From his vantage point on the mezzanine, Amaury LeSang gazed over the heads of the crowd in the trendy nightclub. The sea of bodies swayed to the loud and monotonous techno rhythm. His skilled eye surveyed the clubbers writhing against each other, looking for a female in need of company.
Too many emotions slammed into his mind in this busy place, the reason he preferred his own company to that of the crowd.
A bolt of pain assailed him.
… should have never gone out with the jerk …
… ask her to dance, or maybe talk to her friend first …
… idiot. As if I cared. I’ll show him …
Blocking out the random feelings of the individuals on the dance floor became increasingly difficult and painful the longer he stayed. Less like words and more like thrusts with a sharp blade they sliced into him—not one after another, but all at once. The impact would knock a lesser man on his ass.
But Amaury was stronger than others.
He focused on those females who appeared to be unaccompanied. All he needed was a lonely woman welcoming his attention. Somebody who was at the club to get laid. He was more than willing to oblige.
There, the unassuming brunette. Not only did she feel lonely, she was desperate for a man’s touch.
He strode down the stairs and waded across the dance floor, letting her feelings guide him straight to her. The woman rocked to the music and looked up at him when he stopped in front of her lithe body.
Amaury unleashed one of his most charming smiles. Combined with his handsome dark looks and blue eyes, most women couldn’t resist him, a fact he always used to its fullest advantage.
Dance with me.
He moved his lips and sent his thought into her mind. She would believe he’d spoken, when in reality she couldn’t have heard him over the din of the music.
She smiled and nodded. A little shy, yes, but welcoming nevertheless. Snaking one arm around her waist, the other around her shoulder, he drew her close. Her head only reached to his chest, making her at least a foot shorter than him.
Falling into the rhythm of the music, Amaury moved his body against hers. She molded to him, and he enjoyed the feel of her warm flesh through her skimpy clothes—thighs brushing, loins grinding.
Surrounded by the mob of people, the pressure in his head built, and the stabbing pain in his temples intensified. Like a migraine crippling a human, the pain dictated his actions. Nevertheless, he fought not to succumb to its demands for as long as he could, constantly pushing the boundaries of his mental prison.
Amaury didn’t particularly like dancing, and this was definitely not his taste in music, but he forced himself to dance with her for one entire song, before he made his move.
“I want to be alone with you,” he whispered into her ear, inhaling the natural scent of her glistening skin. He could, of course, fuck her right here on the dance floor, but then he’d have to do more damage control, something he wasn’t in the mood for.
He underscored his words by slipping his hand onto her ass and stroking her rounded cheeks. When she looked up at him from under her lashes, he read the desire in her eyes as well as her mind. She wasn’t particularly pretty, except for her generous dick-sucking lips, but she was willing. Willing was all he needed. He had no other expectations.
His cock was already fully erect, tenting his cargo pants which he wore commando. With his hand on her lower back, he led her through the crowd, picking up on random emotions around him.
A stranger’s envy sliced through him.
... did she catch that hunk? So not fair. What a hottie!
Amaury perused the woman whose lusty and jealous feelings he’d captured. Clearly, she wanted to take the brunette’s place. He could always come back for seconds if necessary.
Only a few more minutes and he’d feel better. His chest rose in anticipation as he inhaled deeply and quickened his stride, steering the brunette through the side exit.
The alley was quiet and dark. Several pallets with boxes stacked at various heights lined one side. Amaury’s gaze swept over the area to establish they were alone. A homeless man hung around the entrance to the alley, rummaging through trash containers.
Amaury verified that the man had obeyed his unspoken command and shuffled out of view, before he pulled the woman into the corner behind the boxes.
“What are you doing?” She giggled.
“Kissing you.” He lowered his head to hers. “You have the most gorgeous lips I’ve ever seen.”
The compliment worked. His lips met no resistance when he crushed hers, searing them in a demanding kiss. His tongue slid through her parted lips and dueled with its counterpart within seconds.
Without hesitation, he laid his hand onto her breast and kneaded her through the thin fabric, working her responsive nipple into a hard peak. He’d read her right: she craved his touch; so much so, she arched her breast into his palm and demanded more.
“Oh, baby,” he murmured against her lips. “So sweet.” From experience he knew women were more responsive when physical actions were interlaced with verbal endearments.
Her body welcomed him as his hand tunneled under her short skirt and found its way into her panties. His fingers slid through her curls and met her wet folds.
Amaury captured the moan she released. It wouldn’t take long. He realized how starved for sex she was and let his fingers do their magic. Caressing her, rolling her clit between his thumb and forefinger, he could feel her excitement rise. He would make it worthwhile for her.
The aroma of her arousal drifted into his nostrils, and he inhaled sharply. The scent helped him drown out the emotions bombarding him from inside and outside the club. But it wasn’t enough. His head continued throbbing with pain.
Without releasing her little nub of pleasure, he slipped a finger into her wet channel. Her muscles were deliciously tight. Nobody had visited her clenching sheath in a long time.
Moving his finger back and forth, aided by her plentiful juices, Amaury worked her into full-blown arousal. It was the least he could do in exchange for what she would do for him in a few minutes.
She gasped as he added a second finger, and he knew she was close. A few more skillful strokes and she came, raining more cream onto his hand while her muscles went through spasm after spasm.
“Mmh,” he hummed into her ear. “You alright, baby?” His male pride was satisfied, but the rest of him wasn’t, at least not yet.
“Oh, God, yes!” she answered, panting heavily.
“I bet you could make me feel good too. Let me feel your mouth on me, baby.”
Without waiting for her answer, he opened his pants and let his cock jut out. Despite its weight it stood erect. Slowly, he took her hand and guided it to wrap around his shaft. Soft hands which didn’t close around him completely—too much flesh, too much girth.
“You’re so big.”
Amaury shook his head. He was perfectly proportioned, but being the size of a linebacker also meant his dick was supersized. “I’m the perfect size for your beautiful mouth.”
Without any further objection, she dropped onto one of the boxes and moved her mouth toward him. He felt her tentative tongue touch the tip of his erection a second later.
“Oh, yes, baby. I bet you can give me the best blow job I’ve ever had.” Encouragement never failed.
Her tongue licked all the way down his shaft before she finally wrapped her lips around the bulbous head and slid down on him, taking him in to the hilt.
Nothing felt better than the warmth and wetness of a woman around his cock. His breath rushed out of his lungs at the tantalizing sensation. He steadied himself by placing his hands onto her shoulders and began to move his rod back and forth.
“Oh, fuck, baby, you’re good.”
Finally, he was able to forget the din of emotions. Peace and quiet filled his mind. He relaxed as the pressure in his head eased and the invading feelings started withdrawing.
Amaury looked up, and for the first time this night he noticed the canopy of stars in the night sky. Beautiful and peaceful, a mirror of what his mind could be like. Clear and unobstructed by any fog or clouds, the stars stood watch over his actions.
As temporary as this feeling of tranquility would be, he needed it to keep his sanity. Only sex could shut out the emotions he was assailed with every minute of his life.
The brunette’s mouth worked him beautifully. With every stroke and every lap of her tongue he grew harder. She sucked him deeper into her mouth, and he moved faster, forgetting the pain in his head.
Instead, he concentrated on her wet heat engulfing him. The softness of a woman, the promise of a few moments of bliss. A few seconds of contentment was all he needed, knowing happiness was outside his reach, a state he could never attain.
“Baby, yeah. Almost there. Oh, yeah, suck harder.”
He could virtually scent his impending release. So close. So deliciously close.
Amaury’s jacket pocket vibrated. He ignored it. Gripping his shaft at the base with one hand and cupping the back of her head with the other, he fucked her mouth more frantically, desperate for release. He couldn’t stop now, not when he was only seconds from his goal.
Need it. Now.
His cock pulsated with desperate need.
“Squeeze my balls,” he demanded. Her hand took his testicles, the gentle touch sending a hot flame through his loins as her fingernails scraped against the tight sac.
His cell phone vibrated again. This time it wouldn’t stop. Releasing his rod, Amaury shoved his hand into his jacket pocket and wrenched out the phone.
“Ah, fuck,” he hissed when he checked caller ID.
The woman stilled instantly.
“Not you, baby, don’t stop,” he ordered and flipped the cell open.
“What?” he breathed into the phone, his voice hoarse. With his hand on her head he continued pumping his shaft into her, as she resumed sucking him deep into her mouth.
“Why don’t you answer your fucking phone?” Ricky bellowed.
“Asshole.” His colleague’s timing sucked. “What do you want?”
“Crisis meeting at Samson’s in fifteen minutes.”
He knew better than to blow off a meeting with his boss and best friend, Samson. And if it was a crisis meeting, some shit was going down.
Amaury flipped the phone shut and shoved it back into his pocket. Fifteen minutes was barely enough time, but he had to finish this.
He closed his eyes and concentrated on the feel of her tongue sliding along his shaft, the softness of her mouth, and the intensity of her sucking motion. Again, he gripped his erection and fed her more of himself, filling her mouth with so much cock, she almost choked on it.
But she kept going. Her wet mouth pulled on him tightly, while her warm tongue ran along the underside of his swollen flesh, just the way he liked it.
“Oh, yeah, baby. You like my big cock, don’t you?”
Her hummed response reverberated on his skin, teasing his senses. The peach scent of her shampoo drifted into his nose. He felt a thin coating of moisture build on his face and neck. Tiny rivulets of sweat formed and ran along the ridges of his muscled upper body, catching in the light dusting of chest hair.
Amaury’s heart beat faster. His lungs pumped more oxygen through his system as his blood charged through his veins, thundering in his ears in a violent crescendo akin to Beethoven’s Fifth.
And then he felt the rush of his semen shoot through his shaft and into the woman’s mouth in quick, pulsating strokes.
His orgasm was short, but powerful. It cleared his head, and for a few minutes he would be at peace. He wouldn’t be able to sense the feelings of people he came in contact with and could feel his own heart and the sense of stillness that spread within it.
Only for a few moments. Then he would be invaded again by everybody’s pain, hunger, anger, and other emotions people carried with them. And he would perceive their love for someone and be reminded of the things he couldn’t feel. But for now, he was at peace.
Reluctantly, he pulled himself out of the woman’s mouth and put his still half-erect cock back into his pants.
“You were spectacular,” he praised and drew her up into an embrace.
Her lips glistened with his semen, and she looked beautiful to him. Amaury brushed her hair aside and exposed her lovely neck, her pale skin calling to him like a beacon of light guiding a sailor home. His lips touched the tender skin, before his tongue darted out to lick her.
She moaned: a sound so soft and sweet, only a satisfied woman could release it. “Come home with me.”
Amaury appreciated her whispered invitation, but had no intention of accepting it. He wanted something else entirely. Her vein beat against his lips, the movement so subtle a human would barely notice it, but his senses were sharper than those of a mortal.
His fangs lengthened, pushing past his lips.
“Baby, let me take from you.”
The sharp tips of his fangs sank into her neck and broke through the delicate skin. For a split-second she struggled against him, but his arms imprisoned her. He hauled her body into his, crushing her breasts against his chest.
As her blood coated his dry throat, his cock sprang back to life, but he didn’t have time to indulge a second time, as much as he wanted to bury his shaft in her slick heat.
Amaury didn’t take much of her blood, only enough to sustain himself. When he felt his hunger subside, he released her neck and licked the puncture wounds. His saliva closed the two little holes instantly. In the morning she would have no visible marks of his feeding, no side effects.
Then he looked into her eyes and sent his thoughts into her mind.
You never met me. You never saw me. Nothing happened. Go home now and sleep. And be careful. Don’t ever let a man take advantage of you. You’re beautiful. You deserve better.
Her eyes glazed over, and he knew it had worked. He’d wiped her memory of him. If she met him on the street tomorrow, she wouldn’t recognize him. Not even the ghost of déjà vu would remain.
Amaury rushed through the streets of downtown San Francisco before he reached a Cable Car stop and jumped onto the antique streetcar, which took him up the steep hill toward Samson’s house.
He liked the city’s collection of neighborhoods which masqueraded as a metropolis and where it wasn’t difficult to hide being a vampire. With a population as eclectic as the inside of a pawn shop, San Francisco was the perfect playground for modern-day vampires. Being eccentric or weird was nothing unusual in this city, where even the mayor was one of them.
The vampire population of San Francisco grew steadily, attracted by many of the same attributes humans liked about the foggy city: beautiful architecture, stunning views, and tolerant inhabitants.
Many vampire-run businesses had sprung up. There were several hip nightclubs, a newspaper—the SF Vampire Chronicle which was discreetly distributed to vampire households—investment companies, and of course Samson’s nationwide security company, Scanguards. It provided bodyguards and security guards to individuals and corporations, foreign dignitaries, politicians, and celebrities.
By the time Amaury reached Samson’s Victorian home in the exclusive and rather expensive neighborhood of Nob Hill and let himself in with his key, everybody was assembled. Before he even heard their voices, he sensed the tumult of emotions in the house: anger, disbelief, confusion.
His relief hadn’t lasted long. The next wave of pain was already building like a tsunami approaching the Pacific coast. He braced himself as he stalked along the wood-paneled corridor toward Samson’s private office in the back of the house.
Plastering his usual smile onto his face, he walked into the room, keeping his torment to himself like always. While his friends knew about his so-called gift, they had no idea about the pain it caused him daily and the things he had to do to keep his head from exploding. He didn’t want their pity.
They all thought he was a sex maniac out to screw every female he could get his hands on, just for the fun of it. In reality, without sex he would have gone on a crazed rampage long ago, killing everyone and everything in his path. Sex equaled survival—for him and those around him.
“Amaury, finally,” Samson greeted him, a pinch of displeasure in his voice. Being well over six feet tall, but with a much slimmer build than Amaury’s broad frame, the same black hair, but piercing hazel eyes, his boss looked every inch the powerful man he was.
“Samson, guys,” he replied and looked into the round. Everybody was there: Ricky, Thomas, Carl, all vampires like himself.
Even Oliver, Samson’s human assistant, a fresh-faced twenty-four year old, was present. And of course, Delilah, Samson’s human wife, his blood-bonded mate.
Amaury gave her a warm smile, which she returned as she swept her long dark hair over her shoulder, her petite body looking even tinier standing next to her man.
He noticed Samson putting his hand on hers, a gesture so instinctive Amaury doubted his friend had even noticed. The love radiating off the couple almost brought him to his knees. He straightened himself.
“What’s the crisis?” he asked instead.
“Thomas, patch in Gabriel,” Samson ordered.
Thomas typed something on the keyboard and stepped back from the screen. As always, Scanguards’ resident IT genius was dressed in his favorite biker outfit: leather, leather, and more leather. “Gabriel, you’re on.”
A second later, Gabriel Giles, head of operations in Scanguards’ New York headquarters, appeared on the computer monitor which was turned for all to see.
His commanding presence filled the screen. His long brown hair was tied back in a ponytail, and the scar which stretched from his chin to his right ear seemed to pulsate. Nobody had ever dared ask him how he’d obtained it. And Gabriel wasn’t one to volunteer information which was nobody’s business. Amaury only knew that it stemmed from when Gabriel was human, since a vampire’s skin didn’t scar.
“Evening everybody,” Gabriel’s booming voice came through loud and clear. “We’ve just been alerted to a problem. There’s no easy way to say it, so here it goes. A second bodyguard has killed a client and then himself.”
The collective murmurs and gasps of disbelief were quickly subdued, while the emotions continued to simmer under the surface.
“As you all remember, over a month ago, one of Scanguards’ San Francisco bodyguards killed the millionaire he was protecting and then committed suicide. We thought it was an isolated incident. Unfortunately, with this second murder, which concerns another San Francisco employee, we don’t have the luxury of chalking this off as just an individual gone berserk. Somebody’s messing with us.”
Samson nodded. “Gabriel and I spoke earlier tonight. The late evening news will break the story. We have to be ready to do damage control. Tomorrow the papers will be shredding us to bits. Nobody will shrug this off as a coincidence. And we’re pretty sure it isn’t.”
“Some vampires gone into bloodlust?” Thomas asked.
Amaury listened up. Bloodlust—they all feared it, the uncontrollable urge to take more blood than they needed which ultimately led to murder and madness.
Gabriel shook his head. “No. Both bodyguards were humans.”
“Any connection between the two?” Amaury interjected.
“Negative,” Samson answered quickly, “at least nothing we could determine this quickly. Apart from the fact that they were both hired here in San Francisco, they have nothing obvious in common.”
“I knew Edmund Martens. I hired him,” Ricky said. While he fancied himself a California Beach Boy and had adopted many habits of his new country, he couldn’t really be mistaken for anything else but the lad he was: his red hair, freckled face, and decidedly Irish last name, O’Leary, gave him away. “God, Eddie showed such promise. But when he killed that client last month, I thought he’d gone off the deep end and reverted back to his old ways.”
“What ways?” Amaury asked.
“Bad childhood, ran away from his foster family, turned to crime—the usual. Never thought he’d go so far and kill someone. He didn’t seem the violent kind. But then, sometimes it doesn’t take much for somebody to slide deeper. I just thought he’d finally pulled himself out of all this.”
“Maybe he did.” Samson’s concerned look spoke volumes and told them he didn’t believe that the two human bodyguards were at fault.
“Who’s the second guy?” Ricky wanted to know.
Ricky’s jaw slackened. “He was just a kid. He can’t have been working for us for longer than six months.”
“A little over five months,” Gabriel confirmed.
“What evidence do we have that Edmund and Kent actually killed their clients?” Amaury needed facts. He didn’t want to jump to conclusions.
“An eyewitness in Edmund’s case and the smoking gun in Kent’s.”
“Do we have anybody on the inside with the police?” Delilah suddenly asked. Everybody’s gaze settled on her. “Well, we’d better make sure we know what they know before it becomes public knowledge.”
Ever since Delilah had blood-bonded with Samson, she had started taking an active interest in the company. As a blood-bonded mate, she was entitled to everything Samson owned, and the fact that she’d started sharing in important decisions didn’t seem to disturb her man in the slightest. After all, she was his equal.
Amaury was surprised at the change he’d seen in his old friend. After two hundred years of solitude, Samson had had no problems adjusting to marriage to a strong woman. Amaury doubted that he himself would adjust as easily as Samson had, not that this question was anything else but academic. Amaury knew he would never bond, because he could never truly love anybody.
“I’ll talk to G,” Samson said, referring to the mayor. “I’ll make sure he’ll keep us in the loop.” He looked back at the screen. “What time are you landing?”
“Everybody’s on their way to the airport now. We’ll touch down about an hour before sunrise.”
“Don’t you think that’s cutting it a little close?” Ricky asked.
“It couldn’t be avoided. I had to mobilize the troops first and get ready myself.”
“You’re coming out here yourself?” Amaury asked in surprise. Gabriel rarely ever left New York for anything. If he was leaving the East Coast for this, he clearly expected these events to turn into a major problem. And if he was risking being out in the open so close to sunrise, Gabriel’s assessment of the situation had to border on catastrophic.
“We can’t trust anybody in the San Francisco branch. I’m bringing three of my best people with me: Quinn, Zane and Yvette. We’ll conduct the investigation our way. Outside of this group, nobody can be trusted. Nobody.”
“Gabriel is right,” Samson confirmed. “If two of our human guards killed their clients, somebody has their hand in this. And until we know who and why, we have to be tight-lipped about it. The employees will want an explanation. Ricky, you’ll call a staff meeting once Gabriel and his people are here. Everybody at Scanguards is under suspicion—humans and vampires alike. Carl, pick them up from the airport.”
Carl, Samson’s devoted butler, driver, and man about the house, nodded instantly, his slightly heavy body as always neatly squeezed into a dark business suit.
“Amaury, you’ll go with Carl,” Samson ordered.
Amaury nodded. He hadn’t seen his friends from New York in ages, and catching up with them would distract him from his pain. Not that he was overly keen on seeing Yvette again. She was probably still pissed at him.
“Thomas,” Samson continued, “I want you to upload complete background checks for all employees and run them in a matrix against each other. Let’s see what Edmund and Kent had in common, and then let’s run those criteria against the rest of the employees. We need to see who else might be vulnerable to whatever is happening.”
“No problem,” Thomas accepted. “I’ll get right on it. I’ll be working downtown.”
“Oliver, you’re the only one here who can get around during the day. I’ll be relying on you heavily. You’ll be our liaison.”
Before Oliver could respond, Delilah interrupted. “Hold on; I can go out during the day too.”
Even though Delilah was a blood-bonded mate and drank blood from Samson, she remained entirely human, except for one thing: she didn’t age anymore as long as her man was alive.
“Out of the question,” Samson snapped. “You won’t get involved in the investigation.”
“It’s my company too.” She braced her hands at her hips.
“I don’t deny that. But you won’t put yourself in danger, not in your condition.”
“Condition?” Amaury heard himself ask and instantly sensed the answer to his question.
Everybody else in the room gave the couple a questioning look.
Samson grinned proudly. “I guess the cat is out of the bag.” He pulled Delilah into his arms. “Delilah is making me the luckiest guy on this earth. We’re going to have a baby.”
The man was a lucky bastard. Amaury shook his head. “Congratulations.”
As their friends threw in their best wishes and congratulated them on their happy event, Amaury watched Samson hold his wife tightly while whispering into her ear. He didn’t need to hear what he’d said, because the emotions emitted by the two hit him like a brick falling from a skyscraper.
The pressure in his temples increased. If he didn’t get out of their presence soon, his head would explode.
Love was the most devastating emotion screwing with Amaury’s head. He was by no means jealous of Samson, because he had no interest in his lovely mate, but he simply couldn’t stomach their company for too long. Whenever other people’s love bombarded his mind, the pain he felt was virtually unbearable. Being cursed never to feel love in his own heart again, his mind couldn’t handle this emotion and only reacted with pain and rejection.
Unfortunately, the meeting wasn’t over yet. He’d already arrived late. Leaving early would be out of the question. After all, he was an officer of the company and had an interest in it. This crisis had to be dealt with.
Amaury gripped the massive antique desk behind him for balance and tried to distract himself from the thunder pounding in his head. Letting his mouth curve into another fake half-smile to disguise his inner turmoil, he addressed Gabriel via the monitor, “Have any of the other branches reported problems?”
“I’m sending reinforcements to Houston, Seattle, Chicago, and Atlanta. We don’t know yet whether this is going to be confined to San Francisco or not. But we can’t be too careful. The faster we find out who or what’s behind this, the better for all involved. This mustn’t spread. We’ll be ruined if it does.”
Samson gave a grim smile, Delilah still tucked into his side. “You’re right. The company can’t survive this kind of publicity. And if the police or the press dig too deep, we’re in trouble. None of us can afford to be exposed for what we are. So, at the slightest breech of security by any human, wipe their memories. It’s crucial. No exceptions.”
“And we can’t have any more people dying,” Delilah added.
“Until this is over, we should all minimize our contacts with humans.”
Samson didn’t have to look his way, but Amaury knew the jab was aimed at him. Easy for his friend to say—he had his human wife by his side day and night.
He got the message, and it was loud and clear. Amaury was to stay away from human women. And what did this leave him with? Having sex with those female vampires who hadn’t kicked him out of their beds yet?
It wasn’t that he didn’t deliver when it came to sex, but many of the vamp ladies had started making emotional demands. Why they had all suddenly turned into needy, clingy creatures, he had no idea. For sure, mainstreaming was to blame. As if emulating humans was the goal.
He sure wasn’t going to turn into one of those blithering idiots, going all gooey eyed over some woman, not even if he was capable of loving, which, of course, he wasn’t.
Copyright 2010 Tina Folsom
Copyright 2010 Tina Folsom