blood debt chapter 1
Hello! Today I'm sharing with you an early look at Blood Debt Chapter 1. Blood Debt is Book 2 in the Sanguis Syndicate - my M/M Vampire Mafia Romance series. I like to have my main characters meet as soon as possible, and here you get to see them meet for the first time in chapter one. Enjoy!
Raul relaxed back in his chair, watching a group of talented actors sing and dance their way through a darkly humorous murder mystery. It was a good show and he was enjoying it. But for some reason, an unusual sense of awareness hummed in his blood, keeping him from giving a hundred percent of his attention to the stage. He used his enhanced vampire senses to search for any hint of danger. But there was nothing.
What had him so... unsettled? He attempted to shake off the feeling and concentrate on the performance just at the lead actress delivered a cheeky line and sauntered from the stage. A moment later, the MC stepped out from behind the curtain.
"It's time for our intermission. We'll be back shortly with a decadent dessert that might be deadly."
Raul applauded along with the rest of the audience. The lights went up and Raul rose to stretch his legs. The two dates who'd attended the theater with him rose as well.
"This performance is great," Alan said.
Linda, his other date, laced her fingers through Alan's. "I see a friend of mine over there. We're going to go and say hello."
Raul nodded and the two humans went off to speak to their friends. As more of the crowd began to move around during the intermission, Raul recognized a few of his acquaintances. Upon noticing him, they came over to pay their respects.
A burly vampire, with muscles straining the fabric of his suit and his bald head sweating, greeted Raul first.
"Nice to see you, Mr. Raul. What do you think of the show?"
The vampire accompanying him smiled. She was dressed entirely in green - her gown, shoes, jewelry. Even her hair and lipstick were in the same emerald shade.
"Is it worth leaving that beautiful ranch of yours for a few hours?" she asked.
Raul laughed. He was a known homebody. He socialized as needed for work, but he was most comfortable at home, riding over his property or in the house watching movies.
"It's worth it. The actors are doing a fantastic job."
Another acquaintance, a human in a vintage beaded evening gown with long strawberry blonde hair offered their opinion. "I love the singing voice of the president character, but I think she's the killer."
Their small group began debating who they thought was the culprit behind the show's murder mystery. As they talked, the live musicians finished their song, a haunting rendition of Jewel's Foolish Games. After the audience's quiet applause, they set their instruments aside and rose to take their break. As they filed out of the theater, a DJ came out and started to play a set of old R&B hits from the nineties over the theater's sound system.
In the quiet lull before the first recorded song began to play, Raul heard a soft laugh. Happy, bright, and delicate. He turned, searching for the source of that delightful sound. He didn't see who it came from at first. Then, a woman in a black silk dress moved to the side, revealing the person standing behind her.
A petite, East Asian human, with short, stylishly cut flaxen blonde hair, and golden skin. The young man was dressed in a caramel brown suit with fuzzy white trim on the lapels and a cream button up shirt beneath the jacket. Looking at him smiling, his skin glowing under the theater lights, made Raul's heart pound.
"Excuse me," Raul said in the general direction of the person who'd been speaking to him.
Without another word, he left the group and moved across the room, headed directly for the lovely human who'd caught his attention.
"Hello," he said once he'd reached him.
After saying goodbye to the person he'd been speaking with, the young man turned and looked up at Raul.
His voice was as soft as an angel's kiss. Up close, Raul could see that pale brown freckles dotted the bridge of his nose and the tops of his cheeks. His lips were pink and lush and his dark eyes were still sparkling from his earlier laughter. The human was so gorgeous that it took Raul a moment to realize he was staring and mentally shake himself from his trance. "I'm Raul." He held a hand out.
Ji-Su accepted his handshake, his warm, fine boned hand all but disappearing inside Raul's large grasp.
"It's nice to meet you." A quick glance at his neck showed recently healed marks from a vampire's fangs. This lovely human already belonged to someone. Disappointment burned in Raul's chest - startling in its intensity. He asked just to be sure that Ji-Su wasn't available. "Are you here alone?"
"No. I'm with my patron and his friends. They stepped outside to smoke."
His blood patron. Ji-Su was a blood pet. "Tell me, Ji-Su. What do you do when you're not looking so enchanting that you bewitch strangers at parties?" That precious laugh came again. Hearing it up close sent a tingle of pleasure down Raul's spine.
"I'm a gamer."
"Ah, forgive me if I'm not quite sure what you mean by that."
A deep dimple appeared in Ji-Su's cheek when he smiled.
"I play video games and stream myself them playing online."
"Interesting. I'm into a different type of gaming. I run a casino." He ran several actually but there was no need to bring that up in casual conversation.
"I've only been to a casino once. I got scared when I lost fifty dollars at the craps table, left, and never went back."
"That's too bad. If you come to my casino, I'll show you a much better time than that."
"Is this a sales pitch? Will part of the night be spent with you trying to sell me a time share?"
Raul grinned. "Not a sales pitch. Just an attempt to get you to spend time with me so I can hear your lovely laugh again. In fact, I might nudge the table a bit to make sure you win just to hear you celebrate."
Ji-Su bit his lip, clearly holding back the laugh Raul wanted to hear.
"Are you saying your casino is corrupt?"
"Not at all. But I'm willing to make an exception for a human as pretty as you."
Now Ji-Su laughed. Raul listened and watched, completely captivated. Far too soon, Ji-Su's laugh quieted, although the humor lingered in his expression. Raul was about to ask him about his blood patron and how long he had left on his contract - when Ji-Su looked off to the side.
"There's my patron."
Raul turned to look in the direction of Ji-Su's nod. An African American vampire with medium-brown skin, dressed in a black tux approached. His jacket hung open and the bowtie was undone. His dark hair was separated into twists that were dyed blond on the tips. Three similarly attired humans and one vampire walked behind him. Raul recognized Ji-Su's patron but didn't recall his name. He only knew he was a LaMonte, one of the aristocratic vampire families that resided in Dear Lake.
"Cedric, you're back," Ji-Su said.
"Obviously," the other vampire drawled as he stepped partially in between Raul and Ji-Su. His eyes moved to take in Raul. "Who is this you're talking to?"
"This is Raul. Raul, this is Cedric."
Raul nodded his head at the introduction. The other vampire didn't extend his hand for a greeting, so Raul didn't bother to either. Only two seconds in Cedric's presence and he already didn't like him. After a moment of cold silence between them, Cedric's eyes left his and slid back to Ji-Su.
"I left you at our table. Next time, stay where I put you."
A blush tinged Ji-Su's cheeks, no doubt from embarrassment at the rude way Cedric had spoken to him in front of everyone.
"I apologize for wandering off. I hope you weren't worried."
"I wasn't." Cedric clamped a hand around Ji-Su's upper arm. "Let's go."
Ji-Su gave Raul a polite smile. "It was nice to meet you."
"You as well."
Cedric practically dragged Ji-Su back to their table. Thanks to his heightened vampire senses, Raul heard their conversation over the music as they walked away.
"I don't want you talking to any vampires unless I introduce you to them first and give you permission."
Raul didn't like Cedric's demeanor or the way he treated Ji-Su. But there wasn't cause for him to do anything about it. Cedric hadn't been abusive, merely rude and abrasive. And Ji-Su looked healthy and well cared for as was expected for a blood pet. Still, he had the urge to go over and steal Ji-Su away from Cedric and take him back to his ranch to keep for himself. Odd, since he'd never been one to covet what belonged to someone else. But something about Ji-Su brought out instincts he'd never felt before. Take. Keep. Make him mine.
At the sound of footsteps behind him, Raul closed his mind to those thoughts and turned away from watching the group retake their seats. His own blood pets approached. Linda, a tall, willowy, raven-haired Latina and Alan a handsome, curly-haired Caucasian with a solid, stocky build. The two came to stand on either side of him and linked their arms through his.
"Who was that darling young man?" Linda asked.
"Ji-Su, a blood pet of Cedric's."
"Is he a friend of yours?"
"No, neither of them are."
A bell chimed, signaling that intermission was drawing to a close. "Come on. Let's return to our table." They went back to their seats, chatting quietly as the wait staff began circulating with trays of dessert and wine. A server arrived at their table, serving each of them a peach pastry drenched in a whiskey sauce and topped with whipped cream, along with glasses of a crisp Riesling wine.
Just before the lights went down, Raul caught a glimpse of Ji-Su a few tables over. He was smiling his thanks at the server who'd set a dessert plate in front of him. Once the actors retook the stage, Raul made an attempt to put Ji-Su from his mind and focus on the show. But he couldn't stop thinking about that soft, happy laugh and those sparkling dark eyes for the rest of the night.
* * *
A few hours later, their trio returned to the ranch. The tall black entrance gates smoothly slid open to allow the limo to enter the property. After the driver let them out, Raul thanked him and said goodnight.
"Goodnight, Mr. Raul."
The limo pulled away, and Raul went up the wide front steps accompanied by Linda and Alan. The three of them walked into the house and were greeted by the doorman in the softly lit foyer. Linda handed the servant the white swing coat she'd worn over her pink dress.
"Raul, my love. I think our time here is over," she said as she slipped out of her heels.
That statement had Raul raising his eyebrows in surprise. "What?"
Linda and Alana weren't on an official blood pet contract with him. They were there because the three of them were in a casual relationship. He drank their blood and in exchange he showered them with money and gifts. It was a mutually beneficial relationship, but it wasn't facilitated by one of the agencies that set up humans and vampires. This was actually their third time staying with him over the past few years. He'd met them long ago at one of Everett's costume balls. They came at his invitation and left when they chose. But they hadn't mentioned anything about wanting to leave before now.
"That's news to me. Is something wrong?"
"Of course not, sweetie. We always have the best time when we're here. But..."
"But?" He prompted her when she didn't finish.
Linda folded her hands together in front of her, an almost mischievous smile on her fuchsia-tinted lips. "Your mind is about to be preoccupied with someone else."
"He is really cute," Alan added. "I don't mind leaving so you can focus on him."
Raul shook his head when he realized who they were referring to. "You're both being silly. I talked to Ji-Su for less than five minutes. And he already belongs to someone else. Our paths probably won't cross again anytime soon if ever."
Linda walked up to him. She put a hand on his cheek and looked into his eyes. Raul met her gaze without flinching, letting her find whatever she was looking for. After several moments she patted him lightly on the cheek before she dropped her hand.
"I know what I saw. And I never doubt what I see is coming."
"I won't deny my attraction to him. But that is no reason for either of you to leave. I listen to you two rave over the vampires you're attracted to all the time and it's never been a problem."
Linda pursed her lips, thinking. Finally, she nodded and stepped back.
"All right. We'll stay. For now."
"Would you like to feed tonight?" she asked in an abrupt change of subject.
Raul dropped his gaze to her throat. She'd worn her hair up, exposing smooth, pale skin. Normally he'd be tempted by the sight. Tonight, his fangs didn't so much as tingle. He shook his head. "No, I don't need to."
Alan stepped behind Linda and slid his arms around her waist in a tight hug.
"How about sex with one or both of us?" he asked with a grin.
"No appetite for that either?" Linda asked with a dark brow raised. She looked over her shoulder at Alan. "What a surprise," she said in an exaggerated tone.
"A truly shocking surprise," Alan teased back.
Raul barked a laugh. "You two are ridiculous. It has nothing to do with that little human. I'm simply not hungry and not in the mood for sex."
"If you say so. Come on, Alan. Those heels made my feet ache and I could use a foot rub."
The two said goodnight, and hand in hand, they climbed the stairs, going up to the room they shared.
After checking in with the ranch's mayordoma to make sure nothing needed his attention, Raul went up to his room as well. He undressed and stretched out naked in bed. As he lay there, waiting for sleep to come, his mind wasn't on the two beautiful humans who were down the hall for his pleasure. Instead, he thought of Ji-Su. A soft, pretty name for a soft, pretty human.
If he'd come across him socially before he'd been contracted to Cedric or seen him on stage at one of his organization's blood pet auctions, he most certainly would have made a play for him. But he didn't poach from other vampires. He had a moment's regret that he hadn't had a chance to ask Ji-Su when his contract with Cedric was up. If he had, he might have been able to make arrangements to be Ji-Su's next blood patron. A missed opportunity.
With another sigh of regret, he turned over to go to sleep. As he closed his eyes, he accepted that Ji-Su was simply someone he'd felt an overwhelmingly strong attraction to but probably would never see again.
* * *
"That was a fun show." Ji-Su chatted with Cedric as they walked into the vampire's luxury town house. The butler, dressed entirely in white, waited to greet them and take their coats. The lights from the heavy crystal chandelier hanging above reflected on the white marble floor of the foyer near his feet. "It's good to get away from my screens and meet new people every once in a while."
"Like Raul," Cedric replied with a barely hidden sneer to his tone.
"I didn't mean him in particular but yes he seemed like a nice guy."
"Just remember what I said." Cedric tossed his coat at the butler. "Stay away from vampires that I haven't introduced you to."
Ji-Su managed to keep the annoyance out of his expression when he agreed. "I will remember."
They both went upstairs then separated on the second-floor landing to go to their individual bedrooms.
As Ji-Su undressed and prepared for bed, he couldn't help but think that Cedric's insistence he didn't speak to anyone without his prior introduction and permission was insecure at best and controlling at worst. But whatever. Cedric wasn't his lover. The vampire was simply his blood patron. He supplied Cedric with his blood a few times a month in exchange for room, board, and a hefty monthly cash deposit.
He'd already completed the first three months of his contract. There were nine months remaining and then he'd be free to talk to whoever he wanted, Raul included. Hopefully, by the time his contract with Cedric was over he would no longer need a blood patron. But he wouldn't mind getting to know Raul outside of an official human-vampire agreement.
The Hispanic vampire was ruggedly handsome. He had warm brown skin, black brows that arched over eyes the color of melted chocolate, and dark, neatly styled hair that curled just below his ears. The rough scruff of a well-groomed shadow beard enhanced a strong jaw and full lips. And he wore onyx stud earrings in each pierced ear.
Raul was a big man. Tall, with wide shoulders, and a broad chest. He'd been dressed in a tux, the burgundy color so deep, it was almost black. The jacket and pants were cut to perfectly fit his frame, giving him a smooth, elegant air. But the accents he'd chosen - an understated Western copper belt buckle and black leather cowboy boots with copper tips - set him apart from everyone else in the room.
Raul's style reminded Ji-Su of a wealthy rancher from old Western movies. That was probably a fitting description, since as a vampire, there was no telling how old Raul actually was. He appeared to be in his early thirties, but he'd probably looked that way for a very long time.
His favorite thing about the handsome vampire had been the way Raul smiled. Raul smiled with a slow, lazy curl to his lips and a hint of that vampire's glow lighting his dark eyes to an amber brown. His entire vibe was relaxed and friendly, which made his easy flirting charming and welcome. He'd been attracted to the vampire from the moment he'd seen him.
Ji-Su sighed and turned over. Of course a gorgeous vampire like Raul wasn't single. He'd snuck a few glances at him throughout the night and noticed there were two dates accompanying him. A man and a woman - both beautiful. Maybe one day he'd see Raul again when they were each in a position to take their interaction beyond a five-minute conversation. That would be nice. With a smile on his lips, Ji-Su fell asleep imagining it.
What do you think of the preview? I hope you liked it. I'll be sharing Chapter 2 with you next Friday so please look forward to it! To add Blood Debt to your Goodreads TBR and sign up to be notified when it's available, click the button below.
Thanks for reading!
4/1/2023 03:03:28 pm
Ooh...can't wait for more of this!
6/8/2023 04:22:05 pm
Hello, I sincerely love your writing! I just want you to know that I appreciate your talents and wish you the very best always & in the future.
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