Write a Review

Driving Thirst

All Rights Reserved ©


You know what's worse than marrying a man you've never met? Being stood up by your future husband when you're supposed to meet him. My name is Hippolyta Saige Starling, and I am the gem of the vampires of England. Last year, my cousin discovered that Caleb Deseranto is out to take over the supernatural world. Now, vampires everywhere are scrambling to make ties to protect themselves, and my family is marrying me off to the kingpin of Ybor: Francesco Sétima. No one's seen him in 70 years. Paranoid, obsessive, he rules the Cigar City from the shadows. Apparently, that makes it okay for him to stand me up. Luckily, the vampire he sent in his stead is a tall glass of champagne. Elegant, vicious, and full of American charm, Roman is the sort of vampire I'd sink my fangs into. If I weren't betrothed, and if Caleb's people weren't intent on destroying us both to stop Roman from delivering me to Ybor. It's hard to resist someone who's saved your life repeatedly, and I can't help but wonder if marrying a man I've never seen is worth the price of ignoring a desire so deep that it becomes a driving thirst.

Romance / Fantasy
Elsa Green
5.0 9 reviews
Age Rating:

The Cigar Roller

“Correct me if I’m wrong, Bas, but the last time I checked, I was in charge.” Lorenzo Sétima closed his laptop and swung his chair around to face his second in command.

Bas fidgeted in his seat uncomfortably and fixed his gaze on the laptop that now sat closed on the kingpin’s desk. With the video call between Ybor, New Orleans, and England now placed on hold, and the computer shut down, there would be no formalities or unified front to keep Lorenzo from handing him his ass six ways from Sunday.

“You are,” he assured the other vampire with a nod. He pulled himself to his feet and clasped his hands formally behind his back. “I didn’t say that you weren’t. Just that--”

“That I should get married?” Here, the man arched an eyebrow, leaned back in his chair and gave Bas a once over with pale, lilac eyes. Bas couldn’t tell if Lorenzo was amused, or pissed. The rough scar that lined the left side of the man’s face from temple to lip didn’t do much to help distinguish between the two expressions. Of course, for Lorenzo, the two emotions were not mutually exclusive. “And for some reason, you decided that you needed to make that declaration right in front of the English Bull.”

Bas heaved a sigh as much in exasperation as to steady his own nerves. “It’s your choice, Ren. Obviously it’s your choice. But if you’re going to insist on coming to a meeting as Roman Nascosto instead of your own damned self-- It’s not that I want to override you, Ren, but you’re the one who insists on pretending to be dead and running the business from the shadows under your predecessor’s name.”

“I know.” Lorenzo held up his hand. “You’re just doing your job, and part of your job is to challenge me, especially when I’m presenting myself as your equal. I just hadn’t anticipated that part of that challenge would be your very open insistence that I-- what was it you said?-- could benefit from the influence of a wife that wouldn’t allow me to stew in my own juices?”

“No, I said that you being married would give you an incentive to come out into the world once in a while.”

“That is not how you worded it.”

“Well,” Bas’ breath hitched and he rubbed the back of his neck, his frustration mounting, “I mean, I’m not wrong.”

Lorenzo’s grin was mild as anything, and yet somehow the expression terrified Bas. It was the expression of a man who knew where all of his chess pieces were, and knew exactly the move that you were going to make, even while you were still deciding.

Canting his head thoughtfully, the kingpin appraised Bas. “I think whether you’re wrong is a matter of opinion.” A beat of silence as one vampire considered the other. “You really think I should accept the offer. Forge a triarchy, and marry the Starling girl to seal the deal.”

Sensing a way out, Bas’ instincts to survive warred with his loyalty to the man who sat before him. If he backtracked, he would definitely come out of the meeting with all of his parts intact, but at the cost of a disservice to the Ybor branch and the vampire who ran it. If he stuck to his guns and repeated what he’d said during the call with the England and Louisiana branches, there was a chance that Bas’ next big purchase would be a course in American Sign Language. If, of course, Lorenzo left him with enough fingers to sign with.

Trusting that Lorenzo wanted his honest opinion was his best option, so Bas answered, “I think that it’s time that you come out of the shadows, my friend. It’s been seven decades since the incident. Maybe it’s time to let the world know that Francesco Sétima has passed on and his youngest son has picked up his mantle.”

The younger vampire scoffed. “It’s not about the incident. Not anymore. If it was, I would have owned up to surviving and picked up where my father left off.”

"Dai, Ren. You can’t tell me that you’ve spent the last seventy years hiding and pretending to be someone else because you aren’t paranoid as shit that another coup is going to happen.”

“It’s not paranoia if there are people out to get you,” the vampire did not bare his teeth, but he curled his lip in disdain. “And I’m not hiding. I’m in a prime position to collect information. Do you know what I have found in my time running this branch, Bas?” He didn’t wait for Bas to respond. “I learned that when people don’t know that you’re you, they will willingly tell you their honest opinions about you. And that is a very valuable thing.”

Lorenzo swung around in his chair and re-opened his laptop, pulling up spreadsheets, his interest in the conversation seeming to dwindle.

Bas chose to ignore the implication that people often lied about their opinion of Lorenzo. Given that the man had faked his death, adopted the identity of a nonexistent family cousin, and then continued to run the business under his father’s name, it was a mute point.

What Bas could do was offer Lorenzo some information about his potential bride to be. “You know, from what I know about Hippolyta Starling, she’s a font of information herself. Clever, our people have told me. Possibly even cunning.”

“Gossip and hearsay does not valid intel make, Bas. You know that.”

Bas didn’t know if that was a commentary on the information he had on the Starling woman, or the information that Hippolyta might have on others. He offered, “She’s also supposed to be incredibly beautiful.”

“So are las lloronas. So was Venus, and Circe. All beautiful. All smart. All trouble.”

“And all incredibly powerful women. The last two in particular have the ability to make or break the men they’re with, if I recall.” Bas hoped that his tone gave his words some weight, but Lorenzo was staring resolutely at his computer.

If it had just been a matter of arranging a marriage between the Ybor branch and the English branch for giggles, Bas wouldn’t have pressed the situation. But there were stirrings of trouble in the shadows of the Sétima family. The family's hold on Ybor's branch had been tenacious at best and precarious at the worst, and the five families under them continued to bicker and pick at scraps with the heat of savage dogs.

So they needed the strength of the Fosters and DuPoint if they were going to get through it.

Never mind what Caleb Deseranto might be doing.

Deseranto was the leading power of the syndicate. His territory ran straight through the middle of America, and no one was sure how he'd attained it or where the vampire had come from. Now, the rumour was that he had begun reaching for other branches, stealing the source of their power and absorbing them into the expansive territory he already possessed.

If even half of the information that Jedidiah DuPoint and Mother Foster passed them about Caleb Deseranto was true, then the Ybor branch was facing some serious problems from the outside as well as from within.

“If Foster is right, Ren, now that Deseranto's goals are out in the open, he'll be making an attempt at attaining Ybor's tome and key. The Sétimas have the only mother tome in the entire United States. He’s probably had people infiltrating our branch--”

“Since before the incident. I know.” Lorenzo looked at Bas and made a gesture with his hands as if to say, ‘and what of it?’

Bas breathed deep, mustering as much of his patience as he could, and said: “When something does happen, and we both know that something will happen, Renzo, it would be nice to know that the Bull is at your back. And DuPoint, too, from the sounds of it.”

Lorenzo jutted his jaw slightly off to one side.

“Come on, Roman,” Bas almost spat the man’s alias back at him. “As head of Francesco’s security detail, what would your advice be to the Cigar Roller? Hmm? Threats, inside and out, are pressing down on us, Fratello.”

It was difficult to say whether Bas was wearing the other man down, but Lorenzo thrust a hand through his hair and sighed.

“Caleb Deseranto has been sticking his fangs into various United States branches for centuries,” he scratched at the scar on his face as he spoke. “Seems like a hell of a coincidence that he fucked up so spectacularly in pursuit of a branch as small as old Jed’s.”

“I can look into that,” Bas offered. “The spellcrafting family they mentioned, the Lanoues, that rings a bell. I’ll find out what I can. But in the meantime, we’ll need to either extend our hand or--”

“Fine.” Lorenzo waved the rest of his statement off. “Call them back, then. Tell them that the boss says yes.”

Bas’ surprise must have registered on his face, because Lorenzo once again arched an eyebrow and smiled that too mild smile at him. “Is that a problem for you, Bas?”

“You don’t want to call them yourself? It will be your wedding, after all.”

The man snorted. “No. You want to arrange my marriage, then you arrange it. I don’t want to hear a thing about it one way or the other until the whole thing is settled. I want to show up, be told where to stand, what to say, and who to hand a ring off to.”


“Bas, shut up.” Lorenzo stood and put his hands on either of Bas’s shoulders. As a rule, caucasian vampires were blond and tall, ranging from six foot to six and a half foot on average. Lorenzo reached the taller end of that spectrum, at about 6’4”, but it was balanced out by a lithe build on an average frame. Even so, Bas with his respectable height of 6’2” felt a bit small in comparison to the man.

“Do you know why I don’t have a human puppet like the rest of the kingpins in America, my friend?” A quiet purr ran as an undercurrent in Lorenzo’s voice as he asked the question.

“Because the vampires in Spain and Italy are stubborn and refuse to pay human employees, so we inherited a lot of backwards traditions from them?”

“Because I trust you to sort out my shit,” came the reply as Lorenzo refused to rise to the bait. “You were a good second for our father, Bastien. You were the only one of our siblings to take father’s side in the incident. Then, despite every opportunity after his death to cut your ties and to secure your place in the new order, you stuck by me. So I trust you, Bas. Sort it. And for God’s sake, leave me out of it until the whole matter is done.”

Bas nodded. “Fine. But if I agree to something that you don’t want, let it be known that I gave you the opportunity to make your own arrangements.”

Lorenzo sat back down at his desk and waved his hand, dismissing the conversation and Bas. “I can’t imagine that you would want to end your own life strongly enough that you would purposefully agree to something that I wouldn’t want.”

Well, that was reassuring.

Lorenzo chuckled. “I have two stipulations, if that makes you feel better.”

Somehow, it did. Bas honed his focus on his boss and waited.

Lorenzo held up one finger, “First, I want proof that the girl is consenting. We live in a modern world, and I won’t perpetuate the ever-lingering problem of forced marriage.” A second finger was added to the first, “Also, make sure she’s actually smart, before you agree to anything. Don’t marry me off to a doorknob, no matter how pretty the doorknob is.”

Bas grumbled, “Better a sociable doorknob than a genius recluse.”

“I’m sorry, what was that?”

“I said I can ask to speak to the girl myself, if you think that would be of use.”

“Fine. Now go away so I can stop pretending to be busy and actually be busy.”

It was as Bas was leaving the room that Lorenzo added in a low sing-song:

“Thank you, Bastien.” The words would have meant more if there wasn’t something suspiciously pleasant about them.

Bas paused and looked over his shoulder as sudden understanding bloomed in his mind. “You sneaky shit,” he scowled at the man behind the desk. “You had every intention of saying yes anyway, didn’t you?”

Lorenzo looked at him blankly, almost politely.“Did I?” He canted his head and considered the accusation. “If that were true, I suppose that you needn’t have insisted I accept the offer. Then, you could have avoided the whole business of organizing it for me. But then, I would have had to organize it myself…” He looked pointedly at Bas.

Checkmate, hermano.

Bas shook his head, and then left his boss in one office to make his way to the other, smaller office that he took for his own work. Had he known the entire negotiation was going to be planted in his lap, Bas might not have spoken up when Lorenzo had initially dismissed the idea of an arranged marriage over the call.

But that was the game they played when dealing with the other branches. Renzo took the role of his own second, unapproachable and ornery. Bas was the intermediary, the ambassador that sat in and ensured that anything too brash his brother might say could be smoothed over without hurting feelings.

So, when Lorenzo had immediately taken on the part of the irritable subordinate, dismissing the olive branch being offered, Bas naturally advocated for the deal.

And now you’re an executive event planner. So that’s worked out swimmingly for you, hasn’t it?

Dai. Next time, he’d keep his mouth shut.

Or maybe he wouldn’t. The truth was that the business seemed to be falling around everyone’s ears, of late, and an alliance with one of the oldest and most powerful vampire families in Europe seemed a surefire way to ensure the future of the Sétima line. In this case, in more ways than one. With their parents dead, and the rest of their siblings besides, he and Lorenzo were the only Sétimas left. If they didn’t want the branch to pass out of the family’s hands, one or both of them would need to have children who could be reared to lead.

He should have known that his brother would have already considered that, even as Mother Foster and Papa Jed laid out their proposal to marry off the reclusive Ybor Cigar Roller to the effervescent and sparkling Miss Starling. Just as he should have known that Lorenzo would have played the situation to get out of making the arrangements himself.

In the end, Bas didn’t think it mattered which of them arranged the marriage, as long as it happened.

A trans-Atlantic alliance would help to solve the growing issue with Deseranto trying to collect the Alchemical Androgyne: the collection of tomes that mapped out the genetic sequence of every type of supernatural entity that existed. It would also ensure that the dark rumblings Bas had been picking up from outlying members of the Sétima branch would be quelled before they could do more than rumble.

Either would be as good an incentive to form an alliance by marriage as you could possibly get. Both together made such a marriage practically a requirement.

It would also get Lorenzo out of his own head. And Lorenzo desperately needed to get out of his own head.

By the sounds of it, every branch leader did.

He used his own computer to reconnect to the channel where Jedidiah and Mother Foster sat waiting.

“That was quick,” Mother Foster noted. “Either that’s very good news for us, or very, very bad.”

Bas offered the woman a smile, and hoped that it reached his eyes. “I guess that depends on how much you really want the Cigar Roller for an in-law.”

Continue Reading Next Chapter
Further Recommendations

Sharon: Great story haven’t put it down since started reading it

Joan Thompson: I live everything about this book. I will definitely invite friends to read

michellecsnelling: I love this book. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. Jessie Tate is a fabulous writer and this book so far has been written so well it keeps the reader wanting more.

booksndogs: Good short story. Not a lot of details but that's ok it works. The characters are good and the plot is a welcome change from the typical rejection story.

Ella: I absolutely love this book. If I could, I would recommend this book to everyone. I loved the plot, and the character development. All in all, it was an awesome book, and I can’t wait to read more by the author! This book was so beautifully written and moved me and made me feel so much emotions. ...

Kaari: OMG the drama! Twists turn and plots seasoned with well written steamy scenes between multiple couples. I'm seriously obsessed

robertclaudine: Lecture agréable, régulières fautes de mots, ou de sens dans les phrases, mais histoire qui tient en haleine du début à la fin.

Pournima Ganapathy Raman: Something new and you can never guess what will happen next

Danny: Me re gustó que digo me encantó...Lamentablemente no me gustó que...hayaterminado 😭100/10

More Recommendations

kharris370: Entertaining

Ayisha Bhandari: I really loved it one of the best on inkitt❤️

Tesorito: Me gustó mucho esta historia...

Nopichic19 : I like the story and the plot, I think they should have explored Maya’s home life and rejection a little more before she was able to move on. There are some sentences that aren’t structured right but not enough to cause confusion. Overall lovely story.

Susanne Moore: Love this series, the kids are great. Can't wait for the dragon!!!

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.