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Mar 05 2018

Succubus Tales V – The Wild Card

The needs of the many are as important as the needs of the one. It comes to the one to see that truth, to understand the world beyond themselves. Then the question becomes one of need, want, and desire: the need to believe, the want to become, and the desire to see what cannot possibly be … regardless of the cost … for all.

 

Succubus Tales V – The Wild Card
By TeraS and Her Adored Brother

 

Zara got her way.

Damn her to hell.

I was stupid.

Damn me, too.

Tera wasn’t disappointed.

Damned if I know why.

Zara left in a hurry. That was probably for the best, considering that I wanted nothing to do with her. How could she act like that toward Tera? What gave her the right to speak that way? She claimed that Tera wasn’t there in her hour of need, but Tera told Zara that it wasn’t her hour yet.

What did that mean?

I just didn’t understand, and I didn’t think I ever would.

In the aftermath of Zara’s challenge, there wasn’t anything more to be done before I saw her again, at least with respect to Zara. But I needed a crash course in understanding what had happened to me, what the robes meant. I walked with Tera from the Temple back to her apartment, the questions coming as we passed through the dark between Tera’s apartment and the sacred place she’d shared with me: “I know you’re Goddess and all …”

“No, Sweetheart; I may be a goddess for you, and for others, but there is one true Goddess, and I want no part of her job. I am more than happy to be the Queen. It is all I need to be.”

“Okay, I know you’re like a goddess and all, Tera, but …”

“Yes?”

“There’s no possible way this place is inside of Pleasures.”

Her bemused smile appeared, and it helped me feel a little better. “It is … and it isn’t.”

I couldn’t help rolling my eyes: “If you are going to start telling a story about timey-wimey stuff, my eyes are going to glaze over.”

That smile became a little bit warmer: “It’s a story about a fence between worlds.”

“Sorry?”

She waved her hand: “Call it the whims of my heart if you’d like.”

“I’m never going to understand you, am I?”

Tera stopped and turned to me. She had reigned in her aura as Queen, and was once more the Tera I knew, and, in all honestly, loved more and more with each passing moment I had with her. “We’ll do better this time.” Again that strange saying she used, but she continued on, I following as she explained other things: “At this moment, both you and Zara are my Voice. That means you aren’t exactly the succubus you once were, Sweetheart.”

“What … does that mean Tera?”

“It means … should you encounter any of our kind, they will defer to you, because you are my Voice. In the moments that you speak as Voice, they’ll all know what it means. You are, regardless of how young you are, a power unto yourself.”

That revelation bothered me: “I let you down, Tera, I don’t deserve that. I …”

The hug was a needed one: “… You didn’t disappoint me. I’ve told you several times you didn’t. You did what you felt was right. There’s no shame in that.”

“But I’ve put you in a mess. I should have thought about what I was doing.”

“The mess wasn’t yours to begin with.”

My sigh was sad—“Zara”—but it wasn’t sad for her. I didn’t feel much sympathy for Zara, I didn’t understand why she’d made the choice she did.

“Yes, and that shouldn’t be your concern. You need to focus on the challenge.”

My new robes still adorned me, swishing around my legs as we walked: “What about all of this?”

A square of light on the floor in front of us marked the doorway to Tera’s apartment: “Those are the mark of the Chosen. Each of our kind has them, of different colours. They appear in the Temple, to tell others who they are. The colours matter, from white through red.”

Tera crossed over the landing and I asked a question as I followed her: “Okay, but how …?”

She didn’t answer but instead traced a fingernail over my hip. They’d vanished. I was naked to the world.

“They are part of you now, Sweetheart. If you need them, they’ll be there at a thought. Otherwise, they won’t be there.”

A thought came: “Where are your robes, Tera?”

She smiled as her familiar black bandeau top, short red jacket and ever-so-tight red painted on pants popped into existence around her: “Mine are … a bit less obvious.”

“But …”

Tera winked: “It would be a real problem for me to be walking around humans fully in my power, almost, but not quite nude …”

I shook my head: “Tera … You could have this entire planet under your thumb, couldn’t you?”

Her expression was unreadable: “Yes.”

“Why not?”

She shrugged, walking towards a closet door and opening it: “Doesn’t interest me.”

“Why not?”

As Tera looked through the clothing inside, she explained: “A billion souls calling out your name isn’t as wonderful as holding in your heart the love of a few.”

I could understand that. Knowing that she loved me … mattered. Knowing the souls within me loved me … mattered.

Why couldn’t Zara understand that?

Tera offered me a blue mini-dress, not quite as sexy as the one I’d worn the night before, but that didn’t really matter as I accepted her gift and slipped into it.

“Sweetheart, understand this. Win, lose, or draw, I love you. That will never change, I promise.”

My hand paused in the midst of brushing my hair back into place.

Tera promised.

That meant it was forever.

I didn’t think, didn’t need to as my lips found Tera’s, my hands cupping her cheeks. When I pulled away, Tera had a surprised expression: “What was that for?”

“I’ll tell you later. Thank you.”

She smiled in a delightful way I hadn’t seen before: “Alright. Now, go home, get some rest. I’ll see you here at Pleasures tomorrow evening.”

I left Tera’s apartment and made my way through Pleasures, barely noticing the crowds around me as I left. My thoughts were of one thing only: I would show Zara I was worthy. I’d prove that Tera was right and Zara was wrong.

The night embraced me as I passed through the main doors, turning away from Tera, and towards the rest of Bridgeport. A thought brought my wings to life and I flew off towards home. My night passed. My dreams … if I had them … I couldn’t remember.

The next morning, I awoke to the sun through the windows and a determination in my eyes. The rules said I couldn’t use my powers, that I couldn’t be anything more than ‘just human’, but Tera’s instruction to ‘be the woman you are’ offered the path, and I was going to walk it. There was more to being ‘just human’ than just being human, after all.

There was being myself.

I had to prove that, not so much for Tera, but for myself. I needed to be able to look in the mirror, at who I was, and be comfortable with myself. That meant being, for the first time in so long, Sophia the human and not Sophia the succubus.

I spent the morning, and much of the afternoon, looking out the window and mulling over in my mind who that human was. I was her, somewhere inside. I needed to get in touch with her again. That wasn’t so simple; it had been hundreds of years since I thought of myself as being human, and the thought felt alien, wrong in so many ways.

Late afternoon came, and the time for self-examination had to end. It was going to take some time to get ready, after all. Standing under the shower head, a little part of me whispered that I’d never be human, that I was a succubus and there was no going back. At the same time, another part of me whispered it’s own words. Stepping out of my shower, using a towel to wipe the steam from the mirror, I looked in wonder. She didn’t look special, there wasn’t anything amazing about her, if I was honest about that. For the hell of it, I smiled a real smile.

In that moment, I saw what Tera did.

I saw the real me.

The me that mattered.

A me that I hadn’t seen in ages.

“Hello me. I’ve missed you.”

She gave me purpose, a reason to spend the hours fixing my hair, painting my lips, coating my nails in gloss. With each change I looked into the mirror and asked a question: “Is this me?” Every step along the way, my answer was sure: “It’s me.”

Comfortable with how I looked—at least while naked—the next step was figuring out what to wear. The thing about that came to not going with something like Tera would wear, being sure she’d have a dress of some kind. At the same time, I didn’t want to look like a department store cutout, either. I didn’t spend a moment thinking about Zara, what she did would be, for I was sure she’d be a reflection of her personality.

And that’s when it hit me: I needed to go shopping.

With the few hours left before nightfall, I went shopping for an outfit. I’m sure I pissed off a lot of salespeople going in, looking around and then walking out without a word. I knew that, when I found the place, there wouldn’t be a question.

I finally found it: something that would be casual, yet sexy and classy. As for what it cost me, I really didn’t care. Money wasn’t the point, it was finding myself, finding Sophia, again.

I did.

I walked out of the store in my new outfit, turning heads, and I’m sure the store’s owner was counting her money in delight. Both, honestly, made me smile. Leather, of course, was the start of things. Black leather pants tucked into a pair of matching thigh high boots. The red leather jacket wasn’t quite Tera’s colour, but it was red, which mattered to me. It snugged over a tightly fitting midriff cut black shirt. But the finishing touch was the red leather choker to represent the ribbons that Tera asked me never to be without. I couldn’t wear them openly, but the choker was a good stand-in … not to mention I was sure it would piss off Zara.

Checking my cellphone, I noted the time. Not being able to fly meant I had to get moving towards Pleasures. A quick text to Tera, letting her know I was on the way, before flagging down a cab and racing off towards whatever fate had in store for me. About twenty minutes later, the cab pulled up in front of the club and a bouncer was opening the door for me. I’d been coming here long enough that they all knew me, and it was different knowing that I didn’t have to use my powers, to push them to obey me. It was, to be honest, a thrill in itself. As he took my hand to help me from the cab, I smiled: “Thank you.”

“Of course, Miss. I’ll look after the cab.”

A few steps and I approached the main doors. One of the two bouncers there opened the door for me: “The Mistress told us to let you in right away when you arrived, Miss. She’s inside.”

I nodded graciously: “Thank you.”

I noticed the line was just starting to form as I paused and looked towards it. Somewhere in the mass of humanity was the one soul that Tera would choose as the challenge. I wondered which of the eyes looking back at me it could be, if it was someone I knew or a stranger; someone I’d crossed paths with or someone that I’ve never known. Resolutely, I walked past the bouncer at the door. It was, perhaps, for the best that I didn’t know either way.

Pleasures was empty, save for the staff getting ready for the evening to come. I stood at the entrance, looking over the room, my eyes pausing over each person there until my eyes travelled over the bar and I saw … her.

Zara was there already.

I thought she’d choose something that said who she was. I expected that it would be loud, strong, and overwhelming. She didn’t disappoint me. Her back was turned to me, a drink in her right hand. If she was using her powers, she would have turned to look at me, if for no other reason than to smirk and belittle me.

She didn’t.

I was, to be honest, shocked to see what she chose. A black leather corset matched with long leather opera gloves and a skirt slit up the side. Topping that, the sky high heels would make her tower over anyone in the club. Her makeup and her hair in a ponytail literally screamed “dominatrix.“ I shook my head. I couldn’t understand why she decided on what she did. It was, of course, possible that whomever Tera picked would go for that look, but I couldn’t believe that it would work. It was love Tera talked about, and I just didn’t see that in Zara. Was she so full of herself that she thought it just didn’t matter?

A familiar voice broke me from my thoughts: “Hey, Sophia.”

I turned my head in surprise, my squeal one of surprise and delight: “Bianca!”

I hugged her tightly, my dear friend—who also happened to be the vampire queen of Bridgeport. But she wasn’t alone. Letting go of Bianca, I couldn’t believe the person with her was the pop star, Jazmine Lawrence. They did make, I had to admit, an interesting pair: Bianca in a lovely black dress matched with high boots, an onyx necklace, and diamond earrings that looked like webs. Jazmine, on the other hand, seemed to have decided on something more starlet-like, in the form of a silver dress with matching pumps.

My hug with the starlet was a warm one as I commented: “I never expected to see you in a jazz club.”

She shrugged: “Pop is my thing, but do like jazz, as well. The vibe’s fun, you know?”

The question was an obvious one: “You aren’t singing tonight, are you?”

A slight shake of her hand came with her answer: “No, I’m not. I was invited to come here tonight with Bianca.”

My gaze shifted to my dear friend with some concern: “Why didn’t Nathan come?”

Bianca rolled her eyes: “I invited Jazmine for a nice night out. As for Nathan … He’s still not happy about the idea of dressing up. But I’m working on that … among other things.” Her smile was telling as she revealed: “It’s fun to make him happy, and you really should have seen the attention he gave me when I cosplayed as Miranda Lawson.”

A lovely voice came into the conversation, catching my attention as well as Bianca’s and Jazmine’s: “I wouldn’t expect anything less.” I had no idea how she did it, but there was Tera, standing right behind Bianca. She was twirling a finger in a lock of her hair, her hips cocked to the right. None of us managed to say anything intelligent as she continued: “If I was him, I’d have my hands all over you.”

There was something different about Tera tonight. I’d never seen her so dressed up before: radiant as anything, her seductiveness plain to see, her warmth for all around her, a beacon of pleasure calling to all around her, her mane of raven hair, wild over her shoulders, framing her so-green eyes and deliciously kissable red lips, a dress like I’d never seen before playing over her curves. That it was black, not red, was the first shock. Oh there was red trimming the edges; she was wearing strappy heels of red as well, but the black was as deep as her hair. The dress was slit right up the sides, past her hips, the shimmering material making love to her heart-shaped rear revealing that she was not wearing anything beneath, and that gave me a little thrill to know. The dress allowed her long legs to be shown off to their best, but It was backless as well, the material left was allowed to tightly follow the curves of her cleavage, leaving the outer softness bare before looping around her throat where a band of red held the dress in place. I’d heard stories about that dress, the importance it had for her. It was such a rare thing to see our Queen in her glory as the Queen, and it made me happy.

I was the first to be blessed with a hug, Tera’s voice soft in my ear: “I’m delighted in you Sophia.”

I couldn’t help but nibble my lip as I watched Jazmine be hugged next. I could tell that she had no idea what hit her as Tera stepped back slightly, holding her hands and regarding her. “It’s very nice to meet you, Miss Lawrence. I’m delighted you could come and visit. I realize you are more into pop music than jazz, but perhaps you might consider a special concert here sometime?”

I could see Jazmine’s lips moving, but she wasn’t saying anything. Her eyes were wide in surprise as she looked at me, then at Tera again. It was clear that Tera was a succubus, what was shocking was that Tera wasn’t even using her powers on Jazmine. She shook her head, coming out of the stupor she was in with a little moan of pleasure: “I … I think … um … Maybe the best thing is that you call my agent?” Tera smiled that bemused smile of hers and I thought Jazmine might have had a little orgasm: “Or … or … We can talk about that later? Please?”

“Of course. Whatever would make you happy.”

I hurried over to Jazmine’s side. The last thing I needed was for her to fall to the floor in a puddle of arousal. As I held her, I didn’t understand why Tera was so ramped up, why she was so overwhelming. Then I heard Bianca’s voice, barely above a whisper: “Tera.” I looked at her and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Was she … blushing? That was impossible! I could tell that the entire room had faded away from Tera’s thoughts as she turned to the vampire, her voice honey-sweet with desire: “Bianca.”

I’d heard her name spoken I don’t know how many times before, but the way Tera said it, the three syllables making up Bianca’s name, was overwhelming. Each one teased at my clit, caressed my nipples and made me moan.

I couldn’t look away as they came close, their bodies pressing together … perfectly. Their lips rubbed against one another before locking together, the heat warming both myself and Jazmine. Raven hair spilled over their faces, blocking my view, their hands caressing over each other’s bodies like two long lost lovers.

There was something called a soul kiss—something I’d never seen before, until now. There was no mistaking it, how they melded together, their movements mirrors of each other, the uncaring need of it all. The kiss lasted for a long moment and we both finally turned away to at least let them have some privacy in this moment. I could only manage one word, spoken in time with Jazmine: “Wow.”

The kiss ended—when I wasn’t sure—but there was no question in my mind that Bianca was important to Tera and she to her. Someday I hoped I’d know what the story was, my curiosity egging me on to ask about it. I caught a little bit of conversation in French, something about love or lovers or something, but it wasn’t clear.

Bianca’s giggle made me smile: “You still know how to take my breath away.”

Tera’s answer made me laugh: “Nice to know I haven’t lost my touch.”

It was clear, at least to me, that Bianca and Tera really had eyes only for each other in that moment, but despite that being true, Tera didn’t let that stop her from being who she was. With her hands cupped with Bianca’s own, she turned to me and Jazmine: “Forgive me, I’m being a terrible hostess. Would you please follow me? The VIP room is yours for the night, and I’d love to spend time with all of you.” Of course we all agreed. It would be unkind not to, but at the same time, the idea of watching Tera and Bianca fawning over each other was something I wasn’t going to miss.

Tera led the way with Bianca beside her, each wrapping an arm around the other’s waist. I was completely sure that, if Tera could, she’d have her tail wrapped around there as well.

Jazmine found herself walking next to Bianca and asked a question: “Did I miss something here? I thought you loved Nathan.”

Bianca’s eyes sparkled: “And I do, but Tera is a love well before Nathan. Tera and I go back to when I was human.”

I actually stumbled at the revelation: “What?”

Tera explained: “Bianca and I were lovers well over four hundred years ago.” The look that passed between her and Bianca told me there was something far more important than that, but Tera didn’t elaborate on it.

I mulled that over openly: “Then … but … if you were lovers that long ago, did … I mean … Tera, were you there when Bianca was …”

I’d never seen hurt, real aching hurt, in Tera’s eyes before, but, before she could answer, Bianca did: “Yes, Tera was there. She knows Rafael, too.”

I rubbed my temples, a headache coming on: “Okay … my best friend is the lover of my Queen who loves me, and I love my best friend and love my Queen. Dear god, Tera, how the Hell do you keep all of this straight?”

The hurt vanished to be replaced with mirth in Tera’s eyes: “There’s a flowchart in my office, if you want to try and figure out all of the links.”

“Bullshit.”

“No, really there is.” Right, Tera never lied.

“Has to take up an entire wall.”

She didn’t answer that, but her bemused smile was all I needed to know.

The VIP room wasn’t, as one might expect, separate from the rest of Pleasures. It was a smaller version of the larger dance floor, positioned slightly above, but open so that those within, and without, could see much of what was going on. That wasn’t to say there weren’t some private areas within, however. We decided on a booth off to the side, in a quieter location, as the music started playing and the crowds started entering Pleasures. I found myself sitting next to Tera while Bianca took a spot directly across from her, Jazmine to her left.

Tera started the conversation: “I’m so glad you could come. I’m sorry that Nathan, didn’t as well. If you’d like, I could talk to him?”

Bianca started giggling: “Sure … He’d love that.”

Tera purred: “I’m … sure he would.”

The looks that passed over the table made me really want to know the rest of the story, but that thought left me as Tera laced her fingers together in front of her.

“As much as I’d love to keep teasing you, there’s another reason why you’re here, Bianca, outside of spending the night with … well … me.”

Bianca sighed deeply and she nodded. “Unfortunately, yes. I want to get this over with so we can go have fun tonight.”

Confused, I asked: “What’s this about?”

Jazmine didn’t say a word, but fixed her eyes on me. Bianca turned and looked at me, her expression changing as she did so. The fun left and I found myself looking at the most serious vampire I’d ever seen. “There’s something going on, and I need answers, Sophia. On the north side of Bridgeport, just a couple of blocks from the college, there’s been a string of deaths.”

That news brought shock to my face.

Bianca continued: “I had a visit from Viktoria Valentine.” She looked at Tera: “She’s a vampire hunter, recently part of the Bridgeport Police Department. She runs a part of the police force called the Supernatural and Paranormal Squad, or SPS. She asked me if I knew anything about a series of human deaths, all of which seem to appear as if they’d died of a heart attack, but things didn’t add up.”

Tera’s mood didn’t change, though I could see her eyes narrowing: “You suspect a succubus killed them?”

Bianca nodded: “Yes. All young men in their prime, two had heart issues, but those weren’t the cause of their deaths.” Then she turned to me: “I have to ask, even though I hate to ask it …”

I was honestly shocked at the question and cut her off: “I didn’t do it. I don’t know how long that’s been going on, but I know I have been with Tera, most of the time, for the past week or so.”

I paused there, waiting for Tera to say something or Bianca to ask a question. When neither said anything I added: “Bianca … Tera’s taught me how to feed without killing. I haven’t, I swear to you, since I’ve been with her.”

Bianca nodded, as she knew the fact that a succubus doesn’t need to kill to get what she needed to survive. Then she added something I didn’t expect: “I didn’t think it was you. I … knew things had changed for you, for the better. But I had to ask if you’d … fallen off the wagon or were killing humans behind Tera’s back.”

That admission, that Bianca knew what had been going on with me, was a shock: “How? How did you know that I’ve gotten my feeds under control?”

Bianca looked towards Tera, who still didn’t say a word, but seemed to be thinking about something: “A couple of weeks ago. I assume Tera saw you just after she visited me, soon after she arrived in Bridgeport.”

“Oh.”

My dear friend reached over the table and gave my hand a squeeze: “We’ll figure out what’s going on, but I had to hear it from you, that you weren’t the problem, even as I trusted you weren’t.”

I smiled, if wanly: “Thank you.”

Tera still hadn’t said anything though she’d started tapping a long red fingernail against the tabletop as she continued to think.

Then it hit me as I looked at her: Zara. That stupid bitch!

Bianca seemed to know that something wasn’t right and asked Tera: “Do I have another succubus in town?”

Tera stopped tapping her nail and sighed: “Yes. There is myself, Sophia and two other succubi here. As well, there is one incubus, my husband Keith. Over the next month another hundred or so will be arriving.”

Jazmine blurted out: “Holy shit.”

I only knew of one other succubus in town and that was Zara. Does she really not care about human life that she’s got no problem killing and just leaving a trail that could leave all of us exposed? She says she loves Tera, declares her loyalty to her, but this was leading a trail right to Zara. What would that do to Tera? To all of us? Would Bianca have to ban us from Bridgeport?

The shock in Bianca’s eyes was telling: “Tera, what the Hell’s going to happen?”

Tera patted the tabletop: “Call it … a meeting of our kind. It won’t last long, and nothing will happen to Bridgeport or those within. But as for what the meeting is for, I’m sorry, Bianca my love, I can’t reveal that openly.”

I could tell she didn’t like that answer, but moved on: “Tera … if this is one of your own, it has to be stopped. The bodies are piling up, the humans are getting edgy.”

Looking at me, Tera replied: “Of course. I’ll seek out some answers and let you know what I find. But, for the moment, Sophia and I need to deal with some business. But I’ll see you both a little later?”

Bianca’s expression turned a bit sad, but she nodded: “Please, don’t be a stranger.”

Tera’s hand found Bianca’s: “Promise.”

I slipped out of the booth after saying goodbye to Bianca and Jazmine, following Tera after she wished Jazmine a good evening before she walked towards the bar, a determined look in her eyes. I couldn’t read anything more from her, and I really wanted to know what she was thinking at that moment. Was she angry with Zara or disappointed with her? Was she sad with who Zara turned into? Is it possible that Zara was returning to the path that imprisoned her so long ago?

When Tera caught sight of Zara, she stopped and turned to me: “Sweetheart, stay here for a moment, please. This is between Zara and myself.” I didn’t like it, but how Tera spoke made it was clear she was speaking as our Queen and there was no room for argument: “Tera … I’ll wait here. Wave when you want me.”

Zara was still nursing her drink as Tera approached her, and she didn’t move until Tera had walked right up to her and called out her name: “Zara.”

She pushed the drink away and spun around on her stool, fixing her eyes on the Queen: “Tera, I’d …”

Tera shook her head: “Later, Zara. First I want to know something. How many humans have you killed since arriving here?”

“I don’t count my feedings anymore.”

“Do you deny you’ve been killing humans here?”

“No, I don’t. But they are cattle, so what does it matter?”

There was an empty stool next to Zara, and Tera settled onto it, a glass of Diet Coke appearing in the next moment as the bartender looked after her. As a pool of condensed water formed around the glass, Tera asked: “Are you thinking of yourself, or of our kind when you say that?”

Zara had returned to her drink, not looking at Tera: “Both. I need to feed and it doesn’t matter if I kill them. It’s just like them eating a hamburger; they don’t care where the meat comes from. It doesn’t matter to me; it shouldn’t matter to us.”

Tera sighed: “This is not our domain. It is not acceptable here. You risk all of us and right before the Gathering. We cannot afford to be exposed, nor can we afford the price to be paid for your folly.”

“Tera, it can be. You could snap your fingers and make it yours. Why don’t you?”

“Because Bianca is the Queen here.”

Zara snorted: “That piece of vampire trash?”

Tera’s right hand suddenly was cupping Zara’s cheek, turning her eyes to Tera’s own. Tera’s eyes were completely black, making Zara’s eyes widen in fear: “I might forgive you for being foolish. I might forgive you for what you’ve done to so many souls. But I will not forgive you if you ever say one more thing like that about Bianca. Am I clear?”

Zara’s shiver was clear; Tera could feel it through her fingers: “Completely.”

Tera didn’t let go, her black eyes inescapable as she regarded Zara: “You are powerful Zara, but I am the Queen. Don’t you forget that. Now, as for your insanity and foolishness: you will no longer feed to kill while here in Bridgeport. You will control yourself. I know you can, and it will not happen again. Understood?”

“Yes, my Queen.”

Tera’s eyes turned from black to their so-green deepness then, and she considered for a moment before releasing Zara from her hold. As Zara rubbed her cheek, Tera added: “Don’t defy me, Zara. The mess you’ve left is large enough that it could have led Bianca right to your doorstep. You would not survive a battle with her, I promise you. She’d tear you into little pieces.”

“I doubt that.”

Tera shrugged: “If you continue to kill, then I’ll give you to Bianca’s tender mercies and you will face her judgement, and I won’t stop her. Understood?”

Zara sighed: “I understand.”

Then Tera slapped Zara with two words: “Promise me.” The kicker just left Tera’s lips. She always held her promises as being for eternity. This would be no different.

Zara paused, thinking about what Tera had said before answering quietly: “I promise.”

The Queen considered, but then replied: “You wanted to say something. What was it?”

Zara’s eyes returned to her glass: “I’d like to know why you didn’t come for me. The truth, please?”

“The truth is you didn’t need me. But I did send you a lifeline, hoping you would do the right thing.”

Zara looked at her again: “What … do you mean?”

“Ask the souls within you sometime.”

“I … can’t, Tera.”

“Why?”

“They won’t talk to me.”

Tera waved towards me and, as I approached, I heard her say: “I hope they will, for your sake.”

I really wished I’d known what they’d said, but it was clear that whatever it was, Zara’s dislike for me hadn’t been the focus of it. Seeing there was a bar stool open beside Tera, I took it, putting her between Zara and me. It was probably for the best, as otherwise we’d be in each other’s faces while we waited for Tera to make up her mind.

Tera sipped on her drink, her eyes scanning the room. Occasionally she struck up a conversation with someone as they realized that she was at the bar. It was interesting to see her speaking with anyone that wanted a moment of her time, to watch as she passed on a bit of wisdom, offered a suggestion from time to time. Sometimes she’d smile and point out someone elsewhere in the club and suggest her visitor go and talk to them. I wondered if another of Tera’s hobbies was being a matchmaker. As the night continued on, it was clear that more times than not, the couples she’d brought together seemed to be hitting it off. I wondered what that was like, to find your soulmate, to be able to know that they were the one.

It was just about one hour after Pleasures had opened when Tera set her drink down on the bar as someone entered the club. Tera focused her eyes on him as he passed in and out of shadow, looking around the club.

As he approached the bar, Tera nodded: “I choose …” she raised one hand as the newcomer passed in front of the three of us: “… him.” The Queen pointed out a tall man, well over six feet if he was an inch. I could see in the glimpse I had as he passed by on the way to the other end of the bar that he was fit, was brown-eyed and brown-haired. He looked … nice. Really, that’s the best way to put things. As he and some friends got their drinks I watched him critically, as I knew Zara did, also. Clean cut; shaven, too; dressed not to impress, but to be himself, with a blue silk shirt and black pants.

I realized suddenly, as one of his friends thumped him on the back and he blushed, that I knew him. Well, I didn’t know him, but I had heard of him: Anthony Martin, the star quarterback of the University of Bridgeport. I recalled that he’d helped lead his team to the national title. Rumours in the papers said that he was picked to make the pro leagues, certainly a top draft pick if all went well for him. What was more interesting was that he had revealed in the past month that he hadn’t made any commitments to anyone and there was every possibility he was going to finish off his studies before moving on. I had to admit, that showed a sense of honour and I liked it.

Zara, however didn’t seem all that impressed. “Really? A jock? The way to his heart is through his cock.”

I had to turn away and keep from saying anything, as I knew Anthony had revealed he wasn’t interested in sex before marriage. He wanted his first time to be with the right woman. It’s a noble promise, but what made it more attractive for succubi was that this promise, his soul’s choice, made him impossible to resist. Given the chance, there was no question in my mind that any succubus would corner him, use her powers to seduce him, as he was the most rare of prey: a virgin soul with the stamina of a marathon runner.

As he spoke with his friends, Tera watched: “If it was that simple, Zara, he wouldn’t be a real challenge, would he? I do believe he might even be a real challenge for either of you, even allowing the use your powers.”

Zara snorted. I smiled a thin smile. She really had no idea what we were both facing here. If Tera was right—and she usually was—this was going to be the hardest thing either of us had ever done, or ever would.

“To review the rules: no use of powers; no tasting of his soul; no use of any sort of coercion through your powers. He is not prey. You will not feed from him. I will know, I promise you, if any of the rules are broken. For both of your sakes … don’t.”

Zara sighed: “Such a shame. He would be a delicious victim.”

“Are we … clear?”

Zara and I responded in unison: “Yes, Tera.”

Picking up her glass, Tera asked: “Who’s going first?”

Zara got to her feet and both Tera and I saw that devious smile on her face: “I’ll just get this over with.”

I reminded her: “Remember, no powers.”

Zara gave me a cold look: “Watch and learn. This is a jock, he’ll be putty in my hands in no time at all.”

Tera set her drink aside and just crossed her arms under her chest, facing Anthony as Zara left. As I watched with her, Tera’s lessons were ringing in my ears: “A seduction is a marathon, not a sprint.” Having no other choice, I’d watch and see what happened, and I’d learn as much as I could.

Zara crossed the room, walked to Anthony, and took him by the hand and directly out onto the dance floor. She didn’t ask, didn’t even stop to say hello. He didn’t have a chance to say “no,” either, or ask what was going on. He couldn’t break her grip on his hand, either, and the hoots of encouragement from this friends didn’t help, I was sure.

The music had turned to a techno beat as the dance floor filled, the pair going in and out of my sight as the crowd flowed around them. I caught Zara pulling him in close to her, holding his hands on her hips as she gyrated against him. She’d set him up so that he was pressing into her ass, having nowhere to go. As far as I could make out, it looked like he’d allowed her to take the lead in their dance and Zara was making the most of it. If she was using her powers, he’d be lost by now. I hoped that all of the stories I’d read about him were true and he wasn’t really into this sort of thing. But … it looked like she was getting to him.

Tera was musing: “Zara’s already lost this round.”

I caught the comment and looked at her: “What do you mean?”

Tera calmly continued to watch the show: “Look closely. It’s obvious, but Zara’s not seeing it.”

I turned my gaze back to the dance floor and I could tell Anthony was getting aroused. But, when one has one’s manhood getting rubbed like that—no, ground on it like Zara was doing—it would be hard not to.

And that was it.

Anthony really was true to his beliefs and desires. But that wasn’t the end of it; he was getting uncomfortable, too. He might like strong women, I wasn’t sure about that, but Zara was coming on too strong, and it was scaring off Anthony. He wanted a chance to leave, and was looking for the right moment to get away. The breaking point came when Zara took Anthony’s hands and placed them on her breasts, which honestly was so far over the top that I wasn’t at all surprised that he stepped back and put some space between himself and her.

He said something to her, I had no idea what, but that didn’t matter. What did was his turning away and leaving Zara alone on the dance floor. Zara didn’t look too happy as she turned to look at us with anger on her face.

“Did she really think she was going to win this easily?”

Tera sighed: “Yes. She thinks about herself, not anyone else. That’s a huge change from who she was … ages ago. She didn’t try to find herself, who she was before she was Chosen. She’s so used to just snapping her fingers and having her way. She’s lost now, worried, and that’s something she doesn’t like. I hope she’s going to learn something before it’s too late.”

I looked at Tera and she smiled at me: “Yes?”

“You picked him as you knew how difficult it was going be to win his heart.”

Picking up her drink, Tera shrugged: “Perhaps. Perhaps there’s another reason. We’ll have to see what comes next, won’t we?”

As Zara approached us, I asked: “How’d things go?”

“What a goodie two-shoes. There’s got to be a flaw in him somewhere.” Settling into her bar stool her mood changed as she commented: “If I can’t win him tonight, I doubt that you’ll be able to do so, either.”

My question was to both of them: “So … that means it’s my turn?”

Tera looked at Zara. “I believe so.”

In a huff, she grabbed her drink: “Yeah.”

Rather than going right over, I just sat back a bit and watched him. He was sitting back at his table, with his friends, being teased, I was sure, while he composed himself.

Impatiently Zara asked: “Well, what’s taking you so long to go after him?”

My smile was warm, directed at anyone that was looking: “I’m just … pondering him.”

Tera turned to Zara, about to explain something to her, when Bianca came out of nowhere, cornering Tera. Ignoring both me and Zara, she had eyes only for Tera: “You owe me a dance or seven.”

The bemused tone of the succubi Queen’s voice was more than matched by her smile: “Are you keeping a scorecard?”

To my surprise, Bianca waved a small notebook at Tera: “That’s only going to make up for the past month. Now, get off your bum and come along, you evil woman you.”

Tera laughed as Bianca pulled her off the barstool, then called out in a really over the top way: “Help! Oh help! Someone save me!”

Zara and I looked at each other.

As if.

As Bianca and Tera danced my eyes returned to Anthony. I continued to watch him, and something interesting started to happen. From time to time, in spite of his friends talking to him, his eyes darted over to me. I also kept my eyes wandering over the dance floor, not holding my sight on him.

Bianca and Tera were having a good time, Bianca nestled against Tera’s body, she whispering to Bianca as they danced. Another sweep of the dance floor found Jazmine dancing with a guy and a girl. I could tell that the girl was sporting a bite mark on her neck and I just knew that Jazmine was responsible for that. Idly, I wondered when she’d go and nibble on the guy next. “Vampires and their blood.”

Zara’s reply was a surprise: “Agreed: too messy and obvious.”

I didn’t turn away from my looking over the dancers and occasionally pausing to take a long look at Anthony.

“Zara, tell me something.”

“What?”

“Do you really hate me?”

It was a long awkward moment. Then she answered: “I don’t like that you are suddenly here and Tera’s favourite. I was hers long before you even were born.”

I closed my eyes, then asked: “Do we really need to fight? Can’t we both love Tera, be with her?”

Zara turned away: “There’s only one Voice. There’s only been one Voice.”

“Why can’t there be two of us?”

Zara’s truth spoke volumes: “I don’t like to share.”

I didn’t dwell on that as my vision returned to Anthony as the music kept the dance floor jumping. I’d smile at him each time his eyes would find mine. It wasn’t long before we were just staring at each other like we were in high school.

I thought about what I was about to do. I was going to go and make him love me and lose what he’d promised himself. My smile faltered a little and he turned away. In that moment, I made a choice. This wasn’t about the challenge, it was about him. Win or lose, I wasn’t going to force him into anything.

I was going to be me, and if I wasn’t the one for him, then so be it.

That decision made, now was the right moment to go introduce myself to him.

I had no idea what that choice would become …

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