Hello again Vampy Readers! This week I have Chapter 3 of Blood Kiss for you. Enjoy!
Copyright Christa Tomlinson July 2022
Everett ate breakfast alone as he always did. When he finished, he went into his home office to work. Normally he would be on his way to Sanguis Tower. However, since he wanted to be here for Solan's arrival, he'd decided to work from home for a few hours. Opening his laptop, he began reviewing reports from the auction. They'd made an outstanding profit. And with the exception of Solan, all of the blood pets had already been successfully set up with their new patrons.
He looked up from his computer at a knock on his open office door. It was Hubert, the butler.
"A car and an extra van will be going to pick up Mr. Solan at seven. Would you like me to cancel your blood service appointments?"
Everett thought about it for a moment before answering. "No. I expect to need time to ease Solan into fulfilling his duty to me. In the meantime, I'll continue to feed from Eric."
Hubert responded with the cheek that came from the comfort of a long relationship.
"It's a good thing you're known for your patience."
"I suppose." He was normally patient. But he suspected he might have trouble with that where Solan was concerned.
"And what room do you want him in so I can inform the staff?"
"Put him in the second primary suite."
"I'll have them freshen it up before his arrival. Anything else?"
"No, that's it for now."
Hubert nodded and left.
Everett looked at the clock. The driver would be leaving to retrieve Solan in about thirty minutes. Since the auction catalogue was already on his desk, he flipped it open to entrant number nine's page. Solan Kane. Everett looked at his picture. The headshot was a good one. Solan had the hint of a smile on his plush pink lips, while his indigo eyes sparkled. That gorgeous head of hair was bright against the black backdrop. And his neck. Smooth skin dusted with freckles drew his eye and made him think of sinking his fangs into the spot just above his shoulder.
Everett traced a finger over the photo. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been this eager to drink a human's blood. Although feeding could be and often was exciting and sexual, lately for him it had been perfunctory. Something he had to do merely for nutritional value, much like drinking a health shake. But Solan...
The way he'd sparkled on stage. His delicate features and long lashes when he'd seen him up close. The fire in his eyes and rush of blood in his veins when he hadn't gotten his way. All of it had him thirsting to taste Solan, tempting him like nothing else had in a long while. Or possibly ever. And he would be here, under his roof, tonight.
A fission of excitement rippled over Everett's skin. He couldn't wait.
* * *
Solan had laid awake most of the night thinking about the change his life was about to take. He was a little scared. Like the auctioneer had said, he'd never been bitten. After the veil had dropped, vampires had done lots of PR to dispel the negative stereotypes about blood drinking - that it was horrible and violent and always ended in death. Instead, they portrayed it as a consensual act that could be enjoyed by both parties. He knew that lots of people not only allowed vampires to drink their blood, but also liked the experience. That didn't ease his own nervousness about letting a vampire feed off of him for three months however.
Three months. He still couldn't believe it. But he supposed it was better than an entire year. Guard or no guard, if he'd have been told he had to stay with that vampire for twelve months he would have found a way to disappear.
But he could handle three months. All he had to do was avoid the vampire as much as possible, suffer through a few feedings and then he'd be right back home. The guy was a major crime boss. Assuming he actually took care of his business obligations rather than requiring his underlings to do everything, he'd probably be too busy to bother with Solan anyway.
"The car will be here to get you in fifteen minutes."
Startled from his thoughts, Solan looked up to see his sister standing in the doorway. "All right. I'm almost ready."
Three members of the house staff came into the room and collected his luggage to take downstairs. Nora went over and sat down at his vanity, watching him pull on his shoes.
"I should have fought harder to say no," she said with regret clear in her voice.
Solan shook his head. "No, you shouldn't have. Like you said, this was my fault and the consequences are mine. I don't want you to have any strife because of me. That was never my intention."
Nora smiled. "That sounded very mature. Maybe you're finally growing up?"
"Ha!" Solan playfully scoffed. "Don't count on it."
Once he was ready to go, they went downstairs together. His sister, who was normally so composed, looked as if she were about to cry. Again, Solan felt bad. He pulled her in for a tight hug, inhaling the familiar jasmine scent of her favorite perfume. He would miss her and he was nervous, but he put on a calm front for her sake.
"It's not like I'm going far away. I'll be in the same city. I'll come by soon and we'll have lunch. Everything will be fine."
Nora pulled back from their hug and ran a finger beneath her lashes to wipe away the single tear that had escaped. "You're right. And I know there's nothing wrong with being a blood pet. They're treated extremely well. You'll be fine. Especially with someone like Mr. Everett, who has a vested interest in making sure the blood pet system has a stellar reputation.
But if anything goes wrong - if he hurts you in anyway - you come straight back home. Or call me if you can't leave. I don't care what it will cost me. I'll show up with every member of this family and we'll get you out of there."
Solan doubted it would come to that, but he appreciated her having his back. "You're the best, sis. Thank you for always protecting me."
She laughed and flicked his nose.
"You mean spoiling you."
Their butler opened the door. A sleek silver luxury car with dark tinted windows and a black Mercedes cargo van had pulled into their circular drive.
"It's time for me to go."
Nora gave him a kiss on the cheek and stepped back. "I'll see you soon."
Solan went outside alone to where the driver stood next to the open rear door of the Bentley Flying Spur.
"Good evening, Mr. Solan. I'm Bianca and I'll be your driver today." She smiled, revealing a hint of fangs. Vampire.
"Hello," Solan politely returned the greeting. He was annoyed that Everett hadn't come himself but didn't let that show on his face.
The driver nodded at the bags being carried out. "Are those all of your belongings or are there more inside?"
"Then please, " she said as she gestured to the Bentley's rear interior.
Solan ducked into the car and settled back on the thick leather seat. The car was nice but no different than what he was used to. The driver closed the door and went around to get behind the wheel. They idled for a moment while the staff finished loading the van behind them. Then they were pulling off. Solan rolled down the window so that he could wave goodbye to his sister. She waved back, then pressed a hand over her heart, signaling that she loved him.
Solan rolled the window back up, but continued looking outside. The tall pine trees lining the drive flashed by as Bianca took him away from his home. After they passed through the security gate, they were truly on their way.
The drive to Everett's didn't take long. Apparently, they didn't live far from one another. They stopped at a set of tall, black iron gates at the bottom of a gently sloping hill. Bianca pressed a button on the Bentley's dashboard and the gates swung inward. They drove through the open gates and proceeded up the hill.
When he got his first look at Everett's mansion Solan stared. His house was big but this was huge. The mansion was reddish-brown brick with a slate gray roof. The center section of the mansion stood three-stories high, with several black, wrought iron balconies. There were two-story wings on either side and off to the left of the property was a multi-car garage. Several acres of snow-covered lawn swept out behind the mansion until it reached a wooded area.
The driver opened the door for him and Solan stepped out onto the red and gray brick mosaic drive.
"Welcome to Maplewood Manor, Mr. Solan."
The mansion even had a name. "Thank you." Solan went up two sets of shallow steps graced with neatly manicured topiary in large stone vases on either side. The double front doors immediately swung open. A butler dressed in a dark gray suit with navy blue trim on his lapels and vest stood there. He was bald, his head smoothly shaven. And going by the unmistakable perfect skin, he was a vampire.
"Welcome to Maplewood Manor Mr. Solan. I'm Hubert the house butler," he greeted Solan as he stepped inside.
"Thank you," he said again. Solan looked around the foyer. It was a large square area, with halls leading off it on both the right and the left. The floor was cream marble with veins of gold. Directly in front of him was a large round table on which stood an elegant arrangement of forsythia and anemone in a tall copper vase. Behind the table was a grand staircase, with gleaming cherrywood steps and black railings with elaborate scrollwork.
Just past the staircase, was a large room that Solan thought might be the main living area. The foyer was open all the way to the second level, its ceiling inlaid with an intricate mosaic in tones of dark red, brown, and gold. An artsy chandelier made from a multitude of gold spokes tipped with spheres of warm amber light hung directly over the center of the space.
While Solan was gawking at the foyer, house staff went out to retrieve his luggage from the van and carried it up the staircase. They went to the right, where Solan presumed his bedroom would be.
A door opened somewhere to Solan's left and a few moments later, Everett, his patron for the next three months, appeared. He was in another three-piece suit. This one was a deep burgundy wine with a slight sheen. He'd paired it with a dark gray shirt and black tie. A gold tie tack with a chain and a center red jewel, and a black silk pocket square folded in a neat triangle served as posh but understated accessories. Gleaming black dress shoes completed the outfit.
Suits and ties weren't Solan's style, but he once again had to admit that they looked phenomenal on Everett. His tall form with broad shoulders, muscled arms, narrow waist and thick thighs must be a tailor's dream form to dress. Everett's hair was styled back from his forehead the same as it had been that night at Club Scarlet and his beard appeared freshly trimmed. And his eyes were a bright, clear blue even without the vampire glow. Solan knew that glow only appeared in the dark or when a vampire experienced strong emotion. Everett appeared so perpetually calm, that Solan wondered if anything besides darkness ever made his eyes glow.
"Solan. I'm glad to see that you arrived okay."
He reached a hand out. Solan automatically mirrored the gesture and ended up with his hand clasped between both of Everett's. They were big and slightly rough, apparently the vampire did something more than boss underlings around. And they weren't cold - only slightly cooler than his own. Cold skin was another myth that vampire PR had refuted. Now Solan got to see for himself that it wasn't true.
"It was a short drive," Solan said.
"Yes, funny that we live so close to one another and yet we've never met."
"Funny," Solan agreed drily.
"I wish I could stay and give you a tour but I have a meeting I have to get to. I'll be back for dinner and we can talk then."
Solan nodded. "That's fine." Just as he'd expected. Everett was too busy to be concerned with him.
"This is Lydia. She'll show you around in my place. And all the staff have been instructed to provide you with anything you request."
A woman dressed in a similar suit to the butler's walked up behind Everett. Her blonde hair was cut in a neat pageboy, her face appeared bare of makeup, and she didn't wear any jewelry. She gave Solan a nod which he returned.
"Lydia will also give you my personal cell number, so if you need anything just call."
"I'm sure I'll be fine."
"Okay, then. I'll see you tonight."
Hubert opened the door again. After only speaking a handful of sentences to Solan, Everett strode outside to a different car and driver than the one that had brought him here.
Solan wrinkled his nose in confusion. He didn't know what he'd expected but it wasn't a quick greeting and an even quicker exit. He hadn't thought that Everett would bite him the moment he walked in the door, but it was a little deflating after lying awake all night stressing over blood drinking that Everett didn't seem particularly eager to get to it.
"Are you ready for your tour, Mr. Solan?"
Solan shook off his feeling of what felt oddly like rejection and turned to Lydia. "Sure, let's see this place."
Everett has Solan where he wants him now!
Blood Kiss is available for pre-order on Amazon for a special .99 pre-order price. Or, you can get it in Kindle Unlimited. I need a little more time to make the story as awesome as possible, so I've pushed the release date back a week to August 16th.
Be sure to add Blood Kiss on Goodreads. And I would greatly appreciate it if you shelved it as a vampire romance. And last, don't forget to sign up for the Christa Tomlinson newsletter so you'll be notified when Blood Kiss is available.
Thank you for reading!
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