My beta, vampireisthenewblack, deserves much credit for this chapter, even if she did make me lose 500 words :)

Chapter 3

Pedro turned his head to the left, aware that he was being approached. New scents assaulted him, both heady and musky but composed of different notes, one more floral than the other. His gaze fell upon two female vampires dressed in a similar manner to Maria. Rough shirts and men's trousers could not disguise their beauty even as it had failed to detract from Maria's. Both blonde, the taller of the two carried herself with an air of confidence. She was clearly used to male attention and dismissed it as her due. The other woman - no, girl - was very fair, even for a vampire. Pedro gaped, he had never seen another face like hers. He was struck dumb.

His pueblo had boasted seven women of marriageable age, none of whom he had had the opportunity to consider being attracted to before his father died. In his heart of hearts, Pedro knew none of them could have compared to the girl before him.

She was luminescent in the firelight, her features so pure, so ethereal it was as if he were looking at an angel. Without conscious thought he dropped to his knees and crossed himself, causing a peal of laughter to ring out from the tall woman.

"—"

Pedro was confused, his eyes flickered between the tall blonde and the girl, desperately trying to decipher the unfamiliar words. "Spanish, Lucy." Maria hissed.

She laughed again before addressing him directly, with a hint of an accent he couldn't place. "Oh! Forgive me, Pedro, of course you don't speak English. I am Lucille and this is Antoinette. It is a pleasure to meet you. I take it you are to be rewarded in a similar fashion to our Jasper, yes? I think that will be most acceptable, don't you, Nettie?"

The smaller girl approached and gave Pedro a thorough visual examination before smiling widely at her companion. "Oh yes, Lucy, I do believe we shall find rewarding the boy most satisfactory." Her voice, too, had the odd pronunciation and lilt Lucy had used.

Pedro stiffened at the term 'boy' when used by this child, He was an adult and he did not appreciate being dismissed so easily. Combined with Maria's casual reference to him as a new toy, it was enough that for the second time he felt the stirrings of a temper he had not previously possessed, and unconsciously adjusted his stance into a near-crouch. He had forgotten that Jasper had also referred to him as a boy, and that he hadn't minded so much then, perhaps because even as a human he had recognized the aura of power and danger that radiated off el Comandante, giving him a maturity beyond his physical appearance. Pedro's bristling seemed to entertain Jasper, as he cocked an eyebrow and grinned at the scene playing out before him.

Pedro had no idea why he felt humor where merely seconds before he was angry. His vampire life was still so new, so confusing. He had a brief flicker of intuition, that it was not he who felt the humor, and allowed that thought to occupy a small part of his mind to be examined later.

Maria laughed and clapped her hands together, eyes shining wickedly. "Well I think we shall leave you three alone for a while, Lucy, I would not wish to interfere with Pedro's first taste of the pleasure this life can bring – I am sure I will be rewarding him personally in the future, if he meets expectations, of course. Come, Jasper, I wish to examine the other two newborns more closely." Jasper nodded, much more relaxed now than at any time since Pedro had awoken. He bowed to the ladies and winked at Pedro before exiting through the ragged canvas at the cave's entrance, striding away with a natural grace and commanding presence Pedro envied even as he resolved to emulate it.

The storm had moved closer while Pedro had been quenching his thirst and meeting those who would be significant in his new life. The sky had lightened somewhat as the dawn approached, but the clouds had thickened and swollen with water. Lightning illuminated the cave in harsh flashes of blue and bright white, making Pedro aware that all his experiences thus far had been in the dark, and that he could see just as well as he had in bright daylight as a human. His ears picked up the voices of Maria and el Comandante issuing orders to the other men out on the meseta, and the venom-dripping growl of a newly-awoken vampire. The sudden shriek of rent stone froze him in place before Nettie spoke.

"El Comandante teaching a new soldier a lesson in respect. He will keep the arms and legs separate from the body for a day or two, until the newborn is crazed from thirst, then he will allow a small feed. It is how he keeps order, you see? Like us, Maria learned a long time ago, before we met her, that what works on women and animals also works on men: fear of punishment and the promise of rewards for good behavior, even if that reward is a few drops of blood and no more. Now she has Jasper to help her she will be unstoppable when she decides to expand her territory, no?"

Pedro felt his confusion escalate again. He understood what the girl had told him, it was a simple enough system after all, but why was he given blood straight away? Why was he there in the cave and not by the fires being ordered to obey or die like the others?

Lucy chimed in. "Jasper kept you apart for a reason. He needs a second-in-command he can trust. He saw something in you that day in your pueblo, something he thinks will be useful to him. That is why you are here with us and not out there. You are to be treated as a potential leader for now, or until you fail Maria. She is not as convinced you are needed, or indeed that you deserve special treatment, but Jasper asked for you – so here you are."

Pedro simply nodded, he felt as if he should be tired but he wasn't. He should be terrified, amazed, guilty . . . something, but he was merely accepting, confused and on edge. He focused again on the angel-faced girl, Nettie, marveling at how innocent she looked, even with her red eyes and men's clothing. She smiled at him, before gliding to stand directly in front of him.

Running her hand up his arm she looked up at him, all wide-eyed innocence, "Can I help you find something more suitable to wear? You will need help dressing for a while, you are so strong now n'est pas? It would be better if you allowed me to help you, I think, rather than one of the men. If you are to lead them they should not see you struggle like a babe with your shirts."

Pedro nodded dumbly, more taken with the sound of her voice than the words themselves. Nettie calmly flicked away the remainder of the shirt he had on and moved to the back of the cave for the bowl of water Lucy had placed there earlier. She picked up a rag and dipped it into the water before gently washing off the stale sweat and blood, both his own and others, looking into his eyes all the while. As Pedro relaxed slightly under her ministrations she took the opportunity to remove his homespun pants and rinse off his legs, starting at his feet and moving slowly upwards. He stood stock-still, barely breathing as he watched her kneel before him, wiping him clean with long, slow strokes.

He had never been so close to a woman he was not related to, and he had never been naked before a woman. His cock twitched and grew. If he were still human he would have flushed with shame, but this new Pedro, this man who had already come to terms with some aspects of himself he had never considered before, stood still and allowed himself to harden in front of Nettie's red eyes and pink mouth.

He did not know what to expect, would she wash him everywhere? Would she touch him intimately? She did not seem offended by his physical response, indeed she seemed pleased to have provoked him. Her hands abandoned the cloth and ghosted over his thighs, running up and down the back of his legs before cupping his ass and squeezing lightly. He snarled and bucked at the sensation of her finger caressing his crack before it circled down to the hole. She blew lightly on his cock and dribbled her venom onto it before grasping it tightly with the unoccupied hand. Sliding her small fist up and down, still breathing onto the tip exposed with each pass, his legs began to tremble as his snarl turned into a groan. He grabbed her hair and grunted, his come coating her face and dripping down her chin.

Nettie rose to her feet, seemingly satisfied with a job well done, and cleaned her face on the wash rag. She helped him dress before leaving the cave, sending him a smile of such sweetness it cleared the fog in his brain. He registered the fact that Lucy was still there, had seen everything, but he was curiously unashamed. He turned to look at her, a question in his eyes, one she had seen many times before and knew how to answer.

"I found Antoinette on the streets of New Orleans. She was starving, covered in lice and shit but still with that face. She looked like a broken angel. In New Orleans, everything and everyone is for sale, nothing is forbidden – provided the price is right. She is an octoroon, you know? A slave, even though she passed for white, whiter than the Creoles, even. Her master had very specific tastes and she was trained from infancy to satisfy them – she was the trophy he shared with his friends, the little innocent angel dressed all in white and ribbons who would act the whore whenever he asked. She was far from innocent, old before her time and very, very well-trained. Nothing was too outrageous for him. You have no idea of the perversions rich men indulge themselves with, you cannot imagine. Even as a vampire I am sickened by what Antoinette was taught to do, to enjoy. It is too late for me to take revenge on him, he is long gone, but if I ever meet a descendant I will know by his scent and I will end his line. Blood washes blood, you see?

"She lived a spoiled life, adored by the men and given every luxury . . . until she became a woman. That was the day he threw her onto the street, her blood staining her pretty white dress – he was so disgusted with women, you see, he didn't even give her a rag to staunch it. Weeks later I found her, hiding in an alley thinking her life was over. She had dragged herself away to die in a quiet corner – she did not know why she bled, why her dress trailed blood behind her on the street. He had never told her.

"I took her in and gave her a home, gave her food and new clothes and taught her that she could make money, lots of money, from her face and her training and her eagerness to please. She did well for me, so well I was able to move into Storyville and list her in the Blue Book. This brought her more men, more tricks to learn and more girls for me to look after. Life was good for us, we had a decent house and were amassing money hand over fist. That came to an end rather abruptly.

"A gentleman I didn't know came to the house. He said he had heard of Antoinette's particular skills and wished to arrange a select audience with her on a paddle steamer recently in town. I agreed, upon production of a suitable fee, and so we appeared at the appointed time in the stateroom of the Louisiana Belle to meet with Monsieur DuBois and his friends. Among them was a most peculiar man; he had a very rough visage, with unfashionably long hair and a strange habit of sniffing the air every once in a while. Still, we had been paid to perform, so perform we did. It was as Nettie and I were reaching the peak of our sapphic floorshow that all hell broke loose. A woman entered the room – she was glorious, I would have paid her well to have joined us. She glanced at the strange man and in a flurry of movement the room was filled with limbs and blood – I am sure you know what I mean, non?

"Nettie and I attempted to hide under the table, but to no avail. Monsieur DuBois dragged both of us out and said the strangest thing, that he was happy we had played our parts so well for him and his friends and that we had a choice – we could either die now or we could live again as we were, until Hell froze over. We both nodded, neither of us understanding what he meant but not wishing to be torn apart like the rest of the men there, and so he bit both of us. The rest, I am sure, you can guess.

"The Belle was driven aground and the boiler blown after we awoke and fed. DuBois told us what we were, what we needed to know, and after a suitable expression of our gratitude he left us to meet back up with the two he had arranged the whole charade for. Nettie and I made our way south and our paths converged with Maria some few years ago."

Lucy laughed at Pedro's expression, "I am sorry, I do tend to ramble when I tell our story. I only meant for you to know that Nettie is not as innocent as she looks. Do not be fooled, she is as dangerous as the rest of us and you would do well to remember that. For now, though, you are in safe hands. We will take very good care of you, Pedro, if Maria allows it.

"Do you have more to add, Jasper?"

Pedro knew he was there, had been there for some time. He was leaning against the entrance to the cave with a satisfied smirk on his face, seemingly enjoying the story Lucy had spun. As she spoke he straightened and looked Pedro full in the face.

"All you need know is that we are vampires. We feed, we fight and we fuck. That is what we are created for, what we excel at, what we are. You will see soon enough that fighting fuels the need to feed, that feeding fuels the need to fuck. You will fuck anything that moves, anything with a mouth or a hole. It is how it is, there is no God here to shame you, no priest to punish you. Welcome, Pedro, welcome to Hell."