THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 3.3 - THESE ARE MY ELITE

Luke stood on the balcony overlooking the club interior. His fingers curled around the tubular bannister as he scanned the bodies below. The beat was constant, unrelenting, its rhythm addictive, calling punters to the dancefloor like a Pied Piper. Night-clubbers writhed and gyrated under the multi-coloured beams flashing in unison with the beat from the DJ’s PA system.

In some semi-circular booths, others cavorted to an entirely different beat. Couples, barely concealed from onlookers, were engaged in various stages of intimacy. Darkened corners were also home to such assignations, flesh being highlighted periodically by the flashing lights.

Grinning, he turned to the punters at the bar. Trays were overflowing with orders; money waved in the air, people impatient to be next served. Attendees were keen to have a wild and carefree evening. By all accounts, the business was booming. “You have done well,” he said to his colleague, leaning close, so to be heard over the music.

“Thank you.” Fergus smiled smugly. “The clicks have increased in the last three months. We have even had to refuse entry due to us reaching capacity.”

A nudge at his left made Luke turn. “Are they all - ?” Riley asked, his eyes wide, surveying the club floor.

Luke laughed. “Vampires?”

Riley nodded.

“No. The majority are just regular clubbers. But, they do provide a source of nourishment for the select few.” A lewd grin played on Luke’s mouth as he noticed his ‘guest’ squirm. “I must admit I am surprised by your reaction.”

“Really? Why?” Riley turned to face him, bewildered.

“You have been a walking blood-bank for Barnett and his group, and you’ve implied you are keen to join my ranks, yet you shudder at the mention of our appetite.”

The newbie didn’t respond, for something else had caught his attention, and his discomfort was evident. Luke followed his gaze. “Oh!” he said, resting his forearms on the rail, himself now a fascinated observer. At the end of the bar, two men engaging in a steamy little encounter had their mouths practically melded together while they fondled each other below, baring no shame nor care about patrons around them. No-one other than Riley seemed perturbed by the intimate scene.

Smirking, Luke tugged Riley’s arm and indicated one of the booths. There, a heterosexual couple were enjoying a similar rendezvous, the girl’s buttocks jiggling as she rode her partner with increasing fervour. “Is that more to your taste?”

Riley’s posture screamed inhibition. Hesitantly, he nodded. “But not in public,” he answered, mouthing the response more than speaking aloud.

Luke laughed, slapped him amiably on the back then started down the stairs, Fergus beside him, Riley to the rear. A few people greeted the vampires as they edged their way through the crowd.

To the right of the bar, a set of tall round tables sat each with four high-rise seats nestled around them. Two of the tables were moved close together, and a group of individuals sat around them. Four were chatting among themselves while the other two silently observed the punters; their eyes glowing like cats’ when the light hit them.

When Luke came to a stop in front of them, the chatterers stopped, and the watchers’ focus changed.

“Magpie!” One of the females squealed. She pushed her way out from the table and ran round to Luke, arms wide, clapping them around his neck as she greeted him. He responded in kind and squeezed her tight, planting a firm kiss on her cheek.

“Hello, Christine,” he said, smiling. “And how is my little femme fatale?”

“Excited! Why are you gathering us, Magpie? What delicious morsel do you have lined up for us? I’m ravenous!” Her eyes drifted to Riley; her enthusiasm instantly dampened.

Luke pushed her back gently. “Since when do you need to be spoon-fed?” he asked playfully. She smirked, coyly, then rejoined the others at the table.

“And who is the new pet?” asked one of the watchers, eyeing the human with suspicion.

Luke turned and pulled his guest forward, pushing him in front of his vampire audience. “This is Riley. He survived Barnett and rather poetically ended his little clutch.”

The watcher guffawed. ”He ended them? He doesn’t look capable of much.”

“He is stronger than he looks,” Luke replied, looking directly at the human’s face. “And I believe he will be a valuable asset.” His words, laced with lewd intent.

A nervous twitch playing at the corner of his mouth betrayed the fact the vampire’s compliments did not sit well with Riley - the sexual connotations from earlier still unsettling him. Luke placed a hand on his shoulder, squeezing possessively. Riley’s obvious discomfort set a ripple of laughter running through the vampire gathering.

Luke leaned close. “These are my elite; they are extraordinary,” he whispered, his hand moving down to the small of his back. “Are you having second thoughts now?”

Riley tensed. After a moment’s hesitancy, he answered. “N-no, but understand I do not know your brood, I am only aware of what they can do. And that one does not like me at all.”

Luke did not need to ask to whom he referred; Cole, the watcher, was never welcoming to anyone new. Equally, he was aware the human was uncomfortable with homosexuality, but he enjoyed teasing him. Pressing himself against Riley, Luke breathed in his ear, tongue snaking around the soft flesh of his lobe. He was relishing the way it made him react - he could smell his fear and urge to flee, yet the trembling also conveyed he knew it would be a pointless exercise.

The taunt did not go unnoticed by the others; smirks were aplenty apart from Cole - only distrust crossed his face. “You will be safe under my tutelage, Riley,” Luke said. “They won’t harm you as long as you do my bidding.” He then turned his attention to his brood. “And now, let’s discuss why I have you all gathered here.”

No relief was afforded Riley as Luke then pressed him into the company of vampires, his thin frame wedged between an unfriendly Cole and the hungry Christine.

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