Vampire couture is a bitch. Dresses from every significant fashion house infest my bed, floor and every flat surface like expensive black moss. I have a taste for the theatrical, yes, but I am loath to tip into cliché. I compromise with classic cuts in decadent fabrics, but anything I wear to the club tonight will be read as a statement about my recent election to IVOC chairman. Modesty rankles.

As human morals trend away from slavery and caste, some immortals began to question our killing habits. Advances in forensic science persuaded the rest that it was time for self-regulation. The organization I now chair protects us, the beautiful, incestuous children of angels cast from heaven for seducing God into a kinky trinity, from a similar expulsion from the world of men. I wonder what we’ll find to fear next.

The Quarry is debuting a new girl at midnight, but I’m more interested in privacy than novelty, so I arrive early, smiling at the paragraph they’ve added to the release I helped draft. In addition to the standard guarantee of disease and drug-free blood, they’ve added the proviso “while there is no additional fee for freshness, Quarry members are reminded that evasion skills are learned over time.” There are initiate connoisseurs, but for what we pay, most of us want at least an hour of pursuit to work up an appetite. I initial promising to take no more than two quarts, to leave no marks beyond a maximum of three sets of punctures, and to call the Quarry Recovery Line within an hour of first draw. The club offers ethical consumerism and identity protection in exchange for eight thousand dollars and our potent solitude. We are not inherently social creatures.

The covert is made of one-way glass, situated in the middle of the lounge like an aquarium. Two of my sisters are laughing at the new girl, rabbit soft, pretending to read a book held in a hand whose wrist pulses pure fear. It is funny, yes, but even the veterans are nervous every time. They never know who’s hunting and some of us like to play with our food, drawing out the pursuit as long as we can or amusing ourselves with the unconscious shell, tasting the cooling body, the pliant muscles, unresisting apertures, the smells still clinging, the vigor of having fed building in us. I admire her belly, seeking to press itself against young thighs as she sits naked, not knowing who, if any, observe her. She does not become available for another three hours, but must wait with the others in the covert until then.
“I should take her” I wink towards Julia “to spare her the shaving.” But it’s an artifice she and Caroline both know it. I have made the same selection every time for longer than I care to admit and fresh has never tempted me.
“No. I’m taking the tall one tonight” Julia shrugs off my jibe, ringing for the quarrymaster. “She’s new to me.” Julia’s insistence on hairless women is well gossiped, if not fully understood. But I know of her desire to incise just over the public mound so that what she has begun between the legs of her prey with lips and tongue, she can continue at puncture with tongue at least in her endless quest to cause orgasm and blood release simultaneously.
“She likes to meet them first, you know” Caroline teases as Julia’s selection descends from view to be shaved and dressed and released through the back door.
“Oh?” My voice thickens surprisingly as mine climbs the stairs into the covert.
“Yup” Julia is playful “I’m a traditionalist. I hunt with seduction- pull up alongside them in the car, offer a ride. But they’re not allowed to get into a car, so they decline, but I get out and they’re so grateful for the company, for the offer of help, for the distraction when I touch them.” “Angelic charisma doesn’t hurt either!” Caroline stage whispers in a mock aside to me.
“No.” Julia admits, “I touch their minds, calm them, lull them, offer the back seat. They are so unresisting and I serve them, worship breast and belly, undress yielding arms and open unprotesting legs. And they give themselves to me so completely. Not asking if I’m the one, not questioning the way their fate unfolds since it feels so good. ”
Caroline slides her hand against my thigh. “Yes, and you taste them, taste the soft and salty, red and white, opening them and opening them again. How many times- how many have you done it- gotten both?”
“Together, at the same time? Never. They’ll come in my mouth before they feed me. But never in the moment that they do. I don’t know, maybe it’s the pain or the surprise.”
“Maybe it’s like keeping your eyes open to sneeze” giggles Caroline, but Julia ignores her, gathering her things and heading towards the door.
“But I can’t find one who can combine her pleasure and mine, be both sacrament and satisfied at once.”

As the door closes, Caroline slips her fingers between my legs, but her touch irritates me. In the room beyond us, Julia is already scenting her prey, only a thin wall separating her from the woman who might finally fulfill her. I lean over Caroline and kiss her too hard. I’m older than she is and my new authority puts her well beneath me. “Stay here a while” she whispers “Stay and play with someone your own strength, whom you don’t have to be careful not to break, someone who does not fear you.” Caroline will select the strongest man in the tank and still be fined for damages.
“Fear me” I whisper back and ring for the quarrymaster. “Get me Nicole.”
He fears me.
And turning back, I see that she does too. It is our legacy to desire what we can’t posses. I kiss her again, gently. “Thou shalt not” I mimic Dad “desire to know God biblically.”
“Do you cast yourself as God then, my sister?”
“Nah,” I sidestep politics to tease her about her ex, “but I hear He’s got a comfy chair.” We share a laugh over Lucifer and are friends again. “You should have seen His face” she intones, picking up dad’s story in his voice, scrubbed of all but the faintest traces of Eastern Europe.
“All aflame!” I join in and we recite together “your mother and I cast out to bear you, like Eve’s children, in suffering, outside of Eden.”
“Oy, the suffering!” Carolyn puts in for Mother
“And they- given dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. And you, angel-born, cannot plant vineyards and eat their fruit or take cup and drink!”

“So take these children of Eve, and divide them between you” Carolyn chimes in to finish his story with me “and eat their blood given for you!” “Nicole is now ready” the quarrymaster’s voice interrupts our giggles, and I wink at Carolyn “So mote it be” and sweep from the room to renewed howls of laughter.

Her chin rests in a cradle on the other side of the wall from me. I slide back the bar between us revealing only her eyes through the opening. She doesn’t blink. Her eyes fix deep in me, locating her inside me. I cannot fail to find her now. The window slides shut. They tell her “go!” and she is gone.

The further she can run before I follow, the longer the hunt will last; but I’m restless. Caroline’s vulnerability irritates me and the quarrymaster smells of fried chicken and fear. I circle the building scenting for the door she used. I feel her eyes again as I pick up the trail and follow, holding myself to a walk. I’m hungry.

The Quarry is on the edge of the restaurant district and she’s gone deeper in, mingling with the club goers and first dates, scenting sex and anxiety. She’s learning. I pass the bar where I found her last time, hiding in the back, near the kitchen, trying to mask her scent in food smells. Tonight she has gone right into the busiest street. But she misunderstands, it’s not an olfactory scent we take when the bar slides back between our eyes. My hunger heightens my senses and I isolate her amongst the hunters who seek only a human connection, soaked in longing which she does not possess, and I follow, trying to shorten my stride through my growing anticipation.

The entertainment district ends at the highway, the town’s main north-south artery putting an abrupt end to the nightlife despite repeated attempts to open things on the other side. Car exhaust and dirt on the ascendancy, blood and anticipation declining- where is she? The rules require that she stay on foot. I reach out for a trace of her. I’ve overshot, and retreat. An all-night service station. She’s gone inside and vanished? No. Here’s a trace, terror masked in gasoline, moving north. She’s taking risks- a human woman walking alone under the overpass at night- tempting creatures who’ve signed no contract. I will kill anyone I find touching her. But she’s alone, I see her now. She’s learned not to run. I shorten the space between us too quickly pressing down the hunger and rage. Shall I let her hear me walk behind her? No. She turns quickly. She must feel the shadows moving. She’s wearing a mechanic’s greasy coveralls. Clever girl.

I walk along the outside of the highway above her. Her heart rate is increasing; she knows it’s me now. I’m only two feet behind, but high, so close. She’s struggling hard not to run, looking over her shoulder for me. Does she hope for a different possible ending? Does The Quarry hint that the hour we have to hunt them is a limit on us, a chance of escape? How could she believe that? How could she try so hard if she does not? I close the gap between us; disciplining my strength into grace, keeping just out of eyeshot as she whips around to look for me again. I shadow her, almost touching, breathing the slippery smell of her, the thrumming beat of her visible through the warm flesh at her throat. I reach my fingers out against the vein and feel it hammer suddenly harder against them. Ah. She makes a strange noise and breaks into a run. I watch as long as I can, her strong body almost flying forward. I slide in just behind her, slowing myself as her endurance fails, her blazing lungs and straining heart echoing through me. I could so easily overtake her, drive my teeth into her now, but she will exhaust herself soon and have to stop. And then- then I will take her. Let her run until she no longer can.

She’s very fit, and she can’t bring herself to stop, so I touch her again, circling her wrist, giving her a focus for her fear. She flails, and I slip behind her, pulling her against me. She can’t breathe from her running, fear spiking, mindless struggle, held to my body and my lips graze the place of first puncture, across last week’s wounds healed to bare bruises, taste her with my tongue. She’s not allowed to scream but can’t help the half cry, even as I whisper to her, fighting to control the impulse which would end her career.

I transfer both her wrists to one hand and glide the other across her hip bone, pressing into the softness it encircles. Her breasts are small, tapering into her chest below a collarbone that I can’t see without wanting to snap and suck, and my fingers press hard into it, not to bruise, no, I can’t leave even a finger mark in the flesh there, the castrating bastards of the council and the quarrymaster all be damned for their godless fear and mortal caution.

She’s still against me now, except for the breathing. Dragged from collarbone to jaw, my fingers finally tip up her chin and she shudders, knowing. My lips open against yielding flesh, my mouth stretching still wider before I allow my tongue to stroke the skin again. A warm release deep in my gums presses the sharper teeth through, lengthening as my lips and tongue work against her until, at full extension and achingly hollow, my feeding teeth catch against her. I force myself through a shaking breath until, pressing my lower lip against her hard, I flex open wider, pulling my mouth away, feel my upper lip curl back, my jaw unhinge, and strike. I pierce and sink into her. The blood delivered against the back of my throat in spasmodic cardiac bursts until I can pull and swallow, draw her into me. She’s completely still, locked in pain or horror or ecstasy, but she will soften as I drink.

The raging blind edge passing, I pull myself away to turn her towards me. Her face is extraordinary, paleness suffusing the flush of her running; her eyes beginning to unfocus, meet mine. I shouldn’t, but I let her look, cradling her head in my hand, holding her against me, her delirium beginning as she gives the weight of her body into my hands and below my lips again, all softness enveloping, warmth feeding, her scent fading, heart slowing, my mind deepening. Her eyes are still all I see, tasting and melting, her body a home for my desire, her blood nourishing and redeeming me, her mind, in the residual flow of body and brain– timeless. I am one with she who feeds me, with the cars above me, each of their minds touching me, for I am open to the whole thrum of thoughts and lives and desires, of things made and things dreamed, of each person unique, each droplet alone in its current. I taste the flood across my tongue, images and memories that aren’t mine, of woman, lover, daughter of Eve, mothering and passion and see, in the reddening haze, drinking, the forgiving face of god.

I will be the bogeyman tonight, a thing half seen, the sudden shiver crawling, ranging fast and silent through your night, my glorious daybreak, strong from feeding. The recovery team will collect her from beneath the ninth street overpass; I called them not too late. Her body will regenerate- miraculous thing, to be ready again within two weeks. Will she remember the face she saw as she slipped away; think of me in the days of recuperation? Everything I’ve done- the oversight committee, the entire structure of government, my steady ascension in stature and power, all as been for this- for her. For more, closer, her human separateness what makes her both the only answer and the unknowable one. I think about her constantly in the days between. I plan our hunts, dream her flavor, imagine her life. My mind, touching her, distracted from my work, my sisters, my life, belongs to her. She consumes me.


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