Book V of the Vampire Queen Series
(Can standalone in series, but reading Books 1 and 2 may enhance reader's enjoyment)
Released May 2010
Sometimes desire works three ways...
Gideon Green is a hardcore vampire hunter. But in the past year, his only family, his little brother, became a vampire queen’s servant – and then a vampire himself, giving Gideon a different view of the vampire world. Since Gideon’s sole purpose for over a decade has been killing vampires, the violence that has scarred his soul now haunts his conscience.
Then he crosses paths with sexy BDSM night club owner, Mistress Anwyn. Their connection is immediate and intense, but she has a silent partner--the vampire Daegan Rei. When Anwyn is viciously attacked and turned by a rogue vampire, Gideon and Daegan join to protect her through a dangerous transition. As the bonds between the three of them draw tighter, Gideon faces an unbelievable truth...that the path to meaning in his life may be found in surrendering to the desires and needs of two vampires.
© Copyright 2009-2010 - All Rights Reserved
Anwyn stood in the security room, her eyes trained on the surveillance screen for the Queen’s Chamber. With the high canopy bed, lush draperies, and polished restraint systems, it was one of her favorite rooms. The stainless steel and gleaming wood instruments of pleasure and torture had been rendered by quality craftspeople. She’d spent a lot of time designing it, her own private fantasy room in a club dedicated to fantasy. In some ways, she considered it hers, though she took very few sessions herself anymore.
Running any business consumed a great deal of time, and Club Atlantis more than most. An exclusive BDSM club, Atlantis dared to cater to the most extreme players, the ones who wanted to step boldly over the lines and fully immerse themselves in a world few understood, even those who played at less strenuous levels. Knowing diversity was key to business success, Anwyn had an upper level for those softer lifestyle people, as well as the dabblers and thrill seekers. This was the underground level, its geography enhancing the psychological impact of what it was about. The deep core zone.
Though everything that occurred in Atlantis was legal in the ways that mattered, they had the same philosophy as an illegal business. The people who came here paid a high price for the painful pleasures they sought, and therefore they weren’t interested in lawyers and liability suits. It made it easier to meet those needs.
Down here, people were fully dedicated to hardcore Domination and submission. They understood that consensual was a term used by the politically correct. They wanted to lose themselves in their craving need to dominate or be dominated, and for those purposes, choice was often a disruption to the fantasy. Because that was a line that required careful straddling to make sure everyone stayed safe, her largest cost was well-trained security outside each playroom door, and video surveillance of what was happening inside. The eyes she paid to watch those screens never wavered, her staff making a play by play judgment as to where the line was. A private ambulance and an on-staff medical team were ready to help those who needed it.
At this level, it was about a desired, if temporary, reality, and she was committed to giving it to her clients. However, since many personalities were incapable of handling what they thought they wanted, the vetting process for this level was strict. She herself personally approved or rejected all applications after viewing video tape of the entry interviews. Which was why she was sure none of her staff understood why she’d approved Jon Smith. He had every warning flag that resulted in a rejected application.
He was aggressive. Passive, active, and every spot on the spectrum in between. He was a tiger trapped in a small cage, almost mad with confinement, though only he could see the bars. In his interview, he couldn’t define what he wanted, but he had an obvious, burning need for what they were offering. He’d given the name “Jon Smith” with an insolent sneer, daring them to challenge it, even producing a driver’s license that backed it up, but that didn’t mean she believed his lying ass for a minute.
He was 120% trouble. She’d known it the first time he’d darkened the club’s doors in a battered leather jacket, scuffed boots and faded jeans, those midnight blue eyes vibrant with a breathtaking energy and passion. Because she knew only one other with eyes that piercing, she’d taken a second look to be sure their new guest was a mortal. He was, through and through. The badly cut dark hair that fell to his shoulders tempted touch, enhancing the fact he was all wild animal, fierce and beautiful and scarred. Most people dressed up for their sessions in some way. He’d come as he was, she was sure of that. Probably his only adjustment was leaving behind whatever weapons he’d been packing, because that was one rule the club never bent. There were weapons here, for controlled use, but that was it. Only the highest level of her security team, most of whom were ex-military, ever carried.
He was so overwhelmingly alpha she’d wondered—and still did—if he might need a Master’s hand in addition to a Mistress’s. But during the entrance interview, he’d reacted to that as if the interviewer had threatened his testicles with pruning shears.
“No, I do not want to be ass-fucked by a man.” He’d surged out of the chair and loomed over Madelyn, who was fortunately one of her more unflappable Mistresses. “Do I look like a faggot to you?”
It was a kneejerk hetero reaction, and one Anwyn quickly dismissed. People in the vanilla world were so caught up in their categories and labels. What people needed inside these walls had little to do with their sexual orientation, politics or gender. They needed to be stripped down to their souls, in order to find the lost treasure of themselves again. That was why she’d named her club Atlantis. That, and because it had lingered in her own childhood memories, a young girl who read the legends of the enlightened city, trying to find her own answers.
Of course his violent reaction was another reason his ass should have been booted out of here. She’d watched his taped interview, read his terse, uncommunicative responses. James Watts, the head of her security team, said flatly he was a risk, that he wouldn’t recommend his admission. Instead, following her intuition, Anwyn approved his temporary pass and met with her more experienced Mistresses, several of whom agreed to take the plunge.
In his first session, he wouldn’t be bound, but he was okay with pain. He kept goading Madelyn, his assigned Mistress, asking for higher and higher levels, and as he did, he’d get more worked up. He never moved to hurt Madelyn, but when his frustration level got too high, he destroyed furniture, equipment, got verbally abusive. Then, contemptuously, as if paying a whore, he’d thrown down a wad of cash for the repairs and stormed out.
But he came back. He’d seemed a little surprised that he’d been let back in, and Anwyn had felt her staff’s speculative glances when she made the decision. During that visit, she’d ordered a camera trained on him, so that later that night she could watch it. Alone. From beginning to end.
He’d sat at the bar, watched the public play, but hadn’t tried for another private session that time. There’d been a female slave bound for a flogging, and the few times his eyes strayed toward her, his gaze would just as quickly slide away. Anwyn had a trained ear for the begging note in a cry of pain, a clue to building desire and pleasure, so she knew the woman was receiving what she wanted. Though he apparently recognized it enough not to interfere, his shoulders had hunched, as if he found it difficult to bear the woman’s cries.
In contrast, he’d watch the play involving a Mistress without flinching. When a scourge landed on a bare male back or buttock, leaving red welts, his fingers would tighten on his glass. Even through the screen, Anwyn felt his yearning, a gas fire that threatened to consume. It was too similar to what she knew and remembered, and she felt oddly stripped as she looked into his face and saw how lost he truly was, this feral creature who’d come to her door, not sure if he wanted to beg for a bowl of scraps or break in and take whatever he wanted.
His next private session had gone no better than the first. Tara was strong, tall, an almost masculine woman. He’d hated her, with a viciousness that had almost come to blows when she’d tried to force him to his knees. Tara’s MO was that she got physical with her clients, and she was trained for it, a former MP and karate blackbelt. Madelyn had tried mockery, Tara brute force, and he’d responded to neither.
So tonight, Anwyn had sent in her best psychological Mistress, Chantal. She’d tried clever manipulation and head games to break him down, and now Anwyn was looking at a destroyed dresser, a shattered mirror. The rich hangings on the bed had been ripped down, shredded. Their problem child sat on the bed, his head in his hands. He hadn’t moved since Chantal had gone to the door, dropped her persona and told him in an even tone that the club didn’t have what he was seeking. She’d made the private signal to the camera that she was done with the session, no intention of returning after he had a cooling-off period.
“He’s a loss, Anwyn.” James had come in behind her and now leaned against the wall, his well-developed arms crossed and brow furrowed, the intent gray eyes as focused as she’d expect from a man who’d spent twenty years working with the DEA. “You’ve got the best instincts I’ve seen, but I think you’re off on this one. He’s not a psychopath, but he’s too close to it. Too damaged. Completely unpredictable. We need to cut him loose. He’s going to hurt someone.”
“I agree with your assessment. But I want to try one more thing.” Leaning over, she pressed the button to reach the security guard posted outside the Queen’s Chamber.
“Engage the locks on the door, Alan. I want Mr. Smith to know he’s not free to leave.”
She straightened, glanced at James. “I’m going to take over this session.”
His jaw tightened. “I could send in three men to secure him. Maybe that’s what he wants. You know we’ve had clients before who want the forced binding.”
“Yes, but not him. If we go that route, I think we will push him over that dangerous edge you’re concerned about.” She studied Smith’s broad shoulders, the scarred hands clenched at his neck. “He’s all beast, James. A male will be a threat to him, only make things worse. He’s seeking a woman’s touch, but he’s looking for a specific woman. One he knows he shouldn’t have, shouldn’t want, but with every wrong woman we’ve sent him, his need has only gotten sharper, his self-damnation deeper. The goal is surrender, James.”
“To what? Or whom?”
“The only opponent he’s been fighting all along. Himself. I’m going to clear the ring so he can go hand-to-hand with himself. Then maybe he’ll let go.”
James gave her an arch look. “I have absolutely no idea what that means.”
“I know.” She smiled at him. “It’s a lot like watching the Dog Whisperer. Cesar can’t always explain what he’s doing. He just knows, because he feels what the dog feels. That’s something most people don’t get.” Though she kept the smile on her face, she knew James was sharp enough to see there was no humor behind it. “In order to understand a creature’s pain, you have to step inside him, see through his eyes. And be strong enough not to feel sorry for him, teach him how to be a dog again. Live in the moment, because this moment is all there is.”
“I didn’t realize Cesar was Zen,” James muttered.
“All good trainers are, James.” She laughed. “Feed that link to my private changing area, please. I want to watch him while I get ready.”
“Speaking of animals, you’ve had another alley cat show up. She looks pregnant. I think they’re spreading the word that you’re handing scraps out the kitchen door on the graveyard shift.”
“You can stop sounding so disapproving. I know you do it, too.” She gave him an absent smile. “We’ll have to catch her, get her spayed. Maybe she’ll be more tameable than the others so far.”
“If anyone can do it, it would be you. Just be careful,” he advised, nodding toward the screen, telling her he was referencing Gideon, not her assortment of alley cats. “I know who will have my ass if someone hurts you. As scary as this son of a bitch is”—he dropped his voice so only she could hear him—“I’d rather deal with ten of him than a tenth of Daegan.”
James, you don’t know the half of it. “I run this club,” she said crisply, snapping his spine straight at the reminder of who paid his check. “If I get hurt, he will take that up with me.”
The security chief held his tongue until she’d left the room, but then he grimaced, attracting a curious look from the two security techs monitoring the screens. “Yeah, right,” he muttered. If something happened to the remarkable Mistress Anwyn Inara Naime, Daegan Rei would make everyone within these walls responsible. There’d be hell to pay.
James returned his attention to the Queen’s Chamber. You hurt her, buddy, your personal demons will look like Disneyland characters next to what will come after you. You better hope she’s right.
* * * * *
Okay, so maybe this time he’d really pissed someone off. They probably wanted him to stew until some stuffy club owner in a suit gave him a strong talking-to about his bad behavior. Delivered the official word that they didn’t want him here again or they’d call the cops. Or hell, maybe they’d actually called the cops. Somehow Gideon doubted this place handled its problems with official law enforcement, though. Most of their security team looked like Rangers or SEALs.
He wasn’t particularly concerned by a locked door, but the fact he wanted to leave and it was locked irritated him. That irritation continued to grow. He knew he was under video surveillance, so he’d prowled about some, kicked a prissy-looking vanity stool across the floor so that it made a satisfying dent in the velvet wallpaper. Queen’s Chamber. He hadn’t seen a queen grace it with her presence yet. Maybe some ladies-in-waiting. Pretentious bullshit, but he’d liked the room. That’s why he’d destroyed it.
“All right,” he snapped. “I get it. You want me to leave and not come back. I don’t need your lectures. You know I have the money to cover it. Just let me the hell out of here and I’ll go. Throw a bottle of Jack on the tab.”
Another long, ten minute silence. Fuck it. He was going to take down the door. He’d had enough.
Just as he was determining which of his picks he was going to use, or if it might be just as satisfying to rip it off its fucking hinges, the locks snicked back, and the doorknob turned. When the door swung inward, he curled a lip, ready to leap and snarl at whatever inferior being came through it.
Instead, he went still.
Though he’d scoffed at their efforts, he’d recognized that the three Mistresses they’d sent had been formidable in certain ways. The first, the one who’d conducted his application interview, had been older, stout and more experienced, with a superior rack. Beautiful, full tits just begging for a man’s adoration. Then there’d been the Amazon with the martial arts moves, kind of a tall and better cut Lara Croft. Today’s contender had had that slim, upright look of a spinster schoolteacher.
This one…she wasn’t formidable at all. Not physically, but what she did bring into the room preceded her by about ten feet, and packed a punch.
Maybe about five-six. A little on the slim side, but a body that wouldn’t quit, C curves and an ass that would fill out a pair of jeans in a way that would make even a non-vampire crave to bite. Only instead of such casual attire, she wore painted-on latex black pants and stiletto heels she worked like a pro. He’d expected some equally intimidating corset, so that she was tight and armored from neck to toe. Instead, she wore a lace camisole, one that gathered on her hips and gave the outfit a casual, sexy look. Her slim throat displayed an onyx choker with an earth goddess pendant on it, and her hair, a sable brown, was loose on her shoulders, shining waves that coaxed a man’s fingertips.
It was an unsettling mix of Mistress and sub, vanilla next-door girl and experienced woman. Hard to pin down. He’d never seen her before, because he was sure as hell certain he’d have remembered her. Maybe even asked for her, when he’d asked for nothing else. He’d basically said “figure out what I want or go fuck yourselves”. He’d been kind of surprised they’d accepted his membership, and suddenly he realized they’d never stopped auditioning him. This was who’d been evaluating him, the guy who couldn’t tell them what he wanted because he didn’t know himself.
When her gaze came to him, he was pinned by killer blue-green eyes that should have belonged to a mermaid. They were framed by brown lashes, and underscored by a soft, small mouth that was an unbelievable tender pink, frosted with a light gloss.
Though he was unbalanced, he wasn’t fooled by such fragility. This woman ran the show.
“Your real first name, Mr. Smith. Your given name. I don’t care about your last name.”
He’d heard of women who purred, or who had a touch of velvet in their tones, a practiced art. But he realized he was wrong when he thought the way she walked in the stilettos and wore the latex was professional, learned. Her sexuality was innate. There was a rasp to the voice, a husky pleasure just in the speaking, that touched him as if she’d run fingertips up his bare spine while he was strapped to a whipping post, unable to do more than strain toward her.
Holy hell, where had that thought come from?
She moved into the room, sliding a shard of wood gracefully out of her way with her foot. The stilettos were boots, laced with scarlet ribbon, crisscrossed on metal hooks that stopped just above her ankle. Tiny charms clinked together at the ends of the laces as she moved. “Please pick the broken dresser up and set it against the wall. Then I would like you there.”
She nodded toward a prayer bench in the corner, set before a tranquil fountain and stained glass depiction of a male angel. Back lights drew the eye to the blue of the angel’s robes, the silver of his sword and wings, the darkness of his hair.
“I’m still waiting on your name, Mr. Smith.”
“Why should I do anything you ask? What makes you so different from the others?”
Of course he knew, but he wanted her to prove it. Was afraid she would.
She considered him. He knew body language. If she was daunted at all, if there was any tension to her, it was faint, and it wasn’t anxiety. It was the irresistible drug of female arousal. He knew the really good ones were into what they did, even in a place where you paid for it, but some part of them stayed detached, that invisible line between client and proprietor, strangers.
She wasn’t detached at all. That beast that had been raging in him, that he’d carelessly unleashed towards the others, made him fear for her now. Because the beast wanted her. It hadn’t wanted the others. That soft hair alone was taunting him closer.
As if she knew his thoughts, she tossed it over her shoulder in a smooth, elegant move, a faint smile coming to her lips as his eyes followed it. “You should do it because I did not ask you to do anything. And because you’re not a coward.”
Unlike the last Mistress, she wasn’t trying to goad him. Her voice remained smooth, thoughtful, not derisive. She kept her gaze on him, her expression serious. “You’re here for what I have to offer. So let’s proceed. Tell me your name, and go to the bench, please.”
“Trey,” he said. Her expression did not change, the eyes didn’t even flicker, but he swore he felt the ocean of the blue-green color close over his head for a moment, the slither of a feathery tail as the mermaid swam past, leaving him behind.
Turning, she moved back toward the door. “You may stop at the accounts office to pay for the damages. I wish you a good night.”
She didn’t hesitate, didn’t slow down. If it was a game, she was damn good at it, and usually so was he. When she reached the door, he didn’t even have the extra moment her turning the latch would afford him, because the same security guard who’d opened the door for her did it from the outside now, not only confirming the interior surveillance, but the fact this was a woman who didn’t have to touch doorknobs. Not if there was a breathing male within fifty feet.
“Gideon,” he snarled.
She didn’t stop. In a blink, she was gone, the door closing on well-oiled hinges behind her. Gideon stared at the door, his hands closing into useless fists at his sides. Hell, he shouldn’t be here, shouldn’t be doing this. She’d been right to leave. Vaguely, he knew he’d paid them for the right to be here, that he should be pissed, but he understood this place better than he would have at one time. This underground level wasn’t about memberships and having your ass kissed.
Then he realized something. The door was closed. They left it open after a session’s completion. At this point, the security guard would have put his carefully blank face back in and told him how many minutes he had before his ass was expected to be out of there. Instead, he heard the locks snick in place again.
Something loosened in his chest and tightened even lower.