Cruelty can take many forms. I sit in the dark. In the back. In the corner farthest away from the gorgeous young women strutting their stuff beneath the pink-shimmering illumination inside the intimate private ballroom of a Caribbean mansion, belonging to a mysterious man everyone called the Vampire.
The lingerie designs they model not only excite the libido to a painful level, but each one is exquisitely unique and incomparably beautiful. I lust over most of them, my breath hitching ridiculously. God, I wanted to wear them. As I could have once. But, I’m too old. Too ugly. Too fat.
"May I offer you a drink, madam?" The man’s voice behind me was deep, impossibly deep, and definitely amused. I had no idea why he would find me amusing. Unless he found old and fat some sort of sick private joke? Yeah, mess with the fat woman and tempt the oldie into believing a man found her ‘interesting’. That’s a good one. Haha. Only I’m not laughing, creep.
"I believe you will find the mango sangria particularly refreshing."
"Mango sangria?" Stupid, stupid! Why take the bait? I should just ignore him. Damn.
"A sip. I wish you to try it."
"Wish all you want. No thanks." Go away. Go find another victim. Irritated, my cheeks flushing...thank god, it’s dark...I return my attention to the filmy glamor negligees. I wish I could feel the silk and lace, the sheer whirl of color as it swishes and slinks over my hourglass curves, as they once were. Not so many years ago. I want to look in the mirror again, admire my own beauty. Maybe be admired. If it’s the right man. Passion untamed...god, yes.
"Please, I need your opinion."
Suddenly, he’s sitting beside me. I blink like an owl.
"My opinion," I nearly stutter. No man can soundlessly move that fast, can he? His voice had come from my left. Now he sat on my right, his gaze focused on me as if he intended to feast on my face. Maybe he was, in a way. Maybe it was my blood he was after. I stifled a shiver, and chastised myself. The Vampire. I only recognized him because the magazine I freelanced for on the island, often featured him on the society pages. "Oh, I get it. For the magazine’s drink recommendations."
"If that pleases you, then, yes, Sapphira."
"What else?" Damn, why had I said that? I’d just opened the door...
"I wish to know your palate." Leaning back, he suavely crooked one finger.
I swallowed as if my life depended on it. I’d never heard of the Vampire interacting with anyone at his fantasy fashion shows. Yes, he attended the island’s elite social events, a stunning woman attached to his side, cleavage down to her navel. But not...
With debonair precision, a waiter from out of nowhere, it seemed, deposited two tall shapely glasses. The Vampire lifted his while I stared.
"To your health, Sapphira. Please taste."
Okay, Cici, the mag’s owner would kill me if she found out I hadn’t ‘tasted’. Besides, it would be a coup of a society story, even though I’d only agreed to write up the fashion show because her usual reporter retched with morning sickness.
I pick up the cool curvy glass, then convince my hand not to shake as I slightly raise it. "To your health, Mr. Vorragozi."
"Tell me what you think," he encourages.
Are his eyes sparkling strangely? It’s not real blood, is it? Sangria...doesn’t that mean blood? God help me, if I’m remembering right, it does.
I sip. It’s so perfectly yummy-mango, I sip again. And again. Four sips. Five. I force myself to set the glass down. "Amazing. Very amazing, Mr. Vorragozi."
"I prepared it just for you."
"Why?" My head begins a pleasant swim. I smile.
"Tell me, what’s your favorite lingerie?"
"Baby dolls," I blurt out as if I can’t contain myself. "Truth serum?" I ask, and hold up the glass.
"What would be your favorite color to wear?" His eyes glisten like black pearls.
"Red." My tongue is utterly disobedient.
"Yes, I must have you in red."
"Blood-red! What kind of cruelty..."
CONTINUED ON AUGUST 31, 2008 ~
"Cruelty?" He inquires a moment after I’d firmed my lips, despite the maddening urge to blab like a chic lit heroine. I think his eyebrow is raised, but the darkness makes me wonder. Still, his tone is cool as his restaurant’s giant freezer. I know I’ve been in it, writing an article for Cici.
He waits with a patience I admire, or perhaps, he simply enjoys my mouse-like torture as I scurry in my mind to think of a way to escape.
"My age. I think it’s cruel." So there, Vampire. Maybe that will turn you ice cold with revulsion.
"How old are you, Sapphira?"
Do I hear the faint drumming of his fingertips? God, I’d love to take another drink. The glass taunted me like a singing Siren.
"Please tell me," he coaxed. Very persuasively.
It was either grab the glass and sip...or..."Fifty-eight." I harden my jaw, then avert my face. "Satisfied? Happy?" I slice my tone quite effectively, I believe.
"Would you care to guess my age?"
Neutral, his voice, yet tempting, a caress of black velvet. Oh yes, there’s that underlying amusement.
I gage my chances at shutting him down. Not damn likely, I realize.
Still...I’m a sucker for the right challenge.
"Forty something," I fling at him, tightly gripping my hands together. The Mango Sangria beckons and my mouth begs to taste ambrosia again.
He laughs...melodic and deep. Frissons of ecstatic pleasure seize my nerve endings. I sit paralyzed. Wishing I could move. But I couldn’t. I truly couldn’t.
I couldn’t even blink.
"I’ve been told thirty-five. Often." He made no attempt to hide his amusement. The hypnotic glitter of his eyes danced in the dimness, and felt like a gentle stroke on my face. Odd.
"Actually, I’m one thousand and forty-one."
What the hell kind of drug had he put in that drink?
Maybe, it was blood. His blood? Vampire addictive blood. Hadn’t I read that somewhere? Some romance novel from years ago...however my brain is too fuzzy to remember, as if I’d indulged in drinking a Fuzzy Navel. Damn.
I finally blink. "Forty-one?"
"You’ll enjoy the dark side, my pretty Sapphira," he promises.
"The dark side," I mumble. Straightening my spine, I announce, "I don’t do the dark side."
"Do?" He leans forward slightly. "I believe you’ll enjoy ‘doing’ me. As much as I will passionately enjoy ‘doing’ you."
TO BE CONTINUED...