Chapter 12: 100 Years
She hadn’t done much stalking of prey yet, but Rose was surprised to find herself rather good at it.
The crumpled piece of paper with Nico Dacia’s address was balled up in Rose’s hand. She had been waiting in the shadows across from his apartment for possibly hours now, but she found that she didn’t mind the waiting. That was surprising too. She wasn’t bored or exasperated; instead, the thrill of stalking kept her alert.
She hadn’t arrived until after dark—there was a better chance of catching him coming or going during the protective night hours. She felt her eyes scan each and every person who entered or exited his apartment building. She wasn’t worried about recognizing him, she was certain she would. Moreover, there was that whole thing about “sensing other vampires’ energy” that Vanesse had told her about. So she would trust her instincts; she had to.
Though she remained alert, she couldn’t help but feel haunted by ghosts—alive and otherwise. Thoughts of Margot and Zari and dead bodies floated through her mind. She was more alone than ever. More lost than ever. Her connections to the human world were snapping one by one. She worried that soon she would be completely untethered to the living, apart from her need for their blood.
As she drifted farther away from the human world, she felt herself being pulled further into the vampire world. Could she trust Vanesse? She felt conflicted. It’s true that Vanesse had given her useful information, including the address of Nico Dacia; but she also seemed unpredictable, a bit of a wild card; a trickster, a Loki, a Puck, a Cheshire Cat.
But she still had Sophie. Rose was eternally grateful for Sophie.
Questions burned in Rose’s mind and she hungered for answers. If she was going to accept her new existence as a vampire, she would need some guidance. If she was going to allow herself to fall completely into this new world, she would need the right tools. That’s where Nico came in. He owed it to her.
Before she saw his figure emerge, Rose felt tiny needles dance on her skin. It felt like a dog whistle had alerted her body before her mind even noticed him. Perhaps Vanesse was right—it seemed she was indeed developing the ability to sense other vampires.
Her eyes lit up with fire upon seeing him. She watched him walk to the street corner and approach someone wearing medical scrubs. She watched him exchange a handful of cash for an unmarked box. They parted without much conversation, and when Nico turned back around he stopped and looked as if he were sniffing the air.
He was sensing her presence.
Rose didn’t have time to spare, she had to act. So without thinking, she pounced on him. She clawed at his shirt and dragged him into a shadowy alleyway perpendicular to his street. He must have been fairly hungry and weak, for he barely fought back. Rose, however, had recently fed on the hospital blood Zari had given her. She hated to use it so soon, but she knew she would need all her strength tonight.
Upon being dragged into the alley, Nico dropped the box he was carrying and it burst open. About a dozen plump, dark pouches tumbled from the box, some of them splitting and spilling an oozing burgundy liquid onto the pavement.
In response, Nico gripped Rose by the shoulders and she saw two pointed fangs jut out. “Get your own damn blood, you filthy parasite!” he spat at her. He assumed she was just another vampire after his stash of blood.
Summoning her strength, she cast his hands off her and pushed him against the wall. He struggled, but she overpowered him. He was now in her grasp. She brought her face close to him, forcing him to recognize her through the darkness.
When the flash of recognition finally reflected in his eyes, the fight response drained from him. His face and shoulders fell, and he gave up resisting.
“It’s you…” he said, swallowing hard.
Rose responded, not with words, but by clutching his crotch. With one hand on his chest to keep him pinned against the wall, the other reached into his pants to grab the contents within.
He was breathing heavily but did not protest. She brought her lips against his ear and whispered: “I’m going to suck your cock, and I’m going to make you cum. You’re not going to resist, you’re not going to move. You’re going to just stand there and let me have my way with you.”
Rose felt his eyes on her as she kelt and pulled down his zipper. She wrapped her mouth around him, and her hands pushed him deeper inside by gripping his ass.
It pleased her to feel his hardness grow in her mouth. She pressed her nose against his abdomen and held it there for several seconds. Slowly, she slid her lips along his shaft, up and down, down and up, as saliva glistened over him and dripped from the edges of her mouth.
Slick, smacking sounds resounded as she picked up speed. Her lips glided along his hard dick as her whole body pumped back and forth. She glanced up and noted that his eyes had closed.
Dropping further down, she inserted his balls into her mouth. She massaged them with her tongue, then returned her mouth to his cock. Her hand now cupped his testicles and she juggled them like two ben wa balls.
Her lips polished his dick as she thrust her body to and fro against him. She tightened her lips’ grip around him and swirled her tongue with each undulating motion. Down and up, up and down, down and up, up and down. She bobbed and bounced her face against his torso, as his cock quivered with each fresh insertion.
She felt a rumbling coming from inside him and she accelerated her rhythm. In the darkness of the alley, with spilled blood pooling beside them, he came in her mouth with a groan of release. But his wasn’t the only rumbling she felt.
The spurt of cum into her mouth was like a hit of adrenalin. Her pussy, though untouched, reacted by contracting and quaking. Her muscles—intimate and otherwise—tightened; her lungs gasped for air with his cock still lodged in her throat; and her skin felt electrified with heightened sensitivity.
She felt it in her fingertips, she felt it in her eyelids, she felt it in her very depths—the explosive awakening, the scintillating release, the agonizing rapture. A cloud of pleasure enveloped her as she swallowed the thick, warm fluid. Her body tensed up, trembled, then released. She buzzed from head to toe with exhilaration, and with amazement.
She hadn’t expected to cum herself from draining him, but there it was. And it was even better than drinking human blood; better than any drug she had ever tried; better than any mortal sex she had ever experienced. Moreover, she felt stronger than before, like her veins were filled to the brim with pure, distilled power.
Nico, on the other hand, looked deflated and empty as he slumped against the wall with his cock still out.
She gathered his limp body in her arms, stuffed his softened member back into his pants, and explained what was to happen next. “You’ll invite me into your apartment,” she instructed, “and I’ll give you a little blood from that box. Then, you’re going to listen to me and answer all my questions. Understood?” He nodded weakly.
On their way to his apartment, they scooped the unspilled pouches of blood back into the box and carried it along with them.
Striptease: One Hundred Years
Once inside his apartment, Rose dropped Nico into an armchair. Using a fingernail, she pierced one of the bulging bags of blood and squeezed a droplet onto her fingertip. She fed him only a tiny amount. “You’ll get more if you behave well,” she told him.
His apartment was cluttered with books and ancient electronics. Rose strolled around the space, examining its contents. She noticed a nook full of vinyl records and a record player. She fingered through the dusty albums and pulled out a choice to fit her mood. She put it on.
The player’s needle scratched out the dark, gothic heartbeat of “One Hundred Years,” the opening track to The Cure’s Pornography.
“It doesn’t matter if we all die,” the song declared as an introduction.
The music floated over Rose, enveloping her. The notes penetrated her skin and consumed her mind. She felt overcome by it. It enthralled her, entranced her. It overtook her.
She glanced over at Nico slouching in the armchair. He was still enervated and listless, but she noticed he was watching her from under his heavy eyelids. She approached him and lifted off his shirt. Running her fingers along his bare chest, she felt a stirring between her legs.
Being fully in control felt enlivening, and arousing. The music too was primal and seductive, beckoning and hypnotic. She felt herself compelled to perform, not for her captive, but for herself.
She released her clothes off her body and onto the floor. As she stepped out of them, the plum-colored lingerie beneath clung to her cold form. She had prepared to draw on her power of seduction tonight.
The music took over the movements of her body; it led her like a marionette, like a possession. The strings of the song were frantic and demanding, the voice urgent and pleading. All she could do was obey. Her dancing was hardly a conscious response, it was a chemical reaction.
It became apparent that she wasn’t in control after all. It was the music. Under its spell, Rose’s body whirled and writhed, thrashed and throbbed. She abandoned herself to it.
She fell to her knees and danced like a bewitched flame, as her captive audience of one looked on, still and haunted. Her hands tore her panties from her legs, and as she stood up they dangled from her finger.
Approaching Nico, Rose flung the panties around his neck and held them tight like a noose.
“A hundred years of blood, crimson,” cried out the song. “The ribbon tightens ‘round my throat.”
The panties fell from her grasp as she turned to pick up a bag of blood. She punctured it and emptied its contents onto Nico’s torso. Smearing it around, she felt another possession take hold of her. Bending, she began lapping up the blood like a frenzied animal.
But she was interrupted by the beckon of a third spell. She stopped licking the bloody mess only because she was now animated by a desperate need to rub her pussy to orgasm.
She mounted Nico, pressing her wet pussy hard against his naked chest that was now streaked with blood. Her own juices mingled with the thick, red nectar as she bounced rhythmically against him.
“Over and over, we die one after the other,” the song chanted. “Over and over, we die one after the other.”
She swayed under the power of the song’s thrumming; she surrendered to the power of the blood’s call; she thrusted with the power of her own sexual cravings.
“One after the other, one after the other, one after the other, one after the other.”
The blood on Nico’s chest was slick and sticky at once, and Rose’s pussy delighted in pleasing herself with the glossy lubricant. Her pussy pounded rapturously, drowning herself in the sumptuous mess, gorging herself on the precious fluid.
“It feels like a hundred years,” the song rang out.
She threw her head back as she rode him wildly. She splashed and swirled against him, her clit hungry for more friction. It was as if her cunt were consuming the blood, absorbing life with each flicker of pleasure.
“A hundred years, a hundred years, a hundred years, a hundred years!”
Her pussy tingled with the gathering storm. Lightning bolts danced on her clit. Her cavern throbbed with thunder. A tempest was conjuring within her and refused to be stopped. Her clit, her cunt, her soul crashed down with a final grind, squirting a downpour of her own juices onto the already sopping chest of her breathing sex toy.
Rose quaked and quivered with gratification. The thrilling mix of blood and ejaculette, of power and surrender, radiated from every cell. Her eyelids fell as she heaved, nearly out of breath.
She climbed off of him and traced a finger along his torso. Inserting that finger into his mouth, she bestowed on him a taste of blood and herself. She then licked frantically at the mixture herself; cumming so hard had made her ravenous. And more powerful.
Rose looked down at her hands. She couldn’t help but clench and open them repeatedly. Her fingertips were alight with puissance, her whole body swollen with strength and energy. She wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself. She wasn’t sure where to direct the whirring magnetic force that vibrated within her. It was as if lightning were bottled inside her and its charge was searching desperately for a target to strike.
Realizing she was still naked, Rose threw on her panties but nothing else. A nagging thought at the back of her mind was trying to remind her why she was there. She had questions about the vampire existence, and she needed answers. More desperately than ever.
Yet she felt her focus drawn elsewhere. Approaching the window in Nico’s apartment, she peered down onto the street below. The warm night air seemed to seep in through the panes. Rose looked on as a person walked their dog, blissfully unaware of being watched. She licked her lips.
“Can we fly?” she asked Nico at last, keeping her eyes on the person below. “Is the bat thing real? How do we turn into bats?” He didn’t respond, and she looked over her shoulder to see him still slumped in the chair where she had left him.
She had to admit that she had been keeping him rather deprived. Puncturing a new bag of blood, she poured its contents into his mouth. He drank greedily, sucking on the plastic bag once it had been emptied.
“You’ve gone through half of my stash!” he grumbled, pointing at the depleted box of blood bags on the floor. He was getting his strength back.
Rose ignored his complaint. “Can we fly?” she repeated, returning to the window. The person and their dog had disappeared from view.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he uttered. “We’re not fucking magic. We’re just monsters.”
“That’s debatable,” Rose responded, her eyes fixed on the street below. Someone new was walking by, and they stopped to talk on their phone. “We’re stronger than humans, non? We can do things they can’t, right?”
Rose felt herself crack open the windowpane and duck out onto the open ledge beneath. Wind whistled by as she took in the several stories that stood between her and the person on the street. They were busy on their phone with their back turned to Rose, so they didn’t notice her.
Peering down, Rose felt confident she could stealthily jump and attack this person. They wouldn’t see it coming, no one would. She felt the agility in her muscles, like a prowling cat. She would pounce, bite, suck, and drain, then scurry back up and attend to the business at hand. Her eyes glowed wild and her fangs sprouted forth.
But she was startled to her core by a hand, seemingly giant, that gripped her neck from behind. It jutted her out past the window’s ledge and held her hovering above the street below. She choked and sputtered as her hands flew to the fingers around her neck, trying to pry them loose. Quickly realizing that the alternative meant falling to the ground, her hands fell to her sides. The street seemed suddenly miles beneath her, and a panic raced through her. Her sense of power—which moments ago was brimming inside her—seemed to melt away and drain onto the pavement below.
Nico’s hand pulled her back into his apartment. He tossed her onto the floor and she breathed heavy gulps of air. She again felt the absence of a heartbeat, which would have been pounding had it been functioning.
Still crumpled on the floor, Rose’s fingers felt the soreness on her neck. It was tender to the touch, but surely it wouldn’t bruise—that required blood flow, right? Piecing things together, she realized that Nico had not only thwarted her attempt to pounce on that human, he had also stolen some of her energy.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she cried with a crackling voice at Nico.
“What do you think you are doing?” he spat back at her. “What was even your plan? To climb down the side of the building and kill that poor person? Were you just going to leave the dead body there at my building’s doorstep? Did you even think about what kind of attention that would attract?”
Rose had not thought of all that. She blinked as she steadied her breath and wiped the sweat from her brow. “I’m fumbling around in the dark,” she said more to herself than to him. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Clearly,” he remarked, giving her a side glance.
That frustrated Rose. He wasn’t taking any responsibility and it was making her angry. Her facial muscles tightened as she held back tears.
“You left me,” she said at last. She remained sitting on the floor, and she wrapped her arms around her knees.
“You turned me and just left me,” Rose went on. “No explanation, no instructions, no guidance. You created me and then fucked off. How am I supposed to know what to do with this life? How could you have done that to me? How dare you…” Tears began to sting her eyes and choke up her words.
“You think I was given a pamphlet of all the rules when I was turned?” he said softly, crossing his arms and turning away from her. “The world isn’t fair or just. No one is given a guidebook to life, whether you’re human or vampire.”
“You owe me answers,” she stated firmly.
“Fine,” he declared impatiently, turning back toward her. “You’re here. I’ll do my best to answer your questions. Shoot.”
At that moment a million questions ran through Rose’s mind, but she felt stunned into silence. She didn’t know where to start.
Can we eat animal blood? Can we preserve human blood for long periods of time? What do we do with the dead bodies? Do we need to be fearful of other vampires? How do vampires earn money? Do they continue to hold human jobs? Is there a society or community where vampires gather and support each other? Where did you get that box of blood, are you in cahoots with a doctor or a med student or someone? Do I need to find a steady supply like that? How do I go about that?
These were the questions Rose had planned on asking Nico. These and countless others. But they all seemed to dissipate around a more central, fundamental question.
“Why go on?” she asked flatly, staring at the floor of Nico’s apartment.
“What?” He hadn’t been expecting that question.
“Why continue existing as a vampire?” she restated. “It’s so brutal and bloody. And vampires can be so cruel to each other. What’s the point of eternal life if it’s full of misery?”
Nico swallowed heavily. “You could say the same about human life.”
“But at least humans don’t depend on murder to stay alive. Human life doesn’t have to be filled with carnage.”
“No,” Nico agreed, “but it so often is. At least when we kill humans it’s for self-preservation. They kill each other for much more trivial reasons.”
“So you’re fine with killing humans?” Rose looked over at the depleted box of medical blood bags. “You’ve clearly made some sort of shady deal for that stash of blood. Is that just for convenience then, or do you actually have some moral qualms about murdering humans?”
“It’s a messy business,” Nico said stoically. “I like to avoid it when I can.”
“You’re also avoiding my question,” Rose pointed out.
“Which question? Do I have moral qualms about killing humans?” Nico shrugged hastily, like a teenager being grilled by their parents. “It’s impossible to live a completely moral life.”
“As a vampire?”
“As anyone,” Nico corrected. “Vampire or human—you can try your best, but you always end up making mistakes. You always end up losing control. You always end up hurting someone, or worse.”
Rose’s ears perked up. “It’s true. I’ve been finding myself losing control—to blood, to lust, even to music. It’s like something takes over me. Why is that? What happens?”
“It’s the primal in you taking over,” Nico answered without looking at her. “It’s why you have to give up on the idea of staying in control, of trying to exist ‘ethically’ as a vampire. It’s a losing game. It’s pointless.”
Rose contemplated this. Sophie’s attacker, the misogynist politician, even the racist…She had tried to convince herself that she could stick to killing the “bad apples,” but just now she had been so tempted by the person on the street below. A stranger. A total stranger.
She thought about Margot’s demand to be turned into a vampire and her plan to go on a crusade. Rose wondered whether Margot’s suddenly quitting Theatre La Chatte meant that she had found another vampire to turn her, whether she was off somewhere trying to enact her plan.
“I meant you’re avoiding my first question,” Rose uttered through a cracked voice. “If this is all true, then why go on?”
“Suicide isn’t primal,” he told her. “Self-preservation is. The farther you get from your former human life, the more vampire you become, and the more susceptible you are to being overcome by the primal drives inside you.”
“I’m not sure that’s a good enough reason,” Rose admitted, to Nico and to herself.
“I don’t know what you want from me,” Nico said with another shrug. “You have to find a way of life that works for you, an existence that you can live with. You have to accept that you’re on the demon side of the angel-demon spectrum and make what you can of it.”
“Why did you turn me?” It hadn’t been a question Rose had planned on asking, despite it seeming obvious now. “Why didn’t you just feed on me and let me die?”
Nico looked at her. Unlike herself, it seemed as if he had been expecting this question. He sat down in the armchair and looked at his hands. “I hadn’t planned on it,” he uttered quietly.
“What had you planned?” she asked him.
Nico chewed his bottom lip. “You don’t know what it’s like,” he began, “to go without human touch for so long.”
Rose hadn’t expected that response. She looked down at her own hands and almost felt a gust of cold air waft up from them.
“I’ve been a vampire for about a hundred years now, if you can believe it.” He was talking softly yet openly, like a child. “And I’ve learned that it’s safest to stay away from humans. You can’t be friends with them, you can’t be lovers. The temptation becomes too strong, that primal instinct to feed takes over. But you never stop missing humans, especially the warmth of their touch. You can befriend other vampires, you can fuck other vampires, but you never stop missing that warmth.” Nico closed his eyes as if to savor a collection of memories.
Rose thought of Sophie. She could never hurt Sophie, and she felt that she wouldn’t be able to survive without her. In many ways, Sophie was her only lasting connection to the human world. How could she ever let that go? But what if Nico was right and she couldn’t trust herself around Sophie? The primal power was strong, Rose felt that poignantly tonight.
“I planned on going to Theatre La Chatte just to watch,” Nico continued. “I’ve been a few times already and managed to do that. I’d never tempted myself with a private dance before. But when you touched my hands that day in the audience…I lost control.”
“You say you didn’t plan it,” Rose pointed out, “but it’s not like you pounced on me then and there. You came back for a private show late that night. That feels methodical.”
“It was a series of bad decisions,” Nico conceded, “combined with the mental fog that comes with losing yourself to those primal urges. I swear I never meant to turn you. Suddenly we were fucking, then suddenly we were at your place. Then suddenly my teeth were in your throat…”
Rose felt like she could relate, despite being the victim. Was this Stockholm Syndrome?
“But I couldn’t just leave you for dead,” Nico added, his gaze distant and unfocused. “I couldn’t do it. You hadn’t done anything wrong. In fact, you had been kind and affectionate toward me. Turning you seemed better than killing you. At some point it became my only option for keeping you alive…or, whatever.”
“Are you sorry?” Rose asked after a pregnant pause.
Nico drew a confused look, as if this thought had never occurred to him. A torrent of emotion washed over him. “I’m sorry for everything.” He let his head fall into his palms and he wept. He remained there for several minutes. Gathering his strength, he looked up with tear-stained cheeks and peered into Rose’s eyes. “I’m so sorry,” he told her.
CHAPTER 13 (coming soon…)
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