DANCE WITH THE DEVIL IN THE PALE MOON LIGHT


By D.M. Evans
Disclaimer - don’t own ‘em, I’m just doing some non-profit romping through history with them. Mr. Whedon owns all.
Written for the Angel ficathon
Writing for: itsabigrock
Pairing: Angelus/Darla (Angel/Spike is always fine too)
Genre You Prefer: I like Dark, Evil, well researched, Plot Driven, Smut is good, slash is good.
Requests: Any time before the soul, I have a carriage kink, lol.
Restrictions: No bashing of Drusilla, if you can't write her don't write her, just don't make her out to be an idiot, no babytalk, they're evil.
Rating - NC-17 (couldn’t imagine doing this justice unless they were free to maim, ravish and pillage in all their glory)
Spoilers - Squat. This is set in the 1760's but does draw from the histories given in S3 of Angel
Summary - Angelus decides to set himself up in a tobacco baron’s wealthy estate unawares someone’s about to make him prey.
Author’s Note #1 - Thanks for Esmerelda for help with Glasgow history (any mistakes are my own) Thanks to Silverthorn, Omega Man and Chris for the small details like carriage types. Thanks to SJ for the editing. The Hellfire club was a real organization (such as it was) of rich ruffians, dating back to at least the 1730's with one of their biggest feats of vandalism being the burning of a church in 1793 (soon to be a movie with Ewan McGregor ala ‘Gangs of New York’)
Author’s Note #2 - It was 90+ degrees the entire time I was typing this and I couldn’t help but think, hmmm, heat + women’s fashions of the time no wonder Darla went on so many murderous sprees.


CHAPTER ONE

Glasgow, Scotland 1764

“There’s no one following us.” Darla caught Angelus’ chin, making him look at her.

“Can’t be too certain, love.” Angelus leaned down and nipped her lip.

“If you’re worried about Captain Holtz.” Darla giggled at the title, looking around the Glasgowian streets. She saw little in the way of something that should be making Angelus jumpy. “After what we did to that man’s family, he’ll never think to play vampire slayer again. He’s all the wrong sex for it any how.”

Angelus’ lips quirked up at the remembrance of what he and Darla had done. “He’s a stubborn bastard.” Angelus’ eyes scanned the darkened street. Dawn wasn’t far off. Bakers and market girls were already on their way to work, flickering candles lighting the way and smoke-grime lanterns. He didn’t really have a taste for them, half starved waifs, reeking from days on end of hard work. He wanted richer blood.

Beside him, Darla sighed, knowing he’d remain on edge for awhile yet, no matter how badly they had destroyed that pissant who had delusions of being a vampire killer. Darla was the one who trained Angelus to be cautious. She hadn’t gotten as old as she had by being reckless.

“Where are we going?” She looped her fingers through the silver rings of her skirt lifters, hauling them up so they could cross the horse-apple-dotted streets.

“To our unfortunate home,” he replied, bitterly. “But I have plans.”

“This I knew.” Her eyes flicked to the hair she had helped him to dye. It had been part of his attempt at subterfuge.

“Tobacco baron.” Angelus’ slippery smirk slid across his broad features. She loved that smirk.

“So that’s why you wormed your way into that gentleman’s club. Any merchant in particular?” Darla understood merchants well. She had used them to earn a small fortune on her back as a mortal.

Angelus nodded, thinking on the wealthy gentlemen he had spied on. Angelus had matted his hair down with boot black and wore a moustache carved off a bit of dinner skin and all, stuck to his lip with a little of the secretions of a Vical demon. He tried to pass as a stoop-shouldered servant and it was worth the loss of dignity to listen in and gauge which of the tobacco barons, as some wags had dubbed them, he wanted to use to his own ends. “Logan.”

“You can tell me the plan later to help burn off the daylight hours,” Darla said, her skirts rustling as she picked up the pace, casting an uneasy eye at the greying morning sky.

Angelus smirk only broadened. “You’re going to like this.”

The pair headed for their crypt in the shadow of the Glasgow Cathedral. They didn’t see the man who hung back, trying to see where they went in the kirkyard. He couldn’t follow onto the consecrated ground without being spotted. He turned back and headed for his inn. The demoness thought him defeated. Angelus appeared to be more cautious. It mattered not. He could be patient. He wouldn’t rush. The monsters would pay for what they had done to his family.

* * *

“What did you learn at the club?” Darla scrubbed Angelus’ hair with lye and water, which they had prepared before starting on the venture.

Angelus screwed his eyes shut as the soap ran down his face. The ridges of his demonic visage did a lot to cant the water away from his eyes but not enough. He had stripped down to skin to keep his clothing away from the dye. The granite of the crypt was cold on his torso. He wasn’t going to let his beautiful Darla languish in such a place for long. It was worth the pain of lye and the indignity of her scrubbing boot polish out of his hair to form a plan that would take them away from their house of the dead.

“Logan has no children but there is a distant cousin in London. Mr. Burns was ridiculing Logan for being so connected to the English,” Angelus said in a tone that suggested he agreed with any and all English-bashing. “This cousin handles the tobacco and rum imports in London for Logan, whose empire is based here.”

“All that boring business talk. My poor Angelus needs a big kill to make up for it.” She leaned over him, licking his lips.

He growled under her lathing tongue. She was right. He needed some fun. Angelus had been instantly put in mind of his father, listening in at the gentlemen’s club, the way their talk never wavered from business. It made him regret killing the old bastard so fast. He should have taken his time slaughtering his father. Still, Angelus had once belonged to one of the fourteen merchant prince ‘tribes’ of Galway. He had heard business talk from the time he was old enough to understand it. It would serve him well. He would never have believed that when he was a mortal man.

Logan was so like Angelus’ father that it would feel like killing him all over again. Angelus felt the blood going south just at the thought of it. He could almost hear his father going on about the former glory of the Blake family, how they had ruled Galway before Cromwell’s men, how they could trace their lineage back to one of King Arthur’s knights, a man called Ap-Lake. They were born to rule. Angelus had to give his father one thing, he was great at earning money, money his son had been so willing to squander on wine and whores. “Soon,” he promised her. “Soon you’ll be sleeping in Logan’s bed and he’ll be resting here.”

He listened to the deep contented purr rumbling in his lover’s throat. The vampire, the Master, who sired her had taught Darla to live like a rat, like vermin, hiding underground. What kind of master, who had the power to be a god among men, shunned the good life? Living in crypts, caves and mine shafts was not for Angelus. He had the power to live like a king and he intended to do just that. If care was taken, it was possible to live among humans, and the fact that vampires looked down on him for trying proved to Angelus that they were the idiots, not him. Darla had distrusted it at first, thinking it reckless. It didn’t take long to turn her pretty head. Darla liked her luxuries as much as he did, and he liked giving them to her. To see her eyes light up would make the indignity of his charade worth it.

“We’ll take his house, his wealth and we’ll pretend to be his London cousins. I’ll be Angus Logan. Ready to be my wife?” He opened his eyes, smirking up at her.

She curled a lip, showing fang. “Easy enough to do. Think you can convince anyone you’re from London? You still have that regrettable Irish accent.”

His hand flashed up, slapping her hard across the mouth. Her fangs gouged his fingers. “There’s nothing regrettable about being Irish.”

She tore out a hank of his thick hair in retaliation. “Yes, there is in a world that considers the Irish barely human. So, I ask again, are you up to this deception?”

“You’ll see what I’m up to.”

Angelus rolled to his feet, black-stained water running down his neck. He dragged Darla up, and shoved her against the sarcophagus in the center of the crypt. The mausoleum’s owners had obvious delusions of Roman grandeur. Before starting to cleanse Angelus’ hair, Darla had removed her gown - now draped over the stained glass window as a shutter - and several of her petticoats so not to get them wet and stained with boot polish. Her heels and her panniers were already put aside so she could more easily sit on the floor to wash his hair. As a result, all he had to contend with was all the stays in her underdress, dozens of bits of whalebone between him and her breasts so he by-passed them and just flipped her shift up over the soft round curve of her buttocks with one hand as he tore the ties to his breeches with the other.

Pressing her against the cold marble, he rammed into her hard, without warning or preparation and kept it up until she belted him across the crypt. He nearly landed on the trunks of their belongings that they had brought with them. While he was dazed on his back, Darla jumped on him, biting a nipple as she impaled herself on him. Angelus rather liked his girls to lie still but Darla was changing his preferences. There was no chance of her lying still. She was aggressive. Half the time they wrestled for control and who was on top. Tonight was one of those nights.

Angelus rolled, pinning her belly down on the granite floor. He bit her supple neck, drinking deep as he plunged into her. Darla’s ecstatic cries echoed around the crypt. His own bellows of pleasure joined hers. Crude surroundings or not, they knew how to enjoy each other, even when it started as a fight. In fact, it was often better, Angelus thought, when their passion was born from their anger. The next time he’d take her, they would be enjoying a feather-tic mattress and soft sheets.

 

CHAPTER TWO

Angelus finished up a little lacklusterly, having savored more than his share of Logan’s maids before killing them. Of course, the one he had just left his last squirts of seed in was far too dead to complain about his performance. He tied up his breeches, grabbed the arms of the red-haired, freckled upstairs maid and slung her over his shoulder.

He dropped her in the study where he and Darla were storing their sired servants. They couldn’t maintain a house this big alone and they didn’t know Glasgow so keeping a few of Logan’s servants made sense. He recognized the butler and the cute coach driver on the floor, Darla’s choices. He knew Darla would have kept the coach driver, too pretty to waste. He dropped the maid with the men and the young scullery maid he’d turned, barely having the bloom of womanhood on her.

Hearing a low, smothered moan, he looked at Logan, whom they had trussed to his desk chair. They had subdued him first without alerting the rest of the household. The butler had let them in the door and that was all that was needed. Darla had made short work of the butler. Most of the other servants had been in bed already, so it had been easy to sneak around the house.

Logan had been working his books in his spacious study by the light of an expensive oil lamp when they found him. He almost raised a ruckus before they tied him up well and gagged him. Angelus saw the man’s obvious terror as bodies were being stacked on the floor in his line of vision.

“We’re almost ready for you, have patience,” he told the man who thrashed, trying to speak around the gag.

“Ready now,” Darla said, dragging in what might have been a stable boy. Fair enough, Angelus thought, knowing they’d need someone to care for the horses until they could hire new servants. It was risky but it would be necessary to keep the place from falling apart.

Darla came over to him and moved in close, drinking in the air around him. “Made your way through the maids, I see.” She smiled. “Any tasty tidbits?”

“Just this.” He nudged the red-headed maid. “She’ll be a good lady’s maid for you.” Angelus captured Darla, swinging her onto the desk in front of Logan in a rustle of skirts. He kissed her hard. “I’m so tired of doing your hair.”

Darla laughed, patting her tower of golden curls feeling the feathers and flowers he had stuck into her tresses to keep her fashionable. “I’m sure you did a wonderful job but those big fingers of yours are not suited for playing with a woman’s hair.” She took his hands, sucking a finger. “Well, not this hair.” She brushed back a golden curl, with a come-hither look.

Angelus laughed. “Later I’ll show you what these fingers can do.” He cast a glance back at Logan. “But first we need to deal with this.”

“Kill him now, or should we let him beg a little?” Darla reached over, stroking the bound man’s cheek. He tried to pull away.

“I think beg.” Angelus went behind the man and pulled off his gag.

The man choked and wheezed, and Angelus could almost see him trying to amass his strength and dignity. This was a man used to getting things he wanted. It wasn’t going to help him now. “Who are you?” he rasped out.

“What does it matter?” Darla asked.

“You killed everyone,” Logan said. “Why?”

“You have something I wanted, namely this place and your wealth. I suspected you weren’t the sharing type, so, I helped myself,” Angelus said, pacing the room. He came to rest in front of some portraits, smaller, more intimate than the life-sized ones of Logan hanging in the more public rooms of the house. Angelus recognized Logan and one of another man who looked like Logan, only younger. That bordered was bordered in mourning black. However, it was the portrait of a blonde young woman that the artist couldn’t quite make look somber that captured Angelus’ imagination.

“I’m a reasonable man,” Logan said, and Angelus turned to look at him, amused. “Tell me what I have that you want and it’s yours if just let me go.”

Angelus recognized the business negotiation voice. He had heard it coming out of his father’s mouth all too often. “But I want it all, your home, your wealth, your business.”

“My business?” Logan snorted. “Like an Irish bit of offal like you could run a business.”

Darla twisted on the desk and planted her white kid-skin heel right in Logan’s testicles. He bellowed. “My boy doesn’t appreciate being derided.” She pulled her foot back, and Logan gasped.

Angelus smirked. He loved watching his sire work. She was his match, only she did everything in spiked heels, more whale boning than he cared to think about and in hoops that spanned several feet around. He gave her more credit for surpassing the restrictions of womanhood. “I can handle a business, you arrogant ass. I come from one of Galway’s merchant families, so what would I need you for?” Angelus turned his gaze back to the portrait, dismissing Logan.

“You like her? You can have her,” Logan offered, as if reading Angel’s mind. The vampire didn’t doubt Logan was good at reading his fellow man, given how good he was at business.

“Ooo, the big man is willing to trade his life for some poor chit.” Darla’s voice was laced with venom.

Angelus went over to her, brushing a curl off her neck. Darla could be protective of women, at least from others. Anything she and Angelus cared to do to members of her sex was just fine.

“She’s my dead brother’s daughter, a willful harridan of a girl, very resistant to any attempts to marry her well. That resistance ends next month. It could end tomorrow if you wish her. I’ll give you this house and go tend my business in London.” Logan’s eyes glinted, sensing he might have found a chink in Angelus’ armor.

Angelus smiled tightly. “A man after my own non-beating heart.”

Logan’s gray brow wrinkled. “What?”

Angelus morphed, his golden eyes gleaming. The sudden acrid stink of urine percolated through the room.

Darla grimaced, swinging off the desk. She glanced down at the wool rug under the desk. “Lovely, Angelus, now we’ll need a new rug.” Her face went demonic as well.

Logan stammered something that might have been ‘what are you’ but Angelus couldn’t tell.

“You’re such a bastard, Logan. I’d almost consider making you one of us.” Angelus saw Darla roll her eyes. She knew that there was no way he’d make Logan a vampire. The man was already evil, cruel and devious. As a vampire, Logan would surely challenge Angelus for dominance, and as much as her childe liked a challenge, he couldn’t allow that. “What’s her name?”

“Glynis. Take her and there would be no reason you and I couldn’t work out a profitable partnership. I’ll take over for my idiot cousin, Angus, in London. We could be doing so much more there.” Logan’s breathing had dropped back to almost normal and his business facade was back in place.

“How much do your colleagues know about the idiot cousin?” Angelus put his hands on the chair, cutting Logan’s bonds.

Logan got up, rubbing his wrists, sensing victory. “Just that Angus is a good little bootspittle, no business sense but does what he’d told. A macaroni, all looks and no brains.”

“Excellent.” Angelus grabbed Logan. “Unfortunately for you, there is no way to trust you. You wouldn’t deal with a devil like me unless you think you could double cross me.”

“Nonsense.” Logan’s stance wilted as he realized any victory he thought he might have won was mere delusion.

“Can’t take a risk.” Angelus buried his hands in the man’s wig, yanking his head back. He faced Darla. “You look weary, my love. Want a bite?”

Darla smiled and came over to them, carefully standing away from Logan’s urine-soaked front. She sank her teeth into his neck. Logan shrieked worse than some of the maids Angelus had feasted on. It sickened him.

Darla stepped back after just a few mouthfuls. She wiped her lips. “He tastes rancid.”

Angelus looked at the squirming, panting man. “Maybe too much rich living or a little too much moral decay. Ah well.” He rammed the man down onto the marble flooring and kept pressing until his skull crushed like a rotten pumpkin.

“Well, that’s messy.” Darla wrinkled her nose. “You clean it up.”

Angelus shot her a stricken look. “Why me?”

“You killed all the maids, Angelus, dear.” Darla stepped over Logan. “Or at least fucked them all, standing there smelling of a half dozen varieties of quim. Clean your mess. I’ll start loading the rest of the dead into a cart. We need to get rid of them.”

Angelus groaned and surveyed the bloody, brain-oozing mess he had made of Logan. He was half tempted to force Darla into cleaning but that was buying more trouble than it was worth.

“And Angelus.” Darla paused in the doorway. “I was wrong. I’m sure you can convince everyone you’re Angus Logan. Being handsome but empty-headed is after all your natural state. It’s why I chose you.”

Angelus growled, watching her go. “Bitch.” He knew he’d be putting up with her digs, subtle and otherwise, until she was no longer irritated about his handling of the maids. Was it his fault she couldn’t have seduced a few of the men servants before killing them. Then again, he would have been furious if she had.

He yanked the urine-spattered rug out from under the desk and wrapped Logan up in it, gingerly scooping up the loose brains into it so not to dribble on his clothing. By the time he got the rug and its cargo out to the stables, Darla already had a work cart half-loaded with bodies. He helped her with the rest of their non-sired kills.

“Ready?” he asked.

She looked at her blue velvet gown and shook her head. “I’ll be noticed.” She headed to the servants quarters and found a plain homespun dress. Angelus helped her out of her gown. She was right. A splendid gown might catch the eye of someone. It was still early enough for gentleman to be out, or a night watch man might see. It was nothing they couldn’t handle, but getting too much attention was always bad. No one would take notice of her now in the drab, stained dress.

He plucked the feathers and flowers from her hair and took down her golden curls. He tied a bonnet over her head and kissed her. “None of those girls could compare to you,” he told her, wondering if that was the thing to say. As many women as he bedded, he never could figure out what might upset them, even if it sounded innocuous to the male ear. He braved a quick kiss, and since he came away unbitten, he thought that might be a sign he was forgiven.

“Always remember that.” She patted his backside, making him regret spending all his energy on the maids.

They took the cart first to the kirkyard and put Logan in the sarcophagus inside their hideaway crypt. They couldn’t just drop Logan in an alley or in the river. A dead servant no one would think much about, but if a wealthy man was found in those circumstances it would attract unwanted attention.

They proceeded to the river Clyde, and slowly picked several places to drop in bodies. It was at the last wharf, one of Logan’s loading docks ironically enough, where they put the last body, Angelus thought he heard someone. He saw no one but as they turned the cart back into town, past the pubs that still bustled with drunken sailors and slatterns, a horseman appeared behind them. Angelus tensed but the horseman swung out around the cart, didn’t even so much as glance at them and went on his way. Angelus couldn’t see the man’s face, hidden by shadow and a rather battered hat. Any individual body scent was obliterated by the reek of the river, the unwashed press of humanity and the habit of making the streets one big chamber pot. Angelus assumed he was merely being paranoid that he and the man on horseback might know each other. He and Darla saw only two other people on their way back to Logan’s large home, a night watch man, an old, toothless man who posed no threat, and a whore staggering her way to Angelus didn’t care to think about where. Darla left him to unhitch the horse while she went in to make sure the house bore no signs of the slaughter it had just witnessed.

* * *

It had been pure luck that brought the demons past his trail. He had been searching the low places for them when he saw them at the docks. He had raced back to his horse but hadn’t been able to follow them. It was the curse of having to track them at night. There wasn’t a crowd he could hide himself in.

Holtz went back to the dock with his lantern. Luck was with him. The vampires had been in too much of a hurry to dispose of the body. They had weighted her but not thrown her out far enough. The current pushed her into the dock pilings and the river was dreadfully shallow. Holtz had heard the complaints about the Clyde during his investigations. The vampires would be hard pressed to make a quick escape down river. He went to find the night watch. If someone knew the unfortunate girl, then he might be able to pick up the vampires’ trail.

* * *

“Now this is how we deserve to live.” Angelus propped his feet up on the furniture, taking a deep puff on one of Logan’s appropriated pipes. “He imported some good tobacco.”

Darla took the pipe and sucked at the bit. Smoke trickled out of her lips. “Reminds me of home.”

“You never did tell me where that was.” Angelus pulled her onto his lap. “Outside of the Colonies.”

“I don’t like to think on it.” She reached for the bottle of rum Angelus was drinking straight out of in his orgy of sating all his hedonistic needs at once. He probably would have liked Logan had he let the man live. They obviously enjoyed the same things. She swigged the strong, harsh amber drink. “Virginia.”

“Would you ever go back? I’d like to see the Colonies.” Angelus nuzzled her neck. “You promised to show me the world.”

“I was thinking of Italy once we got bored with here.” She stroked his thick hair. “It’s nearly dawn. We should make sure our room is acceptable.”

He let her up, then took her arm as he led the way up the stairs to Logan’s spacious bedroom. The windows were hung with heavy purple velvet curtains. Light would have the devil’s own trying to get through that. He rubbed a hand up the mahogany bedpost, looking at matching curtains that ringed the bed. “I think we’ll be fine.”

“Strip the bed. I think I saw the linen closet down the hall. I’d rather not sleep in a bed smelling of that foul creature.”

Angelus scowled at getting stuck with women’s work once again but he did it as Darla disappeared. She came back with the linens and made him help her put them on the bed. Angelus marveled at her ability to get work out of him, a trick his father had never mastered. He took off his clothing, and borrowed one of Logan’s night shirts that hung in the armoire. Darla stripped back down to her shift. No proper married couple would ever curl up together on one bed but once she had the door locked and all the curtains pulled, Darla nestled up to him.

“Like your new home, love?” he purred in her ear, deciding to take the time to prove to her his big fingers were in fact good at playing with hair.

Moaning, she shifted, letting his fingers have better access to that golden triangle between her legs. “Love it.”

He slid his fingers inside her. “I know what my lady likes.”

 

CHAPTER THREE


“Do we really need to do this?” Angelus moaned, playing with the bow in his wig’s queue.

Darla slapped his hand. “Don’t mess it up. And you know it is. We’ve been avoiding Logan’s niece for two weeks. Samuel said that her birthday ball is already scheduled at Logan’s estate for this coming Saturday. If you want people to continue to believe that you’re Angus, you need to keep this girl quiet and happy.”

Angelus settled back against the tufted crimson velvet of the carriage seat, nodding his agreement. Samuel had been a good call for turning. The butler knew every bit of Logan’s business and most of the important goings on in town. He had selected new servants from the most desperate Glasgow had to offer, the least likely to ask questions yet not so disagreeable as to be outright thieves. Samuel helped perpetuate the idea Angelus was Angus, and he was a valuable all around asset. In return, Samuel asked that they preen him to become more like them. It was a fair trade. Mark, the carriage driver, was far less interested in being a vampire, still wrapped up in his horses. Still, he had his uses.

Logan’s ostentatious Berlin coach with its multitude of horses paraded through town, showing off to all who saw its ornate panels writhing with flowers and fat cherubs around Logan’s coat of arms. It was more attention-getting than Angelus wanted, but there was little to be done for it. The most unfortunate part was that Glynis’ home with her mother’s mother was just outside of Glasgow tucked into the woods; quiet, serene, dull. It didn’t help matters that it had pissed down rain all day, slowing their set-out-at-dusk progress.

“At least we were able to convince the bitch that we couldn’t come until the evening hours,” Angelus said. “I’m relieved that her letter suggests she’s excited about meeting her cousin Angus and his lovely colonial wife.”

“Let’s just hope she stays happy,” Darla replied, shifting uncomfortable, her panniers spanning the entire width of the coach.

Angelus rather hoped for that, too. It would make things easier.

* * *

Angelus knew Glynis was going to be trouble the moment he saw her. Logan called her a harridan. Angelus saw her for what she was; intelligent and willful, just like Darla. He saw his mate recognized it as well, feeling an obvious and dangerous kinship with the young woman.

“I can’t believe Uncle Mathias didn’t tell me you and he were changing places. He was so obsessed with my marriage to Fergus McPhee that I’m positively shocked that he would miss it,” Glynis said after Angelus and Darla had been escorted to her sitting room.

“It was rather sudden. He felt the business in London required his personal attention. He sent me here as a caretaker for the business.” Angelus flashed her a smile, the one that used to charm girls into his bed. “And for you.”

“Don’t be so shocked, dear,” Darla said. “You know how men are. They think we’re too addle-headed to understand the least little thing about business, so they tell us nothing.”

Angelus saw the wry smile that touched Darla’s lips. He knew well she had been a highly successful business woman, a whore then a madam. It didn’t matter to him. Rather, he admired her ability to amass a small fortune with nothing more than her body and business acumen. Glynis had no way of knowing that, but he saw the fire in her green eyes at being considered somehow deficient because of her sex.

“Well, I am very glad to meet you and your lovely wife, cousin.” Glynis smiled prettily. “I wish you could have at least made it to dinner. Grandmother had Cook prepare a delicious rabbit stew.”

“I am sorry to have missed out, but business wouldn’t allow me to leave any earlier.” Angelus found himself liking Glynis, even if he knew she was trouble. Her lithe form was made all the more attractive by her wit.

Glynis nodded, a grim look settling on her face. “So Uncle Mathias is wont to say. Grandmother is disapproving of meeting at this hour which is why she refuses to come down. She is a stubborn lady, I’m afraid.”

“I understand. No one likes disruptions of their household. Perhaps I should have had you come to us and spend a few days in the city with me and my wife. Darla finds doing her needlework more exciting when she has good companionship.” Angelus cast a glance at Darla to gauge her reaction. If she noticed his attraction to Glynis, she wasn’t showing it. She seemed rather excited at the prospect. Perhaps she was thinking what he was; this girl would make a good addition to the family. However, she did give him a vicious pinch for the needlework remark.

Glynis’ face brightened. “I would have liked that. I’m not sure Grandmother would have allowed it. She likes to keep me under her watchful eye now that Father has passed on. She always felt he was too kind and indulging of me. She’ll be quick to tell you her daughter would never have allowed it had she lived past my second birthday.” Glynis’ lips pulled into a tight, pain-filled line.

“I know that argument,” Darla said, sympathetically. “My own circumstances were much the same. Marriage and leaving the household came as a relief.” She showered an adoring look on Angelus, obviously relishing her role as his wife.

For his part, Angelus wondered if any of it was true. It sounded like truth to him.

“You re so lucky that you’ve found yourself in a love match.” Glynis sighed, resigned to a darker fate, Angelus didn’t doubt. “And to have such a handsome man.”

Darla looked at Angelus who couldn’t help but preen his powered periwig, straightening the velvet bow that was a match to his green frock coat with its silver ivy petit point embroidery. The vest was grey with green ivy, almost a counterchange with his coat. He wondered if Glynis would recognize the outfit as her uncle’s. Logan and he were of similar height but Mathias had been a bit bulkier. Darla was a soft counterpoint to him in a stormy blue-grey velvet gown that they had brought with them from their last residence.

“My husband is a good man.” Darla’s doe-eyes took on an even more admiring gleam as she gazed at him. Angelus could see she was trying hard not to laugh.

“My wife is most kind.” His fingers brushed her cheek in a nearly scandalous show of public affection.

“Do I hear a note of hesitation about your own upcoming nuptials, dear? It’s not uncommon to be nervous.” Darla opened her ivory and silk fan, fluttering it daintily. It was an uncommonly warm night and the rain wasn’t helping.

Glynis looked at her hands, her green eyes brimming with sadness. “I know that it’s a smart match. Uncle Mathias tried hard to find me another suitable husband. The other two died before there could be a marriage. Mr McPhee, however, is no younger than they were.”

“Hmm.” Darla snapped the fan shut. “I was supposed to marry a vile old man but he died of consumption before I was so unfortunate as to have to stand before God with him.”

Glynis nodded glumly. Angelus watched Darla turn the conversation to lighter, more feminine topics, while he wondered if she really had been married to someone old and disgusting. Certainly Darla was fond of the Master who was both old and disgusting. Angelus’ own father had tried to marry him off a few times to his friends’ plain, plump cow-like daughters but he would have nothing to do with it.

Finally, they said their good nights. Glynis did seem slightly perked up by the idea that her birthday ball would go on as planned with Cousin Angus standing in for the absent Mathias. Mark was waiting for them in the kitchen, talking to some of Glynis’ man servants, along with Mark’s two grooms whom Angelus didn’t know the names of. They were newly hired, young and deathly stupid. They brought the coach around at Angelus’ command and they headed back into Glasgow.

The rain hadn’t abated any. They were still on the muddy rutted roads when the coach ground to a halt. Mark knocked on the door. Angelus drew the fringed, red velvet curtain aside. “We’re mired, sir. There’s precious little around here for a man’s distraction.” Mark’s eyes flicked to Darla almost apologetically.

“You and the grooms get us unstuck,” Angelus said and let the curtain fall back dismissively. He cocked an eyebrow at Darla. “We might be here a while.”

“How long before he remembers he’s stronger than a human?” Darla sighed. “I suppose he’ll want to keep up the pretense of humanity.”

“Oh, I’m sure we’ll find ways of keeping ourselves amused.” He licked his lips, giving her a knowing, hungry look.

“I saw that you wanted to amuse yourself with Glynis,” Darla said, shifting on the seat, her panniers taking over most of her side of the coach.

Angelus shrugged. “She’s bright. I thought you might like her yourself.”

Darla nodded. “We might be able to use her.”

Angelus looked up at damask headliner of the coach, buttoned up in the center with a star burst of red fabric radiating from it. It didn’t escape his notice they were still mired. Obviously, Mark wasn’t going to put his considerable strength into freeing them. He eyed Darla wondering how he could possibly get past the ridiculous panniers and whale boning to actually touch his ‘wife.’ Thoughts of it were making him hard and he could see in her eye that she noticed. She couldn’t even get on her knees and service him, not with the hard pannier on either hip.

“You have more of those absurd things, don’t you?” He patted the pannier under her dress.

“I have enough.” Her eyes twinkled.

He reached over and crushed the whalebone baskets then yanked them from under her skirts. As he fumbled with the tapestried door pull to whip the shattered bits of baleen and linen out into the rain, Darla captured a long length of the baleen. She grabbed him, untying his breeches before pulling them to his knees. The velvet felt soft and sensual to his bared backside as she shoved him down.

Unencumbered by the panniers, Darla sank to her knees in a rustle of linen and velvet. Her cool lips kissed the tip of his cock then her tongue pressed against its eye, lapping away the dew, prodding the opening in a way that made him shudder. Her teeth caught his foreskin, tugging gently then she slid the length of him into her talented mouth. She suckled him straight down to his root, voraciously, in ways he had always wished for a lover to take him, full heartedly, with wild abandon. He spilled into her greedy mouth with a satisfied grunt.

After collecting himself, Angelus sat her back on her seat, slipping under the folds of her gown. The multiple layers of cloth held her scent in tight. Being under her skirts was almost enough to make him instantly hard again. He started his kisses with her knees and slowly worked up the silken flesh of her thighs. The velvet of the seat cushion tickled his chin as he lapped at her. She squirmed, lifting herself against him as his tongue flickered across her bud then plunged into her wet, aromatic depths. Her feet beat against his back as her orgasm hit, the hard wood of the heels digging into his flesh.

Erect again, Angelus slid out from under her skirts and tried to jockey into a better position in the cramped carriage. Darla laid the baleen strip hard against his backside. His eyes opened in surprise. She grinned at him then morphed into her demonic visage.

“You want to play rough?” Angelus made a happy noise as she stropped him again with the remnants of her pannier.

He slammed her hard against the seat. The coach lurched and he heard the grooms shouting happily as if they had been the ones to do it. The carriage began to move again, tossing off his rhythm as he slipped in and out of her ice-slick depths. Darla switched him mercilessly as they went, and he left bites all over her shoulders, neck and breasts after yanking down her top but biting through the underlying corps baliene. Heaven forfend he ruin her gown. He had made that mistake once and the price was far too high. The corps baliene coreseting under it could withstand a puncture or two

By the time they arrived home, they were both damp with fluids and well sated. His periwig lay on the carriage floor looking like a dead cat. He scooped Darla up and carried her inside. Without the panniers, her dress was now far too long for her to walk, and it was far more romantic for him to sweep her up the stairs to continue their lovemaking. Only this time, it would be his hand leaving her bottom a rosy red.

* * *

Holtz walked into the Bell and Thistle. He didn’t even require anyone to point out members of the Hellfire Club, as if anyone would have dared. These were men he’d normally abhor; rich spoiled upstarts who needed a lot more of the rod growing up. They were young men with everything at their door step, choosing to live the life of a rowdy, terrorizing good citizens, vandalizing, robbing and practicing arson all by the light of the pale moon.

Still, he had a use for the hooligans of the Hellfire Club, if he could just focused them long enough. He knew they would have no trouble turning against their own. They stared up at him, hostile and drunk, as he approached their table. He had no money to bribe them with so he would have to sell them on the idea of destruction for its own sake. If the vampires ended up killing a few of these worthless youths, he’d shed no tears.

“Gentlemen, I have a proposition for you,” Holtz said.

A young man with a sleek red bearded rocked back on his chair. “What makes you think we want anything to do with the English?” His companions chortled.

Holtz knew telling them he was Germanic, having only moved to England as a child with his composer Father in the style of Handel to be a nobleman’s musical pet would mean nothing to these men. He ignored the slight. “Because I can direct you to a plum ripe for the picking. You might be aware that there are new residents in the Logan household.” Holtz had turned up the vampires’ whereabouts days before, after discovering the identity of the maid they had dumped in the river. Leave it to Angelus to ensconce himself in something just shy of a castle. Holtz had no doubt the rightful owner was moldering away somewhere.

A curly-haired plump youth snorted. “Snotty bastard. That’s Logan’s cousin Angus from London.” He spat that word like it was a bit of rancid meat.

“He has yet to invite us to his uncle’s for a drink,” another complained. “Like he’s too good to have us as guests in his uncle’s home.”

Holtz smiled thinly. The vampire having irritated these hooligans would only work in his favor. “He is not a man to be trifled with. However, he does need to have some manners beaten into him.” He watched them shifting in their chairs, murmuring with excitement. “He is not someone you want to let get above his station.”

“You have any suggestion, English?” the red-bearded one asked with an oily smirk.

“I’ve a few ideas.” Holtz knew he had their attention.

“You sure we want to do anything to Logan?” Chubby asked. “Our fathers deal with him and his business. They won’t appreciate it if they should somehow find out.”

“That’s the point.” Red-beard grinned. “There is to be a birthday ball for Logan’s niece on Saturday. Most of our fathers were invited. Can you imagine the mayhem?”

Holtz let himself relax a hair. He had won. “I think that would suit our purposes nicely.”

“Sit down, English.” Red-Beard gestured at an empty chair. “I think we do indeed have something to talk about.”

“I’m glad of it.”

 

CHAPTER FOUR

“I think we’ve outdone ourselves,” Darla said, surveying the ongoing party from the top of the stairs.

Angelus murmured his agreement, too enraptured by how lovely she was. Darla was even more beautiful now than she had been the night she killed him. He still felt a little resentment over that, not so much for her taking his life, since she had given him this wonderful world in return, but for making him beholden to her to help him through the transition from mortal life to this.

However, on nights like tonight all he saw was her stunning beauty. Mollie, the maid he had turned for her, had done Darla’s hair up in an impressive tower of golden curls dotted with lace bows and real flowers. She wore a star-shaped pox patch on her cheek as an attempt to distract everyone from the fact she didn’t actually have pox scars unlike most of their guests. Her creamy flesh showed through the scandalously low square-neck bodice, playing hide and seek under the snowy lace dripping from the neckline. That lace was a match to the twin waterfalls off her elbows. Her rose silk gown, with its delicately brocaded flowers, draped over hoops that were some twelve feet around, then trailed behind in a small train. He wasn’t sure how she’d get down the stairs. Her white silk shoes with their red leather heels clipped sharply as she descended before him.

He held back so not to either upstage her or accidently tramp on her train. Besides Angelus wanted everyone to take separate notice of them, him especially. He always did want those admiring gazes. The blue velvet heels he wore with their brocaded flowers with their pearl centers added inches to his already impressive stature. His sapphire silk frock coat, a playground for gold brocaded flowers, made him look like a king, if Darla was to be believed and she might just know.

Angelus could have done without having to wear the full-bottomed wig, which spilled powdered curls to the middle of his back. He felt like an ass in it. Angelus knew he and Darla were upstaging their ‘niece,’ but he had a need to be the center of attention. Darla took his hand when he reached the bottom of the steps. The crowd parted for them as they made their way to Glynis’ side.

Angelus wanted to take Glynis away from this place immediately, make her part of the family. She was lovely in her green silk gown with its hand painted flowers. He took her hands. “You are a vision.”

“Thank you, Cousin. Oh, I wish Uncle Mathias could have been here. He would have loved this. He enjoys parties.” Glynis glanced around as if searching for someone. “Have you met my betrothed?”

Angelus heard the resignation in her voice. “No, I haven’t.”

“Let me introduce you.” Glynis swished past the crowd in the grand hall and led them past the dining room. A large silver epergne, overflowing with fruits and flowers sat in the middle where he, Darla and Glynis as the guests of honor would sit. Smaller epergnes stretched out over the massive table, all linked back to the grand one with chains of silver. Extra staff were busy making sure the table settings were just so. Glynis stopped at the den where several men were smoking. She gestured. “He’s the one by the fire place.”

Angelus felt Darla bristling beside him. McPhee was older than Angelus’ own father had been when he ripped out the man’s throat. McPhee had eyes like coal, hard, cold. Angelus could practically taste the man’s arrogance, one of those men who was too mean to die. From the look in Darla’s eyes that might soon change. Worse than the arrogance was the man’s obviously miserly nature. His plain black frock coat was no different than what he’d wear into his place of business. He made no attempts to join in with the light hearted party atmosphere.

McPhee must have seen Glynis pointing him out because he headed for them sparing Angelus from having to make his own introductions like he was chasing after such a man. McPhee set his pipe aside as it would have been just as improper to smoke in front of the women as it would have been for them to enter a man’s room especially while the men were smoking.

“Cousin Angus, this is my betrothed Fergus McPhee,” Glynis said. “Mr. McPhee, this is my cousin, Angus Logan and his wife, Darla.”

“Pleased to meet you, McPhee.” Angelus extended his hand, shaking it free of his lace cuffs.

“Mathias has told me much about you.” McPhee looked at him like he was a bit of dog shit on silken shoes but he begrudgingly shook hands. “I see he wasn’t exaggerating.”

“I’m afraid he never bothered to mention you.” Angelus sent McPhee’s chill right back at him.

“Since you are acting in your cousin’s stead, perhaps it is you I should be speaking to about the portion of his brother’s estate that will become mine upon the marriage,” McPhee said, inclining his head toward the den, indicating for Angelus to follow him into the male refuge.

“But Uncle Mathias wasn’t agreeable to you having any of it,” Glynis blurted out.

Fury twisted McPhee’s wrinkled visage. “Girl, you will only speak when addressed. Your opinions and flights of fancy will not be entertained.”

“I’m afraid I’m only here to watch over the business. You’ll have to have mail your concerns to Mathias in London,” Angelus said and those cold eyes turned back to him.

A bell interrupted further discussion on the matter. Angelus heard Samuel’s booming voice announcing that soup was served. They all went to the dining hall. Angelus watched Darla’s face growing increasingly darker throughout the meal. McPhee was so disagreeable that he made Angelus’ father look like a saint by comparison. It was all Angelus could do to make sure Darla didn’t fly across the table and tear out McPhee’s throat, especially after the nasty remarks the man had made to her at the various times she tried to join in the conversation.

For his part, Angelus picked his way through the onslaught of food. Soup, fish, venison, desserts. No vampire should have to fake his way through a ten-course meal. Nothing had taste, which was bad enough, but his system wasn’t used to having so much food. He felt bloated and particularly out of sorts by the time the table was cleared and the musicians began to play in the ball room.

“You have musicians?” McPhee sniffed, coming up behind Angelus. “Dancing is the work of the devil. It should never be permitted in a decent household. They should never have lifted the ban on it.”

“I couldn’t be more glad that they did. It was Mathias who arranged for the musicians. I’ll be sure to write him about your displeasure. I think he’ll find it enlightening,” Angelus said, taking Dafla’s hand. He saw Glynis trying to hide a grin behind her fan. Darla outrightly laughed as they sashayed their way to the ballroom, leaving behind a fuming McPhee.

Angelus let his lover lead him out onto the floor in a daring and difficult danses a deux. He wasn’t a good dancer, never had been, much to Darla’s dismay. She worked hard with him, trying to beat him into a semblance of culture, much like his father had, but her rewards for good behavior were far more pleasing than anything his father could have offered. Darla gloved fingers ensnared his as they executed a tricky turn.

“I’m going to kill him,” she whispered.

“Never doubted it. Try not to be too creative. We wouldn’t want a scandal.” His smirked, and she laughed again.

The music changed to a contredanse, and Angelus tried not to flub his way through the intricate partner changes and arm twists. He partnered Glynis briefly in the dance, seeing the wild abandon in her, wondering if it was nature or a reaction to McPhee’s priggishness. Either way, he knew she was buying herself trouble from the old bastard, provided Darla didn’t finish him off before McPhee got to the girl. The musicians started a Strathspey, a slow Scottish reel that Angelus had no earthly idea how to dance. After nearly maiming both Darla’s train and silk shoes, she let him escape the dance floor in disgust, with a whap to his backside with her fan.

He watched her go, knowing she was probably hunting down McPhee. He resisted the urge to help. It would be far more horrifying to McPhee to have a woman kill him. Angelus retired to the gaming room for a smoke and some wine. He was several hands into a game of whist, money already flowing his way, when he heard the familiar rustling of Darla’s gowns and caught whiff of her violet perfume. He loved watching her daub that on delicately from the tiny rock crystal and gold bottle it was kept in. She could make such a simple act seem amazingly erotic. Angelus glanced back, seeing Darla in the doorway. She nodded to him then moved on. “If you gentlemen will excuse me, I have something I must attend to.”

It was becoming increasingly difficult to play the solicitous host when what he really wanted to do was run rampant and create a lovely scene of destruction. That would have to wait for when it wasn’t in his own house. Angelus met Darla away from prying eyes. Her skin was warmed from a fresh kill and he nuzzled her.

“Did he taste bad?” He planted a kiss on her cheek, his hardening cock pressing into her hoops.

“He squealed and shat himself.” She grinned, taking his hand rubbing it over her pearl and sapphire studded stomacher.

“I’m sorry I missed that.”

Darla pulled him down to her so she could nip his lip. Before they had a chance to enjoy themselves more fully, a loud crashing sound from the front of the house interrupted them, then the screams started. The vampires exchanged puzzled glances then ran towards the commotion. Angelus caught the cries of ‘hellfire club.’ He didn’t know what it was, but it sounded like fun. He would have been more amused, however, if the masked club members weren’t running amuck in his home. He counted at least a dozen of them smashing up the ball room.

“Those two are the ones you need to concentrate on. Go on, dance with the devil.”

At that booming voice, Angelus glanced over to the door that led out to the gardens. A fair amount of his guests and the musicians had already crashed their way through. Holtz leaned on the doorjamb, a crossbow at the ready. Angelus growled full-throated and demonic. “Fuck me.”

“Later, love, we’ve got big problems,” Darla said.

Angelus shrugged. “We’re done here. Kill them all.”

He needn’t bother with the instructions. Darla was already in action, showing amazing skill in how she brought a masked intruder to her mouth, managing to get him around the ridiculous expanse of skirts. Angelus headed for Holtz. The vampire knew he was more agile than Darla, if for no other reason than fashion, so he stood the best chance of not getting impaled by a crossbow bolt. Holtz wasted no time in shooting at him. Angelus dodged one, but misjudged the trajectory of the second bolt. It embedded in his hand. Snarling, he yanked it free, but by then Holtz was lost in the melee. The last time Angelus had seen the mortal man, Holtz was pulling Glynis out of the room, presumably to save her.

Angelus viciously snapped the neck of the nearest person, not caring if he was a Hellfire member or not. Three men jumped him at once. Angelus thrilled to the spraying of blood that followed. He followed the battle into the library just in time to see Holtz crush a marble bust of Pallas Athena over Darla’s head as she fed. She went down without a sound, blood pooling around her. Bellowing, Angelus leapt across the room, and caught a face full of holy water for his trouble.

Blinded, he fell back. By the time Angelus could see, Holtz was gone and so was Darla. No ashes decorated the floor. Could Holtz have taken her? Wiping his burnt face with the wig he had torn from his head, Angelus caught the man’s scent and followed it outside, killing a retreating Hellfire fool on the way. Angelus sniffed the still night air. Holtz had taken her. Angelus could only imagine why.

“They’re all dead.” Angelus turned to see Samuel behind him in full vampire face. Mollie and Mark, and the stable boy - Angelus could never remember his name - were with him. “We lost Katie though, to the man that brought those foul men here.”

Angelus nodded, the scullery maid. He wasn’t surprised Holtz could handle her. “He took Darla. You have two choices. Come with me and kill anyone you find with him while we get her back, or stay here and pack up. We can’t stay here any longer.”

“I’ll stay,” Mollie said. “I can pack for all of us.”

“I want more to kill,” Mark said, and Samuel nodded.

Angelus grinned. He was just as happy to leave Mollie behind. She, like Mark, was having trouble leaving behind her mortal roles. She was still nothing more than a maid in her mind. “Get the horses, Mark. I can track her.”

* * *

“What happened to my cousin Angus?” Glynis asked for at least the thirtieth time.

Holtz glanced up from where he was chaining Darla down on the floor, trussing her arms to the heavy, embedded fire dogs in front of the main fireplace. He couldn’t even see the demon’s face past the upflipped hoops. Finding something fairly immobile to chain her legs to was more difficult. “That thing was never your cousin, my dear.”

“But he said he was Angus in from London. He wouldn’t...”

Holtz went over to her, capturing her chin. “If your cousin is lucky, he is still in London. Your uncle who owned the estate is doubtless less lucky.”

As her lips trembled, Glynis eyes turned into huge green pools. “Is he?”

“Dead? Most likely.” Glynis whimpered. Holtz gave her a pitying look. “I’ll take you to some place safe.”

“My grandmother’s? It’s where I live.”

“Has...your cousin been there?” Holtz shot a glance towards the door, hearing it open but it was only the red-beared youth, Burns. He was one of the handful to survive the encounter.

She bobbed her head. “Yes.”

“Then it’s not safe. I’ll take you to the vicar’s tonight. Whatever you do, do not invite the thing parading as Logan in, should he find you.” Holtz kicked Darla’s exposed leg. She seemed to still be unconscious. “Chances are he’ll come here, looking for her. You should be fine.”

“What did you get us into, English?” Burns grumbled, grabbing Holtz’s arm. Holtz pulled free.

“You wanted to dance with the devil. I afforded you that opportunity.” Holtz moved to Darla’s head hearing her moan. “Ah, you’re awake. That’s good. I would hate for you to sleep through it all.”

“Why don’t you just stake me and be done with it?” She struggled against her chains.

Holtz smiled coldly. “Because that would be too easy.”

“You got my friends killed.” Burns grabbed hold of Holtz’s coat this time.

He shoved the youth back. “You and your friends went to that house to be as evil and wicked as your black little hearts desired. They got no better than they deserved and they served a grand purpose. We’ve got one of the devils now, and the other will come for her. I’m taking Miss Logan to the vicar’s and will return straight away. You and what’s left of your friends can entertain yourself with this slattern. Mind you, stay away from her teeth, and don’t for a moment loosen her chains.” Holtz extended a hand to Glynis, helping her up.

“You’re not man enough to do it yourself, you pathetic little man,” Darla growled, rattling her chains.

He looked down at her. “I wouldn’t sully myself with the likes of you. I’m sure the Hellfire boys have no such morals.” He smiled cold and flat. “Why shouldn’t I treat you the way you treated my wife?”

“At least the bitch was dead before Angelus started in on her,” Darla shot back.

Holtz tried not to wince as his mind flashed to his poor Catherine. He should have made sure she was better prepared, understood better, the dangers. He didn’t know which was worse, thinking of her suffering as the demon had his way with her or having her corpse defiled. “We’ll prepare for her mate when I return.”

* * *

Holtz’s scent was thick near the unassuming little home Angelus had tracked him to. Darla was inside; he could scent her, too. They tied up the horses and stood in front of the door. Angelus just listened for a few moments. He tried to count up the voices and figured he and Darla’s two children could handle what might be waiting within. He couldn’t tell if Holtz was there or not.

“If Holtz has made this his home, we’ll need invited in. That’s one of the drawbacks of our condition,” Angelus said, trying to tie his natural hair back into a queue so it wouldn’t be in his way during the anticipated battle. “And there’s every possibility that he has laid traps.”

“Then I guess you’re going in first,” Mark said.

Angelus eyed the coach driver sourly. “No, I think you just volunteered.”

“I think I can get us invited in,” Samuel said. He went up to the door and knocked. “James, it’s me, Michael.”

Angelus grunted happily. Samuel had taken the time to peel the masks off the dead intruders and recognized many of them as the sons of Mathias’ esteemed guests. The elder vampire, while listening to some shuffling inside, took stock of the building. It was small, tough to fight in. The windows were small. At least the rough hewn bench outside the door would take a good deal to break up into usable stakes. Of course, that was the least of his worries. He knew Holtz would be well armed.

“Michael?” someone queried from inside.

“Yes,” Samuel replied softly, trying to mask his voice. “Ephraim and John are with me as well.”

“Well, get inside. You’re doing no one any good standing about out there.”

Samuel smiled back at Angelus then stepped away from the door. Angelus gestured for Mark to go in first. The fledgling vampire curled his lip but obeyed. Angelus was actually surprised that no one beheaded him or staked him or mounted up any kind of attack at all. Holtz must not be inside and lucky for him, Angelus thought, seeing Darla chained as she was, what was left of her clothing tattered, torn and stained, the room reeking of sex.

Growling, Angelus pushed his way inside. The remaining Hellfire members, including the one frantically trying to lace up his breeches, scattered. The one with the red beard grabbed up a fire iron and swung it with all his might. Angelus caught it and skewered the young man on it. As he gurgled, vomiting up, Angelus drew him near. “Where is Holtz?” The youth danced like a marionette in jerks and convulsions, sliding further down on the fire iron. Angelus didn’t even bother with giving him a quick death.

Darla’s children were busy enjoying themselves with the remaining mortals. Angelus picked off one, snapping his spine and dropping him down so Darla could feed while he freed her. Samuel and Mark looked disappointed there weren’t more to kill. Angelus knelt at Darla’s side, stroking her cheek.

“Where did Holtz go?”

“Took Glynis away,” she replied then stiffened her eyes at the door.

Angelus caught a whiff of the stench of burning fish oil. He twisted in his crouch and saw Holtz coming back to his home, oil lantern in hand. The man’s eyes widened and he slammed the front door shut as if that could stop Angelus. The vampire heard something sliding, the bench, he realized belatedly. The oil lantern crashed through the window and flames spread, riding the fish oil.

“Get out of the house,” he roared to Samuel and Mark as he scooped up Darla. The two fledglings looked at the flames, frozen. He kicked the door, tearing it from the hinges, feeling the heat of the fire. Holtz knew it wouldn’t stop him but it was enough to buy the man the time he needed to get on his horse and go. Worse, he had run off the vampires’ horses.

“I am going to kill him for this,” Angelus grumbled.

“Not unless I kill him first.” Darla squirmed in his arms. “Set me down.”

“Can you walk?” Angelus said, indulging in a moment of tender concern.

She bobbed her head, golden hair falling into her eyes. “We’d better hurry or we’ll never make it back before dawn.”

Angelus put a supportive arm around her. They killed someone who was hauling wool into town to set up for the early hours of the market and road like the flames were still after them all the way back to Logan’s estate. They passed an uneasy day there, Angelus knowing Holtz might return while they were vulnerable but he didn’t. The vampire hunter probably didn’t trust his abilities to take on five vampires alone. Mollie had done her part and packed.

They all left that night. Angelus and Darla went their own way. Samuel and the others were still too new, too mired in their human lives to want to leave Scotland. Samuel took them in the general direction of Edinburgh. Angelus knew that it was for the best. He and Samuel would have been butting heads soon enough. Angelus’ only regret was not getting a chance to hunt Holtz down. Darla needed time to heal from what the Hellfire boys had done to her and they both knew there would be other nights. Holtz was obviously not one to give up so they would at least lead him on a merry chase until they had the upper hand.

 

Epilogue

“Didn’t I tell you, you would love it here?” Darla gestured at the Pantheon.

Angelus situated a pretty little whore on a bench, having drained her dry. He burped loudly as he looked at the ancient architecture. “You promised to show me the world. I like this part of it.”

“We even have a little place to call our own.” Darla grinned.

Angelus grinned back. The place they had usurped was hardly little but it suited them just fine. Scotland might have reminded him a little more of home, but Rome couldn’t be more exotic. He was instantly in love with it. The devil take Holtz for hurting Darla, but he should thank the man for chasing them out of Scotland. Now he was fulfilling his dream, seeing the world, falling in love with the romance of adventure.

He took Darla’s hand and kicked in the door of the nearest cathedral. “Time to live dangerously, my love.”

“Whatever do you have in mind?” The amused look on her face enticed him.

Knocking everything off the altar, Angelus laid her upon it and together they performed multiple counts of desecration before the rising sun sent them home.

 


| Fiction Index | Home Page | Back |