Thursday, May 8, 2008
In the Blood excerpt by Rick R Reed
By day, Elise draws and paints, spilling out the horrific visions of her tortured mind. By night, she walks the streets, selling her body to the highest bidder.
And then they come into her life: a trio of impossibly beautiful vampires.
In the Blood is a novel that will grip you in a vise of suspense that won't let go, forcing you to stay up long past midnight, turning page after page, until the very last moment, when a surprising turn of events changes everything and demonstrates, truly, what love and sacrifice are all about.
In the Blood
Quest (September 10, 2007)
Maria sees her first: a whore. Long hair and tight clothes. Stiletto heels and black rubber bracelets climbing up one arm. She stands alone, watching the traffic go by, her eyes staring restlessly into the glass shielding each driver. She tries to appear streetwise and tough, but there’s a vulnerability to her stance, a little too much hunger in her eyes to make the act convincing.
Maria moves back into the shadows, pulling her companions with her. They are sandwiched between a convenience store and a movie theater, long ago abandoned, a home for nothing more than pigeons and trash. With Jimmy Choo spike heels, she kicks aside a fearless pigeon and a Popeye’s chicken box.
“Look.” She nods toward the whore. All three pairs of eyes train in on the woman across the street. Her beauty draws them, or at least what once could be referred to as beauty, her looks are sliding downhill; she looks beyond tired, a rose whose petals are velvety, but blackened and drooping. What really sets their mouths to watering is her vulnerability. Easy pickings are always the best. Why cast a line into an ocean when you can shoot into a barrel?
At once, each of the three is more aware of the woman than she could ever realize. She is like something small, a rabbit nibbling on grass as a hunter is positioning it in the crosshairs of his rifle. Even from their vantage point across the street, they feel the heat emanating from her body, drifting over to them in shimmering waves. They see it as no one else can: a crimson aura surrounds her body, pulsing in the heat. Her scent, sour body odor not masked at all by cheap cologne, rides the heat like a magic carpet. It smells of fresh game, clean, yet musky. Heavy. The blood pulsing in the whore’s veins reveals itself; almost audible, the tide of it, as the heart pounds out a beat. She is alive, glimmering with life.
It’s almost too much. A feast of the senses; a cornucopia. Corpuscles of fat floating in the most delicious blood, thick and viscous, with a sharp metallic tang. It excites all sorts of hunger. Maria turns to Terence and wraps her arms around him, her mouth devouring his, tongue exploring the dryness within, sliding over his teeth. Edward presses himself into Maria from behind, thrusting against her, feeling the taut flesh and bone outlined beneath the satin of her dress. Tight between the two men, Maria throws back her head, grinding herself back and forth, pushing their insistent hardness against her. She sighs, imagining someone walking by, deigning to join this impromptu orgy. If someone should, they would never emerge from the shadows again. This trio has always had a problem dealing with the curious, but no problem with swiftly extinguishing that curiosity...forever.
Cold flesh touches cold flesh. Eyes close. Each whispers and moans proclamations of lust and desire. Edward nuzzles the ice skin just below Maria’s hairline in back, biting, biting harder until the skin breaks, exploring the small barren openings his teeth have made with his tongue. Maria arches her back, and stops.
“Now, we should go to her now.” Maria pulls away from the panting men, lust brightening their eyes, even here in the shadows. “Terence, you approach her.”
Terence doesn’t need further encouragement. He loves this part of the hunt. Breaking away, Terence waits for the passing cars and dashes across the street. He knows exactly how he looks, the blond hair shining in the artificial neon brightness of the night, the high cheekbones and full lips. The costume of tight leather and pewter latex. A whore’s dream: money and beauty, too.
The whore is about to light a cigarette. An opportunity. Terence brings out his silver lighter and hurries to her, flame erect, before she can raise the cheap plastic disposable in her hand. He meets her eyes as the flame transfers some of its glow to the tip of her cigarette.
“Thanks.” She exhales twin streams of smoke through her nostrils, and. appraises him, taking in the leather and latex, wondering perhaps what someone like him is doing in her part of town. She draws in hard on the cigarette, cheeks collapsing. Thin tusks of blue gray smoke rise. She burns.
“Hot tonight.” Terence smiles and looks around him, as if for the source of the heat.
The whore smiles, shakes her head. “You gotta do better than that for an opening line.” She laughs. “Ah, but the way you look, what do you need lines for?” She cocks her head, suddenly the coquette.
“Flatterer.” Terence touches the whore’s bare shoulder.
She flinches, shrugging his hand away. “Baby, you’re cold. How’d you manage that?”
Terence thinks for a moment. “Just got out of air conditioning.”
The whore looks around, trying to locate the building from which Terence has emerged.
More conversation. Cheap words mouthed to get to the real purpose. Finally, the whore cuts short the compliments and inanities about the weather and cuts to the chase, not knowing that the chase began a while back.
“What do you get into?” Her eyes flicker, moving down Terence’s body like liquid. Her voice has a broad, Midwestern twang: flat A’s, sharp and nasal.
“There are three of us.”
“Group scene.” The whore nods. “Been there. There’s no group rate, though. It’ll cost each of you the same as if you came to me individually.”
“So that’s all right with you?”
“Anything’s all right, so long as it’s worth my while.” She takes one more drag off the cigarette, drops it to the pavement, and grinds it under her toe. “I assume you got a place. Otherwise, it’s extra. There’s a motel on Sheridan.”
“No need for that. We have a car nearby. Come with us?”
“What kinda car?”
“A black Mercedes.”
Eyes light up. “Let’s go.”
The Mercedes idles at a corner, just steps away from Lake Michigan. It’s quieter here, away from the bustle of Howard Street. Once in a while, someone strolls down to the lakefront, or a figure passes across a lighted window. Otherwise, here so close to the lake, it’s deserted.
“Shit! Why you wanna make me walk so far in these shoes? Couldn’t you have had one of your friends come and pick us up? Jesus, don’t you have a cell?” The whore bends down and pulls off the black spike heels and grips them angrily in one hand, continuing in a tight little barefoot canter. “You’re gonna have to give me some money for new hose.”
“Sorry,” Terence says, not bothering to explain, but there is a reason: Maria always plans ahead; she’s cautious. The car will be close to the lake, away from the bright lights and bustle. This way, there will be fewer witnesses. Even whores, sometimes, have friends. There have been times when they had taken the wrong person. There was trouble, and they had to flee. Terence and Maria have lived all over the world, nomads with the stench of death following them, too cunning to be caught, but unable to stay―and feed―in one place for too long.
“Not to worry, my dear. Our vehicle is just ahead.” Terence nods at the Mercedes, black, shimmering, and reflecting the moon. There’s a low hum, the song of solid German engineering. The windows are black.
“Nice car.” She giggles, running a red fingernail across the trunk.
Terence opens the back door for her. She slides in; Terence follows, closing the door behind them with a muffled thunk.
The whore settles in, grinning and leaning back into the leather. It takes her a second to notice Maria in the front seat. “Ah,” she says, “we got a lady here.”
Maria turns. “I hope that’s not a problem.”
“Problem? Honey, it’s a bonus.” The whore smiles at Maria, engaging her with her eyes. She tries to keep their gazes locked. Maybe that way, Maria won’t notice the crooked teeth and the slash across her right cheek, the smooth white scar.
“This is Maria.”
The whore offers her hand. Maria makes a kissing expression in its direction but does not touch it. “I’m very pleased.” Maria gestures toward Edward, sitting next to her. “And this is Edward.”
Edward turns and gives a small wave. His face is tight, revealing nothing.
The car pulls away from the curb, makes a U-turn, and heads south on Sheridan Road.
Back at the vampires’ house, the mood is one of anticipation. A party on the cusp of bursting into revelry. Terence, purveyor, escorts the whore to a bedroom done entirely in red: red satin settees, heavy red drapery, blood red velvet, flocked wallpaper.
The whore giggles at the sight of the room’s interior. “God! It’s like a womb.” She paces, fingering the heavy draperies. “Or a bordello.”
The three say nothing. Terence leads her to the bed and pulls her down next to him. Wordlessly, they all shed their clothes. The air fills with the whispers of satin, creaks of leather, the thud of shoes hitting the floor. Terence implores the whore to keep her stilettos on, though. “You look so hot with those on...and nothing else,” he tells her. The three take their places, wordlessly concurring. Maria sits on the floor at her feet, and Edward remains in a corner near the door, watching, eyes brilliant in the flickering of the candles.
Now, Terence strokes the woman, cupping and holding her breasts. He stares into her eyes while pinching harder on her nipples, almost as though searching for an indication of pain.
“Your hand’s so cold.”
The whore gasps and stiffens as Terence’s hand dives between her thighs. “I don’t understand...” There is something wrong. This coldness is unnatural. The whore thinks this leathery cold flesh feels dead. But that can’t be. They’re horny. They want a three-way. Dead people don’t wander around at night, picking up streetwalkers. She knows; she’s seen enough dead people. None of them managed to worm a cold hand between her thighs. But still, the feel of the cold flesh pressing inside her makes her feel nauseous. If she didn’t need the money, maybe she would get up, saying something like, “Sorry folks, this isn’t my scene. I’ll find my way out.” But she knows it’s not that simple. Once you commit to a scene, putting things in reverse is very difficult. Sometimes, it’s easier to just go through with it. Still, this cold flesh is really creepy.
She whimpers and shifts slightly to free herself from Terence’s cold probing fingers. Fear is making her own skin icy.
Maria, attuned to the fear in her eyes, rises and moves to a walnut armoire. She extracts several one hundred dollar bills and scatters them over the whore. They flutter down over her body.
“Warmer?” Maria’s voice is throaty. Deep as a man’s, yet in no way masculine. She knows how to speak the whore’s language.
“Yesss,” the whore hisses, staring at all the money. She spreads her legs to give Terence better access. Maria kneels at the whore’s feet and removes a stiletto heel. She takes the whore’s great toe in her mouth and sucks it. The whore closes her eyes as Terence moves to kiss her. She stiffens at the feel of his tongue: dry, rough, and again, icy cold. But she makes herself kiss back, trying to ignore the repulsion she feels. They’re all beautiful, but not one of them is desirable. She forces herself to think about the money, scattered around her. Christ, she thinks, there has to be at least a thou...
Terence pushes her hand down on his sex. It feels like ice.
The woman stiffens. In spite of all the money, in spite of everything, she doesn’t know if she can do this. She doesn’t know if there is a place in her mind that’s far away enough to distance herself from the revulsion and the horror. She sits up abruptly, pulling her foot away from Maria. “Why are you all so cold? I don’t get it.” Her heart races. Perhaps she can grab a few of the bills and make a break for it. Something is not right here. Something she doesn’t want to think about too closely, for fear she’ll lose her mind. But something instinctive in her is telling her she needs to get away. Even if it would mean running into the street stark naked and screaming...
And Edward is there to calm her. “Have some of this.” He hands her a lighter and the glass cylinder, its bowl filled with a fat bud of marijuana glistening with resin. She looks down at it in surprise, looks back up at Edward, not sure whether to be grateful or wary.
The whore’s chest heaves. All three sense her dichotomy: dread and desire wrapped into one conflicting package, each emotion pulling with its own force. They are old hands at dealing with this kind of war. They are confident in its outcome.
The whore takes the pipe and fires up the bowl. The cylinder fills with smoke, becoming opaque. Clarity returns in seconds as the woman sucks down the smoke. “Damn,” she whispers. “Where’d you find shit like this?” Already, she feels as though she is speaking from within a long tunnel.
No reply. Terence takes the woman’s hand and forces her to put the pipe back to her mouth. She giggles. “Okay, okay.”
After three hits, the woman has forgotten her fear, has stopped wondering why her three companions for the evening have such cold flesh and empty eyes, pale skin smooth like polished stone. Standing naked, the whore surrenders to their touch—all over, hands moving faster and faster, exploring. She closes her eyes, no longer aware who is twisting her nipples to an area where pain and pleasure mesh, no longer aware whose fingers are exploring her sex, her ass. The pot has filled her with a warm stupidity. She can think of only one thing at a time and that is how good these three pairs of hands feel on a body that is growing hotter and hotter with their chilled caresses. Juices run down her thighs, viscous, fragrant. Three tongues lapping make it almost impossible for the whore to stand. Dragging the three with her like sucking leeches, the whore moves to the fireplace and lies on the red and black patterned rug before it. She spreads her legs wide, pushing at them to enter her more deeply, to continue to bring out this wondrous pleasure she has never felt.
And then, the whore is sitting astride Terence, cock like an icicle buried deep. Edward squats behind and above her, pelvis arched out to thrust more deeply into her ass, and Maria presses the whore’s face into her own cold but yielding sex lips. Vaguely, through the fog of sensual pleasure and drugged stupidity, the whore remembers reading that the devil’s penis feels like ice. She shuts her eyes and grinds down harder on this pillar of ice muscle inside her. It feels good, damn it. It feels good. She reaches out with her tongue, lapping at Maria’s sex, tasting her, burying her face in the silken black hair that frames Maria’s moist lips, digging her tongue deep inside.
The whore sees this tableau in her mind’s eye, almost as if she is at once removed from it and deep within it, the center. She cries out, not knowing how she can stay conscious under the weight of such pleasure.
And then they are biting.
And at first, it’s all right, the tiny nips and nibbles nothing more than an extension of their lust, making it better and better. She’s endured nibbles and even harder bites in the name of pleasure. Seldom has she let anyone actually break her flesh...and seldom has anyone wanted to. She winces as their teeth penetrate. “Ow!” She laughs. “Watch it, there! I don’t go in for the rough stuff. Not too rough, anyway.” She bats at them with an ineffectual hand.
But then the bites become harder and harder and the whore awakens from the haze of the marijuana as the teeth, suddenly razor-like and distinctly not human, pierce and rend her flesh. “Oh, God,” she whimpers, muscles contracting at the pain like hot needles boring into her. She wants to scream, but feels paralyzed. Her voice dies in her throat as she looks down and sees Maria tear a hunk of flesh from her inner thigh, the skin, muscle, and blood hanging from her teeth. The whore lies convulsing, struggling as the bites penetrate deeper, ripping and shredding, faster and faster, on her breasts, her stomach, her thighs, her ass, all the tender areas. Piercing and penetrating. Sucking sounds filter up to her dull hearing.
Before everything goes dark, she sees: Terence and Edward biting down into her breasts, their mouths ringed with blood. Terence’s gaze meets hers. He smiles, fangs bright in a sea of crimson. One drop of her blood drips from his chin. And then, with a grunt, he lowers his head again, and rips her nipple off with his teeth. He teases the nipple with his teeth, playing with it, and then suddenly it’s gone.
The whore closes her eyes, shuddering and surrendering. She does not have enough sense to wonder why the cold bodies have suddenly become hot.