Indigo Ink Ch. 04byBelengo©
Author's Note: This is part four in a vampire erotica series - complete with all the tropes associated with that genre (mesmerism, blood, mild violence). If you are disturbed by these, please do not read further. This series is more story than sex, so if you're looking for a quick romp, this probably isn't for you.
Indigo Ink -- Part 4
Ink followed Sierra through the now familiar corridors, passing the defaced portrait of the young, aristocratic woman that Sierra had once been. The vampire didn't spare a glance for the painting. Ink, on the other hand, found it impossible to ignore. That girl is still in there somewhere. If I can find her, maybe I can save her. Sierra's intervention had saved Ink from being violated by Babineaux. She saved Delilah's life. Whatever else she may have done, Sierra deserved something for that -- even if it was just harboring hope for her. Around the corner from the painting, Sierra stopped outside the same room Ink had been led to the night before.
Sierra's expression was dark, glints of cruelty rekindled in her eyes. Whatever they had shared in the foyer was clearly over. "After you," she said, gesturing towards the closed door with mock civility.
Ink reached for the knob, drew in a deep breath, and crossed the threshold. As before, a single, bedside candle provided the room's only illumination. When she glanced back towards the vampire, Sierra gestured for her to continue. Ink was in the center of the room when she heard the clink of a rustling chain. The sound was coming from the bathroom, once again obscured by deep shadows. "Asha?" Ink asked, taking a tentative step towards the darkness. Suddenly, the metallic patter accelerated, accompanied by the slap of bare feet. Hands reached out of the darkness, grasping once for Ink's throat before the choking tether reached its limit and her own momentum jerked the rabid girl off her feet. Naked and bound by a metal collar, Asha hit the floor and rebounded instantly. Standing at the edge of the candlelight, Ink was mere inches out of the reach Asha's scrabbling hands.
"Fuck me," Ink blurted, retreating several steps. When it was clear that Asha could not reach her, the chained girl stood up and wrapped her arms around her stomach as though cramping. When Sierra came to stand beside Ink, Asha slunk back into the shadows. "What the..."
"Sometimes it's hard at first," Sierra said. "The thirst burns white hot and all you can think about is trying to stop the pain of it. She just needs to feed. Once she's slaked some of her appetite, she'll be able to think clearly. Until then, she'll try to eat anyone that comes within arm's reach. It doesn't matter who it is. Mother, daughter, lover. Anyone. Starve any of us long enough and we're no better. You have two questions left."
"You turned her," Ink said, comprehension finally dawning over the adrenaline-spiked rush of her thoughts. So, this was what Babineaux meant when she taunted Sierra about her 'little fledgling'. "Why did you do it?"
Sierra's tone was perfectly nonchalant. "You asked me to save her. This was the only way. She was too far gone. How is your hand?"
"What? Oh, it sucks. Your face is hard. I think I broke two fingers on it."
"Enough vampire blood can heal most injuries," Sierra explained. "Exsanguination, however, is a tricky thing. When a body has too little of its own blood, introducing ours results in a turning. I'll fix your hand when we're done for the night. Two down, one to go, Ink."
Ink's attention was abruptly divided between formulating her final question and trying to guess the significance -- if any -- of the vampire using her preferred name for the first time. Sierra is in my head in ways Babineaux could never manage. It wasn't precisely a comforting thought. The soft scrape of metal links in the darkness reclaimed Ink's full attention. "Asha?" she called to unseen girl. Sierra arched an eyebrow as if she was also curious as to how the fledging might respond.
The voice that called back was parched and frayed. "It burns," Asha rasped, drawing out the last word as though it were a knife being pulled from a wound.
"I'm sorry, Asha. Maybe I could..." Ink began.
"She'll kill you," Sierra interpreted, reading Ink's intentions. "Once she starts drinking, she won't stop and by now she's strong enough to impose her will on you."
She's baiting questions, Ink realized. She wants me to ask about their strength or why she hasn't fed Asha. "Good to know," she parried. "Sierra?"
Ink turned to face the elder vampire, deliberately making eye contact. There was bedlam in those immortal eyes, but there was humanity trapped somewhere in there as well -- Ink was certain of it now. Sierra had protected Ink, saved Delilah, and Asha too, albeit not as Ink had intended. "How do I kill a vampire?" Time ground to a crawl as the two women faced off. Sierra's expression cycled between sardonic amusement, scathing condescension, and something unreadable that Ink hoped was thoughtful consideration.
"Sunlight makes us weak and unable to heal. Eventually, it burns," Sierra said at last, her tone dry and academic. "Fire can kill us and is difficult to heal. Decapitation kills outright."
Briefly stunned by Sierra's candor, several moments passed before Ink found her voice. "So, normal stuff like guns are useless?"
"Not entirely. We are resilient, but not bulletproof. Healing consumes our strength, strength we replenish by feeding. If you do enough damage, you can exhaust our ability to regenerate making us considerably easier to immobilize for beheading or burning purposes."
"Stakes through the heart?"
"Are painful and apt to make us quite cross, assuming you're strong enough to punch through the ribcage."
"Makes us wet," Sierra replied, undermining her monotone delivery with a mischievous smile.
"How about..." A sudden realization brought Ink up short. I don't need to play her game anymore. Sierra watched her expectantly, like a teacher prepared to call upon a raised hand. Is this another test? Abruptly, Ink thought she understood. "I can't think of anything else," she admitted. "So I guess that brings us to my end of the deal."
"You forgot garlic," Sierra prompted.
"I guess I'll have to ask about that with one of tomorrow's questions." Sierra's eyes narrowed into suspicious slits. She doesn't think I'll come back. Maybe she doesn't want me to. Is she trying to protect me? "Unless, you're backing out of the deal? We never discussed any terms for that." For an instant, Sierra's carefully constructed masks slipped. The woman underneath was confused, insecure. She was wounded and desperate. Ink stepped into Sierra, wrapped her arms around the vampire, and kissed her tenderly. At first, Sierra simply stood there, stunned. Then, her arms returned the embrace, her lips found motion, and she kissed Ink was a passion that Ink had never known. The kiss was all-consuming, her embrace needful and longing. When their lips parted, Ink was flushed and breathless. Sierra blinked and hints of icy hardness began seeping back into her expression. "No," Ink said, resting her forehead against Sierra's. "Don't do that. You don't have to." She's afraid to be vulnerable. "Let's not torture Asha. Take me somewhere else and make my blood sing for you." When Sierra didn't move, Ink added, "Do you dare and do you dare?"
"I do," Sierra whispered. It was the voice of a long sleeping ghost remembering what it was like to live.
Taking Ink by her good hand, the vampire led her across the hall and into another bedroom. In a flurry of discarded garments, the two women stumbled toward the bed, kissing furiously. When Sierra bit her wrist and offered Ink the blood, Ink gently pushed it aside. "Not yet," she whispered. "I want this to be real." Sierra withdrew her hand and Ink began a sinking procession of kisses that culminated with the vampire's body arched and shuddering. When the last echoes of Sierra's climax sank into the warmth of afterglow, Ink kissed her way back to the vampire's mouth. "That's the first time I've ever done that," she confessed when their lips parted.
"Precocious," Sierra said, fondly. "Not bad for a beginner. I think, however, that you could use a few pointers."
Ink kissed her. "What deal will I have to make for that lesson?"
Dean Gamble handed the cell phone to his mistress, the text message still open on the screen.
"An address?" Lavinia asked.
"Yes, my lady," Dean replied. "It's an isolated estate several miles outside of the city." Despite having served Lavinia for nearly sixty years, Dean still had the youthful appearance of a man in his early twenties. Such were the benefits of a regular supply of vampiric blood. He still wore his hair back, in the style of the fifties, but his suit was modern and professional. He had the kind of baby-face that drew women to him, but the distance in his green eyes bore witness to the things he had seen and done in the service of his immortal masters. For over half a century he had been Lavinia's daytime runner, her bodyguard, and her friend. When necessary, however, he also served as an assassin for House Julian.
Lavinia glanced back down to the cell phone. The sleek device made her feel unbearably ancient. She could manage its most rudimentary functions -- making calls, sending texts -- but the rest remained a mystery to her. As it was, she typically entrusted the device to her servant's care. That's where it had been when the text arrived in the middle of the afternoon. "I do not recognize the phone number. Should I?"
"It's registered to Indigo Paige."
"Ink?" Lavinia looked up from the phone, startled. The girl had gone missing a week ago, her apartment ransacked. The words 'Julian Cunt' -- a pejorative clearly meant for Lavinia -- had been smeared on the living room wall in human blood. The macabre scene had Benjamin Alquist's name written all over it. Was he really foolish enough to provoke the wrath of House Julian just to avenge the perceived slights of a single night? Lavinia couldn't rule it out. Benjamin, a strong-arm for House Barcid, was a notoriously sadistic and petty creature. But was he willing to face the justice of the court? The law was clear -- those who have been claimed are sacrosanct, none may slay one that has been claimed. The Sanguine Court seldom deviated from their standard punishment for those who violated their laws. Would Benjamin be willing to risk a slow, torturous death by sunlight just to kill a human girl? No, that was unlikely, even for him.
Any hope that Ink had been the one that sent the text was stillborn. The girl wouldn't have known Lavinia's cell number. Even if Ink had somehow discovered it and gotten to her phone, would she have sent such a cryptic missive? The address in the text, 18 Adlington Place, had been properly capitalized -- hardly suggestive of a message sent in haste. Those who trespass uninvited into another's haven do so at their own peril. That was also law. "So, it's a trap," Lavinia sighed in bitter resignation.
"I should think so," Dean answered. "Shall I investigate?"
Ink awoke alone in the downy embrace of a warm bed. She might have contentedly lingered there, but the aroma of food coaxed her out from under the covers. With uninjured hands, Ink slid the breakfast tray off of the nightstand and onto her lap. The food was arranged and covered in a room service fashion. Beneath the metal lids, she found freshly cooked bacon, sausage, biscuits, and eggs. After a moment of herculean restraint spent to savor the aroma, Ink attacked. After days of nothing but microwavable junk, eating real food was neigh orgasmic. She hardly paused to breathe. When every last crumb had been mercilessly devoured, she returned the tray to the nightstand and went to the adjoining bathroom. Toiletries that had not been there the night before, now sat neatly arranged for her use. Her clothes were missing but Sierra's crochet dress hung on the back of the door. Ink ran a hand down its perforated length with a sigh. She wore this the night we met. How had that become a fond memory? Her emotions were a restless collection of inconsistences. They followed Ink into the shower like a buzzing swarm.
One night. One terrifying, surreal night. That was all she had with Lavinia. The memory of their time together was a bruise on Ink's heart, tender and aching. Would the hours she'd spent last night in Sierra's arms become another one? Felicity's death left little room for fresh wounds. The hot water washed the previous night from her skin, but her conscience wasn't so easily cleansed. I don't want to feel guilty. Why should she? Had Lavinia promised her anything other than forever? Could Ink even have feelings for someone like Sierra? Who knew how many lives her volatile instability had claimed? How could she make love to a killer? We aren't human, Ink, but we don't have to be monsters. As far as Ink could tell, Lavinia was the only vampire that wasn't one. Did she really think she could fix something as broken as Sierra? Was she really willing to risk herself in the attempt? She got out of the shower, dried off, brushed her teeth, and put on the crochet dress. The girl in the mirror looked darkly alluring and a little frayed around the edges. Must be the dress, she mused.
When Ink stepped out into the corridor, a handler was there waiting for her. Bald, broad shouldered, and serious, the brute towered over her. His arms were thicker than her head. His hands seemed more suited to bludgeoning than touching. He was the kind of man that was accustomed to making people feel uncomfortable and, unlike most handlers, he had a sidearm. Ink was eyeing the pistol holstered at his hip when he spoke. "My name is Terry," he said by way of greeting. His voice was a deep, imposing rumble of disapproval. "I'll be escorting you anywhere you go." Ink waited for him to tell her where to go. After several moments of silence, she realized that he was waiting on her.
"Can I go anywhere I want?" she asked.
Terry shook his head. "If you try to go somewhere that you're not allowed, I'll stop you."
"You and what army, Terry?" Ink taunted, feminizing the sound of his name. She'd been tortured by psychopaths. She'd made love with a madwoman. A bouncer was not about to intimidate her, gun or no. Without waiting for a response, she headed for the stairs -- pausing briefly to touch the portrait of Sierra. "We dare," she whispered to the canvas. Once downstairs, she began exploring in earnest. What she found was primarily mundane. Aside from Babineaux's red leather room and a library - populated in equal parts by books and suits of antique armor -- there was nothing remarkable. Knives in the kitchen and swords in the library. It wasn't much, but it was a start. The second floor was dedicated to bedrooms, of which there were roughly a dozen -- including the one Ink had awoken in and the one presumably occupied by Asha. It wasn't until Ink tried to climb the stairs to the third floor that Terry spoke up.
"No," he said simply.
"No?" Ink asked, hedging for time as she peered up into the unknown. I bet I could outrun him.
As if sensing her thoughts, Terry drew closer and put a heavy hand on Ink's shoulder. "No. Third floor's off limits." When Ink asked why, the question seemed to surprise him. "They give the orders. I follow them. I don't ask why."
"I bet you don't," Ink retorted. "Probably makes it easier for you to sleep at night. You sleep well, Terry?" The grasp on Ink's shoulder tightened. That struck a chord. "I mean, after a hard day's work of facilitating addiction, rape, and murder, it must be nice to just not think about things. Am I right?"
"You don't know anything about me," Terry snapped. Ink's expression was a study in condescending incredulity. "I don't have to explain myself to you. You're just Sierra's latest pet to get a sleepover. You think you're the first?" His single bark of derisive laughter was a slap to Ink's face. "When she gets bored or distracted, you'll be lucky if you wind up back at the mansion. The rest end up in the incinerator. I know. I've cleaned up enough of them."
"It's different this time," Ink protested. The words had come so fiercely to her lips, but once there, they withered. The anger fell away from Terry's expression, eclipsed by what looked like genuine pity. That was the worst part, his sympathetic expression -- his 'you poor thing' eyes. It was different. He just doesn't understand.
Terry shrugged, an unconvincing concession -- the kind given you've reached an impasse. "Maybe you're right," he said in a 'you poor thing' voice. Ink pulled free from his grasp and retreated downstairs. She didn't stop until she reached the front door.
A light drizzle was falling as she walked back to the mansion. Set against a backdrop of stormy gray, the crumbling building looked like something Edgar Allen Poe might have envisioned -- melancholy and foreboding. Ink approached it slowly, allowing the misty air to dampen her face. This was the first time she'd made the walk between houses during the daytime. The light revealed much that the night obscured. Worn paths in the overgrowth indicated the preferred paths of the guards. Ink scanned the upper floors and roofs for lookouts -- two, atop the mansion, both armed with rifles. She made note of the carriage house -- an adjacent, two story building converted into apartments for the handlers. Ink could just make out the front edge of a utility van parked along its far side. So, all I need to do is kill the vampires, avoid the snipers, and spontaneously learn how to hotwire a van. Piece of cake.
Delilah was on the floor when Ink found her. Soiled and unconscious, she was laying as near to backdoor as the handlers permitted. An empty vodka bottle stood watch over her. She waited for me, Ink realized. Only, I didn't come back. It wasn't hard to imagine what conclusions Delilah might have drawn from that. "It's okay," Ink whispered. "I'm back." When sitting her up failed to wake Delilah, Ink carried the comatose girl to an upstairs bathroom. Terry, who did nothing to help, was polite enough to wait in the hallway as Ink undressed Delilah and slid her into the bathtub.
"Huh?" Delilah groaned as the water roused her.
"It's okay, Delilah. I'm here now," Ink said as she ran a hand through the girl's dirty hair.
"Ally?" Delilah muttered, reaching out to touch the crochet dress. Ally -- the girl who'd taken Delilah in when she first came to the mansion. She too had been one of Sierra's favorites. The rest end up in the incinerator. Ink pushed the thought away.
"No, it's me..." Ink said, but the slurring girl talked over her.
"She let you wear her favorite dress again," Delilah's smiled drunkenly. "I know how happy that makes you." The words were ice in Ink's veins. She tried to speak, to correct Delilah's case of mistaken identity, but no words came out. Her mouth was too dry, her tongue too clumsy. A swimming knot of doubt formed in her stomach. "Ally?"
"Yeah," Ink said, forcing the word out. It was easier than trying to reconnect Delilah to reality.
Whatever Delilah had wanted to say to her old friend remained unspoken, lost to the unintelligible depths of her intoxication. By the time Ink finished bathing her and had her wrapped up in a makeshift, towel toga, Delilah had slipped back into unconsciousness. "Let's get you to a mattress and then I'll see about finding some clothes for you," Ink said, mostly for her own benefit. "It's a good thing you're so damn tiny," she complained, heaving the girl. When she fumbled the door open, Terry was waiting on the other side.