In the Blood Online - Savannah Russe

Chapter 1

Coitus Interraptus

I wanted to sink my teeth into the young man lying next to me. To bite or not to bite, that was the question. Biting was, after all, what vampires did. But I aspired to something different: I was struggling to become a moral, principled vampire, of a better class than the run-of-the-mill bloodsuckers out there in the world. Well, chalk up another victory for vain self-delusion. I was making a balls-up mess of it.

The white sheet slipped down to my waist as I sat up in the bed, twisting away from the muscular hand that had been caressing my right breast. Through the plate-glass windows of the modern apartment building, the weak light of the illuminated city revealed my body. It was as ghostly pale as the sheet. I was hungry for blood, and anemic from lacking it.

"Something wrong?" The voice of St. Julien Fitzmaurice, my lover, was husky with desire.

I turned my head to look at him. Lying prone, Fitz had propped himself up on one arm. His long, lithe body was naked except for the bandage still covering the nearly healed stomach wound where he had been shot not long ago. His eyes were heavy-lidded, his hands were now stroking my back, and it was obvious how much he wanted to make love to me—while I, on the other hand, wanted to dine on him.

"I'm not in the mood," I answered, lying artlessly. I learned to lie centuries ago in order to save my life. Since then, I've done it often, and I do it well. If I told the truth, I'd have to say I was very much in the mood, but any further arousal would make it impossible for me to resist what all my instincts were pushing me to do.

Quickly I slid my eyes away from Fitz. I realized I had been staring—not at his sensual lips, not at his lean body, not even at his stiff member, so clearly ready for love. I had been staring at the carotid artery steadily beating in his neck. I imagined I could hear the blood rushing through it. And with my animal senses, perhaps I could.

Not good. Oh, not good at all. Annoyed with myself, I threw the sheet aside and stood up. Cool air embraced my body. I shivered. This wasn't my apartment. I kept the thermostat at my place cranked up to eighty.

Tonight, however, I was at Fitz's new apartment, three rooms with a terrace over on the East Side of Manhattan. He had money, old money from his family's bootlegging business back in the 1920s, so he could afford the astonishing rent for rooms not much bigger than closets.

My money was far older than his. I could afford a much larger place even in this neighborhood. However, I found the Upper East Side too conspicuously affluent and conventional. Rich I was, but hardly conventional, so I lived in the area bordered by the Columbia students who rented sublets near the university, the psychiatrists who clustered their practices along West End Avenue, and the working mommies-with-nannies who pushed strollers along Central Park West near the Museum of Natural History. The West Side of Manhattan had more funk and more secrets. It did, after all, have me.

"I don't understand you," Fitz said.

"I never expected you to. Let's not go there. We'll only end up fighting again." I gazed through the window at the murky sky above the East River. I once overheard Samuel Johnson call second marriages "the triumph of hope over experience." The same thing went for rebound romances. That was what Fitz and I had. We had both been left betrayed and embittered. I didn't think our relationship had a snowball's chance in hell of surviving, even without the complication that Fitz was human and I… I was not.

I picked up Fitz's sports coat off a chair and slipped it on in lieu of a bathrobe. The silk lining was icy and smooth against my skin. Something hard in the inside pocket knocked against my ribs. It was Fitz's gun. He was in the Secret Service. A very secret part of the Secret Service. I worked for… oh, who the hell did I work for? Some other intelligence agency. The CIA? NSA? USAMI? I can only fathom a guess.

My all-vampire spy group, the Darkwings, operated in deep black. In other words, we were a covert operation that didn't exist on paper, wasn't overseen by Congress, and probably wasn't even known to the