Roleplaying…(Without the Leather)
Lucky smiled delightedly and started ticking off the answers on her fingers, one by one. "Jim Morrison, Ray Manzerak, Robby Krieger, and, and—" she paused briefly to savor the moment, "John Densmore." Then she gave Josef a quizzical look. "Correct?"
Josef looked down at the small card in his hand with a sinking feeling. "You got it, babe," he said. "I don't believe it, but you got it."
Lucky picked up the cup of strong coffee at her elbow and sipped demurely. "So I win the game?"
"Looks that way."
"And the bet?"
Josef groaned. "How bad is this going to be?"
"Depends. How hard are you going to try to weasel out of it?"
He was silent, but she could tell from his face he was trying to find a loophole.
"Josef. Are you trying to welch on me? That's not your style."
"You think not?"
She crossed her arms, and he was momentarily distracted by her cleavage. "I've watched you play poker, remember? You may be ruthless, manipulative, devious, and," she searched for a suitable end to her list, "downright Machiavellian, but I've never seen you not own up to a debt."
Josef sighed. She had him there. Even if it was a silly bet on a game of Trivial Pursuit with a freshie, he was stuck with it. "I can't believe I lost that game," he said, and suggested, "Two out of three?"
"Not a chance. And it's not my fault you can't remember the sixties. Or the seventies. Or most of the eighties. No one made you party so hard for three decades."
"Good times, doll," Josef agreed. "Business just wasn't much of a challenge, then." He braced himself. "All right, the Halloween party. You get to be my date, and you get to—God help us all," he shuddered delicately, "pick the costumes. How humiliating is this going to be?"
Lucky's expression, he noted with some alarm, was what he could only describe as sweetly wicked. "Just the right amount to make it fun," she said, "and you have to act the part, too, Josef, don't forget." Then she relented. "If you let yourself, Josef, I think you might actually enjoy it."
"So are you going to tell me," he said, "or leave me impaled on a stake of suspense?"
Lucky rolled her eyes, and giggled. "You did not just say that."
"I believe I did." He sat back in his easy chair and held out an arm. "Come sit on my lap, sweetheart, and tell me what fresh hell you have planned for me."
Never one to refuse such an invitation, Lucky was around the table and settling into his arms immediately. "It's pretty simple, really," she said, looking earnestly into his warm brown eyes.
"Okay." She blushed a little and dropped her eyes to his chest, one hand playing nervously with the buttons on his shirt. "I was thinking—of us going as Vampire Lucky and Freshie Josef."
"Vamp Lucky and Freshie Josef," he repeated slowly, his voice so toneless she looked up to see if he was angered. He smiled crookedly, and slid his cool hand down her arm to lift her wrist toward his mouth. "Of course you realize we might have to bring those roles home after the party for a little private masquerade," he said, his eyes shifting to silver. Lucky shivered in anticipation. And just before his fangs pierced her skin, he added, "When you bite me, Lucky, be damn sure not to draw blood."
Lucky looked critically into the mirror, and decided she looked about as good as she was going to get. The custom fangs showed just enough to be noticeable, without being obvious. The whiteout contacts weren't quite as convincing, but then again, not everyone had life experience with the real deal for comparison purposes. The rest of the costume, slinky black dress, elegantly coiffed hair, blood-red manicured nails, and pale makeup, was all right. She smoothed her hands down over her dress one last time, and went to collect her favorite freshie.
Josef was standing in his study, waiting for her. He wore a casual jacket over her favorite royal blue shirt with dark slacks that seemed to cling a little tighter than his usual tailored fit. His eyebrows rose in surprise as she walked in, trying for a sultry glide in higher stiletto heels than she usually wore. "You look—very authentic," he said.
"Now that's a compliment," she replied, coming close to him. "Now, let's see how you did, freshie boy." She reached up and traced her nails lightly over his neck inside the open collar of his shirt. He had taken the trouble to apply some latex, cleverly simulating the evidence of healed fang marks. It was a nice touch, and more effort than Lucky had expected.
Josef gave a faint growl. "Freshie boy?" he muttered.
Lucky increased the pressure of her nails against his skin, and he hissed. "Remember, Josef, you promised. Act the part."
"Are you trying to push me over the edge?"
Lucky smiled, her crimson lips parting to flash the points of her fangs. "Oh, Josef, pet," she breathed, "we haven't even started."
He swallowed hard, trying to ignore her fingertips against his throat. "I was afraid of that."
"Doesn't a good freshie always fear his vamp? Just a little bit?"
A sardonic glint came into his eye. "Fear—and trust, Luck. It's a heady combination."
"As well I know." She paused, pursing her lips as she regarded him. "Now, the open collar is nice, but you need to lose the jacket. And roll those sleeves up to just below the elbow." She took his forearm in her hand, playing her nails across the small amount of exposed skin at his inner wrist. "You know I need you to be—accessible."
Josef only nodded, and complied, laying his gold cufflinks on the edge of his desk and turning his sleeves up with neat precision. Then he reached into his pocket and took out a keyring. "So—does my vampire wish to drive this evening, or to be driven? If the Ferrari is acceptable."
Lucky bit her lip and wavered, indecisive. She'd been allowed to drive the Ferrari a couple of times, and the opportunity was not to be lightly dismissed, but—"Tonight, I think your vampire will allow her freshie to drive."
As they walked to the garage, she playfully grabbed his beautiful backside, as she'd always wanted to do. Those Armani suits usually hid one of the best posteriors she'd ever seen. Josef gave her a quizzical look over his shoulder, but he was smiling. "Careful with the merchandise, vamp," he said.
"I believe," Lucky retorted, "that tonight, the merchandise is mine, hot stuff."
"You make, as usual, an excellent point." He offered her a hand to help her into the passenger seat, and she smiled at him as she slid into the tan leather interior, flashing a hint of fang.
Josef loved, almost as much as the taste of warm fresh blood in his mouth, driving his Ferrari. He had been enormously surprised Lucky turned down the chance at it, since he considered it one of the major benefits of having lived so long. As he drove, he focused all his consciousness on the car, the feel of it on the road, the quiet roar of the engine. He loved it, as he loved few things and fewer people. And concentrating on driving, he didn't notice Lucky shifting in her seat, turning and tucking up one foot, crossing one leg over the other, until her right foot insinuated itself into his lap, the spike of her heel pressing against the muscle of his inner left thigh.
He glanced down, tightening his grip on the wheel. "Lucky," he said mildly, "what are you doing?"
In answer, she flexed her ankle, pushing the heel almost painfully into his leg. She could feel the tension rising in him, and ran her tongue across her lower lip. "I'm just getting us warmed up," she said. "Now, drive."
"Remind me never to play Trivial Pursuit with you again," he muttered.
She pointed her toe again, easing the pressure from the stiletto, but bringing the rest of her foot closer to his body. "Nervous, darling?" she asked innocently.
"Awww. Remember what you said. Fear and trust."
Josef handed her out of the car very nicely, using only a slight touch of his uncanny strength to help her stand. Lucky noted the faint shadow of pain cross his face when she directed him to hand off the keys to the valet, but he said not a word, only offering her his arm to walk inside. As they left the car, they both paused to slip on small black domino masks, more as a gesture toward masquerade than a true disguise.
The party was a huge event, one of those hotel ballroom affairs with the proceeds donated to one of Josef's many charities. And Lucky, looking around the scattered tables carefully, didn't see a single other vamp that she recognized in attendance. Since she was fairly sure she'd met all the other major vampires in Los Angeles, and a Red Cross event did seem like a natural for them, she could only assume that Josef, fearing for his prized reputation, had warned them off. Well, that put a gloss on the evening. And he was playing the devoted freshie to the hilt, pulling out her chair, hovering over her, fetching drinks…although she was sticking to red wine, to avoid the blood ritual they'd always done with Josef's preferred scotch.
She reached up and pulled his face even closer. "I look around the room, and I see you've been a very thorough freshie," she whispered in his ear, following her words with a quick swirling probe of her tongue. At the same time, she dropped a hand under the table to his thigh, and dug her nails in just enough to be felt.
"Lucky," he groaned.
"Complaining, darling?" she purred back. "But I can tell how much you like it."
"Complaining?" He grinned, with a glance around the table. "I wouldn't dare."
Their table had filled with a wizard and a witch, a pirate and a saloon girl, and Raggedy Ann and Andy. They exchanged a little small talk until the pirate asked the inevitable question about their costumes.
"I can see you're a vampire," he said to Lucky, then smiled at Josef. "But what about you?"
"I'm her faithful…blood donor."
Lucky caressed him possessively. "Allow us to demonstrate. Give me your wrist, sweetheart."
He extended a hand to her, and although his expression never changed, and he had no pulse to speed, even if she'd been able to sense it, she knew from the set of his shoulders and the tension in his proffered arm that she had his full attention.
Josef thought it was a good thing he'd made sure none of his colleagues were in attendance. He'd guessed the little tease would push the masquerade as far as she could, he just never realized how deeply intrigued he would be.
He rotated his arm to offer her the inside of his wrist, realizing as he did so that his presentation lacked the grace he expected from his freshies, and he frowned. "This isn't as easy as I thought," he commented.
Lucky smiled slowly. "But Josef, I don't want it to be easy. I want it to be--hard." Holding his forearm with one hand, she drew the nail of her index finger down his exposed skin with tantalizing delicacy as she brought his wrist slowly towards her face. She inhaled the clean scent of his skin, and he could hear her pulse begin to race. Then she followed the path of her finger with a trail of her tongue. When she reached what should have been his pulse point, she flicked her eyes to his face to show him the silver of them, and nipped down with the points of her false fangs, hard enough to draw a gasp from him. She drew back from the bite at once, and began to suck hard on his skin. No blood broke through, but he could feel the pull of her mouth against him, and the quick lapping strokes of her tongue.
It was just then that his brain turned non-functional, senses taking over, and he had to use the last shreds of his self-control to keep his own fangs concealed, to keep his eyes their human brown. He had to admit she had the moves down, and if his bite felt to his freshies the way hers was feeling to him, then they should be paying his rent, not the other way around. This was a jolt of pure pleasure that spread from his wrist over his entire body. His eyes closed, and he felt his head drifting back, abandoning himself to the sensation.
Then, casually, she released him, picking up her glass of red wine to take a long sip. He wasn't fooled for a second; he could practically taste her desire, and had they been in private…
"Shall we dance?" she asked. "Or are you too drained, pet?"
His eyes strayed downward before he could stop himself, the evidence of his enjoyment still very visible. "Perhaps the next song," he suggested, "if my vampire will permit."
Lucky followed his glance, and smiled, resting one hand on his thigh below the level of the table. "That seems reasonable," she said sweetly, sipping her wine. Between the bead of red wine provocatively at the corner of her mouth, and the light warmth of her hand caressing his leg…
"Possibly the song after next," he murmured.
Across from them, the wizard cleared his throat. "That was very convincing," he said. "Let me know if you need another blood donor." That earned him a glare from the witch, and Lucky gave him what she hoped was a pleasant but distant smile.
"Thank you," she said, "but I don't think you're my—blood type."
"Ouch." Josef peered down at Lucky, amused, and she looked away, embarrassed. "My vampire has two left feet tonight," he said.
"I'm sorry, Josef." She had so looked forward to having the opportunity to dance with him as much as she wanted. He really was an exceptional dancer, and always before she'd been part of the entourage at a freshie club, or worse, waiting her turn at one of those private parties where he'd graciously danced with everyone. She usually ended up with the last dance, it was true, but only the last dance. She sighed as he floated her into a turn. She knew she could never handle his undivided attention for long stretches, but to have him to herself, tonight, was very sweet. She stumbled slightly.
He chuckled. "Relax, sweetheart. Let me do all the work."
Lucky blushed, and leaned her head against his shoulder. She really had to retake control of the evening. She took a deep breath and looked him in the eye. In these heels, it wasn't as much of a stretch as usual. "Okay, babe," she said, "when this song is over…go request that the band play a tango. It's time to turn up the heat."
He looked a little startled. "A tango?"
"You questioning me, freshie boy?" she asked.
"I wouldn't dream of it. You vamps are notoriously quick to pass out punishments to impertinent freshies."
"And you think I'd come up with a punishment you couldn't handle?" She risked taking her hand from his shoulder to give his cool cheek a quick caress, keeping her feet moving.
"I think you'd take an awfully good shot at it, doll. Wouldn't be the first time."
"I'm flattered you remember."
"You," and he twirled her expertly, " have no idea how much I remember."
She was at a loss how to answer that, and in the end simply said, "Thank you." The dance ended, and he released her with a slight bow. She made her smile as impish as possible. "Now, about that tango. You do know how to tango, don't you, Josef?"
He smirked. "Ever heard of Rudolf Valentino?"
"He taught you to tango?" she asked in disbelief.
Josef snorted. "I hardly think so. I taught him. I learned to tango in a seedy little bar in the bad part of Buenos Aires in, let's see, 1907. Now that," he asserted, "was a party town." He paused, casting a challenging glance her way. "I'm betting someone's been practicing, hmm?"
She cocked her head to one side and smiled archly.
He was slightly surprised. "If you'll excuse me, I have a band leader to bribe."
The beat of the Latin dance was insistent, sexual, and Lucky put everything into it, rewarded several times as they separated and came together with a widening of her partner's eyes. Twice, she would've sworn particularly sultry moves got her a glint of silver, and she knew from the set of his mouth he was working not to flash fang. Josef, his own moves precise and measured, was expressing a growing passion with every turn, every smoldering glance. Lucky matched him, and Josef thought the heat of her desire must be evident to every man in the room. She might have been practicing, but if she'd been dancing like this with some little punk of a dance instructor, blood was going to be shed on a studio floor. A tango, Josef thought, can be a war, a seduction, an act of love or hatred. Where passions are unresolved, it can be the spark that starts a conflagration.
When the dance ended, they were standing, the length of their bodies pressed together tightly. Behind their masks, their naked eyes scorched each other, and Lucky wasn't sure if her gulping breaths were due to the exertion of the dance or the closeness of the vampire. Her vampire.
Before he could speak, or move, and break the spell of the moment, she slipped a hand behind his head, twining her fingers in his hair, and pulled his mouth, unresisting, to hers.
She realized with a shock that even now he was following his promise, letting her control the kiss. The last time they had kissed, it had been his lips pressing insistently, his tongue exploring the warm recesses of her mouth. Now, he parted his lips for her, and it was her tongue dancing around the hard elongation of his fangs, the rough velvet of his tongue.
She didn't think it had lasted long, but the next song had started, and other couples were navigating around them. Josef smiled down at her with warm and lively curiosity in his brown eyes. "What now?" he asked.
"I think…I think we should step out on the terrace. Find a nice secluded corner for a drink."
He looked up from under his eyebrows, in that way he had of expressing doubt. "Are you sure that's wise?"
She frowned. "I always," she said pointedly, "trust you."
"Have I mentioned lately how terrifying that is?"
The terrace was fairly small and dark, holding a few scattered tables, all empty now, and a few potted trees studded with tiny white twinkle lights. A solitary smoker leaned on the railing, staring out into the city, concentrating on getting a quick nicotine fix. Seeing the couple walking out of the ballroom, the smoker smiled knowingly at them, and stubbed out his cigarette, yielding the space.
Meanwhile, Lucky was silently cursing her whiteout contacts. They might look good, but they couldn't vary pupil size, and as a result her night vision was shot. Fine thing for a vamp. She peered around her, searching for a sheltered corner. She needed privacy, they needed privacy for the next phase.
Josef had a pretty good idea what she was looking for, and with his usual practiced hand at the small of her back, he guided Lucky unerringly to an obscure corner, where the potted shrubs blocked the view from the ballroom doors. The music was still audible, but muted, and provided only a soft background buzz. Normally, in this sort of situation, he'd put the woman against the wall, leave himself the most freedom of movement and offer her the support and security of something solid at her back. It kept him in control of the situation. This time, however, he separated subtly from her and faded back to lean against the wall.
Lucky's mouth went dry. Knowing what she intended, and carrying it out in cold blood here and now were two different things. It all felt suddenly awkward, and she knew Josef found awkward amusing. Normally she wanted to amuse him, but not right now. He'd wait for her to make the first move, she thought. Wait and enjoy her discomfiture. She suffered a moment of doubt.
He surprised her. "So, my vampire," he said, slipping off his mask, "you said something about a drink?" He could see a little bit of panic creep into her eyes, and reached out to remove her mask, too. "Don't lose your nerve now, doll. The game's not over yet."
Lucky moaned and hid her face against his shoulder as his arms enclosed her, and a feeling of utter peace and safety washed over her. She began to move one hand in slow circles on his chest, her other hand at his waist, pulling him closer. She let her hand drift lower and lower on his back, caressing him, and he moved his hips out from the wall to grant her greater access. She was paying close attention to the tension in his embracing arms, to the way his body was beginning to respond under her hands. Gradually they began to sway together, in a slow dance driven by the beat of her human heart.
One by one she slipped the buttons of his shirt through the small buttonholes, bared more of his skin to her touch. He closed his eyes, shutting out everything but the sensation. Her touch was so soft, so alive. She was trembling a little, as she sometimes did in his embrace. He felt his fangs slide out, aching for the taste of her. But that was not his role tonight. He was the passive one here, waiting for her to work her pleasure on him. Even so, he could not stop his hands from mirroring her slow caresses, moving softly across the silky fabric that covered her back, her sides, the sweet flare of her hips. He felt a slight break in the smooth line there, and was reminded with a shock of arousal of the ruby-studded chain around her waist, the one he'd given her, but never seen.
Lucky laid her hands flat on his chest, leaning against him, his nipples pebbled to hardness under her palms. There was no heartbeat, but the centuries of practiced breathing, so automatic to mimic mortality, even the breathing had sped, become ragged, an indicator of his hungering desire. Lower, as her own body clenched and begged to be filled, she could feel him straining against his clothing.
She added her lips to the torment, kissing, nibbling, grazing her false fangs against his skin, licking her way up from his chest to his jawline. He dipped his head toward hers a little, expecting another searing kiss from those warm red lips, but she only took the fullness of his lower lip between her teeth, teasing it and running her tongue back and forth across its silken texture. When she released it, suddenly his hands tightened around her.
"Lucky…" he groaned.
"Be my freshie, Josef," she breathed. "Stretch your neck for me."
Wordlessly, he obeyed. Somewhere in the depth of his gut, he felt a little trepidation, a little fear. He'd traded bites in lovemaking with vampire lovers many times, but never in a situation where he was not an equal player. He had no idea if she could even make it pleasurable for him, although her performance earlier on his wrist would seem to augur well. He could stop her with a word, he could break the masquerade, but he'd agreed, and he had to let it play out. He wanted it to play out.
She pressed close to him, one hand around his neck, the other still toying with the pale sensitive skin of his chest. Her own breath was shaky as she inhaled deeply, her face close to his neck, drinking in the complex, slightly musky aroma of his flesh. Under it, she thought she could catch a hint of the coppery tang of blood. It was intoxicating, to be in this position, to have him so captive to her and to his own senses.
She licked and sucked greedily at his skin, the little noises that escaped his lips, the involuntary movements of his body, his hips, goading her on.
"For God's sake, Lucky, bite down," he growled. "Just do it."
She hesitated a moment, having no pulse to guide her, then bit, harder and harder, holding his skin between her teeth as he jerked and cried out under her fangs. Then she eased the bite, and began to pull as hard as she could with her mouth on the skin, her tongue skimming ceaselessly across the tortured flesh, as he rode the waves of his pleasure for a sweet eternity, his arms almost painfully tight around her.
His embrace stayed close when she collapsed against him, both of them shaking in the aftermath, her skin warm against the sweat-filmed coolness of his bare chest.
"Lucky," he said softly, when he was able to speak, "be sure and keep those fake fangs, okay?"
She nodded, smiling, and kissed his shoulder lightly. "Oh, I think I will."
"And I think it's time for us to go home."
"Yes, Josef," she agreed automatically. "But the dance isn't nearly over yet."
His face was serious as he donned his mask again, and handed hers to her. "When we get home, you are so getting bitten," he said, then smiled in a way that made her shiver with renewed anticipation. "And trust me, babe, I know this dance isn't over."