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by Isabelle Rowan
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Roman centurion Dominic drew his last human breath during the time of Hadrian. In the centuries since, he's seen much of the world change around him, but the vampire finds himself held captive in Melbourne, Australia, by his fascination with young, passionate, fun-loving, and alive tattoo artist Michael Chapman. Unable to resist the lure of Michael's beauty, Dominic finds himself entering the parlor to get a tattoo he knows will fade. The attraction he feels only grows, and despite Dominic's extreme reluctance to get involved with a human, he and Michael form a bond--a connection that all too soon attracts the attention of a dark specter from Dominic's bloody past. Soon, a dangerous game of cat and mouse threatens not only the budding romance, but also their humanity.
eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: January 2012
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [314 KB]
Reading time: 204-286 min.
Another fractured line streaked above the cityscape, followed almost immediately by low, drawn-out rumbling. The air crackled with electricity. He could smell the first drops of rain as they hit the hot asphalt road and turned to steam. The humidity suppressed the noise and subdued the normally exuberant inhabitants of Chapel Street.
Dominic knew the street well; he had watched it change over many years. These days the geography of the street housed two very distinct cultures. Closer to South Yarra, Chapel was all trendy, upmarket boutiques and sushi bars, where pretty young things with glitter sprayed on their skin and too-high shoes hobbled their way into clubs and cocktail bars. Dominic always found the rundown Windsor end infinitely more interesting. Cafe culture had only begun to intrude, and you could still see storefronts with bondage corsets and adornments for the multipierced sitting comfortably next door to white orthopedic shoes for lawn bowlers.
A tramcar rattled past and gave its warning "ding" to an errant pedestrian; Dominic looked up to watch its progress. Tonight, as on many other nights, he sat at the outdoor table of a small cafe, where he could see the passing parade of people coming out of the tattoo parlor with their small patches of cling wrap taped to arms or ankles. Even when it wasn't visible, Dominic could smell the newly broken skin. It sent a wave of hunger through him, but he ignored it. Not tonight; tonight was for other pleasures.
He paid for his coffee, which, as usual, sat untouched, and walked to the painted windows of the little shop across the street. Nothing could be seen from the outside. The entire shop front was a montage of demonic creatures and skeletal dragons, the name Ink taking up an entire glass panel. Dominic pushed open the door. Inside a man flicked through a photo album while another checked out the designs on the wall. Both glanced at him but quickly looked away.
Dominic stood quietly at the counter until a woman sporting a kaleidoscope of color work on her arms and a head of startling crimson hair came out from the back room. She smiled at him and asked, "Can I help you?"
"I have an appointment," Dominic answered quietly.
She frowned, sensing something slightly off kilter about this man, but reached for the appointment book. "I don't think so. It's almost closing. Scott is with someone, and I'm sure Michael is finished for the night." She opened the book and checked under each name to affirm what she'd just said.
"Look again," Dominic said in a deceptively soft voice and pointed to a blank time slot. "There's my name."
This time she could clearly see the name printed under Michael's, although the moment she looked away, she'd forgotten what it said. "Oh, I'm sorry. I'll get Michael for you," she mumbled, confused, and called out to the back room, "Mikey, you have a customer."
A young man with dark curls and equally dark eyes walked through the curtained doorway with an almost sheepish grin and said, "Hey, sorry, I thought I was done for the night. Come through." He turned and bid Dominic to follow him.
The back room had obviously been part of a previous owner's home at some stage in the distant past. A high picture rail that would once have displayed much-loved family portraits barely managed to cling to the crumbling plaster, and the disused fireplace now housed an odd collection of movie action figures and battered metal lunchboxes. The walls of the room were painted a dark purple, although they were all but hidden by screen-printed posters advertising obscure industrial bands. The two workspaces, however, were a sharp contrast to the carefully composed chaos of the decor; the bench tops and ink trays were immaculately organized and clean.
Michael walked to the second workstation and sat on the small vinyl swivel stool. He indicated for Dominic to sit in what looked a lot like a leather dentist's chair and smelled like it had just been wiped with antiseptic. Michael usually made small talk at that point to put customers, particularly first-timers, at ease, but there was something about the man that stopped him. Instead, he asked quietly, "What exactly is it you want?"
Dominic almost laughed at the question. What is it I want? But he answered, simply, "A design on my left arm." Almost as an afterthought, he turned his face, stared directly at Michael, and added, "I'll let you decide what."
The vampire knew this scenario well: along with the spoken word went an echo in Michael's subconscious that left him more than a little shaken. Dominic's pale gray eyes locked him in place, trapping Michael's breath until his chest ached.
They may have sat like that for a mere second, but to Michael it felt an age before he was released to look down at the location of the intended tattoo. "No, man. I mean, are you sure? Um, maybe something tribal would look good. You know, black work?" His eyes flicked briefly up to Dominic's before he swiveled the stool around to the workbench where he could focus his attention on preparing his tattoo gun.
Dominic watched as Michael's fingers fumbled with the elastic band. It took him several attempts to get it correctly placed, and then he slotted the needle into the tattoo gun. His chest rose with a deliberately deep breath, deep enough to calm his nerves a little but not enough to hide that he was rattled.
Michael's reactions were familiar to Dominic because he'd grown accustomed to the discomfort of others when forced to share his space. He looked at the other workstation, where a teenage girl's young skin was being broken by a man with long dreadlocks, some blond, some blue, and one with a bronze key sewn to its end. Even from that distance, Dominic could smell the girl's blood, and his senses twitched at the sharp tang the ink added to the normally rich, earthy smell. He wondered absently how it would taste if he were to slide his tongue over the newly tattooed shoulder, red and black staining his mouth. He felt the hunger rise, but denying it felt good.
The sudden touch of Michael's fingers through the linen of Dominic's shirtsleeve pulled his attention back to the young tattooist.
"I'll get you to roll up your sleeve or slide your arm out, and you can show me how big you want the design," Michael said, beginning to feel more at ease as he slid into his comfort zone of routine.
Dominic carefully unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it down to fall on the back of the chair, then waited for Michael to begin. It had been a long time since Dominic had felt nervous, and it surprised him that he could still feel the flutter of anticipation. He watched Michael closely, not willing to let any part of the experience escape unnoticed. So intent was his focus on the movement of Michael's hands that he was startled when the fingers actually made contact with his bare skin. Over the years, his heightened senses of sight and smell had become part of Dominic's nocturnal life, but he had almost forgotten voluntary touch. Generally people avoided any form of physical contact; it was as if a primal survival instinct made them cringe away when he was close.
He closed his eyes. It was such a simple touch, fingertips marking out the boundaries of the proposed tattoo, but it sent a deep shiver through Dominic's long-neglected body and sparked a different hunger. Michael felt Dominic shudder and shrugged it off, understanding that clients were often more nervous than they looked. He laid his palm flat on Dominic's arm, spread his fingers, and asked, "How about this for size? It would be from the tip of my thumb to the end of my little finger?"
Dominic didn't look. He merely nodded and said softly, "Whatever you want."
Michael frowned. "Okay, man. It's your arm, I guess."
When there was no response, Michael shook his head, picked up the black marker pen, and began to sketch out a design directly onto Dominic's arm.
The cool tip of the marker skittered over Dominic's skin. With eyes still closed, he felt every slide and stop it made. He tried to see the image as it was drawn, through touch alone, but was constantly distracted by the heat of Michael's hand and the puff of his breath as he leaned in to check his work. Dominic opened his eyes and looked down at Michael. The young tattooist was totally engrossed in his work. A slight frown of concentration creased his brow, and he chewed lightly on his bottom lip. While he drew the gently curving lines, his thumb stroked absently over the sensitive skin of Dominic's arm.
It had been so long since Dominic had been this close to someone other than prey that the rush of sensations threatened to overwhelm him. The warmth radiating from Michael's unblemished olive skin. The faint smell of his shampoo. Cigarette smoke and sweat. Human smells without the sharpness of fear.
Suddenly the hair on the back of Michael's neck prickled, and he looked up to meet Dominic's gaze. As Michael stared into the pale eyes, the vampire felt the long fingers wrapped around the cool skin of his arm tighten their grip. It was only then that Dominic broke the connection and looked down at the design coming to life on his arm, and Michael was able to murmur, "Is this the kind of thing you want?"
Dominic's voice was quiet and tinged with a sadness that didn't go unnoticed as he said, "That is what I want."
Michael sat and looked at Dominic for a lot longer than he intended, then he gave himself a mental shake and turned to the workbench. He finished setting up the gun and pulled on a pair of fine latex gloves. Dominic smiled at the care the young man was taking. Unnecessary. I would catch nothing and pass nothing on to you.
"The outline usually hurts a bit, but your skin soon gets numb," Michael said while he gently placed a steadying hand on Dominic's arm.
The first touch of the needle bit the surface of Dominic's flesh. Dominic watched the point of the gun glide along a section of the hand-drawn outline. The excess black ink bubbled out the edge. The pain was minimal, but it was enough to remind Dominic of things long absent.
Michael lifted the needle and wiped away the ink to check his progress. He glanced up and asked, "You doing okay?"
Dominic considered the question seriously and answered, "Yes, I'm okay, thank you."
It surprised Michael at how carefully Dominic had answered what was a standard question. He blushed a little when he realized he was smiling at Dominic's response and dipped his head to get on with the tattoo.
Normally, Michael chattered in a continuous stream while he worked, partly to distract the client, but mainly because it was his nature to talk. With Dominic, however, he barely spoke. There was something about the man that silenced him. Michael was too aware of the pale smoothness of Dominic's skin, the rise and fall of his chest, and the way his eyes held you locked in place.
With a mental shake, Michael told himself to stay focused on the task. After all, it was just another inking, one of many he'd done that day. But when Scott finished with his client and headed over to watch, Michael realized he was actually irritated by Scott's close proximity to his client. Although it was normal practice for the two friends to check out each other's artwork, tonight Michael did not want him there. He clenched his teeth and tried to push away the feeling that Scott was somehow intruding on something intimate.
When he finished the outline, Michael stopped and looked up. "Listen, man, I'm gonna be a while yet. You head off, and tell Abby I'll lock up when we're done."
Scott frowned. That wasn't the usual way they operated. It wasn't safe to be on your own with an unknown client that late, and something about the guy made his skin crawl. "Nah, it's fine, mate. I can hang around until you're done. Abbs and I have nothing planned tonight, just TV then bed."
Michael was about to argue when Dominic said in a barely audible voice, "He told you to go."
Something about the voice, rather than the words, convinced Scott that it was indeed time to go home. "Okay, I'll see you tomorrow, Michael," he conceded, but he refused to take his eyes off Dominic until he was out the door.
Michael was also watching Dominic. There was something about him he couldn't quite define. Clients usually fell into very distinct categories, but this one was different.
Once Scott had gone, Dominic gave Michael a small smile that instantly sent a flood of heat through the young tattooist's chest and down to his belly. "Um, yeah... the outline is done.... It looks good," Michael stammered as he began to gently wipe the excess ink and smudges of blood from Dominic's arm. "Filling it in will feel a bit different." He glanced up and smiled but quickly dropped his eyes back to the skin. As he ran his gloved fingers over the raised and reddened outline, the burn in his belly spread, and he felt his cock twitch within the confines of his jeans.
Dominic could smell the change in Michael and closed his eyes. This can't happen with him. Why am I doing this to myself? But he knew. He was genuinely curious about the outcome of a tattoo on his inhuman skin, but the main reasons were his fascination with the tattooist and the desire to be touched again. It had been so long.
The pain of the coloring process was less sharp. It was more like a dull and insistent burn on his skin, yet it was no less intense. Dominic let his head fall back against the seat, allowing the smell of the ink and his blood to blend with the human scents while he listened to the steady hum of the gun. He told himself to enjoy the experience--and his time with Michael--but remain detached. This must not become more than it was. Dominic knew that, even though he walked among its people, he was no longer part of this world.
Michael had to force himself to concentrate, and although he took the necessary care, he frequently stole glances at Dominic. Knowing the man's eyes were shut, Michael would take extra time wiping and cleaning the area so his gaze could flick to Dominic's face and body. He could tell Dominic was older than he, but other than that, he could only guess Dominic was maybe early-to-mid thirties. His clothes were pretty conservative, bordering on old-fashioned, and he had no visible piercings. In fact, he could have been one of those people who would simply blend into a crowd unnoticed. Except for those eyes.
A trickle of sweat ran down Michael's back as he filled in a swirl near the top of Dominic's shoulder. He swapped the already soaked tissue for a new one and wiped away the last traces of ink from the unmarked surrounding skin. Though Michael was loath to admit it, the tattoo was finished. The problem was, he didn't want it to end, and despite the fact it was well past their usual closing time, he didn't want this man to leave. But Michael knew he could only drag it on for so long. He sighed and said, "It's done."
Dominic opened his eyes and looked first at Michael and then the fresh artwork. Melancholy seemed to hang in the air of the small purple room when he said, "You do beautiful work. Thank you."
"Um, that's okay," Michael mumbled, suddenly more than a little flustered by the man's attention. "Here I'll, ah... I'll put some of this on and get it patched up." He fumbled under the counter until he found the tube of antiseptic cream and carefully smeared a thick layer over the raw inking. He held up the roll of cling wrap and taped on a square, ensuring it was completely covered while explaining, "There, that will keep it clean and protected. Try to leave it on for a couple of hours, okay?"
Dominic smiled at the way Michael had begun to babble and said simply, "Thank you. How much do I owe you?"
Just another fucking job, remember, just another inking. Dominic "heard" Michael's thought clearly and cursed himself for unsettling the beautiful young man. The cost was disclosed, and they walked together to the front desk. Dominic handed over the money, thanked Michael again without making any more eye contact, and headed for the door.
A surge of panic instantly rose in Michael at the thought of Dominic leaving, and he quickly followed him. "Hey, um, I'm heading out for a drink if, ah, if you'd like to join me? Nothing special; I'm just going to the pub around the corner." Michael had had no intention of going anywhere after work, but he needed just a little longer.
Dominic stopped and looked back at him, immense sadness evident in his eyes. He reached out to Michael and gently stroked his cheek before walking alone through the door.
* * * *
The sun was already high in the sky and streaming through Michael's window when he began to stir. Actually, opening his eyes was still too big a task with a full-blown hangover threatening to kick in, so he lay with them closed and tried to gather together the little threads of disparate consciousness. He'd dreamed about someone; his touch was still on Michael's skin. He tried hopelessly to cling to the image, but it faded quickly, leaving him with just an impression of gentle fingers and pale blue eyes. Or were they gray?
Michael groaned and turned onto his side. He peered cautiously at the clock. Fuck, how can it be midday already? He rubbed his hand over tired eyes and stared at the peeling paint on the far wall for a few more minutes before hauling himself upright onto the edge of the bed. Michael had ended up grabbing a bottle of vodka on the way home from work, and he vaguely remembered drinking almost half of it before hitting bed. Why he'd bought the bottle, he couldn't remember. He sat, forearms resting on his thighs, and frowned. He was never a morning person, but that morning there was something different, something on the fringes of his thoughts that he just couldn't get hold of. It was like clutching at that shadow you see in your peripheral vision, but you turn to look and there's nothing there. He shook his head and instantly regretted the action when a flood of nausea rose from his belly. Michael stood up with a lot more care and wandered into the bathroom.
His reflection grimaced back from the soap-spattered mirror. It definitely didn't look ready to face another day. Michael ran his hand over the patches of stubble and decided shaving simply wasn't going to happen. His frown deepened when something distracted him in the mirror. It was nothing that actually existed in the reversed image of the bathroom, but a recollection of another reflection in another mirror. He screwed up his face and turned away in disgust to have his shower.
Michael took his time getting to work because generally people who wanted tattoos didn't venture into Ink until late. He stretched his arms high above his head, enjoying the sound of his spine clicking into place, and wandered toward Chapel Street. The rain of the night before had cleared the air, and the gentle heat of the sun warmed the backs of his shoulders and helped to dispel the clouds that had settled in his thoughts.
By the time he'd made it into the secondhand music store, picked up a Nine Inch Nails CD, and flicked through some comics in Alternate Visions, Michael had all but forgotten the presence of the man in his dream.
Abby was already unlocking the door of Ink when he arrived. She looked up at him and grinned. "Hey, gorgeous, been spending your hard-earned money?"
"Come on, Abbs, how could I resist?" He smiled and flashed the CD. She rolled her eyes at him, muttered, "Old school," and pushed the door open.
The moment Michael walked into the store, the feeling of anticipation and then loss returned. His inability to pin down why he felt this way niggled deep in his gut, as if something important was just out of his reach. With a final shake of his head, Michael went over to his customer book to see what he had on that day while Abby checked the register. She uttered a confused sound, pulled Michael's book across the counter, and compared it to Scott's. Michael watched her count the money again and asked, "What's up? Has Scott been raiding the till again?"
Abby pursed her lips and gave him a confused look. "No, quite the opposite. There seems to be $150 more than there should be."
Michael turned the book back toward him and cast his eyes over last night's clients; again, something didn't seem right. How could there be money in the register but nothing in the book? Both tattooists knew Abby would have their guts for garters if they messed with her recordkeeping. "Don't question good fortune I guess?" Michael suggested.
"Nice that it's in our favor for once." Abby smiled and put the extra money under the money tray where Scott wouldn't find it. "Okay, now get that cute arse of yours into the back room and make me more money."
Michael chuckled and leaned over to give her a kiss. "Only because I love you," he said, with a grin. They had been friends since he'd first appeared in the shop, and he did love her. Abby and Scott were the closest thing Michael had to family since leaving home, and she was the only person he could actually talk to about stuff that really mattered.
Grabbing his list of clients, Michael walked into the back room and sat at his workstation. There it was again, something on the edge of his memory. Michael could feel its teasing prickle. He ran his hand over the worn leather of the chair in front of him. It was as if his fingertips were looking for something to lock onto, and although there were little fragments of touch, smell, a feeling, nothing really came together, nothing tangible. Michael huffed a sigh and leaned back against the workbench.
"Hey, Mikey boy, rough night?" Scott threw the curtain back and flopped into the chair in front of him.
"Nah, man... well at least I don't think so." Michael pulled a face and laughed at his own confusion. "It's all a bit foggy."
"Sounds more like one of my nights." Scott grinned, but Michael knew Abby had kept a tight rein on Scott's habits since they became a couple. "All I know is that you were still working on someone when I left."
Michael rubbed his fingers over his stubble, listening to the light scrape as he tried to remember his last client. It was a woman getting a star on her forearm, but Scott was still there when she left. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, some guy.... Shit, for the life of me I can't remember what he looked like." Scott hit his palm against his forehead. "Fuck! I hate that! I was working on a girl's shoulder tat, and her boyfriend was being a pain in the arse, breathing down my neck in case I did something 'inappropriate'. I can see them clearly, but your guy just grays out. Maybe Abby's right, and I'm smoking too fucking much."
"Maybe the weed under your workbench isn't such a good idea after all." Michael laughed and slapped Scott across the shoulder. "Come on, you wanker, get off my chair so we can set up for the day."
* * * *
Dominic didn't sit at the cafe that night. He avoided the Windsor end of Chapel Street completely because he knew it was dangerous for him there, dangerous to be around Michael so soon after their last contact. The young tattooist brought back too many memories and human needs that he knew couldn't be fulfilled. But other needs had to be met. Tonight he would have to feed closer to the upmarket end of Chapel, even though he usually preferred to avoid the clubbers and their chemical cocktails.
Slowly, but purposefully, he made his way along the crowded street, ignoring the averted eyes and wide berth given him by late-night shoppers and the last of the cafe dwellers. Dominic reached his destination a little before eleven.
A long queue of youths waited to enter the already over-full club. There was the usual mix of colored dreadlocks, screen-printed T-shirts, and pale-skinned Goths sporting oversized silver crucifixes that could no more save them from his attention than the garlic that adorned the pizza slices they'd consumed for dinner.
It's all myth and legend, children.
Dominic walked past the doorman, who suddenly found a chip in his fingernail a lot more interesting than the fair-haired man with the unnerving eyes.
Most of the club was as dark as the music pounding through the speakers. Dominic scanned it carefully. He'd been there before and knew the layout. The bar was always crowded and noisy, the best-lit area, and therefore to be avoided. The dance floor changed as the night progressed, with waves of the drunk, stoned, or simply enthusiastic each taking their turn. Dominic always watched this with predatory interest, waiting for someone to drift toward the exit unseen by all but one. Frequently, Dominic's prey found him. While most listened to their primal instincts and avoided him, some were attracted to the very fears that kept the others away. These were more dangerous because they could sense what he was and wanted what he was always unwilling to give them.
He moved toward a small table at the back, and its occupants quickly decided they needed to be elsewhere. From his vantage point, Dominic could wait and watch for one to break away from the herd, too drunk or newly heartbroken to realize his intent.
* * * *
Scott was already well on the way to being drunk by the time they entered the club, and he leaned heavily on Michael, who joked with Abby. "Shit, man, how can someone so skinny be so fucking heavy?" Michael groaned and pushed him off. "Keep an eye on him, Abbs. I'm going to check out who's here."
Abby gave Michael an indulgent smile. After a year with Scott, she was very used to ensuring his safety when he'd had a few too many. "Yeah, sweetheart, I'll keep him out of trouble. You go have some fun and find someone to make your heart sing." She winked and turned to Scott. "Come on, you, let's find a quiet place where you can tell me how much you love me."
Michael moved away, a broad grin on his face, knowing it was very true--as much as Scott might deny it, he loved Abby with all his heart.
Michael generally didn't frequent the clubs on Chapel, but Hunters had one night a week that the usual clubbers shunned: Hard and Heavy. The music was industrial, and the drugs of choice tended to be more alcohol and weed than pills and poppers. It usually meant a drunken, sweaty night that often led to an equally sweaty hookup. The music roared in his ears, and he felt his breastbone vibrate as he squeezed past one of the speaker columns to get closer to the bar.
* * * *
Dominic wasn't sure what made him turn his head, but he quickly focused his attention on a figure in a dark red T-shirt pushing his way through to the bar. He watched Michael call out his order and then lift the pot of beer to his lips. He seemed at home among the clamor of sweaty bodies and "inadvertent" touches. Others were drawn to Michael as he flashed them a welcoming look and genuine smile. Warmth and light, Dominic mused and watched the ease with which Michael laughed and shared himself with the others. The intensity of Dominic's gaze grew, and soon it was as if the other inhabitants of the club had faded out around Michael, leaving only the flash of red and a glow that seemed to emanate from the young tattooist.
Despite the crush of bodies that threatened to overload his senses, Dominic could recognize Michael's scent and hear the elevated pump of his heartbeat. Dominic knew that couldn't happen among so many heartbeats and was just a residual sensation from the previous night, but it felt real, and the temptation of the lithe body was very real.
It surprised Dominic how difficult it was to witness Michael laughing and drinking with newfound friends. His ever-present loneliness, usually ignored, took hold, and Dominic knew he needed to leave the club and seek his quarry among the street dwellers.
But someone else had already seen Dominic.
When he stood to leave, a young man who Dominic assumed had entered the club on a fake ID approached him. The teenager was typical of the young Goths the place attracted: pale skin, blue-black hair, eyeliner smeared by sweat.
Another one who wears despair as a fashion accessory, Dominic sighed.
He stood in front of Dominic and made to place a tentative hand on the vampire's chest but instantly thought better of it. He stepped closer. Dominic recognized the need in the boy's look--he'd seen it so many times before--and the hunger rose.
* * * *
Michael drained his glass, turned away from the bar, and scanned the rest of the room. For no discernible reason, his scrutiny fell on a man standing very still in front of a teenager. The club lost focus for a split second. I know him, Michael thought, although he couldn't give him a name or reference point. It was just a memory of a touch and a look. Michael ignored the shoves of those trying to take his place at the bar and stood transfixed, watching the man and the young Goth head out the rear exit. He had no idea why, but Michael needed to follow. It was hard going trying to cross the already manic dance floor. Dancers pressed in, surrounding him with the acrid smell of the hot bodies that blocked his progress. Michael normally enjoyed the frenetic energy of the near mosh on the tiny dance floor, but tonight he felt panicked when his path was blocked and he could no longer see the man.
* * * *
In the narrow trash-filled alley, the humidity of the night was oppressive. The teenager reeked of sweat-soaked velvet and patchouli oil, but above all that, Dominic picked up the red scent of blood. He raised his hand as if to caress the boy's smudged cheek, but moved it quickly to grasp a handful of hair and jerk it back to expose the pale throat.
Dominic watched the tiny pulse point, needing to simply close his lips over it and drink, but he wanted to wait, to smell the boy's desire a little longer. It made it easier to pretend there was some possibility of a connection other than nourishment. A small moan brought him back to the moment, and with an acknowledgement of the wide, pleading eyes, Dominic bent the boy's head further back to expose more of his vulnerable throat. The delicate skin punctured so easily, and the first warmth of the blood hit Dominic's tongue. He paused and licked the tiny wound, savoring the coppery sparks. The young man under his mouth whimpered at the pause, and Dominic gently stroked his hand over the boy's black hair, soothing him before returning to the "kiss."
* * * *
The exit door was slightly ajar when Michael finally reached the outlying tables. He pushed it open and stepped out into the dark rear alley. As the door closed behind him, the noise from the club dimmed until it was just a steady, muffled bass beat. His eyes took a few seconds to adjust and focus on the figures near the dumpster. The man was there. Michael could make out his back and shoulders, his head bent over the youth firmly held in his grasp. Absently, Michael lifted his fingers to his mouth, living the witnessed kiss through his own touch. He stopped and let them drift to his cheek. In that instant, he knew--the man had touched him there. He didn't know where or when, but he knew the man's touch.
Michael watched the figure straighten, his face now partially in view. Their eyes met, and a chill hit Michael deep in his belly when the silent command came. Go home, Michael.