Mel took a long sip of blood laced wine and leaned back in her chair. Her eyes half closed, she watched couples dancing on the polished black floor of Burgundy Peak, a notorious club in New York City. It was a seedy place filled with booze and prostitutes--mortals and vampires alike--willing to offer their blood to anyone who turned them on. Still, after spending the past few months in a South American jungle with only wild animals for companionship, the club offered just the kind of relaxation Mel needed.
"So you really lived naked with the apes and fed off the blood of great cats?" Sue stared at Mel and rested her head against her husband Paul's shoulder.
"And you actually used your hands to dig a hole in the ground to wait out the day?"
"Only sometimes. Parts of the jungle are so heavily shaded that it's usually safe enough to stay out in the daytime."
Sue wrinkled her nose. "Stay out with your naked butt on a pile of leaves while bugs the size of eagles swarm all over you. I always told you, Mel, if you're going to give blood, make sure it's to studs only."
"You said that?" Paul's lips turned up in a half smile. "So I guess you married me for my body."
"No, with you my heart ruled, not my eyes."
"Just joking, you big, handsome hunk of vampflesh."
Grinning, he draped an arm around Sue. "That's more like it. I don't understand you, Mel. Most women I know don't like giving up their creature comforts."
"Yeah, well, I've never been like most women." Mel leaned back in her chair and tugged at a rip in the thigh of her jeans.
Sue shook her head. "Still trying to find that bloodlust rush in something other than feeding?"
"I guess so." Mel sighed deeply. "When I became a vampire, I thought life would be more exciting than this."
"You're not old enough to be cynical," Paul snorted. "Hell, I've been around since before the great wall started going up in China and I still think there are awesome experiences just waiting for me out there."
"It's not that. I've had great experiences on my own. I'm just looking for the right..."
"Companion?" Sue grinned. "You're rough on guys. You have to give them a chance."
Mel believed she had given too many men too many chances. It might not be all their fault. She wasn't an easy woman to handle and never had been, even as a mortal. She spent her childhood as a regular tomboy. She loved sports, action movies, and anything physical. She was active in the women's rights movement. Burned her bra and everything. That's where she met Sue. The two women had become good friends instantly.
In spite of her delicate appearance, Sue possessed admirable strength, both physical and emotional. Though she looked around Mel's age, she had seemed so wise, so in control, unlike Mel who spent her life in overdrive. When Sue had first told Mel about her vampirism, she had been skeptical. Then she witnessed Sue's power and was entranced. It beckoned her like nothing she had ever felt before. She wanted it badly, and Sue willingly obliged.
Mel loved everything about immortality. Ever since that first night of unparalleled strength coursing through her, she had made it her duty to experience her vampiric gifts to their fullest. When she wasn't in the wilderness living like an animal, she was seeking out others of her kind to challenge. Nothing compared to engaging in a good old-fashioned brawl with another vampire. Such violence incited an almost sexual sensation inside her. Maybe that was why she was still looking for the right kind of mate, the kind she had only heard about from other vampires.
The stories of the ancients, the alpha males who roamed the world when it was young, fascinated her. She knew plenty of modern alphas. Their power lured her, yet most of them had adapted to the world enough to give people the respect they deserved. These males treated those beneath them like beloved pets, not wanting to hurt them unless directly threatened. What would it be like to meet one of the ancients untouched by the political correctness adopted by the vampire world?
There was one way she might satisfy her curiosity. Her heart pounded just from thinking about the possibility. She had considered it many times before, but something always stopped her. Could it be that she didn't truly have the guts to go through with it? No. She had faced pain, even death, many times before and not lost her nerve. Still, this was different. If she did this, she wouldn't be surrendering her life, but her very soul.
"What's turning around in your mind, kid?" Sue grinned in Mel's direction. "I see lust in those sneaky gray eyes of yours."
"I was thinking about maybe spending a night with Zigor."
Both Sue and Paul leaned closer.
"Are you serious?"
Paul released a low whistle. "From what I hear, he doesn't get as many visitors as he used to."
"I can see why," Sue scoffed. "I mean, the guy has to get out of the Middle Ages. His attitude stinks. I would rather sleep with a gorilla than with Zigor."
Paul stared at her, wrinkling his nose. "Really?"
"Obviously. I sleep with you, don't I?"
Paul growled deep in his throat, a play growl rather than an angry one. "He lives like we used to. Sometimes I almost miss those days."
"Well, don't think about it. I'm not into crawling on my belly and licking a guy's toes."
"You did last night, Sue."
"Because I wanted to, not because you grabbed me by the hair, flung me on my face and said 'Do it, woman. I'm the master.' The idea of all that dominance shit makes me sick. I mean, you're alpha enough, Paul." She smiled, gazing at her husband with a combination of love and lust as she slipped her arms around his neck.
Paul dragged her onto his lap and nuzzled her neck. "That's why I don't need all that medieval trash. Someone as virile as I am is intimidating enough for his woman."
"I mean it, guys." Mel drew a deep breath. "I'm thinking of making an appointment to give him my blood."
"Making an appointment to give him your blood." Sue rolled her eyes. "He's getting the freebie and even makes that sound like he's doing the donor a favor. Even worse, he only feeds off other vampires. He won't stoop to sully his fangs with human blood. Why is it that his word is law around here?"
"Sue, it's his business."
"Yes, his brothel."
"Come on, honey. You know this place keeps a lot of vampires safe. How many prostitutes get injured or staked every century? Zigor protects the people who work for him. At the first scent of trouble anywhere in Burgundy Peak, he or his security team are on it. The rumor is he has a waiting list for employees, too, but he's as picky about who he hires as he is who he sleeps with."
"Well, I can't deny that he defends his own, but I still don't agree with his ancient alpha attitude. Do either of us demand that our offspring call us Master? No."
Mel paid little attention to her friend's exchange of words. She was too preoccupied with seeing Zigor. Mel took her lower lip between her teeth. Desire for Zigor tugged at her insides. The more she thought about him, the more she ached for the kind of rough love he might just give her.
"Trouble is, he doesn't accept everybody who comes to spend the night with him."
"If you want him that badly, just tell him I sent you." Paul shrugged. "He and I go way back."
"You won't need any special in. A guy like that will take whatever blood comes his way."
Paul stroked his wife's arm gently. "Everybody knows Zigor only takes special clients."
Sue snorted. "Special clients."
"He's the chief Intimate here, not just some glorified hooker. Intimates have existed from the beginning, sharing their expertise and discipline with those who pay with their blood. It's a spiritual thing."
Though Mel chuckled, the concept of an Intimate fascinated her. She quivered inside just thinking about her blood feeding such an ancient, powerful being.
"He owns the place, Paul. He's no better than some goddamn madam from the old west."
"Will you shut up? These walls have ears, love. If he heard you say something like that, he'd go crazy. Then I would end up having to fight him for your honor and I've tangled with him before. In the year 1066 the bastard nearly took my left ear off."
Mel's brow furrowed. "I thought you said you and he go way back?"
"We do. It's just that neither of us take shit, so a few times we ended up beating it out of each other, if you'll pardon my language."
Sue stood, placing her hands on her hips. "I don't need you to fight for my honor. I take care of myself."
"While I'm your husband, nobody's touching you." Paul bared his fangs.
She leaned closer and touched her nose to his. "Yeah?"
"Oh, Paul, it makes me hot when you get protective. Want to go home and fool around?"
With a savage grunt, Paul stood, lifted Sue into his arms, and carried her out of the club.
Mel sighed, envying the fun the couple was about to share. Of course if she wanted some action, Burgundy Peak offered the services of their prostitutes. There were male and female, vampire and human. Something for just about every taste. Mel took another sip of wine. Rather than waste time with the boring, emotionless ministrations of hookers, she'd rather drink blood out of a glass.
Mel wanted something more stimulating, something that could engage her mind as well as her body. She wanted to be overpowered and devoured. She wanted to feel like one of those helpless wenches of old, the kind that those cheesy romance novels called "feisty" when all they really seemed to do was scratch at the chests of the virile hunks who threw them down and gave them an endless string of orgasms.
Damn, hot novels were her single girlie vice. She wasn't into makeup or dresses. She couldn't stomach chick flicks. And to her, "motherly" was a dirty word, but she loved erotic books, especially the spanking and bondage ones. For a woman like her, finding a man who could truly overpower her was pretty much an unreachable fantasy.
Sure, there were male vamps who were stronger, faster, and meaner, but none of them ever worked out right. The strong, fast ones who were halfway decent had some sort of internal censor for really hurting a woman. The mean ones were out and out lunatics who didn't care if they caused her real damage.
Where could she find a man who wouldn't worry about making her cry, but who also would restrain himself before ripping her throat out? Such a man just didn't seem to exist. Her last hope would be to spend a night with Zigor. The man had a reputation as a real beast. He was old and had no desire to catch up with the rest of the world. If Paul said he was tough, then she knew better than to doubt his prowess.
"What the hell?" She finished her drink, slammed the glass on the table, and walked to the bar.
The bartender approached. "What can I do for you?"
"I want to see Zigor."