Rating: R for violence and vampire activity (blood drinking, mind control)
Characters: Lucien LaCroix Triona McAlpine
Notes: Originally written in 1998, this is one of my darker pieces of writing. A story in the Bloodties series, an overview of which can be found here.
She rested her head in her hands wearily. She felt like she was drowning -- in darkness. In the six weeks since Janette had left, the full reality of what her life was to be had settled over her, leaving her frightened and confused. She felt as empty as the apartment she sat in; cold and barren without the vibrant presence of the beautiful vampire.
It was far too late for regrets, she knew that. Trying to escape the web LaCroix had drawn her into would result in her death -- or worse. In the months that had followed her first meeting with the ancient vampire, Triona had come to learn that there were things far worse than death. And in the end, she knew she didn't want to escape -- and that was what terrified her the most.
Through the ever strengthening bond between her and her… Master -- she winced to herself over the still jarring term -- she felt a flare of anger. Not at her she knew, but the sting of it still rattled her frayed nerves.
Thankfully, LaCroix had never truly been angry with her, but the thought of his scorching rage directed at her had given her more than one bad turn over the last few months. And if she wanted to keep it that way, she decided she had better get to her appointment with him on the double. Going to him when he was obviously upset made her stomach do queasy little flip flops -- but the thought of not going, and his reaction, made her ill with fear.
She quickly gathered up the papers that he needed to see, hoping she could move to the new estate soon. At first, when LaCroix had told her of his decision to buy the lakeside manor, making it a base for his varied business interests, she had been doubtful. She hadn't liked the thought of giving up all that was familiar here at the Raven: her job, memories of Janette. She suspected that was why he was exiling her, to cut her off totally from her life before he had made it his. He had told her it was because the Raven, and it's inhabitants, were unsuitable and dangerous. And maybe that was the truth -- she certainly had no intention of expressing her doubt as to his reasons.
She worked her way through the crowd, towards where LaCroix held court at the corner of the bar. She felt the familiar weight of curious gazes on her as she moved through the room, members of the community wondering about the General's newest *toy*, knowing they were trying to decide why and what made her more than a passing meal for the powerful vampire.
As she neared, she saw the familiar profile of Nicholas as he stormed from his master's side. \\So he finally showed up did he?// she thought bitterly on Janette's behalf. So now he knew. And now she knew why LaCroix was so angry. It took every ounce of her quickly waning courage to force herself to his side. The nearer she drew, the sharper the feel of his anger was, focusing in her mind.
LaCroix drained his glass, refilling it from the bottle at his elbow and draining that as well, slamming the glass to the bar. She stood there, unsure of what to do, seemingly unnoticed by him in his displeasure at his son.
Taking a deep breath, trying to control the shaking of her limbs, she decided she had no real choice. "My lord?" came unbidden from her lips. \\Why did I say that?// she asked herself, stunned. \\I meant to say…oh god,// she moaned inwardly, fearful he would be angry at her subconscious gaffe.
Instead of anger, however, she saw grim amusement in his eyes. "Indeed, little one. Indeed." He traced her lips with one cool fingertip, setting off a chill of fear and excitement across her nerves.
Unable to break away from his gaze, she managed to say what she originally intended. "Sir, I have the final papers you asked for."
"I have no interest in such mortal encumbrances tonight. You will do what is necessary to complete this transaction," he commanded. "I have no wish to bothered again this evening," he told her coldly.
She nodded mutely. That was fine with her, the faster she got away from the obviously incensed vampire, the happier she would be. Slowly, she began to back away.
His hand snaked out, grasping the back of her head, pulling her sharply towards him. "I did not give you leave to go," he chided her, his tone mocking. His face was mere inches from hers -- she could feel his breath against her skin like a cool mist.
She floundered, trying to keep up with his mercurial moods changes, not knowing what to do or how to react. "I… I'm sorry, LaCroix," she managed to choke out, knowing that she was merely a convenient target for his ire, but not sure how far that ire would push him.
Triona struggled to control her fear; she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of seeing her cower. She didn't think he would kill her, but that didn't mean he wouldn't hurt her. The realization of just how alone she was hit her hard in that moment. Janette wasn't here to protect her, no family, no friends -- even in a club full of people she was totally isolated. No one here would do a thing to protect her from the nearly omnipotent vampire that held her in his grasp.
His mood changed yet again, his eyes taking on a hungry glint that made her stomach clench. Without warning, he was kissing her roughly, stealing the breath from her. Despite her fright, she felt herself responding to the fierce kiss, her lips parting to his with no thought on her part. She had imagined what him kissing her would feel like, and it felt just like this -- raw, intense, pure sensation -- the cold of his flesh searing her warmth.
He tightened the grip he had on her hair, pulling her head back. "I believe I prefer 'my lord'," he admonished her, still mocking, his cold eyes boring into hers.
Not answering, she just closed her eyes. Fighting hard to slow the racing of her heart, she took a deep, shuddering breath. She refused to participate in her own public humiliation, no matter the consequences.
His lips moved to her throat, the hand in her hair holding her motionless against him. The sound of the crowd, the music, all was stilled in her awareness. The only sound she heard was her own inarticulate moans as he nibbled at her throat with unextended teeth, his lips coming to rest on the nearly fresh wounds his fangs had made a few days before.
Whimpering softly, she clutched convulsively at the arm he had wrapped firmly around her waist as he licked and worried at the punctures. She felt the warmth of her own blood as it seeped from the newly reopened wounds, felt the coolness of his tongue as he lapped the crimson drops from her flesh. God help her; she wanted him to bite her, to drink from her. Wanted it like some starving creature, desperate, *needing* with every ounce of her being.
But of course, he didn't -- it was a public place after all. Abruptly, his hands and lips released her. It was like a splash of ice water to be so suddenly cast aside. The noise of the Raven came crashing back, slamming into her overwrought senses. She felt herself falling, her trembling legs unable to hold her, and grabbed desperately for a handhold. Then, he was gripping her arms, steadying her till she could stand unaided.
Suddenly seeming to tire of the game, he told her, "Go to bed, child. I will see you tomorrow."
Triona nodded absently at the dismissal, a little confused. Shouldn't she be angry? She was sure she should. But all she felt was a numbing lassitude that seemed to seep into every pore. "But…" she began, not remembering what she has started to say. Then she saw the papers on the bar. "But you told me," she began again, picking up the papers she had come with, "to…."
LaCroix interrupted her. "Tomorrow. You will do it tomorrow. Now, I want you to go to your room and stay there till the morning. Sleep now," he commanded her once more, his voice taking on a soothing note.
She was so confused and her head hurt terribly. She almost thought she could hear his voice in her head. \\Sleep… tomorrow… yes, that seemed like a good idea,// she thought muzzily, her head hurting less as she agreed with the voice. \\Yes, she should do as he said, she wanted to please him did she not?// Triona could no longer distinguish between her own thoughts and those of the voice in her head. All she knew was that she was so tired, far too tired to struggle against the lulling voice.
LaCroix downed three more glasses of bloodwine in rapid succession as he watched his newest creature make her way back to Janette's former quarters and her bed.
It had been a near thing, but the hard won control he had honed so assiduously over the ages had stood him in good stead this night. Triona had done nothing to earn his displeasure, but her arrival so close on the heels of his latest incident with Nicholas had made her a convenient target. And, LaCroix admitted to himself, there were moments when she reminded him of his wayward son -- the hair, the shared fair coloring, the stubborn streak and prickly nature -- all contributed to his taking out his frustration and anger on her.
The course he had chosen was a challenge fraught with peril, which of course, made the prospect even more enticing to him. To take a mortal lover in a long term relationship. It was something rarely accomplished; and then only by the eldest of his people -- indeed, it was almost a yearning. It required patience, control and the will to make it happen.
Tonight had been a mistake. However much he wanted her, it was far too soon. He had a theory, that to succeed, to take her body as well as her blood, without killing her, he first needed to remake her -- heart and soul. Placing her at the estate; isolated, distant from himself on a daily basis, was integral to his plans.
He would learn her from her blood and mind -- before learning her body. By the time he reached that step, she should be well used to his touch both physical and mental. There would be no panic, no struggle -- nothing to interfere with his control, nothing to trigger the predatory beast that dwelled at his core.
He saw one last flash of her gold hair, before the door to the apartment shut behind her. He was reminded once more of Nicholas and the latest strife between them. He had sent Triona away before losing control, but that didn't mean that now he had sent her safely to her rest that he need continue to deny the hunger and rage that roiled just under the surface.
He sipped from his glass, contemplating the crowded club -- a veritable buffet of mortals ripe for the taking. The lost, the friendless, the desperate. The emotions that assailed him demanded outlet, cried for release. He took a deep breath -- yes, the scent was in the air. Tonight, LaCroix would hunt.
She was in a dark room, a few candles the only illumination, but everything she saw around her was razor sharp, despite the gloom. She was hot, almost fevered, and she wanted -- no; she lusted for the still form that lay on the bed. Hunger. Desire. Need. Want. Must. No!
Triona sat bolt up in her bed, panting like she had been running, shaking with the aftereffects of her dream. It had seemed so real, like she was living it, not dreaming it. It may have been a dream, but the feelings of desire and need it had engendered lingered on, leaving her frustrated and empty.
Still shaking, she got out of bed, pulling on her robe as she headed for the door. She decided that she needed a drink to settle her nerves, which meant crossing the back hall to the sitting room that adjoined the master bedroom.
She paused, hand on the doorknob, remembering LaCroix telling her she wasn't to leave her room till morning. But it was nearly dawn, she reasoned, surely it would be all right now. And she wasn't leaving the apartment, only going across the hall.
\\But he told you not to leave,// a little voice reminded her. She thought back, trying to remember exactly what he had said. Oddly enough, she was having trouble remembering what had happened at all.
She concentrated. He had told her to go to bed, she had been so tired and she had wanted to obey, to do as he had asked. No! Wait, that wasn't right. He'd done it to her! Damn him, he'd played with her like a cat with a mouse and then had leaned on her mind to make her sleepy and compliant.
Anger was quickly replacing desire as she remembered everything that had happened. Her hand went protectively to her throat, stroking the wounds gently, shivering as the memory of what had happened came flooding back.
Now she really needed that drink, and she didn't care what LaCroix had told her to do, the bloody damn bastard! She slammed the door behind her, purposefully making her way across the hall and into the sitting room.
Even though she was telling herself she didn't care what he had told her to do, she was more than a little relieved that LaCroix would still be out in the club, or in his radio booth. As upset as she was, she didn't want to deal with him right now.
Entering through the already open door, she crossed the room to the buffet, passing LaCroix's bedroom door which was slightly ajar. A sound from within stopped her, a sound like -- crying?
Almost on it's own, her hand reached for the door, slowly pushing it open. All the while a part of her mind was screaming at her to flee. The room was darkened, shapes and shadows flickering across the walls, projected by the sputtering candles that were scattered across the room.
She moved farther into the room, not able to stop herself. As she stood there, she was struck with a sense of the familiar. Her dream! She had dreamt this scene. Heart in her stomach, she looked over to the bed that dominated the room -- the place the sounds were coming from.
\\Leave! Leave!// her mind screamed. But she kept walking towards the bed, being pulled by some irresistible force of curiosity. Reaching the side of the bed, she could now see that the shape was a woman, her features barely visible in the candlelight.
She was laying on her side, Triona could see the streaks of tears on her face, glistening in the candlelight. Her eyes were closed, her short dark hair plastered around her face, damp with sweat.
Triona reached out tentatively, touching the side of the woman's neck, feeling for a pulse. It was there -- barely. Also there, the puncture marks from a vampire's bite. The woman stirred, moaning, and Triona snatched her hand back as if burned.
Frozen in shock, her mind totally numb, she tired to decide what to do. Her first impulse was to try and help, but cold logic quickly quashed any such idea. What could she possibly do? Absolutely nothing. She was as helpless as this woman. \\Helpless. Helpless. Helpless,// she repeated over and over like a litany.
A hand on her shoulder pushed her over the edge. A small scream escaped from her throat as she was pulled her roughly around. She caught one glance of LaCroix's furious face before she fainted dead away.
'In His Image' – Part Two
She slowly fought her way up from the well of darkness that held her captive; awoke to the exquisite agony of LaCroix's fangs deep in her wrist, drawing her blood so gradually she could feel it like fire, coursing through each vein.
"Uuuuuuh," the guttural sound was torn from her throat, the fire spreading through her body as he continued to feed. She hadn't the ability to vocalize even one word.
As awareness of the room around her slowly filtered through her muzzy brain, Triona realized she was sitting in an armchair, her other hand gripping the arm LaCroix had draped across her lap. He was seated on the ottoman, slightly to the side of her. She could see the arch of his strong back as he leaned across her, holding her wrist against his mouth. His scent, like the ocean wind, filled her as she drew sharp, deep breaths.
Time seemed suspended -- frozen in crystal -- as the sensation of pain, imbued with the perfection of a pleasure that was so intense it was everything she could ever imagine feeling, suffused her very soul. Just as she thought she could bear no more; the crystal shattered into a million glittering shards, his fangs slipping from her wrist.
"So, my disobedient creature," he looked at her, gold eyes fading back to an implacable icy blue, "here we are, you and I -- at a defining moment in your tutelage," he said in a cool voice laced with tightly controlled rage. LaCroix brought her wrist back to his mouth, swirling his tongue against the fresh wounds, only his arm across her keeping Triona from arching off the chair at the sensation.
He ran his hands up her silk covered thighs and over her breasts, coming to circle her throat. "You will find, my pet, that I am a *very* *thorough* *teacher*." LaCroix increased the pressure at her throat. Not enough to restrict her breathing, but enough to remind her just how very fragile it was in his powerful hands.
A moan came from the bed. She tried to look over his shoulder, towards the sound, remembering why she had come in here. She looked back at him, eyes wide and dark in a deathly pale face. "Wha… What are you going to do to us?" she managed to whisper.
"Oh, I think that's best left a… surprise." He smiled slightly with no hint of humor. He got his feet, looming over her, stroking her hair. "School, as they say, my dear, is in."
Striding to the bed, he pulled the woman up roughly, holding her upright with a hand at the back of her neck. His action brought about another series of moans and cries which he ignored. Now able to see the woman's face fully, Triona jerked forward with sudden recognition.
LaCroix noted her reaction with interest. "So, child, you know my… guest?"
She nodded mutely. The woman was a heroin addict that Janette had banned from the Raven after trying to rob a customer one night. She hadn't known that the woman had started coming back.
"This creature tried to steal from me. I have judged her and found her quite guilty," he explained as if discussing the weather. "I intend to punish her for her crimes -- the least of which is theft." He yanked her head to the side, eliciting a groan from the nearly comatose woman, his fangs sinking brutally into her throat. He drank for only a few moments before pulling away from her, letting her now silent form crumple into a heap on the bed.
He sauntered back to where Triona sat, transfixed with dread at what she had just witnessed. \\He's going to kill me too,// she thought with absolute surety.
"Au contraire, ma petite," he replied to her unspoken thought, startling her. "That one," he nodded over his shoulder, "is worthless -- a blight. In her death, at least, she will serve some purpose as she never would in life."
Once more, he loomed over her, long fingers pushing the straps of her nightgown off her shoulders, the silk falling away from her breasts. "You, however, serve my purposes more than adequately -- alive." Dropping to his knees in front of her, he cupped her now bare breasts with his hands, continuing his rebuke. "I would liken your sins more to those of a willful child, in need of guidance from one more wise." His voice was pitched so low, it vibrated across her skull. "Guidance I intend to furnish." Lowering his head, he took one nipple in his teeth, teasing it with his tongue, as his hands kneaded and stroked.
"Oh, please…." she practically sobbed.
He raised his head, capturing her green eyes with his once more gold ones. "Now, now. Don't beg, child. I would be most disappointed," he chided.
Once more he moved his mouth to her breast, hands and lips devouring it. As she quaked beneath his touch, LaCroix drew the points of his now extended fangs over the swell of her breast to the vein at its side, shocking her entire being as he plunged his fangs into the tender white flesh. She wasn't able to stop the scream that ripped from her throat at the unexpected assault.
She sobbed silently as the inexorable mix of pleasure and pain once more stole across her body. She didn't want to find any gratification in this, but her body betrayed her once more -- she didn't seem able to resist the lure of the vampire. Triona found herself pressing his head against her breast, unable to stop herself.
As he drew away from her, she felt him chuckle, the sound of it vibrating through her. The hands she held to his head slipped to his neck as his lips traveled up to her throat. She tensed in anticipation as he paused, his lips resting on her frantic pulse. LaCroix nipped, not enough to break the skin -- but enough to make her cry out and clutch his at his neck with a desperate grip.
"So eager," he whispered derisively in her ear. "So very eager.
His lips took hers in a bruising kiss, forcing her lips apart with no gentleness. She caught the taste of her own blood on his tongue as it roughly explored every inch of her mouth. His large, powerful hands held her hips, fingers splayed across her middle, setting her on fire.
He pulled away from her abruptly, leaving her panting and dazed. "Do you understand yet?" he snarled, the cold mockery of before once more turning into smoldering fury. "Understand that you cannot escape? That you are mine, totally and utterly?"
LaCroix didn't wait for an answer, stalking over to where his hapless victim lay crumpled, unconscious on the bed. "The final kill is so much more satisfying when your prey is aware." He pulled the woman off the bed, holding her against him. "But my satisfaction is twofold tonight -- so not all is in vain."
Losing all control in that moment, making an almost animal howl before tearing into the woman's throat, draining her dead in mere moments. All Triona could do was close her eyes, trying to block out the site of a woman being murdered before her very eyes.
\\This is the reality of what he is. You knew that. It's only a quirk of the fates that he holds you at some higher worth than the pathetic woman he is killing.// She realized she must be in shock, she felt so calm, talking to herself, making it seem more abstract than the horrible reality of what was happening.
He was speaking again, his voice in her ears and once more seemingly in her head. "Fleeting and inconsequential -- a flicker of mortal life -- extinguished."
As the sound of the woman's neck being snapped lanced through her, something fused. She couldn't go on like this, it was worse than dying. She wouldn't let him break her, not ever.
"One day, you will see the futility of it all, welcome the gift that I can give you -- beg for it in fact." She could hear the fury, feel it, as it washed over her in waves. But she didn't care anymore, something had changed in her this night, irrevocably. LaCroix continued to rage at her, his voice rising with each syllable. "You can't escape. If you defy me, the fate of this wretch will seem a blessing compared to the fate that will await you!"
Opening her eyes just in time to see the dead woman collapse to the floor, she used every last ounce of her strength and will to push herself out of the chair. Her legs were like rubber, but somehow, she managed to stand.
"Then do it!" she hissed. "Do your worst, because I won't go on with a life like this!" She clutched the back of the chair, desperate to remain on her feet. "I came to you, let you make me into something that every fiber of my being told me to run from, but I won't give you my soul -- that you can not have," she choked out, nearing the end of what little strength she had left.
LaCroix's wrath slammed into her, blistering cold. But she wasn't afraid, not anymore. A calm slid over her, like a warm cloak. For the first time in the months that she had been with him, she felt no doubt, no fear -- only a certainty that she once again belonged to herself.
He advanced on her, gold eyes flecked with molten red. Grabbing her arm, he jerked her towards him, twisting it painfully behind her back. "If you will not give it to me, than I shall take it."
She didn't struggle, she merely looked up at him with knowing eyes. "You can't," she whispered, tilting her head to the side, as if inviting her own death.
Her breath caught a little as he bit into her, but still she didn't struggle. As blackness crept over her, she sagged into his hold, opening her mind totally to his. As the blackness took her, a last thought whispered from her mind, \\One day, you'll understand.//
\\Where am I?// she wondered in confusion, very surprised at waking up. \\I don't think heaven has down comforters.// She forced her eyes open, quickly shutting them again, whimpering in pain as the dim light from the bedside lamp tore into her head like a knife. "It hurts," she whispered to herself, her voice sounding scratchy and hoarse to her ears.
She heard the snick of the light switch and carefully cracked her eyes open, sighing in relief that the light was now off.
"I apologize, my dear, I had no idea that the light would pain you so. I thought that you would find waking in darkness frightening," a familiar voce explained soothingly.
\\He didn't kill me. Well, duh,// she told herself. \\Obviously.// She tried to speak again, but she couldn't get her voice to work.
"Shhh, don't try and talk just yet," he told her, putting an arm behind her back to raise her up. "Here, drink this." A glass was placed to her lips, which she was able to hold in very weak hands. She drank the water thirstily, making a noise of protest as LaCroix pulled the glass away. "That's enough to start with. You can have more later." He laid her back on the pillows.
"Where am I?" This time she was able to get the words out.
"At the new estate, in your suite."
"Estate?" Triona tried to make the days match in her head, but it hurt too much.
"This is the fourth night," LaCroix answered her unasked question. "It was safer for you to be here, so I expedited the final papers."
"Four…." she whispered. She'd lost four days. "Why safer?"
"I think that is a subject best left for another day. Now, you must rest."
"No!" she protested. "No, please," she continued in a much calmer voice. "I need to know why."
LaCroix sighed, seeming discomfited by her question. She could just see his eyes, glinting with reflected moonlight that streamed in the French doors. "The Raven is an unhealthy place for you and I at this particular juncture. Too many undercurrents, old memories and things and people that can act as a flash point." He took her hand, stroking it gently as he continued, "What happened there would not have happened here. Not that I would have allowed any disobedience to go unpunished," he warned. "But the experience would have been less damaging to your health."
"I see, I think." She rubbed her temple tiredly, knowing that LaCroix's explanation was as close to an apology as she was ever likely to get. And truth be told, she wasn't ready to think too closely on what had happened that night -- not yet. So for now, she would just appreciate the gentle side he so rarely evidenced.
"Now, that is all for tonight. Sleep," he commanded softly. "We will discuss it in more depth when you are fully recovered if you still wish it."
She nodded, already fighting off sleep. This time she knew it was her own abused body that was dragging her down and not his will. Giving in, she drifted off into a deep sleep, LaCroix's hand still holding hers.