Tonight, Iíve been playing this dangerous game with myself.

How long can I go before my Tiger drives me insane?

†I never win. The Tiger always does.

Iíve played this game on and off for the past eleven months. Any time I wake up alone.

I keep thinking that if I wait long enough, the craving will go away, but it never does. Then Iím left with the decision of either buying some time by drinking Rotgut, a mixture of wine, herbs and juice, or getting the real thing.

Sometimes I choose to drink Rotgut. I have to drink it again later on that night, and it makes me feel unsatisfied, but at least I havenít killed anyone.

But not tonight.† Tonight I was gonna kill someone. As horrible as it sounded, even to me, I wanted to kill someone. And I knew just where to go, too.

Saying that Dirty Trick Park was not one of my favorite places to hunt was a big understatement. The quality sucked, and the chances of finding anything halfway decent were next to none. But if I needed fast and quick, there was nowhere better.

When I hunted with Angelo, I did things his way, which was to play the game of seduce, fuck and kill. Call me a ìsocial drinker.î When I was on my own, I didn't bother. Which was why I went to Dirty Trick Park when I was drinking alone.

So thatís what I did. Found some fucker that managed to fit under the categories of "mostly healthy" and "not junked up." Not quite clean but it beat starving.

Iíd already cut into his wrist with my switchblade, to hide the mark I left ñ no way was I putting my mouth on that filthy neck, and fuck anywhere else ñ and now I was admiring my handiwork. Not bad, if I did say so myself. As long as some WASP cop thought it was just a basic mugging gone horribly wrong, that was all I was concerned about. Of course, if a Believer of Truth happened across this empty, theyíd know better, but in that case, it wouldn't matter how much I prettied this kill up.

I doubted one would, though.† Iíd been using this place for a long time and I'd yet to see one.

Naturally, if this was a mugging, that meant I had to relieve the man of his wallet or any other belongings he might have. I flipped him on to his back. Then I ignored how my skin crawled and tried not to toss my cookies as I reached inside his front pocket.

Angelo wasn't just kidding when he said that being choosy was a luxury.

I dug out the wallet and looked through it. A lousy credit note. I wasn't surprised; it was obvious the guy was homeless. Still, a credit note was a credit note. I shoved it into my own front pocket, then put away the switchblade.

I did a quick look see and saw that there was nothing else of any value. He wasn't dead yet but by the time I left here he would be. In the meantime, Iíd just leave his body lying where I left it.

I wiped off my mouth with the back of my hand. From the back I could have been a fifty credit a night whore, wiping off his mouth from a quick encounter. I could feel that my cheeks were rosy, and would be until I used this up. Most likely, my eyes were bloodshot too. Too bad I wasn't as wasted as I looked. Because I was in such a hurry, this kill had been as bland as they came. No sugar. No spice. Nothing.

Iíd done what I came here to do so I walked towards the park entrance. I was nearly out of the park grounds before I discovered that I was being watched.

For a moment I panicked, wondering if someone had actually seen me in the act. Then I regained my senses and remembered that I could easily fix that problem...

No. One death tonight was enough.

Because I could move faster than Norm eyes could see, it wasn't too hard to quickly turn around and see who was going the gawking.

The boy couldn't have been much older than I was; sixteen, seventeen at the most. Dark-haired with almost feline beauty, he either had to have had eye implants or some kind of other mod because Iíd never seen any eyes like them. Yellow. Yellow with large black pupils. No whites at all. Eyes more like an animalís than like a humanís.

Iíd thought my clear green eyes that were nearly transparent were weird, but he had me beat.

I walked out of the park and he followed me. I couldíve Shadowdanced and easily lost him, but there was something about the way he was sizing me up that really pissed me off. Not so long ago, Iíd seen that same look in Flinís eyes.

Fresh meat.

This kid was either recruiting for a Keeper or he was a poacher for the slave market. Either way, he was a predator scoping out easy prey. That was why heíd been appraising me, checking for any possible blemish that might drive down the asking price.

Son of a bitch!

He was a pro, being oh so discreet about his scrutiny. So subtle that it was almost imperceptible.

But not to me.

I felt my lips twist into a ghost of a smile, deciding that maybe I could deal with another death tonight after all. If he wanted to play, Iíd play. He hadn't approached me yet, so I decided to lead him to the one place where I knew Iíd have the advantage.

The Nocturne.

Every once in a while Iíd sneak a peak over my shoulder to see if heíd given up. But he never did. He followed me all the way to the Nocturne, even down the stairs to where the bouncer was working the door.

The bouncer was a Stalker: someone whoíd been a Norm before he was Changed. All of the bouncers were Stalkers. He knew me, but he probably wouldn't let my new friend in. That could throw a wrench into things. I didn't need that. He and I would need to have a little chat.

I Nightspoke so Yellow Eyes wouldn't hear me. (Don't give the boy a hard time.)

(Something ain't right about him,) the bouncer muttered.

(I know. Let him in anyway.)

The bouncer glared at me. (Fine. He causes any problem, Iím telling the master that its your fault.)

(Don't worry. Ill take care of him.) Or if not me, someone else would, but I wasn't gonna mention that.)

I went through the door and purposely walked slowly enough to be followed. I made my way through the throng of bodies, til I reached the back of the club. Then I waited for him to approach me.

I didn't have to wait very long. "Hey Pretty," he said in a hoarse voice, "Are you with anyone tonight?"

He sure got down to business real quick. For some reason I respected that. I flashed him a provocative grin. "I am now."

He drew closer and it took everything inside me not to recoil in horror. Not because of anything he actually did, or even what I knew he was planning to do once he got me alone. It was more because I was getting this undercurrent from him that was all too familiar. Even his scent was driving me crazy. I was already hot and bothered from juicing, but just being near him was enough to make my cock harden.

It was as if I was in heat. Or around another Sangsue.

I was even feeling that same magnetic pull; my blood was reacting to his blood. No doubt about it. Could he be a Sleeper? He felt enough like one to make me think so, but different enough to make me wonder. I didn't know whether I wanted to kill him or fuck him.

I managed to regain my composure. "You wanna dance?" I asked, figuring that the more people's scents around to distract me, the better. Then maybe I could figure out what I was gonna do with this boy.

"Why not?" He took my hand and I let him lead me onto the dance floor.

His movements were sure and sensual; his dancing more of a bump and grind, and his eyes flitted up and down my body.† "They say you can tell how someone is in bed by how good they dance." He gave me a sly smile. "In your case, I can tell it's not just a rumor."

I laughed. "What makes you so sure I'll even let you into my bed?"

His finger traced along my bottom lip. "Call it a hunch."

I held his fingers and kissed them. "You're probably right."

"I'm Radu. And you are?"

For some reason I gave him my Truename, one I rarely ever used. "Jacques."

"Jacques," he murmured, "There is no way that someone as enticing as you doesn't have someone else, but I'll settle for tonight."† Then he kissed me and I tried not to melt all over the floor.

It wasn't even a deep kiss. Just his mouth brushing against mine made sparks fly. I had no idea what his true intentions were, but as long as I got some nooky out of it, I didn't care anymore. "I've got a room upstairs." I cocked my head towards where we'd been before. "C'mon."

Once we reached the back wall, I stamped hard on the floor, triggering the wall to swing around and reveal the steps leading to where the Nightchildren crashed.

"I didn't know that the Nocturne rented out rooms," Radu remarked.

I took the key out of my pocket. "They don't," was all I said before turning the key in the lock and opening the door.

We walked inside and I shut the door behind us.

Radu pulled me against his body, kissing me deeply as his rolled his hips into mine. He tasted of beer hops and clove cigarettes, and his tongue seemed to vibrate in my mouth. My knees turned to jelly and we fell to the floor.

All of the sudden, a voice mocked, (Well, well well, isn't this sweet? What the fuck do you think you're doing?)

Angelo? The door locked from the inside so he had to have passed through it. The bastard. He fucked around on me all the time and he was gonna stop me? The hell he was!

Radu jumped from me as if he'd been burned and gave Angelo an icy look. "Have you nothing better to do, Argyra?"

There was something funny going on. Angelo's muscles were tensed for the kill and his hackles were way up. And his eyes were smoldering red coals, the Tiger was free and he was this close to going feral. (I can ask the same of you, Ionescu.) Angelo pronounced the last word "Yon-es-kew." Three syllables, with the third syllable almost spat.

I recognized the word but I couldn't remember from where. Then I realized that Angelo hadn't used Normspeech at all since he barged in here. And Radu heard him.

He smiled at me. "I see I was right. You do have someone else."

I glared at Angelo. "Who is leaving."

Angelo ignored me and I became aware of the fact that this wasn't just his jealousy. (This is our territory,) he snarled at Radu. (Not yours.)

Radu laughed. "And who proclaimed this? Ardoin Baptiste is your master. Not mine."

I shivered because I suddenly remembered where I'd heard the word. It wasn't a word, it was a name. Ionescu. Clan Ionescu. Radu was a Shifter.

Now everything made sense. Sangsue and Shifters were originally one race, the Efjeli. Gradually, they evolved into the two separate races that they are now. Sangsue, the blood drinkers who lived alongside Man, and Shifters, the flesh eaters who let the Tiger within them take over completely. Unlike Sangsue, the Shifters never interbred. And they were only one clan. Clan Ionescu.

The eyes. Those wolf's eyes should have tipped me off right away.

Angelo sighed. (Let's take this outside the room, Radu.)

Okay, they did know each other. Something told me that they were more than just casual acquaintances.

I figured Radu would tell him to go to hell.

I was wrong. "If you like. Jacques doesn't need to hear it."

(My room, then?)

Radu laughed. "It wouldn't be the first time, would it?"

Oh yeah, the looks they were throwing each other were practically combustible. Mutual hatred and desire.

The Shifter may've been able to hear Nightspeech but there was another way for me to talk to Angelo that Radu wouldn't even be aware of. Angelo and I had a bloodbond. I yanked it. Hard. - What gives, Angel Boy? 

To my shock, apprehension leaked through the bond before he could stop it. - Drop it, - he warned. - Now! -

Then he abruptly cut off contact before I could say another word.

Now I was really suspicious. Angelo was definitely hiding something. Then again, he always was.

Radu got up from the floor and threw me an apologetic smile. "We'll continue this when I get back."

I snorted. (Like you're coming back,) I Nightspoke, not bothering with Normspeech anymore. (Spare me.)

"Oh, I fully intend to come back. I'll even leave collateral."Radu pulled his shirt over his head, then threw the shirt on the bed. Almost reflexively, my eyes flew to his shirtless chest. Excellent abs and pecs. Nicely muscled chest. Too bad I wasn't gonna gain more carnal knowledge of that body.

I got off the floor, went over to the bed and threw the shirt back at him. (Don't even bother. I'd say go fuck yourself but it looks like someone else will be doing it for you.)

Radu glanced at Angelo, then at me. Then he let out a laugh that chilled me to the bone. "It looks like this bastard of yours has a mind of his own, Angelo. He might even have been worth a tumble. You wouldn't care so much about him otherwise."

"Enough!" Angelo hissed through bared fangs. He opened the door, then reopened the bond. -cTrust me. You'll be happy I stopped you, kaloz mou. -

I already was but I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of being right. - Oh? He was good enough for you. -

Angelo refused to rise to the bait. ( And you're too good for him, ) he said before the two of them walked out the door, slamming it behind them.

We were still connected so I looked through Angelo's eyes as they continued their argument. I knew better than to do anything but watch them because Angelo would feel it the second I poked around his mind for the answers I wanted.

They didn't even make it to Angelo's room before Angelo grabbed Radu and pinned him against the wall. His voice was deceptively soft. (You know you're not supposed to be here. I should kick your odogi ass back to the Old Country.)

"Segfey," Radu growled. "Unless you want your throat torn out, you'll let go of me."

(Go chase your tail,) Angelo retorted, but he let go of Radu anyway.

Radu snorted. "From what I remember, I wasn't the one chasing it." Then he grinned. "And your szereto knows it. That's why he reacted the way he did."

(He'd have done even worse if he knew what you really wanted with him.)

"Really? You see that I'm shaking, Angelo."

Angelo laughed. (Did it ever occur to your arrogant little mind that my amant was gaming you? And that he'd kill you the second you tried anything funny?)

The Efjeli, either Sangsue or Shifter, didn't have marriages or spouses. They had mates.An amant, was the highest form of this. It was the equivalent of being a mate for life. Angelo had called me his amant. I was Angelo's amant.

I was in shock.

"That pretty plaything of yours?" Radu sneered. "He wouldn't have had the chance."

(You're obviously thinking with your dick, but then again, you're odogi. If you were thinking with your brain, you'd have looked past that pretty face and listened to your instincts.)

Radu snorted. "You mean the fact that he's Sangsue? He's a child who couldn't even sense what I was. I highly doubt that he'd be the threat you imply he is."

(Then you didn't look hard enough. He's not just Sangsue.Ardoin may not be your "master," but are you willing to take a chance with his nephew?)

For the first time Radu looked worried. "His nephew?"

(Yeah, his nephew, who could easily have you offering your neck before you're even aware of it.)

"He doesn't have it in him," Radu insisted, but he didn't sound as if he believed it.

Angelo shook his head. (Believe what you like.In the meantime, I must bid you adieu.) He lifted Radu's hand to his lips and brushed them against the back of it. (Can I trust you not to do your hunting until after you've left the club?)

Radu smiled. "Perhaps. And perhaps not."

(I thought as much. Just make sure you leave nothing behind.)

"Until the next time we meet." Radu kissed Angelo's mouth hard. Then he walked back down the hall.

Angelo waited until Radu was gone. Then he tweaked the bond. ) Are you satisfied, Weasel?-

So he did remember I was there. It figured. ( No. I still don't know what was going on. )

-If you must know, I'll come in and tell you. - Angelo broke contact and came in a seconds later.

He took me into his arms, and despite my anger, I melted. Angelo buried his face in my hair, then nuzzled the nape of my neck. (You have no idea of the danger you were in.)


Angelo took a deep breath he didn't need and faced me. (Weasel, it was no accident that Radu found you. Knowing him, he was probably looking for you.)

(So? What was he gonna do, Angel Boy? Rape me?)

(Try, eat you.)

I stared at him. (You've got to be kidding! He knew I was a juicer.)

(That's right.)

I broke into a cold sweat as the words sunk in. (He eats Sangsue?)

(More than likely he didn't know you were Sangsue, but I doubt it mattered much to him. He saw you, then waited until you'd fed so you'd be warm and juicy. That's what Radu does.)

I was the pickup. The prey. (Was that all he wanted?)

(Oh I'm sure he wanted to bed you, too. But only for dominance, Weasel.)

I made a face. (That kink has never been my thing.)

Angelo laughed. (I don't mean bondage, or even sadomasochism. I mean dominance and submission. It's the same thing Sangsue do, only with Shifters, it's all physical. Instead of overpowering you with his will, the Shifter way is to physically overpower you. So in answer to your first question, yes, he'd rape you first. Then he'd eat you.)


(But if you managed to beat Radu, then you'd gain his respect. That was what he meant by you'd be "worth a tumble.")

(I take it he already decided you were.)

He shrugged, disregarding my sarcasm. (Radu did the same thing he did to you, only when he tried to rape me, I jumped him. I'd say it was a draw.)

Yeah, I suppose the Shifter didn't expect to have his body possessed just long enough for all his sexual energy to be drained from it. (So you didn't kill him, he didn't kill you. Then what?)

(Then, nothing. Neither of us were in any shape for it. The energy I took barely healed the damage he did.)

(But after that?)

(A while after that, Radu happened to be in town, but with him, nothing just "happens." He's a damned good gamer.He found me and invited me to hunt with him.)

I shuddered. At least now I knew why Angelo was so savvy about Radu's eating habits.

I also knew what happened after that because if they Shared a kill, they Shared other things too. Which was why Radu was so familiar with Angelo's room. You'd think after eleven months of being in love with a boy who slept around with every boy and girl who struck his fancy that I'd be used to it by now.

Nope. Not even close. Even though, as a result, I've started to sleep around almost as much.

But that wasn't what bugged me. (You didn't think I could handle myself without you rescuing me?)

Angelo rolled his eyes. (You're saying I should have let him get his claws into you?)

(You survived. Why wouldn't I?)

(I was lucky, Weasel. Radu is not only odogi, he is Kezdet. Prime. Primes get the choice of mates, and only they have the right to breed. They get first crack at any kills brought down by the pack, and if food is scarce, only they eat. Do you have any idea how many challenges he's had to win to remain Prime? And how many are waiting for the chance to take his place?) Angelo didn't wait for my answer. (Radu didn't become Prime and stay there by being anything less than a powerful and ferocious killer who hones in on any weakness he can detect. Yes, you could have handled things, if you knew what was going on. But Radu is a sneaky bastard and he was right. You never would have known what hit you.)

I didn't even want to think about it. (He sounds like a Shifter version of Dimitri.)

(Hardly. My cousin is a pig who has the self-control of a snail. He has brute strength but that's it. Radumay act like a gentleman but underneath the good manners and refinement is a cobra who strikes when you least expect it. )

(And you had an affair with him?)

(Not an affair. An alliance of mutual respect. We Share pleasure once in a while, but that alliance is non-existent when he fucks around where he shouldn't. Which is all the time.) Angelo had no patience for that kind of shit. Radu must've been damned good in bed or Angelo would have never put up with it long.

But there was a question that nagged at me. (Did you mean what you said, Angel Boy?)

He quirked an eyebrow. (What are you talking about?)

(Nothing.) He was gonna pretend that he didn't know. I wasn't surprised but it still stung.

Angelo put his hands on my shoulders and gripped them gently. (Weasel, unlike you, I've had nothing yet, and I'm really not in the mood for guessing games. Or melodrama.) Black eyes gleamed.

Then it'd be perfect. If he gave me a blunt answer that I didn't like, he'd be gone right after that. (When you called me your amant; did you mean it?)

Angelo's hand cupped my chin, his eyes meeting mine. (I never say anything I don't mean,) he said quietly.(If you don't know that by now, you never will.)

Then his lips found mine, and there was no more need for words. Or stupid questions. Each touch of his hands, tongue and teeth sizzled, and within moments, I was tingling from my head to my toes.

Angelo always was better at showing than telling, anyway.

All too soon, he had to leave to satisfy the need he'd neglected for so long. But after he left, I realized that he was right. Angelo meant everything he said. That was why he was so reluctant to tell me he loved me, even though we both knew it.If he did, then he'd have to admit it to himself. Until he was ready to acknowledge that, he'd continue to hop from bed to bed. Anything to keep me at a distance and avoid becoming attached to me.

Anything to prevent me from possibly breaking his heart. Even if it meant breaking mine.

Black Widower©Janette, 1997 - 2011

Page Last Updated 12/30/11