The Crimson King Ch. 04byvelvetpie©
Sonny Frangipone lit his cherry cream cigar and shoved the cigarette lighter back into its nesting place, drawing deeply on the smoke. Mingled flavors of his mother's famous cookies swirled into his nasal cavity, whisking him from the inside of a smoke-ridden and dent-damaged SS Super Sport to the table in Madonna's kitchen.
Maddie Frangipone was well-known in the neighborhood for her Cherry Crème cookies and sold huge batches of them to stores and neighbors alike when he was a kid. Every night, she came home from work and started filling orders, making the dough, baking the cookies and packaging the finished product. And every night, he could eat as many cookies as he could hold while basking in the warmth of her attention.
That was why Sonny smoked cherry cream cigars. That was not why Sonny was waiting to kill a woman.
The central library towered above the empty street, a few cars hugging the chilly concrete curb as the rest of humanity flooded by. He had seen several people enter and depart and had even left the comfort of the car to take a leisurely walk through the building, noting that the target in question was on the main floor, her coil of red-gold curls mussed and her gorgeous face focused intently on a yellow lined legal pad. His dick hardened instantly. He had known that Sammi Glass was beautiful but up close and in civilian clothes, she was a knockout. He thought about fucking her before plugging her. It would be so sweet!
The library's door opened and Sammi came out, pulling a thick zippered sweater close as she carefully navigated the steps. She looked around, as if expecting someone, then sat down on the flat stone rail, pulling her cell phone out and making a call. Time to grab her.
The phone rang three times before a young voice answered. "Hello?"
"Hi, Mare. How are you?"
"Glad to hear it. You need anything?"
"No. Leon brought me some food this morning. Otherwise, I'm good."
"Fantastic. Anyone you don't know come by?"
"When are you gonna come by?"
"Tomorrow afternoon. That okay?"
"Yeah. I just miss … "
"A little girl talk."
"Aw, Mare. That's cool. I'll see you tomorrow then. Okay?"
Sammi didn't hear the man approach. All she felt was her cell phone being ripped out of her hand and a pair of angry eyes glaring at her. "Hey!"
"The incomparable Sammi Glass." Sonny hissed, pinning her arms close to her body and pulling her against him. "You're much prettier in person."
"Let me go!"
"Where's the girl?"
"Don't play stupid with me, cunt!" Sonny wrenched her arm backward, drawing a sharp cry of pain from Sammi. "Let me refresh your memory. The girl, Mary. The Mayor's concubine."
"I don't know … "
"Give me the information, you fucking whore, or you'll take her place."
"Let me go!"
The words had scarcely left Sammi's lips when she was thrown to the ground and the man was whisked into the stratosphere. Shaken, she fell to the pavement, bloodying her knees and sobbing in pain as she grabbed her fallen cell phone.
"Sammi!" Thorne plucked Sammi from the ground, anguished at the pain he felt radiating from her and quickly carried her to her car. "Are you okay?"
Tears jeweled her thick eyelashes. "Yes, but my knees hurt."
Thorne pushed her skirt up and flinched from the sight of her crimson blood, dripping down her legs. "You're bleeding."
Sammi heard the constriction in his voice and felt her insides quiver with fear. It's the blood he desires. It was a simple enough answer but it wasn't the one that satisfied her question. She dipped a finger into the escaping blood and held it out to him. His features darkened, his nostrils flaring and his canines slipping down into position.
"Stop." His voice was thin, fragile. "You don't know what you offer me."
"Yes, I do." Her buttery voice flooded his senses. "Lick it."
Unable to fight his instincts, Thorne leaned forward and let his tongue lash her finger. The blood droplets scattered over his tongue and into his mouth, setting his bloodlust on fire. He cleaned her offered digit, then dropped to his knees, enjoying the metallic scent of her life essence. His spine shuddered, making his body quiver.
"Go ahead, Thorne. Lick them."
He was afraid to give himself over to his bloodlust. What would happen if he couldn't stop? "Sammi, I might not be able to stop."
"I trust you, Thorne."
I trust you. He'd never heard those words before. At least not from a human and it shook him to the bone. How could she trust him, a vampire? He couldn't even trust himself. He felt her hands on the sides of his head and he was moving closer, closer, closer … yes! The glorious richness of Sammi's blood was cascading over his tongue and he shook with the onset of his bloodlust. She was so pure, so clean that his mind sang with the taste of her. He swabbed the long drips on her calves and attached his mouth to her wounds, sucking all that he could and shivering with need.
Her words quickly brought him back to reality and he raised his blood-red eyes to her, his fangs fully down. He was surprised to not see fear in her eyes. "You're not scared of me?"
Of course, she was scared. She was downright petrified. But she forced herself to remain calm. "No." She couldn't know but her trust was the greatest gift she could have given him. She arose slowly, her legs still sore and gave him a smile. "Now, are you still taking me to dinner?"
"Absolutely." Thorne took her hand, pressing a tender kiss to the soft back. "Shall we?"
"Good morning, Thorne." The housekeeper was patiently waiting in the shadows, concern written on his withered features.
"Good morning, Pieter. What are you still doing up?"
"Waiting for you."
Thorne grinned, picked Pieter up and swung him around, howling with glee. "Oh, Pieter. She's so beautiful!"
"Sammi. My beautiful Sammi." Pieter prepared tea for them as Thorne recounted his meetings with her and listened to what the words didn't say. And he was very astonished to find that Thorne was … happy. "We're going to dinner again tonight."
The older man set his cup down and chose his words carefully before speaking. "Is that wise?"
The smile on Thorne's face faltered, the edges drooping. "Why wouldn't it be?"
"She's a mortal."
"That never stopped us before."
"No, it hasn't, but you had a hard time with the death of your last wife."
Alena. The grief from her death had finally started to lessen when he'd met Sammi and until now, he'd conveniently forgotten it. Now, the stark hand of sorrow squeezed his heart and for a long moment, he gave into the dark feelings that had immersed his heart for so long. "I remember, Pieter." Thorne took a contemplative sip of his tea. "But that was eighty-two years ago and I have not had a mate since."
"You don't count the ones you took to your bed?"
"No. They were merely … entertainment. This one … this one has captured my heart like no other has." His eyes gleamed as he turned to Pieter. "In all these years, all these women … it's as if we're soulmates."
"I remind you once again that she's a mortal."
"That could be taken care of."
Pieter turned to glare at the young man. "You expect her to choose to our life?"
"Thorne, we consort with the night and drink the dregs of life's existence. What beautiful woman would agree to give up the beauty of the sun to slink about in the shadows?"
"A woman who loved me."
"And Camille, Zora, Bonnie, Miriam and Alena didn't love you?"
"No, Pieter, they loved me." Thorne reflected on each of the women. "Maybe it was I that didn't love them. Maybe they were only conveniences, a faithful embrace, a meaningful release. But it's different with Sammi."
"Did you decide this after you tasted her pussy?" Pieter chuckled in his cup at the look on Thorne's face. "The scent of a sweet pussy is not easily covered up."
"No, I didn't make my decision after tasting her. I made it long before that." Thorne faced the old man, setting his cup down. "If she chooses our world, would you help us make a life together?"
Pieter set his cup down, laying a thick, gnarled hand against the young man's face. "Thorne, I have been with you for five hundred years and I have taken care of you and served you without question. Do you remember what you told me after you made me?"
"You said that you'd seen me with the children in the park and you wanted a father like me." He picked his cup back up, draining the tepid liquid. "And I have tried to be that father to you. Do you think I would stop now?"
"Now, it's time to retire."
Thorne swallowed the last of his cold tea and gave Pieter an impulsive kiss on the cheek before ascending the stairs. On the outside, he was happy, but on the inside, his mind was working in overdrive, trying to figure out a way to ask his lovely girl if she wanted to become a vampire.
"Reporting live, Sammi Glass, Channel 5, Eyewitness News."
"And we're out." Leon took the camera from his shoulder and gave her the ‘okay' sign. "Good job, Sam."
"Thanks, Leon." She handed him the wireless pack and pulled the lavaliere loose. "Hey, and thanks for taking care of Mary. She told me that you've been coming by to see her."
"She's a sweet girl in a bad circumstance." Leon shoved the news van's side door open and began reloading the equipment. "I hate to think of her being alone and facing all this."
"You're very sweet, Leon."
He chuckled, smiling at her. "And what about you?"
"What about me?"
"Late night dinner last night … "
Sammi couldn't help but smile, her thoughts filled with Thorne. Her nipples hardened at the remembrance of their last kiss, her body shivering at the touch of his hands on her skin. Dinner was just a dream. She'd eaten teriyaki salmon while he dined on a very rare Delmonico steak but she didn't seem to remember how it tasted. All she could think about was him: the way he looked at her with his soft eyes, the way his mouth fitted perfectly to hers, the heat of his hands through the fabric of her dress.
"Well, a girl has to eat, doesn't she?"
"Mmm-hmm." Leon opened the door and let her slide in, then moved around the other side of the van, getting into the driver's side. "What's his name?"
"Thorne? What is he, a soap opera actor?"
Sammi laughed. "Why would you say that?"
"Because that's a soap opera name if I ever heard one!" Leon started the van and navigated out of the parking lot, heading toward the freeway and back to the office. "But seriously, what do you think about Mary?"
"I think she's a nice girl with a long road ahead of her. She hasn't been clean that long so there's a chance that she could relapse. She hasn't finished her high school education so she's not as intelligent as she should be. And then, there's the question of the baby and its parentage."
Sammi laid a gentle hand on her cameraman's shoulder. "There's nothing that she couldn't work through with your love and help, though. She'll need a strong shoulder when she deals with Chambliss and I think you could help her with that."
"What does she think about you?"
The question had barely left Sammi's mouth when the van took a sickening lurch. The seatbelt bore most of the brunt of the sudden motion but that didn't make her feel better. Her mouth went dry when she saw the expression on Leon's face and the fact that he was stamping on the car's floorboard.
He nodded wildly. No. "No brakes, Sammi!"
An involuntary scream left Sammi's throat as the van bumped over a curb, then wavered on three wheels, fighting to keep tread kissing pavement. Leon's arms bulged with the effort and his smooth cinnamon skin erupted with nervous sweat and his desperate eyes met hers. The other tire met tarmac and all squealed as the vehicle righted itself, dealing a glancing blow to an unsuspecting guardrail.
Sammi fought the urge to vomit as fear twisted her innards. The headlights played on the black road, picking up the rhythm of the center stripes, weaving between them like a drunken seamstress' needle in a hem. Leon grasped the steering wheel in a death grip, trying to wrestle the one ton van into submission, despite the speed. By the way the van rocked side to side, it was evident that he was losing the fight.
"Hang on, Sammi!" A wide swath of silver metal was approaching fast and Leon knew that he wouldn't be able to turn the van. The curve was too sharp and they were traveling too fast. "Hang on!"
There was a loud crash, the gut-wrenching sound of metal shredding and then silence as the mangled van became airborne, soaring over a glistening surf-washed cliff face, then descending downward in a graceful arc, headed for the murky embrace of the glassy sea.