Mike Solomon is a struggling young musician with dreams of rock stardom. When his band is hired to play a college party he meets a woman who quite literally changes his life.
Marie-Constance Quesnet is a stunningly beautiful mystery, a totally enchanting enigma who steals Mike away from his girlfriend Angie with effortless ease. Mike soon discovers that Marie is a vampire, and she leads Mike into her lifestyle of darkness, deception and death. He becomes her willing victim, and then her pupil when she transforms him. He realizes too late that he has abandoned the love of his life by leaving Angie, and then Marie reveals to him a plan to unleash utter chaos and literal Armageddon on the world. Mike revolts against his vampire lover. He must stop her even if it means his own true death, yet he clings to some small hope that he can not only survive, but also manage to win back the love of the girl who once meant the world to him: Angie, his Beloved Angel…
I was living in Nashville, playing in a band called Bugly with Victor Richards on drums and some guy you never met named Dimitri playing lead guitar. When my brother Chuck got murdered I quit my job at the Entropy Guitar factory and went back to West Virginia. As much as I hated that place, it was where I came from, and where most of my family still lived, and we needed close contact to deal with my brother’s pointless death. I also needed to put some distance between myself, and the girl I had been dating in Nashville. Jennifer just happened to be married and had dumped me to get back together with her husband, in spite of the fact that she was pregnant and the child was almost certainly mine. Distance was the only way to guarantee she didn’t show up on my doorstep one night with a change of heart. I couldn’t have dealt with that after what she had put me through, so I made sure we would stay well away from each other by going home.
I got in touch with a drummer named Victor Richards and talked about putting a band together in memory of my murdered brother. Victor had been playing with another friend of mine, David Dean, on bass and they had a young guitar wizard named Damon Marcus throwing phenomenal lead solos on top of anything they could come up with. Until I called they had been playing instrumental pieces. What they desperately needed was a lead singer. David Dean was an excellent bass player. He learned his licks from Geddy Lee, Cliff Burton and Steve Harris, just as I had, so I offered myself as their lead singer and rhythm guitarist, a position called ‘frontman’, for obvious reasons. I had never played a six-string guitar before, but a few days of coaching from Damon was all it took to translate years of bass playing into the rudiments of playing rhythm, and not a soul could object to calling ourselves Malingen in memory of the band I had originally formed with my late brother.
We started playing the local clubs, making a living at it, but it was a far cry from fame and fortune. But we hung in there, doing whatever we had to do to make some quick cash and keep the dream alive. David Dean got us a gig playing a birthday party one night. It was for one of his college buddies, and I didn’t know anyone there. But David Dean was a figure larger-than-life to them. They had nicknamed him ‘Coal Truck’ because he had been hit by a 21-ton Mack truck while hitchhiking and bounced up out of the ditch as if nothing had happened. But I knew Dave, and this story was minor compared to some of the things I had witnessed. David Dean was indestructible. He had a tolerance for pain and punishment that was absolutely unbelievable, and he could kick ass like some sort of Viking Berserker. He never took shit from anybody, but he had a heart of gold with anyone he considered a friend, and he could drink anybody (with the possible exception of me) under the table.
I was a stranger at this party, but being a friend of Dave’s made me accepted more so than the fact that I was the ‘frontman’ for the band. I hate that term almost as much as I hate to be thrust to the front. I have never come up with a better word for it, and believe me. I have tried. I have never been comfortable up front in the spotlight; I feel more at home in the shadows, hanging out with the drummer and pounding out the bottom end of a song, even when it’s a song that I wrote myself. I was accepted without question, but the party was rather boring. I felt out of place in a house full of college students. The girls were pretty, but they looked so damn young to me, so shallow and inexperienced. But it wasn’t so much a difference of age as a difference of attitude. At 29 I was less than ten years older than most of those girls, but it had been a very enlightening ten years for me. And with Jennifer on my mind, I could not bring myself to even pretend that I was interested in any of them. I started drinking heavily, trying to flood Jennifer out of my head with alcohol.
I was standing in a circle of Dave’s friends (my band was taking a break), vaguely responding to questions about the places I had been and the things I had done as a sniper in the Marine Corps. Dave had told them some stories about me, and they wanted to know more. But I wasn’t interested these people, so for the most part I was trying to ignore them as politely as I could. And then she walked through the door.
At first glance I thought her to be about my age. But a closer look told me that she was older, mid-30’s or maybe a young-looking 40. Her waist-length hair glistened like delicate strands of silk in the pale light, a rich shade of walnut so dark that it was nearly black. Her unrestrained tresses danced in waves of loose curls, the air itself their partner as she moved across the room in my direction.
She took off her knee-length fur coat and underneath she was dressed rather simply in faded jeans and an emerald green velvet sweater. Yet there could never be anything simple about her, not even her clothes; her jeans clung to every curve as if tailor-made, without squeezing a single inch of her perfect form. Her sweater was also a snug fit, not hiding her voluptuous figure, but rather outlining her perfect curves with delicious fuzzy ambiguity. Her eyes were deep pools of unfathomable shadow, compelling me to drown in their depths; so wide and inviting, so dark and mysterious. So many powerful emotions, so much worldly experience I could see reflected within these mesmerizing orbs as she returned my stare, our eyes locking for an electrifying moment.
I realized that I had stopped a conversation in mid-sentence, but no one had noticed. All other eyes around me had also seized upon her, but they all quickly looked away, pretending that they had not even noticed her. Yet I couldn’t help but stare. I wondered who she was, what she was doing here. It wasn’t until she walked past me that I realized she had someone with her, a tall, nervous young man with haunted eyes.
I asked around discreetly, but no one seemed to know who she was. She caught me staring at her several times. Our eyes locked. Her smile told me that we were sharing a secret beyond the grasp of those around us. We were like two wolves in a room full of sheep.
I watched her slip casually into a room, leaving the door cracked open behind her. After a moment I followed her inside. It was a bedroom, and judging from the posters of half-naked women and the cluttered mess, it was the bedroom of a teenaged boy, probably the birthday boy at tonight’s party, whatever his name was.
She was standing in front of a computer keyboard, tapping keys in what appeared to be a totally random fashion, as if it were some alien artifact from another culture. I stepped up behind her, so close that I lightly sniffed her hair as I leaned over her shoulder. It smelled like autumn, full of rich, earthy scents that spoke to me of open spaces and brisk fall nights, even though it was mid-winter outside.
I whispered in her ear, "What are you doing?"
"Waiting for you," she replied. She turned to face me, rubbing her hands down my back. I had not expected such boldness, but I tried not to let my surprise show. Instead, I followed her lead and placed my hands on her hips, pulling her closer. "I thought you might have the courage to follow me in here," she said, "and I wanted to get you alone." Her hands slid down to my ass, and squeezed.
"What about the guy you came in with?" I asked, for she had taken the initiative away from me.
I had spent most of my adult life trying to get what I wanted from women, but in the end it always seemed they manipulated me. Women have an advantage over men, and I was more susceptible to their charms than most. The flash of a smile was all it took, and I would slay a dragon or laugh in the face of the devil himself to win her favor. She left no doubt in my mind that she wanted me, but I suddenly needed to know what situation I was stepping into. All I wanted was a night of sexual release; I did not need to get involved in another love.
"What about him?" she replied, running her fingers through my hair, her body pressed firmly against mine.
"Is he the ‘jealous husband’ type?" I asked, pulling away from her without conviction; I put maybe a half-inch of air between us, and even then my face hovered above hers, ready to kiss her full, red lips.
"Don’t worry about him," she replied, tossing her head dismissively. "He is completely…under my thumb." Since she and her male companion weren’t wearing wedding bands I decided that whatever their relationship might be I would follow her advice and not worry about it. "Let’s go outside," she said, and abruptly left the room. I followed after her toward the front door. The party seemed to be winding down, only the most serious drinkers still on their feet. My band had played our last set, and I caught a glimpse of David Dean drinking beer straight from a pitcher. We got our coats and went outside.
The house was nestled between two fingers of a mountain, situated at the narrow end of a private valley. The nearest neighbor was out of sight down the narrow drive. It was bitterly cold outside, with about six inches of snow on the ground. I was grateful for my heavy leather jacket and the fact that the wind was still, even though I had plenty of alcohol in my system to numb me. As for my mysterious companion, the cold did not seem to affect her in the least. Her fur coat hung open and she strolled through the snow as if we were walking along the beach on a warm summer night. She led me toward the woods behind the house, and we were as alone as two people can get, the party behind us like some sort of half-remembered dream.
"I love the night," she said, breaking the silence as we walked.
I looked up at the moon in its third quarter, but especially large and brilliant, as if it had moved closer to us to eavesdrop on our conversation. I readily agreed with her, for I was no stranger to the lures of darkness.
"Yeah, it’s so peaceful and quiet, especially around here." The blanket of snow on the ground and the barren trees made everything look sterile and subdued. The rest of the world seemed to be in hibernation.
"The night is far from peaceful," she replied. "It is alive with passion and secret desires. People try to deny Nature during the day, paving it over and conforming it to their ‘civilization’. But at night Nature re-asserts herself, reclaims the world from human whim. Nocturnal predators take full advantage of the depths of shadows; the hunters come out to feast in the night by the pale pastel beauty of the moon." She turned to look at me. "So what is your name, handsome?"
"Mike," I replied.
"Your friends call you Mike. What is your real name, your full given name? Tell me who you are," she demanded, a command thinly veiled by her compelling gaze.
"Michael David Solomon. Singer, musician, lover extraordinaire, and a hundred other things, all rolled into one. You could call me King Mustache, and if your wet little pussy ever fucked my face, you would understand why."
She tossed her head back and laughed loudly. "My, what bold self-confidence. So, tell me, Michael David Solomon. Are you always so forward with strange women?"
"Only the most beautiful ones," I replied. "Besides, you seem like the kind of woman who knows what she wants, who isn’t afraid of the naked truth. Veiled hints and implications would probably bore you."
"And you feel you know me so well, after such a short time?" She was looking at me intently, an amused smirk on her face.
"I would like to know you a whole lot better. Is there anything wrong with that?"
She stopped and grasped my hands, and I was surprised at how warm her hands felt. Had I expected them to be cold? "That depends upon your definition of ‘wrong’," she replied, watching me closely for something, but I did not know what.
I did not know what to make of that statement, either, but I got a grip on myself. I decided to lighten the conversation. "Well, I told you who I am…" I put her hands behind her back, so that my arms encircled her. "So who are you?"
"For you, my love, I shall be Marie-Constance Quesnet."
I repeated her name. "Marie-Constance Quesnet. That’s beautiful. Like you." She was smiling at me, more in amusement than at my simple flattery, and I realized that she had spoken with certain intensity, as if she were telling me something very important. I wondered about this for an instant, but the answer eluded me, so I took the easy way out. "What sort of accent was that?" I could tell she was definitely not a local.
She laughed a sparkling tone. "That was no accent. I was speaking French," she answered, and I realized that she was right, and that she had just done it again.
"And I understood you perfectly," I replied, answering her in French. "How is that possible?"
I could not explain it. I had learned a few French words and phrases in the military, and I could recognize the inflections of the language even when I didn’t know the words. But I had never been fluent; so why had I understood her so well that it was like my native language, so familiar that I did not even realize it was not English? I was stunned, and she offered no explanation, but I decided to play it cool and see what happened next. Things were getting very strange, but I wasn’t about to let such an enchanting and mysterious beauty get away from me.
"You speak French flawlessly. Are you from France?" I asked.
"I am from everywhere and nowhere," she replied, in English this time. "I am the embodiment of night, the Queen of Darkness." She pressed me close against her body, her fingers swimming through my long hair. I smiled at her as she gazed at me with a quiet intensity. "Do you understand what I am saying to you?"
"You’re trying to tell me you’re a vampire," I replied.
I can’t explain how I arrived at this conclusion based on the subtle hints she had dropped, but I knew it was the answer she was looking for. I had never met such an intriguing woman before, and I couldn’t wait to see what surprises were yet to come.
"That does not frighten you. Good."