Saturday, March 22, 2014

Excerpt: Sex in a Coffin [short story that takes place right after The Vampire Shrink]


“So, Dr. Knight,” Elliott said, “we’ve been very excited to meet you. You know of course that Devereux has been waiting for your arrival for centuries.” He toyed with a large, ruby ring on his middle finger. It looked like one of those with a hidden compartment for poison. “I suppose that does put a lot of pressure on you. Talk about performance anxiety.”


Performance anxiety? How about every-day terror?


His eyes widened. “Anyway,” he continued, “Devereux tells us you counsel both humans and vampires. Quite frankly, I don’t know how you can stand to listen to all those sad, negative stories all day and night. Don’t you get overwhelmed? I could tell you stories that would curl your hair. Oh, wait.” He lifted a section of my hair. “Too late.”


He and Laurence high-fived again.


I focused on counting backward from one-hundred, so I wouldn’t have any stray thoughts.


“That is a good question, my love. Do you feel depleted by the unhappy tales your clients tell?”


Devereux really was patient with them. I was grateful he’d brought the conversation to something I could actually discuss. “No. I’m not burned out yet. I still enjoy the challenges of my work. I’m accustomed to human diagnoses and neuroses. Nothing about mortals really surprises me anymore. But vampires? Stress city.”


Reality check: I’m sitting at a table full of vampires, talking about how stressful counseling vampires is.


“Oh, my,” Lawrence said. “Diagnoses, neuroses. I just love when you speak psychology. It’s such a turn-on.” He fanned himself.


“Excuse me, uh, Mr. Devereux?” said a throaty, female voice.


We all shifted our attention to the bald woman resting a hip against the edge of our table. Her shiny scalp, along with the rest of her exposed skin, was covered with tattoos: colorful, mystical symbols and vampiric images. A rendering of two round dots dripping blood decorated the side of her neck. She might have had the biggest breasts I’d ever seen on a non-airbrushed woman, and the tiny bra-top she wore wasn’t likely to survive a deep breath. It was amazing she could even move in the skin-tight leather pants that completed her ensemble.


Here we go again.


It never failed. Whenever Devereux showed up at his club, or anywhere public, women couldn’t control themselves. They felt compelled to get close to him. Even he didn’t know exactly what caused the phenomenon: whether it was because he was a Master, and one of the older ones, or if it was simply his own specific energy. Or, more likely, his obvious attributes. I’d quickly gotten over any initial jealousy after noticing how cold – no pun intended – the encounters left Devereux. But, I did find it rude and annoying. On the other hand, if certain, suggestible women couldn’t help themselves . . . I knew how it felt to be under someone else’s power.


The woman locked eyes with Devereux and her breathing quickened.


“Yes?” he asked, his gorgeous face a polite mask. He removed his arm from around me and folded his hands on the table.


Hmm. Does he expect to have to wrestle her down?


“My friends and I,” she pointed behind her to a group of giggling women, all tattooed and pierced like the speaker, “we’d really like to kiss you.” She leaned in, her bodacious mammary glands leading the charge, lips pursed in anticipation.


Personality disorder? Hypersexuality in a manic phase?


Devereux signaled his club manager Luna. Dressed in her usual tight, black leather, she oozed hostility and sensuality. Her long dark hair moved like silk, her silver eyes painted in a multi-hued extravaganza. She stalked like a predator toward our booth. “Luna, please escort our guests out of the club and make sure they arrive home safely.”


“Yes, Master.”


“Are you sure, Devereux?” Laurence ogled the uninvited woman’s cleavage and licked his lips. “Perhaps Elliott and I could walk them to their cars. We wouldn’t want them to get lost . . .”


Devereux raised a brow at the two vampires and spoke to the guests. “Ladies, it is time to go home now.” His voice took on an even more mesmerizing tone than usual. The group of women turned and walked stiffly behind Luna, as she led them toward the front door.


“Perhaps it is me,” Devereux said, frowning. “But regardless, I do wish I could find a way to dampen the effect. It seems to be getting worse lately. My aura is changing. I not only attract unwanted female attention, but also violent reactions from males.” He shook his head. “It is not wise, no matter what the reason, for any vampire to shine a spotlight on himself.”


“I’ve heard that’s what happens to older vampires, sometimes,” Elliott said. “Especially Masters who’ve ingested so much powerful blood for years.”


“Yeah,” Laurence agreed. “It’s good that you’ve now limited your food supply to humans and vampires. Maybe you won’t turn into the Vampire Pied Piper, having humans follow you around constantly.”


My stomach tightened. Limited his supply to humans and vampires? Oh. My. God. What else is there?


Devereux glanced at our concerned faces, and I got the sense he said something telepathically to Laurence and Elliott. “Ah, I apologize. This is a celebration and I have darkened the mood. Let us return to a happier discussion.”


“Wait a minute.” I took his hand in mine. “You didn’t say anything to me about these situations getting worse. Would it be best if we didn’t go out in public for a while? Maybe give you a break?”


Maybe give us both a break.


“No,” he said, his words crisp and hard. “I refuse to allow myself to be controlled by outside circumstances. I will simply think of a way to resolve the issue, and we will go about our normal lives.”


There’s that word again: normal. I can’t even begin to imagine what it means to a vampire.


Devereux put his arm around my shoulders again and squeezed gently. He turned to me. “I am eager to tell you about my surprise. You will love it. We seldom get to travel together, and—”


“Master?”


We all turned toward the purring female voice.


“Luna, my little sex goddess. You’re back.” Laurence patted his lap and leered. “Who’s your daddy?”


She ignored him except for raising her middle finger, and focused on Devereux. “Master, one of the new vampires broke out of his cage and captured a couple of humans. He’s made a total mess of the holding area – blood everywhere.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “A complete waste of good food. The newbie must have been turned by someone powerful because we haven’t been able to control him. Could you come?”


There are cages for new vampires?


“Yes. I will meet you in the sub-basement.”


Luna gave a quick nod, then hurried away.


Devereux turned to me, frowning. “I apologize, my love. I will return as quickly as possible.” He lasered his gaze onto Laurence and Elliott. “Please keep Dr. Knight company, and behave yourselves.”


Before I could even formulate a thought, or say “Hell, no!” he vanished.



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