Nix awoke to the feel of hands on her back, and a touch on her face. With a soft groan, she opened her eyes to find Jesse looking at her. .
She was laying on a bed, with a soft mattress and fluffy pillows. Jesse was sitting on the floor next to the bed, smiling, her hand trailing down Nix's cheek.
"How do you feel?"
"Mm. I'll let you know when I can actually feel anything. I'm kind of numb." Nix could hear herself slurring her speech and she chuckled a little. Then she stopped and frowned. "Jesse?"
"If you're there, then -- who's touching my back?"
Jesse's smile widened. "It's one of the helpers here. I had to hit the panic button to get you out of the chains. One of them stayed with us, even though she's off duty now."
"Hey, I was glad to do it. My favorite top and my Mistress. Why wouldn't I want to help?"
The voice was familiar, and Nix frowned, trying to figure out where she knew it from. She twisted her head a little, and the person leaned down so Nix could see her.
The vamp nodded. "Hey."
Nix groaned and turned back to her pillow. "What are you doing here?"
"I work here. I get paid thirty dollars to be on call for the evening, and if there's an emergency, I get an extra twenty-five bucks for each one I respond to. It's not a lot of money, but it helps." She peeled the last of the wax off Nix's back, then began rubbing an oil into the skin. "Damn, Nix, you heal fast. These edges are already starting to close up."
Jesse leaned closer to Nix and kissed her forehead. "It's all right, love. Lista knows better than to talk about anything she sees here, and I trust her."
The blonde hesitated, but nodded. "I know. It's okay, just a surprise."
"For me, too," Lista said. "Now, let's roll you over and see how that burn is."
Nix winced as they rolled over onto her back. She hadn't even noticed the bandage on her hip, and as she looked down at it, she could now see why. It had been slathered in burn cream, and covered in wads of soft cloth. Nix closed her eyes as Jesse's gentle hands pulled the bandage away. She wasn't sure she wanted to see the brand. Memories of the distant past floated through her mind, and she tightened her hands into fists.
"Nice," she heard Lista say. "No blurring, and damned if this isn't already starting to heal, too."
Jesse touched Nix's cheek. "Open your eyes, love."
Reluctantly, she did. Looking down, she was surprised to see only a small red circle, puffy and swollen. "What is that?"
"It's my mark." Jesse showed her the ring. "It shows that I own you. You belong to me, if only for right now."
Nix looked carefully at the ring. It had a round flat face, with a stylized dagger raised on the surface. The dagger's handle was curved, in the form of a J.
"Does anyone else wear this mark?"
Lista pulled her T-shirt up and lowered her leather shorts beneath one thin hip. A branded 'J' was outlined there. But it wasn't the same.
"No, Lista, yours is different." Jesse kissed Nix. "And no, Nix, yours is unique."
"Yeah." Jesse kissed her once more, and Nix hugged her, leaning into her arms and sighing.
Lista smiled, and continued to gently rub more burn cream on the small brand. "Wow, you're all over bruises. Tristesse really worked you over, didn't she?"
Nix tensed at the name, and forced herself to pull slightly away from Jesse. "That's not her name. Don't you ever call her that again." Her voice was low, angry.
Lista raised an eyebrow and looked at Jesse. Jesse touched the side of Nix's face, turning her head so they could see each other.
"What's wrong with my name, Nix?"
"It's not your name. It's one that Shelby gave you, and I won't let that bitch have any claim on you."
Jesse smiled. "Shelby didn't give me that name, Nix. It's one I took a long time ago. A lot of people know me only by that name, and no other. It's what they know me by around here."
"But, Trey said --" Nix stopped. "She said she thought Shelby gave it to you."
"No. If she had, I'd have left it behind the night I left the club." Jesse frowned, remembering that night.
Nix remembered it as well. "I'm sorry, Jesse. I had to step in."
"I know." Jesse shifted her position slightly. "And I'm glad you did. I just wasn't prepared for it, that's all."
They heard Lista chuckle. "We were all damn glad that you stepped in, Nix."
"Why didn't any of you do anything, Lista? You seemed so damn ready to be through with with Shelby, but none of you said anything to stop her."
Lista shrugged. "Cause the family is important to us. More important than anything else, and we didn't want to lose that. If any of us had challenged Shelby, who the hell knows where we might have ended up? Probably same place our last Mistress before Shelby did."
"Where's that?" Nix frowned. "Trey said she just disappeared."
Jesse nodded, her eyes distant. "They pulled her body from the Hudson a couple months ago. From what they said, she died of a drug overdose."
"But we all knew she didn't do drugs." Lista's voice had softened. "I have to say, Jesse, we were all worried about you. If she'd --"
"It's over." Nix's voice was hard enough to cut glass. "She ever comes around and she'll find out what it means to be a vampire."
"She's already come around." Lista sounded half sad and half angry.
"What?" Ignoring the pain, Nix sat up. Her head swam for a moment, but she pushed it away, feeling Jesse's hands on her. "When? Where?"
"At our hang out. Last night. From what I heard, Tommy called Evan, looking for drugs, and both of them showed up. Maz and I beat a fast retreat, hoping they'd leave. When they did, Tommy and Vickie went with them." She looked sad. "Don't kill us, cause it's not our fault, but -- we don't know if Vickie went with them willingly."
Nix looked as angry as Jesse had ever seen her. "Before you leave, make sure you have my cell number. Any of the four of them show up at the club, I wanna know. You got that, Lista?"
The vamp nodded.
"Good." Nix took in a big breath. "Ouch. Damn, I'm sore." She smiled at Jesse. "It's a sweet soreness, though."
Jesse laughed. Carefully, she hugged Nix. "I love you."
The vampire looked at her with glittering eyes. "I love you, Jesse. Tristesse."
Lista grinned, watching as Jesse moved closer and kissed Nix. She'd always been half in love with Jesse, who'd brought her to the vamp club, and it made her happy to see the darker woman smiling and in love.
And it was love. She could see it.
"Okay, Jesse, you know the rules. Four hours limit, and anything over costs you. You might make it on time if you hurry."
Nix looked at her. "How much for overtime?"
"A buck a minute."
"Shit, that's not even as expensive as what we paid."
"Right, but the longer you take, the more it costs. After thirty minutes it goes up to two bucks a minute."
The vampire raised an eyebrow, then turned to Jesse. "Let's go home, okay?"
Jesse laughed and nodded. "My place or yours?"
"Do you think you could drive to Manhasset?"
"No. That's why I asked Lista to drive us." Jesse grinned. "She used to be a cab driver, before she got into a better line of work."
Lista laughed. "I'll drive you home, Nix. Just give me an address, and I can get you there."
They got Nix bundled up and out to the car, leaving only a few minutes late.
Shivering from the cold and exhaustion, Nix let Jesse put her in the back seat, but hung onto the darker woman's arm till she crawled into the back seat with her.
"Don't do that. My name is Nix and you know it."
"Sorry." Lista grinned at her in the rear view mirror. "It's just that you're more of a mistress than Shelby could ever be."
"Even after just getting topped by Jesse?"
"Oh, yeah. Shelby couldn't have taken half of what Jess can dish out."
Nix laughed. "Thanks. But I don't think I want anything that was hers, especially that title."
Jesse dipped her head close to the vampire's ear. "Not even me?"
"You were never hers." Nix turned and kissed Jesse's lips. "You've always been your own person, Jesse, whether you knew it or not."
"I would have been yours, you know."
Shaking her head, Nix smiled. "No. It would have destroyed both of us. You needed to find yourself, and so did I."
"Is that what you did in Toronto?"
"No. That's what happened when I came back and saw you with Shelby. I found myself. That's when I knew I'd do whatever I had to, just to get you back."
Jesse chuckled. "And when did you come up with the idea of appearing at my place, naked and in handcuffs?"
"Um." Nix turned slightly red. "Yesterday? No -- earlier today. Or, by now, it's yesterday."
"What made you think of it?"
The chuckle became an outright laugh. "Oh, of course."
"No, she just made a good point, that I had a habit of ordering you around and maybe I should stop and let you have some control." She waved her hands. "Voila."
Jesse pulled her closer and kissed her. "Remind me to thank Trey next time I see her."
Lista drove cautiously through the icy streets, trying to stay on main thoroughfares that had been cleaned and salted. Every once in a while she'd glance into the back seat to see Jesse and Nix curled up with each other, and she'd grin.
They had crossed the bridge onto the island when Nix woke up and felt the blood hunger rise. Jesse was laying close to her, her head back on the seat, her throat visible above her collar. Swallowing several times, Nix looked out the window, clenching her jaw to keep her fangs from extending.
Jesse felt the tension in the woman next to her and turned her head. She watched the vampire, noticing the tension in the line of her neck.
The vampire nodded.
"Soon, love. You can feed when we get to the apartment."
"Jesse, you --"
"Shh." Jesse pulled her gently back. "Don't worry. I'll take care of you."
"You're mine until the sun rises, Nix. Don't argue with me."
Nix stopped. She leaned her head back and sighed. "I'm sorry, Jesse. I'm not trying to argue. I just know you're as tired as I am, and I don't want you to make yourself ill trying to feed me."
Jesse leaned close and whispered in her ear. "Don't worry, I won't. I have a plan." She grinned and licked Nix's neck.
The vampire nodded, but the look of worry didn't fade from her face.
The hunger continued to rise, and Nix was shivering with need as they reached the apartment.
"You usually don't get this bad this fast, do you?" Jesse asked quietly.
"No. I think this is partly because of Cam draining me like she did, and you working me over tonight. I --" she stopped, shaking her head. "I drank the blood Kelsey gave me, but nothing more, and I think I'm feeling it."
"Not long, I promise."
Lista pulled the car into the underground parking garage and the three of them took the elevator to Nix's penthouse.
Nix let them in the apartment and Jesse found herself looking around, comparing this visit to her first one, when she was under the influence of Nix's blood. The biggest difference, she found was in the details. There were none in her recollection, that whole weekend had been a blur beyond Nix herself.
The vampire tossed her keys on the coffee table. "I haven't been here much since I got back to the city, but if anyone's hungry, the kitchen should be fully stocked."
"I think we could all use some food, even you, Nix." Jesse kissed the top of her head. "Want anything special, love?"
"No, just a sandwich. I'm not terribly hungry." Another shiver went through her.
Jesse saw it. "At least not for food, hm?"
She got a listless shrug in return.
"Okay, you go sit down and Lista and I will make some sandwiches for all of us. You, Nix, just relax, okay?"
Nix sat, but she was too tense for relaxation.
They made four thick ham sandwiches, and Jesse had Lista eat one of them before leaving the kitchen. When they returned to the living room, Jesse had a container of orange juice with her.
"You okay, love?"
The vampire nodded, though her jaw was still clenched. The craving was getting stronger and she was wondering what Jesse had planned now.
"Lista, put your sandwich down and sit on the couch. Nix, get up, let Lista lay back with her head on the arm." Jesse set the orange juice and sandwiches on the coffee table. "Come on, move."
Nix stood, trying not to shake.
Lista got comfortable on the couch, wondering what was up. When Jesse took an extra throw pillow and slid it under her shoulders, she raised an eyebrow. "What's up, Tristesse?"
"You're going to find out what it's like to be the victim of a vampire. Nix is hungry for blood."
"Cool." The woman's eyes widened with anticipation. "Oh, this is so cool."
"You're also going to get to taste her blood."
"Oh, no I'm not." Lista sat up. "I saw what that did to Shelby. No way."
Jesse put a hand on her shoulder. "Lista, I've tasted it. Trust me. You'll like it."
Nix watched the two of them. She was slightly confused, the hunger taking most of her attention. "Jesse --"
"No. I have this worked out, Nix. Relax." Jesse turned her gaze back to the young woman on the couch. "Just one drop, Lista. I'm gathering that Shelby had a lot more than that."
"Well, yeah, at least a good mouthful."
"Which isn't what you need. One drop, that's all."
"Wanna tell me why?"
Jesse smiled. "Not now. Afterward, yes. Just trust me, okay?"
After a moment, Lista nodded and returned to her previous position.
The vampire looked up at Jesse.
"Come on. Just one drop, and you can feed."
That was when she finally understood. Jesse wanted her to give a drop of vampire blood to Lista, thereby creating a type of simulated orgasm in the woman. Then she could safely drink from her.
Moving slowly, Nix went to the couch. "Lean your head back and open your mouth, Lista." When the woman complied, Nix almost groaned with her need. "Close your eyes."
Seeing Lista's eyes close, Nix let her fangs down and pricked her thumb on one of them. Leaning over, she let one large drop splash into the back of Lista's throat. Reflexes made her swallow the blood, and the reaction was instant as her body clenched in a long spasm.
Nix turned the woman's head and let her fangs sink deep into the white flesh. The first swallow eased the craving, and the by the third, she was feeling oddly full. She pulled away just as the spasms stopped shaking Lista.
Jesse had moved to the side of the couch, right above Lista's head. When Nix pulled back, she pressed a cloth to Lista's neck. Looking at the vampire, she noticed the lines of hunger were gone, and there was once again a sated appearance on Nix's face.
The two of them got some of the orange juice into Lista, along with half her second sandwich, and Nix brought a blanket to cover her. She smiled at them just before she slipped into dreamland.
Nix leaned against Jesse.
"You hungry anymore? For blood, I mean?"
The vampire shook her head. "No. That sandwich sounds good, though."
Jesse smiled and hugged her from behind. "You head for the bedroom and turn down the sheets. I'll grab the sandwiches and join you in just a moment."
It was as they were getting into bed that Nix noticed Jesse wincing as she tried to pick something up with her right hand.
"You okay? What'd you do to your arm?"
Jesse chuckled. "I'm okay. Just twisted my wrist a little."
"Let me see." The vampire gently took hold of the limb and examined it. "Jesse, your wrist is swollen. What did you do?"
She got a shrug. "Like I said, I twisted it."
"Um." Jesse was slowly turning red. "Well, let's just say you have some really powerful muscles."
"What? Are you telling me I did this? When?"
Jesse just continued to blush.
Suddenly Nix got it. "Oh." She reddened as well. "Oh, wow. Jess, I'm so--"
"Uh-uh." Jesse put a finger to the vampire's lips. "No apologies. It was one hell of a night, and we're both tired and sore. Let's get some food in our bellies and catch some z's. We can talk more tomorrow."
After a moment, the vampire nodded.
They ate slowly, sharing kisses between sandwich bites. Nix was beginning to really feel all the abuse her body had been through, and the exhaustion was catching up to her as well.
"Jesse?" The name sounded strange as Nix yawned while saying it.
"What the hell did you use on my ass? It's been close to three hours and it still burns." Nix squirmed a little.
"Damn, I'm sorry, Nix. I didn't realize it would last this long. You want me to try to --"
"No, it's okay, it's hot, but not painfully so anymore. I'm just wondering what it was."
"Oh." Jesse grinned, almost bashfully. "I figured with you being a vampire, and having tougher skin and everything, you maybe wouldn't get a good high from the normal heat lotion. So, I um," she paused, turning slightly red, "I used an arthritis rub called Deep Heat."
Nix gaped at her. "You're fucking kidding."
"Nope. Worked, didn't it?"
"You'd never use that on a regular person, would you?"
"Oh, hell no. It might cause hemorrhaging or something. No, I only used it tonight cause I figured you could take it."
"Huh." Nix snorted. "Barely. I have to admit, I almost used my safe word there."
Jesse froze. "What?"
Nix looked down, biting her lip.
"Why didn't you use it?"
"Cause it would have meant leaving you. And I don't think I could do that." The blonde looked up at her. "I don't want to leave you, Jesse. I'm sorry I ever did."
Stroking Nix's cheek, Jesse smiled. "Then don't leave, baby. I want you with me."
"I love you."
"I love you, Nix. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you at the airport."
"It's all right. I probably wouldn't have heard you anyway." Nix sighed. "I just -- I needed to get out of here."
"Yeah, well, next time you need to get out of here, do me a favor, okay?"
"Either shoot me or take me along, cause I don't think I could handle you leaving again."
Nix kissed her. "I promise."
When I awoke, it was still dark out. The lamp on Cam's night table was still burning, and I reached over to turn it off. The clock underneath it said 4:08.
Cam was snoring gently, and I slipped an arm around her. She snuggled up tight against me, and I smiled in the dark, enjoying the feeling of having someone next to me.
Her snores slowed, then stopped.
"You awake, Trey?"
"Yeah. It's okay, it's still early, go back to sleep."
"Mm." She kissed my cheek. "How is it sleeping next to someone?"
"Nice. I was just thinking about that."
"It's nice for me, too."
It was quiet again, and I thought she'd fallen asleep, but she shifted and took my hand in hers.
"Can I stay with you for a couple days?"
"With me?" I could feel her nod, even though it was dark.
"Well, yeah. I mean, Nix said it will take a while for the damage to the apartment to be fixed, and I'm not sure I want to continue staying with Dayle and Kruise till it's done."
"When are you going to have them start on the apartment?"
"I don't know; Nix is taking me over there tomorrow to look at it." She took a deep breath. "I remember losing it and ripping things apart . . . I almost don't want to go back, but I have to."
I nodded, even though she couldn't see me, and stroked her shoulder comfortingly. "It's okay. It wasn't you, Cam. Just remember that."
She sighed. "I'll try."
Again, we were silent, listening to the sounds of traffic on the street below.
"You can stay with me."
Another kiss on my cheek. "Thanks, Trey."
When I fell asleep, I was smiling.
End Part Sixteen
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