Excerpt Redeemer of Shadows by Michelle M Pillow

Chapter One

London, England

Stormy blue eyes rounded in shock, glancing in all directions. Surely she couldn’t be in the right place. This hidden, modish London nightclub looked nothing like her aunt Georgia’s description of a delectably auspicious café run by a middle-aged couple from Germany.

“Maybe in Germany their idea of delectable includes licking various body parts in public,” Hathor mused wryly, trying to mask her nervousness from the crowd. Again her gaze darted around, but none seemed to pay attention to the lonely spectator in their midst. She wanted to laugh, thinking of her old aunt, the owner of an upper crust English bed-and-breakfast, reclining on one of the very decadent couches lined before the stage. Then, realizing that the liberal Georgia could very well come to such a place, she did giggle. Had her aunt tricked her into getting out of the house?

No, Hathor thought with a firm shake of her head, Georgie wouldn’t have gone to this extreme.

The club looked like an underground dance hall and brothel straight out of the turn of the twentieth century, with a dark and modern twist. Leather g-string panties with gem-studded adornments clasped against the bronzed and glittering skin of the dancers as they sauntered past the curtain to take their place on the narrow stone stage.

The dancers’ dark faces smiled in wicked promise as they glided through the smoke-filled air. Their spike-shaped bras were tipped with steel and gleamed as they thrust their breasts forward with wild abandon. The thump of their high-heeled boots ground out a lusty rhythm, pounding steadily with the beat of the hard music and the aroused shrills of excited spectators.

Hathor huddled in the entryway, refusing to make her way through the scattered tables to the trendy stone and cushion benches. Her blue floral sundress seemed oddly out of place amidst the leather, rubber and furs hugging the teasing peaks of naked flesh. She gripped her purse closely to her chest, drawing no comfort from the conservative handbag as her fingers worked against the beaded pattern of the front. Never had she felt so conscious or so very aware of herself.

You’re in London, she thought, doing her best not to be overwhelmed.

Hathor wasn’t so much shocked as she was uneasy. The dancers attracted her eyes, even as she tried to pull her gaze away. The rhythm of the music pulsed inside of her, mesmerizing her blood with its hard and wicked sound. Her heart began to beat faster to make time. She hadn’t been invited into this place.

The forgotten stone walls, barely visible in the dimmed light, were decayed and leaked in places, like the weeping of teary, old eyes kept awake a century too long. The air was damp and cool, only slightly heated by the small crowd. To her left was a long bar, the newest fixture in the place, made to look as if carved from stone. But, oddly, few seemed to be drinking the warm glasses of liquor the portly bartender tried to dispense. The apathetic man ended up shooting back that which he poured.

Around the curious stage, lounging in the long cushioned seats, near figurines gilded with gold, sat only couples—peculiarly matched. There was a stoic businessman. His arm wrapped possessively around what Hathor could only assume was an English prostitute. A young kid, clearly American by the proud flag displayed on his shirt, crushed his lips to the exposed cleavage of a shockingly older woman. A starkly handsome man, whose dark hair hung about his shoulders to spill forth over his naked chest, naughtily licked the cheek of a balding middle-aged fellow. The balding man’s wedding ring shone bright on his finger. As his head turned, Hathor was afforded a glimpse of his passion-hazed eyes. However, it was something else that caused her to pause. Each couple seemed comprised of one captivatingly beautiful person—those only seen in movies—and one very ordinary and plain.

Eerily, the stage lights dimmed into a bloody red. The smoky air cleared in coiling snake-like patterns as a silent exhaust fan was opened in the roof of the old stone building. The crowd became quiet in respectful anticipation of the awaited performance. Eyes turned to the stage in unison, drawn to the dancers as a possessed group. A look of astonishment washed over their captivated faces as they watched. The thrusting hips of the dancers came together in sexual forthrightness.

Hathor’s eyes widened. Her face froze in stunned bewilderment. She was both fascinated and horrified, and couldn’t turn away. The chorus girls formed a kneeling circle around the platform. Her heart began to pound curiously, cemented in edging fear as she watched white illumination open in the bottom of the stage with a dramatic flash. She could hear the beating in her head, like the drumming of wild horses in flight. A figure moved in the dimming center radiance. The dancers kneeled in worship, leaning back to press their pointed breasts into the shadowed air. A slight moan escaped from the depths of the impassioned crowd, and then another.

Oh no! Hathor thought in growing desperation as she finally managed to look around. I’ve stumbled into an underground sex club. These people must be prostitutes. I don’t understand. I know I got the address right. I checked the map three times before leaving the house. Damned European cities! Why can’t you have streets that lead in a straight line? I shouldn’t be in here. Is prostitution even legal in London?

Hathor grabbed her purse, intent on checking the map once again. Her fingers shook slightly. She glanced around, wondering if she should just leave. No one seemed to be paying her any mind, and the front passageway leading to the entrance held no doorman.

Stepping a bit from the shadows into the light, she moved closer to the bar. The bartender glanced at her before throwing back another shot. His eyes couldn’t meet the crowd. Hathor’s fingers began to dig into her purse, blindly searching for the crumpled map of London’s streets. Finding it, she started to pull it out. Then, as if by a will outside herself, her eyes were drawn to the center stage. Instantly the music changed, its hard beat turning seductively soft. A strange chanting stirred in the back of her mind. The words refused to let her focus. Her body lit as if possessed by fire.

Hathor’s lips parted in a gasp before she held her breath steady and her eyes alert. The lighting dimmed to red to reveal a man who was like no other—strong arms, broad shoulders tapering to a well-formed chest, and then a slender waist.

The pulsing tones of the music fell low and captivating. The tune was from another time, erotically archaic, with the sweetly aching cry of a lonely violin. She could feel the strange thump vibrating though the stone floor. It unfurled enticingly inside her, awakening her with a quickening she never dreamed possible. It was as if a lethargic spell was being woven about her senses. Everything faded and blurred and blended from her sight but the man.

The performer was dressed all in black—snugly fitted slacks and a loose linen shirt cut in a style from the end of the nineteenth century. The old style suited him well, and he wore it with a dynamic ease that said it undoubtedly belonged on him. His dark eyes, encased by the paleness of his skin, glittering a devilish red in the light, pierced through the crowd in dominant pleasure. The defined lines of his diabolically firm mouth lifted up at one side in sensual boredom. As he lowered his chin, his gaze peered through the long tresses of his extremely dark hair. He watched the dancers flip over to push their firm backsides up for his viewing. His languid smile revealed stark white teeth, two of which were pointed into sharpened fangs.

“Vampire,” Hathor whispered in awe as he whipped his arm leisurely through the air. The man on the stage fascinated her. As she watched him, she detected his every movement as if it were part of her soul. His limbs swayed languidly in the ease of the music. She forgot where she was. Shivers racked her spine in shuddering tickles of the flesh.

Her hand fell from her purse, the bag dropping forgotten to hang at her side. Her shoulders stooped as if she couldn’t control her arms. His very presence seemed to cast shadows over everything else, mesmerizing her like a drug. In her head, she knew it was only an act, but the man had an enigmatic power about him.

“Mm, that’s Lord Servaes, the Marquis de Normant. He’s yummy.”

Hathor stiffened at the distinctly British accent that fell close to her ear. Her mind tried to wrap around the words and failed. Carefully, she glanced over her shoulder to see a barely clad woman with stark pink hair that lifted high at the bangs. She wore a cut-off tank that clung to her plentiful breasts. The dusky round tips of her nipples showed large through the flimsy material and pink vinyl hot-pants hugged her hips. Hathor forced her eyes away with a nervous pant. The woman stepped closer, nearing her side. Smiling weakly in confusion, Hathor managed, “Excuse me?”

The woman chuckled knowingly, licking her lips as her eyes drifted down to peruse Hathor’s covered breasts. With a lustful moan, body gravitated closer to brush up against the ill-fitted intruder. The light lilting of her accent ground softly as she repeated with a nod to the stage, “That vampire you were admiring—that is Servaes. He is the most sought-after lay in London. His performances are very rare indeed. You’re lucky to have gotten in. I had to sleep with Sal—that damned rotter—for a month before he would let me into this fleapit. And between you and me, that is a lot of blowjo—”

“I wasn’t,” Hathor broke in, shocked. With a weakened moan, her voice trailed off. She barely heard the woman next to her, not listening to the crude speech as the music once more invaded her. Her gaze stayed fixedly on Servaes, traveling over him, only to find that she couldn’t keep from staring at his handsome, pale face. His lips parted. Her breath caught.

“Oh, I see,” the woman continued with a smirk, her voice rising to accommodate the music as it grew louder and more fevered. The excited crowd began to groan louder with it. “You’re into the role-playing. Think it will help your chances at being picked, do you?”

“I’m sorry? Picked?” Hathor questioned in confusion. She wished the woman would go away so she could concentrate on the strange fire in her limbs. Through the corner of her eye, she saw the couples growing bolder in their public desires. The mood was contagious, urging her to throw back her head and join their mindless moans. She stood quiet, astonished by such an impulse.

“Picked by Servaes,” the woman sighed in exasperation. “Seriously, are you in the wrong place? Who invited you here?”

“No, I’m not,” Hathor stammered. “I’m meeting someone here.”

“Oh, spicing up the marriage a little,” the woman said.

“I’m not married.” Hathor frowned, not knowing why she explained. “I’m from America, staying with my aunt. She’s the only family I have.”

“Oh, of course you’re not married.” The woman winked, knowingly.

Hathor glanced at her, annoyed by her constant chatter. She turned her head once more to the stage in uncertainty. Gasping in shock as Servaes ran his hands over a new girl brought before him, she felt a potent jealousy run through her blood with the virility of an out-of-control flame. With a flick of his wrist, he unleashed the woman’s bra and the pointed spikes plummeted to the ground.

The woman’s small breasts fell forth freely. She arched her back in offering to Servaes’ lips. He leaned over to gently lick the solid nub before dismissing the girl with a dispassionate flick of his hand. Hathor detected that his face showed no pleasure from the intimate act, and yet she felt her midsection twitch with pleasurable sensations. She didn’t have time to wonder at her wanton feelings as they consumed her.

The gathering growled their approval as two of the other chorus girls began sucking and kissing the bared woman’s breasts at Servaes’ command. Their hands moved in a frenzy of desire as they glided over sweaty flesh in massaging caresses. The adored woman howled in rapturous delight as the others forced her back onto the platform.

“What are they doing?” Hathor questioned in a hurried whisper. She was unable to help her curiosity as the women tied the chosen one down. She knew she should turn and leave, knew that she was a stranger to this place, but she couldn’t draw her eyes away from the vampire.

“Those women are Servaes’ offerings. He chooses someone to be punished or, occasionally, someone to be praised. Sometimes they are both. It appears like this one is going to be punished.” The pink-haired woman grunted. Her exploring fingers strayed to her large breast, circling her nipple into a peak. The women on stage pulled the punished woman’s leather panties from her slender hips. Servaes crossed his arms as he watched in dominating approval. Her tone was a bit bitter as she mumbled, “Servaes has strange tastes. He likes to punish humans for their crimes—as if it matters.”

“Punish?” Hathor inquired, amazed. To be with such a man is punishment?

“You’ll have to watch,” the woman said in mysterious delight. Her eyes danced from Hathor to the stage.

“So what did you mean by picked?” Hathor asked, her face heating with a blush. She finally managed to draw her eyes away from the stage long enough to study the woman at her side. Seeing the woman’s hand cupping a breast beneath her tank, Hathor’s face turned completely red.

“Picked to go on stage with him,” the woman said in a husky murmur. She didn’t notice Hathor’s discomfort. Her words lowered to a whisper. “Sometimes Servaes himself will pick a woman from the crowd, and he’ll take her in front of everyone.”

“A complete stranger?” Hathor questioned, appalled. “Is that safe?”

“Oh yeah,” the woman said with a cryptic laugh. She touched her pink hair lightly. Her hips began to sway to the music in gentle thrusts of excitement. Hathor realized the woman was trying to dance with her. She tried to back away, but her heavy limbs didn’t move. “At least for Servaes it is, though it sometimes angers the one who brought the woman. I have only seen him do it once, but that man can suck—fuck. And his body—oh! I saw him pick this redhead once. Man, she had giant breasts. He made her peak so many times she could barely walk. She had to be carried from the stage by the offerings. It’s enough to keep you awake at night.”

“Well, then no, I am not here to be picked.” Hathor denied her arousal as she lifted her chin. The woman’s eyes traveled over her body with a knowing gleam, as if she could see the passion invoked within. Hathor’s breathing deepened. Her eyes focused on Servaes’ mouth. The fanged tips peeked from his slightly parted lips, causing her heart to race. His arms crossed over his chest to assume a commanding stance as he surveyed the crowd he controlled. “Wait, what do you mean you saw him pick someone before? Didn’t you say this was your first time seeing him on—?”

“Hey, I’m Ginger,” the woman interrupted.

Hathor glanced briefly in her direction. Absently, she muttered, “Hathor.”

Ginger giggled playfully. She took her finger and placed it lightly on Hathor’s shoulder. “Pleased to meet you, Hathor.” Ginger’s wandering hand grew bolder as Hathor didn’t back away. It fell completely against her arm in a chilled caress. Under her breath, the woman mumbled to herself, “You have a nice body. Why would you hide it under this hideous dress?”

Hathor only half paid attention to what the woman said as she tucked a strand of reddish-brown hair back into her bun. She wasn’t sure if she should be excited by the show or shocked. It wasn’t as if they were living in the Middle Ages. Sex was everywhere one turned—posters, billboards, cable television. She was never one to watch porn, yet here she was completely enthralled by the performance and entirely jealous of all the women on stage.

The offerings effortlessly succeeded in stripping the punished one’s clothes from her writhing body. Dozens of tongues lapped at her naked skin—over her ripened nipples, to her neck, to her exposed sex. They shackled her ankles into stirrups, holding her legs open.

“What is her crime?” an excited voice shouted from the watching crowd. Hathor recognized the older woman with her college boy.

The music lowered by degrees until it was a soft thud in the background, once more stirring the desires of those watching. The crowd’s hands grew empowered by the wickedly delectable show, and their lips found temptation in the arms of the others gathered. The bodies mingled together with the beginnings of an orgy. Flesh pressed against heated flesh as they waited for Servaes to speak. Lips parted, revealing more fangs hidden within the crowd. Their combined breaths caught up in a rhythm of sensual pleasure and denial.

Slowly, Servaes moved over the stage, keeping everyone on his own time. A smile curved his luscious mouth, and he looked over the crowd in languid perusal from his deep-set eyes. Hathor shivered as the red light glinted in his devilishly handsome gaze, looking as if it came more from within him than reflected from him. His eyes narrowed with a bright, feverish tint. Arousal, swift and strong, coursed through her veins. Hathor gasped, nearly fainting with the unexpected intensity of it.

Ginger felt her shiver and mistook its cause. Leaning closer, she fitted her moistened lips to Hathor’s throat. Hathor stood transfixed by the man on the stage. She felt teeth brush her skin, but it didn’t snap her thoughts back to awareness. At the same time Ginger kissed Hathor’s pale flesh, her hands found the rounded tilt of her confined breast.

“Crime?” Servaes stated in ominous declaration. His word was as soft as a whisper and held the deadly pleasing lilt of an old culture.

Pick me, Hathor breathed, unable to stop the thought as she watched him.

Servaes suddenly stopped moving. His serious eyes turned from the stage to dart over the crowd. The smile melted from his lips, replaced by a snarl of confusion.

“How about we go find a seat?” Ginger offered with hot pants against Hathor’s skin. “Servaes can see you better if you are in the crowd.”

Hathor gasped in shock and pulled away. This wanton attitude was not like her. She didn’t want to sleep with perfect strangers, no matter how handsome they were. The spell she felt cast about her suddenly broke. A cloud lifted from her brain, a haze melted off her limbs, seeming to run onto the floor to puddle around her feet. Shaking her head, she was suddenly very frightened. Her voice cracked, “I—”

With a pull and a gasp, Ginger’s gaze hastened to the stage. Her eyes narrowed to glare in defiance at the man on stage. Her nostrils flared. Then, almost instantly, she lifted up her hands and bowed in remorse. Hathor thought she noticed the glint of extended fangs in the woman’s mouth. Ginger backed away from her. Hathor noticed an inner flash to the woman’s eyes—pooling red with blood for an instant. The woman’s gaze flitted back to the stage and she smiled like a punished child. Yes, Ginger definitely had fangs.

The hairs on the nape of Hathor’s neck lifted as she spun back around. Her heart began to pound faster in dismay. Her breathing deepened. The crowd had gone extremely quiet. Her blood rushed loudly in her ears as she turned to see all eyes on her—the intruder in their midst. Even the offerings stopped in their task to glare at her. In a flash, no longer than a blink, she saw red trails of blood coming from the dancers’ fanged mouths, falling over their throats to disappear into the valley of their breasts. Their victim lay barely moving beneath them. In a daze, Hathor blinked heavily to see the blood was gone.

Servaes arrogantly stood on the stage. His eyes bore into her, the brown depths glowing eerily with an unfamiliar light. Suddenly, a green tint flashed over the captivating orbs. Hathor felt herself caught up in his stare. Her lungs forgot to pull air. It was as if he was inside her, searching through her thoughts, listening to her heart. Somehow he didn’t seem angry at her presence, just confused, as if he probed her for something he couldn’t find. Her body hummed as if on fire. She heard his voice in her head, whispering words she couldn’t understand, in a language she couldn’t know.

He opened his mouth as if to speak. All of a sudden, he seemed aware of where he was. No words came from his curling lips. Hathor backed away slowly from the prying eyes. Those with fangs watched her, the red stage lights reflecting off their eyes.

“He has picked,” someone whispered near Hathor’s shoulder.

Hathor shook her head slowly in denial. Her eyes stayed fixed on the Marquis. Her limbs quaked with dread. She couldn’t go on stage. What was she doing? She should have run from this place as soon as she walked in. Quickly, she backed into the shadows away from his notice. His eyes followed her, as if he could see her in the impossible darkness.

A spell trapped her limbs with a numbing force when Servaes looked at her, making it hard to move. A slight frown came over his features at her rejection of his attention. Then a smirk lined his confident lips as he turned back to the crowd. He ignored her.

“Her crime…” he stated with a wave that encompassed the room, bringing the attention back to him. Instantly, the penetrating eyes of the crowd were drawn away from her, and Hathor felt as if she could once again breathe freely. She watched him point to the offering to be punished as he continued, “is that she denied her partner release after finding her own fulfillment.”

“And her punishment?” a man with yellow underwear poking out of his unbuttoned blue jeans yelled. His hand firmly grasped the exposed breast of his fanged lover. The vampire leaned over to lick his uncovered throat as she firmly grasped his erect penis.

“Her punishment will befit the crime,” Servaes said, his thoughtful tone oddly impersonal. “She shall be brought near pleasure, but denied several times until her body runs hot with moisture and her loins pulse with unfulfilled desire. And then we shall drink from her.”

The gathered onlookers voiced their approval, half in moans and half in cheers. The punished woman wailed as an offering forced her legs further apart. The sounds she made were filled with wanton pleasure. Servaes went to stand over her. Hathor watched from the shadows, mesmerized. Reaching his hand down, the vampire hovered his fingers over the punished one’s exposed sex. The woman tried to grind her hips up into his palm. He backed the pale fingers away from her so they were just beyond her reach.

The bound woman let loose a tortured moan as she was denied his touch. Then, withdrawing his hand back into his masculine chest, he nodded at his women. Instantly, they were on the tied woman, licking and poking at her flesh with their fangs. Their searching fingers touched everywhere but her seeking center as they teased her trembling skin.

Hathor pulled back, terrified by the strong urge in her stomach. The club suddenly smelled of sex as the crowd tore at their clothing in a frenzy of excitement. Her tongue flicked across her teeth as if to find her own set of fangs there. Her teeth were flat, but she bit her tongue. Lightly, she touched her lips, only to draw her fingers away dotted with her own blood.

Servaes had wanted her. Out of the fifty or so people in the crowd, he had picked her. Seeing Ginger watching her intently, Hathor backed towards the narrow passageway leading to the entrance. The woman’s eyes were transfixed on her bloodied finger.

The sound of Hathor’s feet echoed as she ran from the risqué couples beginning to fornicate before the stage. Pursued by the potent smell of sex and blood, her heart pounded and her head swam. She couldn’t make her wooden feet move fast enough.

The bricked alleyway was wet as she finally made it into the night. The moon shone full and bright in the sky, glittering on the moist pavement like millions of sparkling diamonds. Leaning against the cobblestone wall, Hathor took a deep breath. Her blood pulsed in her veins, threatening her body with its silent song of temptation. Beautiful pale skin and handsome, brown, deep-set eyes haunted her. The image burned into her mind, warning her that she was forever changed.

Suddenly screams rang out from the hidden club—the sound of people brought to slaughter. The shrill cries echoed all around her, making her hair feel as if it stood on end. The noise shook her from her stupor. She pressed into the stone wall, too frightened to move.

“Go!”

Hathor heard Servaes’ command as if he shouted it in her ear. With a start, she jolted away from the building, spinning to look behind her. When she saw nothing, she twirled, darting her gaze all around. She realized she was completely alone. The only noise was the beating inside her chest, uncommonly loud. Hesitantly, she leaned to peer down the passageway leading to the decadent club. Seeing a flash of pink hair, Hathor jerked back with a gasp. She mindlessly ran down the narrow alleyway, not knowing how she navigated the dark paths. She didn’t stop until she was safely home.

BUY LINKS

About the author

Michelle M. Pillow Michelle M. Pillow, Author of All Things Romance, is a multi-published, award winning author writing in many romance fiction genres. She is best known for her futuristic dragonshifting romance series: Dragon Lords and Lords of the Var. www.MichellePillow.com

About Michelle M. Pillow

Michelle M. Pillow, Author of All Things Romance, is a multi-published, award winning author writing in many romance fiction genres. She is best known for her futuristic dragonshifting romance series: Dragon Lords and Lords of the Var. www.MichellePillow.com
This entry was posted in Excerpts, Michelle Pillow Books, Raven and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.