Hours later I was sitting at the bar of a dance club, a Bloody Mary in hand. It wasn't my normal drink but I didn't want to get wasted on hard liquor with so many people around. Who knew what trouble I could get into? My money was on front page news trouble.
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Looking out at the thrashing mass of carefree people I thought about what was happening to me. I was a freshly dumped monster drinking alone in a club. Pathetic. Was this really my life? Or was it unlife? I checked for a pulse in my neck but couldn't find it.
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Irritated, I slammed the rest of the drink, left the empty glass with a ten under it, and moved from the bar to find a dark corner to brood in like a proper blood sucker.
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Maybe I shouldn't complain? The next few weeks no doubt had a lot of trouble in store for me and I would need to focus. Chances were that I would have broke things off with Leena as I got more involved with whatever society vampires had in the city. Yeah, it was for the best, right? Right.
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I found a seat away from most of the crowd and prepared to brood. Nestled on the red leather chair I watched the dancers. There was a hypnotic quality about so many bodies moving to the same beat. It was a primal activity led by instinct and cheap alcohol. I could feel a welling of desire at the back of my mind. Part of me wanted to slip into that press of bodies, join myself with it, and drink them all in. The predator inside me was one greedy bastard.
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"I don't recognize you. Are you a new member of the House?" A sweet cool voice said into my ear. I flinched to the side. Leaning down to my left was a beautiful woman in a dark blue dress that flattered her slim frame. She was a green eyed blonde who had more than a few admirers glancing her way. I felt a resonance as my predator recognized another of our kind.
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Apparently I was going to get my feet wet in that vampire social scene. I gave the she-vamp a thin smile as I stood to greet her.
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"I am not a member of...the House." I spoke just loud enough to be heard over the music. "Actually, I just came by to let off some steam. Name's Orden."
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She returned my smile readily. "Ah, call me Stella, Colden House. A few friends and I are having a party in the VIP lounge and need another guy to even out the male to female ratio. Interested?"
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"Sounds like a great idea," by which I could learn about my brave new world. "Lead on, we wouldn't want to keep your friends waiting."
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Lead she did. We skirted the dance floor to a roped off door that was labeled VIP Lounge in gold paint. A bouncer moved a red velvet rope from in front of the door as we approached and I soon found myself in a swanky room with five other vampires, Stella included. Martini glasses filled with red liquid, blood by the smell, waited on a table between two coaches that faced a one way window that peered out at the dance floor.
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Stella made introductions. "Orden, meet John, the guy built like a linebacker, Dwayne, he's wearing the plaid shirt, then there's Nila, the girl who's making eyes at John, and finally Fel, the shortest member of the Lucien House but also the one most likely to kick ass."
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John came over from his spot by the window and pulled me into a crushing bear hug. "Hey, welcome. It's been a while since we've seen a fresh face around this joint."
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I grunted as my ribs flexed under John's enthusiasm.
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"Air," I wheezed. John got the drift and plopped me down with a laugh.
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"Sorry, sorry," he said between guffaws. "I get excitable when drunk. We've got some good blood tonight: healthy A+ with a good amount of alcohol. Best I've had from the banks. Help yourself."
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"Banks, as in blood banks?" I wondered as I stepped back from the giant man, just in case he felt like another hug was necessary.
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"Yeah, I don't go for bagged blood often because of the price tag but today's a special occasion," John said lifting a glass toward Fel. "A birthday. Congratulations, girly!"
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The rest raised glasses and I was handed a blood martini to hold aloft as well.
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"Happy birthday." I echoed the others and downed the blood when everyone else did. John was right about the flavor. It was rich, hearty, and carried the zip of alcohol.
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I settled down on the same couch as Fel and was immediately given a once over by the bite sized woman. She was really small, maybe four foot nine, but the way she dressed left no doubt she was a full grown woman. Clinging turtleneck that flattered the curve of her body paired with jeans that fit her hips nicely told anyone that could see that she was a woman. Her honey blonde hair was held back in a ponytail away from the piercing blue eyes that inspected me. The polish on her nails was the same blue but dusted with silver.
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Fel turned a little to face me on the couch, one elbow against the backrest. "So you're the guy Stella found to woo me throughout the party."
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I raised an eyebrow at her. The way she spoke was teasing and light so I relaxed into my seat.
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"Oh, and here I thought I was going to be wooed. After all, I was invited last minute to the shindig. Wooing is on you," I said before pouring myself a bit more blood from a decanter.
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Her mouth quirked up at the edges as she looked over the rim of her glass. "Now why should I have to go through all that work on my birthday? Don't I deserve some special treatment for getting older? At least chronologically older, immortality puts the kibosh on wrinkles."
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"How about we shelf wooing for now. Personally I've found any serious attempts during blind dates to be doomed from the start. Maybe we can give it a go later, on our own terms." Not that I was ready to date so fast after Leena.
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Fel leaned forward to whisper to me, her tone conspiratorial. "You've been through a few of these, huh? Stella's been trying to set me up for years now. She seems to take it as a personal challenge that I'm still single."
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I laughed. "You have a personal matchmaker directing men at you? Is there a whole platoon of heart broken sods pining after your baby blues?"
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She smacked my arm but smiled as she did it. "Shut up. I'll have you know that they are coping very well. They meet every Tuesday to talk things out. It's a extremely sympathetic support group."
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"How fortunate for them," I said resisting the urge to roll my eyes at her.
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"New topic: what do you think about the new Primor?" She asked the question with a frown, her eyes inward.
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Dwayne chimed in from his spot by the window. "He's been on the Primordium for what, a month? And already he has agitated to get into the public eye. He's crazy to want to let humans know about us. The fact that the other Primors are considering it scares the hell out of me."
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Okay. That sounded like a council. Did that make the Primordium the ruling body of the vampire world?
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"That sounds like trouble," I offered.
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"It isn't like we can stay hidden forever. How much longer until a human group gets ahold of one of us? When that happens it won't be pretty." Fel said putting her drink down. She waved her hands towards the window, at the humans there. "Choosing how humans learn that we're real puts control in our hands. We'd set the tone."
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Dwayne shook his head at her. "Vampires would still drink human blood. There's no way around that unless someone cracks the cloning process and starts manufacturing enough blood to feed the world's vampire population. And that scenario assumes all vampires would stop hunting for real blood." He held up his drink for emphasis. "Humans won't accept predators into their midst and we are just that."
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Our conversation drew in the others and I leaned back to absorb what I could. Nila, who was seated across John's lap with one of his arms resting on her waist gestured at the dancers.
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"Dwayne's right. Even if there was more factory blood I don't think I could give up the real deal. The feel of fang breaking flesh, the rush of hot blood in my mouth," her eyes gleamed against her dark skin as she spoke and I felt something stir at the back of my mind. My inner predator stirring at the presence of kin. "I'm a hunter, a seductress, a vampire. Bagged blood is fine for a party like this but I won't live off it."
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There was a grunt of agreement from John as he sipped his drink, content to let others talk.
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I shifted in my seat, my focus now inward on my own experience with drinking. There was no denying the pleasure of it. While drinking from that man's neck I felt alive like never before. Like a god among mortals, if just for a few minutes. The blood I sipped on now was a pale comparison.
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"What about you, Orden? You think we should stay hidden or not?" Fel asked. Her head was tilted a little to the side as she met my eyes.
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"The truth of it is that I've only been a vampire for a few days. Hell, I woke up covered with a blanket in some alley downtown. I don't really know enough to say..." And that's when I realized I was drunk and saying way too much. The room went quiet as all eyes focused on me.
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"Holy shit, you're a new blood? How long ago were you changed?" Dwayne demanded coming closer, hands fisted. I swallowed down a growl that tried to bubble up from my predator. Neither of us liked the sudden movements or the way Dwayne glared down at me.
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"Back off Dwayne," Fel said quietly. She was glaring at him while patting my hand. "He's obviously in control of himself so give him space. Last thing a new blood needs is to be cornered by you."
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The two locked eyes for a moment and I could feel something build between them. The air buzzed with power, the hair on my arms rising as a shiver went through me. Then Dwayne backed away. The tension broke. The energy cut off.
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Silence stretched while vampires exchanged looks. I had the distinct feeling that I was either in a lot of trouble or in luck. Odd how I couldn't tell which. Nila broke the silence first.
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"Orden, how long have you been a vampire?"
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"This is my second night. I think I spent three nights unconscious, though." Three full days. Had I been outside the entire time? I was lucky I wasn't toast, then.
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She frowned at me, her eyes questioning. "That's surprising. Most vampires spend their first few conscious nights fighting the Beast."
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"Beast? Is that a euphemism for something?" I asked looking around.
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John nodded but kept quiet letting Nila answer. "It's what we call the predatory instinct all vampires develop when changed. Always there at the back of the mind, measuring, waiting, hoping for the next meal. New vampires always struggle with it at first, it's usually what drives them to drink for the first time. To nearly drain their first human."
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I nodded at that. "Some guy tried to mug me on the street that first night. I drank from him. It was hard but I stopped before I took to much. I felt like...like I was powerful and not quite human."
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Fel rested a hand on my shoulder for a second before standing up to start pacing the room. Her quick strides propelled her around the room faster than seemed right for such small person. When she stopped her face was grim.
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"How did it happen?" she asked in a somber tone.
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"I was attacked in Olsen Park, tackled to the ground, and bitten. I lost to much blood and passed out. Three days later I woke up with a new sunlight allergy." I touched my neck as I recalled the tearing bite. The skin was whole now but I could still feel the ghost of fangs sinking into me.
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"Damn, you got done dirty." John said, finally moved to contribute to the conversation. "So you don't know anything about anything? None of the laws? Nothing?"
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I sighed, burying my face in my hands. "Yeah. I was surprised when Stella talked to me out there. I was just here for a post relationship drink. Alcohol, not blood."
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"Post relationship?" Fel asked. I looked up at her and the curiosity was back in her eyes.
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I just shrugged, not willing to get into it. Besides, there were more pressing things to talk about. "What can you guys tell me about being a vampire? I've already gathered there's a council of sorts, the Primordium. Are they like the vampire equivalent of government? What are the laws John talked about? How different am I from my human self?"
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I looked from person to person as I spoke, reading expressions, looking for hints. Dwayne was scowling openly at me but looked away when our eyes met. John was shaking his head, sympathy in his gaze. Nila stared at her skirt's hem, thinking. Fel was pacing again.
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Stella laughed and gave Fel a snarky grin. "Happy birthday, Fel. I got you a hunk to educate in the ways of the bloodsucker."
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Fel frowned at her friend but said nothing as she picked up a blue jacket from the corner. Her glance fell on me.
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"Come on, hunk," she said shrugging the jacket on, "I need coffee for this conversation."ns188.8.131.52da2