What might the ethical Governor David Gedden give up for one man’s exquisite beauty? It’s terrifying to consider when the man is a destructive blood prostitute and David is responsible for the state’s peaceful vampire community. Blood sales in Boston are up, blood taxes support a thriving new nightlife, neighborhoods have been refurbished, and deaths by vampires have plummeted. David is assured reelection.
However, the blood addict Stephen Salando has returned from exile with one unalterable plan: to turn the good governor into a vampire. Stephen is an immortal dhampir, whose beauty obliterates reason, who rouses in David a fierce desire he’s ignored his whole life. For David to have Stephen, he must ally with the community's archrival. To have him, he must become a potential killer himself.
As Stephen stood to put in his music, he downed his glass of wine, the orange light catching the liquid’s flow, streaking Stephen’s neck. There was no doubt he was beautiful, his slender silk neck belying the strength of tendons, of arteries that pumped eternally renewing blood. Did he think David could take that blood, could bite into this man whom he could hardly touch without ravishing as a human?
“If the intimacy of Stephen frightens you,” Arturo said, “think of the eternity I’m offering. You will have time for my villa in Potes, and I will take you there. Time for Italy and India, for Scottish moors and Arabian deserts, for Plato and Lawrence, Prokofiev and Paganini.
Arturo’s voice was lulling, his smile charming, and David couldn’t help a small smile in return.
“At night,” he continued, “we will skim our hands over Rodin's Orpheus and Donatello's David, stand beside de Chirico's melancholic street and Hopper's slanted shadows, voyeurs to each century and secrets in ourselves.”
A solitary, sad guitar strummed through the trailer, mixing with the breeze through the slatted window, and Stephen slid on the bench, next to David, while Arturo leaned back into shadows.
“This music is lonely,” he said, “rain and bare branches and twilight sky. Like Stephen.”
David’s arm was a twitch away from Stephen’s. Their legs brushed beneath the table. A drum began slowly beating alongside the guitar, propelling the night, yet holding them still. David sipped his wine, knowing it would taste like Stephen, and realized that what he wanted was entirely selfish. He wanted immunity, to taste all this, to drink only for himself.
He looked at Stephen, his dark lashes, sleek cheekbones. He wanted those soft lips parting, the taste of his breath, burgundy-rich, so near his mouth. He tasted Stephen before their tongues met.
His fingers burned on the table edge, his heart louder than the music. The breeze pushed him on. Lips on lips.