Home > Devereux: The Night Before Kismet

Devereux: The Night Before Kismet
Author: Lynda Hilburn

The Beginning

Devereux stalked through the crowded club to the booth where his two friends and business partners sat. “Laurence!” he yelled over the screeching sounds of the goth metal band performing at the far end of the room.

The dark-haired vampire jerked back, tearing his fangs from the pulsing vein on the neck of the human female currently slouched, enraptured, next to him. “What?”

He swung his gaze upward. “Merde, Devereux! You scared the shit out of me.” He nodded toward the woman’s neck, where blood was spurting from the ragged wounds. “And look what you made me do. The holes are torn open. She’s gushing all over everywhere.” He flicked his tongue across the gashes in the woman’s neck, using his saliva to slow the bleed, then looked down at himself and pointed to the wet stains on his clothes. “And there’s spatter all over my new jacket. Really, mon frère, was that necessary?”

Devereux scowled and dropped the file folder he carried onto the table. “You know better than to feed openly in my club, old friend,” he said, speaking loudly enough to be heard over the music. Then he made a circle motion with his finger and the volume of the noise magically dropped by half in the area around the booth. “This is not Europe. Things are more... constrained... here. You have been my guest many times. We have discussed this before.” He sighed in frustration. “I have asked you to do nothing to arouse suspicion among the humans. Is your memory so short that you have forgotten what it is like to be hunted?”

And to watch the ones we love die?

He caught the eye of his personal assistant Luna, and sent her a mental command, instructing her to bring a wrap for the mortal woman.

Laurence straightened in his seat and smoothed his shoulder-length, wavy hair away from his now-serious face. “Indeed, I haven’t forgotten. Many of those dear to us perished during those times.” He gave a sheepish grin. “But you know me, Devereux. I sometimes get carried away. The Crypt always feels like such a safe haven. The humans believe everything that happens here is part of the ambience.” He nodded and pointed to the decor of the huge club, which looked like a cross between Dracula’s castle and an ancient graveyard. “Please, forgive me.”

“Really, Devereux. He meant no harm,” Elliott, the other vampire at the table, added, fanning away a waft of chemical smoke from the ever-present fog machines.

Luna approached, holding a long black velvet cape. She was dressed in the latest goth-dominatrix gear: tight black leather pants, a waist-cinching red silk corset which barely contained her abundant br**sts and knee-high stiletto-heel boots. Her long black hair was parted down the middle ala 1970s Cher and her make-up had obviously been influenced by the Queen of the Nile: dark wings sweeping out from each silver eye. She cocked a hip against the end of the booth and held out the wrap, her trademark sneer firmly in place.

Devereux bent down and met the human’s unfocused gaze. “You have had a wonderful time tonight, but now you are tired and you wish to go home. The club provided a ride for you because you had been drinking. We made sure you got home safely. You look forward to your next visit.” He stood and held out his hand. “Allow me to help you to your feet.”

The woman rose, dazed, her mouth slightly open.

Such a fragile little human. If she only knew what hides in the shadows.

Devereux took the cape from Luna and wrapped it around the woman’s shoulders, fastening the clasp at her neck. He tugged her gently away from the booth, then, making sure he blocked the view of prying eyes, he leaned in and ran his tongue slowly over the holes in her neck. The wounds immediately vanished. The woman’s head dropped back as if it was too heavy for her muscles to hold. She moaned.

“Well now, Devereux,” Elliott said with a grin. “It’s not sporting to stop Laurence’s fun only to take over yourself. He spread his arms out along the back of the booth, clearly enjoying the drama.

Devereux ignored the remark and gave his attention to Luna. “I have scanned her thoughts to find out if she drove herself to the club tonight. She did not. She came with a friend who has already left, so there are no other ends to tie up. Take her home.”

“Yes, Master.” Luna steered the woman toward the exit.

“Luna!” Laurence yelled, “hurry, my little demon.” He patted his lap. “I’m saving a special seat for you.”

She gave a quick look back over her shoulder and waved her middle finger.

Laurence and Elliott laughed.

Devereux stood silently for a moment, watching the women weave through the crowd, before he flicked a hand at his friends, signaling them to make room for him. He slid into the booth, relaxed his head against the seat cushion and gave a huge sigh. “I am getting too old for this.”

And too empty...

“Dev, old boy, I’m starting to worry about you,” Laurence said, patting his arm.

“What do you mean?” He sat up straight and turned to his friend, his long, light-blond hair trailing down the front of his chest. He opened the folder he’d tossed onto the table and spread out a stack of photos.

“Don’t play dumb. You’re obviously not yourself.” Elliott shifted his eyes to the images. “Wow. Who’s that?” He pointed to the top photo showing a woman dressed like a scantily clad bloodsucker.

Devereux rearranged several photos. “I am selecting employee costumes for the club Halloween party.”

Laurence shuffled through the pictures, recovering the one with the almost-nude woman. “I choose this one. I think Luna would look wonderful dressed — er, undressed like this.”

Devereux shook his head. “Good luck with that. It is hard enough to keep her from accidentally dismembering customers who grope her through her usual clothing. All hope would be lost if she were forced to wear a thong.” He pushed the photos away and heaved another deep sigh. “I used to enjoy this process, but this year it feels tedious.”

“You’re making my point.” Laurence retrieved the photo. “Everybody knows something is wrong with you. You’re listless. All work and no play. The three of us have known each other forever — almost literally forever — and we know when you’re closing down. When’s the last time you went on a spree?”

“A spree?” Devereux said, his voice dripping disgust. “Don’t insult me with euphemisms. Let us call it what it really is: a killing spree, the execution of captive humans by vampires. It is barbaric.”

“On the contrary,” Laurence replied with a shrug. “It is one of the last bastions of the natural order of things.”

“Natural order? You think invading an isolated island prison and draining several of the human inmates is something to be celebrated? A worthy competition?” Devereux stared hard at his companions. “And you think there is something wrong with me?”

“Since when have you become the protector of the mortals? Super-Vampire to the rescue?” Elliott picked through the photos again.

Devereux said, sadly, “I am not protecting them. I am protecting us. After every one of those events, the human internet explodes with rumors of vampires. Somehow the word spreads, even after the memories of the survivors are altered. We now live in a very small world and every decision affects the future. And besides, it is simply asinine. Why kill caged mortals when there are so many willing donors?”

“See?” Laurence said and slapped his hand on the table. “Now I’m really concerned about you — and the fact that you don’t remember how glorious it feels to feed through the kill. I think you need to get back to your primal roots, my friend.”

Devereux dropped his head against the top of the cushion again. “I clearly remember my primal roots, thank you very much. I have worked hard to evolve, to be more than my primitive urges.”

“Well, we’ll simply have to agree to disagree,” Elliott said, holding up a photo of a na**d, well-endowed, orange-painted woman. He slid his finger across the model’s cl**vage and grinned. “Most of us don’t share your enlightened views. Nothing will ever be better than fresh, fear-infused human blood. But there’s an equally important primal urge you definitely need to get back in touch with. And we’ve taken care of it. Tell him, Laurence.”

“Tell me what?” Devereux asked, with no real interest.

“We were talking to Charlie Dickens when he was in here a few weeks ago about that little story he wrote back in the 1800s — the one about the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. And it gave us an outstanding idea.”

“What idea?” Devereux opened one eye.

“Wait,” Elliott said, “don’t forget the other part — that show we saw on TV about a bachelor choosing from among several women who were competing for his affections.”

“Right,” Laurence agreed. “It was a combination of both those things.”

“What was?” Devereux opened his other eye, beginning to get suspicious.

“We’ve set you up with three enticing women. One from your past, one you met very recently and one you don’t know yet. They all expressed an intense desire to be your chosen one.”

Devereux sprang upright. “What chosen one?” he asked, his gaze tracking back and forth between the two immortals. “There is no such thing.”

They both hooted with laughter. “Of course. But the females don’t know that. It will be so entertaining!”

Devereux stared at them and frowned. “You are joking, right? You would not do something so ridiculous...”

“Yes, we would,” Laurence said. “And you should be grateful. How long since you’ve spent time with a woman?” He held up another photo, this one of a model dressed like vintage Vampirella.

Ignoring the picture, Devereux opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, struggling for the right words, then gave a dismissive gesture with his hand. “I have constant female company. In fact, I have too many women around me. I would love to take a break from them.”

As if on cue, two identical human women stepped away from the large group of females surrounding the booth, approached the table and stared at Devereux. He scanned the new arrivals.

Appearing barely old enough to be legal in the club, the pair stood swaying in their high heels, a little worse for alcohol. Their long dark hair was streaked with shades of bright red which matched their lip color and the hue of their pointed fingernails. Each wore a short skirt, Twilight T-shirt, and multi-color thigh-high socks.

“Twins, Devereux,” Laurence said, pointing at the women and leering. “This is your lucky day.”

“Quiet,” Devereux grumbled before refocusing his attention on his audience. “Good evening, ladies,” he said, morphing back into his role of club owner. “Is there something you need?”

“Oh, you shouldn’t have said that,” Elliott stage-whispered.

Devereux gave him a quick glare.

The two women’s lips moved, but no sound emerged. Eyes still locked on Devereux, both took a step forward and reached out a hand. As if they were moving in slow-motion, they each stroked a finger down the front of his sky-blue silk shirt, then combed their fingers through his hair, lifting the strands and watching them fall.

They stood, transfixed, mouths hanging open.

Muttering under his breath, he grasped their wrists gently and lifted their hands from his head. Staring into their eyes, he said, “It was nice to meet you, ladies, but it is very late and time for you to leave. Go now.” He lightened his tone. “And please. Drive carefully.”

With blank expressions, they turned and stumbled away from the booth.

The moment the twins were gone, four new women hustled forward and arranged themselves in front of the trio. One, a bald woman with tattoos of na**d men on her scalp stepped closer, and opened her mouth to speak.

“No,” Devereux said, pointing his finger at her. He stared hard at each of them.

Eyes suddenly vacant, they spun and retreated, the hairless woman scratching her head in confusion.

Devereux slumped in his seat, frowning. “As I was saying, I suffer no shortage of females. That is why I rarely spend time in the main part of the club.”

“Wow. Impressive. Even without trying, you’re the ultimate babe magnet.” Elliott stroked a hand down the arm of Devereux’s dark blue designer jacket. “It’s got to be the leather. Not just anyone can pull off the ‘elegant biker’ look.”

“Yeah,” Laurence agreed. “I never did understand why someone as stuck in the past as you are would choose leather clothing. Seems an old Druid robe would be more to your taste.”

“Very funny,” Devereux said. “As I have mentioned previously, I come by my love of leather naturally. A branch of my biological family made garments from the skins of animals. I learned the craft and became quite good at it.”

“Yeah?” Elliott tugged at the leather fabric. “Why don’t I remember that story?”

Devereux shrugged. “I have noticed that when I say something that does not involve women or blood, you do not pay attention. You simply remind me to stop thinking about the past.”

“Oh yeah, maybe you did tell us. I remember now, but you’ve got to admit you tend to drone on about the good old days,” Laurence said. “It’s time you joined the twenty-first century.” He skimmed through a few more of the photos.

“I suppose so.” Devereux pointed to his current ensemble and launched into a topic he found comfortable. Something that wouldn’t trigger his discontent again. “Speaking of the present, this is one of my designs. I simply combined my knowledge of leather-working with my own innate creativity and started a business to sell them.”

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