Blood in the darkness is unexpectedly black, unexpectedly fertile-looking, like newly turned soil. What will take root in this? Villiers wondered as he trailed a finger in the black river that ran down to the waterfront.
"Was it enough?" Almost, Villiers could hear in Daniel's dark voice the low cough of a hunting cat. Daniel's long, elegant hands were black with blood in the moonlight, glossy with it.
Blood by moonlight looks like wine. The scent of blood is unexpectedly sweet.
"Perfect. Thank you."
The girl had been promising. So had the boy. Daniel had called a discreet service and said, "Send one of each tonight." Like wine - red and white, because we might want either one.
With a fine sense of lewdness, the girl had worn only a short, brown skirt over a garter belt and hose, and a filmy, champagne-colored blouse over bare breasts. When she bent to put her purse on the floor, she showed them her sweet, soft mysteries framed by topaz lace and satin and moist with anticipation. Villiers wished that he was in a way to enjoy her more directly, but it had been too long since that had been true. Since...well, before Daniel had become his body and he had become Daniel's soul.
Still, he missed nothing.
The boy wore an Armani suit. Undressing him would be like unwrapping a gift. Expensive little whores - that's the way Villiers liked them. "Daniel," he said softly. "The boy."
Daniel pulled the young man towards the bed and began to unfasten buttons with deft fingers. The girl came to Villiers and tried to do the same for him, but he pushed her hands away. "Watch them," he ordered. "They'll be beautiful together." She subsided. Sat beside him on the loveseat and watched Daniel peel away layer after layer of elegant wrapping.
The boy tugged at Daniel's sweater, pulled it up over Daniel's head.
The girl gasped. Was it the fine, trim body she was admiring, or the network of scars on Daniel's superb, golden skin?
The boy's fingers traced the larger scars. "Bullet?" he asked once, and Daniel nodded. Another scar, a long one: "Knife?" Another nod. "On purpose?"
Daniel smiled up at the blond youth and touched some of the fine lines that marred his skin. Villiers knew each one by heart. "These, yes. You?" The boy showed some smaller scars of his own on the insides of his thighs and arms, one or two on his chest.
"Are they joking?" the girl asked.
"Not at all. Daniel has a taste for the louche."
She stared at him. "I don't know what you mean, but I'm not into that sort of thing. I don't do pain."
"Don't worry." he said, noting that his reassurance sounded hollow even to his own ears.
The boy moved into Daniel's arms and pushed him backwards, climbing on top of him. Villiers sat a little forward and watched closely. The girl watched Villiers.
The two men on the bed began to caress each other's flesh with rough hands; bruising caresses. Dear God - if there was one which Villiers very much doubted - this boy was a miraculous discovery! They bit at each other's skin, kissed roughly, slapped, pinched, raked their nails down each other's arms, legs, back leaving long red welts and even darker red scratches welling with blood.
In warm, incandescent light, blood is the color of sin.
Daniel pulled a knife from the bedside table.
The girl stood up. Villiers caught her wrist.
"Let her go!" The boy pulled away from Daniel. "Let her go. She's not into this."
Villiers did not release her immediately, though he loosened his grip. "You can go," he told her. "I suggest you not discuss this with anyone."
The expression on her face was one of fear mixed with loathing; not an unfamiliar sight for Villiers. She tore herself out of his grasp and ran from the bedroom. A few seconds later they heard the front door slam.
The boy turned back to Daniel and held out his arm like an offering to a god. "Do it now," he whispered in a low, dreamy voice. Daniel made a razor thin cut lengthways down the smooth, tanned forearm, the boy gave a soft cry.
Villiers moved closer to the bed and watched the beads of blood blossom like roses.
"The girl was not in the car," Daniel reported. "She must've walked." He had come from seeing the boy out and was looking particularly beautiful, smeared with blood and semen, covered with bites and bruises. Villiers slumped. How long since the marks of his passion had covered that body? They wore each other's scars like wedding rings, but they rarely touched any more.
"What's wrong? Stephen?"
"Do you suppose she got very far?"
Daniel's expression was mildly troubled. "Wasn't this enough for you?"
Villiers's eyes met his lover's. "No. I require something more tonight."
And without a word, Daniel was gone.
Villiers found the girl's purse beside the bed and rembered her putting it there. He opened it and emptied it onto the blood-smeared sheets.
Condoms. Lipstick. Villiers drew a stroke on his hand and found it a chocolately red like devil's food cake with a sweet, chemical odor. Perfume. He sprayed the air and sniffed. One of those heavy, expensive scents that smelled cheap. A twenty dollar bill. A small, plastic vibrator. Villiers held it up to his nose and breathed in its secrets; it had a splendid woman-smell to it.
Less than an hour later, Daniel returned, carrying the girl.
"Did you kill her?"
"No, I just made her a little less reticent." He threw her onto the bloody bed and tied her.
"Gag her, too. I don't want to listen to her."
Daniel forced a gag into her mouth, then began to slap her lightly to waken her. "Hello, darling," he purred as her eyes opened. She tried to scream.
"What do you want?" Daniel asked his partner. "Do you want more sex or shall I just cut to the chase?"
Daniel stared at Villiers with a smile that made Villiers's blood coagulate. "Really? Are you interested in having her too?"
Ill-advised. Villiers turned away, humiliated as he rarely was in front of this man who knew all of his secret places. And Daniel, realizing that he'd made his lover uncomfortable, turned his embarassment and frustration onto the girl.
Though perhaps, Villiers thought as he watched the scene, it all happened for the best. He watched as Daniel's hands stroked her slim, soft body with every intent to arouse her. His mouth teased her, his fingers entered her, he whispered to her that he loved her, that he would never, ever hurt her.
At first her face registered horror, disbelief, but as Daniel coaxed her into her first, deep, wet climax, her expression softened and her long lashes fanned down into dark, soft arcs against her smooth cheeks as her eyes squeezed shut with pleasure. Villiers heard her moan deep in her throat as her body relaxed against the stained sheets, watched as Daniel pushed her legs up to her chest, paused to let Villiers appreciate her beauty, then penetrated her with his own body. Slowly. Inexorably. As death penetrates us, Villiers thought as he watched Daniel ride her. Inch by terrifying, glorious inch.
In the darkness, the muffled cries could well have been pleasure. In the darkness the smell of terror began to be overcome by the smells of desire. He watched them together, watched the hard body of his lover move inside the girl, against the girl, watched as Daniel played her like Villiers played his piano. She arched and moaned over and over again, trapped by her own body's needs.
When Daniel finally began to use the knife on her, she responded at first. If they'd had the time to train her, she might have become as fine a plaything as the boy had been. But she had been brought back to this place for one reason; she was a sacrifice to Villiers's hunger. He watched, nearly delerious with pleasure, as Daniel slit the girl's throat, as he smeared her blood down over her small, lovely breasts and flat belly, over her heart-shaped ass and soft thighs. He watched as Daniel rode her into death like some ferryman on the dark river.
Villiers switched off the lights. There it was, the Styx, pouring from the gash in her throat.
Just before she stopped struggling altogether, Daniel climaxed with a long, shuddering gasp.
They threw her into the bayou for the alligators.
"Was it enough?"
"Perfect. Thank you." For a moment there had been only pleasure. As they stood together in the blue-grey light before dawn, Villiers wondered if Daniel could foresee his own end. The next night Villiers took Daniel into his bed would be the last night of Daniel's life. And of his own. One day there would be nothing else that would satisfy either of them.
In the half-light, the girl's blood was the same color as the mud and slime in which she rested. The smell of the place in the early morning heat was lushly foetid and germinal, like the scent of God.