The plumpest part of my lips slip down the powder-soft skin below her ear. They hover there as she lets out the tiniest noise of anguish. It's some kind of foolery, she thinks, a ploy of sorts to take things further. At least, that's what I imagine she's thinking as I dip my mouth lower, opening my jaw to scrape back up the tender skin. Her throat is trembling at the slight touch of my teeth. The tremble makes me ache, so I slide the tip of my tongue out to feel it better—deep, deep in that throbbing vein. She groans against my tongue and I'm almost too undone by the noise to go on, but I suck in a breath as I feel that wondrous, gripping urge I know all too well. It's met by the thunder of her pulse just as I open my lips wider, tip my head… and hook my teeth deep inside her throat.
Dinner for one, as always. And it's delicious.
1. The Taste of Fear
There's something about the fear that always makes them taste better. Maybe it's the churning rush of heat in their bloodstream. A hot meal instead of a warm one. But no... it's almost something I've convinced myself of, that it's all the sweeter when they're fighting the urge to scream. And even more, the scream that does rip through their vocal chords as I plunge my teeth in with just a bit of flesh holding me off from truly plucking those strings—well that is something too delicious to explain.
I start to salivate as I stare at my ceiling. It's been a week since my last meal, and while it was thrilling, the novelty of my same-old moves is wearing thin. I've been doing this for fifteen years now and every year is less exciting than the last.
Not to say I’ve been this way for only fifteen years. No, it’s been far longer than that.
Still, the hunt. The way I draw them in and tuck them close to me, only to feast upon their rivers of life—but not kill them—that has been my little thrilling bit of entertainment. Something to keep the stale, unchangeable version of me a little less dead inside… and out, if we’re being truthful here. And that is my life, or so I’m meant to call it.
And so I edge myself to satisfaction. And the temptation of being so close to letting loose is my ultimate high. I could do it. I could cut my teeth across his throbbing throat and gorge myself on his insides. Suck the heartbeat right out of that sacrificial vein like a fucking straw leading to the vat of delectable life within his body.
I could. It would take almost nothing for me to do it.
But I won’t.
And it’s that thrill of being so close that leaves me groaning every time, which brings me back to why it tastes so bloody good. Everything is better seasoned with fear and a side of I-could-kill-you-but-I-won’t… today.
I pull at the front of my trousers and flip over with a lasting sigh. It’s getting harder to stay in Old Québec like this. It’s too small for my games, and now those games are growing dull, even if they excite my body beyond comprehension. They told me I’d be next to dead for all of eternity, and yet, the raging piece of me between my legs begs to differ.
A week is quite enough, I decide. I clear my throat and toss my overcoat across one arm—the perfect look of a nineteenth century gentleman, if I do say so myself. Though today, in the twenty-first century, I may appear more or less like the charming spokesmodel of an Armani campaign. And charming is exactly what I go for in this day and age.
“You are ever the charmer, November.” An unfortunate memory bursts into my thoughts as I cut down the limestone steps of my carriage house. They were the last words my sister ever spoke, just a breath before the life was crushed out of her lungs. Nobody really calls me November these days, though. It’s just Claret in Old Québec. November Claret is dead, as far as I’m concerned. Now buried beside her in a pauper’s grave.
Movement catches my eye on a sudden turn down a puddled alleyway and I stop to pat the head of my favorite little scamp of a cat. Duchess, the most elegant vagrant animal I’ve encountered in my many decades. Her grey coat is like the silk an actual duchess would wear to an evening at the Palais Garnier.
“Good evening, Duch.” I smooth my palm over her back and she mews at the touch of her tail before scurrying off in the opposite direction whilst I carry on.
Québec is like a strange little fortress to me, or it has been for some time. The old city feels a bit more like home, though. More like the Paris I knew in my youth, long before we made way to London, then back to settle in Monaco.
I slip through a covered stairwell as I head to the water and let my eyes trail along the horizon for one dangerous little moment. It won’t really end me, peeking at the sinking sun. But it may just bring a bit of unwelcome moisture to my eyes and a burn to remind me that the seemingly faultless image of my body is not infallible. And so I follow that peach glow as it dips down below the buildings and the tiny edge of river line that it touches. Gone to rest for now while I begin my night of prowling, just the same as Duchess.
I toe my boots out along the riverbank, strolling with my hands tucked neatly into both pockets. An echo of ferry motors sounds from down the way and I consider briefly that I could skip over to a different district. But no, I’ve been doing this long enough to know that my hunt is only made duller by a safety net of distance. I’d rather skip a meal altogether than take whatever little thrill is left out of my game.
Time to pick someone up.
Dusk, I find, is the ideal time of evening to stumble upon some hopeless romantic. Yes, I could wait until bars let out and nab someone drunkenly strolling down the street, but what fun would that be? And anyhow, I’d rather they get the feeling that I’m truly interested before I drink my fill. It’s all part of the game—reel them in, get them close, see a touch of fear in their eyes, feel the burst of fright within their throats, then sink my teeth in and suck the memory of it from them entirely.
The riverbank is deserted on this night, so off to the shops I go.
It’s an early autumn’s eve, the moon striking at just the perfect angle to light up the cobblestones beneath my feet. I catch glimpse after glimpse of myself in the glass of every storefront window as I pass. Pale curls hook around my even paler jaw, coming down to the top of my throat. A bit of cold blue pops through a mirror in a home decor shop—the hardness of my eyes as they start to peer around for friendly smiles. It’s always a smile cast my way, something flirtatious I can return, and with the set of my lips and the glint on my cuspids, they’ll be hooked.
Just at the end of the row is when I see my first smile of the evening. A man, nearly as tall as me, locks the door of my favorite little bookshop. He turns his chin over his shoulder, eyes meeting mine, and his lips part into a shy grin. It surely isn’t the first time he’s given me such a daring smile. He’d done just the same as I passed down the spiral staircase in his shop last week. His black hair is parted to the side, swooping in front of his eyes, but not enough to block the interest there. I can see it long before he glances down the road, then back to me.
I deepen my hands in my pockets and lean against the little iron rail in front of a pub, eyes on my shoes for just a demure moment. I’m not, of course, the least bit shy. But, I find this to be the best tactic in getting others to approach me. It’s my bait. Look away and make them think you’re too reserved to strike up conversation. It usually gives them a little boost of confidence and they end up—
“Nice night.” He says it hesitantly, but crosses the narrow road with his smile still intact. A subtle wind cuts down rue Saint-Jean and we’re caught in the perfect moment of a romantic encounter. My blonde curls swish about my face while the longer bits of his soot black locks do their best to shield his eyes once more. But in a second, he’s beside me, angled against the short, iron gate, and the only thing I can think of the movement around us is how appealing the scent of his skin is.
I wait a fraction of a moment before tipping my eyes up to his. You know, that hint of flirtation where you keep your chin down and your lashes do all of the work? That’s the look I give my dinner right as he introduces himself.
Lucas, he says. Manager of the bookshop, cellist for the symphony orchestra. And do I enjoy the symphony? It’s a quick list of introductory sentences hinging on awkward.
I watch his lips as they move—broad, succulent, just a hint of pink that I’d love to see burst in color between my teeth.
“But of course,” I answer. “I used to keep a box at the—well, it isn’t there anymore, but it was quite a lovely theatre.”
“You’re English, then?” His Québécois accent shines through his phony question. He knew I was English, which is why he approached me in English—though I’d always consider myself French.
“I grew up in Paris, actually. Though then it was off to London.” The accent betrays as much.
“And you’ve been in Québec for some time, yes?” He tips his eyes away as a blush covers the highest points of his cheeks. He’s seen me, I’ve seen him. We both know for how long.
I mumble a sound to him that resembles a yes, then stand and let out a strategic, shallow sigh. “Well, I ought to be—”
“Would you join me for one drink?” Ever predictable, the words jet out of his mouth in a quick sprint.
“Oh, I… I suppose I don’t need to get back just yet.”
“The pub there?”
Why go any farther than necessary? “Sure, that’s fine.”
2. Like a Script
Lucas and I settle into a dark corner of the pub at a two-top and I politely nurse a cocktail while he sweetens his bloodstream for me on a rather snobbish cab. He leans his body closer to mine when his wine is at its end and says the words I believe I could have written myself.
“You know, I’ve noticed you in the shop.” He has dark eyes, but they’re quite darker in this moment, hooded by wine-fueled lust.
“Have you?” I lick the vodka from my lower lip and let my tongue linger so he can imagine what it would feel like in his mouth.
“Yes. And maybe you’ve noticed me?” Oh, this one is needy.
I let out an airy laugh and tip my glass to relieve it of its last cherry.
“Would it be appealing to you if I said yes?”
His lengthy fingers filter through the black strands covering his eyes and he finally, truly looks at me. “It absolutely would be.”
The sharpness of disappointment hits me rather suddenly. Perhaps this one was just a bit too easy. I have the feeling of getting up and seeking someone who will give me some chase, but just as swiftly, I feel his hand settle on my inner thigh.
It slides up a bit and my brows raise, nearly of their own accord. Audacious and… presumptuous? Alright then, maybe I can make a bit of a game out of it all.
“Let’s head out.” It’s all I say before dropping some notes on the table and fluidly sliding my arms back into my coal black coat. It’s nearly as dark as his hair, I notice as he leans forward in the doorway, holding the door for me like we’ve assumed relationship roles. I’ll have to fix that before he gets too cocky.
“My place is up the hill.” He nods his chin in the direction of an apartment I will certainly never be visiting while I let out a soft laugh and turn the other way.
“And mine is down it.” He can either be put off that I’m taking charge or he can lope after me like the puppy I expect him to be.
“Okay then.” Good dog.
He follows my stride as I meander a ways, not really heading for my apartment, of course. We cut through an alley, just beyond a cafe that plays music after hours and I take the opportunity to pause and close my eyes.
“Beautiful,” he whispers from right beside me. He’s talking about me, not the music, and it’s painfully familiar. Every inch of the evening is like a script I’ve already read.
I let out a hum and slowly lift my eyes to his. He’s tucked himself into my side and is, once again, allowing his hands to errantly move about my person without any regard to consent. It’s laughable, I’m sure, the idea of a vampire requiring consent to be touched. And really, I don’t. It’s just that he makes such large strides without even considering that I may not want to be touched and, in general, I find him less pleasant than I thought he’d be. Manager of the bookshop, unassuming, a bit shy.
I hate when I’m wrong.
Not that it matters.
My arm snakes around his waist and I tug him much closer to me before turning us down another darkened alley. This one has always been perfect. No windows, quiet streets at either end, and close enough to the cafe that someone may think we’re just a couple of lovers having fun after a nightcap.
And we are, yes?
“Mmmm.” His grumble in my ear does nothing for me, nor do his hands when they find the hem of my cashmere sweater and slide beneath to feel my skin. “You’re soft.” Another two words I’ve heard far too often.
“You’re not,” I shoot back at him, feeling the rigidity he’s maneuvered into the hollow beside the cut muscle of my groin. I decide quickly then that this tedious night has gone beyond my patience.
“Where’s your place?” he asks.
“Never you mind that now.” I finally set my palms against his chest and give a tiny push. His body catapults against the stone wall and he grunts at the pain of it. “What I want to know…”—I sidle up to him, ignoring the whites of his eyes as they pop open wide at my strength, then let my lips find his. He parts them for me on a little moan—“is how sweet you’re going to taste and how much of you I’ll get. I rather like to take my fill.”
The shudder beneath my lips is perfect as my final word is uttered directly into his mouth. He’s succumbing to every enticement I give him. Our tongues make quick work against one another, sliding and grazing while my hands pop open the top button of his crisp shirt.
If I had to name my favorite map, it would be a map of the human body. And my favorite location would be at the intersection of the neck and the clavicle. It’s a tricky spot to sink one’s teeth into, to be perfectly honest, but if you latch to the clavicle itself, that pulsing stream will practically flood your mouth. And, depending on anatomy, it may even fill that little cup of bone there.
Lucas pulls his mouth from mine and starts to work his hands against my belt. I let him for now as I notice the jutting bone and throbbing vein just waiting for me there at my favorite spot. Yes, he does have a prominent clavicle, ready and waiting to be filled.
His fingers toy with my zipper while I take a deep inhale of his scent. Book pages… ink from receipt paper… the cabernet he’d had tonight… some cologne that’s supposed to remind the senses of driftwood or some other manly shit… and then there’s another little touch of something.
And wouldn’t you know, the second I feel him grab me through my trousers, I realize exactly what it is. Nervousness.
His heartbeat pummels around beneath his thin skin and I can’t help the smile that tugs at the corner of my mouth. My little game is still on.
“Nervous, are you?”
“Why would you say that?” He swallows and frantically grabs my waist like I might walk away. And now his handsy moves are so much clearer. Perhaps he doesn’t do this often. But of which this are we speaking?
“You’ve never been with a man before,” I accuse him instead of asking and he swallows once more before eagerly tucking his fingers into the waistband of my drawers. He may not yet be fearful of me, but he is fearful of the situation—both of it happening and not happening—and that dichotomy intrigues me in a way I hadn’t expected.
“I…” He breathes heavily against my throat and I get another whiff of ripe tension in subtle dalliance with that frightful cab. I can feel the heat of his need showering my skin. My eyes lower to his as I push his frame closer to the wall. He’s still debating on touching me, so I make the decision easier by grabbing his wrist and slipping his hand deeper between my legs.
And now he’s touched me, here in this slice of yellowed moonlight, and the size of his eyes practically doubles. Yes, Lucas, you’ve now touched a man. But I’m hungry and this has become far too much about you and not nearly enough about me.
I don’t hesitate a second longer, just take his lips under mine and shove myself into him. His hand can’t do much, but it isn’t really why I’m here. I can finally taste a bit of the wine on his tongue right before I relinquish a little growl against his mouth. When he swallows this time, the quick dip in his throat mirrors the pulsing rap in his veins, and only at that very second do I actually harden within his fist.
“Mmmm.” The sound emitting from me is finally one of honest pleasure, made that much better when I lean my hips a fraction away from his and he begins to stroke the tips of his fingers along my straining thill.
And now I’m humming for a taste of him, for the fear I can smell on his sweat as it lightly freckles his neck. But what a succulent meal it would be, were I to turn that fear up another touch.
With a rapidity I’ve grown fond of these long years, I place my hands on Lucas’s hips and spin him so he’s facing the alley’s stone wall. His back is to my chest and I can feel the echo of his heart perfectly resounding against my ribs. And now I want to feel it slow as I…
My lips find the crook of his neck, there with his face plastered on the wall. He breathes my name as I open to let another little groan out, then tip my jaw and feel the sudden drop in my teeth. They jut out, lengthening like the stiletto of a retractable blade.
And that's when he feels it. He feels me.
“Claret.” His voice is shallow and my teeth explore his skin. One arm is looped around his waist, the other across his shoulders, my grip firm on his jaw. “Claret, I…”
There isn't time left for him to finish his thought. I start to sink into him in the moment his eyes lower and he sees what I am in his peripheral vision.
The burst of blood upon my tongue enraptures me while immediately muting him. Maybe he still is speaking. He could even be screaming, but the luscious tide of warmth breaking over my lapping tongue is enough to silence everything around me. I can feel him, though. Feel him shaking beneath my hold and I soak in the moment as it seeps right into my groin. THIS is the pleasure I live for. The pleasure I die for. And it is enough to make me crave even more of him.
I press myself much harder against him and I feel the moment that he starts to lose himself. The cloud has settled over his body. He's beginning to float now within my solid grip, nearly to the point where he’ll forget this happened. I'm the only thing holding him as his wine-muddled blood crashes through my throat. My white-blonde locks bound against his shoulder while I pull more from him. Just a little more, I say to myself as I play a game of life or death; toeing the line… and it hardens me. I am absolutely raging stiff and could fuck anything into oblivion.
He’s nearly there, fading into forgetfulness, making it easy for me to continue on in my quiet little world…
Until—in one harsh and fell swoop—my senses blare an alert. I'm retracted, my body calmed, my lips licked clean in a fraction of a second as a voice passes the mouth of the alley…
and something new, something foreign and unequivocally profound, hits me square in my chest.
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