Free Chapters – Introduction, 1-5

Chapter 4

 

The interior of the Jag was wide with legroom, specifically for someone as tall as Simon who was approximately six foot four, Viv wagered, making her five foot five (in her Keds) stature incredibly comfortable.  Everything about the car was designed for maximum comfort with very little effort.  Having driven it at as fast as humanly possible down the city’s appropriately named main street called ‘the Strip’, she could vouch for the intense dynamic control the vehicle had.

 

She wanted one.

 

Leaning forward, with her eye still on the lingering fog outside the car, Viv popped open the glove box and was rewarded with a silver nine millimeter Sig Sauer.  Lifting it, she felt the balance, testing the grip.  She popped the clip out and counted – it was a modified fifteen round 9mm.  Whistling softly, she checked the clip and noticed the odd smell.  Taking a closer look, she popped a bullet out and dropped it into her hand.  Immediately her skin sizzled and she bounced the bullet out of her hand, and for the next few moments, comically struggled with retrieving the offense ammunition without burning her fingertips.  Finally she popped the compartment between the seats and dropped the bullet into the cup holder.

 

“Fuck me,” she mumbled unhappily at her stupidity.  Checking her fingers, she realized that it wasn’t a pure silver bullet, but just tipped with the offensive metal, otherwise her hands would have been more severely burned instead of just a variety of little burns that would clear up in a couple hours.  It was enough silver to hurt, but not enough to attract unwanted attention if found.  Pulling her arm into her sleeve, she picked up the bullet and loaded it back in the clip.  With experienced fluid motion, she popped the clip into the Sig and placed the gun back into the glove box.  It was useless to her anyway.

 

Viv continued opening every single compartment, touching all the buttons, and then finally crawled into the backseat, pulling on it until she managed to get into the trunk.  First she inhaled deeply and could smell more silver, and then peered in with her wolf eyes and saw what she presumed as a longrange rifle case.  Reaching in, she twisted it lengthwise and pulled it out of the middle section that folded down.

 

The case itself almost the length of the back seat and black with four clasps; snapping them open Viv lifted the lid and paused.

 

“Good gravy.”

 

It was a .338 Lapua ULR.  Piston-driven semi-automatic action and effective up to 1500 yards, the rifle’s custom muzzle brake and semi-automatic action significantly suppresses recoil. With no bolt to manually work, the smooth action semi-automatic action allows the shooter to keep his head in the scope and his eye on the target for rapid, accurate follow-up shots.  There were longrange rifles and then there were ULTRA longrange rifles.  The Lapua even had its own stylized .338 ammunition.  As far as rifles went, it wasn’t shiny or classy, but it was damn effective.

 

“Who carries this in their trunk?” Viv murmured to herself.  The Lapua sat encased in shaped foam along with a square section for bullets.  That was where she smelled the silver, so she made no move to open the box.  A man of many talents Simon Huntington apparently had become in his many years.  It made sense to Viv; what does a man do with nothing but time?

 

Werewolves lived up to one hundred and fifty years, but with recent medical technology, it was anyone’s guess how long a werewolf could live now.  Vigo was one hundred and forty and he showed no signs of slowing down, but then as Elder of the family, Vigo maintained his physical prowess and it was probably bred into them for strength, stamina, and longevity by now.  Looking back out the windows of the Jag, Viv twisted around, again making sure the fog was not closing in.  She closed the lid without touching the rifle and snapped the locks.  Pushing it back into the trunk, she put everything back the way she found it, closed the seat opening, and then climbed back into the passenger seat.

 

The fog was still hovering within the trees, ever vigilant.

 

Viv sighed, bored with waiting on Simon.  Slipping off her jacket, she folded and laid it in the back seat.  Once again she looked at the dashboard and pressed the button that lit the interior and soft, neon blue heads up display.  Touching the GPS display, she scrolled through the memory, being extremely nosy and checking where the car had been.  Marveling at the HUD’s capabilities, she ran her finger across the touch screen and within moments had a lined map of the greater city area, tracking exactly when and where the car had driven and stopped.  She dragged her fingers across the screen in a pinching motion and zoomed out on the map.  He had only really been in two spots the most: the hotel or the outskirts of the Eastern Seaboard city.  Touching the latter link, it narrowed in and displayed the abandoned slaughterhouse district.  Viv dropped her hands and looked at the map.

 

“Is that where they’re hiding?” she mumbled to no one in particular.

 

“Yes, it is.”

 

Jumping, Viv grabbed the door handle and her seat as Simon stood just outside her window.  His scent completely inundated her senses, but it took more than that for her not to notice him coming up on her.  Clenching her jaw, she slowly released her death grip and glared at him.

 

“It’s called ‘subterfuge’ and it is, as you would call it, super awesome,” Simon said, peering through the opened window.  Straightening, he circled the car to the driver’s side.  Viv watched him as he passed in front of the car, small smile in place.  The car door sighed open and he sat down in the driver’s seat and looked at her.

 

Viv took a deep breath and raised her eyebrows.  “Well?”

 

“Nope.  Nothing.”  Simon put the car in drive and circled around, heading back down the winding hill, putting the daunting cathedral behind them.

 

“I don’t get it.”  Simon looked over at her, his eyebrows raised in question.  “It would make more sense for you to say you found out something.”

 

“To divert attention away from me.  I know,” he replied.

 

Viv shook her head and looked down.  “All right, what did they say?”

 

Simon shrugged, “The one person who could do it, and has a grudge, is already dead.”

 

“Oh well, see, that’s different.”

 

“How is it different?  It’s still a dead end.  There’s not much else-”

 

The car suddenly lurched forward as something rammed it from behind.  Their heads snapped back with the impact, but as the rear end lifted into the air, Vivienne almost choked herself on her seatbelt as she fell forward.  It landed with a crash, the rear window cracking, but not shattering.  Simon stepped on the gas before the rear tires even touched the pavement.  The tires screeched as they made contact with the road and Simon gunned the engine, sending the Jaguar down the winding road at a break neck speed.

 

Viv’s passenger side window suddenly cracked, making her lean toward Simon who fought to keep the car straight.  “Wait, are these bulletproof glass windows?” she yelled.

 

The car lurched forward again, fishtailing it hard to the left.  “Yes, they are,” he said in a strangely calm voice.

 

“Who puts bulletproof glass on their car?!  Does this shit happen to you all the time or something?”

 

Simon rolled his eyes as his window cracked, shoving the Jag to the right.  “More than you realize.”  He pushed the car to beyond eighty miles per hour, peeling rubber off the tires as they took the sharp corners.

 

“No, let it drift!”

 

“I know how to drive, Vivienne.”  Fog began circling the car.  “It’s the redhead.”

 

“Oh that’s just fantas-,” Viv’s window broke as a hand materialized through the tempered glass and grabbed part of her hair.  “That’s my fucking hair, you fanged bitch!”

 

“Hang on, hang on,” Simon said again, his voice still maintaining an almost indifferent tone as they drove threw a sharp turn and plowed through the bushes, heading straight through the woods.

 

The car’s engine whined pitifully as it hit the uneven ground, tree branches scraped up against the sides, undoubtedly scratching the hell out of the paint.

 

“I swear I cannot hang onto a good car for more than two years,” Simon moaned unhappily as they hit the stretch of road again, the tire treads griping the asphalt and propelling the car forward, but a heavy force pushed against them, forcing the engine to whine loudly again when the redhead appeared on top of the hood.

 

Viv undid the buckle of her seat belt.

 

“What are you doing?” Simon asked not taking his eyes off the female vampire.  Viv felt the adrenaline in her body begin to bubble over, the wolf in her begging to rip through her human vessel and tear the vampire female’s face off.  Simon must’ve heard her heart pounding in her chest because he looked away from the redhead and at Vivienne.

 

“No, not now.  Don’t do it, Vivienne.  We just need to get off their property!  Wait!”

 

The redhead reared back on her knees, her arms pulled back and her large fangs poked through her ugly smile.  She pounded once on the front windshield, cracking it, playing with them.  Viv kicked off her Keds and Simon cursed under his breath, putting the gas pedal to the ground and twisting the car to the left, sending the vampire across the hood, her nails scratching deep gouges in the metal.  Viv pulled herself out of the window, almost flying out as the car did a one eighty and sped off backwards down the hill.

 

Viv could see the redhead now running after the Jag, her liquid speed making her look like she was floating above the asphalt.  Viv let her transformation take over, destroying her clothes, as her claws dug into the roof of the car to steady herself.  She pushed the change so hard and fast that by the time the redhead made it to the front of the car, Viv was running toward her in wolf form, knocking the redhead back.  The vampire pushed her up against the windshield, caving it in.  With her sharp jaws, she bit at the vampire’s face, tearing off skin only to see it regenerate back.

 

“Vivienne!  VIVIENNE GET IN!”  Simon finally yelled his voice now void of any calm.  The vampire clawed at her, but Viv twisted, avoiding as much of the vampire’s touch as she tried to force the female vampire off the car.

 

Simon yelled out, “WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF ROAD!”

 

Both Viv and the redhead looked up and over the roof of the car as it reached the end of the steep hill and the car careened into traffic, sending them both off the hood and onto the pavement.

 

Viv recovered quickly, but she felt the top layer of skin was torn from the pads of her feet.  Hovering low on the ground, she snarled at the redhead as it righted herself and turned toward Viv.  Viv heard the unmistakable rev of Simon’s supercharged Jaguar as it came up behind the redhead and plowed into her.  Viv jumped off the street and ran up on the side of a building wall, avoiding the cars that Simon slammed into as well as the female.  Her instinct was to just run – to get back to the Greater Pack’s property, but Simon stopped his car on top of the female vampire and he threw it into reverse, running back over her.  The redhead was disoriented but still in one piece as she slowly stood, right in the path of Simon’s car again, running her over.  Viv watched from the sidewalk with shocked brown eyes as the female vampire kept getting up.  Finally Simon just stopped on top of her and the passenger side door opened.  He whistled to Viv, calling her like a pet with a smile.

 

“Come on girl, get in.”

 

With a snarl, she ran toward the Jag and jumped into the front seat, her tail purposely smacking Simon in the face as he revved the Jag’s tires over the redhead again and sped off toward the main strip.

 

Simon took off down the semi-deserted street, driving for some distance to put between them and the Anantya property line.  The redhead appeared not to follow as they made it downtown and turned into the Casablanca Gardens.  Simon parked his now completely dented and scratched up Jaguar in the parking lot.  With a sigh, he turned off the engine and slumped in his chair.

 

The gardens were centrally located in the downtown area and populated with day as well as night blooming flowers, almost 700 acres of lawns, woodlands, and water bodies.  There were patrons walking in and out of the area at any given time of day along with musicians and theater groups.

 

Vivienne was sitting in her wolf form, her brown eyes glittering angrily at him.  He looked at her for a moment, taking in her black mask and solid points.  She looked different than the Pipers he had seen in wolf form.  They were solid in color, their fur color matching their hair.  The latter was the same for Vivienne but the points were very distinct.  She was small in size; he didn’t think Hammerthynn would fit in his front seat in wolf form, and thinner – but maybe that was just because she was a female.  He was staring at her he realized when she barked at him.

 

Simon opened his car door and stepped out, leaving it open for Vivienne.  Looking around he waited till the parking lot was clear and then waved her out.  She gingerly stepped over the seats and hopped out of the car.

 

“Are you going to change back?” he asked, looking down at her.  She merely flicked her ear and looked at him.  Simon raised his eyebrows and shrugged.  Vivienne nudged her nose at his jacket, pulling at the front with her teeth.  He slipped his jacket off and held it out to her with two fingers.  Suddenly, Vivienne began to shudder.

 

Simon watched with enthralled eyes as she transformed back, her body painfully shifting back and straightening, her jaws were receding and fur disappeared till she was on all fours, naked in front of him.  She shook her head, her long hair tangled somewhat, but was her normal, brown skinned self again.

 

And very, very naked.

 

Viv stood slowly as she ran her hands through her hair and stretched, popping her back and giving him quite the eyeful of her front.  Her hips were full and round, looking curvier with her small waist.  Her breasts were full, matching perfectly with her hips, giving her a very pronounced hourglass shape.  When she turned to the side, he saw the faded spine tattoo on her back and the tail end of a vicious looking scar.  There were faint scratches on her arms and chest, but they were slowly fading with her hyper-regenerative abilities.  She was staring at her hands and he could see her palms were covered with road rash.  He reached out and touched the skin as it slowly regenerated along with the rest of her body.  Pulling her hands back, and without any vestiges of shame or modesty, Viv took his jacket from his hand and slipped it on.

 

“Uh,” Simon said, turning his body away from Viv but not his eyes.  “You didn’t want your jacket?”

 

“Yours is longer.  I need clothes though,” Viv replied simply.  His wool Canali jacket did reach down to her mid-thigh, covering most of her body but her legs.

 

“Did you want me to take you…uh…to your place?”  Simon cleared his throat, hooking a thumb over his shoulder.  Vivienne gave him a strange look consisting of pursed lips and narrowed eyes.  She seemed to think that option over for a moment before shaking her head.

 

“Way too hard to explain.  I just need some sweats or something.”  Viv looked at his car and sighed.  “Wow, your car is trashed.”

 

The Jaguar was totaled.  Well, aesthetically at least.  The hood and roof were crushed in, both sides of the car dented and scratched.  There were long, deep gouges of ripped metal everywhere, requiring a complete replacement of the exterior.

 

“Yes.  Yes it is,” Simon mumbled unhappily.

 

“So what’s the deal?  Why’d chick attack us?”

 

Simon rolled his eyes.  “Probably just to fuck with us.  It’s not like the Hunt leader to order an attack without provocation.  It’s not her style.”

 

“Oh so the redhead was just being a bitch?”

 

“Basically.”

 

“Old play thing?” Viv asked with a small grin.

 

“Asked the new play thing,” he replied sourly.

 

“I’m not your play thing.”

 

“Neither was she.”  Simon paused.  “Why do you care?”

 

“I don’t.  Just trying to figure out a few things.”  Simon raised his eyebrows, prompting her to continue.  “Think she’ll follow us?”

 

Simon opened his perception up and let his eyes unfocus as he surveying the area.  “Just you and me right now.”

 

Vivienne’s expression changed from humored to thoughtful.  “I thought you said all Anantya was old?”

 

“They are, usually.”

 

“She wasn’t.”

 

“How could you tell?”

 

Vivienne shrugged, making a face.  “Remember when I said I could tell if you could take her?  Well it was the same thing with me.  She didn’t register as a problem for me.  Other than turning into air.  That couldn’t have made her that old.”

 

He shrugged, pressing his lips together.  “Some ancients make protégés.  Those children are stronger than say a child of mine, but the abilities inherited aren’t consistent.  More fizzles, I guess you could say.  Is it the same for your kind?”

 

“No,” she simply replied.  Simon watched as Vivienne seemed to mull over the information he just gave her.  Finally she explained.  “We pass on pack abilities, not necessarily your gifter’s own abilities, but they are specific.  Size, as well.  Like Hammer and the Pipers.  Height and body mass is a Piper trait.”

 

“But you’re so small.  Is that because you’re a female?”

 

“No, that’s because I’m not from their pack.  So what happened to your last car?” she said without so much as a pause.

 

“Ended up in the marina.  Are you not going to explain what you mean?  I thought you were part of their pack?”

 

“Yes and no.”

 

“What does that mean?”

 

She cut him off, sidetracking his questions.  “I read about that car crash.”  She winced, knowing it was caused by the Pipers chasing after him and Ellis.  “Unfortunate.”

 

“Yes,” he said giving her a dirty look.  “Come on.”  As he got back into the car, he gave up on Vivienne explaining how she was part of their pack but not really one of them.  Vivienne circled around as he leaned over and pushed it open for her.  He could not help but watch as she sat down, the hem of his jacket sliding up her legs, exposing more of her thighs.  Looking up at the windshield, he pushed it out completely, letting it slide down the hood to the ground.  Starting the engine, he pulled out of Casablanca Gardens.

 

They drove along the strip, heading further uptown, passing commercial businesses that stayed open all night.  The streets were just as crowded at this time of night, nearing midnight, as during its opposite.  The chilled wind of November pushed through the front of the car, and although he could feel it, it didn’t bother him.  He looked back over at Vivienne who didn’t seem to be bothered by it either.

 

“This is fine,” she said, pointing to a shop.  He pulled over and looked at the store.  He made a face.

 

Simon looked at the store strangely.  “I’m not going in there.”

 

“Well I can’t,” Viv squealed.

 

It was a nondescript, middle ranged clothing store.  When she said she needed sweats, he didn’t think she was being serious.  “No,” he said pulling away from the curb.

 

Viv dropped her shoulders and glared at him.  “What are you doing?”

 

“If I have to go into the store, I’m picking it.”

 

“I need something to wear other than a long jacket.  Sweats.  I even still have my shoes.”

 

Simon leaned forward and reached down to Vivienne’s feet, grabbing the white Keds.  His hand purposely touched her legs, making her jump in her seat, and as he lifted the Keds up, they dragged on the hem of his jacket, pulling it further up her legs, exposing those creamy thighs.  Simon looked at the shoes and then tossed them out his window.

 

“Oh come on!” Vivienne roared at him, punching him on the arm.  “I love those shoes!”

 

Smiling, Simon fended off her hits as they drove further uptown, closer to one of the smaller shopping districts.  Pulling over, he turned off the engine and then gave her an appraising look.  Viv narrowed her eyes and glared at him.

 

“Size 8, right?  Your disgusting Keds were a size 7 ½.”

 

“Dick,” she mumbled.

 

Simon narrowed his eyes at her chest and pushed his lips to the side.  “36C?”

 

“Oh don’t you dare buy me underwear.  I need sweats.  SWEATS,” Viv growled at him.

 

“Be right back, then.”

 

The store was a mix of high-end couture and ready-to-wear.  He immediately walked over to the dresses and was approached by a saleswoman.  After a few minutes of discussion, the saleswoman pulled out several things and showed them to Simon.  He picked out a dress and let the saleswoman use her discretion for the shoes.

 

“Will that be everything, sir?”

 

Simon began to answer in the affirmative when he looked off to the right, further down into the store.  He saw something that made him smile and he pointed in that direction.

 

“Of course, sir.”

 

A few minutes later, Simon exited the boutique with bag in hand.  Circling around, he got back into the car and put the bag on Vivienne’s lap.  She held it there for a moment, looking at him suspiciously.

 

“Did you want to change here or back at the hotel?”

 

Vivienne peered into the bag and then crumpled it.  “I’m not wearing this.”

 

“I’m not buying you sweats.”

 

Vivienne pulled out the dress he bought and held it up.  It was a BCBGMAXAZRIA illusion bodice ruched sheath.  The ruched mesh covered the curve-hugging dress and was sheer at the jewel-neck bodice and long sleeves.  It was beautiful, especially when paired with the black open toed Jimmy Choo shoes the saleswoman picked out.  Vivienne dug deeper in the bag and rolled her eyes.

 

“At least it’s not a thong,” he said with a smile.

 

They drove along the strip when Simon felt his fangs ache.  It had been several days since he had fed and after the adrenaline rush with the Anantya vampire, the need was starting to nag at him.  He looked over at Vivienne who was sitting with her arms crossed on top of the things he had bought her, annoyed glare still in place.  He pulled over slowly and stopped.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“Get dressed,” he said opening his door and sliding out.  Vivienne gave him a long look as he circled the car and came up on her side window.   Simon touched the mangled roof and peered at her. “I’ll give you a few minutes and then we’ll decide on what to do next, all right?”

 

“Fine,” she said in a monotone voice, her eyes still watching him.

 

Straightening, he flashed a quick smile and then turned back to where they had come.  Looking over his shoulder, he saw her start to dress, and as much as he wanted to stop and watch, he made it to the end of the block and then rounded the corner, shooting across the street to an alleyway, disappearing into the shadows.

 

Viv took out the dress and felt the material.  Holding it up, she whistled as she looked at the nearly see-thru garment and absolutely fell in love with it.  Damn him, she thought.  Hopefully she’d be able to keep it intact and she could show Brig.  Then he could take it off her.

 

Guilt rose up into her chest as she thought of Brig.  At this point he was probably wondering where she was since she was obviously not with him.  Mumbling unhappily, she dug into the bag and pulled out a pair of sheer, lace underwear.  She read the tags and saw the price.

 

“Pickled beans.”

 

Simon had sprung for the good stuff.  It was a shell push up Aubade bra and matching panties, made with sheer tulle and black lace.  They were beyond beautiful.  They were, in a word, exquisite.   If Brig ever found out the co-conspirator of their Blood Memory bought her this type of lingerie….

 

Grimacing, Viv took the tags off the panties and slipped them on under Simon’s jacket.  Pulling her arms out of the sleeves, she kept the jacket on her shoulders as she put the bra on next.

 

“Fucker,” she mumbled.  He had gotten the size perfectly.  Rolling her eyes, she picked up the dress and pulled down the hidden side zipper.  Taking Simon’s jacket, Viv laid it neatly in the driver’s seat.  Quickly she pulled on the dress and zipped it up under her left armpit.  She shimmied down in the seat to straighten the material, trying to get it to go lower when she realized that just above mid-thigh was as low it was going to go.

 

The bag produced a final item – Jimmy Choo black peek-a-boo toe four-inch heels.  The shoes alone cost more than the dress and underwear.  Viv could not help but giggle as she slipped the heels on and got out of the car.

 

“Zoinks,” she said, looking down at her feet.  She knew she shouldn’t be so thrilled, but they were Jimmy Choo shoes.  To not worship these shoes would be unthinkable.  Stepping out of the Jag, Viv set her feet down onto the sidewalk and marveled at the handcrafted shoes.  Moving to the rear passenger side door, Viv pulled her pea coat out and felt around for her phone.  Grabbing it she checked the messages and the time.  She had only been gone a couple hours – still nothing from Brig yet.  Then something occurred to her.

 

Simon was not around.

 

Viv threw her jacket back in the car and closed the door, taking a step toward the corner he disappeared around.  Then she stopped.  Turning, she went back to the passenger side door and opened it.  Leaning in, she opened the glove box and took out the silver Sig Sauer and checked the round in the chamber.  Clicking the safety off, she grabbed Simon’s wool jacket and folded it over the arm with the gun, hiding it.

 

The streets were unusually quiet.  The area was a little more dilapidated than the trendier uptown area they had just left.  They had crossed over to the back alleys; she recalled the area being named.  Licking her bottom lip, Viv turned the corner and inhaled.  There was a mixture of smells in the area:  garbage, human waste and bodily fluids, as well as various cheap brands of alcohol and chemical residue.  She barely caught Simon’s scent mixed in with the human taint.  Following it, she crossed the street and entered the shadows of another alleyway.  Simon’s scent was stronger now and following it was like following a colored wisp of light.  He apparently moved quickly and deep into the shadows, zigzagging along more garbage filled stretches of pot holed pavement.  Her heels clicked quietly, annoying her, but she walked with a confident gait.  Odds were she was more dangerous than any human she’d find lingering in the dark.  It wasn’t long till Simon’s scent became stronger and she turned a corner, seeing his tall stature hovering over something.

 

Switching his jacket to her free arm, Viv took great pains to silence her heels against the pavement, but Simon never stirred – his prey, however, did.  There were muffled, terrified breathing, and soft whimpering coming from what sounded like a man.  Viv stopped about twenty feet behind him.  Her dilemma was unique.

 

Did she let Simon do his necessary feeding (because he didn’t seem the type to play with his food) or should she do the right thing?  Whatever the right thing was?  As she considered this, Viv found herself creeping close to Simon and the gun lifting level with the back of his head.

 

Fuck, she thought.  She knew what the right thing was, despite who the individual might be.  Simon suddenly pulled the man’s head to the side, exposing his neck, making the man cry out in fear.  Viv closed the distance and touched the back of Simon’s head with the barrel of the Sig.

 

“Please don’t,” she said quietly.  Simon’s grip remained tight on the man’s clothes, but his head slowly to the right, looking first at the tip of the barrel, then at Vivienne.

 

“Oddly, I’m reminded of that first cut-scene in that video game ‘Resident Evil’.  Do you remember that part, where the zombie turns his head slowly?  Of course you’re not a zombie, but you’re kinda hunched over that man there like you’re going to eat him, Simon, and I sure wish you wouldn’t.”

 

Simon released his grip on the man who fell back onto the alley pavement, stunned expression firmly set in place.  He began to scurry back on his butt and hands, putting as much distance between him and Simon, whose attention was redirected toward Viv.  She took in his features and silently admonished herself for being so stupid.

 

His hazel eyes were thin circles of dark green and his pupils had dilated so large that Viv felt any and all reasoning would be lost in the dark void of his slightly bloodshot eyes.  Viv was now recognizing what hunger looked like for a vampire, especially after being interrupted before feeding.  She never wanted to see Simon, or any vampire for that matter, in the middle of feeding.  His skin was flushed and moist with sweat, but his cheeks had become sallow.  His mouth had gaped open and his top lip quivered, revealing the tips of his fangs.  She didn’t normally see them and wasn’t sure how she missed the pointy things, but they were clearly there now, practically pulsating beneath the skin.  Simon closed his mouth slowly, clenching his jaw as he rose and took a step toward Viv.

 

Immediately she pulled the hammer back on the gun with her thumb, but matched his step forward with one behind her.

 

“Please don’t make me ruin this dress, Simon.”

 

Viv heard the man get up and run away.  As the pounding of his feet faded, the hunger on Simon’s face intensified.  Her sense of smell was inundated with intense pheromones that Simon’s sweat was emitting.  It was arousing as well as terrifying.  This was what made vampires so irresistible, despite being monsters.  It colored Simon’s scent, whipping her senses into a fury, struggling with its intoxicating affect.  Viv fought against the sensation, and when he took another step toward her, her instincts immediately took over and responded to the threat.

 

~

 

Looking down at Vivienne, he saw the determination in her expression as she struggled.  Simon knew there was something chemical about the attraction humans had to them; it’s what made humans such easy prey.  Her eyes dilated and her skin flushed with arousal and a little bit of fear, but when he took that second step, he was taken completely by surprised.

 

The noise was loud, almost deafening.   The bullet pierced the material just below the knot of his tie.  Thin wisps of smoke rose up from the barrel of the gun and the thrust of the bullet was counteracted by his ability to withstand extreme damage.  It pushed him back, but the pain was inconsequential enough for him to be mildly humored by her response.  It was probably the smartest thing she could have done.  But now, with the bullet lodged in between his collarbones, his three hundred dollar tie and ruined shirt, he was just annoyed.

 

Reaching down, Simon lifted his tie, undid a button, and plucked the protruding bullet from his chest.  The hole in his skin closed immediately and he wiped at the little bit of blood with his fingers.  He flicked the bullet to the side and then sucked the blood off his middle finger while the other hand fixed his shirt.   The hunger hovered just beneath his skin and his fangs pulsed painfully in his mouth.  He quivered with the need for blood as he looked at Vivienne.  She had looked like Christmas, wrapped in a healthy, golden glow with her blood ripe and sweet smelling.  The vagrant would have been sufficient, and Vivienne would be delicious, that was until the effects of her blood made him puke up a lung.  But right then it didn’t matter that her blood lacked nutrients and was unsavory.

 

With his liquid speed, he snatched the gun out of Vivienne’s hand, grabbed her by the throat and pushed her roughly against the brick wall of the alley, lifting her onto her toes.  Tucking the gun in the waistband of his trousers, he clenched his jaws and closed his eyes as he twisted her head to her right, exposing her neck.  Both her hands came up and she grunted with frustration as he pinned her to the wall.  Bringing his nose to her skin, he inhaled deeply.

 

“Why,” he moaned softly, “do you werewolves smell so good, but taste so disgusting?”

 

Vivienne looked at him with angry eyes as she tried not to struggle against his hold.  “Oh,” she grunted, “I don’t know.  Dove deodorant?”  Her fingers pulled at his right hand as he maintained his grip.

 

Simon smiled into her neck as his fingers pinched her jaw.  “You shouldn’t have done that, Vivienne.”

 

“I’m kind of realizing that now,” she said, wincing from the pain of his hand.

 

“He was nothing.”

 

Vivienne stopped struggling and sighed, as best she could.  “Only to you, Simon.”

 

Simon was quiet, but lowered Vivienne down to the ground.  His hand remained on her and he brushed his lips along the curve of her neck, down to her collarbone.  He felt his eyes roll into the back of his head and his fangs began to pulse again.  Opening his mouth, Simon dragged a fang along her soft, brown skin.  The point pulled at the taut skin, vibrating deep within him as he pressed his body against hers.  Vivienne gasped, sucking in the air through her nose, making him look up.  The look on her face wasn’t arousal, but it was a clear grimace.  She was not enjoying it, much to his surprise.  With every ounce of will power, Simon resisted the urge to feed and released his grip on her jaw, but did not back up.

 

“Oh good,” Viv said clearing her throat.  “For a second I thought you were going to ruin the dress.”

 

Simon felt himself smile, his lips pulling back over his fangs.  “That would be a waste.”  Lifting his head, he stood at his full height as he pressed against her.  His smile relaxed as he looked down at her.  She avoided his eye contact, instead focusing on his mouth.  Lifting his arms, he placed his hands on either side of her head and leaned in to kiss her when she turned her face and pushed against him.

 

“I’d really rather you didn’t try to eat me and then kiss me, Simon.”

 

“You’ve already kissed me,” he whispered as his lips chased hers.  “What’s one more?”

 

Vivienne lifted her hands and pushed firmly against his chest.  “I told you.  I thought I was kissing someone else.”

 

Simon let Vivienne push him away and he dropped his hands to his side.  Looking down, he found his jacket where she had dropped it and picked it up.  Dusting the dirt from the street away from it, he murmured, “Who’s the lucky guy?”

 

Vivienne continued putting distance between them as she pushed off the wall and backed up the way she had come.  She replied in a monotone voice, “Come on, Simon.  We gotta have some secrets to keep the spark alive.”

 

He shook his head as he slipped on his jacket.  “See, all these mixed signals you’re giving me.”  Vivienne turned around and began walking back to the car.  The ruched material of the dress hugged her curves perfectly, accenting her hourglass shape.  The heels made her legs look longer and the muscles flexed as she walked away, swaying her hips making him wonder if she knew (or cared) he was watching.  They walked back to his car silently and got in.

 

“Well, I’m still hungry,” Simon said in a terse tone.  Vivienne pursed her lips and raised her eyebrows.  She wasn’t going to let him hunt anything in the city, so he had to do the next best thing.  Turning the car east, he headed toward the slaughterhouse district and the Domicile.

 

“Where are we going?”  Simon touched the HUD on the dashboard and showed her with the GPS feature.  “Fantastic.  You’re taking me to your lair?”

 

Simon snorted, “We don’t call it that.”

 

“What then?”

 

“What do you call your home?  The Den?”  Vivienne made a face, glaring at him.  “Ha, first guess,” Simon laughed as leaned an elbow on the car door and revved the engine as they hit the highway out of town.

~

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