The Heliotrope is a club run by two vampires, in a world that knows about their existence. The Partners: Rick, a young human, visits the Heliotrope because he’s curious about the accepted arrangement between vampires and humans where vampires receive blood in exchange for providing humans with sex. The Guardian: David’s a Guardian, a vampire who has taken on the duty of protecting the humans from the rogue vampires who hunt for blood rather than obtaining it in amicable exchange. David’s on his way to the Heliotrope when he discovers a young human, Rick, being attacked and saves him. David is drawn to the young man.
Rick knew he was being watched; he wasn’t sure how he knew but he had no doubt. He could feel it! Nervously, he scanned the crowd. A tall man leaning against the back wall caught his eye and he knew this was the man. Rick shivered, partly with anxiety and partly with arousal. He had come to this place for just this experience, but now he was afraid; unsure what on earth he was doing. But he couldn’t take his eyes off the man. He was gorgeous, hair so black it was almost blue, eyes grey and piercing, set in a face of classical beauty.
It was only in that instant that he realized the man was no longer across the room but standing before him, a slight smile gracing his full mouth.
Rick’s heart beat fast in his chest and abruptly the man’s hand pressed against his breast.
“Relax,” the man said, his deep velvet voice matching his appearance. “You are in no danger from me.”
“But you are one, aren’t you?” Rick asked breathlessly.
The man smiled again, his eyes bright and sparkling with amusement. “Oh, yes, I am a vampire. My name is Antoninus. What are you called?”
“My name is Richard, but most people call me Rick.”
“I am not most people,” Antoninus said. “I will call you Richard.” As he spoke his hand drifted up and his fingers moved gently over Rick’s cheek. Rick found himself leaning into the caress. “You are very sensual.”
Rick jerked back. “I… I.” Antoninus’ fingers felt cool as they touched his face.
“There is no need to be ashamed of being sensual. It is very arousing,” Antoninus said. The vampire’s gaze darted away for a second and he added, “It is very noisy and crowded here. Will you come somewhere quiet with me, to talk?”
Rick couldn’t deny he was tempted. But what if this Antoninus wanted to do a lot more than talk-- and he wasn’t thinking about sex. God, the man could drink him dry in an instant if what he had heard was true.
Antoninus smiled again and for the first time, Rick found it less beguiling and vaguely intimidating. “If I really wanted to drain you it would take me more than an instant,” Antoninus said and Rick gasped. “It would take me a few minutes if I remember correctly, but it has been centuries since I took a life. No, taking blood from a human can be a much more pleasant experience, with no harm to either party.”
“You can read my thoughts? I never really believed that was true,” Rick said.
“Not always and not everything. But you were broadcasting your fear quite strongly. May I ask, Richard, if you are so afraid of vampires, why did you come to the Heliotrope, such a well-known vampire establishment?”
“I came with a couple of friends. They have been here before and well… I was curious.”
“And did they say a vampire would drain you here?” There was a touch of ire in the vampire’s voice this time.
“No, no,” Rick said quickly. “They told me not to be a wuss and that it was a fun place where I could enjoy many new experiences. Though I believe only one of them has been with a vampire, a lady called Georgina.” Rick shrugged and bit his lower lip. “He said she was very sexy and that she gave him quite a high. I wasn’t sure I believed him.”
“You did not come here looking for a female, did you, Richard?”
“Er, no. I like guys.” He smiled though he knew he probably looked like a dork; he felt like one.
“You like me?” The seductive tone was back.
“Hell, yeah!” Rick said before he could stop himself. “Er, yeah, you’re,” he grinned nervously, “You’re hot.”
“You still seem nervous, Richard. Are you too afraid to come upstairs with me?”
“Yes, we keep some rooms upstairs. For privacy, you understand?”
They were at the foot of the stairs before Rick really registered the statement. “We keep? As in you own this place?”
“Part own, with my friend Bohdri.”
Wow! The Heliotrope was the most popular bar on the strip. Rick nodded and continued to walk upstairs. He hadn’t registered that he’d begun to climb the stairs. He guessed that was answer enough. Still, he felt edgy and he had to say something. “Odd to name a vampire bar after a flower.”
Antoninus smiled. “A reasonable mistake. Heliotrope has an older meaning than that of the small flower. It is another name for the bloodstone.”
“Ah!” Rick felt embarrassed. Damn, as if a vampire would really name his place after a flower, not that he knew what a bloodstone actually was. He coughed to clear his throat. “I wonder why on earth your… vampires chose to call their city Necropolis? It seems, well odd.”
Antoninus stopped and turned, raising an eyebrow, he said, “It seemed a less ridiculous choice that than of the humans who wished to call it Vampiropolis.”
“You didn’t think that was suitable then?”
Antoninus looked at him askance. “Only if you are Bela Lugosi!”
Ask something else, Richard told himself. “So is it true, you drink blood while you… while you have sex?”
Antoninus smiled, “It is not necessary, you understand, but it enhances both acts.”
“You don’t mind that I mention God? I mean–“
Antoninus laughed. “No, my sweet Richard. God and the Devil have no place in this.”
“Ah, my friend, I thought this one might interest you.”
Rick turned at the sound of the new voice and found himself staring at yet another very attractive man. This one had brown hair, worn long and loose, with dark blue eyes in a face the color of honey.