Euphoria was packed to the brim for a so-called vampire club. As Janice walked toward the entrance of the club—complete with the huge gothic double doors she'd seen on Google, a dapper looking man dressed to the nines and a woman who looked like she belonged on the pages of a magazine—she couldn't help but wonder if the world had gone truly insane.
Janice stood in line, taking in, not only the crowd of insanely eager men and women who waited for the woman to either let them in or dismiss them completely but the workers, as well.
The man was dark-skinned, the careful waves in his hair visible even from the distance where Janice was standing. He was tall, broad-shouldered and the all-black three-piece suit he wore was obviously incredibly expensive. His eyes were a startling shade of blue and the way they popped against his dark skin was a thing of incredible beauty. The man himself was equipped with the face of an angel. His large form made it clear he was the bouncer and Janice got the feeling that even if all of the people here tried to trample the man and get into the club, not even one of them would make it in successfully. Something about the way this man carried himself made Janice think he could dish out powerful blows in a fight.
The woman was supermodel material. She was tall with toffee-colored skin and Arabian features. Her eyebrows were thick but well groomed, her wide eyes were an icy shade of blue like the man beside her and framed by thick eyelashes. Her cheekbones were high and a light, natural flush sat there. Her lips were pulled down in a scowl and her eyes were narrowed as she chose to either let people in or she turned them away. She was dressed in a different outfit than the man. She wasn't dressed in something that looked like she was ready to attend the Met Gala like the guy standing guard beside her, and instead, she wore a patent leather catsuit that clung to every inch of her enviable body. The look was topped off with thigh-high leather high-heeled boots. Her long raven colored hair—the same color as the catsuit she was wearing—hung down her back as she gazed at the man standing in front of her coldly.
All in all, she looked like a Dom.
Janice couldn't help but feel a little on edge as the woman allowed the man standing in front of her inside and the dapper gentleman beside her lifted up the dark red velvet rope and gestured for the man to go ahead. The website hadn't specified that they only let a select few in. She wondered what criteria one had to fit into to get inside of Euphoria. All this woman was doing was looking into the eyes of these people and somehow choosing who was worthy based on that alone.
Feeling a little out of her element, Janice smoothed out her dress. It was form fitting and a deep red that made her brown skin stand out. Her hair was pulled away from her neck in a neat updo. If the killer was here, then there was a possibility he really believed he was a vampire. And if he really believed he was a vampire, Janice hoped he would see her neck and think about taking a bite. She'd kick his ass and deliver him into the arms of justice before he could blink.
Before long, it was Janice's turn to stand in front of the beautiful duo. From here, she could see inside the club from where one of the large, gothic doors were open. From what she could see, it was dimly lit—probably lit by candles—and she could hear the sexy, seductive beat of Muse's Time is Running Out thumping through the stereos. It was a song she hadn't heard in a while but a song that she liked.
Up close, the duo was even more attractive than they had been from a distance. Both of them were poreless, their skin incredibly perfect with not even a hint of imperfection. It was exactly like they had been airbrushed for a magazine cover.
"ID?" The woman asked, holding out a graceful hand. Her voice was like a throaty purr.
Janice reached into her bag and pulled out her ID, handing it over to the woman. She checked Janice's ID quickly, something like surprise flickering in those icy eyes. She looked over at Janice, scrutinizing.
"Janice Cooper? Aren't you that detective that's handling the Maidens of Sorrow case?"
The woman looked Janice over once before letting her gaze rest straight on Janice's exposed neck. Something about the way the woman gazed at Janice's neck—longingly, hungrily—made her feel incredibly uncomfortable. Those instincts that had kept her alive for so long were screaming at her but Janice knew she couldn't turn away now. She had to find out what Ayana knew.
The woman snapped her gaze up to meet Janice's eyes. A chill ran down Janice's spine and it was all Janice could do to not gasp in surprise. Her eyes were much lighter than before, almost like they were glowing. The woman smiled, revealing two sharp fangs that Janice was fairly certain hadn't been there before.
Handing Janice her ID, the woman ran her tongue slowly across one of her fangs, saying, "You can go in. Enjoy."
The man moved, then, startling Janice a little as he had been so quiet, Janice had completely forgotten he was there. He moved the dark red velvet rope and made a gesture for Janice to go inside.
With the gnawing feeling there would be no turning back from this, Janice stepped past them both and made her way inside the self-proclaimed vampire club where Ayana had gone the night before she died.
Euphoria looked exactly as it had on its website. It was littered with black and blood red couches and at the black bar with lit panels, a gorgeous woman with long red dark red hair was mixing drinks effortlessly, so sinuous it was like she wasn't moving at all. On the tables, women danced to a deep, sexy beat that was thumping from the speakers, their bodies swaying suggestively in time to the music.
It wasn't like any club Janice had ever seen before. She could immediately tell who the Vampires were supposed to be and who the humans were supposed to be. Mostly because the Vampires wore plastic fangs.
Janice's mind flashed back to the model-like woman outside and how one minute, Janice was pretty sure the woman had normal human teeth and the next, the woman had two sharp fangs. She wondered how the woman had managed to do that. Was it some kind of parlor trick? Janice thought of everything except for the one thing that terrified her beyond belief: that the woman was really an actual vampire.
As Janice weaved her way through the crowd, she saw the King of the Undead's throne. The throne in question was black with gold trimmings around the edge. It was seated in the far corner of the room but whoever sat there would be able to see everyone in the club. It was a good access point for someone who wanted to see where to find their next victim. Underneath the floor was a red velvet carpet that covered three steps that led to the actual throne itself.
Despite how far away from the actual party the throne was, it drew attention. Janice noticed everyone—the self-proclaimed vampires and humans alike—glanced over at the throne, seemingly waiting for the King of the Undead to make his grand entrance.
Janice walked over to the bar, studying the beautiful redhead as she wiped the bar down. It was probably as good a time as any to start asking questions, Janice supposed. And if Ayana had been in this club, nine times out of ten, she'd come to the bar for a drink.
Janice sat at one of the black stools and the woman looked over at her. Like the two people outside, this woman was far more beautiful up close. Her dark red hair fell in slight waves, making her look like an old Hollywood starlet. Even the way she was dressed seemed very new age and old-timey at the same time. The dress was tight enough to show off her enviable form but loose enough that it was clearly designed with older times in mind.
"What can I get you?" The woman wondered, making her way over to Janice.
For a moment, Janice found it hard to speak. The woman's voice was not at all what she was expecting. She was expecting some kind of seductive purr or some throaty, sexy voice that sounded more like she was crooning a baby making love song rather than talking. But, this woman's voice was...innocent. More like the voice of an angel than the devilish voice Janice had been expecting to hear.
But, Janice quickly snapped out of her surprise and answered the woman.
"Information," Janice muttered, digging into her purse and pulling out a picture of Ayana she had printed out before she got here. "Do you know who this is?"
The redhead took the picture and studied it, her eyes narrowing and her full, red painted lips turning down in a scowl.
"Yeah, I remember her," the woman answered, passing the photo back to Janice. "She was what you'd call a blood whore. Sometimes, humans get addicted to vampire bites. Your little friend was one of them. The older a vampire is, the stronger that vampire. The stronger that vampire, the more potent their venom is. She came by here often, hoping to catch the King's eye since he's the oldest of all of us."
Janice honestly couldn't believe what she was hearing. It was difficult to imagine that a woman as beautiful as this bartender was insane, but what other explanation was there? Here she was, explaining some kind of vampire hierarchy like it was real.
Still, Janice figured the only way to get answers was to play her little game. Apparently, Ayana had been trying to catch the eye on this King of the Undead. Whether she really wanted her blood drained or it was for another reason, Janice wasn't sure. All she knew was, at this moment, this was as far as she had gotten in the case so far.
"What about this girl?" Janice wondered, pulling out a second photograph of one of the other victims.
The redhead looked at the girl for a minute, then smiled a little. The smile was anything but nice or humorous, though.
"Oh, I remember this one," she said, giving the picture back to Janice as she leaned across the bar to whisper to Janice. "She was one of the ones who had actually had the king's venom. What a lucky little human she was. However, she was what you'd call the ultimate blood whore. She wanted venom where she could get it when she could get it from whoever she could get it from. She came by bragging about seeing some vampire who was even older than the King and whose venom was even more potent." The redhead paused for a minute, seemingly thinking about something before she spoke again. "Maybe that's where your other friend went."
Janice had been thinking the same thing. She leaned forward and asked, "And about this vampire who's supposed to be older than the king? Do you know anything about him?"
The redhead shook her head, the waves causing her hair to look an awful lot like a red ocean as she did so.
"The only vampire I know of who's older than the current king is the former vampire king but he's all the way in London at the moment."
Suddenly, the club grew dark and the music stopped. It grew so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. Janice could swear the temperature had dropped twenty degrees, as well. A slight fog descended on the club and an eerie feeling began to swirl deep within Janice's core.
"If you want to know more, you should ask the king himself," the redhead whispered.
When the lights came back on, the king was sitting on his throne. His posture was regal, his expression was bored, and his face was one that—to Janice's utter dismay—she recognized all too well.