The owner of the very exclusive club Deke had applied to smiled at him, making a note in a leather bound folder. The place was like that. Leather portfolios and leather chairs, the smell of expensive booze and tobacco strong, even this early in the day. "Deke, then. Your application looks perfect, and your references are impeccable. So we only have two things to talk about."
"Okay." Deke twisted his key ring around his fingers, trying not to look nervous. Normally he wouldn't set foot in a swanky place like the Bloodrose, but he had this itch that he just had to scratch, and it was getting tough to find a safe place to do it. So, there he was, sitting in front of an amazingly hot guy named Jonny, who had gone over his file with a fine toothed comb.
Jonny smiled, revealing a set of tiny, needle-sharp fangs, reminding him that he'd chosen the damned club for a reason that went beyond private membership and a free massage. "First, we need to decide exactly what you want out of your experience at Bloodrose. It says here that you would like to try to defer your membership fees by entering into an exclusivity contract with one of our current members."
Deke's cheeks heated. You didn't have to be broke to be unable to come up with the kind of fees Bloodrose charged, damn it. "Uh. Yeah. It's an option on the application. I mean, I assumed people did it all the time."
"They do. Not to worry. I just want you to understand that, barring any incompatibility, this will lock you into a year's worth of commitment."
"I do. Understand, I mean." That was the reason Deke was there, in fact. With an itch like his to scratch, he ended up at a lot of skanky bars, picking up a lot of nameless guys, and he was getting tired of it. Not to mention the fact that it was becoming dangerous.
Oh, he didn't worry any about disease or anything. That was a fortunate side effect of being a werewolf. No, what he worried about was the weird little packs of vamps and other things that were banding together out there. A man could get himself in real trouble if someone had bad intentions working, and there were more and more vamps out there who would like nothing more than to lock him away somewhere and treat him like their own little Energizer bunny.
"Well, then, we have a few options. I can try to match you with a member and you can do a few interviews. Or, if you really want to go for those membership fees, I can choose more than one patron who might meet your needs, and we can have an auction."
"An auction?" Whoa. Whoa, what did that mean? He had a sudden image in his head of some dude talking really fast and blabbering on about how he was from sturdy stock and how he could mostly control his wolf shifting, even on the fullest moon. "Wait. If someone ... what? Buys me for a year, what if we don't get along?"
"All auctions have a two week guarantee." Jonny leaned his elbows on the giant mahogany desk, looking as earnest as a vamp with a three hundred dollar haircut could look. "I also happen to be very good at placing members with partners."
"And this is the best way to defer my fees?"
"For you? Yes. You're a valuable commodity, Deke. It also helps me, I admit. You could simply come to the club on a temporary membership and meet someone, thus taking a member away. Instead, you're willing to allow me to find someone to pay for you to come here."
"Well, yeah. I mean, that's kind of the point. I need a safe place to do this, you know?" He didn't want to take someone to his apartment, didn't want to go someplace private without a security fail safe in place. Bloodrose had private rooms, good steaks, and lots of vamps to choose from. From what he'd heard.
"Well, then. I'll get the ball rolling on the patrons. That just leaves us one thing to finish up." Something in the air changed, the whole feel going from business-like to sexual. Predatory. Jonny went from all business to slinky, growly...
Deke liked it.
"Yeah? What's that?" His fingers tingled, and Deke wiped the sweaty tips on his pants legs, trying to not to get too riled up. It would make him all furry.
"Blood tests. I just want to make sure everything is nice and clean for our patrons."
"Well, it's not like I can carry the usual..."
"I know." Jonny cut him off, holding up one pale, elegant hand. "There are just as many nut jobs out there who want to hurt vampires as there are ones that wish to harm werewolves, Deke. I need to know you're not one of them."
"Fair enough." It was, too. How could he blame the man for protecting his business? "Do you, uh, do you have a lab on the premises? I don't want a regular lab getting a hold of my blood, huh?" That way led to test tubes and straightjackets and all.
"Naturally. I can have it drawn here, or we can do it the old fashioned way." Jonny moved, way too fast for him to see, coming across the desk to cup his chin in one hand. "I'm more than happy to test you myself."
"Yeah?" Now his hands weren't the only things that were sweaty. His skin prickled with heat, his breath starting to come in shallow pants. This was what he'd come here for, right? This was his damned itch. It drove him crazy, prickling at his skin like little needles that didn't have a full load of his favorite drug.
"Yes. It will help me know who to pair you with, as well. If I know your flavor. Are you willing?" There was something warm creeping into Jonny's icy eyes, something that looked a lot like need.
Deke swallowed, the sound loud and harsh. "Oh, hell yes. I'm willing."