The following excerpt is from Winner Takes All by Laura Baumbach (available in the anthology Blood Claims, the second in the Blood Vampire series by Laura Baumbach, Angela Fiddler, and Jet Mykles). Two vampires face off in a deadly bet that has the winner claiming everything the loser owns – including the loser’s innocent, unaware offspring.
MLR Press (2/2008)
From the opposite direction Hunter had come there appeared a sleek, dark Mercedes barreling around the corner, tires screeching as the car swayed down the middle of the road.Looking over his shoulder, Malcolm watched as the car’s headlights suddenly veered and the car shot directly at him. The faces of the two street thugs that had passed earlier registered on him just before a solid mass struck him squarely in the chest.
With a muffled grunt, Malcolm flew off his feet and over the bench, and landed hard on the ground. Instinct took over, his arms locking around his attacker and both bodies rolled down the small sloping lawn to land at the base of a sturdy tree. Malcolm made sure he was the victor on top. Bits and pieces of the shattered bench flew through the air, then rained down and lay scattered in the grass around them.The car tires screeched again, roaring off into the night, a litany of foul curses and shouted threats in its wake.
Underneath his two hundred and fifty pounds of solid weight, a pair of wide hazel eyes stared up at him, panic evident in them. It took a second before he realized the air had been knocked out of the man under him, his weight preventing Hunter from taking in a much needed breath.He toyed with the idea of letting the man struggle, but Hunter’s distinctive, alluring scent, now laced with relief as well as a larger fear, overwhelmed him. It made Malcolm weak in the knees, slightly disoriented and hard as steel. Even now he could felt his swollen erection digging into Hunter’s thigh, hot, hard and eager. He knew Hunter could feel it, too.
Instead of rolling off and standing up, Malcolm tumbled onto his back, dragging Hunter along with him, until the human was laying stretched out over his chest, the man’s legs sprayed on either side of Malcolm’s hips. Hunter’s startled face hovering inches above his own. For an instant, he almost gave in to the compulsion to flick out his tongue and lick the silvery thread of scar tissue so close to his lips. One hand grasped the swell of Hunter’s ass cheek and other pressed between Hunter’s shoulder blades, pinning the man to him.Several rapid, startled breaths jiggled Hunter up and down, increasing the friction between their two bodies. Malcolm was inordinately pleased to detected a bulge of heat pressed into his lower abdomen as Hunter’s erection grew to a mild firmness with each deep, anxious breath and resulting body rub. Then the gasps eased and Hunter tried to slide off Malcolm, but the vampire wordlessly tightened his restraining hold. Hunter got the hint and ceased to resist.
"You okay?" He cautiously eyed Malcolm then hesitantly added, "Is this where we finally introduce ourselves?"Warm, minty breath laced with the smell of adrenaline and worry wafted off the human in layers that teased Malcolm’s senses and tantalized his already straining arousal.
The fear and worry weren’t direct at him – instead they were apparently for him. His eyes narrowed. He increased his grip to the point that Hunter grimaced, creating tiny lines of pain at the corners of his eyes that Malcolm ignored, inexplicably angered by the man’s concern.Voice harsh and low, he still couldn’t keep a current of disbelief out of it. "You attempted to protect me."
Blinking hard over a wide-eyed stare, Hunter invoked a Valley Girl duh! tone to his voice and answered, "Ah, yea-ah. Impending vehicular homicide makes me do silly things."Malcolm stared back in a neutral, cold gaze for several long, tense seconds. He could smell the fear in Hunter shift to be more personal now, but the man’s concerned gaze, fixed so very close to his own, didn’t show it. It remained steady and open despite Hunter’s instinctive awareness of the danger he was in.
He was so much like his father. Trusting past the point of good sense."It may not have been in your best interests to do so." His deep voice was deceptively soft but unerringly cold. When Hunter didn’t flinch, Malcolm pulled him up his chest another inch and whispered against Hunter’s parted mouth, "I am a danger to you." He felt the heat pressed into his abdomen jerk and grow, a swelling cock lengthening against him.
"Ah...well." A flash of pink tongue touched the parted lips hovering above his and the urge to wet them down with his own tongue was too much to resist. Malcolm entangled his hand in the man’s hair and held him in place as Hunter instinctively strained back.His gaze fell to Hunter’s mouth as he slowly ran his own tongue delicately over the trembling, silky strips of soft, full flesh. When he was done he pulled back and eased his hold on Hunter’s head. He found it intoxicating that Hunter didn’t draw away once he had his freedom to do so. Intoxicating, highly arousing and responsive.
Maybe the son wasn’t so much like the father after all."I kind of figured that might be a possibility." This time it was murmured, a stuttered grunt heavy with lust and excitement. The man’s heartbeat thundered in his chest, pounded against Malcolm’s still breast in a rhythm that matched the pulse hammering through the shaft buried against Malcolm’s abdomen.
"Yet knowing this" — Malcolm touched his tongue to his teeth, soothing the ache growing in them as the barely detectable scent of fresh blood suddenly reached him — "you risked yourself for me."The scent of blood grew stronger. Hunter must have suffered an injury in the fall that was just now trickling to the surface from under his clothing. His blood scent was musky like a spring rainstorm on rich black soil clean and earthy, bold. Nothing like Malcolm had imagined. Yet another surprise from this human.
The night breeze rose higher, stirring the fallen leaves near them and carrying muted, distant voices."I find danger can be exciting." Shifting his hips, Hunter tried to ease his erection off Malcolm’s stomach to one side.
Malcolm didn’t stop him, surprised when he was relieved the sexual tension had lessened for the moment. This was too good to be over so fast.The restraining hold gone, Hunter used one arm to prop his upper body off Malcolm’s, but he didn’t make a move to stand up. His tone was firm, but still laced with an undeniable apprehension.
"And…" He stared down into Malcolm’s face, gaze searching the vampire’s features as if he‘d find there a reason for his own actions. "I’m not a person who watches while others get hurt without trying to do something to prevent it."He started to lick his lips again then paused, glanced at Malcolm’s mouth, and swallowed nervously, a self-conscious, strained look on his face. Malcolm could see the man battle to force his thoughts back to the topic at hand. "It’s kind of what I do."
Malcolm managed to deadpan, "Really? So you’re a superhero?"Hunter was silent for a full three seconds before he burst out laughing. He rolled off Malcolm and came to his feet, dusting dirt and dry leaves off his jacket and jeans. Hunter’s laughter was genuine, musical and hearty, delight audible in it and in the startled grin on his young, smooth face. He looked more beautiful than his father had ever been.
Malcolm rose up smoothly with grace that belied his large stature."Not exactly. I’m a photojournalist. Freelance. I document the world’s woes and the unfortunate people caught up in them. I try to bring media and world attention to people that need help."
"Ah. Even worse — a self-appointed savior." Malcolm mocked the righteous tone in Hunter’s voice and watched with satisfaction as the man’s eyes narrowed. He took advantage of his towering height and loomed menacingly over the smaller man. His actions caused a spike in the scent of lustful hormones from the smaller man. He dropped his voice to a husky, growling whisper, more threatening than any shout. "Who comes to your rescue when you are in danger?""No one so far." Boldly leaning toward Malcolm’s hulking presence, Hunter stared at the vampire’s mouth, nervously letting his tongue trace back and forth across his own quavering lower lip twice. He then locked gazes with Malcolm and quietly said, "But I’ve always had this dream that some freaking tall, broad-shouldered, steely-eyed warrior would materialize out of the dark and save my ass when I needed it most." He blinked hard several times, but kept his gaze on Malcolm. "Know anyone like that?"
Malcolm felt a twinge of something sharp and hot twist in his chest. This sensual human was beautiful, confusing, impulsive, and unpredictable. Malcolm wanted to taste his blood and drink from him, here and now, but the faraway voices from before were drawing closer and Malcolm had the sudden need to prolong this game, extend the claiming of his prize just a bit more."I might know someone." Malcolm reached out and ran his thumb over the eyebrow scar in what could only be described as a caress. Lust and the faint scents of pre-cum mixed with blood filled his nostrils and invaded his mind, shaking his iron control. Taking this prize would better than he had imagined. It was almost worth killing William to be able to claim it. "Why don’t we go someplace private and discuss it?"
Hunter drew back. He cast a glance at a trio of people approaching from the end of the block, taking in the destroyed bench and the deep tire marks in the dirt and grass. "I don’t feel like taking the time explaining this to the police right now."He backed away from Malcolm and hurried down the sidewalk, away from the new arrivals. "I was thinking someplace more public." Walking backward, the usual bouncing step in his restless stride and a flirtatious, sultry look in his eyes, he smiled at Malcolm. "For now. Coffee?"