There was something about dancing en pointe that was calming. I could turn off my mind and focus on the movement of my feet and the music for cues. I could even forget about Tristan, the tall lithe repetituer with his Botticelli blond curls watching me with those piercing blue eyes, or the growing hunger that had me dangerously close to being an animal. Two weeks, and then Danse du Nuit performs our signature Halloween ballet, La Belle Morte. As much as I loved the piece and the opportunity it afforded me to show off, I hated it. I was the only Danseur in the company who would go en pointe, I was the only one they could trust to be that blood starved in front of a crowd of people. I was the only one that in control, which was painfully ironic considering that in the world of vampires I was anyone’s meat more or less. It was a fact that annoyed me greatly but wasn’t worth remedying. I could assert my dominance over all of those fools. I was more powerful than Elizabeta and I was fairly certain she was starting to suspect it. She never followed us on tour before, but she had been at every performance shadowing the company for six months now. It was like she was a shark that smelled blood on the water—she was waiting for me to fuck up.
“Aleksi, try…” Tristan started as the piano music stopped. “Do you think you could do the tour en l’air and then come down to a pirouette? Maybe… three turns before the cape gag. We’ve done the cape gag thing the same way for a few years now. Landing and turning just seems a waste of an opportunity,” Tristan looked down at his clipboard and sighed. I stood in first position and cracked my neck, the sound even unnerved me. “That sounds ghastly, are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” I smirked at him, my voice was hoarse and almost unrecognizable.
“You’re always fine,” Tristan sighed before nodding to the pianist. The music started again and I completed the combination as asked. “Great, and we’re done. I’m almost sick of how perfect you are, Aleksi.”
“No you’re not,” I snickered as I raised en pointe and looked at myself in the mirror. Nothing was quite as impressive as a six foot four inch tall man standing on his toes. “You look at me, and you think you created me. Like everyone else,” I slowly raised into an arabesque, watching as my muscles shifted under my ghost white flesh. The movement wasn’t smooth, no it was choppy like stop motion animation or something under a strobe light. “Hate to break it to you, Tristan, but no one but me made me.”
“Here I thought this was going to be difficult. Aleksi we’re dancing Swan Lake in Florence, Oregon in January. You’re reprising the role Tchaikovsky wrote for you.” I wanted to rip him limb from limb, decapitate him and spit down his throat. I could have, as I clenched my fists my smirk broadened with the realization that if I really wanted to I could end him. I chose not to in the end, I would allow Tristan to leave alive because I loved him still, though not with the hot ardor that once burned between us—but something still lingered.
Tristan left smirking all the while leaving me to stand and stare at myself in the mirror. I lowered myself and stared at reflection. My cheeks were gaunt and the bags under my eyes were heavy. My eyes were almost burning blue surrounded by the bloodshot whites and my full lips were chapped and cracked. I looked like something out of a horror movie, something once beautiful that had been destroyed. Admittedly that was how I felt whenever I thought of Swan Lake. I could almost feel the cold rough iron handcuff still around my ankle.
“Aleksi, brother are you in here?” a lilting voice called dripping with a French accent that I knew wasn’t half as thick most of the time. Still I cringed, that voice and what she called me always made me cringe. If I had my way I’d kill her, if I was made master she would be the first one I locked in a coffin for eternity or had put down like a dog. She was a little slender slip of a feminine mirror for me. “There you are!” she called as she slipped into the room, subduing my urge to growl I smiled at her.
Our eyes were the same shade of shockingly bright blue, though hers were wider carrying a faux innocents that fooled entirely too many. Her face, like mine, was heart shaped. Her nose, like mine small. The only real differences between our faces was that my lips were fuller than hers and I had a stronger chin and jaw. We could have easily passed for twins, and if I didn’t know any better I would say we were. She loved the fact we resembled each other so strongly, she called me brother and delighted in our similarities. We were related, many generations back, she was a third cousin. In some way she was right, though. We did share a sire and to some vampires that would make us brother and sister. I didn’t like to look at it that way. We had been lovers on more than one occasion, and nothing kills an erection quite like hearing her voice whisper in my ear the word ‘brother’.
“What do you want Collette?” I asked as I bent over and started unfastening my pointe shoes. Once I slipped the left satin shoe off I noticed the give of the sole, the shank had finally broken. I was being extra gentle this year, trying to make it to technical rehearsal on only one pair. Apparently I wasn’t gentle enough—Gentle had never been my strong suite.
“You, as always dearest brother,” she beamed at me, all sunshine, moonbeams and ballet pink everything. Her saccharine nature was an act. I knew her better than she would have liked, I knew that she more than delighted in murder and torture.
“Me? Whatever do you want me for?”
“I’m bored,” she pouted. “And there are too many old memories here. I took class in this very room when I was a little girl.”
“That’s nice.” I took my other shoe off and pulled on a pair of warm, fuzzy, black fleece slippers. Wiggling my toes I practically purred with how the soft fabric felt after the brutal confinement of my pointe shoes.
“Fabien is throwing a grand fete, in my honor tonight and I don’t want to go alone,” she continued to whine, her English slipping like her dark hair out of its bun. A small laugh escaped my lips as I noticed that our hair was in the exact same fallen bun, and the only difference between us besides sex and disposition was that I wore black and she pink.
“Go with Evan,” I offered as I started out of the studio, stepping passed her. She followed me, of course, everyone follows me. It was like they all had some primal drive to trail their natural leader.
“Evan? Seriously? That’s your suggestion, go with the ginger.”
“Yes, you turned him because you wanted a companion. So take your companion.”
“I only said that to make you jealous. You were neglecting me and I just wanted you to notice me again.”
I paused and turned to stare at her for a moment before I continued on through the theatre. I wasn’t going to respond to what she said. People said I was cold, but to me that seemed the paramount of coldness. She ended the life of a prominent danseur to make me jealous, the thought made my stomach sour as I walked back to the small dressing room where my things were kept.
“Take Evan, I don’t want to go.” I growled as I opened the door. “Do I look like I’d be welcome at a Celebration? I’m blood starved if you haven’t noticed.”
“I just wanted to spend some time with you. We so rarely spend any time together.”
“Did you ever think that there may be a reason for that?” I walked into the dressing room, she slipped in before the door closed. I stripped out of my tights and stepped out of my shoes before I even opened the locker that held my things. I could feel her gaze on my naked body. I knew the effect I had on people. Even when on just this side of looking like a caricature of a vampire I still looked better than most.
“You’re lonely, and when you get lonely you become more of a jackass than usual.”
“I’m not lonely. I don’t get lonely. I’m seeing someone now.” I corrected her as I pulled on a bright red pair of cotton briefs. Red was my color, every vampire had a color of their own once they reached a certain level of the hierarchy. The color was used to distinguish your servants or any fledglings you turned or even progeny you spawned. I liked to wear my color to remind anyone who caught a glimpse of it that I had no real master. Oddly enough, Collette was the same. She swathed herself in more baby pink than most parents did their new borne girls.
“No Aleksi, you’re fucking someone, there is a difference you know. You haven’t really seen anyone in a few decades, I think the eighties. That journalist. I don’t count Mathieu by the way, that was six months of you torturing someone not a relationship.”
“To some people that is a relationship,” I pulled my black skinny jeans on and buttoned them. I didn’t love Mathieu, but I would definitely have counted him as the last real relationship I had. It was hard to find a truly devoted Submissive, and that was what Mathieu was. Unfortunately, my interest in the male sex is fleeting. I am a fickle bisexual. I could find men attractive, make love to them but there was something about a nice pair of breasts that just held my attention… that was probably why I wasn’t very interested in Collette.
“That isn’t a relationship to anyone, you had a contract. Relationships don’t start with carefully negotiated contracts, relationships start with… chance meetings across a crowded room. Or being forced to fuck in front of a room of vampire elders for their entertainment,” she smiled at me almost wistfully as I pulled my black button down shirt on and did the buttons. “I miss you, Aleksi”
“I know.” I coolly replied wrapping my red scarf around my neck before pulling on my leather jacket. I slipped on my shoes and locked my locker before she replied. I would have left but she was standing in my way. She seemed so tiny, which was odd because I knew she weighed more than she looked, she was my partner more often than not. People paid thousands of dollars to see us dance together, between us we had a total of three hundred years’ experience. She had been an etoile in life, the French equivalent of a prima ballerina and one of the youngest. I never had a chance to reach those heights in my career while living, but in the end it didn’t matter. They took all of those fancy titles from you when you were found out to be a vampire.
“You don’t need to be lonely” she placed her hands on my shoulders and smiled up at me, that practiced smile that was almost as wide as the one she used on stage. None of her emotions expressed were real. Sometimes I wanted to whisper to her that I knew that deep down inside she was something truly evil that had no real feelings. But I didn’t. I let her have her false perception that she had real emotions. She was pressing this issue because she wanted to fuck me.
“You’re right, I don’t.” I shoved passed her. “Give Evan my best,” I called to her while I kept my attention forward. I was starting to feel a bit bad for Evan. She had embraced him four years before and treated him like a doll she took out to play with when she wanted to make some feeble attempt to make me jealous. I stepped out of the building and the moment the doors opened I could hear the pulse of all of the humans passing by thudding in my ears. Taking a deep breath I sighed before I started walking back to the hotel. Fuck Paris.
My mouth was so dry it had surpassed the point of my tongue sticking against my cheek, it just glided now. I stared at the mirror, my tongue was only the slightest blush and my gums were almost white. It was entertaining if not a bit unnerving. The thirst hit hard. I had to be kept like a caged animal, locked away in my hotel room from prying eyes. To date I had yet to attack anyone, I was in control of all of my faculties. Instinct was a drive that did not touch me, I was beyond it.
Beep. Beep. Beep. The alarm went off. Every hour I had to stretch my muscles or the torpor would set in. I had gone further this year than ever before. My movements felt almost too fast as I walked from the bathroom into the bedroom of my little suite. Taking out my foam roller I started my stretches and rolled across the roller to stop the lactic acid from building up. The performance was tonight. I hadn’t slept and the world outside of my hotel room was a massive pulse that I wanted to set free and bathe in all of that sweet, sweet blood. But I wouldn’t.
Once I finished my stretches I brushed my teeth—yes, even vampires need to practice oral hygiene. Then I quickly got dressed, smeared myself in that think sunblock that smelled like a cross between rotting roses and baby powder and left for the theater.
I hated Paris. There was something about the city that made me cringe. Every time I visited Paris it ended poorly. Gaston, the region’s Master, wanted me desperately and I had too much pride to bend over for that syphilitic coffin case. Oh he wasn’t actually syphilitic, and didn’t look very old but I still disliked him—so that was how I envisioned him in my mind. He’d be there tonight. He had yet to miss a single one of my Paris or London performances.
“You should have called the car service,” Tristan sighed. I jumped at the voice. Somehow I had made it to the theatre already. I was standing outside of my dressing room blinking in confusion over the missed time.
“I don’t need a car service to walk a quarter mile. I’m blood starved not an invalid,” I groused out taking off my sun glasses. My vision whited out and I hissed as my pupils fought against the dim light.
“Yes, I can see that. Let me take a look at you,” his voice was soft and his smile warm. Tristan had the ability to soften me when he wanted to. With a heavy sigh I nodded and opened the door to my dressing room. Inside hanging on a rack were my three costumes for the night.
“Fine,” I breathed as I started to strip out of my clothes. He did this every year. Closing the door behind him he slowly approached me not unlike one would a strange creature in the wild. He touched my cheek and cringed.
“Aleksi, you’re freezing. Are you sure you’ll be okay to dance?”
I stripped off my shirt and jacket. “I’ll be fine.”
“Will you? Jean-Marc can dance the role.”
“Mhm,” I clipped out as I stripped out of my pants and briefs. I stood naked before Tristan as he poked and proded my body.
His touches always lingered a few seconds longer than they should have as he caressed down my shoulders. I rolled my head to the side and a soft purr left my lips. I’m sure were my body not void of blood my cock would have twitched to life—but I had nothing left. All his touching did was make me a little dizzy. It wasn’t the blood loss that caused it exactly, it was the prolonged blood loss. My body thought something was wrong, and was close to putting me I torpor. His hand closed around my flaccid length and he stroked me a few times in that way that he knew would bring me quicker than I liked. I staggered backwards, the small of my back hitting the edge of the lighted vanity counter with a distinct smack.
“Stop that,” I slapped his hand away and stepped back taking a white dance belt out of the locker.
“You know me, it’s hard to resist you sometimes. Tonight you have to drink something or you won’t make it to the next performance. I’ll watch you and if seem a little sluggish I’ll…grab someone from the audience during intermission. Oh, and Elizabeta’s here.”
“Of fucking course.” I slipped the dance belt on and righted myself in the pouch up front. It was always odd to see how white my skin was when bloodless. I was actually a little paler than the dancebelt and the white tights I’d wear for the first act. I pulled my tights on and sighed as I slipped the suspenders over my shoulders.
“I just didn’t want you to be surprised.”
“Thank you,” I forced a weak smile. I pulled on the pointe shoes and then slipped the leather sleeve over my foot. They looked like regular dance boots. Only a dancer would know the difference, I had a surprisingly narrow foot for a danseur. Tristan watched me for a moment and then nodded.
“You have ten minutes,” he offered between he disappeared back into the hall, leaving me to my makeup and costuming.
The performance was like it was every year. The movements were almost automatic, even the extra flourishes Tristan added this year. The audience screamed my name when I did the cape gag. And for a moment, just for a moment as I lifted Collette one handed while I stood en pointe in an arabesque, I wanted what I was acting out on stage. As I lowered and she slid down my body that sense of incompleteness lingered leaving a foul taste in my mouth for the rest of the performance. It didn’t show on my face—I was too professional for that—but it was there in my thoughts.
After the performance however was different. I was barely able to hold it together while on stage to take my bows. The crowd grew oddly quiet as I stood with my arm around Collette with sweat heavy on my thick dark lashes. It was my first slip up ever. The moment seemed eternity as I stood in front of the crowd with every last human and vampire bewitched by my gaze. It took all the willpower I had to break the hold. I almost didn’t want to, the sadist in me wanted to see how long they’d stay seated silently in midmotion if I just walked away. Logic said I should have been terrified as I looked out into the crowd and saw that I even pulled in Elizabeta and Gaston. They were both twice my age, each roughly four hundred years.
Releasing them I pulled Collette in for the kiss everyone loved to see. I pressed my lips to Collette’s and the theater erupted, as always she slipped me tongue and I had to fight not to shove her away. I chose not to send her flying into the orchestra pit.
After the bows were taken, and everyone filed off stage. I darted for my dressing room and barricaded myself in. It was the same every year after the first performance. I did’t feel the drain on myself while dancing, but after I always felt it. Tristan as always had left me a small flask of blood sitting on my vanity counter. It was there next to my make up pallet and discarded lipstick and eye liner.
Most would have grabbed frantically for the small flask once they entered the room—I wasn’t most people. No, I stared at it for a time like the small metal container was a rabid lion foaming at the mouth. Taking my seat before the vanity I slowly and deliberately removed my makeup. I will not be ruled by instinct. My hands were shaking by the time I wiped the last bit of residue from my flesh. Still I pressed my hands to the vanity counter and kept my eyes on my reflection. My messy bun held on by a thread, it was seconds away from coming undone. The man bun was anathema in classical ballet, still I had worn one since the early eighties. I was stubborn about my hair and sick of being told I had to cut it whenever it started to brush my shoulders. Few vampires hair grew longer than the length it was when they were turned. It was a rarity that I liked to embrace. I still cut my hair before it reached mid-back—it looked ridiculous when it was longer than a few inches passed my shoulders.
My fingers drummed on the counter and the bun gaveway and my near black mane tumbled free. I was so desperate not to give into my instinct that I let my mind drift to Swan Lake. I would need a good month to recover from this before I—squeak, sqeak, squeak. What the fuck is that? I looked down and saw my leather bootie clad ankle rubbing against the chair leg as my own leg shook with nerves. I slid a hand from the counter to my leg to stop it and took two deep breaths.
I felt her before I heard her footsteps. Elizabeta was the boogeyman in many respects. Sexy as hell, but still the boogeyman. Elizabeta Sala was maybe the richest vampire in the world. Forbes tried to estimate her networth a decade ago and came with up nothing but a bunch of question marks. The Sala Corporation which is the parent company for just about every vampire owned business in the world makes close to a trillion a year, and that was just the money they could find. Elizabeta was business more or less. She was the only non-council member that The Vampire Council seemed afraid of. She had them by the purse strings after-all. And she had a walk that said she knew she was powerful.
Click. Clack. Click. I picked up the flask off of the counter and held it in my hands. Oh, it was her angery walk. I was the favorited whipping boy of Vampires the world over. Anything to put me in my place. Why would they want to put me in my place you might ask? Well I was technically the male heir to House Dracul. Oh yes, that House Dracul. Vlad as I knew him or Dracula as the humans knew him or The Uniter as most vampires knew him was my however many times removed grandfather…and my secret sire. But good old Vlad had been asleep for the better part of a century, which meant Elizabeta pimped me out regularly because some of the other Masters though I was the key to breeding another Vlad. That and once they controlled Vlad’s next heir they could off me, because I was considered a trouble maker at best at worst… well at worst I was satan spawn to be removed. But as far as everyone was concerned Elizabeta sired me and Collette.
She threw the door open, her titian red hair pulled up into a rather immaculate bun that looked almost too tight. Diamonds sparkled at her wrists, throat, ears and fingers. As always she wore all black a tight sheeth dress topped with what I knew was a real mink stole. She was tall and her curves drastic like the fucking autobahn. Just a glance at her and I knew why all those years ago mortal me let her do whatever she wanted to me. It wasn’t just that my life was shitty, her body was built for fucking.
“Whatever am I going to do with you, Aleksi?” she sighed crossing her arms under her generous bosom.
“What did I do now?” I rolled my eyes and propped my head up in my hand.
“You mean aside from that little stunt at the curtain call? Well lets see, you are fucking a local outed werewolf. And you ignored Gaston’s invitation to a gala in your honor.”
“I thought Fabien was all but running the region now?”
“It doesn’t matter, until he finishes off Gaston you have to lick his ass if he asks it and you’re in his territory, Aleksi. So what do you think we’ll be doing tonight?”
“Lets get this over with,” I opened the flask and downed the contents in one swallow. The moment the sweet metallic blood hit my tongue I actually moaned and my eyes rolled back into my head. I couldn’t stop the involuntary reflex.
“You make such pretty noises, Aleksi. I am admittedly looking forward to the noises you’ll make.” She sighed wistfully and lunged forward and grabbed me by my bun. I let her drag me down the hall by my hair. I could have fought her, but if I did I’d have to kill her. If you challenged your sire it had to end in death and regardless of what people thought about me, I had a lot of respect for Elizabeta. She helped me realize who I was and what I was capable of. “You need to practice behaving, Aleksi. One day you might have fledglings or god forbid a servant, and then your actions will hold their fates in your hand.”
“I don’t need practice behaving. I could if I wanted to.”
“You should try it sometime.”
I crossed my legs as she dragged me to the back door and let go of me. Slowly I stood and we stared at each other. She sighed at me and wiped blood from the corner of my mouth.
“I derive no pleasure from punishing you for such infractions, Aleksi. You’re not my toy to play with anymore.”
“Then don’t do it.”
“You’re funny. We both know being what we are means we’re not completely in control of ourselves.” She spoke making her way to a waiting stretch limo. I followed, my pointe shoes knocking against the concrete. “Council is our Master. Our embrace was our contract. Now we must abide by their rules, and accept their punishment even if we think it unjust. There’s a reason I put you on a leash when you were mine. Vlad and I sought to teach you humility and how to find strength within yourself. It worked for Collette, she has expressed an interest in leadership and yet you have not.”
“To be honest, I just want to dance.”
“You can’t just dance Aleksi”
“Really? I seem to be doing pretty good at it this far.”
“For now. I won’t always control the region. I won’t always be in control of the ballet.”
“Tristan’s your second and he hits like a child.”
“Council has approached me, Aleksi. I will be crowned within the year. Which means Tristan gets the region and everyone will come out to force him to whore you out or to try and take the region. He needs a strong second. Collette will do but you’re better suited, Aleksi. If you could curb your… pointless rebellious streak I would fight to put you incharge of the region.”
“The problem there is I’d have to give up dancing, and I’m not giving up Ballet. Just like I know you’re not going to give up control of the Sala corperation just because you’re joining Council.” We shared a smile.
“It’s almost a pity that you’re going to make me get blood on my dress. Gabrielle di Vana designed this dress for me.”
“It’s just a black dress…” I didn’t see anything special about it.
“Well now I’m almost looking forward to it.”
“Draw blood quickly, I’m kind of tired. I’d like to sleep before the performance tomorrow.”
“No.” She smirked at me and I growled at her. “I always forget how much I enjoy wiping that smug look off of your face and adjusting your attitude. You need to grow the hell up, Aleksi. And you need to realize where you sit at the hierarchy. You’re not even in the middle, you’re in the bottom only saved from being forced to lick my fucking boots by the fact that you share blood with my beloved. And even that sometimes I’m skeptical of.”
We rode to Gaston’s Châteaux in silence, and I was stripped nude before the limo stopped moving. She practically shoved me out of the vehicle before strapping the collar around my throat and clicking the lead in place. I choose to allow her to do this. I took a deep breath as she yanked me forward scrapping my knees on the rough stone.
She led me through the marble floored hallway into a large room with a chain dangling from the ceiling. Vampires were gathered around the room and I knew what was expected of me I had done it so often now. She unclicked the lead from the collar and I stood and walked over to the chain dangling from the ceiling and waited as she fastened the silver cuffs to my wrists. They burned almost instantly making me clench my teeth as that cold metal started to eat away at my skin.
Staring at the gathering of vampires I felt very… insignificant. I hated the feeling, it made me shift in my bonds as I glared at the gathered group. I tugged on the metal chain making it jingle like wind chimes. Swallowing I set my jaw. Elizabeta was predictable, her weapon of choice was always the whip. She liked to make me bleed. But since I was mostly bloodless I knew what she’d do. She’d opt for humiliation, and probably make good on a promise she made me years ago. She said she’d beat me until I spent myself, debasement was her trade. It was probably why she was so fucking good at business she knew how to take people to their lowest, she knew how to break people. And as cordial as she had been in the limo I knew she was itching to try her hand at breaking me again. She never quite succeeded the first time, and she knew it. I could tell by the way that she looked at me. When she looked at me she saw a failed project, it was why she preferred Collette to me.
Closing my eyes I took a deep breath, everyone had one automatic responses they couldn’t control. She knew mine annoyed me more than most. It was hard for me to admit to myself that I enjoyed pain as much as I enjoyed giving it. I shut that part of myself down as best as I could but still on occasion I’d betray myself. Perhaps I’d have less of a problem with it if the first time I had such a response she hadn’t laughed at me. But she did, and so I hated it. There was some comfort in the fact that I didn’t have enough blood in me to become erect. No they would simply watch my limp cock dribble out onto my thigh and the tile. I growled and then gasped at the familiar sensation of a thick wooden cane slapping against my bottom. Protectively crossing my legs to protect my sex I felt my veins fill with fire as stroke after stroke came down on the white flesh. Oh, it still hurt. A lesser man would have been brought to tears from it, but not me. Even as I felt the welts break open and blood drip down the backs of my thighs.
“You’re not counting, Aleksi” Elizabeta purred with delight without pausing. No, of course she wouldn’t allow me quiet dignity.
“One,” I grunted through clenched teeth.
I felt those tears glittering on my thick dark lashes, I learned long ago that it’s pointless to stop yourself from crying. It was an automated response to extreme stimuli, or chemicals in the air. Someone murmured something I couldn’t quite make out, and then dark laughter filled the room.
I was trembling as I felt that clear syrupy wetness start to leak from the head of my limp phallus. Fuck you, Elizabeta. I growled in my mind as I continued to count.
The tears broke and trailed down my cheeks, that damnedable brackish liquid traced the contours of my face to the corners of my mouth. I wanted her dead in that moment, I wanted everyone in that room to suffer as I felt that familiar pressure build inside of me. I opened my eyes and glared at the gathered crowd as I flexed my toes against that cool floor.
Those damning automatic responses of arousal continued as I grunted, wincing with every smack of the cane.
“Oh, you’re so very close aren’t you?” Elizabeta cackled in my ear.
I craned my face to look at her and spat in her face. “Fuck you,” I snarled and she smirked.
It happened so fast, she stepped around me and delivered a swift blow with the cane across my hips. That wood came down diagonally, and with the end of the cane she smacked my flaccid length in just the right way to make me scream and my knees give out, and to make my body twitch with climax. The chains that bound me didn’t allow me to collapse like I would have preferred to I and my shame was on display for every vampire in France with any bit of power to see. The room erupted in chuckles and giggles as my shame pumped lamely onto my thighs and dribbled to the floor.
After the initial shock wore off I stood up tall and sneered at her. The room grew quiet, the shadows at the back of the room seemed to move, seething with the anger. My arms above my head were shaking, making those silver chains again sound like wind chimes. I held my chin high as I tried to save face. I glared at Elizabeta. There will come a day when I’ll get my revenge. The end of the cane was reddened with whatever little bit of blood I had left in me. Staring at the blood seemed to awaken my hunger and a growl escaped my throat that seemed foreign even to me. I had never heard myself make such bestial noise before. It sounded more like the growl of a rabid and desperate animal. She had another cuff lowered from the mass on the ceiling as I growled at her. She knelt down and fastened the restraint to my ankle and proceeded to raise it until I was forced to stand en pointe almost in a needle. My whole body wobbled halfway off balance.
We glared at each other. I refused to beg for the forgiveness that she desperately wanted. We were at an empasse and she was determined to make me suffer until I caved or she grew bored or had done enough harm to my reputation and person to save face. The latter usually happened more often than not. It was the age old struggle of the unstoppable force and the immoveable object. As time marched on I was slowly becoming more and more aware of all of the damage she had probably done. I’d never be viewed as anything more than the very lowest of the low. Oh, that’s probably why she does this… she’s afraid of me. A small smile tugged the corners of my mouth and I lifted my chin a bit more. My balance righted, and my smile spread. My face read nothing short of do your worst, and I was sure that by the end of the night she would. The prospect of it titillated me. Could I hold on? Or would I snap and let instinct take over.
“I think that is enough, yes?” Gaston spoke as he emerged from the throng. “The poor boy is blood starved, it’s not very wise I think to push him further.”
“You wanted him punished, so I am punishing him,” Elizabeta smiled at the dark haired, slightly bucktooth vampire. His hand trailed down my chest and I saw the want in his eyes.
“I didn’t want him punished like this, I was expecting more on the lines of what you did with our lovely lady Anne.” I cringed as the mention of Anne left his lips. Elizabeta whored me out to the Matriarch of London, and her human progeny. It was all under a clever ploy. I was being loaned out to the London Ballet, but in reality I danced one show the entire six months I was there. The rest of the time I was obligated to stud with six rather homely British women.
“That…” Elizabeta trailed off and chuckled darkly smoothing a tendril of that titian hair behind her ear. “You weren’t offended by a damn thing Aleksi did, were you?” She arched a perfectly sculpted brow. Gaston swallowed and turned to the gathered vampires yelling in French, they all disbursed as though the devil himself were behind them. “Listen close, and listen careful, Gaston, because I’m only going to say it once.” She snatched his narrow jaw in her hand and forced him to look from me to her. “If you ever, and I do mean ever, pull this shit again. I mean it, I don’t care if it’s three hundred years from now. If you ever force me to punish mine for your…amusement again, I will do things to you that will make you a marvelous spectacle for my enemies to behold. Aleksi is Vlad’s heir, perhaps I’ll give your fangs to Vlad as a gift when he wakes?”
Gaston frowned deeply at Elizabeta’s words and then straightened his tie. After a few uneasy breaths he left the room without saying anything. She growled at him, as he left and muttered something in a language that was probably dead long before I was born let alone turned. After a few moments she turned and looked at me before taking out her cellphone. I still glared at her and her response was to shrug at me and start to walk out of the room, leaving me shackled.
“Collette will be here in an hour, I’d take you down but after that little display I think you need the lesson,” Elizabeta sighed.
“What lesson? That you’re a cruel and petty bitch?” I yelled, she didn’t respond she just turned off the light and closed the door leaving me in the dark.
I don’t know how long I was there for but eventually the door opened again and I heard the soft pitter patter of those familiar feet. Collette walked like a child, I think that was perhaps because she was one still—mentally at least. She was perpetually a homicidal sixteen year old reptile. She was older than that when turned, but mentally she was stuck there.
“I see someone pissed off Mommy,” Collette giggled as the lights turned on. She had my clothes draped over her arm and her hair was long and loose like she liked to wear it when she tried to catch my eye. I knew her game. When she was content with whatever play thing she had attempted to suck the life out of she had her hair up, usually in a ponytail or a tasteful bun with fringe. She sighed at me and smiled seeming doll like as always but those pretty doll’s eyes were hollow, there was nothing behind them. Oh it wasn’t that she was lacking intelligence, it was empathy that was missing.
“I didn’t… piss off Mo-Elizabeta. She came that way, apparently Gaston was being a dick.”
“That’s about as much news as the sun rising in the morning,” Collette giggled as she approached me and unlocked the restraint from my ankle. “Your form was perfect by the way.”
“I know,” I sighed and rolled my eyes. She hit a button on a small key fob in her hand and the chains on my arms went slack. I almost groaned with the release of tension. It felt too good to move them once more. Collette stood on her toes and unlocked the shackles surveying my torn and bruised flesh.
“We should kill them for this, dear Brother,” her voice was empty when she said it, but there was a little smile on her lips.
“One day,” I concurred for a change. We used to lay in bed together and wax poetic about how we’d dispose of everyone. “Now isn’t a good time.”
“Mmn, not for Elizabeta, but Gaston, mon frère?” She beamed at me, stood en pointe and kissed my chin like she did when I was Franz to her Swanilda. I stood as stoic as I did on stage, and sighed a useless sigh.
“Fabien would be grateful for it,” I didn’t say anymore, I just took my clothes from her and looked down at the semen still on my thigh and the deep purple bruise at the tip of my penis.
“I brought bandages too,” she fished out medical tape and a sterile pouch of gauze from her pocket. “I’ll tape you up and then… you’ll be as right as rain.” She knelt behind me before I could protest.
“I need to feed, I won’t be able to dance tomorrow if I don’t,” I commented as she started laying the gauze across the open welts and taping it down.
“You could come over after this, I have plenty of blood at my little flat.”
“Mhm, Fabien made certain I kept my old flat.”
“All these years?”
“Mhm, all these years.”
“Fabien is a sentimental fool,” I grumbled as she finished and slowly stood.
“Sentimentality has it’s uses.”
“You mean it makes people easy to manipulate.”
“Touché,” I turned and smirked at her before I started dressing again.
An hour or so later we were in Collette’s old flat. The building was beautiful and had that old French feel to it complete with renaissance architecture but the inside was modern and like everything about her it was pale pastel and looked to be a place where only light things could happen. The perfect almost manufactured placidity of the place only added to my enjoyment of sipping blood from a pink tinted wineglass. Hanging from the ceiling was what looked to be thousands of pairs of pink and white pointe shoes. They all dangled by their ribbons, and each had a date written on the box. Every date from a show I danced with her had a little heart under it. One pair hung a little lower than the others, and had a blue ribbon tied in a bow dangling from it. I tilted my head to the side surveying it. My brows knit.
“These are from that Giselle we danced before you threw that temper tantrum and ran off here for a year refusing to dance.” I reached up and let my fingers brush the ribbon.
“Mhm,” she called, she wasn’t even in the room but she knew what I was talking about.
“Why the blue ribbon? Was that from the act one costume?”
“No, it just felt appropriate,” she returned to the main room naked. Her thin fingers reached for the glass and I reached out with my other hand and placed it on her forehead as I stared up at the point shoe, there was something else written on the box but the ribbon obscured it.
“I’m not in the mood.” I stepped away from her shoving her with my palm a bit as I brought that glass back up to my lips.
“Will you sleep with me?”
“As in rest in the same bed and nothing else, perhaps.” Shrugging I sat on the white sofa and stared out of the window that spanned the opposite wall of the apartment. There was something about the massive windows of the latter twentieth and early twenty first century that simply enthralled me. The idea of standing on high and looking out over what was essentially our kingdom as vampires tickled me inside. It felt right to lounge and watch the little people scurrying by.
“Oh,” she pouted and I rolled my eyes.
“I thought I made myself clear last year, I’m done with you.” I set the empty glass on the table and stood. I didn’t elaborate, I simply walked back to the bedroom, took off my coat and laid down on the pretty pink satin comforter. She followed me, as I expected and turned off the light before lying beside me.
“Gaston will be dealt with before we leave. I like what we discussed, will you tell me our plan again?” She looked up at me with those large luminous eyes the same color as my own and I shook my head no. She fell silent for a time and sighed before wrapping her arms around me, I rolled my eyes at her affection which only came off as bad mime. “Would you be this cruel to me if we had a child?” I rolled my eyes and curled my arm to rest my hand on her head.
“Am I being cruel?” my fingers laced in her soft dark hair and I felt her unease for a moment. Collette, my reptile, was a sociopath. I caught on long long ago to her games. I still hadn’t discerned if she was born broken or if her time with Elizabeta had made her that way. I would always lean towards her simply always being that way, a reptile since birth… a chameleon.
“You’re always cruel, dear brother.”
“Am I?” I smirked a little. “What makes me cruel?” Oh I was being cruel, I was teasing her while giving the little chameleon nothing to reflect. She was quiet for a moment.
“You didn’t accept my hospitality,” she countered with.
“Go to sleep.”
“We will have to kill them, they’re forcing our hands.”
“I know, but when the time’s right.”
“The time is always right in the right place. I’ll concede on Elizabeta, but Pietro, Gaston, Anne, Gregory. They all have to be dealt with.”
“Will you tell me what we agreed for Gaston? I want a bedtime story.”
“Fine,” I sighed and stared at the ceiling. “We agreed I would lure him to some place quiet and dark. Some place where we wouldn’t be found for hours, some place where his screams would echo into nothingness. A gag would be too good for him, so we’d bind him but leave his mouth free so we could hear him pleading for his life as we first skinned him alive, taking bit by bit from him as he pleaded for us to stop like the little weakling he is. Then, once he had been properly flayed, we’d take him apart joint by joint until nothing was left but a limbless stump with a head. An—”
“Aleksi,” Collette sighed in pleasure as she orgasmed, her tight, slender body shuddering against me.
“And then we’d take his fangs, his eyes… his tongue…and depending on how we were feeling we’d either drop him in the sein like that or… decapitate him and leave him amongst his bits for his fledglings to find.” I turned and kissed her forehead as she relaxed against me. I suppose some part of me did care for the reptile.
My body was still aching the day after the performance. I woke up aching in my hotel room, my bottom still throbbed from the beating and just thinking about my prick made it hurt. I rolled over, and there on the bed beside me was the woman I had been seeing since our arrival in Paris. I didn’t need to roll her over to know that she was dead, I couldn’t hear her heartbeat or breathing. I stared for a time before I reached out and rolled her over to face me. Her body moved loosely and those eyes stared at me open and unseeing. Real mature Elizabeta, real fucking mature. My hand snatched the phone off of the night stand and I sent her a text.
[Thank you for doing me a favor. I was going to break up with her after the next performance anyway. :) ] I stood and threw my phone on the bed before walking to the shower. This was not the first time I had woken up with a corpse beside me.
After showering, dressing, and slathering myself in sunblock I stretched a little and left. Elizabeta wouldn’t let house cleaning find the body. Her games were predictable. Was I sad about Mathilda? Short answer yes, long answer not really. Did that make me a monster? I suppose it did, but I was okay with being a monster, I was one after all—what is a vampire if not monstrous?
“Aleksi!” A familiar masculine voice shouted my name and I paused and glanced around. It was Tristan, he was running across the courtyard as fast as his legs could carry him. My brows furrowed at his urgency.“Go back to the hotel and pack your bags, we’re leaving now.”
“What?” I quirked a brow and Tristan pulled his fingers back through his hair.
“Fabien had Gaston chopped up last night.” Collette.
“I know, I just got off of the phone with Elizabeta. She wants Du Nuit in Florence.”
“Florence… Oregon?” my lids fell half mast in displeasure.
“Yes. That Florence.”
“Have you ever had a morning where you wanted to go to a little place far away and hide?”
“Yes, plenty. Florence is good for hiding.”
“No, it’s not. It’s like London or New York. Here at least everyone fawns over Collette too much to pay me much mind.”
“You received rave reviews last night.”
“Tristan, I’m fairly certain if I chainezed out to the middle of the stage, pulled my tights down, took a shit and just walked off they would give it rave reviews.” My voice stayed flat through it all and Tristan rolled his eyes at me.
“Stop being facetious, they’d call it fantastic for anyone but you and uninspired at best.” Oh that British sarcasm. I smirked and draped an arm across his shoulders.
“Sometimes I miss you, urgh,” I shivered and my face contorted.
“I sounded like the reptile there for a moment.”
“Oh, you mean your dear sister?”
“Don’t you start, too.”
“It’s been fifty years since we had our little semi-secret dalliance. You miss me because I’ve been a shitty friend this last decade.”
“We’ll you’re no longer one of us. You’re more a repetituer than dancer, now.”
“I’m a hairs breadth from official retirement, Aleksi. Besides I have never been as good as you, or Jean Luc, or Evan…Serge on the other hand,” he snickered darkly and shared in that dark little laugh with him. We walked along the street for a while, so much for that urgency. “I shouldn’t have been so hard on you the other day. You’ve every right to be sensitive about your… ordeal. No one has it shoved in their face quite as often as you do… Swan Lake and Tchaikovsky are unfortunately synonymous with Ballet. Sometimes we can be a little selfish when we look at our ordeals, and forget that comparatively it was anywhere near as bad.”
“It’s not really.”
“Pella went through the same thing. Every dancer paid their due with their flesh. Maybe one day I’ll be able to hear Dance of the Cygnets without cringing.” I shrugged and let my arm fall from his shoulder. “I guess I should head back and pack up.”
“Yeah, look… if you’re done in the next hour text me and head to the airport. I’m taking the private jet back because I have to meet with the people at the Westley.”
“Did anything ever come of your little hand picked protégé?”
“What do you mean?”
“That girl… it was years ago. Collette went on and on for a good decade about the poor little thing, said she had never seen a child so composed.”
“Oh, her… no apparently she grew breasts.”
“Well someone should inform Katrina she can’t dance anymore because she wears a double d.”
“That was my response. But, it was out of my hands long before I found out about it. Well, I need to head back and pack.”
“Alright, I should be ready.”
We parted as we always did, with a quick hug that always lingered a little too long as we let outselves guage the changes in eachother’s bodies since we were together a half century ago.
When I returned to my room the dead body was gone but my room remained the mess it had been when I left. I grumbled as I picked up my phone and stuffed it into my pocket. It took minutes for me to pack, everything was already in my suit case. The only things out were my toiletries which had their own tiny canvas bag. I texted him, and made it to the airport in time. Eleven hours later we were at the Airport in Florence, and then an hour after that we were at the Westley just as the dancers were filing out of the massive theater complex. A group of three girls passed us, one was just breath taking. I actually stopped and looked at her. Those eyes were golden and down cast, staring at the ground as she walked, there was an intelligence to them that I hadn’t seen in such a long time. Her lips were a perfect full cupids bow and her face was heart shaped. Her makeup was tasteful, and she looked more like some beautiful girl you’d see walking the streets of Rome or Paris more so than Florence, Oregon—Ballet Capital of the United States or no. The way the sweater dress hugged her form made my mouth water and my cock twitch—which given its abused state wasn’t the best of sensations.
“Aleksi?” Tristan called, I could see him out of the corner of my eye by the stage door as I watched the girl disappear with her friends into the diner across the street.
“Who was that?” I asked as I turned back around and started up the stairs.
“The girl with the black hair and hazel eyes,”
“No one like that dances for FBT,”
“Are you sure? She had a dancer’s posture.”
“Yeah…” he trailed off.
“Well that’s transparent.”
“It never fails, two minutes on the ground in a new city and you magically have some delicious vision of beauty hanging from your arm.”
“In my defense it’s been more than an hour since we landed.” Tristan hit me and I chuckled as we slipped into the halls that were lined with practice rooms. “Maybe she’s new?”
“It’s possible. I haven’t been watching things as closely as I should. Dmitri is pretty good at running things on his own here.”
“Dmitri has fucked almost all of the dancers.”
“That’s not true, he’s not into men.” Tristan smirked up at me as we turned the corner.
There was something surprisingly cold and clinical about the halls of the Westley. The theatre was modern, the complex was barely thirty years old and the lobby looked different every time I saw it. The halls behind were always this cold shade of gray. It was like they were afraid of color. Inside of each practice room the walls were white and the floors were bleached as close to white as possible. It was so very classical to me and made me think of the days when Ballerinas wore pale pink flowing skirts to practices and men wore the standard black tights and white shirt. Those days were long gone for professional companies. I hardly wore a shirt to rehearse anymore, with the exception of technical rehearsals or if the costume was new. Most wore colorful tights or leg warmers and came to class wrapped in layers of warm synthetic fleece. I had humans come to me on occasion and ask how I could rehearse in so little, and pester me about things like floor burn, that nasty occurrence of skin slothing off that usually accompanied a fall. My response to them was simple, I do not fall. I hadn’t lost my footing in over seventy years, I refused to allow myself to lower to being subject to gravity’s whims. Or that’s how I liked to think of it, in reality I had just gotten that good over the decades. Most Vampire dancers didn’t spend the time I did rehearsing and so I knew my body very well. I also hadn’t dropped anyone in forty years, and then I did it to prove a point to Collette. Still everyone tensed up around me like they thought I would, maybe it was because they could look at me and tell that I didn’t care about them and if they fell I probably wouldn’t help them up or even ask if they were okay.
“You’re looking grimmer than usual,” Tristan said as we neared the director’s office.
“About that girl?” Tristan practically snorted as he reached for the handle to the door. Next to the door was a little plaque on the wall that said Director, Tristan D’Arcy, and below that Co-Director, Dmitri Kovalyov. I sighed heavily but didn’t comment on what Tristan had said.
Inside the room was larger than it seemed and had one of those huge window walls I liked so much. There were two desks, the bigger of which was cleared off and had nothing on it but the thin computer monitor. At the other desk was a scrunched face man was brown hair and beady little black eyes. Dmitri was an ass. He was an ass when he was a dancer, and ass as a repetituer and now at the ripe age of fifty he was still an ass as director. He was one of those people I wished would die. It wasn’t even an active wish, it was just something that I knew… he needed to die. If he dropped dead right at that moment I wouldn’t have rushed to his side, I would have simply though, Oh, good, and carried on with whatever it was that Tristan wanted to do. Oh, and Dmitri was a shitty dancer too.
“Aleksi! Tristan! Come, sit with me!” he declared, his accent was thick everyone said it was Russian, but I could hear the Ukrainian in there like I could hear the Russian in my near accent-less French.
“Did you get a new dancer?” Tristan asked as he collapsed back into his desk chair.
“No, not since…Rosaline Ecker last year. I’ve turned down so many girls this year, beautiful girls. Fine bodies, perfect posture…shit dancers.” Dmitri smirked and picked up the tumbler of vodka from his desk. He was such a walking fucking stereotype.
“We saw a girl out front I didn’t recognize, black hair, immaculate posture, probably southern Italian maybe Greek?”
“That little piggie isn’t a dancer, she’s too fat. I knew she was going grow up to be a fattie when Sandra asked me if they should keep her.”
“My, aren’t you charming,” I commented softly.
“That was Autumn Darling,” Tristian said to me. “And Dmitri she’s not too fat, we have a woman of similar build in Du Nuit. Unless you think Marie du Chambor too fat to dance.”
“I wouldn’t allow someone that large into my company. It’s harder to partner with someone that large. Aleksi! Talk some sense into your friend!”
“Marie is a beautiful dancer. Her lines are immaculate and I would gladly dance in more productions with her. Pella was about her size when we partnered and I had no problem lifting her when I was mortal.” I smiled wide, “Now, if you would like to discuss mass and bodies not fit for Ballet… you were never Principal because in tights your body always looked a little like summer sausage bound with twine.” I swept a stray tendril behind my ear. “I saw your last performance, and I could hear your wheezing as you waddled your way through Don Quixote from the box.” I slipped from the edge of the desk and left the office. Dmitri said something that was eaten up by the sound proofing as the door closed.
Licking my lips in the hall I thought of the woman I saw with her friends.
“Autumn Darling,” I whispered her name to myself as my feet carried me through the chilly halls and out of the building. I felt something for her, it was sad to know that someone who was so perfectly suited for something had been denied it because of an asshole like Dmitri. I would never cease to be confused by people like him who labeled women like her fat. No she was not built shapeless, but most ballerinas weren’t. Dancing left you with a nice round bottom, and well-turned legs. I don’t know why Dmitri’s accusation bothered me, but it did. Maybe it was because I saw the change happen. Sometime in the nineteen sixties someone decided that every ballerina should look like a strong gust of wind could blow them away. When I was mortal, ballerinas had a more womanly shape. The dark haired beauty was thinner than Pella had been before that last year right before her embrace, and she was thinner than Maria. Why did I feel so protective of this woman I hadn’t even said a word to?
I almost went into the Diner, but I stopped myself. I didn’t like pursuing people who I knew nothing about. I had a habit of stalking my prey, not unlike an animal in the wild. I liked to know what I was getting myself into even if it was something brief and pointless. I had certain tastes that made discretion paramount and being choosy with my partners a near second to discretion. Maybe that was why I was lonely. I watched her for a few moment from the shadows of the large cement planters outside of the Westley. She smiled and nodded a lot, but didn’t speak unless spoken to. Could she be so naturally inclined? It was rare for a woman to be so submissive these days. I preferred the company of modern women, they were on the whole more intelligent and reminded me of the well-read women whom I encountered at the turn of the century. Women who read Cicero’s letters in the original Latin. I couldn’t read Latin, I had never even read Cicero’s letters translated, but I liked smart women. I had no patience for stupid people.
She left the Diner before her friends did, and I shadowed her down the street keeping my distance. She kept her head down, like a puppy who had been hit one too many times. I wondered whose neck I’d have to snap over that. I was her shadow as she walked down into the subway and I waited for the train with her. She glanced at me once, but the gaze didn’t linger the moment I turned to look at her she quickly looked away. Either no one had taught her how to flirt or someone had also beaten that out of her. Murder suddenly seemed so appropriate then as I watched her nervously fuss with her long dark curls in her reflection on an ad for a cola. The train came all too quickly and I watched as she got on and made her way to a seat near the back. Her gaze didn’t find me again and once the train pulled away I smiled to myself. It was nice to have prey. I wasn’t lonely, that was what I needed…the hunt. And I could almost already taste her on my tongue.