"Lissa, this is Brock." My surrogate sire, Merrill (as handsome as the devil with ebon hair and piercing blue eyes), introduced me to a vampire who was perhaps an inch taller than his own six-three. I'd been called into Merrill's overly large kitchen for the introduction. Franklin stood at the stove nearby, preparing dinner for himself and Lena, Merrill's housekeeper.
Brock's scent told me immediately that Merrill had made him. That was my secret, now—knowing who'd sired whom. If I'd met the sire, that is. Perhaps I would tell Merrill of this particular ability someday. Perhaps. He'd frowned slightly when I informed him that I could determine the age of any vampire by scent. Not their exact age, mind you, but I could certainly tell which ones were older and which younger. Brock wasn't nearly as handsome and nowhere near as old as Merrill. I'd guessed the tall, brown-eyed vampire to be around a hundred, perhaps a little more. His scent was one of the lightest ones I'd encountered among vampires. Even Charles' was heavier and spicier.
"Hello," I held out my hand politely. Sometimes vampires frown on touching, so I was taking a chance. When Brock smiled and took my hand, I almost breathed a sigh of relief.
"Brock is here to teach you to take blood properly," Merrill said, motioning for us to follow him. Franklin turned from his cooking for a moment and winked at me before I followed obediently behind Merrill and Brock. Our destination was Merrill's study, where most of my lessons took place.
"Remain standing," Merrill instructed, so I stood behind my favorite chair, which faced his beautiful, hand-carved, cherry wood desk. My favorite chair was the wingback on the left. I don't know why I preferred it to the one on the right; both were spaced evenly before Merrill's desk and were identical as far as I could tell. "I taught Brock how to take blood properly," Merrill went on, "so he will be taking from you, teaching you not only how to do it for yourself but what happens with the bite when it comes. This will enable you to take properly if you find it necessary and no bagged blood is available."
Merrill's words made me want to shrink away from Brock. I'd only been bitten once—to my knowledge anyway—and that resulted in my turning. I had no memory of it and just the thought of being bitten frightened me. Merrill knew right away. I suppose he'd spent a very long time reading the reactions of others, vampires included. I was a new turn and most likely an open book. "Lissa, he will not harm you," Merrill scolded. I must have cringed enough to offend both Merrill and Brock. Drawing a steadying breath, I straightened up immediately.
"I really won't hurt you," Brock said gently, attempting to reassure. He was giving me a lop-sided grin but that didn't help much. I didn't know this man—or vampire. At all.
"Now," Merrill began, "if the donor seems reluctant, you must place compulsion."
Brock's eyes met mine as he took my hand and murmured, "I will not harm you. You have nothing to fear." His weak compulsion washed over me. I nodded at him, my eyes wide with fright. Obviously, my terror was stronger than Brock's compulsion but I wasn't going to point that out to him or to Merrill.
"Now, you must bring their body against yours and hold it securely," Merrill explained. Brock pulled my body against his with one hand while the other cupped the back of my neck. I shivered in his grasp.
"Next," Merrill continued while pointedly ignoring my silent alarm, "you may choose to place a kiss. Your saliva holds just a bit of natural anesthetic, so any initial pain may be muted." Brock placed a careful kiss over the artery in my throat. I could feel his cool breath against my skin as he held my body firmly against his. The kiss, as careful as it was, did nothing to allay my fear. I knew what was coming, tightly embraced as I was against an unknown vampire. He held power over me—they all did. It terrified me.
"The bite comes next," Merrill said while Brock sank his fangs into my throat. I stiffened as I felt his teeth enter my skin, and whimpered while the most intense orgasm I'd ever experienced washed over me before blackness descended.
* * *
"Lissa? Wake up, child," Merrill slapped my wrist. Franklin was there as well, I could tell by the scent. He was also the one washing my face with a cold, wet cloth. My eyes blinked open and I stared at Merrill and Franklin both.
"I don't know why I wasn't expecting this, at least on some level," Merrill chastised himself. I was lying on a sofa in his bedroom—Merrill's suite was near his study, so they'd taken me there to bring me around.
"You haven't known her very long," Franklin attempted to calm Merrill down. "How would you know?"
I was listening to them with barely half an ear. I'd fainted only once since becoming vampire and remembered it vividly; Gavin kissed me and then blackness had come. Gavin was currently on assignment but when he returned and called to see if I'd go out with him, he had some serious explaining to do.
"How do you feel?" Merrill patted my hand.
"All right," I sat up on the sofa and looked around. I'd never been inside Merrill's bedroom before and probably would never be there again. It was richly decorated in a masculine sort of way. There was only one photograph in the entire suite and it rested on Merrill's bedside table. I didn't linger long on the image.
"Maybe you should drink a little of this," Brock walked in, offering a unit of blood. My cheeks might have flooded with color if I'd still been able to blush. I accepted the blood with my own version of embarrassment, shaking hands and all.
"This isn't embarrassing or anything," I muttered, biting the top off the bag to drink.
"We knew the climax would come, I just hadn't any idea how intense it would be," Merrill said. "For that, I apologize."
"Well, that's the first time I ever did that with two men in the room," I grumbled as I sipped blood. Franklin snickered.
"If it's any consolation, I'm g*y," Brock said. "So, only one of the men was straight."
I met Brock's steady gaze, his clear, brown eyes revealing a bit of worry. "I don't think my body knew the difference," I shrugged.
"Tomorrow evening we will take you out and you will do this for yourself," Merrill informed me. "We planned to go out tonight, but your faint has precluded that activity."
"If you could eat them, I'd make brownies for you," Franklin smiled as he took the bag of blood away. I'd only finished half of it.
"I remember chocolate," I heaved a shaky sigh. "Thanks for the thought." I smiled back at Franklin. We'd become good friends, he and I. He patted my shoulder.