Lucky always answered her phone, even if the call came at ten til five in the morning. In fact, especially then, because the only one who would call her then was Josef. She was awake anyway.
"I thought you were supposed to be resting, doll."
"Couldn't sleep." Lucky paused. "I guess you know how that goes."
Josef chuckled. "Yes, I believe I do."
"So what's up?"
"We are, for two."
"Josef, do you need blood?"
"Not badly enough to wake someone. I know you're already down a pint. In any case,Turbo left me a thermos. Thoughtful of her. I poured myself a glass."
"I wish I could come to you, Josef. You sound a little—lonely."
"I wish you could, too. We could have one of our--literary discussions."
"I'd like that. Somehow literature is particularly appealing when I'm sitting on your lap."
"To me as well, doll. Unfortunately, tonight—not to be indelicate, but aren't you—bleeding?"
Lucky sighed. "Heavily, I'm afraid. I'm sorry. I don't mean to be disgusting."
"Disgusting? Hardly. Listen, babe, you know I'm—very old. I've seen things, done things…let's just put it this way. I forget, was it a scientist or a science fiction writer who said 'the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine'?"
"A scientist, I think, but I have no idea who."
"Yeah, well, he was looking too far afield. You can find some of the 'stranger than you can imagine' parts right down the hallway from you."
"You're bragging, Josef."
"I'm just saying…if you think the idea of blood between your legs disgusts me—" he took a sip from his heavy crystal highball glass, "babe, you ought to know it turns me on. I can't have you girls close to me while you're bleeding because I'm never sure my self-control will hold."
Lucky's laugh was low, throaty. "Josef, I might have known your perspective on this would be—unique. And I've wondered about it before. So—what do you think would happen? If, say, I came down that hallway and found you?"
"Oh, no, babe. If we're going to play that game, the seductive wench who started it gets to go first." Josef took another tiny sip of blood, savoring the taste of it on his tongue, the shining heavy texture of it. To be discussing his favorite topic with one freshie while tasting the blood of another…it was both tormenting and intoxicating. One of his favorite combinations, come to think of it.
Lucky thought for a moment. She was in unfamiliar territory, aside from the fact that she wanted to keep him interested and amused. "Well, if I were coming in search of my favorite vampire—"
"Your only vampire."
"Indeed. As you very well know, Josef. Anyway, I'd want to look my best. I'd brush out my hair, and put it back in a loose braid, like I wear to bed every night—"
"What if I wanted to see it loose around your shoulders?"
"You could always take out the tie and unbraid it by running your hands through it…later."
"I see." He could almost feel the silk of her long red hair under his fingers, the almost liquid texture of it sliding through his touch. "And what would you wear to come to me, on a night like this?"
Lucky considered. "Black, I think. Black would be best. Black satin. A short nightie."
"But I'm a little worried…if I don't wear something under it, there might be a trickle of blood. Down the inside of my thigh."
"I'm willing to take that chance if you are." Another sip, another bare taste. His interest was definitely captured.
"You are wicked, aren't you?"
"Every chance I get, doll."
"Okay. I've got this started. Now you have to tell me—where are you, what are you doing as you wait?"
Josef chuckled. "Oh, so I have to play, too?"
"You know you love to give as good as you get. So give."
"You're a demanding woman, Lucky."
"Haven't we already established that? You're stalling."
"All right, all right. I'm in my study. I have the lights dimmed, almost out."
"Where are you sitting?"
"In the leather easy chair. I have a nice glass of blood on the side table, and the thermos within reach. I take a sip, and when I look up, I can see you standing in the shadows of the doorway, all black satin and gleaming pale skin, with splashes of red."
"Splashes of red?"
"Your hair, your ruby, your lips. I can see your lips are wet. You must've just run your tongue across them as you got to the doorway."
Lucky licked her lips, unconsciously, and Josef smiled to hear the sound of it through the phone. He continued. "But what really shines for me is the blood—there is one dark crimson thread trickling slowly down the inside of your left thigh. From where I sit I can smell the warm complexity of it. That blood—it's one color I care about. When I see blood when I smell it, the rest of the world fades into grayscale. As it is, when I see you there, it's all I can do to stay where I am, not to move across the room to you. And I think it's your turn, babe. What are you going to do now?"
Lucky didn't respond at once, and Josef realized he could—almost—see a ghostly shadow of his freshie in the doorway. He knew that she had not moved from her room, but he found the illusion compelling, and he waited for her to speak, as he would've waited for her to move.
"I feel very shy, Josef," she said at last, "coming to you with blood showing like that. You know we're taught from the beginning that it's something to be hidden, something unclean. Displaying it seems—forward, somehow. Brazen."
"Try 'enticing' instead. Or—'delectable'," he replied. "Question is, are you going to stand in that doorway torturing me forever?"
"But I do want to stand here—not to torture you, I just want to look at you," she said, closing her eyes to picture the scene. "Your beauty glimmers in the darkness like—like a black pearl. I can see the appearance of youth, and the reality of the ancient mind behind it. It terrifies me sometimes, yet I can't turn away. I take a few steps forward, waiting to see if I am welcome in this state. If I am wanted." She licked her lips again.
"In that case, I will pick up my glass, and drink from it. As I see you there, I put it aside and beckon for you to approach me. Your very hesitance is—arousing."
"I smile at you, Josef, and my heart beats faster as I walk towards your chair. I stop just before you, standing quietly for a moment."
"As you draw nearer, the sound of your heartbeat grows louder to me, and the scent of your blood stronger, headier. My fangs push out, thirsting for the sweet taste of you, for the gentle resistance they will meet against your skin."
"I can see your eyes shift color, turning in a blink from brown to silver. When your eyes are silver, they pierce me more sharply than your fangs. They penetrate my soul. They—you—see me in a different light. You transform me into a stranger to myself." She paused, and when she continued her tone was low, hypnotic. "I raise my left hand to my lips, and moisten my forefinger with my tongue. Then I drop that hand, slowly, running it down the length of my satin nightgown. I know you can hear the soft whisper of that motion, and your eyes follow the movement as my fingers slide past the hem and along the skin. At the end of that trickle of blood, I pause, and use my finger to gather it, pulling my hand slowly back up my thigh." She stopped.
Josef swallowed hard, caught in the scene she was painting for him. "Do go on," he breathed.
"You lean forward a bit, Josef. Your lips part, and you stare greedily at my finger, and the bood. I pull my hand away from my thigh, and touch the bloody finger to your mouth." Lucky heard a faint groan in her ear, and smiled as she continued, relentlessly. "You pull my finger between your lips, sucking it, your tongue moving roughly over it, scraping every molecule of the blood away from me and into your body. As you do, you put your cool hands on the backs of my thighs, and I know that I couldn't get away now, even if I wanted to. I know that if I struggled, you would hold me until you chose to let me go. But I don't want to struggle, and I don't want to go."
"Good thing," the vampire growled in response. "Your blood belongs to me." He paused for a moment, then said, "My turn to talk. While you slide your finger out of my mouth, slowly, the skin just grazing the side of one of my fangs, I pull your hips closer to me. I lean forward and rest my head against your belly, inhaling the fragrance of you, dark, and thick, and rich. It fills my nostrils, goes to my brain with such a rush that it's almost like feeding."
"I'm shaking," Lucky replied. "I'm shaking with desire, I'm quivering at your touch. I put my hands in your hair. It feels like velvet, like the mane of some alien lion, like some rough beast that hunts me in the night."
"A beast that's caught you," Josef said, shortly. "I speak your name softly, Lucky, and I lean to put my mouth against your skin, at the lower end of that seductive path of red, and use my lips and my tongue to claim it for my own. I've never kissed the silken skin of your inner thigh before, even if my fingertips know it well. It tastes different from your neck, or your wrist. Stronger. More concentrated—more—essential. As I kiss you there for the first time, I curse myself for having waited so long to experience it."
"Josef—the feel of your mouth against my skin. It's too much to bear. I'm falling, trembling, my knees are weak."
"Ah, but I have you, Lucky. As your knees buckle, I catch you and lay you across my lap. As you sink into my embrace, I brush my lips over yours—"
"And I turn my head away, offering up my throat to you. I feel like my body is blazing with need. Please, Josef, please—fill me, feed on me. Bite me." Her voice is music to him, sweet words like honey, luminous and dear. There is nothing false in her tone, nothing pretended in her urgency.
"This moment is too precious not to savor," he said slowly. "I take in the scent, the perfume of your skin. I feel your trembling, shaking body under my hands. Your yearning for what only I can give you. I could do anything with you right now that I desired, touch you, taste you however I wished."
"Please—" she moaned. "I can feel my pulse throbbing, calling out to you. I feel your breath across my skin like a cool wind. I'm standing on the edge of the precipice, and all I want is to fall into you, blood like a waterfall cascading into the ocean of your being."
Josef silently took a long drink of blood, draining his glass. He poured another from the supply at his side, noting with detached amusement that his hand was less steady than he'd have thought. He waited in the moment, waited for her low whisper.
"I can almost feel your fangs, the sweet inevitable pressure of them piercing my skin. The feel of the blood pouring out into your mouth."
Whether it was there in her voice, or whether he knew it from the blood they had shared, he felt the fire kindling in her, the flames leaping along her every nerve. And he growled, the words like diamonds dropping in her ear. "And then, Lucky—I—bite."