Vampire Prince

an excerpt



Chapter One

Sebastian wouldn't cry. He wouldn't let those bloodsucking bastards see his tears. If he cried, it would show them he had weaknesses, vulnerabilities. He wouldn't give them those parts of himself. They were his and some of the few things he'd been able to hold onto in this hell. The vampires had taken everything from him. Not that he had much to begin with, but he wouldn't let them have his emotions, his mind, his heart.

He lifted his head, gazing around his room. Or cell, more correctly. He sat on the floor, his legs drawn up and arms wrapped around them. To his left was a cot, a small table beside it stacked with books. To his right, a stool and an old, rickety writing desk that he'd mastered writing on despite how wobbly it was with one short leg. He didn't have much reason to write and anything he did put down was at risk to be taken away. Mostly he jotted down music notes and as he did, the songs would once again play in his mind. Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Strauss...the memories of music kept him company and, maybe, helped keep him sane.

There was an armoire across from him, a useless thing since his clothes were scattered all over the floor. He wasn't messy by nature, but untidiness drove the house master, Wesley, crazy. Keeping his room in disarray was one of the few acts of defiance he was able to do. That wasn't to say he hadn't gotten punished. He had, several times. But Wesley decided long ago it was a pointless and minor battle to keep fighting. For Sebastian, it was a huge victory.

Behind and above him was a window, though it was bricked up, same as all the windows in the manor to prevent offending sunlight from entering.

Sunlight...

He hadn't seen sunlight in three years. There were nights he dreamed about it so vividly, he could feel the sun's warmth in the darkness. He missed the natural light and heat, so very much. Same for the wind blowing through his hair and cool rain trickling down his face. Having lived his whole life in Atlanta, snow was rare, but he still remembered the chill and icy burn of it on his fingers from making snowballs. He even missed that.

And the sky... he would love to see it again, clouds and stars, the moon and all its phases. When thunderstorms shook the manor, he wanted nothing more than to see a jagged flash of lightning, with all its power and brilliance, exploding in the sky.

His life now was nothing but walls. Closed in. Trapped. And he would die without ever knowing those things again, just like Carla had.

Carla...he hadn't really known her. He didn't really know anyone in the blood house. It was safer--physically, mentally, and emotionally--to not get attached to anyone. Carla had been here longer than anyone else; he knew that much about her. She was already a seasoned blood slave when he had been brought to the house.

Sebastian let out a rough snort. He forgot, they weren't supposed to call themselves blood slaves. House master Wesley preferred to call them "donors," probably to make himself and the other vampires feel more justified in what they did. But to be a donor implied giving something of your own free will, that a choice was involved. There was no choice here. Either surrender blood or die. And sometimes, die during the surrendering.

That was what had happened to Carla, what eventually happened to all blood slaves. It was only a matter of time before that one vampire came in and couldn't control his or her hunger. And what was the vampire's punishment for taking an innocent life? Nothing. The monsters were simply told, "be more careful." Not because there was any regret over the blood slave's lost life, but because finding a replacement was troublesome and costly to the house master.

It wasn't as if anyone was going to come looking for the lost blood slave. Everyone in the house was like him, runaways and throwaways, wanted and missed by no one. And vampires? They didn't exist. Not to the larger human society. Vampires certainly hadn't existed to him until he was picked up off the streets by Wesley, lured in by promises of food, shelter, even a job. And he was brought here, had his head smashed against a desk, and a pen shoved in his hand for him to sign away the rights to his blood.

The blood house was nothing but a whorehouse for vampires. They paid, they fed, they fucked. For the blood slaves, the house was a prison, one where the only escape came with the last exhaled breath.

Sebastian tipped his head back, resting it on the brick wall. He wondered when that would come for him. Not long now, he was sure. Carla had been hard, smart, and tough, and the vampires did her in. Her life lost to the fangs of a vampire, her body wrapped in black silk and carried away to be buried in an unknown, unmarked grave.

He had seen others carried away like that. So often, he and the other blood slaves were kept locked away, not allowed to see any of the vampires' workings, but Wesley let them see the bodies taken away as a warning and to keep fear strong in them.

In the past two months, he had noticed a change in Carla. She had always been bold, but she had become openly defiant. Sometimes she refused to come down for selection, when the blood slaves would appear before a patron to be selected for the evening. He had even heard her getting short-tempered and disrespectful to some patrons. If there was one sure way to end your life, it was to show disrespect toward a vampire.

A dark thought loomed at the back of his mind, one he feared was true. Carla had purposely been acting out to end her life. She wouldn't be the first blood slave to commit suicide by vampire. Many who could no longer handle being imprisoned saw it as their only way out and it wasn't hard to do. Fight the vampire trying to feed, get them into a rage, and it was guaranteed to bring a quick death. Or a prolonged one, depending on the vampire's mood.

Sebastian's mind conjured images of Carla, all the things that could've happened to her on her final night. Torture, beatings, her body slashed and ripped, blood soaking silk sheets, splashed across the walls of the gaudily decorated boudoir.

He hoped with all his heart his imaginings were wrong. That she'd passed as peacefully as possible. He hadn't seen the room she'd been in afterward, since it was closed off, but he had seen one before where a blood slave had gotten killed and those were the images he conjured now. He hadn't heard any screams the night Carla was killed, but he never could. The boudoirs for entertaining were spaced far apart and soundproofed.

Vampires highly valued their privacy.

Still, he hoped it'd been quick and painless for her. That weak hope was all he had, and he wasn't sure if it was for Carla...or himself.

Musical chiming sounded through the manor. Dusk was approaching. Time for the blood slaves to prepare for the evening.

Sebastian closed his eyes, filling his lungs with a deep breath, exhaling slowly, and breathing in again. He needed to center himself and bring up his walls to face the night and what it brought. After a few moments, he was ready.

He pushed to his feet and walked toward the door. Turning the knob, he gave it a pull. The automatic locks were unlocked. Stepping out, he found the hall empty save for one of the guards, not a vampire, but Benny, a human kiss-ass. There were some vampire guards who shared in the blood house's profits, but the human kiss-asses got nothing other than a sense of superiority over the blood slaves and the hope of being made a vampire someday.

Sebastian kept his gaze forward as he marched down the hall, waiting for the inevitable taunt.

Benny folded his arms across his chest. "I'm going to have to tell Master Wesley you were ten minutes late coming out of your room."

"It was only five."

Benny unfolded his arms and stepped out to the middle of the hall, blocking Sebastian's path. "You arguing with me?"

Sebastian stopped two strides away from him, meeting Benny's eyes with an unwavering glare. "No, I'm correcting you. And it doesn't matter when I get to the showers so long as I'm downstairs before the first patron arrives, right? And that's not going to happen if you don't get out of my way. Then I'm going to have to tell Master Wesley that you were delaying me, with the proof recorded for him to see."

He flicked his hand back toward a video camera mounted near the ceiling. Other than the boudoirs, there was nowhere in the manor where blood slaves were permitted that wasn't monitored.

A twitch near Benny's left eye betrayed his restrained rage. The guy would probably make a good vampire if he was ever given a chance. Short tempered. Air of self-importance. Adept at being a pompous ass. Yep. Benny had a lot going for him to make a great vampire. Except looks. That was one thing he had to give to vampires. All the vampires he'd seen were attractive, and Benny...wasn't.

Benny took a half step to the side. "I can't wait for the day you get drained."

Sebastian walked forward. "You'll get your wish soon enough, I'm sure."

He reached the large bathroom at the end of the hall. Four showers lined the wall opposite of the door. A long counter, with several sinks and a mirror stretching the length of it, ran down a side wall, toilets and bidets were on the other. All toiletries were provided for them; high quality soaps, shampoos, conditioners, colognes, perfumes, lotions, oils, anything and everything needed to pamper the body. None of it was meant for their pleasure, though. It was to please their vampire patrons.

Young men and women crowded the bathroom, many not bothering with clothes or covering themselves as they prepared their bodies. Embarrassment or shame had no place here. It had been a big adjustment for him when he was first brought to the blood house, only seventeen years old, still not even comfortable changing and showering in the locker room with other guys his age. Of course, a lot of that was because it was so hard for him to keep his thoughts--and body--under control.

Back then, there was the fear that if the other guys found out he was gay, they'd hurt him. It was one of the reasons he'd joined the track team in the first place, trying to do something his parents considered more "masculine" than music. He was too small for football. Too short for basketball. Too bored by baseball. So that left track. Or wrestling, and no way would he have made it through his first practice without a hard-on.

Here, no one cared if he was gay and he wasn't the only gay blood slave, but when it came to being selected, sexuality didn't matter. If a female vampire wanted him, he didn't have a choice. Same for a straight male blood slave if he was selected by a male vampire, and for the women as well. All that mattered was what the vampire wanted.

Spotting an open shower, Sebastian headed toward it, keeping his head down and avoiding eye contact, not wanting to talk with anyone. He went through his shower and preparing his body with the same mechanical motions he did every night he was to be a part of the selections. Master Wesley was kind enough that after being chosen for a night, he gave a blood slave a day to recover.

Finished and dried from his shower, he wrapped a white towel around his hips and went to the sinks, leaving his discarded clothing on the floor. Wesley would know whose they were. He blow-dried and styled his hair, brushed his teeth, spritzed on some cologne, and left for his room.

As he walked inside, he tugged the towel off his waist and let it dropped to the floor. He went to the side of his room where he knew his clean clothes were scattered. Scanning the floor, he spotted his gold silk jock. He reached for it and pulled it on, adjusting his package and the straps.

He crossed the room to the writing desk and opened a small wooden box. Flicking through the assortment of cheap jewelry, he selected two gold barbells for his nipples. He hadn't been pierced before being brought here, but to further entice the vampire clients, Wesley had him pierced. Two vampires held him down while another sat on his hips, driving the needle through his nipples. If it hadn't hurt so much, he would've taken the rings out for the holes to close, but he knew Wesley would just have him pierced again. The piercings had eventually grown on him, and he liked them now.

He replaced the steel rings he currently wore with the gold barbells, and his gaze landed on the only other accessory he'd wear for the night, a gold hip chain with strands of gold beads all the way around it. He fastened it around his hips, the beads hanging just long enough to cross his ass. They rolled over his ass cheeks every time he moved, and he knew how tantalizing they were to watch.

It was one of the things he'd learned during his time here. Little was more when it came to dressing for an evening of being laid out for vampires, and sensuality would keep him alive. Acting as though he reveled in the vampire's touch, craved their fangs, all drove up the beasts' enjoyment of him. The more they enjoyed him, the greater the chances they wouldn't become frustrated and kill him. But how long could he continue the act?

The answer whispered through his mind, not much longer. Every night he spent with a vampire, it became harder. He was growing weaker, his walls battered too many times. They were starting to crumble, he could feel it.

Once again, musical chiming sounded. It was time to go downstairs. The first patrons would be arriving soon.

Sebastian closed his eyes, giving himself another brief moment to fortify his walls with what strength he had left. He slowly opened his eyes and walked toward the door. Who knew? Maybe tonight would be the night he'd get finally to leave the blood house...wrapped in a shroud of black silk.