I instinctively open my mouth. The first few drops of blood splash against my tongue and roll down my throat. A few more trickles, then a steady stream. The taste makes me dizzy. Stronger than human. Stronger that ghoul. A cold, familiar hand brushes my cheek. I open my eyes.
Nothing but darkness.
I close my mouth and try to resist the urge to feed. Belzitane forces my mouth open with his free hand. I give up easily. A vampire resisting the taste of freely given elder's blood is like a six year old resisting a bag of Halloween candy after mommie says "Go ahead, honey, eat all you want."
He finally pulls his wrist away from my mouth, slaps me across the face, and then kisses me. He forces his tongue into my mouth. I bite him. He lets me feed for a minute, then bites back. A jolt of ecstasy courses through my body as my head begins to spin.
Belzitane finally pulls away. "Nice to see you have missed me, Alexandra."
As I struggle in the dark, I realize I'm naked and chained to a concrete wall. I hear the echo of a rat's squeak.
"Don't suppose there's a skeleton hanging next to me from a past victim?"
Somehow a torchlight gets lit. I look to my left to find the skeletal remains of what might have been a werewolf. "Don't miss a step, do you dad?"
"Why do you insist on calling me that?"
"I don't know, why do you insist on calling me Alexandra?"
"It is the name your mother gave you."
"Don't bring my mother into this."
Belzitane releases an exaggerated sigh. "I was perfectly content to let your mother live. It made it so much easier to control you. It is not my fault she was in that car accident. Besides, she would have died so much sooner if I had not intervened."
"Why am I not a pile of ash?"
"I considered that. I was thinking about a nice bonfire, but that seemed so uninspired. Then I thought about dropping you into an open pit and waiting for the sun, but that seemed so…so---"
"Interview With the Vampire?"
Belzitane smiles. "Then I thought about a nice vat of acid, but that seemed more suited for a mad scientist type. I even considered letting you go, after removing an eye." He presses up against me suddenly and removed the eye patch. Two almost matching eyes stare back at me. "But you have friends among the fiends too and would just get it replaced. Then again, maybe you wouldn't. Your precious humanity would prevent it. You would need to see a signed donor card or something first."
"When did you get that fixed?"
"Shortly after you did it. I have found it quite useful to let people think I'm blind in one eye. Always let them think you have a weakness. It gives you the advantage when they learn too late the truth." He starts tracing the bull's eye tattoo over my heart with his finger. "I will surely never understand why you mutilate your body the way you do."
"Get your hands off me, dad."
"Stop calling me that. It's not like we're Giovanni, after all."
"What do you want with me, Anton?"
"Aren't you going to ask about your little hunter friend?"
"Heather got away from you."
"What makes you so sure?"
"Because if you had her you would have drained me dry, thrown me in a dirt pit, and held her over top while I dug my way out hoping I'd eat her."
He kisses my cheek and begins brushing my hair with his hands. "This is why you were always my favorite. You're the only one who ever understood me."
"I'll never understand you."
"You understand. You just don't agree."
"Are you going to answer my question, or do you intend to talk me to death?"
"All you're wounds have healed up nicely."
The smile that spread across his face crashed into the back of my brain. The amount of damage I took during the ambush would have taken a long time to heal.
"My sources tell me your friends looked for you passionately the first two weeks. They seemed so determined. Heather missed her own graduation to look for you."
Graduation? I've been in this cell a month?
"You restored the blood bond," I say. I'm not really talking to him. I just need to say it out loud to register it in my brain.
"You see, Alexandra, I realize what happened between us. Regardless of how upset I was with you, it was never your fault. I released you too soon. You weren't ready to be placed into a pack. I should have kept you at my side longer. I won't make that mistake again."
"Just because you renewed the blood bond doesn't mean I'll stay if I have a chance to get away."
"I know. That is why you and I are going to make a new agreement. You will do exactly what I say, and I will refrain from blowing up your friends' homes." He kisses my ear and starts letting his hands wander over me like a drunk at a bachelor party. "Besides, why would you want to upset me by leaving again? I would be devastated. I doubt I could retain my civility. Probably feel the need to start murdering small children and pregnant women. I know the only way to deal with the anguish of losing you would be to kill at least one a night. Do you really want to put me through that?"
"You would do it, too? You sick bastard. You'd risk the whole damn masquerade just to spite me."
"You just have no idea what you mean to me."
"That's why you sent Carlos to destroy me?"
Belzitane laughs and leans against the wall. "Actually, I wanted you to get rid of the little brat for me. I only embraced him to repay an old debt. I think he grew tired of being compared to you. I couldn't just destroy him myself, you understand. Politics and all. But if he got himself killed during a mission…"
I start banging the back of my head against the stone wall, hoping to knock myself unconscious. He puts his hand behind my head to stop me before I break my skull.
"Stop it! Just shut up. For once just shut up. You're an idiot! You're like a grade-B movie mad scientist who has to explain to the hero everything he's going to do before killing him just so the good guys have time to get there. You're a cliché, Anton. You're a tired, worn-out cliché of a vampire who would rather waste time annoying the crap out of me than face the fact that for all your alleged money and power you're nothing more than an impotent prick with a sun allergy."
Belzitane breaks two of my ribs with a punch. Then he walks over to the iron door and bangs on it. It opens and I hear him say "Bring her here" to someone in the hall. A moment later a girl no more than ten years old in shoved into the cell with us. She's blindfolded and her hands are tied behind her. She's wearing a dirty white dress that she's probably been sleeping in for several days. The blindfold is wet with tears.
Before Belzitane can open his mouth to reveal his intentions, I give a yank at the chains holding me to the wall. He seems surprised when the stone gives way and one of the chains comes free. "I had heard you had gotten stronger but I never realized---" But he shuts up when the second chain comes free and I lunge at him.
I slam him to the floor and wrap a chain around his neck. Every ounce of my soul wants to rip him to pieces. But the blood won't let me.
"Are you done, Alexandra?" He sounds bored. I stand up and go over to the little girl. He had someone fleshcraft her ears shut.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" I cradle the little girl and she starts crying again. "Is there some fuckin' Monster of the Year contest you're trying to win?"
"Your strength developed so quickly. And my mental abilities never seemed to faze you. But the one advantage I have always had has been the fact that you cling so desperately to your humanity. I just don't give a fuck."
"Let this girl go, Anton. Wipe her memory and send her home to her momma."
"Her mother is a crack addict who sold her to me. There are three options here, Alexandra. Option one. You can continue in your defiance and I have a business associate in Indonesia who could find all sorts of uses for a ten year old girl."
"I won't argue any more. I'll do whatever you want. Just let her go."
"Option two. You can kill her. Put the poor little thing out of her misery. And in exchange, I'll let you go and never bother you again."
"You know that's not gonna happen."
"That was a quick response. Do you want to think about that for a minute? I mean, even if I let her go and send her home, her mother will just whore her out for drug money. She'll grow up to be a plague on mortal society just like that which spawned her."
"You spawned me and I haven't turned out like you."
Belzitane growls at me. "We really need to work on this whole humanity problem of yours. It just is not practical." He walks over to us and kneels down. "Option Three: I get her ears fixed, wipe her memory, and raise her as my own daughter. She will get the best of everything. I might even get her a puppy. Or a kitten. Of course, I'm not much on mothering. But you have experience with children her age."
I hug the little girl. "Fine. You win. You wanna play house? We'll play house."
"I knew you would make the right decision." He stands up and pulls the little girl from me. "I'll bring you a change of clothes in a little while, darling. Right now Uncle Martin has to fix little Stacey's ears."
He pauses at the door and brushes Stacey's hair. "You're not the only one whose come home, my love."
As the iron door closed behind him, the torchlight goes out. I sit in the dark and cry.