Blood & Curses

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Chapter 3: The Streets

Victoria watched as Eleanor flirted with an unsuspecting human and proceeded to lead him down an alleyway off the street. She leaned against the brick wall near a night club, the neon sign shining down overhead. Glancing upward, she saw the sign read Blush.

“Hi there, beautiful,” a man said from beside her.

“Fuck off,” she said, annoyed.

“Bitch,” the guy mumbled as he walked off in the opposite direction.

“You can’t keep doing this, Vic,” Eleanor said as she approached her sister. “He was an easy one. You have to feed.”

Victoria sighed. “This isn’t my scene. Why are we always doing what William tells us to do?”

“He’s not telling us this from lack of experience. He knows the danger out there. He’s only trying to protect his family. You could cut him some slack. He takes a lot upon his shoulders.” Eleanor looked up at the sign above them.

“He doesn’t have to carry this weight. He does it because he wants to. We’re perfectly capable of protecting ourselves. Are you even listening to me?” Victoria asked.

“What?” Eleanor shook her head. “Sorry, I feel like I’ve seen that club name somewhere before, or I’ve heard it. Let’s go find you some food.”

“I want to be alone, thanks,” Victoria said as she crossed her arms over her chest.

“Look,” Eleanor began, “I know you’re not happy about this. Neither am I, to be honest. How about this. Let’s take a peek inside this club together. I won’t tell if you don’t.”

Eleanor held out her pinky finger to her sister. Victoria smiled and wrapped her pinky around Eleanor’s before heading toward the entrance. They completely cut everyone off in the growing line outside as they approached the bouncer. He stood in front of them, his arms folded over his chest, glaring down at their tiny physiques.

“We’re on the list,” Eleanor said smoothly as she pushed the thought into his mind. Humans were utterly weak against the ability of persuasion vampires possessed. They could easily manipulate the thought process in the human brain and make them see, hear, and feel whatever they wanted them to. The only people who were immune to this influence were the Hunters as their lineage had evolved to make them resistant to most abilities associated with vampirism.

The bouncer lifted the red velvet rope from its position and allowed them entrance. An audible groan could be heard from the line. Eleanor paused for a moment to pull two men from the front of the line.

“You boys want to dance?” she asked seductively as she began to drag them inside behind them.

The two men obeyed and followed Victoria and Eleanor through the door into the club. Inside, the entire club was decked out in red hues. Lavish couches and chairs littered the lounging areas, and a large bar was off to the right complete with a substantial selection of liquors, wine, and beer. The club was absolutely packed with almost every seat being occupied. The dance floor was tight with young men and women gyrating to the heavy electronic music that flowed from the sound system at the DJ spinning station.

Lights flashed upon the people on the dance floor, illuminating everyone for a brief second before going dark once again. Victoria could smell the adrenaline coursing through the veins of the dancing humans. She could also smell the scent of sex, and sweat assaulting her senses in every direction. The aroma excited her as her canines extended inside her mouth. She licked her lips and glanced over at Eleanor, who had already spotted a secluded seating area in the lounge.

Victoria followed her sister, and the two men continued to tag along like lost puppies. It was too bad they had no clue what they were about to encounter. Eleanor pulled back a sheer crimson-colored curtain from the seating area. A couple was seated inside within a deep embrace. Their lips were locked together as the man slid his hand over his escort’s breast and down her side.

“Be gone,” Eleanor ordered as the two stopped to look over the party that had entered their oasis.

The couple, unable to resist, stood up and walked out of the area to the dance floor. Eleanor sat on the couch and crossed her legs, arms spread out over the sofa’s back. The men sat down beside Eleanor, and Victoria sat on the other end.

“You girls come here a lot?” one of the men asked, suddenly uncomfortable.

“We’re new in town,” Eleanor smiled sweetly. “And you?”

“We aren’t from around here. We heard that this was the place to be if you wanted to be somewhere,” the man beside Victoria answered.

“Perfect,” Victoria purred as she placed her hand on the man’s inner thigh. She could feel his sudden arousal. This was too easy for her.

“I’m Dylan, and this is my friend, Tyler,” Dylan said as he relaxed with Victoria’s touch.

“I’m Eleanor. Would you care to dance?”

“Um, yeah,” Tyler said, surprised. “I’m not great, but I’ll give it a try.”

Eleanor took Tyler by the hand and led him out of the area to the dance floor with all the other bodies. Victoria knew exactly what her sister was doing, and she took the time to groom Dylan.

“So how long are you staying in town, Dylan?” she asked as she clutched his inner thigh a little tighter.

“Um, we’re leaving tomorrow.”

“How unfortunate,” she commented, moving her hand slowly up his thigh. He twitched a little in his seat.

“Yeah. So what brings you to a place like this?” Dylan asked.

“Just looking for a little fun. How about you?” Victoria took this time to move closer.

Dylan gave her a sly smile and put his hand on top of hers. “I’m sorry, but I…”

She locked eyes with him and instantly perused his mind. She had him in her clutches, every muscle was locked, and his mind was placed into autopilot. From that moment on, he would not remember a thing.

She placed a small peck on his lips and whispered, “I’m sorry, love, but a girl’s got to eat.”

She placed small kisses from his mouth down to the side of his neck and tasted the sweet sweat upon his skin. He wouldn’t remember any pain or even that she was feeding, only that there was an immense feeling of pleasure. She straddled his lap and braced herself with the back of the couch, ready to strike. Her canines elongated, and she sunk them into his jugular, blissful blood rushing from the vein into her mouth. Dylan’s heart was pumping so fast that she barely had to suck to get her meal. She ran her tongue over the puncture wounds to stop the bleeding as she pulled away from her feast.

Dylan had his eyes closed as he moaned. He wanted more of her and her hot mouth but couldn’t understand why. His hands grabbed her thighs as she sat over his lap, his cock growing hard underneath her. This was a lot better than being in the middle of an alleyway, she thought as she lifted herself off him with grace. She stood over him and watched as he rode on erotic waves before awakening from his trancelike state.

Victoria threw back the curtain to the seating area and left him on the sofa to bask in his afterglow. She wasn’t one to stick around after the deed was done. He wouldn’t remember her anyway, just like all the others.

She made her way past the dancers and stepped up to the bar. She forced a man to move from his barstool before seating herself.

“I’ll have a glass of your most expensive Merlot,” Victoria said to the counter’s bartender. A red glow was coming from the bar top illuminating the people seated there. She swiveled around on her barstool to see Eleanor approaching her.

“So?” she asked as she stood close to Victoria. “Did you get your fix?”

“I feel so much better,” Victoria confirmed. “A few more like that, and I won’t need to feed for a couple of days.”

“Don’t push your luck,” Eleanor teased, nudging her shoulder. “I’ll have what she’s having.”

The bartender nodded and went to grab another wine glass.

“How was Tanner?” Victoria asked.

Tyler wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. He tasted a little greasy. I think he had fast food on the way over here,” Eleanor laughed.

“That’s the worst,” Victoria commented as the bartender came back with a second glass of wine. She took a sip of her Merlot and savored the taste. It was the only human sustenance that she still had the pleasure of tasting. Everything else had dissolved away.

“Cheers,” Eleanor said as she picked up her glass for a toast. The glasses clinked together and made a beautiful, tinkling sound.

They both sipped their wine and watched as the crowd increased. Victoria motioned for the bartender to start a tab for her and her sister as she left the bar to dance. Eleanor danced sensuously around her and grabbed her hips as Victoria lifted her hands in the air and moved her hips back and forth. As she was dancing, she felt a chill in the air. She slowed down to get a better look around her as she was starting to sense the stare of her kind upon her. Eleanor had ceased her dancing as well.

“That’s not one of ours,” Eleanor said under her breath.

“I’m sensing more than one,” Victoria replied.

“We need to get out here.” Eleanor started to lead Victoria out of the crowd towards the door. A tall, muscular man and a petite woman stepped in front of them, blocking their escape.

“We need you two to come with us,” the man said with a smile. He knew the women wouldn’t initiate a fight in front of a room full of humans.

Victoria and Eleanor froze, unsure of their next move. The men would be nestled in their victims’ houses at this moment and would not be able to save them from whatever was to transpire. The only thing they could do was obey the man’s order. He turned on his heel, and they followed as the other woman trailed behind.

He led them through the lounge area to a door off the side of the bar. He opened the door, and they walked up a flight of stairs to a room with a large, rectangular window that overlooked the dance floor and the bar. The room was painted a deep, wine red. The lights were low, the glow from the dance floor shining through the window and illuminating the occupants. A man sat in a chair facing away from the window, and the woman went off to stand by the desk at the far end of the room. Two women sat upon a couch opposite the man in the chair.

“Welcome to my club,” the man said from his seat at his mahogany desk. It appeared to be an antique.

“Who are you?” Victoria asked as she took a step forward.

“You first.” He smiled as he stood from the table and crossed over to stand before them a couple of yards away.

“I’m Victoria, and this is my sister, Eleanor,” Victoria answered reluctantly. She knew the only way for them to get out of this mess was to answer his questions.

“Ah,” the man said as if recognizing their names. “My name is Adrian Clemente, and it appears that you’ve wandered into my club without proper introductions.”

His eyes flashed silver as one of the lights from the dance floor shone across the room for a brief moment. Victoria studied him, not sure of what to think. She could sense he was one of their kind, although it appeared he was younger in his transition. He was of average height, with a broad chest and narrow waist. She could tell immediately that he wasn’t a fighter, and that’s why he had the other man fetch them from downstairs.

“Now that we’ve been introduced, I suppose we shall take our leave,” Eleanor said kindly.

“Not so fast,” Adrian held up a hand. “There’s the question of where you’re from and who you work for. We don’t take kindly to outsiders entering our community without knowing why they’ve come.”

Victoria knew it wouldn’t be that easy.

“Well, seeing as we’ll be cohabitating in this city, I think we can answer a few of your questions,” Eleanor said. She walked over to the sofa and sat on the armrest. The two women on the couch observed her. She flashed a brilliant smile at them as they averted their eyes immediately.

“We hail from England,” Eleanor began. “We came here on a whim. Needed a change of scenery.”

“And how many are you?”

“There are five of us in total.”

“I see,” Adrian said. “Are you the people that bought the old Ashford Estate?”

Victoria stiffened a little. “Why do you ask?”

“The estate has been vacant for years. I would’ve bought it, but…” Adrian gave them a sly smile.

“But what?” Victoria demanded.

“It’s haunted,” his associate answered with a chuckle.

“This is Emrick. You’ve already met him and Melaina. This is Rana and Selene,” Adrian introduced the others in the room.

“What do you mean, haunted?” Victoria pushed.

“I’ve seen them. The Ashfords. Their spirits never left those grounds, and that’s why we didn’t snatch up that golden property when we had the chance,” Emrick replied.

“By the looks on your faces, I see that you’ve had dealings with spirits in the past,” Adrian said presumptively.

It was true. As old as the Elderidge family was, they had indeed met many lost souls along their journey. Some of them had befriended. However, some Hunters possessed the ability to control spirits and had used them in war against the vampire race. Spirits had the power to remain invisible, even though they appeared human to vampires when allowed to be seen. Because of this, they could stealthily kill any vampire, a tool Hunters knew how to control very well. The only weakness of this tool was that spirits remained tied to the places they died, and in this case, it was the Ashford Estate.

“How many are there?” Eleanor broke the silence that had fallen upon the group.

“We don’t know. You better watch your back out there. Hunters pass through New Orleans all the time. You probably should have done your research.” Adrian sat back down at his desk. “I may be able to help you.”

“Help us, how?” Victoria asked through gritted teeth. She didn’t like this man at all.

“I own half of this city. I can ensure your protection from Hunters while you live here.”

“I think we’ll be just fine on our own,” Eleanor answered.

“It’s not up to you to decide. I can tell right away that the leader of your Clan isn’t among you. I’m almost certain they told you to stay on the streets tonight, didn’t they?” He was smart, Victoria gave him that much.

“Since you’ve already come onto my turf without my permission, it’s only fair that I have a chat with your leader. I expect their presence at sundown by the end of the week. They can meet me here,” Adrian continued. “You may leave peacefully, this time.”

As Eleanor and Victoria walked out of the night club, Victoria couldn’t help but dread the upcoming talk with William. Matthew had screwed up their last living situation, and it looked like this one was her fault. Although her family was strong, they had no idea what kind of numbers Adrian had. She could only hope that he would be a good ally and not their worst enemy.

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