Two buxom bodies flanked me as I woke from my slumber. Inch by inch, I eased myself into a sitting position against the headboard. Every muscle ached as though I had been working out at the gym for ten hours straight. Glancing about, I realised there were more than two naked women surrounding me. Blimey! They covered the whole fuckin’ bed. Images of curvaceous women writhing between red silk filtered through. Not a dream then.
The blonde to my right stirred. Her eyes fluttered open, and she grinned. ‘You’re quite the animal, aren’t you?’ Stretching her neck revealed fading bite marks.
The sight tightened my chest. ‘I didn’t hurt you, did I?’
She laughed, flashing the tips of her fangs. ‘No more than I can handle.’
I gulped. ‘Did I turn you into a…?’
Climbing into my lap, she combed my hair with her fingers. ‘Relax, handsome. The duchess damned us all long ago.’ Grinding her pelvis against me, she trailed kisses along my shoulders. As my desire rose, she beamed with triumph. Shifting her position brought her slick core into contact with my tip.
A distant memory nagged at me. There was something I needed to do, but what was it? ‘Wait,’ I rasped as she prepared to lower herself onto me. ‘I think I needed to see the duchess about something.’
Her forehead creased a moment before she smiled. ‘I’m sure My Lady will summon you when she is ready.’
‘At least tell me your name first.’
‘So now you remember your manners?’ she mocked. ‘I am Lorelei.’
A dark-haired beauty sidled up next to me and trailed a fingernail along my arm. ‘I’m Delilah.’
More of the women rose and introduced themselves as their hands groped at my bare flesh. The last of my willpower evaporated in the heat of the moment, and I lost myself in them. I lost track of time as they took turns claiming me. It could have been hours, or days for which all I did was fuck, feed, and doze during my refractory periods. I could get used to this life.
A firm hand gripped my shoulder and I startled awake. Grabbing her wrists, I pinned the redhead to the bed, knowing how much the girls loved primal play. ‘Why are you wearing clothes?’ I growled before sinking my teeth into her jugular.
‘Hayden!’ she shrieked. ‘It’s me, Rebecca! Get off me, you idiot.’
Blinking a couple of times, I refocussed my vision. My best friend glared up at me as she squirmed beneath my body. Leaping to my feet, I lowered my sheepish gaze. ‘I’m so sorry, Becky. I didn’t realise it was you.’
She huffed. ‘Clearly. Put some clothes on before you scar me for life.’
Scars. Shit! My head jerked up, and I looked at the bite marks in her neck. ‘Did I hurt you? I can heal those—’
‘I’ll be fine,’ she snapped in a raspy voice. ‘Get dressed. We need to go. Now.’ She turned away, but not before revealing the colour in her cheeks.
‘Hmm. What scares you more, Bex? The sight of my naked body, or how much you like it?’ I jest as I scan the floor for my discarded clothes.
Laughing, I shimmied into my trousers. ‘There’s nothing wrong with admiring my amazing bod, Bex.’
‘I told you to shut up! I’m not attracted to you.’ The falter of her voice told me otherwise.
Oh hell! I stared at the back of her head and froze. I was only joking around. Pinching a raw nerve had not been my intention.
‘Besides, it would definitely be wrong.’
As I placed my hands on her shoulders, she tensed up. ‘What’s going on, Rebecca?’
‘Nothing.’ Her voice cracked.
‘Bullshit!’ I spun her around to face me and her eyes widened when they landed on my bare chest. ‘You’re the one who turned me down all those years ago. Is this a new development, or…?’ My voice trailed off as footsteps approached in the hallway. The door sat ajar.
‘Damnit!’ she cursed under her breath. ‘They can’t see me in here with you.’
‘Hide in the wardrobe,’ I suggested in a whisper, waving in the direction of the walk-in.
Rebecca shook her head. ‘You need to appear busy, else they’ll sink their claws into you again. Follow my lead.’ She pulled me up against the back wall, hiding behind my larger build. ‘Now pretend to feed on me.’
‘They won’t buy the ruse if they can’t smell fresh blood.’
‘Then bite me, but don’t drink too much.’
I gaped at her. ‘Are you sure?’
She blushed again, sucking on her bottom lip before nodding her consent.
My tongue trailed along the previous wound, tasting the residual blood on her pale skin. A moan escaped my best friend’s lips, sparking a jolt of desire between my legs. Images of Sheena flooded my mind and acid ascended my throat. ‘This is a bad idea.’
‘Do it,’ she hissed.
Fuck, why did she have to sound so hot? I bit into the existing puncture marks. Rather than suck her lifeforce into me, I let it trickle down my throat. She tasted bittersweet in a pleasant way, not too dissimilar to coffee. Her blood packed a powerful punch much like caffeine. Rebecca whimpered as she began to grind against my growing bulge. Her wanton display flicked a switch in my brain. I shifted my focus from numbing her pain to enhancing her pleasure.
A feminine giggle sounded behind me. ‘Can I join you?’ asked the familiar voice. I think her name was Lorelei.
‘No!’ I did not bother facing her. ‘I want this one to myself. We can have more fun later, after I’ve recovered my strength.’
‘Very well. Have fun.’ The door clicked shut, and I chanced a glance.
We were alone again. My muscles relaxed as I returned my attention to Rebecca. Lust burned in her lidded gaze, and she continued clinging to me. ‘Jesus, Bex. I’m seconds away from throwing you down on the bed and having my way with you.’
‘W-we c-can’t.’ She pushed me back slightly. ‘I need to get you out of here.’
My brow furrowed. ‘Why? It’s not like I’m a prisoner anymore. Or has the duke discovered me?’
‘No, but you are in danger.’
‘I don’t have time to explain here. I will fill you in later. Let’s go.’ She picked up my t-shirt and shoved it into my arms.
‘I can’t just leave. I have a deal with the duchess. I’m sure she’ll protect me from any threats coming my way.’
Rebecca sighed. ‘Please trust me on this. You can catch up with the duchess later if you still want to honour said deal by then.’
I narrowed my eyes on her. ‘How do I know I can trust you? You are the duke’s thrall, after all.’
‘I only pretended to be his thrall. Vampires have no power over my mind. If you don’t believe me, you can glimpse the truth in my blood.’ She scooped the hair away from her neck, exposing the wound again. It was already healing without my help.
‘How? I am still learning the ropes.’
‘As you drink my blood, imagine you are reaching into my mind. With lots of practice, you’ll be able to read people’s thoughts this way, but for now, you can gauge my intentions.’
I followed her instructions, savouring her flavour on my tongue. ‘You taste so damn good, Bex. No wonder the duke wanted to enthral you.’
‘Concentrate, Hayden,’ she chided.
A few minutes later, I sensed the sincerity in her words. But she had also erected some strong walls I could not bypass. ‘I think you’re telling the truth, but you are also hiding something from me.’
‘With good reason. I’ll explain more later.’
‘You better.’ I yanked the t-shirt over my head and donned my boots. ‘Now what?’
‘Follow me and keep quiet.’ She led me through a labyrinth of dimly lit corridors at a painstaking pace. Creeping along the tiled floors allowed us to mute our footfalls, but it increased my anxiety. Every minute we spent in those walls was another minute in which the duke could find me. Everywhere I looked, opulence glimmered from carved marble.
Rebecca halted and I rammed into the back of her, almost knocking her to the ground. A profanity reached the tip of my tongue, but I swallowed it in the nick of time. With my heightened reflexes, I caught her, holding her trembling body flush against me. Two guards sauntered passed the intersection we had reached. They disappeared around a corner. Rebecca released the breath she had been holding. Feeling her lungs expand and contract against me, I realised something. She worked hard to control the sound of her breathing. Good thing I don’t need to use my lungs anymore.
I loosened my grip, and she drifted out of my arms. We continued traversing the halls until Rebecca opened a door into an old storeroom. ‘Lift that manhole,’ she whispered, pointing at the sewer entrance on the ground.
How the hell can she navigate all those tunnels? Everything I knew about Rebecca was crumbling away, revealing a different person. Worried and intrigued, I employed my newfound strength to lift the steel plate with ease. She descended the ladder and I followed close, pausing only to slide the cover back into place.
The putrid scent of human filth assaulted my nostrils as we traversed the dank channels. Once I was sure we had left the duke’s mansion behind us, I asked, ‘Where are we going?’
‘To meet Seraphina.’
‘How long have you known my benefactor?’
‘All my life.’ Reaching a crossroads, Rebecca retrieved a compass from her pocket. She consulted the small device before choosing the path that took us east. ‘Most of London’s awakened supernatural population know Seraphina Hemlock.’
I whistled through pursed lips. ‘I gather you are supernatural then. What are you, Bex?’
She fell silent for a moment. Without our voices echoing, I heard our feet squelching in the murky puddles.
‘I’m a witch,’ she admitted.
Colour me intrigued. ‘How is a witch different to a mage?’
‘We are a type of mage. The term refers to people who can wield magic. Our source of power is what defines us. Witches and warlocks use infernal magic. My family are witches, and I learnt their traditions from a young age,’ Rebecca explained.
I stopped dead in my tracks. ‘When you say infernal…’
She sighed. ‘My magic comes from demons.’
‘Does that make you evil?’
‘No more than you are, Hayden.’
Wincing, I averted my gaze. ‘Have you killed people like I have?’
‘I’m sorry, Hayden. Seraphina mentioned what happened. I… I never wanted this life for you.’ My eyes met hers and I could see her apple-green orbs glistening with unshed tears. ‘That’s why I hid the supernatural world from you, even though I knew what you were.’ She bit into her lower lip. ‘To answer your question: no, I only sacrifice animals when I need blood.’
A shiver coursed through me despite my inability to feel the cold. ‘You knew I was a mage?’
‘What sort of mage?’
‘Probably a warlock, or possibly a shaman. I’m not sure if your mother carried any fae blood and I never let your powers awaken to find out.’
I wanted to ask more questions, but my head swirled with the whopping revelations. It was a lot to process, so I kept my mouth shut and followed Rebecca.
An hour or so later, she stopped beneath a manhole cover. ‘This leads into the alley behind my safehouse. The sun set a few hours ago, so it’s safe for you to exit here.’
‘If it’s night, why did we go traipsing through effluent to get here?’
‘You’ve been spending too much time with noble folk,’ she scoffed. ‘This was the safest way to escape Hemlock’s mansion undetected. Now stop whinging and start climbing.’
I rose into an alley that reeked as much as the sewers. Judging by the position of the moon in the starless sky, it was nearing midnight. Thanks to the smog, cloud cover, and light pollution, it was impossible to see the stars themselves. We stood behind a brick hovel that resembled something from the Victorian era slums. Rebecca chanted in tongues, and sparks coiled around her hand as it turned the doorknob. She ushered me inside and I balked at the humidity. The place felt wrong. It was like I was choking in the stifling atmosphere, even though I did not need to breathe.
‘You are reacting to the vampire wards. Don’t worry, it is safe for you to enter, but the place won’t feel pleasant, I’m afraid. I need to keep unwanted members of the damned community out of here.’
At least the clean, warm interior looked more inviting than the grimy exterior. I beelined for the couch and slumped into the crimson suede cushions.
Kneeling before the hearth, she turned on the gas heater that sat in the old fireplace. ‘I know you don’t feel the cold anymore, but I sure do.’ Flames flickered behind the glass, illuminating the copper highlights in Rebecca’s hair.
I watched the beautiful creature as she stared into the faux fire.
‘Stop looking at me like that, Hayden.’ She did not even turn to see where I focussed my attention.
Is that some paranormal power of hers? ‘How would you know that I’m looking at you, let alone the manner with which I do? Is that magic?’
‘No, just a woman’s intuition. I can sense your eyes on me, along with the lust boiling in your blood.’
‘I know you want me, Bex.’ I spoke in a low, husky voice, addressing the elephant in the room. ‘I felt your desire when I fed from you earlier. Why deny it any longer?’
Spinning around on the polished floorboards, she furrowed her brows. ‘There are myriad reasons.’ She glanced at the door as a knock sounded. ‘That being one of them.’ Launching to her feet, she greeted Seraphina and Sheena.
My feisty little punk rushed into my arms and peppered me with kisses before scrunching her nose. ‘Ew. You stink like a stable hand.’
I chuckled. ‘It’s good to see you too, sweetheart. Maybe we could shower together?’
Grinning, she nodded with enthusiasm.
‘Can we use the bathroom, Bex?’ I asked.
‘Of course. Make yourself at home here. You’ll be staying a while.’
I glanced at Seraphina. ‘Once I’ve cleaned up, I want answers.’
© 2021 L. STARLA
Stay tuned for Episode 14, coming 19th November.