely in marble. As the faint steps moved into the bedroom and towards her, she darted into the linen closet behind the door, willing her heart to calm down and her breathing to regulate.
Her nose wrinkled at the smell of a burning match as the unseen visitor came into the room, lighting more than a dozen candles along the way. The polished marble reflected the light, bathing the room in a warm golden glow. Nicole peered through the slats in the door to see him only a foot away, hanging up that trade mark maroon waist coat on the back of the bathroom door. His back was turned to her, but she could see his reflection clearly in the large mirror hanging on the wall.
His eyes were even more luminous than she recalled, his hair seemingly alive as it moved around him, the silk shirt he wore soon hanging up beside the waist coat. Nicole gasped as the skin of his back came into view, the creamy skin marred by criss-crossing scars that resembled whip marks. She held her breath as he turned towards her, his brown black eyes passing over the door to the closet before moving on. She heaved a sigh of relief as he moved towards the shower, removing pants along the way. Nicole caught only a glimpse of bare buttock before he had moved too far into the room for her to see more. But the sight of his bare back and chest, that adorable ass and lean muscled thigh was burned into her brain, leaving her weak kneed and her pulse racing. She leaned her head against the doorframe as the scorching heat seared down and out from the pit of her stomach to radiate down into her groin. Nicole could feel the wetness already seeping through her lace underwear. She swallowed hard, wondering how she was gonna explain this one if she should get caught.
The sound of spraying water brought her back to herself. She cracked the door open a bare inch to peer out, hoping she could sneak out while he was showering. As she strained her eyes to see through the dim light and growing mist, she realized that the shower was completely open, sitting at the far end of the room. There was nothing blocking his view of the whole bathroom but air and water vapor. Cursing herself for being an idiot, she slowly shut the door back, hoping that she would be given the opportunity to get out of the house without being caught. But what was foremost on her mind was the hope that she would be given the opportunity to see more of this gorgeous man.
Minutes ticked by as the heat of the shower fogged up the mirrors and dampened the marble. Nicole’s small hiding spot was becoming increasingly stuffy. She could feel the beads of perspiration gathering on her skin. She almost whooped with joy when he turned off the water and walked past her to open up the bathroom door. Seeing the towel wrapped around his trim waist, she actually pouted, disappointed that she would not get the full show that she was secretly hoping for. A moment later he went through the room extinguishing all but one candle, moving quietly back into the bedroom. She looked down at her watch, pushing the button that would illuminate the little digital display. Nearly midnight. Five minutes later she heard the door of his bedroom shut, muffled footsteps moving down the hallway. She let out a huge sigh of relief. Nicole waited another five minutes, listening intently for the drone of the car engine before she dared to open the door of the closet.
She stuck her head out cautiously, breathing in the cool air that swirled around her hot body. Nicole stepped out on unsteady legs, lifting the edge of her shirt to fan herself. “Holy, hell, what a hot little number,” she whispered under her breath. She moved towards the bedroom, knowing that she should get out of dodge as quickly as possible. Instead, she found herself standing in the doorway of the bathroom, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the light so that she could snoop around at her leisure. Smiling slightly, she moved into the shadowy bedroom.
Nicole did not even have a chance to cry out as the hands closed around her upper arms in a vise like grip. She opened her mouth to scream, but in that instant she was shoved so hard up against the bedroom wall that the lungful of air she had just inhaled came out of her in a one big whoosh. She was pulled from the wall a few inches before being slammed up against it again. This time Nicole managed to gasp before lifting her head to stare into those brown black eyes that had been haunting her for the last few months.
“What the hell do you think you are doing here?” His voice was low, laced with an unspoken threat. Nicole gawked at him, her brain searching around for an answer that she could not come up with. His grip on her arms tightened, his sharp nails cutting into her flesh. A small whimper was all that she could manage.
He moved his face closer to hers until she could feel the air from his breathing caress her cheek. Her own chest heaved as she struggled to bring air in and out of her lungs. Nicole could do nothing but stare into those dark orbs, her eyes moving to his red lips as he smiled. He had removed his make-up, leaving his already young face looking unnaturally child-like, at least until he smiled. With the parting of his lips she could see the tiny elongated canines in his mouth, the smile immediately transforming his angelic face into that of a predator.
He moved his body so that he effectively had her pinned against the wall, one thigh wedged between hers. Somewhere in the back of her mind she realized that he was still wearing only the towel draped loosely around his waist. Nicole was having a hard time concentrating on anything but the feel of his weight against her body, his skin cool where it came into contact with her flustered flesh.
“You should not have come here,” he whispered, his lips so close to hers that she could feel the cool touch of his breath against her own. Nicole still had not spoken, for there were no words that she could say that would excuse her intrusion or make amends. To say that she was sorry for snooping would be a lie; she wanted to be right where she was at, in his arms, or close to it any way.
He moved his head slightly, his near black eyes looking her up and down before settling on her face again. He leaned closer to her, inching her legs further apart. He had let go of her arms at some point, his hands now resting on either side of her face. It didn’t matter; his eyes held her as captive as his hands had.
“Now,” he purred, “what should I do with you, since you have been so hell bent on finding me?” He moved to rub his cheek against hers, his skin soft and cool. A shudder ran down Nicole’s spine and her body began to tremble again. She opened her mouth to speak, desperately wanting to know if he had been following her, what his name was, who he was, what he was. But her lips only parted, not so much as a squeak passing through them. She was terrified that if she moved or spoke that he would disappear again. Or at the very least, her questions being unwanted, he might not divulge nearly as much as he would if she just kept quiet.
He quirked one eyebrow upwards, seemingly amused at Nicole’s continued gaping silence. He nudged her thighs further apart with his own until his bare leg was nestled up against her increasingly wet oopening. She managed a sharp intake of breath, but it was enough encouragement. He shifted his weight off of her just long enough for him to undo the two buttons that held up her skirt. Once the material had pooled around her feet he immediately moved back, the towel around his waist growing looser with his movements. Completely enthralled, she watched in delicious anticipation as he undid the buttons on her tank top, the long pointed nails not hindering his process in the least.
Suddenly Nicole discovered herself practically nude in his arms, only the barest of lace separating her body from his. He moved closer to her then, pressing the entire length of his body against hers, the movement finally dislodging the towel from around his waist. From somewhere Nicole heard a woman groan, realizing a moment later that the sounds were coming from her own throat as she moved to press her body against his. In that moment she saw the two of them together in her mind, his organ buried impossibly deep inside of her own, her body shoved against the wall as he rode her hard, fast.
He growled deep in his throat, almost in triumph as his lips captured hers in a brutal kiss, his hands ripping the delicate lace from her body. Nicole's body jerked at the sudden assault, but his actions only added fuel to the fire that was already burning out of control in her groin. In her mind she once again saw them, but this time her body was covered in whip marks and bleeding scratches that he had placed on her skin with his own nails. The image wavered slightly, and once again their bodies were linked together in the throws of passion, his canines growing longer as he buried them in the delicate flesh of her neck, his tongue flicking across her skin as he drank in the precious life force that she offered. His hand wrapped in her hair, his unnatural speed had him riding her like a jackhammer, each thrust hard enough to cause her whole body to buck beneath him. Panicked, it occurred to Nicole then that she was seeing what was in his mind. She knew this just as sure as she knew that he had seen her fantasy of them together only moments earlier.
Terrified beyond reason, Nicole screamed, shoving him back. So sudden and unexpected was her actions that he moved away from her, giving her just enough room that she snatched her clothes up from the floor and flew out the door. Certain that she had just come across the devil himself, Nicole ran for her life, knocking over tables in her haste to be out of that house. Even once she made it out the door she did not stop running until she was a few blocks from his property. Only then did she stop long enough to jerk her clothes on before she was once again tearing down the streets, finally stopping the only cab in sight. She did not begin to feel safe again until she barricaded herself inside her hotel room. Even then, as she lay in her bed recalling everything that had happened, she was positive that she had heard him laughing as she ran screaming from his room.
Stealth let the young writer go. He knew it was too soon for her to realize that she wanted to be his. It was the very reason why he had been following her but not yet revealing himself to her. And after her display of unbridled fear, he knew he had been right about her. She may be in love with the idea of vampires, but seeing one in the flesh was not something she could wrap her mind around. No matter. His current companion would not be leaving for another year. He had plenty of time to find someone, but he had really hoped that Nicole would be the one. It had been four nights since the incident with Nicole. If she had not come back to him by now, then she wasn’t going to.
Stealth sighed as he shuffled the papers in front of him on the desk. His nearly black eyes saw nothing of the work in front of him. He was still too deep in thought, his mind running rings around the memory of her to notice the slight tremor that ran through the floorboards beneath his feet. The sound of the crystal accents on the desk lamp tinkling against each other suddenly brought his focus sharply back to reality as the sounds of nearly silent footsteps came to his sensitive ears.
Stealth bolted to his feet, his entire body going on the defensive as he mentally counted the number of heartbeats intruding upon his home… one… two… twelve… fifteen… His ears picked up more than two dozen people shuffling through the lower floors of the house.
His lips withdrew from around his elongating fangs as he hissed a warning, although there were no other vampires in the house to hear him. He reached quickly under his desk and pushed the alarm button, the sirens suddenly shrieking out its warning to the entire household. Seconds later he heard the mental connection he shared with Angelica flare open, her terrified voice floating through his mind, What’s going on?
He answered her quickly as he moved towards one of the secret passage ways that were built all through his home, Intruders, lots of them. I’m on my way to get you. Hide, quickly!
Stealth didn’t wait for his companion’s answer as he wove his way towards her room, moving quickly and silently through the maze of passages. He stopped only long enough to retrieve his katana blades from their resting place before he was once again making his way to Angelica’s room. He was eager to see who it was that dared to infiltrate his home, but right now his only concern was getting Angelica to safety. Once he was assured she would come to no harm, then and only then would he engage the enemy.
he called to her mentally, sighing inwardly as her answer came to him instantly, I’m here, Master.
Stealth moved in her direction, his arms going around the delicate blonde as soon as he reached her. Have you been harmed?
Angelica shook her head, answering him through their shared mental link, I think they are in my room.
With that knowledge Stealth turned his head slightly from her, listening intently. He could just barely make out the sound of heartbeats and slight movement in the room that sat on the other side of the wall from them. He didn’t understand why the sounds were so faint. The heartbeat sounded just like a vampire’s heart after feeding, but yet he very distinctly could smell human blood beyond the wall.
His lips once again pulled back in the hissing warning that only another vampire could hear. Something was very wrong here. Angelica, my love, you must go to the bunker now. Something is not right here. Hurry, be as quiet as possible, stop for nothing!
He silently instructed her, his lips brushing her temple before letting her go with a slight push. She glanced back but immediately began to move, hurrying along as he had commanded.
Laughter rang out a split second before gunfire poured through the wall in front of Stealth, the bullets hitting him more than a dozen times before he busted through the bullet riddled lumber, his fangs barred and blades drawn…..
Ethereal had spent the last day and a half as Requiem’s “guest” at his summer home in Shadow Cove. While he called her his “guest” she was beginning to feel more like a prisoner with each passing hour. The nights weren’t too bad as she had Requiem’s nearly constant companionship. She was allowed to be in on every piece of information he had gathered regarding the S.H.i.E.L.D. Organization. He had even asked her opinions on most of what he had heard. However, the long summer daytime hours were starting to give her cabin fever. She didn’t need to sleep as long as Requiem, so she was still alone for a good portion of the daylight hours. Needless to say, with everything going on, she wasn’t allowed outside the mansion at all. Two nights later her boredom would be over for a very long time.
The little intercom in Requiem’s study suddenly crackled to life around eleven p.m. about three nights after she had come to the mansion. “Yes,” Requiem’s deep voice spoke abruptly into the little device.
A man’s voice came through tiny but clear, “The vampire Stealth is here, Sir, requesting an audience with you.” Ethereal’s head popped up at the mention of the name. She remembered Eric saying that the vampire’s mansion had been completely destroyed. Obviously the vampire himself had survived.
“Send him in,” Requiem spoke to the man at the front gate. “Make sure he wasn’t followed.”
“Yes, Sir,” came the biting remark from the other end, followed by the crackle of static as the intercom became silent again.
Ethereal sat down the book she had been reading, waiting to see if Requiem would order her back to her room. While he wanted her opinion and let her know of everything that was going on, he was overly careful to keep her away from the various vampires that had shown up over the past few nights. It was her understanding that vampires valued fey blood above human, particularly the blood of a fairy. Apparently fairy blood was the equivalent of a very fine, aged glass of wine, and of course all vampires were alcoholics in comparison. She had noticed that vampires and lycans tended to gravitate to her when she was in the club, but she just thought it was because she was the only human working in the place.
“Ethereal,” Requiem’s voice brought her out of her reverie. Here it comes, she thought to herself as she closed the book in her lap, time to go back to my room. She sighed as she got up to replace the handwritten journal back in the bookcase.
“Yeah, I know, go to your room please. Honestly, I don’t know what you think these guys are gonna do to me. It’s not like they are going to attack me right here in front of you and suck me dry or something.” She turned to Requiem to give him a pouty look, but his raised eyebrow made her own brow wrinkle in confusion instead. “What?”
“Actually, the very fact that they would try to attack a half fey in my presence is the reason why I send you to your room. I told you, fairy blood is extremely addictive to vampires and they can smell the smallest amount a mile away, no matter how diluted it has become over the centuries.” Ethereal’s expression of abject terror caused Requiem to smile. She was secretly wondering what kept him from chowing down on her. His smile grew wider as the thought drifted across her mind and into his. “I’m no longer a fledgling vampire, my dear. I have learned to control myself around the aroma of blood, even that as delicious smelling as yours.”
Ethereal blushed, turning her attention needlessly back to the book she had just replaced on the shelf. “And,” his voice once again caught her attention, her body turning of its own accord to look at him, “Stealth is the second oldest vampire in this city. If anything were to happen to me, it would be he who would become Master of this city. It is important that you meet him. In the event of my untimely demise, it will be Stealth that would take over as your watcher.”
She gave him a dirty look, ready to object to this new information. It was at that moment that the door to the study opened, admitting a lean, muscular man with long black hair. Ethereal’s mouth fell open as the vampire Stealth walked in, his black eyes never wavering from Requiem as he entered. His clothes were dirty and burnt, but the pale skin was unmarred by injury. His hair was long and luminous, the strands in perfect order as if he had just brushed them.
Ethereal took a step backwards, bumping into the bookcase as she did so. She had the sensation of falling, the urge to run screaming from the room just as strong as the urge to throw herself at the vampire who had just entered. She vaguely remembered that she had felt the same way when she had first encountered Requiem. She had been around him so long that she had learned to block out the sensations. This new vampire, however, was wrecking havoc on her mind and body.
Stealth bowed to Requiem, pressing his lips to the hand that was offered to him, seemingly oblivious to Ethereal and her discomfort. “Master Requiem, I thank you for seeing me on such short notice. I must apologize for both my appearance and for not having a proper offering for the Master of the City. Please forgive my intrusion.”
Requiem inclined his head in recognition of the apology. He waved his hand towards a chair as he sat down. “Please, be seated. There is no need for apologies. These are dire times. Your household and companion are welcome here always.”
Stealth bowed slightly and then sat down on the offered chair, sighing as he did so. The formality vanished as he slumped backwards. “There is no one left in my household to offer refuge to, but I thank you just the same.”
Requiem gave the vampire across from him a stunned look. “What of your companion, Angelica?”
Stealth shook his head slowly, his entire body giving off an air of utter defeat. This time Requiem sighed, leaning back in his chair and saying quietly, “I am sorry for your loss, Stealth. Angelica was a wonderful woman.”
Stealth only nodded, seemingly in his own little world. Ethereal took several deep breaths as the conversation unfolded, sitting back down quietly in her chair as the vampire induced fog slowly cleared from her head.
“You must excuse my manners, Stealth, but it is very important that I know what happened at your home.”
Stealth raised his head to stare almost unseeing at Requiem. “Yes, I know. This affects everyone in this city.” He lowered his head again for a moment before he began to speak, quietly, his voice a droning monotone as his story unfolded, “I heard them coming while I was sitting in my study. It was late. I’m sure they were hoping to flush me out so that I would burn in the morning sun. I managed to get to Angelica through the passages built into the mansion. I told her to go to the underground bunker while I gathered up everyone else. There were bullets…..machine guns going off…..and the smell of human blood, vampire blood, lycan blood….it was all around me but I was…confused….because the blood didn’t smell right… it tasted bitter, sour……..”