It’s Wednesday time for another 25% excerpt – it’s also Halloween! The perfect time I think for a peak into my vampire novel, ON REFLECTION – so here we are a quarter way into the story – enjoy!
Nico looked at Andreas, saw the sadness lingering in his eyes, and f he didn’t already believe how much Andreas loved him, he would have known it then. He wondered if loving someone that much was worth the pain it cost if the love was not returned. Perhaps he was better off never finding out.
Visibly shaking off his mood, Andreas sat up briskly. “I have it,” he said with a touch of excitement in his voice. “We will attend the Duke’s ball tomorrow.”
“How do you know he’ll be holding a ball tomorrow?” Nico queried, a smile lighting his face.
“Of course he will, or maybe the night after. Whenever.” Andreas shrugged. “He’ll hold a ball to celebrate the completion of the Temple. I doubt this Duke is any different from his predecessors. Any excuse for a celebration of his success, you know that. We’ll attend in our best finery and pick out the two most delicious looking men there, maybe even two each, and really have fun!”
Nico laughed. “You know how to plan for a good time, Andreas.”
“I do, don’t I? This should be a wonderful welcome home gift to ourselves.” Andreas smiled.
The following evening, as Andreas had predicted, the Duke threw a large celebration ball, and everyone who was anyone in Volenzkya was invited. Nico and Andreas donned their finest raiment, Nico in dark blue teamed with cream and Andreas in black with dove grey. The two men wore the new style to perfection, their figures showing off the tightly fitting trews worn with matching vests over contrasting shirts. The design was perfect for a tall man with a good leg. Each man swung a long cloak over his shoulders, picked up his cane, and they moved out, marching in step. Nico laughed with delight, determined to enjoy the evening.
The ball spilled out into the extensive gardens surrounding the Duke’s palace. There were servants everywhere, milling among the numerous guests, plying them with food and drinks and generally being very accommodating. The scene was lit with thousands of tiny lamps, so the whole place looked as if the stars themselves had fallen to earth to illuminate the party.
The lights, however, were in sharp competition with the jewels worn by both the ladies and gentleman as they perambulated through the greenery. It was the perfect setting to celebrate the consecration of a Temple to the Divinity.
Music flowed from the huge ballroom, and the dancing had spilled out onto the large stone terrace that swept along one long side of the building. Men were spinning the ladies around, dresses of every hue of the rainbow adding to the colorful spectacle.
“Oh, this is wonderful,” Nico sighed. It had been some time since they had attended such a function, and even after all these years, Nico still found such events new and exciting. Andreas merely shrugged; he had seen it all before, too many times, and he was immune to such charms.
“Come, let’s watch the dancing,” Nico said, pulling on Andreas’ arm.
“No, dear boy, I have no desire to watch young ladies.” Andreas pulled free of Nico’s grip.
Nico laughed. “Andreas, you know better than that, it’s the young men I want to admire.”
“Still, I will find you in a little while. I want to listen to the Duke and his confidants, learn a little of what has been happening recently.”
Nico felt a little disappointed, but shrugged it off. “Very well, I’ll pick out the best for myself.” With a lilting laugh, he moved off into the crowd.
Nico stood leaning against the balustrade at the top of the steps from the lawn to the terrace. He watched as the couples danced by, but he wasn’t really watching individuals. He was just enjoying the overall picture of people having a good time, being happy. He felt a jolt of envy, which he didn’t really understand. He would be alive when all these folk were mere dust; what did they have that he should envy?
Shaking off his confusing thoughts, Nico looked more carefully at the crowd of humanity surrounding him, searching for that someone who would draw his attention, someone he could his share his body with, and take a little payment in blood. He was proud, and more than a little grateful, that in his eighty years as a nightwalker he had never taken a life. He had always given pleasure in return for the feeding.
This night, it seemed perhaps he was spoilt for choice. There were so many handsome young men that he hardly knew where to start. It was then he heard a voice nearby, a voice he found most attractive; low and slightly husky, and delightfully amused. Nico turned to view the man to whom the voice belonged, to find he was staring into a pair of bright green eyes.
“Ah, sorry, sir,” the stranger said, giving a slight bow in Nico’s direction. “I was so busy talking that I did not see you there.”
The man’s eyes were twinkling, and Nico thought perhaps the man was laughing at him.
“I chose a poor place to linger,” Nico admitted. He stretched out a hand, “Nico Volenz at your service.” Nico had shortened his surname a few years after he had been turned, a response to too many people querying his background. It seemed a little less obvious.
The stranger with the startling green eyes gripped his hand firmly. “Paolo Tuenard. It is a pleasure, sir.” Paolo moved toward Nico, ignoring his friends, not bothering to introduce them. As if at a silent signal, they disappeared into the crowd.
“I’ve not seen you around before,” Paolo commented.
“No, I’ve been away from the city for some time; I only returned yesterday.”
“Just in time for the celebrations.” Paolo smiled, looking a little hesitant for the first time.
“Would you care to join me for a drink?” Nico smiled in return, knowing just how attractive he appeared when he smiled that certain way, when he angled his body just so. He had long since perfected his seduction routine, and he moved closer to the young man as he spoke, almost but not quite touching him. He could smell the beginning of arousal and he knew this man would be amenable. His smile, his pose, and his gaze were all he used to hold the man. He had other devices he could turn to, but this young man seemed interested enough that he had no need to use artifice. Nico much preferred the simple approach.
Paolo licked his lips absently and replied, his voice huskier than ever, “Certainly.”
Walking side by side, so close that their hands brushed now and then, they moved steadily through the crowd, studiously not looking at each other. Nico could feel the heat radiating from Paolo, could smell his sweat, his very maleness, his rising arousal. Oh, yes, Nico must have this one, he was just perfect. Ripe for the taking.
After spending at least two hours in Paolo’s company, Nico was captivated with the young man, and apparently the feeling was mutual. Paolo seemed to have an opinion on just about everything, but he was also interested in his companion’s point of view. Rather than seeming like an opinionated bore, it just showed his intelligence and interest in the world around him. He was eager and stimulating, open to everything life had to offer. So it was no surprise that he was fascinated to learn of Nico’s travels. Paolo gave the impression that he loved to soak up knowledge like the proverbial sponge, and he clearly enjoyed listening to Nico’s experiences in other realms.
“You have been to some amazing places, Nico,” Paolo said breathlessly, staring raptly at Nico. “Yet, you don’t look old enough to have had time to visit all those wonderful places.”
“I’m somewhat older than I look,” Nico said, gently smiling.
Paolo smiled back, dipping his head. “Your life sounds so exciting. I have never been anywhere. I’d love to meet different people living different kinds of lives.” He looked up then, holding Nico’s gaze. “You must have seen some very beautiful women in your travels,” Paolo commented diffidently.
Nico shrugged. “I suppose, but then women have never been a particular interest of mine.”
“No?” Paolo queried, eyes sparkling.
“No, I have always found men much more interesting.” Nico moved closer to Paolo as he spoke, letting his gaze slowly travel over Paolo’s form, the young man blushing a little under the obvious attention. “Are you particularly interested in women?” Nico whispered close to Paolo’s ear.
Paolo sucked his breath in, leaning back fractionally to look into Nico’s eyes, and Nico was heartened by what he saw. Paolo was a little flushed, but he held the look and his eyes said the words that his lips did not.
“Can we go somewhere a little more private?”
“If you don’t have to stay, I know the perfect place,” Paolo told him.
Nico grinned. “Stay? No, I only came in the hope I might find someone… interesting.”
If you want to read the whole story, which is available in both ebook and print, go here