“So, Grey, what brings you to Los Angeles?”
Adrian lounged with indolent grace on a burgundy velvet chair that bore a striking resemblance to a throne -- an intentional maneuver. This was his territory, he was its master and king, and Adrian was a man who strove to always convey the correct impression. He kept a polite expression of interest on his face as he contemplated the man before him.
His guest's face was angular and well defined. His medium-length hair was parted slightly on the left; a long, loose lock -- the color moonbeam-and-frost pale -- draped casually over his forehead. Slightly darker brows framed eyes of a startling azure blue. Tall and lithe, his tailored suit hinted at the supple muscles that moved under the expensive weave of the fabric.
Nicholas Grey's reputation preceded him. Adrian was slightly amused to find the man wasn't ten feet tall. According to rumor, he was a man to be reckoned with. His looks and actions had earned him the nickname Angel of Death. It was said the man could walk in daylight -- something Adrian disregarded entirely. Vampires and sunlight did not mix, unless the object was to make ash.
Like him, Grey was a vampire who held territory. His was Seattle, and those in his inner circle were said to be absolutely, incorruptibly loyal. Grey's rule was law, and any who broke it were dealt with in a manner both swift and deadly. Most simply vanished, though in a few cases an occasional body part was found, clear warning to any who would cross him.
Among his strictest laws, however, was one that pertained to the humans in his territory: they were not to be harmed. Sustenance was taken only from volunteers who were treated with care and respect.
Adrian found himself hard-pressed not to sneer at such ridiculousness. Food treated with respect? Did humans show respect to the cows they devoured? Why, then, should vampires act any differently? In his opinion, humans were inferior, helpless beings and should be treated accordingly. Adrian's only rules regarding these weaklings were that there could be no wholesale or conspicuous slaughter and no creation of other vamps without his express permission.
After all, one had to retain some order. It wouldn't do to have hordes of newly made undead wandering the streets. Aside from the fact that vampires were jealous of sharing their power and territory, too many of them in one area might result in unwanted attention. Not to mention the cardinal rule that predators should never outnumber the prey.
Adrian's attention returned to his guest as Grey replied to his query.
“I'm here for a few days on business. As I'm in your territory, I thought a courtesy call was in order.”
His answer did little to reassure Adrian. Trust was not something he easily extended to anyone. Still, why would Grey come all this way to cause him trouble? And really, what could he do? Thanks to his slave's oh-so-generous, however unwilling contributions, his own powers had grown.
Hadn't he rid himself of Nathan, his own lieutenant? Nathan had challenged him in little ways for years. Each calculated action had been a bit more daring, a little more undermining. Adrian had been forced to let some of his insults go, not really sure he could defeat Nathan if it came to a fight. Fortunately, Nathan had been just as much in the dark and afraid to go too far. They had maintained an uneasy balance, one that had considerably chafed Adrian's pride.
Until Dana came to his attention. Her blood had infused him with new strength, new confidence. He was now able to easily control all his people and had made an example of Nathan. What a pleasure it had been to compel him to walk out into the rising sun, witnessed by those under his command. Adrian had gone to his own rest that day with a satisfied smirk on his face, knowing no one would dare challenge him again.
He reached out to touch the dark hair of the woman seated on a low stool beside his chair. He smoothed his hand absently over her head, as though rubbing a charm. The movement drew Grey's eyes, and Adrian watched for any change of expression or sign of recognition. There was none.
“I see you've noticed my special pet,” he purred. Adrian was anxious to brag. “She was a quite a find, a natural healer. Her blood is ripe with power, power she shares only with her master. Isn't that right, my pet?”
The woman remained expressionless, her gaze blank. “Yes, Master Adrian.” She spoke in a flat, impassive manner.
“Don't let that submissive act fool you, Grey. My Dana is quite spirited, especially when I fuck her.” He continued to stroke the gleaming hair under his hand. “Funny thing about that healing. She was a virgin when I first took her -- and she still is.” At Grey's raised eyebrow, he explained. “It's her healing ability. Her hymen repairs itself. Every time. She struggles quite nicely each time she's breached.”
Dana remained silent, her eyes empty.
“You don't use your power to subdue her, to pleasure her?” Grey inquired with mild interest.
Adrian's voice took on a sour note. “She's impervious to it. I tried to make it pleasant for her, but she resists. One would think she has a penchant for pain.” He paused, considering this, then continued, allowing his voice to drip with sarcasm and disdain. “Still, it was quite amusing for awhile, ravishing the perpetual virgin, even though she's really not to my taste as far as women are concerned. A bit too fleshy, don't you think?”
Grey's gaze wandered over her generous curves dispassionately. “Each man has his own preferences. There are some who would find her attractive enough.”
Adrian sat forward, eager, calculating He wished to play a game. “And you?”
“Perhaps,” Grey conceded.
“Taste her, if you wish.”
“Why would you offer me such a gift?” he asked, turning his gaze to Adrian.
“Consider it a welcome and a thank you for the courtesy call. Humans offer their visitors a drink. Think of it as two acquaintances sharing a bottle of wine. I'm sure you'll enjoy the vintage.” Adrian's hand moved to her shoulder, giving her a nudge. “Go to our guest, pet. Offer yourself like a good girl.”
Dana rose gracefully from the stool and walked softly on bare feet to the sofa where Grey was seated. With each move, the gossamer fine fabric of her robe did little to hide the voluptuous curves it slid against so seductively. Halting before him, she reached up and untied the thin ribbon that held the robe's neckline closed. With its release, her gown ran like water over her body until it puddled at her feet. Without a word, she seated herself next to Grey and, tilting her head, offered the creamy-smooth expanse of her naked throat.
Adrian again leaned forward, eager to see how Grey would handle the situation. His rule was never to harm a human, yet Dana's status as slave had been clearly defined. Her offer was not voluntary, and she was impervious to a vampire's thrall. The man's dilemma was clear: how would he take her blood without causing her pain? And take it he must. To refuse would be a mortal insult to his host, an insult that could result in a death duel.
Not that he wanted to engage in a duel with Grey, but to have him humble himself in apology for not wanting to hurt the poor, helpless human? Now that would be an amusement Adrian was sure to savor.
Grey leaned forward, his mouth approaching the lovely arch of Dana's throat. His lips touched briefly and moved away, his hand reaching out to take hers. His eyes locked with Dana's as he lifted her wrist to his mouth, kissing the soft, warm skin, his tongue swirling over her flesh.
Adrian heard Dana's gasp, saw the dilation of her pupils and the increasing vibrancy of the green of her eyes as Grey bared his fangs and sank them slowly into the pulse that throbbed in her wrist. A look of pleasure drifted over her face, her eyes closing as the subtle sounds of feeding broke the quiet. A moment later, Grey released her, his tongue sliding over the wounds as they healed instantaneously, leaving no trace.
He rose from the sofa while reaching for her discarded robe. Urging her to stand, he deftly restored it to her and tied the ribbon at her throat. “I thank you for the nourishment,” he said softly and kissed her hand. “Return to your master.”
Dana drifted quietly back to her place and seated herself.