Crimson DebtBy: Evangeline Anderson
Born to Darkness Book 1: Crimson Debt
“So you’re working here of your own free will? No one has coerced you either mentally or physically into employment at Under the Fang?”
The college age barmaid gave me a bored look and snapped her gum. “Yeah, I mean no, nobody forced me or anything. I’m here ‘cause the tips are great, Master Corbin won’t let anybody fuck with us, and I get as much glam-sex as I want for free. What’s not to like?”
What indeed. I studied her eyes, looking for the telltale red pinprick in her pupils that denoted a thrall but there was nothing. There never was at Under the Fang, Tampa’s premiere glam-sex club, which always pissed me off. I would have loved to nail the owner’s hide to the wall. Self-satisfied bastard.
Sitting on a raised dais in the center of the club was the bastard in question—Alec Corbin, a four-star master vamp who looked like a wet-dream come true. He was six four and probably around two twenty or two twenty-five, all of it muscle and he wasn’t shy about showing it off either. Right now he was wearing a tight black t-shirt that hugged his broad shoulders and muscular chest and made his dark blond hair glow positively gold in the dim lights of the club. He’d died needing a shave but the dark blond stubble on his square jaw only added to his sex appeal and I was willing to bet that he knew it.
However it wasn’t his size or his looks that drew the admiration of every fang freak in the sunshine state—it was Corbin’s eyes. Fringed thickly with dark lashes, they were a deceptively light silvery-blue that reminded me of the reflection on the surface of a lake. A mysterious body of water that had unexplored depths with monsters swimming somewhere down deep, just waiting to grab you and drag you under. Pretty on the surface and fucking scary underneath.
Yeah, that was Corbin, all right.
As though feeling my gaze on him, he looked up and smiled at me, showing just enough fang to be insulting. I met his monster’s eyes without fear and gave him a blank look back. I can do that because I’m an Auditor, but I don’t recommend it to your average garden variety human. Being one of the one in ten thousand who is immune to a vamp’s glamour and mind tricks comes in handy for me in my line of work, but if someone without my gifts was to try what I do, they’d be screwed six ways to Sunday.
“Seriously, I mean this gig rocks. Where else do you get multiple orgasms as a bonus?”
The chirpy voice of the barmaid drew me away from my staring contest with Corbin and I turned to look at her again. She had curly hair that was done up in a lot of tendrils around her round face and there was a fresh set of fang marks on her neck. Looking around the club, which was decorated in red, black, and silver, I saw more than one patron with a matching set. The sex for blood trade must be hustling tonight.
“So you do the glam-sex thing a lot, do you?” I asked, wondering about the state of her gray matter. There haven’t been any studies to prove that glam-sex—that is mind-sex with a vampire—has long term side effects, but how often could you let another being alter your brain before it turned to mush?
“Yeah, it’s great. Especially with Master Corbin. I mean, I only got it from him once, back when I first started, but wow.” She waved shyly at Corbin who didn’t bother to acknowledge her. His lack of attention didn’t seem to bother his employee, however. “It’s like amazing,” she gushed, grinning at me. “I mean, have you ever tried it?”
“Can’t.” I pointed to the small black star tattooed at the outer corner of my right eye—the mark of an Auditor. I use makeup to cover it up when I’m out but the law mandates I keep it visible while I’m at work. It’s the same law that forces vamps to have their own tattoos—one star for every century they’ve been alive. Or undead, if you want to get technical. They use a special kind of ink—I’ve heard it’s blood based—in order to make a permanent mark on a vamp and even so it fades over time and they have to get it redone. Alec Corbin had four little blood red stars under his left eye. As far as I knew, he was the only four-star vamp in all of Florida, which was fine with me. The longer a vampire survives, the stronger he gets. Four stars are rare and scary enough, any more and you’re getting into truly frightening territory.
“Oh, right.” The barmaid shook her head. “Vamps can’t glam you, huh? Bummer.”
“I manage just fine,” I said dryly. “How does your boyfriend feel about you having glam-sex with the fangers every night?”
“Oh, I haven’t dated anyone since just after I started here two years ago. I was going with this one guy—we were even thinking of getting married. But he got mad when I quit school to work at the Fang full time. He was all ‘Glam-sex is still cheating’ and I was like, ‘As if, asshole. They don’t even touch me.’ But he totally wouldn’t see it my way and he was being a jerk about the whole thing. So we broke up.”