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By Sadie Rose Bermingham & Bellora Quinn
EVERYTHING HAS A PRICE
Welcome all to Chapter Seven in the dark and deadly tale of Vampires and cruel Blood Lust in sinful San Francisco. Our story is a little over half-way home now, many thanks to our readers for their patience and tolerance. What I have come to think of as the BDSM arc is now reaching its conclusion, as some readers will no doubt be glad to hear. In chapter seven Xavier has an intense psycho-sexual experience at the hands of a handsome, manipulative Ancient Vampire and Rayne may be on the verge of freedom if he pleases his captors well enough. But is he climbing out of the frying pan and into a deep-fat-fryer?
A warning to the uninitiated, Dark Paths is a Vampire novel. The Bad Vamps are very bad indeed (sometimes the good ones are a bit snarky as well) and the events portrayed in this and some earlier chapters contain violent and non-consensual activities that some readers may prefer not to read. To the reader who was disturbed by my reference to ‘very satisfying violence’ at the beginning of Chapter 5, it alluded to the scene between Rayne and the vampire at the airport and not to the non-con scene later in the chapter, I assure you. Ray and Xavier are very dear to us and we hate to hurt them without good reason, but we are writers and the evil characters are our babies as well as the good ones. We in no way condone the activities of some of those characters, nor would we encourage their use in real life. To those of you who have enjoyed the story so far, I hope you will continue your journey down our Dark Paths.
xx.Sadie & Bellora
Copyright for this work belongs, as ever to Sadie Rose and Bellora Quinn. We will set the Legal Vampires on anyone found using our material without prior consent.
Following on from his humiliation at Lagrado’s hands and boot heels, Rayne was half-walked/half-dragged back to the cell in the basement by two of the Ancient Vampire’s undead lackeys. They snickered like children all the way down to the basement about which of the Elders was most likely to take up the offer to have Rayne as a slave. Their discussion of the potential candidates was couched in terms that left Rayne in no doubt that he’d rather have Steffen as a mate again.
As they chained him on his pallet, snapping the manacles tightly around his wrists and neck, he was listless and unresisting though. Exhaustion and hunger had muted his rebellious rage.
“Can I have my clothes back?” he asked in a dull monotone when they were done with their task.
“Not unless the Master thinks you should have them,” one of the Vamps laughed harshly.
“And given what they’re planning to do to you, I doubt you’ll need them!” the other pointed out in a snide little voice.
He rolled over and wrapped his arms around his head, curling up small, ignoring their continued lewd remarks about his lean body and how certain Elders would find that nice ass of his irresistible. After a little while they grew bored of his refusal to rise to their baiting and left him alone to concentrate on channelling the remainder of his strength into healing the cuts and bruises Lagrado had left on him during the afternoon.
If he had thought to get a peaceful night he was bitterly disappointed. Steffen returned for him after a couple of hours spent shivering in the darkness. Frustrated by his pet’s reluctance to put up a fight for him tonight and annoyed at the news that he would soon have to share Rayne’s body with others from outside the coterie, he relieved his tension by kicking, beating and biting the naked Englishman savagely. Then he unzipped his pants and mounted Rayne Wylde, forcing his trembling victim onto his knees, up against the cell wall as Rayne clung to his chains for balance. Rayne bore it silently with his face buried in the crook of one arm, fangs extended and sunk into his own flesh to keep himself from screaming as the bigger, more powerful vampire was thrusting vigorously inside him.
After an ordeal that seemed to go on interminably but probably lasted less than twenty minutes, Steffen grunted his satisfaction and Rayne felt the bastard’s long cock jerk and twitch inside him as he climaxed copiously. The slender Englishman curled up in the corner of his cell once his cruel assailant had withdrawn. Steffen retreated, grumbling that Rayne was no fun now that Cole had broken him.
Just fuckin’ go away, Rayne thought fervently. Fuck off and leave me alone!
To his surprise, Steffen did not try for another jump and once the door of the cell had clanged shut and the echo of the keys in the lock died away, he was left in the pitch darkness to fight the sobs that were rising in his throat. It had been over twenty-four hours now. Surely the others would have taken his advice and got away and he was glad of that, in one respect. On the other hand, it meant that he was alone. That if he was ever to get out of this gaziantep escort mess he would have to do something drastic for himself.
At the moment it seemed impossible.
Some – older – Vampires were able to turn themselves to mist and drift out through the tiniest of cracks in the walls but he had no idea how to even begin such a transformation. Others could turn themselves into vicious animals at will, but such a change took massive amounts of blood energy and concentration. Rayne had managed to turn himself into a small bird on two separate occasions but the endeavour had left him drained of strength for days afterwards. It was not so much the taking of bird-form but the turning back that was the killer. He had been warned that many young Vampires, inexperienced and trying such a dangerous game alone, had been caught in their shifted form, unable to raise the energy to return to a human shape, and killed by accident, or even by design.
He was weak enough in human form. How easy would he be to crush as an exhausted little bird, trapped in this dark cell? How quickly would death come and how much did he yearn for it?
He had only been two days without feeding, which was tolerable under normal circumstances but his body had been called upon to heal itself time after time since he allowed himself to be taken prisoner. There was only so much that any Vampire could do, deprived of blood and proper rest. The damage Steffen had caused was mending too slowly and he was unable to quell the pain until it did. Rayne shuddered again, cold to the bone and hurting intolerably. He could not even summon sleep to shut it out. True Death would be a merciful release, he decided grimly.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE HAPPY PIG…
“Jesus! I don’t remember casting for a pimp and a harem boy?” PJ McNamara laughed when he saw Dominic and Xavier get out of the cab as they returned to the motel after their little shopping trip in the city.
“Thank you very much for that!” Dominic Warren exclaimed. “We’re supposed to look sophisticated, and – in Xav’s case at least – just a little bit alluring. It never hurts to have some eye candy to distract your opponent with. Elian Iannopoulos is rumoured to have a bit of a taste for stunning young men, so whilst he’s drooling over Xavier I can probably talk him into just about anything.”
“You have a pretty high opinion of your negotiating skills, Lord Warren,” Clay remarked sceptically.
“That’s because I know I’m the best,” Dominic winked at him playfully. “Tell you what Mr Johnson, if I don’t broker a deal to get Wylde out of there tonight, I’ll let you put me over the hood of that Chevy over there and fuck me in the arse until I scream for mercy.”
Clay still looked doubtful. “What if you actually manage it?” he asked, folding his arms.
Dominic pretended to consider for a moment, then declared: “If I do broker a deal with him… I’ll let you put me over the hood of that Chevy over there and fuck me in the arse until I scream for mercy!”
PJ laughed out loud at this and even Clay was forced to crack a smile.
“Come on,” Warren said to the big black minder. “I’ll show you how the boy’s toys in my suitcase work before we head out. How’s that?”
Chavez jumped to his feet eager to be included in this lesson but PJ stayed behind on the veranda looking solemnly at Xavier.
“You okay, hon?” he asked more seriously. “You up to this?”
Xavier shrugged his shoulders eloquently. “No big deal. I just hope we’re not wasting our time.”
As the afternoon wore on into evening, Xavier’s anxiety level crept up as his mood plummeted. It was bad enough that he couldn’t eat. He sat at the table with the rest and simply looked at the food, not seeing it. A hard knot sat in the pit of his belly; cold rage and humiliation, lapping at him like waves from the other end of the chain linking him to Rayne. Something bad was going down.
He looked up and blinked at the faces looking at him, realising that Dominic had said his name more than once. His eyes were wide and the pupils dilated, his breathing a little too fast and shallow, his skin cold and clammy. He couldn’t see what was happening to Rayne but he could feel it, and was edging toward shock because of it.
“You need to shut it out, like I showed you this afternoon.” Dominic said, kind but firm. He meant to show that he understood but it wasn’t enough to be understood right now. Xavier needed more than that.
He got up without a word and walked out to the front porch. Xav needed the fresh air, and the quiet. Shutting Rayne out felt like betrayal, as if he was abandoning him. Again! But, if he didn’t find a way to deal with this he wasn’t going to be in any shape to go with Dominic and they would be leaving soon. He sat down on a cushioned chair and closed his eyes with a heavy sigh.
I’m so sorry Rayne, but I have to be able to think straight. Xavier closed his eyes on the threat of tears and then he concentrated on shutting out all the white noise until everything in his head was still and quiet, even the small, cold, frightened presence he knew was coming from Rayne. That was the hardest thing to do.
He thought he had been sitting about five minutes when he heard the door open, and was a little startled to find he was stiff from sitting without moving. A glance at the clock showed him that more like an hour had gone by. He wasn’t any less worried, but at least his head was clear.
He stood up as everyone came out onto the veranda. It was time to go and meet the Vampire Elder they hoped would help them get Rayne back. He had been waiting for this, even pushing for it, but now he just felt scared. The guy was a Vampire after all. What if he turned out to be a friend of Lagrado’s? What if he just killed them, or handed them over to Cole again?
A car came to collect them, a large, innocuous looking sedan with a human driver, or so Dominic assured him. The older man was not happy about this, preferring to make his own way to the Vampire’s demesne but Iannopoulos was having none of that. He laid down the rules over the phone. Two humans, no weapons and he would give his word of honour that they were free to leave him unharmed.
All the same, Warren returned to his room before the car got there and came back with an object that looked like an insulin pen and a chased silver crucifix pendant with four tubular arms. The two short cross pieces unscrewed and were hollow. Dominic placed a pair of capsules in each and screwed them back down. Then he pressed a catch on the back of the pendant and the lower part slipped away revealing a four-inch stiletto blade.
“Long enough to pierce the heart,” he said quietly. “There is wormwood on the tip. Not fatal to Vampires but it can slow them down.”
He looped it over Xavier’s head and let it hang down over his vest.
“If we’re lucky he’ll just think it’s amusing,” he said with a tight smile. “Look offended if he does, okay? He’ll probably let you keep it just to salve your male pride. Oh… FYI, the caps in the arms of the cross are potassium cyanide. Don’t take one unless the situation is absolutely irretrievable, all right?”
He tucked the pen into his own jacket pocket.
Xavier looked at him like he was nuts, but didn’t say anything. He just followed Dominic down the step to the waiting car. PJ patted his arm on the way down but he could not even meet the older man’s eyes. The whole situation felt too surreal.
Xavier tried not to fidget as they rode in the elevator to the top floor of a newly renovated downtown apartment building. The doors glided silently open into an unoccupied hallway in faceless cream and gold. Two enormous men who could not have looked more like stereotypical bodyguards in their black suits and earpieces guarded the door at the end. The only difference being that these two happened to be Vampires. Xavier could easily tell the difference now, though he wouldn’t have been able to explain how to anyone else. They seemed to shimmer to his eyes, as if they were giving off heat.
The corner penthouse apartment might as well have been wallpapered in thousand dollar bills. It screamed of luxury and money in every well-appointed corner. A far cry from the dirty brick building he’d been kept in at the behest of Cole Lagrado. The floor to ceiling windows on two walls of the immaculate room they were shown into looked out over most of the city. So much for Vampires cowering away from the light. This luxurious sitting room was bathed in it. The man standing before them looking out turned slowly now as they entered. He was tall, at least 6’3″ and quite young looking in spite of pale, immaculately cut hair, that looked like silver in the evening sunlight. The loose, open-necked shirt and leather pants he wore were certainly tailored and fitted him to perfection, although his feet were bare. He looked curiously at Lord Warren for a moment then smiled almost knowingly but his eyes roamed over Xavier rather more slowly.
Xav did not miss the subtle quickening in the crotch of their host’s tight leathers as he held out his hand in greeting. Nor the fact that he was impressively hung!
“Lord Warren, I have heard a great deal about you. I am interested to know why you would seek me out. And also to know who your delicious young friend is.”
Warren shook his hand quickly and firmly and glanced towards Xav.
“Elian Iannopoulos, this is Xavier Gavrilov. I think that the three of us may have a mutual interest and I wanted to put a proposal to you.”
“Xavier,” the word dripped from Elian’s lips like honey. His burning gaze consumed Xav now and he extended his fingers towards the young man. “How delightful to meet you. And how stunning you look, I must tell you. Good enough to eat… very, very slowly. One lick at a time.”
Xavier knew the game well and only needed a moment to decide which tack to take. Haughty and aloof, seductive and interested, or coy and innocent. If he pegged this guy right, and he usually did, choice number three would push his buttons the most. He lowered his eyes, dark lashes fanning out on his pale cheeks. He put just the right amount of reluctance into his touch as his hand was taken. Xavier suddenly seemed much younger than his twenty two years.
He lifted his eyes again slowly; such a vivid and startling shade of blue. “Dominic thought you might help us, Mr. Iannopoulos.” Xavier said, with just the right hint of a plea in his tone. It was a calculated risk, but not a big one. Iannopoulos knew they were here to ask for something. Tipping their hand already wouldn’t be a big deal and Xav looking at him with those big blue eyes set on ‘break-your-heart stunning’ just might help.
“My friends call me Yiannis, Xavier Gavrilov,” Iannopoulos responded smoothly. The handsome Vampire was just about everything that Steffen had not been. He lingered over the handshake, keeping Xavier’s hand in the firm, cool curl of his own strong fingers for just a little longer than was polite but his smile was kind of bewitching. There was a sense of mischief in his light grey eyes and more than a hint of seduction too. Yiannis made no secret of his attraction to the young mortal standing before him. He was hungry for more than blood. “And what do you suppose that I could help you with, child? I mean… I know what I would like to help you with, but I suspect that by the arcane laws of your country you’re far too young for those kinds of things.”
Dominic cleared his throat slightly and the Vampire looked at him with a smile that said; Be patient, my friend.
“Come, both of you. Sit down. Partake of our hospitality. It is rare that humans seek me out,” he said out loud. “Certainly rare that I am visited by one of your reputation, Lord Warren or one of your companion’s stunning loveliness.”
Xavier tried not to grit his teeth at having to go through polite niceties when all he really wanted to do was get straight to the point. He behaved himself though, sitting next to Dominic like a pretty ornament while drinks were served and a few more pleasantries exchanged.
This was not at all how he’d envisioned this meeting. It was all so… normal; so civilised! Xav’s impatience was chaffing by the time Dominic finally got around to laying out the particulars. How Rayne, who Dom mysteriously called the Everman’s Fledge, whatever the hell that meant, had inadvertently stepped on toes and gotten himself in a spot of trouble.
Xavier nearly choked. A spot of trouble? No shit!
Dom told the Vampire about how Cole Lagrado had taken insult and how Rayne was now being detained over a misunderstanding, when he was expected back home. Detained! For god’s sake! It all sounded so calm and reasonable. Xavier wanted to jump to his feet and scream at them to hurry the fuck up. Bad enough that his shielding meant he had no idea what was happening to Rayne.
“Lord Warren, I believe that matters may be more serious than you originally perceived,” Elian responded with a sigh that penetrated Xavier’s frustration and made him fret even more. He stretched out on the lounger across from them, elegant as a reclining panther and sipped from a glass of something that looked like red wine though it clung to the sides of the vessel in a distinctly viscous way. “Lagrado summoned the city Elders to a meeting this afternoon. Well, we were initially told that it was a meeting. When we got there we discovered that it was more of an… informal introduction to your friend, Mr Wylde.” The Elder Vampire smiled and shook his head. “He’s quite something, I’ll say that much. Very feisty, but how long it will be before Lagrado beats that out of him is another question. Whatever the matter, I believe that your friend’s Fledgling is subject to… indefinite detention. Coelho finds him… amusing.”
The little pauses were more than just dramatic tension. His eyes moved to Xavier’s each time he held his breath, watching the boy, drinking in his growing frustration. Dominic made a little hissing sound through his teeth and shook his head.
“That’s bad,” he mused. “Very bad. If Jabez were to discover what had become of his Fledge, I can imagine that he would cause no end of problems here in San Francisco. I was hoping to resolve matters here without recourse to bloodshed. You heard, I am sure, what became of Khaled Zel-Aahren in London?”
Elian said nothing but his expression suggested that he recognised a threat when he heard one.
“And you are the Everman’s law-bringer are you, Lord Warren?” he asked mildly, sipping from the glass again. He licked the redness slowly from his lips. “Are you going to force Coelho’s hand?”
“I prefer not to resort to force without good cause,” Dominic answered, sitting back in the chair. His pose was outwardly relaxed but there was a little tension in the line of his mouth and the play of his long, nervous fingers along the chair arm. “I was rather hoping that, with your assistance, we might negotiate Wylde’s release.”
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