The Shape of Things
For countless ages a war has raged on, a war most could not see. Two races have battled for their very existences. In the year 2015 the world is changed. World War III is long passed, but its effects remain. Humans have nearly destroyed the earth; global warming has reached a critical point. The sea is rising and the land is shrinking. Those left of the human race now live side by side with beings long thought to be nonexistent. Vampires control the cities, ruling regions from one point: Washington DC. The Sanguine Council is in control and answers only to one man: Prince Devon Hart. But rebellion is brewing, and Prince Hart is its most strategic victim. In the outlying lands there lives another race of creatures: shapeshifters. Their lands are slowly being swallowed by the sea and their only option is to move inward, towards the cities.
Led by an ancient being using the name of Vincent
Sheridan, the shapeshifters fight for survival against their
bloodthirsty neighbors. They need a break, a change in strategy. Their
prayers are answered by none other than the usurped Prince of the
Vampires himself. Thrown together in an effort to topple the traitorous
Sanguine Council, Vincent and Devon find much more in each other than
simply a strong ally. Will their relationship create more trouble than
they can handle? Or will Vincent and Devon bring about an end to the
war through their love?
"These are trying times."
Devon Hart managed to suppress a yawn and flashed the audience a calculated smile. He wasn't here by choice, but his position decreed that he attend the agonizing meetings of the Council. Devon caught his reflection in the gleam of the polished table. The pale blue of his irises reflected the smile on his lips--a smile he certainly didn't feel. Some say the eyes give away one's emotions; Devon had learned a long time ago to hide his successfully.
"Prince Hart, what do you propose?"
Devon shook his head as the question brought his attention back to the matter at hand. He looked from one stoic face to another and realized he had no idea where the discussion had ended up. His silent curse gained him a knowing--and rather annoyed--glance from his chief vicar, Jareth Benedict. Devon swallowed a chuckle when he noticed the beads of sweat glistening around the top of the priest's collar.
"The Council Elders are not ones to be trifled with."
Devon responded to the priest's silent warning with a broad smile. The priest quickly turned away. Devon sat up straight in his chair and brought his hands up to his face as if in thought--or prayer.
"Perhaps the lords should be allowed to deal with these matters directly as they pertain to their own areas of rule."
"With all due respect, my Prince, to leave the lords with such powers would result in nothing but more war."
"And your point is, General?" Devon studied the old man's face for signs of possible rebellion. A single flicker of anger in the general's dark eyes told Devon enough. He leaned forward and cast a warning glare on the general.
"Imagine, if you will, General Sterling: a wild animal held in a cage with barely enough room to turn and piss." An audible groan from the vicinity of Vicar Benedict was heard and Devon continued. "Over time the animal will grow restless and weary. Fear merges with anger, anger leads to rebellion." He stood, walked over to the general's seat, and spun it around. With a hand on each arm, Devon leaned close to the general's face.
"If another law is imposed on the lords and the people, if they are not given the freedom to govern themselves, they will take that freedom--by force, if necessary. Do you want that on your hands, General Sterling?" Devon growled. "Or would you lead it yourself?"
No sooner than the words left Devon's lips, the room erupted into verbal chaos. Devon turned on his heel, leaving a fuming general in his wake. He jerked his leather jacket off of his chair and walked out. Behind him, he could hear Vicar Benedict shouting for him, but he simply didn't give a damn. He had seen the stirrings of rebellion in the general's eyes. That was something to worry about.
By the time he reached the mansion, Devon's mind was overburdened by the very real possibility of a full-scale mutiny. He hadn't gotten any further than his own private chambers when the distinct sound of someone slamming a door shut reached his overly-sensitive ears. He stopped with his hand poised over the doorknob and waited for the inevitable.
"Must you honestly anger the Council?"
Devon turned slowly to face Vicar Benedict. He didn't bother to hide his sarcastic laugh. "Me anger them?" He stepped forward and the priest backed up. "Who is the prince here? I don't see anyone from the Sanguine Council anywhere in this mansion. I don't see General Sterling answering the complaints of the common people. I don't see the Elders settling petty disputes between lords. When I do see those things, then perhaps I will hold my tongue."
The vicar raised a finger and shook it at the prince. "You are treading on dangerous ground, Devon." Devon rolled his eyes and looked down at the short, little man in his priest's frock. "The Elders will have you removed by force if you do not cooperate with them. Your sire had no quarrel with them, why do you?"
Devon sighed and leaned back against his chamber door. "Because they are warmongers and power-hungry assholes." The priest cringed at Devon's choice of wording. "Oh, spare me, Jareth. You've known me for over five hundred years. Don't start acting now like my manner of speech bothers you."
"I am not a vampire," the priest countered bitterly.
Devon pushed off from the door and gripped both of the priest's shoulders gently but firmly. "No, you are not. However, you have vampires to thank for your long life. Do you really want to throw that away simply because the Council is calling for tyranny?"
"Your father would have been proud."
Devon wasn't sure if he should hug the man or laugh at him. "Why do you say that?"
Jareth smiled. It was a wistful, almost nonexistent curling of his cracked and withered lips. "Because your father was a truly remarkable man, Devon. He stood up for what he believed in, regardless of the consequences."
Devon released the priest's shoulders and smiled back. "I suppose you're right." He turned and opened his door. "The hunger is getting worse. I've put it off long enough this evening." He heard the rustle of Jareth's robe as the priest retreated without a word.
It tore at the priest's heart, Devon knew, to know someone had to die, or come close to death, every evening for Devon to remain in this world. Devon didn't mind it so much, however. He much preferred to drink after filling himself with other pleasures. Feeding from a lover at the moment of climax was a thrill, and the flow of blood into his mouth as his semen shot into a man's body held a thrill all its own.
Devon stepped into the entry room of his chambers and closed the door behind him. He much preferred the young, drug-laced crowd that frequented the myriad of clubs along the city borders. Downtown Washington had become a haven for homeless vampires, young and old, who simply didn't fit in anywhere else. Their presence annoyed the Council, but Devon found them to be quite intriguing. He had even been known to shelter a few of them on occasion, much to Jareth's dismay. Hunting, however, had to be done outside the city proper; otherwise, competition was fierce for a quick meal.
Devon stopped dressing and stood to look at his semi-nude form in the mirror hanging from the molded ceiling to the hardwood floor. His pale skin was a stark contrast to the denim of his jeans, and the muscles of his chest were just as rippled and hard as they had been when he had worn a suit of armor. He tossed his shirt onto the bed and began to brush his hair out. Aging was something he did not miss. He thought back to life as he had known it before he had been turned. Back then, life had been much harder, and even then he did not like the idea of war. Yet as the son of a powerful lord, he had been thrust into it time and again. His body seemed to remember the weight of armor and his shoulders sagged. He set down the brush and slipped his shirt over his head. He pulled his hair out of the back of the shirt and let the long, chocolate-brown strands settle over his shoulders. For the briefest moment, he wondered if maybe this era was harder by comparison.
Once he was satisfied with his appearance, Devon grabbed his jacket and left the mansion. Tonight he was in the mood for something different, something a little more refined than his usual flavor. Even in a city as vast as Washington, D.C., there was only one place to satisfy such tastes: Coventry.
Unlike the smoke-filled bars or the industrial clubs, Coventry offered up a delectable menu for a refined palette. Caramel-colored, dark as midnight, or pale as the silver moon; all flavors were well-represented, wrapped up in tempting packages of silk, leather, or lace. Tight, hungry asses; soft, kiss-swollen lips; hard cocks made for sucking down your throat. It was enough to lure in even the most cautious vampire, and Devon was a full-fledged addict.
Life for a mortal wasn't as difficult as one might think. Most were content to live side-by-side with vampires, provided the rules were obeyed. It was forbidden to drink from anyone under the age of eighteen, and it was forbidden to all but the Elders and the prince to take enough to kill. There were many times when Devon did not kill, and to survive a night--and inevitably a feeding--with the Prince of the Vampires was enough to cement one's reputation for years to come. It was a mark of distinction that never ceased to bring a smile to Devon's lips, as the donor would do nothing but recount how great the sex had been.
As he neared the three-story, Victorian-style building, Devon had the distinct feeling this night would be one to remember. He wasn't sure why he knew it; he just did. The door opened before the toe of his boot even touched the first stone step.
"Prince Hart!" the young man at the door exclaimed.
Devon mused that the man's smile could light up the entire city in the event of a blackout. The young man stood to the side as Devon walked in. The scent of his cologne stirred up an already-intense hunger. Devon could hear the man's heart beating a furious rhythm within his ribcage. He could smell the blood as it pulsed just beneath the honeyed skin. The sensations played havoc on Devon's control and he quickly made his decision.
"Are you free this evening?" he purred as he backed the young man up against the wall. The front door closed on its own with an audible click.
"If Your Highness wishes my company, I will be free whenever you call."
The diplomatic answer made Devon smile. He leaned forward and angled his head down. The man's breath hitched as their lips touched the slightest bit, the soft intake music to Devon's ears.
"What's your name?"
Devon blew gently across the man's lips and leaned in for the first kiss of the evening. Ty let out a sigh that made every inch of Devon's flesh prickle in anticipation of things to come. When their lips made contact and Ty's tongue darted into his mouth, Devon thought he might even spare this one. He slid one arm around Ty's slender waist and tunneled his other hand through the man's silky black hair. Ty tasted of sweet honey and even sweeter sex. The potent elixir settled deep in Devon's groin as he began to pull away from their kiss. Ty's heavy-lidded black eyes sparkled with lust.
"Where is your room?"
Ty took Devon's hand and led him down the hall. Two flights of stairs later, they stood in another hallway, lined on either side by doors. Ty led the way to one door and slid a key into the lock. When the door closed behind them, Devon pushed him back onto the bed. He had tasted the young man's mouth, now he wanted to taste other parts of him. Ty stretched out and graced Devon with a beckoning smile.
Devon slid onto the bed between Ty's legs and hooked his fingers under the waistband of the thin silk pants. With a tug, the pants came down, revealing nearly seven inches of caramel-colored, hardened flesh. Devon unconsciously licked his lips before descending on Ty's cock with the voraciousness of a starving man. He took all seven inches in one swallow and Ty's hips rose as a startled gasp escaped him. Devon growled around the flesh and wrapped a hand around it as he came back up. He began to remove his boots and jeans with his other hand, working quickly as his arousal and his hunger grew exponentially.
"Oh, God," Ty breathed. He thrust his hips up again, driving his cock back down Devon's throat. Devon groaned and kicked his pants across the room. "Fuck me, Your Highness," the young man pleaded. Devon slid his mouth off of Ty's cock and took the small bottle Ty held up.
When his cock was slick and throbbing in his hand, Devon rubbed the tip along the crack of Ty's ass. When he stopped at Ty's hole, he pushed forward with a deep-seated growl. Ty cried out as Devon stretched him open. Devon fought the urge to come; it wasn't time. When he was buried to the hilt in Ty's body, Devon leaned down and thrust his tongue inside Ty's mouth. He forced himself to take it slow, even when Ty began moaning. Ty's movements were making even that much difficult and Devon broke the kiss. He gripped the backs of Ty's thighs and fucked him harder.
Ty's mouth opened and his head tilted back on the pillow. Devon closed his eyes to avoid the enticing curve of Ty's throat. It was almost too much. He wanted this to last. Then Ty's body clamped down on him with a deep orgasm. Devon's eyes fluttered open and his teeth descended before he could stop them. Ty jerked violently beneath him as Devon drank deeply. Devon growled as he filled Ty's body with his release.
He sat back and took several deep breaths to calm himself as he came down from the dual high. He had not meant to feed so much this time; he only wanted pleasure to begin with. But as was usually the case, the man's orgasm brought about the sudden rush of hunger, of sharp need, and Devon could not resist. Ty lay on the bed, alive but in something akin to a drunken daze. Devon stood up and slipped on his jeans and boots. Ty would wake soon. After placing a handful of bills on the foyer table, Devon left. With his mind settled from feeding, he decided to take the long way back home.
This route took him through what was once the Mall--the expanse of grass, trees, and walkways that acted as the centerpiece for the complex of the Smithsonian Museum, the Capitol building, and the Washington Monument. In the year 2015, World War III had nearly obliterated the entire city. The ones who were left--the ones like Ty--now lived side-by-side with creatures and races that mankind had long thought to be nonexistent. The crumbling dome of the Capitol building was a sobering testament to the self-destructive nature of the human race.
As he started across the overgrown Mall, a movement to his right brought Devon to a halt. He watched in silence as a group of shape shifters gathered on the edge of the grass. He knew they could sense him, but they didn't seem to be overly concerned with his presence. After all, it was they who were trespassing. He started walking again, taking care to watch the group closely should they start after him. It would be a move of tactical brilliance to abduct the prince, and he certainly wasn't going to put it past them to try.
Just as he thought himself well out of their range, Devon felt a hand close around his neck from behind. He tried to turn and found his body bound in black, pulsing chains of energy. This was not good. He started to look around for any sign of his captors, but a blow to his head sent him to his knees with a growl. Another blow to the back of his neck dropped him into dark oblivion.