Habit of A Lifetime Ch. 01bySadieRose©
He had been increasingly smug when Jon Brite, one of their current handful of highly-trained road crew members, returned to report that the blond haired boy from the front row had accepted the AAA-pass. Rayne never questioned whether the boy would guess at the connotations of such a gift. He had just watched the kid wank himself off in front of three and a half thousand people, after all. There were groupies at every show these days and ‘everyone’ knew what went on at Whipsnade’s parties!
Outside the Apollo, blinking in the sodium glare of the streetlights, Danny gazed in bewilderment at the laminated pass in his hand. This task was turning out to be almost too easy. He experienced the first sense of trepidation as the crowds pushed and jostled past him, laughing and talking excitedly among themselves, discussing the show and the new songs and what they were going to do with the rest of their night. They were normal kids, going about their normal day to day lives. Daniel suddenly envied them.
He felt numb. Tonight he was going to follow orders and that meant going to this party and making damned sure that Rayne Wylde noticed him. The rest was up to him. His instructions had been fluid. Mister Zelarin knew that he was good at his job. The boss was not concerned that he would fluff his lines, but that was a part of the problem. His job was sex; that was what he was best at. In his time, Danny had been bait in any number of carefully plotted honey traps. He had closed his eyes and spread his legs for politicians and movie stars; sadists and masochists alike.
Danny knew that he was one of the lucky ones. He was valuable right now; a precious commodity. But he was getting older, and before too long his place in the panoply of Zelarin’s golden boys would fall to someone younger and more innocent-looking. By that time, he knew, he’d better have proved his worth in other ways. He knew how those less fortunate ended up. There was an incinerator in the basement of Flesh for Favours that burned up more than just the domestic rubbish. And some of the games the club’s customers played went ‘beyond’ violent fantasies. Zelarin picked his boys from the street. Few people would miss them if they vanished for good, and by the time those people made others listen it was often too late.
No, Danny appreciated how fortunate he was to be blessed with a pretty face and boyish complexion. It made his life much easier. He knew that there were worse things out there than Black-Panther men with large cocks. Danny had slaked more than just the hunger for sex in his short career, and he had watched other boys feed that lust with their lives.
It did not pay to cross Khaled Zelarin.
Outside the theatre where the air was refreshingly chill after the stifling atmosphere within, a solitary, tall, pale figure watched the black, stretch Mercedes parked behind the squat, ugly building on the edge of Manchester’s urban heartland. He had slipped away from the show as the encore began. It was not the first time he had observed Whipsnade’s performance on this tour and he was even beginning to recognise some of the pieces they played. Not to ‘like’ them, exactly; but at least he could tell them apart now. Had it not been for their dramatic and beautiful composer he would not have made such an effort, but he could not more stay away from Rayne Wylde than a moth could steer clear of a burning light bulb.
It had been hundreds of years since he felt this way. Neferuaten’s previous reincarnation had been easier to approach. Michael Welton had been young and tractable, effortlessly influenced and bedazzled. His naivete was his ultimate undoing. In the bustle and pleasure of Britain after the Second World War, when everyone was dizzy with relief that the carnage was over, he stepped almost innocently into Khaled Zelarin’s path and was found with his throat ripped out under Battersea Bridge.
Only the Undead could have perpetrated such a brutal slaying. Jabez kept vigil by his graveside for seven nights until he rose. It was in despair that he hammered the stake into Michael’s body to save him from further torment. Until the dawn, he held his lover’s corpse in his tight embrace, vowing that next time he would be more careful.
He had begun to give up hope when, in 1968, Raymonde James Wilde was born. Jabez was aware of the moment as he had been aware of all Neferuaten’s incarnations, but it took him over twenty years to find the source of his new hope. Jabez had travelled the world in search of his beloved only to find the singer on TV in a bar in Budapest. Even over the distorted airwaves, he knew that this was the one. Another boy, snake-hipped and beautiful as his virgin queen had been when she first came to him. From that moment he had dedicated his life to Rayne’s protection.
Getting close to him was harder than he had ever imagined, however. Whipsnade went everywhere in the midst of a press-pack and surrounded by professional security. For some years now he had watched his beloved from afar, wondering if – in fact – that was not the safest thing for Rayne Wylde.
As the band and their manager tumbled out of the back of the venue, rumbled and sweat-damp still from their performance, a few hard-core fans were already waiting outside. They were rewarded with pictures and a few words before the five young men were hustled into the back of the limo and it growled away into the night.
Jabez let his corporeal form melt silently into mist, unobserved by the crowds now spilling out onto the darkened streets, and drifted after it.
Within the safety of the car, Rayne let himself gradually wind down. It always took a little while after a good gig to recover his equilibrium. Behind the smoked, bullet-proof glass of the Mercedes’ windows, he slumped into a supple, black leather seat and closed his eyes, lulled by the motion of the luxurious car as it sped away from the seething crowds around the Apollo theatre. Suspension this good was another of the benefits of Whipsnade’s success. Like the little pick-me-up Matty passed across to him, tapping him on the knee as he handed over the small, round mirror and the ebony cigarette holder.
Rayne held the mirror steady as his friend and manager trickled the twin lines of pure white heaven onto the glass out of the twist of foil produced from within his jacket. The younger man used his AMEX Platinum Card to cut and divide the bands of coke. Juggling the holder between his index and forefingers, Rayne put one end into his right nostril and covered the left with his thumb to snort the first line cleanly, switching the slender tube to the other nostril to inhale the second.
The buzz never let him down. That was another miracle of Whipsnade’s success. Since they had become a household name, the quality of the cocaine they scored had improved in leaps and bounds. A satisfied smile engaged his full lips as he handed the glass across to Ciaran Hart and Matt repeated the routine. From the opposite seat, young Court’ frowned at him reproachfully but Rayne was in no mood to argue with his guitarist tonight over the pros and cons of his habit. Life was rarely this good, and just for now Rayne Wylde wanted to enjoy it.
The Boardwalk was an eccentric place; that, in and of itself, appealed to his sense of the bizarre. Its situation, within the shell of the old school hall lent it a cool, lofty, church-like atmosphere alien to many similar sized venues. The capacity was only around four hundred and forty, thanks to fire regulations, but even full the place had never seemed oppressive. It had many entrances and exits, which was another reason why he selected it for the party. Whipsnade were able to slip into the building unobtrusively via a back door whilst their guests were still coming in from the street.
Within the main body of the club, over the stage where Kris had first watched them play, there was a mezzanine level which ran around three walls. The balcony overlooked the dancefloor below and was reached by a staircase from the entrance hall, and another smaller flight of steps from behind the stage itself. Because of this, it was rarely full, since those who were not regulars at the club (and even some that were) did not know how to reach it. In addition, due to the height of the gantry, the view of the stage was not a clear one so it was less popular with those who wanted to see the bands perform.
Thanks to the inaccessibility of the mezzanine, Rayne had it all to himself for quite some time after Whipsnade’s arrival and so was able to watch as his guests flooded in. Some were friends, but not all. A few were journalists. A handful were pluggers for the record company. More than a handful were hangers on invited by the crew. In their midst he picked out the boy from the Apollo crowd as he stepped through from the bar area with a glass in his hand and made his way to a secluded table in the corner opposite Rayne’s perch.
Again, the sheer, simple beauty of the blond kid took his breath away. Not since his teens had he wanted someone this badly, and he lusted after the boy from the front row of the Apollo with a passion that left him dizzy.
At that precise moment, the kid set his glass down on the table and looked up around the balcony over his head with a quiet, self-possessed curiosity. As his eyes swept along the rails they met and locked with Rayne’s. A smile, as knowing and unexpected as it was welcome, left the singer with a song in his heart and a sizeable bulge in his pants.
The Whipsnade entourage had gathered around a group of tables on the balcony when Danny reached the upper level of the club. Watching the band members and their circle chatting and drinking as if nothing was more normal, Danny felt briefly like an outsider again. It was as if he was back at school, anxiously skirting around the older, more popular boys and their friends. It took him back to a time he thought he had left behind when he joined Zelarin’s coterie. These days he was above such things. Now he could look back at the behaviour of his peers from the classroom and laugh at the naivete of their posturing and posing.
At a nod from Rayne, he was admitted to their group without question. A lanky, expensively dressed young man with waist-length hair in every colour of blond, from the darkest honey through to nearly white, leaned across the table and pushed a bottle of champagne in his direction. With no glasses or cups in sight, Danny hesitated only briefly before picking up the magnum and swilling the contents from the neck. There was a ripple of appreciative applause as he set it down again, meeting their eyes defiantly. He noted some smiles, a couple of head-shakes. Finally, his gaze met the ice and lime stare of the object of his fascination; the reason he was here tonight. Rayne Wylde rolled his eyes dramatically and turned away, lighting a cigarette.
He was very beautiful, even up close. Danny had seen plenty of ‘Beautiful People’ in his time who did not pass muster without the aid of the make-up artist’s brush or the forgiving soft focus of the photographer’s lens. Wylde possessed an arrogant, schoolboyish prettiness, enhanced by those huge eyes and long lashes. Sitting here, less than a few feet away from his target, Daniel was also certain that this ‘was’ the star of the video he had watched in Zelarin’s club all those weeks ago. Rayne barely met anyone’s gaze directly, but he was conscious of every glance in his direction; Danny was sure of it. He watched the singer to the exclusion of just about everybody else. Each wryly-deprecating smile and shake of the head only convinced him more. The singer did not talk a great deal; he listened and he watched; his icy, lime-green gaze moving from face to face so rapidly that it was hard to follow. Danny made the singer his personal study, assimilating his every move and comment.
Rayne tapped his fingers frequently on his lean thigh, and Daniel Weston quickly learned that this was a sign that he was bored with the conversation. Not long afterwards, his gaze would move on to some new subject or another, more intriguing topic of conversation somewhere else. Danny could barely help but think that it would not take him long to asphyxiate on the dearth of intellect in this corner of the room.
The younger man allowed his attention to be diverted, ever so briefly, by the presence of the long-haired, spider-limbed youth in the chair adjacent to his own. Most of the clique surrounding Wylde and his immediate entourage, were fawning, giggling devotees, eager to draw attention to themselves. His neighbour seemed immune to all of this and sipped at a solitary bottle of pilsner, yawning occasionally as the hordes fought to win a glance, or a smile, or an acerbic comment from Rayne. As Danny looked him over properly for the first time, he realised that this was Whipsnade’s lead guitarist and Wylde’s co-writer, Sean Taylor-Courtney. Daniel thought that Sean could not be very much older than he was himself. He was surprisingly tiny and unprepossessing for a rock-star, and spent much of the evening trying to hide behind the fall of his dark-auburn hair, only emerging to take another swig from the beer bottle in front of him.
They began to talk almost to fill the space that seemed to exist around them. And that, it seemed, was the catalyst. Up until this moment, Rayne Wylde had been apparently content to ignore him and Danny was at a loss to find a way to get closer to the singer than he was already. He was on the verge of giving up, of going back to Zelarin and admitting – oh horror of horrors – that he had met his match; that he had found a man who did not automatically want to sleep with him. It chilled his blood to think about telling the Boss that he had been wrong. Zelarin was ‘never’ wrong; those who said that he was were invariably carrying out his instructions improperly.
Danny did not want to think too closely about what happened to those unfortunate individuals.
So he drank more champagne, talked about guitar music with Sean Courtney, and otherwise tried to pretend that he was just a normal kid, enjoying the night of his life. He was here, in the Boardwalk with Whipsnade, one of the UK’s most prominent rock bands. Hell, a mere five years ago he would never even have dreamed of this.
Rayne was feeling irritable. All night he had been waiting for the pretty, blond kid to make a move on him and nothing at all was happening. Now the Coke was wearing off and he was beginning to think that his judgement was slipping and he had played the boy wrong from the very start. Right now, the blond was ignoring him completely, which ruffled his feathers even more. On the kid’s right, Whipsnade’s own child prodigy was busy explaining instrumental progressions from tracks on ‘Silver Line Park’. Court’ was a musical genius, which, of course, Rayne Wylde and Simon Hathaway, his drummer and best friend, had recognised from the very start. Court’ could play any instrument you put in his hand or sat him in front of. At barely twenty, he was a natural musician with a flair for songwriting that occasionally left Rayne breathless. He had a real ear for a melody, but separated from his beloved crimson Stratocaster he was like a goldfish stranded outside its bowl.
Rayne could have coped with ‘all’ of his colleague’s prodigious talent unflinchingly, had it not been for that last factor. The kid’s inability - damn it, his downright ‘refusal’ - to blend in drove the older man to distraction. Music was Court’s whole life and he disapproved utterly of the old rock star cliché of sex, drugs and booze, which had always been a part of Whipsnade’s ethos. Sober, Rayne could just about tolerate him - and undeniably, Whipsnade needed him - but when Rayne started to get a little bit out of his head, as he was tonight, their relationship went from merely uncomfortable to downright precipitous.
“’’Ey! Court!” the singer barked now, prodding his guitarist hard under the table with the toe of one Cuban boot. “You’re a fuckin’ star, mate! Start behavin’ like one. The Chicken doesn’t want a fuckin’ masterclass, he wants to get stoned and get laid. Don’t you, sweetheart?”
This last comment he addressed directly to the blond boy, with a fierce, feral grin that showed off small, neat, white teeth. Court’ scowled through the tangle of his shaggy, russet-brown hair at him and the youngster looked quickly from one face to the other, his blue eyes wide and innocent. The kid liked Court’ okay, which was clear enough from his defensive expression, but the awed and astonished look on his pale, open features told the singer all that he needed to know. Since this evening at the Apollo, as he watched the boy getting off, Rayne Wylde had known precisely what he was interested in - and chord progressions had ‘nothing’ to do with it!
He was still staring intently at the boy when Court’ snapped back at him tetchily, breaking his concentration and inflaming his temper.
“That’s your trouble, Ray! If you can’t fuck it, or snort it or mainline it, it’s no fucking good to you, is it?”
Over on the next small table, Ciaran and Matty spluttered with ill-suppressed laughter at this exchange, both of them most definitely the worse for wear. Simon’s dark blue eyes flickered anxiously from the pair of them back to Rayne. The singer ignored them all and pushed himself to his feet with ice in his gaze, and in his heart. Whipsnade was ‘his’ band and he was damned if he would let anyone take the piss out of him tonight and get away with it.
“’Fuck’ you!” he barked, letting the edge in his voice cut through the general hubbub so that a small silence descended around their table. A humourless smile graced his lips at that. There ‘were’ some advantages to a trained singing voice after all. “Fuck the ‘lot’ of you!” he shrilled furiously, before storming off in the direction of the back stairs.
A brief pool of light illuminated the blackness of the stairwell when Daniel pushed through the doorway out onto the metal-floored landing. The Vampire had been poised to make his move but he froze in the shadows again whilst the child he recognised as one of Zelarin’s boys figured out that Wylde could not have gone far. Using the handrail as a guide, he trotted easily down the aluminium flight. The youngster quickly located the dejected figure of Whipsnade’s songwriter and vocalist. Rayne was sitting on the bottom step, his tousled head bent over the ripped knee of his snug-fitting black pants, dabbing at the grazed flesh beneath with tentative fingers, cursing and sniffing alternately.
Whilst he was still in motion, Jabez eased closer still. He could smell the minuscule droplets of Rayne’s blood over the tantalisingly sensual aroma of his hot, weary body. As the younger lad came to crouch beside him the Everman breathed in a mingled scent of sweat and smoke and whatever herbal concoction the little whore used on his ragged blond hair. Over all of that, the smell of blood set his mouth watering. Whatever was going on here, it would not avail him to interrupt now. He had spent over three hundred years evading Zelarin and he would not run the risk that this child might identify him to his former mentor.
Even so, it was hard to hold back when he was so close to the object of his desire. Rayne was hurt; drunk or drugged, he had missed his footing and tumbled down the final few steps in the darkness to land sprawled on the asphalt floor at the bottom of the stairs. Jabez itched to sweep from his hiding place and pick the singer up; to gently minister to his wounded knee as the boy was now doing.
The little blond had been visibly irritated when he came down here after the singer, but now, in such close proximity, he was solicitous and attentive as Whipsnade’s glamorous front-man turned his pale face upward helplessly. Searching fingers reached up to touch the boy’s cheek spotting his face with blood, and in that moment the lad understood instinctively what it was that he wanted. Tilting his head ever so slightly, he let Rayne’s fingers slip into his mouth, tasting the salty warmth of his blood tentatively. Jabez closed his eyes and clenched his jaws against the hunger that raged within him.