Wolf Night – Extract

I Sensed him before I saw him. Even in a room half-filled with vampires, he stood out like a beacon, and once I’d caught sight of him, I couldn’t look away. Laclos – one of the oldest and most powerful vampires in London, 1000-odd years of attitude stuffed into the lean, supple body of a rock star. His very presence in the room exerted a gravitational pull. Already I could see people, humans and vamps alike, turning towards him with glances that held various overtones of lust or longing, as he simply leaned back against a table, surveying the scene with lazy satisfaction, drinking in the admiration as his due.
I walked towards him and the two young vampires who flanked him tensed, but Laclos gave a tiny flick of his fingers and they melted into the crowd like mist. His bodyguards didn’t like me very much, possibly because I’d been fairly instrumental in the death of their predecessors – something like that tends to get a girl a bit of a rep. Laclos and I, it was pretty fair to say, had a little bit of a history.
Not that any of this showed in his expression as I approached. He wore the self-satisfied smirk of a man who knows he’s sexier and stronger than anyone else in the room, reclining against one of the tables – it takes a vampire to be able to recline while standing up – a half-full glass of wine in one hand and a glint of mischief in his eye. Much as I would like to say I was immune to the cliché, I felt my stomach tighten. Honestly, I’d never met a man who could lean so provocatively, it must be something in the hips. I stopped a couple of feet away – even at that distance, his proximity was playing havoc with my Sense, not to mention the rest of me. To my Sense, Laclos conjured up scotch and sex and cigarettes, Sinatra and louche living, and I’m embarrassed to admit what an intoxicating cocktail that was, made all the more potent by the fact that he was so clearly aware of it.
Tonight he had eschewed his usual attire – the leather trousers and bare chest combo that should be ridiculous, but was actually hormone shredding – for a pair of black combats which bristled with straps and chains, and a t-shirt so tight it looked like it had been spray painted on, every muscle of that impossibly sculpted torso plainly visible. He’d finished the look with heavy black biker boots and thick leather and metal gauntlets on each wrist. They had a disturbingly manacle-like appearance, giving him the look of a man who, up until five minutes ago, had been suspended from a hook in a dominatrix’s dungeon. Then again, this was Laclos; that was probably just a usual Tuesday night for him. Or maybe he’d heard that vampires were over now and moved onto 50 Shades, I wouldn’t put it past him. He greeted me with a slight nod and his usual, ‘you know you want me and I admire your restraint in not admitting it ’ smile, and I responded with my usual weary sigh and an eye roll at Medea, who had clocked his arrival and was probably unique in the room in being utterly immune to his charm.
“Why, Cassandra, I see you look as exquisite as ever.”
Yes, he really does talk like that.
“And I see you left the Jim Morrison clobber at home this time. Are you supposed to be a punk, now? Does this mean in another 10 or 20 years you’ll actually be in fashion?”
His mouth widened as he caught himself in a laugh, and my Sense prickled at the flash of fang, remembering the feel of them cold on my neck.
“Fashion is for the ugly and the insecure, Cassandra. I am only interested in style. And, of course, sex.”
Oh, yes, he tends to be quite direct, as well.
And though I hated myself for letting him bait me, I still felt myself blush. I took a mouthful of Prosecco and hid my embarrassment by adopting the bored impatience I favoured in his presence.
“So, what are you doing here, Laclos? They run out of whips at the Pleasure Garden?” I asked, with as little grace as I could muster. “It’s not like you need a date.”
Unfazed, he twitched an eyebrow and held out his arms in that expansive, Christ-like gesture I had come to know so well.
“Why wouldn’t I be here? It is, after all, to all intents and purposes, my party.”
I took another long gulp of my drink. That was the other reason, of course, that Laclos walked around like he owned the place. He pretty much did. And there was nothing at all I could do about it – after all, you can’t sell your soul to the devil and then complain when he tries to collect.

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