Guest post by Brantwijn Serrah author of Lotus Petals
In anticipation of Lotus Petal's print release, I thought I might like to tantalize readers with a little taste of the sequel-in-progress: Satin and Steel.
The second of Rhiannon's stories, Satin and Steel takes place in London, and Rhiannon is sent out to hunt a wild demon who's been killing its own kind. On the hunt she meets Vivienne, a shadow-walker with a ravenous interest in Rhiannon's future.
Join me in Covent Garden, my lovelies, with an exclusive sneak peek at Satin and Steel.
As they descended into the larger room Rhiannon saw a sprawling floor populated by lush couches and cushions, with rich, red velvet curtains draping down from the ceiling among and between them, opening wide circles and closing off others from view. The air pressed in, hot and thick, and pungent with the same sweet, sickening smell. It drifted in winding ribbons of thin white smoke. The sensuous figures of beautiful women and epicene young men sprawled naked on divans while others sat close and adored them, fondling and tracing their bodies with light, reverent caresses.
Dancers entertained in one corner, lithe women undulating in slow circles, their bare breasts covered by nothing but long drapes of colored glass beads or hammered gold discs. On her left a naked woman reclined on her stomach, while another idly painted intricate letters—Chinese, she thought—in a vividly complex pattern across her bare skin.
Rhiannon found herself speechless.
As Vivienne led her through this menagerie of bodies, the vampire saw many demons sporting four fangs, exactly as Vivienne predicted. They lay wrapped in the arms of the true demons, reclining with them in various states of dress, as the kin-bitten inclined their heads over them and drank from their veins. The kin-born bore their throats, their wrists, breasts, thighs, and sexes, all to the teeth of their masters. As the kin-bitten imbibed of their blood, she saw the slaves' drunken expressions of pleasure, their eyes rolled back and mouths open in quiet moans.
She recognized the look. She remembered with bittersweet pain what it meant to let her master drink from her. The blood of demons intoxicated the drinker; the lustful passion of the bite could be equally as intoxicating to the slave.
Of course, it could also leave them dead.
Vivienne took her past a raised dais in the center of the room, where two lady shadow-walkers lay naked beside one another, heads and toes pointed in opposite directions. One had her long, dirty-blonde hair spilling across the stone beneath her and almost to floor, and the other's thick, crimson-red ringlets tumbled carelessly over the other side of their stage. They lay as still as corpses, their parallel arms wound together, holding hands like sisters, like young girls in their tenderest years. Their mouths each opened in silent moue of pleasure, as several demons surrounded them, lounging on the floor or bent over the stage, drinking from their veins.
Rhiannon paused without realizing it, counting vampires, beast-demons, and even exsul among those feeding. The writhing knot of bodies stirred a strange mixture of keen interest and awful dread in her gut.
"What is this place?" she hissed. Vivienne flashed a pretty grin as she found an empty circle of cushions and took a seat, gesturing for Rhiannon to join her. An elaborate mahogany tray rested on a low table in the center, and on it lay two ivory pipes.
"Silly girl," Vivienne said. "It is an opium den. Couldn't you have figured it out by yourself?"
"These demons are not smoking opium," Rhiannon muttered, glancing back at the two shadow-walkers lying on the dais like a platter of earthly delights. With so many teeth and tongues on their bodies, how could they not fear they would be killed?
"Oh," Vivienne murmured. "Some of them are."
Rhiannon glanced around the others gathered on sofas and cushions. Then, it dawned on her, and her eyes widened.
Vivienne followed her gaze among the others, her eyes glowing with delight.
"True demons do not feel the effects of food or drink. Or poisons."
"But the kin-born do," Rhiannon said.
"Very good, mon beau cherie. I could smoke this entire pipe full of the strongest opium they provide, and it would not have the slightest effect."
She leaned forward, giving the vampire a meaningful grin.
"But one wineglass of your blood," she purred. "And I would find myself most pleasantly intoxicated. And if your blood happened to be laced with the same opium I cannot enjoy..."
"It'll hit you, too."
Green eyes glittered. "We connect with you through your blood. We feel what you feel... and oh, my darling... it can be quite glorious."
Rhiannon spun in place, unable to count the number of demons drinking the blood of other demons. Not just vampires—all the races took part in it, all of them sucking deeply from the veins of their slaves and wallowing in the thick, heady intoxication.
"Oh, hell," she growled. "Any damn one of them could drink enough to kill... and become a thrall."
"Exactement, ma cherie."
Vivienne gave her a coy smile. "Any one of them. This is not the only such pleasure house in London, either, as I' m sure you can guess. We have the London vampires to thank for it. These are their enterprises, you see."
Rhiannon could hardly believe it. A whole nest full—several nests full—of drunken demons, feeding on one another night after night.
And now a monstrous thrall on the loose, killing their kind.
How had they not had a client turn rabid before? How had they not bred a whole pack of rabid abominations?
"How did you discover this?" Rhiannon asked, turning back to her companion. "You've been in London but a few days."
"These establishments are not uncommon in France," Vivienne mused. "Despite the war separating us, London and Paris are not so far apart. The vampires there kept this secret as well, and cater to the demons of my country... although they have not been so willfully blind to the consequences. No demon has ever murdered another within the Paris opium dens and been allowed to live."
Her eyes roamed across the floor.
"The London vampires have not bothered to be so careful."
"Which is why this whole mess is our fault," Rhiannon muttered, a low growl escaping her. "Verdammt, we are a whole city of idiots. This ridiculous debauchery should never have been allowed to happen!"
"I would not go sofar, ma cherie," Vivienne corrected her. "Such vice can be enjoyed well enough, for those who have the will to control it. I myself have succumbed to the perfumed blood of your kind on more than one occasion."
Rhiannon shot her a glare. "You've been a part of this?"
The shadow-walker's grin grew wider; her fangs were pert with glee.
"Oh, yes," she purred. "It is un plaisir le plus divin… how do you say? A most divine pleasure."
She arched her eyebrows.
"Why do you think I brought you here, my darling kin-born?"
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Author bio: In addition to her novels, Brantwijn has had several stories published in anthologies by Breathless Press, including the 2013 Crimson Anthology and 2014 Ravaged Anthology. She's also had a short story published in the Cleiss Press Big Book of Orgasm and the anthology Coming Together Through The Storm. She hopes to have several more tales to tell as time goes on. She has author pages on GoodReads and Amazon, and loves to see reader comments on her work. Her short stories occasionally pop up at Foreplay and Fangs, her blog at http://brantwijn.blogspot.com.
Lotus Petals Book Blurb:
Aijyn, human slave to a ruthless vampire Lord, would never dare do anything to incur his wrath. Then, she fell in love...with his bride.
Rhiannon Donovan, daughter to the vampire Queen, would rather die than be made a bride to a demon lord. Aijyn, courtesan to the undead Daimyo of Kansai, can think of nothing more horrifying than his promise of eternal life. In the halls of the Blood Lotus Temple, the two women struggle against the chains of their fate, and find a solace in each other that could mean freedom for them both...or cost each of them their lives.