Detective Daniel Serf raced across The Lone Bridge as he navigated the car through hostile weather, feeling the need to match his racing emotions.
What happened to the girl? Drake never deviated from his M.O. It was to be Drake’s last child, though he was unaware of it. After that, no more. His time was up. Astor would see to that.
He’d already called his men, Larson and Sands, and relayed his master’s instructions. When done cleaning Avalyn’s house, and getting rid of the mother’s body, they’d concentrate on locating the girl. But Drake, as always, had been messy and cleaning up after him would take some time.
Bulbous beads of sweat dripped into his brown eyes. He wiped it away. Two weeks was too long to go without the blood. His forehead was drenched, as was his black hair. His veins itched. Soon, they’d burn and feel like acid were in his veins.
Had he failed Bailien?
He neared the end of the bridge, his hands shaking as he gripped the wheel, his vision blurring. It cleared some when he shook his head. He needed the blood, Bailien’s blood. He bit his lip and held back a cry, afraid to hear it because he knew how it would sound: small and desperate.
What had gone wrong? Had Drake been caught? Had the girl escaped? There’d been no reports of a missing child. No arrests matching Drake’s description. Still, Serf was worried. Drake was getting worse; he was getting weaker. Blood alone wasn’t enough to sustain him. Not yet.
Thinking of blood made him think about his need. Made him think about his master, Bailien. Serf’s will had weakened long before he’d met Bailien, whose appearance couldn’t have been timelier. Serf had just divorced. The marriage hadn’t been a long one. He’d been unable to control his sexual desires when married, and afterward he’d no interest to.
Nightly, he’d roamed the city, partook in whatever flesh he could get, willing or not.
“Danny! Danny! Hold up!”
The six-foot beauty entrances him. To Serf, she’s a flawless exaggeration of a female: breasts too large for her frame, buttocks, robust and rounded to a perfection, spine curved so deep that Serf could picture a saddle on it, picture himself riding on it, breaking her. Her legs were muscular, yet curvy, leading down to six-inch pumps, whose leather straps coiled from ankles to knees like sensuous serpents. She’s wearing a pink, thong-backed bodysuit, so tight, it appears to be part of her skin. He can see the bulge between her legs.
The completeness of this walking contradiction excites him.
For a long time she’s been the primary focus of his desire, and his rage. At the bar, some nights she ignores him. Other nights she talks to him. When she does, she teases him, leaves him hard up, frustrated.
“You remember my name?”
“Do you remember mine?” she asks, smiling. A generous mouth. A cruel mouth.
He stiffens in his pants. He wants to beat her, punish her, for making him feel this way, for arousing him.
“Yeah, I remember,” he says. “Servanah, right?” trying to keep his voice from trembling.
She slides her tongue over her lips. “Hard name to forget, huh?” She stretches and displays her already well-exhibited physique. Breasts sway, their size strains the fabric.
His temper rises as it always does with his libido. She’s teasing him. She’s teased him so many times. He doesn’t want to be sent home like that again. He will not be sent home like that again.
“Do you want to come home with me?” she says, glancing at his crotch, eyes flashing.
It’s hard resisting her. He consumes her curves. He knows what his answer will be. “Sure,” he stammers. “Give me the address. I’ll meet you there.” He hates it when he says it. Fear squeezes his stomach; he’s sure she’s setting him up to fall. Again.
“What’s the matter? Don’t want anybody to know what you’re into?” she asks, loud enough to turn the few heads loitering by the bar’s entrance.
“No, it’s not that,” Serf sputters, red in the face. He lowers his voice, “I’m a cop.”
She gets closer, close enough where only he can hear her. “Don’t want the boys to know that you like to take it, huh?” She pushes her pelvis forward, illustrates the statement. Their bodies touch. She presses against him, disregarding the gawking spectators behind her as she grabs his hand and places it on her rear.
“The address is 420 Remus Street,” she says as she grips his penis, “I’ll go ahead.” Letting go, she saunters toward the street in search of a cab. Serf watches her leave, watches the thong backing of her body suit disappear into the crack of her bottom, watches her step into the taxi, enjoying the spread of her cheeks and all of its promises.
Minutes later, several blocks down, Serf hails a cab of his own. After giving the driver the location, he eases back into the stinking upholstery, excited with all the possibilities the night has to offer.
At the apartment, he presses his ear to the door, and hears nothing.
Suddenly it opens. Caught off guard, the leaning detective spills inside, and takes down whoever has opened it with him. Though very little light spills into the unlit apartment, though she’s nothing more than a shadowed outline, Serf recognizes that body anywhere. Servanah kicks and screams, tries to push him off her. He finds her jiggling bottom enticing as light coming in from the hallway graces it.
Eventually, she wiggles free. “Look, I changed my mind! Get the fuck out!”
Servanah looks good there, on the floor, cleavage spilling. The sight dizzies Serf; the room is spinning, and he’s caught in its turbulence. Serf rises.
“Did you hear me? Get the fuck out!”
Serf turns to the door, shuts it, and then locks it. The light streaming in from the hall cuts off. From behind, he hears a sharp intake of breath, and smiles. He will not be denied again. He unlatches his belt and slides it free.
She jumps to her feet and races down the hall. Familiarity of her domain abets her flight through the dark apartment.
He walks after her, hands out in front of him, feeling his way through the dark. He’s not completely blind. Moonlight creeping in through the blinds aids him. As he turns down the hallway, he’s greeted by the slamming of a room’s door. Serf wraps the belt around his fist.
An hour after he’s broken through the door, he’s still thrusting at what he hopes is a ruined orifice. He wishes there were light in the room. So he can survey the damage. So he can enjoy his work. There will be time for that when he’s done. Then maybe he’ll have another go at her. He settles for her shadowed shape, its quivering form, and its soft exhausted cries.
She doesn’t put up much of a fight now, silent except for her breathing, coming in gasps.
Finally, he comes, legs trembling from all the work, heart palpitating, sweat streaming. He doesn’t withdraw, but rests his weight upon her back; their sweat mingles with intercourse’s fluids. Serf is so content, relaxing there against her, face nuzzled by the nape of her sweat-drenched neck, their sex scents filling his nostrils, that he hasn’t noticed the room’s sudden drop in temperature, fails to feel her body’s warmth dissipate beneath him.
The lights come on.
He sees his breathe, billowing arctic white. He tries pulling free. A tearing sensation along his groin halts his progress. Serf looks down. What was once sopping and wet is now frozen. What he thought had been sweat dripping from her body is blood. Crimson tinged frost fastens her rear to his groin, and the backs of her thighs to the fronts of his.
A crackling, bone-splintering sound jars Serf away from the horror below the waist and directs him to the terror above her neck. Servanah’s face is where the back of her head should be. It’s completely turned on its axis. The reversed head giggles, mouth contorting with fits of uncontrollable laughter, jeering and cruel, fangs descending from the maw, eyes dancing with a baleful flame that shines from swirling hazel pupils.
“Thought you’d like the light to see,” Servanah said. “You really raped me, huh. Hope you enjoyed it.”
Terrified, Serf tries pulling away.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” she says, the laughter dying on her lips. Serf continues struggling, indifferent to his pain, not caring how much it hurts. Escape from her is all that he cares about now. Tender flesh along his belly and groin tears, as its elasticity stretches past the breaking point. Blood flows, feels like lava seeping down his frigid thighs, a furnace compared to the winter of her skin.
“I told you not to do that, didn’t I?”
He’s almost free, when he feels a sucking sensation along his penis. The walls of her rectum squeeze him tight. She pushes off the ground and throws her weight rearward, forces him onto his back. He cries out. Her fastened orifice strokes him hard. He screams when he feels the thin flesh tear along his penis.
Servanah stops riding and lays back on him. “Did you enjoy the show, Bailien?” She asks with a sick twist from her reversed head. Serf follows her gaze.
There’s a figure in the doorway, shining and luminescent. His hair is so brown that it seems dyed, brilliant against the pallor of his flesh. His eyes are completely black and too large for his face. And though it’s impossible to read anything within those black orbs, Serf senses their cruelty, their evil. A multi-layered overcoat flows down the length of a lean frame and ends at the boot’s heels.
Bailien strolls over. When he reaches Servanah, he strokes her head and says, “Thank you,” his lips part revealing sharp and prominent canines. “I know that was hard for you. Playing the victim. But you looked good doing it.”
“Can’t I have him? Must you get all the good ones?” Servanah says.
Bailien drops to his haunches, the brows over his eyes knit, sharpen, makes the black spheres beneath their umbrage seem colder, darker. When he smiles, the effect is quite frightening. No stretch lines wrinkle the skin.
“I like you, Servanah.” His eyes roam across her flushed flesh, roused despite the temperature. They linger on her bosom and loiter by her backside. “I like you a lot. But know thy place, Mortal Born.”
“Forgive me, Bailien, but I’ve done as you asked. I’ve brought the detective to you. I let him take me. A mere sip would be compensation enough.”
“Compensation?” Bailien’s smile turns into a slit. “You dare! What do I care for Astor’s plaything? What do I care for a former soul bag? You Mortal Born sicken me. Each and every one of you.”
Serf desperately wants to become one with the floor. He doesn’t understand the conversation and has no interest to do so. He just wants to escape with his life.
“Let me watch you finish with him. If I’m satisfied, I’ll let you have a small sip.”
Servanah spins her head back to the body’s front. With Serf still inside of her, she rotates to face him. She feels him stir again and laughs. Serf screams. She jabs her elongating tongue into his open mouth.
Bailien watches, appreciatively.
Serf trembled with the memory. He’d been terrified that night, but now, unlike then, thinking of Servanah made him hard, fueling his lust. He reached for the throb in his pants before regrettably releasing his ache and turning his mind to more immediate concerns. Like the headlights of an oncoming truck traveling in the opposite direction. The lights stung his eyes just as another spasm shook him. He’d accidently crept into the opposite lane. Veering the vehicle right, he narrowly avoided the collision. Although he was a blood thrall, and considerably stronger than a human, he could die by mortal means.
Reaching the exit, he accelerated into the turn, and skidded off the bridge’s ramp and onto the road.
He saw the iron gates that surrounded Drake’s property half an hour later. His heart raced and his veins ached when he spotted his master, Bailien, perched on them. Serf could tell the difference between the dead and the living, thanks to Bailien’s blood. One of its benefits was aura reading. Bailien had no aura.
It always startled the thrall when his master moved. It was like watching granite shift, a lifeless thing animated. The statue swiveled its head toward him.
Serf parked the car a few feet away from Bailien, but stayed inside; he wouldn’t exit until bade to.
The moon captured Bailien’s marbled magnificence, shone lunar light upon his pastel perfection, and amplified the smooth unlined skin absent of starved sapphire veins. And Serf was glad to see the pink flush beneath his pale pallor, was pleased to see his cobalt stare, for that meant that his master had fed recently, and that he’d have blood to give. Serf squirmed with expectation.
On the ground, directly below Bailien, were two empty blood bags, pouches made from human skin that kept the blood warm. Vampires carried them when they were too busy to hunt. Bailien disliked drinking from the blood bags. It wasn’t the same as drinking from a mortal. Though the blood sustained him and masked his appearance, its taste paled in comparison to feeding from a human. Lacked emotional resonance.
Come, Bailien said, in his mind. I know you’re hungry.
Obediently, Serf left the car and wobbled to his master.
Bailien’s gaze followed his thrall’s advance, his head imperceptibly inching along with his eyes. Serf, like all thralls, wanted to be made a vampire. And like all thralls, he’d never be made one. The proverbial carrot perpetually dangling before him. Always so near. Always out of reach. Something seen but never touched. Something smelled but never tasted. Thralls were slaves. Nothing more. Mortals chosen to be made vampires were much more than that. An exceptional evil. An exquisite iniquity.
Now beneath him, Serf dropped to his knees and raised his head.
Open your mouth, Bailien’s mental voice commanded. And drink what comes. Without question, Serf did so, eager and wide.
But Bailien thought he saw shame within Serf’s eyes, a remnant that was still lingering there. He was thrilled that it was still there. Bailien needed it to be there. Because Serf would need to feed it. Satiate his addiction to Bailien’s blood. The only way he knew how to. By giving in to it.
Raise your face, Serf, Bailien said. Nothing to be ashamed of. We all have needs. And those needs must be fed. They complete us. Mold us. Make us who we are.
Bailien brought his wrist to his mouth and bit. Two neat punctures graced his skin. Blood filled the holes. The wrist lowered. The drops swelled thick, then fell, at first trickled, then streamed. The thick blood ran down Bailien’s wrist, poured across his palm, and separated when it met the fork in the road Bailien’s ring and middle finger formed.
Serf shuffled forward, knees scraping along the graveled ground, afraid to miss a drop, remiss to waste what he needed. He clenched his hands into fists when Bailien’s blood entered his mouth, arched his back when it swirled round his tongue, and shook his frame when it plunged down his throat. Ecstasy ruled him, infinite and encompassing. But deep down, in what was left of Serf’s soul, he knew it was a lie.
Don’t you dare miss a single drop, Bailien said. Swallow all of it. And Serf did as he was told. He felt the jitters dwindle. Felt the shakes cease. Then, he felt the power come. Strong and hard. Though he knew it was finite and fleeting.
When Serf was done feeding, Bailien licked his wound and the holes sealed. “Rise,” he said, finally using his external voice. “I’ve orders for you.”
Serf got off his knees. “Yes, master.”
Bailien dropped from his perch and landed in front of his minion. He towered over Serf. The detective was five foot ten, stocky and built. Bailien was six foot eight, a v shaped build. “Feel better?” he asked, patting Serf on the head, even though he knew the other’s answer.
“Yes.” Adoration glazed Serf’s eyes.
“I need you to watch the house. But do not enter. I’ll not have the crime scene spoiled.” As a question entered Serf’s eyes, Bailien answered it. “Remain here until dawn. Have your men continue the hunt for the child. Inform them that you’ll be busy hunting a Recreant. Then head to the tunnel. I’ll need you to pick up a friend of mine.” He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a handgun. He handed it to Serf. “It’s loaded with silver bullets. You know I never travel within these woods without something silver. Damned Neuri. You’ll need it in the morning.”
Again, Bailien saw the beginnings of a question, this time trembling along Serf’s lips. A single finger, placed along his own lips, silenced his thrall.
“Come.” Bailien led Serf back to the car. “Though you and your detectives are quite adept at forensics, I require a far more superior talent, a natural hunter.”
They had reached the trunk. Bailien raised the same finger he’d used to shush the detective’s questions. A black claw ripped from the nail. He stabbed at the trunk with it repeatedly. Though his vision was superior to a normal man’s, Serf had trouble following the motion. Bailien’s fingers blurred before him, and by the time he retracted the extremity, there were twenty holes in the trunk.
“For breathing,” Bailien said. His hand shot back into his breast pocket and then reappeared. Within its long fingered embrace was a box of bullets.
“Here.” He handed them to Serf. “Spares. You may need them.”