Hello everyone! This is Antoinette M— and I’m at the bar, waiting for Jamie, the hot vampire from my new novella, The Vampire’s Gallery. I asked his girlfriend, Maria, to describe him, and she said, “Dangerous, sexy, and oddly sweet.”
So, I’m sitting here with pen and paper, going over my notes and girding my loins for sexy. When Jamie arrives, I realize I am under-girded as I press my thighs together. Tall, dark, and handsome is the TL;DR version of it. Jamie has kind brown eyes and a smile that makes me feel like the only girl in the room.
“Sorry I’m late, I got distracted.” He sits across from me and reaches for the beer menu.
By the sated grin on his face, I can guess what distracted him. I take a sip of beer to keep my mind off that. “Okay, first question. How old are you?”
Jamie gives the waitress his order, but doesn’t answer. By his stony expression, he isn’t going to. “Next question then,” I say, crossing off #1 on my list. “I understand Darius, your right hand man, joined you around 1 B.C.?”
“It’s impolite to discuss age,” he states.
I squirm in my seat and cross out my next five questions and write down a new one. “So, why don’t you like to talk about your age?”
He likes that one. His expression softens and I relax, a little. “Politics, really. Vampires will get in a pissing contest over anything. Age is one of their favorites, the size of their court, another.” He takes a slow sip of his beer and I take the opportunity to ogle him. “We get together every ten years to show off, a gentler type of war.”
Now that he’s opening up a little, I decide to play it bold. “Where are you in the overall vampire hierarchy?”
“Oh, up there,” he says. He waves his hand, whether to indicate his place in the pecking order or to dismiss the question, I’m not sure.
“Would you say you’re among the oldest?” I ask.
“You humans are obsessed with age, carbon dating every bit of dirt and trash that interests you.” He rolls his eyes at me. “Since you won’t leave it alone until you get some manner of answer, I am among the eldest of our kind.”
I try not to grin at his admission. “So, how did you get turned?”
His eyes flash gold and my heart jumps like it wants to run out the door. “We won’t be discussing that.”
“Have you turned many people into vampires?” I ask, grateful that my voice is steady.
“Darius and Maria,” he says.
“If you don’t mind me asking, but how did you meet Darius?”
“Oh, mucking about in Rome on a fool’s errand.” The way he says it, traipsing about ancient Rome was about as interesting as a cup of tea.
“How did he become your right-hand man?”
Jamie shrugs. “Natural progression. He was an innkeeper Hewa and I paid off to keep quiet, and he did. Even back then, barely knowing me, he had my back.”
“Does he get along well with Maria?”
“Yeah,” he says—too quickly—and it feels like a “no”.
“Let’s talk about Maria. What attracted to you her at first?”
Jamie snorts. “It’s not terribly romantic. She fit my requirements for a meal.”
“And when did you start to feel differently about her?”
“When she didn’t beg for her life,” he says. “She didn’t want me to spare her; she wanted me to bed her. It had been such a long time since someone touched me, I forgot what it felt like.”
Probably as a result of the strong beer I’d finished, I decide to ask Jamie about his sex life. “So, before Maria, how long had it been?”
He looks sheepish, an odd emotion on someone so powerful. “Who knows, five hundred years?”
“Did you forget you have a penis?”
Jamie’s laugh is low and seductive. “Yes, for all intents and purposes, I was a eunuch for many years. Politically, it was much easier to remain celibate.”
“What do you mean?”
Jamie downs his drink and waves for another. “There was always competition to be my consort, although I resisted taking one. I would find myself seduced, and my new lover either pumped me for information, or asked me to grant a boon. I got tired of it.”
“What is your consort? Is that like a queen or something?” He gave me a sharp look at the word queen. Note to self: don’t refer to him as a king.
“It’s an easy analogy. Consort is the preferred term. The members of our court will call us master and mistress.”
“Is Maria your consort?”
“Yes and no.” He leans back in his seat to make more room to gesture. “Generally speaking, this is the type of position for which one is groomed,” he says, making use of that space. “There’s even an enthusiastic volunteer teaching her court manners.”
“How does she feel about this?”
“They got along well enough the other night, and he’s the perfect courtier,” he says.
“I mean how does Maria feel about being your consort?”
“I’ve not gotten into specifics with her. I don’t want to overwhelm her with everything. She’s been a vampire for a week.”
“Have you talked about this at all?” I ask.
“She found out about the basics the other night. She seemed okay with it.”
“How did it come up?”
“Ah, well, when I introduced her to everyone. There was some protest about a stranger ruling at my side. The normal squabbling.” He flicks it away with his fingers.
“So, she’s meeting everyone for the first time, and she learns about this whole consort thing?” I scribble several question marks followed by some exclamation points.
“In hindsight, I should have known that was going to happen. I could have handled the situation better.” He checks his phone and finishes his beer in two long sips. “Well, lovely meeting you dear, but I’ve got… things.”
He leaves a yeasty kiss on my cheek, his lips cold.
When the door closes behind him, I become aware of how tense I had been during our interview. No matter how sexy he was, he could eat me for breakfast if he wanted. Even though the crowd around me hadn’t known about the danger, they must have sensed it. Jamie had left in his wake a lot of too-loud laughter and relieved smiles.
Unlucky. Unloved. And now undead.
Maria hasn’t been touched in years and sustains herself on her friends’ sexual encounters. She’s coerced into trying out internet dating, and she soon attracts the attention of a stud named Jamie. When he invites her out for a beer, she accepts, her mind focused on the one thing she wants—a warm body pressed against hers. Jamie makes her laugh and she invites him in, never guessing that he’s doesn’t want to bed her, but drink her.
The Vampire’s Gallery follows Maria as she leaves one life of dull city apartments for another of sex, sensation, and blood. She rattles the stilted hierarchy of Jamie’s home when she makes the ancient, distant vampire feel again.
But what about the vampires that surround Jamie? Who are her enemies, who are her friends, who’s just pretending?
Antoinette M— had a grubby childhood in southern New Hampshire. She has always maintained that “cranky” and “Yankee” rhyme for a reason. Today, Antoinette writes smut. She lives in a crooked little house, with an awesome husband, and a very large dog. She enjoys reversing gender roles, playing with old stereotypes, and is currently working on the next installment of her series, The Vampire’s Gallery.