theatregirl7299 (theatregirl7299) wrote,

Call of the Void - Part One

Title:>Call of the Void - Part One
Author: theatregirl7299
Artist: kanarek13
Fandom: White Collar
Characters/Pairings: Neal/Peter, Neal/Jones/OFC, Neal/Jones, Elizabeth/Jones
Rating: NC-17 Word Count: 30,188 - Part One: ~7,800
Spoilers: None
Beta Credit: Beta credit goes to the lovely elrhiarhodan, miri_thompson, and embroiderama.
Warnings: Dub Con, BDSM and dark themes
Summary: Author Peter Burke can't seem to get a handle on his latest gothic horror novel--until he meets Neal Caffrey. There's something about this charming, sophisticated club owner that strikes a chord with Peter. But is Neal all that he appears to be? Or is Peter entering a world of darkness that he may not be able to come back from?

A/N – This is for the wc_reverse_bb. I have lots of thank yous. First and foremost to kanarek13 who created the most amazing art for this. I kept asking her for stuff and she delivered in spades. Her work inspired me to go in directions I didn’t consider.

To coffeethyme4me for allowing me to use one of my favorite bits of dialogue that she wrote and repurpose it for this fic. I hope I did it justice.

To elrhiarhodan who dragged me through dry spells and who (virtually) hugged me through RL issues that could have stalled this story completely.

To miri_thompson, and embroiderama both of whom offered their support and advice in terms of writing and otherwise.

The line from Pablo Neruda is from his Sonnet XVII.
The Spider and the Fly poem is by Mary Howitt.

“Elizabeth, where’s the research on Oheka Castle?” Peter Burke ran a hand through his close-cropped brown hair in frustration. “I printed it out yesterday and I can’t find it.”

He looked around his office and frowned. Papers and books were strewn across his double desk. Notepads with scribbles were tossed on the floor around his chair. Sticky notes were attached to his computer monitor. He sighed. It always got this way when he was starting a new book. His agent was amazed that he could find anything.

“That’s because you gave it to me to collate and tab.” Elizabeth Mitchell breezed into his office, binder in hand. “And you owe me five dollars.”

“What? Why do I owe you five dollars?”

“Because you bet me that you would remember giving me the research yesterday.” She sat down on the leather couch in the corner of his office. “So, five dollars please.” She grinned impudently at him.

He couldn’t help but grin back. Elizabeth was the glue that held his life together. A Friend since she became his teaching assistant at Columbia School of Journalism, she kept him organized at school and when he was on assignment as a war correspondent for the New York Times. Later on, Elizabeth stocked his fridge when he was wrapped up in his first novel, got him roaring drunk when he broke up with Daniel after seven years, and generally made herself indispensible.

It was a no-brainer to hire her as his personal assistant when his first book hit the best-seller list. That was ten years ago and it was the best decision he ever made.

“Tell you what. I’ll get you coffee and a pastry at La Belle Café instead.” Peter gestured at the chaos that was his office. “I need to get away from this disaster and think for a bit.”

“Works for me.” Elizabeth left the binder on the couch as she stood up. “And I’ll arrange your space into something usable. Again.”

“God, El, I knew there was a reason I love you!” Peter swiveled his chair around and got up, placing a kiss on Elizabeth’s cheek as he opened the closet door in his office and pulled out a camel’s hair coat.

“So, one nonfat grande latte for the lady?" he asked as shrugged into it.

"Oh hell no!"

"No?" Peter quirked an eyebrow. "I thought you were counting calories?"

“Not anymore. I've decided that's the bullshit mindfuck of American women and I won’t be party to it.”

Peter let out a laugh. After all these years, El still had the power to amaze him. "Full fat for everyone, then! I'll be back in twenty."

“Bring me back something chocolate,” he heard her call after him as he let himself out the front door.

The night was cold. Peter could see the steam of his breath as he walked the several blocks to La Belle Café. It was times like this that he was glad he worked out of his home. The brownstone was perfect – the work space on the first floor was big enough for him and Elizabeth to spread out and there was plenty of living space upstairs for him and Satchmo.

He nodded at the few neighbors he knew who were out walking their dogs and increased his pace to keep warm.

The moon cast blue shadows through the trees as he approached the café. It looked warm and inviting and he could smell the roasting coffee beans from the street. Peter knew that the gods were smiling on him when the place opened up last year. The pastries were always fresh, the coffee always hot, and they always seemed to have his table free when he needed a change of scenery to write.

He was greeted by a chorus of “Hello” and “Hi, Mr. B” as he entered the café. It wasn’t too crowded. A few patrons were sitting at tables and several waiting in line for their orders. Stepping up to the counter, Peter scanned the pastry case looking for something chocolate for Elizabeth. Spying a double chocolate chip muffin, he prepared to place his order.

“Evening, Mr. B.” Blake, the barista, greeted him with a smile. “Your usual?”

“Of course. I’ll also need a grande latte with half and half and three sugars, the double chocolate chip muffin, and throw in a cranberry orange scone.”

“Buying for Ms. Mitchell?” Blake grinned as he prepared the beverages.
“Yep, she’s off the low fat kick.” Peter pulled out his wallet, took out two twenties and handed them to the cashier. “Keep the change.” He moved over to the receiving area as Blake finished up his coffee order.

“How’s the new book going?” He watched Blake cap the latte and pour his dark roast, adding just the right amount of cream.

“Almost done.” He took the bag of pastries Blake gave him and balanced the coffee cups in each hand. “The recent one comes in next week. I’ll bring you a copy when it gets here.”

“Thanks, Mr. B!”

Turning around, he started towards the door when he was jostled by a young man texting on his cell phone. His dark roast flew out of his hand and spilled down the front of one of the customers waiting in line.

“Oh shit! I’m so sorry!” Peter quickly grabbed napkins from the counter and dabbed at the man’s shirt. “God, I hope it didn’t burn you.” He peered at the damage.

He heard a low chuckle as the man stopped his movements with his hand.

“I’m fine.” The voice was low and throaty and promised dark things.

Peter looked up into the face of the most beautiful man he had ever seen. Sculpted cheekbones, blinding grin, and eyes so blue they didn’t look real.

Peter wanted to write him.

“You sure?” Peter stammered, then mentally kicked himself. He never stammered. Until now.

“Positive. No burns.” The man’s smile got wider. “I’m fine.”

“But your shirt. It’s ruined.” Peter looked back at the man’s clothes in dismay. He recognized the shirt as a Thomas Pink only because Elizabeth insisted on buying them for him.

“It’s fine,” the man repeated.

“Look, at least let me pay for the dry cleaning.” Peter put Elizabeth’s latte on the counter and fumbled through his coat pockets, looking for one of his business cards.

“There’s no need. It was an accident.” The man’s tone was amused.

“I insist.” Peter had no clue why it was so important that he make amends to this man. But it was.

“I’ll tell you what. How about you have dinner with me and we’ll call it even.”

“Dinner?” Peter was floored. This gorgeous man wanted to have dinner with him even after he ruined a three hundred and fifty dollar shirt?

“Yes, dinner.” The man held out a business card. Peter took it, their hands touching briefly. Looking down at the card, Peter’ breath caught.

It was exquisite. A deep sapphire blue with l’appel Du Vide embossed in silver. Turning it over, he saw the man’s name and a phone number.

Neal Caffrey.

The name sent chills down Peter’s spine. He looked up to see Caffrey’s patient expression. He was still, like a predator was still, waiting to see what his prey would do.

It’s just dinner, Peter.

The words teased themselves into his brain. Peter shook his head slightly. Did he really hear that or was it just his subconscious rationalizing a meal with a stranger? A beautiful, mysterious stranger.

Take the plunge, Burke, he thought. What could it hurt? “Okay…okay. I can do dinner.”

“Excellent.” The man’s – Neal’s – smile grew wider. “Call me in the next few days and we can compare schedules.” He took the card from Peter’s fingers and tucked it into the front pocket of Peter’s jeans. The slight pressure of his hand against Peter’s thigh felt like a flame.

Neal motioned to the counter behind him. “I think Blake remade your dark roast.” Sure enough, a fresh cup was right next to Elizabeth’s latte. Peter picked them up and turned back to Neal.

“You should get those back before they get cold.” Neal stepped to the door and held it open. “I look forward to your call. I have a feeling we are going to enjoy ourselves.”

Somehow Peter found himself out on the sidewalk, coffees in hand. Shaking his head, he glanced at the café to see Neal observing him, a small smile on his face.

Blushing, he began quickly walking towards his house, replaying the events in his mind. He’d never been the type to be asked out. Not by someone who looked as stunning as Neal Caffrey. Elizabeth always insisted that he was handsome and that any guy would be thrilled to go out with him, but Peter knew better. He was a book-writing geek. And he was happy about that.

He was so buried in his thoughts that he almost tripped over the black cat that darted out of a doorway. Hissing, it swiped at Peter’s ankles, its yellow eyes flashing, before it disappeared around the corner.

Half a block and he was back home, fumbling for his keys before he gave up and rang the bell. Elizabeth let him in, taking her latte from his hand.

“What took you so long?” She sipped her drink as she followed him into his office.

Peter put his coffee and the pastry bag on the now pristine desk and shrugged off his coat. “I kind of ran into someone,” he said, hanging up the garment.

“Kind of?” Elizabeth perched on the desk and opened the bag. Making happy noises, she pulled out the muffin. “What do you mean by that?”

Peter sat down and motioned for the bag. “Literally. I ran into someone and spilled my coffee on them.” He caught the bag she tossed at him and took out the scone.

“Oh, Peter!”

“Yeah. Funny thing, though. When I offered to pay for his dry cleaning he asked me out.” He broke off a portion of the scone, popped it into his mouth and took a drink of his coffee.

“He what?” Elizabeth squeaked and bounced off the desk. “You have a date?”

Peter chuckled. “I guess I do.”

“Well what’s he like?” Elizabeth plopped herself down on his lap. “I want all the details.”

Peter laughed. “Nosey.”

“Of course. Now dish.” She settled herself more comfortably on his lap.

“He’s…” Peter trailed off, his mind sorting through his impressions of Caffrey as he absentmindedly stroked her hair. Gorgeous, sexy, dangerous. “…surreal,” was what came out of his mouth.

“That’s an interesting description. Not quite what I had expected.”

“It was weird, El. Most people would be upset that I ruined their shirt. He asked me out to dinner.”

“That’s actually incredibly sexy, Peter.” Elizabeth reached for her latte. “And don’t think I’m sidetracked. I still want to know what he looks like.” She smirked at him. “Yes, I’m shallow that way.”

“Actually, he’s got your coloring. So much so that you two could be brother and sister.” Peter remembered the smile Neal had shared with him at the café. “He’s stunning, El.”

Elizabeth laughed. “See! I always knew you had the hots for me – I just had the wrong equipment!”

“You know I like smart, leggy brunettes.” Peter smiled at her. This was a game they’d played for years and it never got old.

“What’s his name?” she asked, taking another sip of her coffee.

“Neal Caffrey. Oh, and he gave me his card.” Peter shifted her slightly on his lap so he could dig the card out of his pocket. “Here.” He handed it to her.

“Wait, he gave you this?” Elizabeth twisted so she could look at Peter.

“Yeah, why?” Peter was confused at the intensity of her reaction to Neal’s business card.

“This is a card for l’appel Du Vide, Peter!” Elizabeth’s eyes were wide with what looked like shock. And something else.

“So?” Peter had never heard of it. He’d assumed it was some kind of club or bar. Since he wasn’t a big partier, it really didn’t register as something special.

“So? l’appel Du Vide is one of the most exclusive clubs in New York. It caters to a…specific kind of clientele.” Elizabeth’s tone caught Peter’s attention.

“What kind of clientele, El?” He was surprised to see a blush creep across Elizabeth’s face. “El?” he pressed.

His assistant bit her lip and her blush deepened. Peter’s imagination ran wild and El’s next words confirmed every dirty thought. “The kind that like to explore their darker natures.”

“You mean - ” Peter dropped his voice and whispered. “Whips? Chains? Leather?” He ducked and chuckled as she swatted him lightly.

“There’s nothing wrong with expanding your horizons,” she huffed. “’You should try it.”

“Not my thing. But it seems it might be yours?” He raised an eyebrow.

“That would be none of your business,” she said in mock outrage.

“Elizabeth Mitchell, I never knew you were so kinky.” He tickled her just to be annoying.

“Stop it!” She wriggled away from him and sat back on the desk. “There’s a lot you don’t know about me, Peter Burke!”

“Obviously. Guess I’ll have to rethink your birthday present.” He grinned as she stuck her tongue out at him. “Seriously though, there are several BDSM clubs in town. What’s so special about this one?”

“It popped up out of nowhere about a year ago. Somehow the owner managed to work around the zoning ordinances and open it in a residential area.” Elizabeth’s eyes sparkled like sapphires as she leaned in to share her information. “The neighbors were upset at first, but then, just like that, all the opposition stopped.” She snapped her fingers.

Peter’s investigative instincts kicked in. There was no way that the zoning laws could be bypassed without a lot of influence. And money.

“What else?” Mentally he began his checklist of contacts to nudge for information.

“My friend Cheryl at the Mayor’s office told me that the liquor license was granted within a week.” Elizabeth finished her muffin and licked the crumbs slowly from her fingers. Peter had to look away – even though they didn’t play for the same team, the sight of Elizabeth Mitchell sucking on anything was enough to set any man’s blood thrumming. Especially now that he knew she had a less than innocent side.

“El -,” he warned, knowing full well she was doing it on purpose.

“What?” She widened her eyes, then fell into a small laugh. “Sorry.”

“No you’re not.” Peter crumpled up the pastry bag and tossed it into the trashcan. “So what else do you know?”

“I know that you’re not going to get anything from your sources this time, Peter.” Elizabeth collected their coffee cups and dropped them in the can next to the bag. “It’s like the place has protection or something. No one has filed a complaint and no one will talk about it if they’re asked.”

“Hmmm…wonder if the club has a web site.” He turned to the computer and Googled ‘l’appel Du Vide’. More than 860,000 results popped up. Peter clicked on one and read the entry.

“Interesting definition.” He turned the monitor so she could see it. The cursor rested at the beginning of the definition, the blue line blinking steadily.

l’appel du vide French - Translates literally as “call of the void”. The urge some people get to jump from high places when they encounter them, for example when close to the edge of cliffs.

l’appel du Vide is a French word that defines a psychological phenomenon in which secret desires, subconscious yearnings, and impulses of the flesh pierce through the wall that is held up by a social understanding of what is logical and what is acceptable.

“Perfect name for the club.” Elizabeth took over the mouse and clicked back to the search page. “Let’s see if we can find their web page.”

About halfway down the screen they found
A few clicks and they were on the entrance page of the club.

There was a single line of text on the page – “l’appel Du Vide – Give In.” Below it was an ‘enter’ button.

Elizabeth grinned at him. “Ready to jump off the cliff?” she teased.

“Metaphorically speaking?” Peter’s voice was dry.

“Oh, of course.” She giggled as he made a face at her tone.

“Why not?” He waved his hand. “Let’s see what this place has to offer.”

She clicked the button and they were sent to the home page.

The website was very tasteful and gave absolutely no indication of the type of club it was. Designed in the same colors as the card that Neal had given Peter, the fine dining, music and wine selections were highlighted but nothing else. They saw photos of what looked like a lounge and piano bar, an intimate dining area and an impressive wine cellar. But nothing about the true nature of the club.

“Very discrete.” Despite himself, Peter was impressed. And errant thought crossed his mind that he would have been disappointed if it were more open. He saw a tiny jewel button in the lower right hand side of the screen.

“See where that goes.” He pointed to the button and Elizabeth clicked on it.

Text appeared on the screen.

Welcome to l’appel Du Vide.

We are an invitation-only venue catering to like-minded individuals who want to share their passions – for food, for spirits, for music, for life. Our hours vary based on our members’ needs, wants and desires.

Thank you for stopping by – maybe we’ll see you soon.


NC, owner.

“So I guess the only way to get in is by invitation.” Peter closed out the tabs and pushed away from the desk in thought. “Have to admit, though, it’s nice and subtle. The owner definitely knows how to keep it low key.”

“The owner? Wait. NC…” Elizabeth reached over the desk and picked up Neal’s business card. “Peter, look. NC. It’s got to stand for Neal Caffrey. He’s the owner!” She wriggled in excitement on the desk. “Oh you HAVE to go out with him now!”

“Why, so he can lure me into a life of debauchery?” Peter scoffed.

“Well, someone needs to!” Elizabeth hopped off the desk and took his face in her hands. “You have been entirely too wrapped up in writing and researching lately. You need to get out and live a bit.”

She kissed him quickly on his forehead. “And with that, I’m leaving. It’s late and we both need sleep.” She let go of Peter’s face and walked to the closet. Pulling her coat from its hanger, she turned back to him. “Call him.”

“I’ll think about it.” Peter watched her put on her coat and wrap her scarf around her neck.

She picked up her purse and sailed out of the office, tossing out, “Call him, Peter, or I’ll do it for you!”

“Yes, mother!” he shouted after her as he heard the door shut.

Sighing, Peter stood up and began closing the house down for the night. He fed Satchmo and checked his water bowl, then turned off the lights before heading upstairs.

Preparing for bed, he considered Elizabeth’s words. It HAD been a while since he’d been out with anyone who wasn’t his agent, his editor or wasn’t somehow related to his writing. Maybe it was time.

He took off his t-shirt and stepped out of his jeans. Clad in his black boxer briefs, he stopped to look at himself in the mirror. Twisting around, he checked out his chest, his legs, and snuck a quick look at his ass. Not bad for his age, he mused. Could use a bit more time in the exercise room in the basement. Peter flexed his biceps, then chuckled. He was definitely assuming.

Neal Caffrey was so far out of his league it wasn’t even funny. If he DID have dinner with Neal, that was all it probably was going to be. He shouldn’t get his hopes up.

Walking over to the dresser, Peter found a pair of cotton sleep pants and a ‘Writers Do It ‘Til Their Hands Cramp’ t-shirt that Elizabeth bought him for his birthday last year. Sliding out of his underwear, he dressed and climbed into bed.

Peter punched his pillows as he tried to find a comfortable position. It felt like hours before he closed his eyes, falling into an uneasy sleep, his thoughts full of black cats and blue-eyed handsome men.

The black cat made its way through the quiet neighborhoods, slinking past dark houses, avoiding pedestrians and the occasional stray dog. If anyone had looked closely, they would say that the feline was intent on a destination.

Scurrying down the stairs to the subway, it wound its way around the legs of the waiting commuters until it was at the edge of the platform. Its ears swiveled as the announcement for the Q to Times Square crackled through the speakers.

As the train pulled up and the doors opened, the cat moved like a shadow through the entrance and huddled under the seats, away from a shifting heel and errant briefcase. Settling in, it blinked sleepy eyes as the train pulled away from the station.

A dozen stops and ninety minutes later, the cat let the flow of passengers carry it out of the train and up the steps that led to the more genteel area of the city. It trotted down the sidewalk towards the gates of the enormous mansion on the corner. Slithering through the iron gate, it made its way to the back of the building and pushed its way through the cat door into the kitchen.

The efficient bustle of the room allowed for anonymity as the cat followed one of the servers out into the main area.

Sapphire blue and silver grey highlighted the décor throughout the interior. Overstuffed couches and solid wood tables were placed strategically to provide the flow of conversation without forcing interaction.

The rooms were occupied, but not overtly so. Small groups and pairs were sitting throughout the spaces, enjoying the food and conversation. Others were listening to the bluesy melody of the piano as they sipped whatever concoctions the bartender had created for them.

The cat ignored them as it ran up the grand staircase. Pausing on the upper floors, its ears twitched again, as though it was listening for a specific sound. Muted moans and faint slaps of leather against flesh filtered through the air. In a definite attitude of dismissal, the feline padded up the final staircase to the single door at the end of the hall.

Nudging the door open with its head, the feline entered the apartment. Chirruping in a questioning tone, it looked around the room.

“Out here, Moz.” A voice drifted through the open balcony doors. “Your clothes are on the bed.”

Meowing in acknowledgement, the cat padded over to the queen bed in the alcove, limbs elongating and stretching until the figure became a short, balding naked man.

Quickly dressing in loose pants and an overshirt, he took his glasses from the nightstand, polishing them before he put them on.

“You better have some of that 2009 Ausone left.” Mozzie headed to the wine rack. “I narrowly avoided getting bit by a rabid poodle, not to mention the fact that some drunk on the subway almost threw up on me.” He sighed in satisfaction when he found the Ausone. Uncorking it, he poured a glass and took a long sip. Rolling it around his tongue, he let the taste invade his mouth before swallowing.

“Poor baby.” The voice was amused.

“Are you coming inside, Neal? Just because you don’t feel the cold doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t.” Mozzie leaned against the counter and waited for Neal to come in from the outside.

“You know the cold doesn’t bother you.” Neal strolled through the doors, artfully disheveled in a slate blue silk shirt and grey linen pants.

“When I have fur. But when I’m me,” Mozzie gestured to his bald head. “It gets frigid on occasion.” He watched his friend top off his glass with the Malbec that was on the table.

“Well, I appreciate your help.” Neal took a sip. “So what did you learn?”

“I learned that I’m tired of following your potential conquests.” Neal gave him a look. “Okay, he lives about four blocks away from the café. A really nice Brownstone.”

Mozzie sat at the table and opened up the laptop that was sitting there. Typing in a few codes and the house number he’d seen, he called up information on Neal’s new obsession.

“His name is Peter Burke.” Mozzie paused. “That name rings a bell…” He trailed off as he searched his memory for where he’d heard that name before. “Oh, and I think he has a wife. A woman opened the door for him.” Mozzie turned the laptop around so Neal could see what he had found.

Mozzie watched Neal study the page. “When has that ever been an issue?” he heard his friend murmur as he scrolled through the data. “He’s a writer. A fairly popular one by the looks of things.”

“Wait, he’s THAT Peter Burke?” Mozzie leaned forward to see the screen. “I’ve read his stuff. Gothic-style horror. He’s fantastic.”

He sat back and regarded Neal. “You may want to take a pass on this one, Neal. Peter Burke going to be difficult to make disappear when the time comes.”

Neal looked up at him with a wicked smile. “All the more challenging.”

Mozzie sighed. He knew it wouldn’t matter what he said. Peter Burke was on Neal’s radar and there was nothing Mozzie could do once that happened. Except handle damage control and hide the bodies, if necessary.

Mozzie studied Neal as he scrolled through the information on the laptop. Ethereally beautiful, the light from the screen made his eyes glow like deep lapis lazuli, and highlighted his thick sable hair with glints of silver.

If Burke was in any way attracted to men, Mozzie thought, there was no way he would be able to put up a defense against Neal’s charms. If he wasn’t, it would only take a bit longer and some of Neal’s special skills to make him succumb. Either way…

Mozzie needed to pace. For some reason, the thought of Neal seducing and discarding Peter Burke didn’t set well with him. He grabbed his wine and crossed the room.

His eye was caught by the familiar portrait on the easel. It was an image of Neal – but not the current Neal. This Neal was standing in front of a backdrop that looked like a garden with Greek ruins, a Spaniel at his feet. His hair was shorter and styled with some sort of oil. A moustache and goatee graced his face.

He was dressed in a suit that would have been the envy of Beau Brummel. Wearing a pinstriped morning coat with a deep blue vest and grey trousers, his eyes flashing, he was breathtaking.

But something was off.

Mozzie moved closer and squinted at the painting. He realized that Neal’s hair was greying at the temples and his laugh lines were more pronounced. The colors also were fading, like the side of a barn too long in the sun.

“Neal, when’s the last time you did a touch up?” He brushed his fingers along the background and watched the paint flake away.

“Mmmm…don’t remember.” Neal’s attention was still on the computer. “A month or so ago, maybe?”

“You’re crumbling.” Mozzie held his fingers out so Neal could see the cracked pigments on his hand.

“Damn.” Neal quickly rose from the table and joined Mozzie at the portrait. Picking up the knife that was laying in the brush tray, he sliced his thumb.

Mozzie winced as drops of blood fell from the cut into a white ceramic dish. Neal picked up a brush and swirled it in the droplets.

He watched Neal touch the brush to the painting in the Cardinal positions – North, South, East, West – in an almost reverent gesture of genuflection.

The blood shimmered for a moment, then disappeared, along with the grey in Neal’s hair and lines on his face. The colors exploded across the canvas – striking greens in the foliage, deep browns of the dog’s fur, the cerulean blue of Neal’s eyes.

“Neal, you can’t let the portrait go like that.” Mozzie knew he sounded disapproving but Neal needed reminding. “It’s part of the agreement.”

“I know, I know.” Neal sucked on the pad of his thumb for a moment, then removed it to expose perfectly unmarked skin. “It’s just sometimes it gets away from me.”

“It can’t.” Mozzie scowled at him. “It’s too important.” He walked back to the table to refill his glass. “And when was the last time you fed?”


“And it’s what…Thursday now?” Neal had the decency to look shamefaced at the glare Mozzie gave him. “Neal.”

“Okay. Tonight. I promise.”

“Good. I’m going home. And I’m using the outside stairs. I don’t want to listen to all that on my way out.” Mozzie waved his hand, indicating the activities in the rooms below him.

He found his coat on the arm of the couch and put it on. Heading to the balcony doors, he turned and regarded Neal. His friend was staring at the portrait, eyes unfocused.

“Neal.” Mozzie waited until he had Neal’s attention. “About Peter Burke - is there any way I can convince you to find someone else?”

Neal looked at him, his eyes becoming shadowed. “No, Moz, you can’t. I’m sorry.” Neal turned away, the conversation obviously over.

Mozzie sighed and slipped into the night, leaving his friend to his own thoughts.

Neal felt Mozzie’s disapproval hanging in the air even though his friend had left almost an hour before. He wasn’t sure which annoyed the little man most – Neal’s absentmindedness about touching up the portrait, the fact that he hadn’t fed for three days or his fascination with Peter Burke.

Finishing his wine, he walked over to the kitchenette and placed his glass in the sink. He needed to go downstairs. Now that Mozzie had brought his attention to it, Neal could sense his hunger gnawing inside him. He definitely was walking a fine edge. A day or two more and he would be hurting and dangerous to those around him.

Neal didn’t want to think about that. It had only happened once – when he was still discovering who he was – and he swore it would never happen again. They’d given him a reprieve that time, but that was the only one. Sighing, he left his apartment and moved gracefully down the stairs, his bare feet making no sound on the thick runner.

The light in the hallway was muted, blue-shaded table lamps spotlighting areas on the cobalt and silver Aubusson carpeting. The heavy oak doors were closed, muffling the sounds of the participants within.

Neal walked slowly past the entrances, his senses searching for the right bouquet. None seemed to be acceptable. Too much alcohol in one, not enough iron in another. A terminal illness in a third.

He was set to go down to the second floor when a whisper of nutmeg teased his nostrils. It was coming from one of the rooms at the end of the hall. Perfect. Walking quickly to the door, he silently turned the knob and slipped into the room.

The smell of nutmeg was stronger here, underlying the aroma of sex that pervaded the air. The occupants on the bed were entwined, slick skin rubbing against each other as they fucked. He was dark, she was pale – they looked like delicious sin and Neal wanted a taste. His attention was captured by the flexing of the man’s ass as he rutted between the woman’s thighs.

Neal knew that body, that dark skin. Neal had licked, sucked and fucked it many times and had been at the mercy of that cock on more than one occasion. Clinton Jones was a master – master vampire, master Dom and the best of Neal’s employees.

Neal moved out of the shadows so the man could see him. Jones acknowledged Neal’s presence with a dirty grin as he tweaked the nipple of the woman writhing under him.

Eyes glittering, Neal watched Jones rise up on his knees and thrust rapidly into the woman’s pussy as he played with her clit. She moaned as he pumped into her, begging him to fuck her harder. Jones laughed and caught Neal’s hungry gaze.

“What do you think, Neal? Should I give her what she wants?”

The woman’s eyes flew open. Gasping, she tried to struggle away, only to be held down gently but firmly by Jones’ hand. “Relax, sweetheart, it’s just the boss. If you’re lucky he might even join us.” She mewled as he caressed her breast, tugging on her nipple again.

“She’s incredible, Neal. You really need to taste her.” Jones chuckled, slowing his pace to make her beg harder.

Neal approached the bed, running his fingers lightly across the taut muscles of Jones’ back as he got closer. He felt Jones shudder under his touch and heard him curse softly.

“Damn, Caffrey.” The whispered words were swallowed as Neal leaned in and took Jones’ mouth with his own. Keeping the other man’s lips prisoner, Neal wrapped his arm around Jones, caressing his hips until he touched Jones’ erection, feeling it glide in and out of the woman’s pussy, their juices mingled.

He heard Jones’ groan as Neal squeezed the base of his cock, stroking it in time with his thrusts. It was a heady feeling and Neal could feel his own dick starting to stir.

Jones tore his mouth away and licked a long stripe up Neal’s jaw. “Gonna fuck you later,” he growled in Neal’s ear. “But you gotta let her suck you when you feed. Trust me, it’s worth it.”

Neal could feel Jones’ fangs drop down slightly and graze his jugular. He shivered, his erection swelling at Jones’ words. He let go of Jones’ dick and brought his hand to his mouth, licking the two of them off his fingers. The taste was spicy, dark and decadent. Neal knew he had to have it.

Bringing his hand back down, he pinched the woman’s clit, making her squeal.

Jones chuckled again. “What do you think, sweetheart?” Neal saw him snap his hips and a groan escaped him as he remembered the last time Jones fucked him and used that move. “You gonna show the boss what a good little cocksucker you are?”

She nodded her head frantically, unconsciously licking her lips as Neal moved to the head of the bed. “Please,” she whispered, bucking her hips, eyes wide.

“Please, what?” Neal’s voice was dark, waiting to see how far she would beg to get his cock in her mouth.

“Wanna suck you…oh God please.” Her back arched and her hands gripped the sheets as Jones leaned down and bit a nipple.

“How bad do you want it?” Neal was playing with her, getting her riled up even further. Everything tasted better when that happened.

“Bad…please…want your dick in my mouth…” She sobbed as she spoke the words. Neal could tell that Jones had her right on the edge. Any more teasing would end things prematurely; not at all what Neal wanted.

“Take me out.” The coldness in Neal’s voice had her quickly unzipping him and freeing his cock from the silk and linen. He was hard in her hand, the head of his dick swollen and beginning to leak droplets of pre-come.

She moaned at the sight of him and stroked Neal from base to tip, bringing him closer to where she could reach him.

He pressed in towards her mouth, his thighs catching the edge of the bed, at the perfect level for her to simply turn her head and let him slide in between her lips.

Warm and wet engulfed him and he couldn’t help a small whimper at how good it felt. Knees weak, he put a hand on the headboard to steady himself.

She sucked him, her tongue wrapping around his shaft as he thrust his cock languidly into her mouth. Neal closed his eyes and reveled in his spiraling arousal and hunger. He lost track of time, giving in to the sensations of her teeth grazing him, her hands caressing his balls, the hitch in her movements when Jones rubbed her clit.

The smell of nutmeg was stronger now and it spurred him to move his hips faster. She stroked his length as he fucked past her lips, wanting to shove himself deeper until he could feel her face pressed against his thighs.

“God, Caffrey, you look like a fucking porn star.” Jones’ voice startled Neal. He was so wrapped up in the sensations of want and hungry and now that he’d almost forgotten Jones was there. Almost.

Neal opened his eyes to see his friend looking at him with lust heavy eyes. “You close?”

“Yeah.” Neal nodded, feeling the exquisite drawing up of his balls as he barreled toward completion. Moaning, he grabbed her hair, holding her head still so he could shove his cock deeper into her throat. Her hands fluttered at the confinement, one reaching up and grabbing the front of his silk shirt.

Capturing her hand, he bent his head, licking across her wrist as his fangs dropped into position.

“Make her come, Jones.” His voice was guttural.

Moments later, Neal felt the woman clamp her lips down on his cock as she orgasmed. Plunging his fangs into her wrist, the taste of nutmeg exploded across his senses. She tasted delicious – warm, and spicy and alive. He drank deeply.

The woman moaned and Neal caught her staring at him. Her deep brown eyes were locked on his as he continued to thrust into her mouth.

His mind flashed to the last time he’d seen brown eyes.

At the cafe. Peter’s eyes.

An image flooded his vision - Peter on his knees, Neal’s cock in his mouth. Trembling, submissive. His.

Neal exploded, shooting ropes of semen down her throat, the excess dribbling from the sides of her mouth. Dimly, he heard Jones come with a shout.

Spent, he withdrew his fangs from her wrist, licking the spots to seal up the wounds and let her hand fall to the bed. His cock, limp and glistening, slipped from her lips.

The woman’s eyes were glassy, closing as she lost consciousness. Breathing deeply, Neal tucked himself away. Jones was splayed partially across her body, sides heaving. Neal watched as he shifted off of her to sit up on the edge of the bed.

“You okay?” Jones asked, grinning at Neal’s nod. “Told you she was good.”

“Yeah.” Neal inclined his head towards the bed. “Make sure she doesn’t remember anything. We want her to come back.”

“You know I always do.” Jones stood, grabbed a towel from the dresser and began wiping himself down. Neal watched, appreciating the view, before heading towards the door.

“Wait.” Jones captured his wrist. “You missed a spot.” Neal felt Jones’ thumb brush the corner of his jaw as he pulled Neal in for a kiss, swiping his tongue on the side of Neal’s mouth.

Neal chuckled against his lips, feeling his cock stir at the sound of Jones’ hum.

“Later.” Neal pulled away regretfully, slipping out of the room into the hallway. He knew Jones would take care of rearranging the woman’s mind to give her pleasant memories of the three of them.

His thoughts drifted to Peter and the thrilling fantasy that made him come so hard this evening. He wondered what Peter would taste like, what sounds he would make when Neal fucked him. And he would fuck him.

Neal walked slowly back to his apartment, his mind full of plans for the seduction and mastery of one Peter Burke.

Peter woke with a gasp, hand on his cock and semen smeared all over his stomach.

What the hell? He tried to get up, but realized his legs were tangled up in the bedclothes. Wiping his hand on his shirt, Peter unraveled himself from the sheets and sat up on the edge of the bed.

His thoughts were in a whirl. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d come in his sleep. Sure, he’d woken up with the typical morning wood, but to actually unconsciously orgasm – it had been a while.

Peter grimaced at the stickiness on his shirt and sleep pants. Standing up, he quickly stripped and made his way to the bathroom, tossing the clothes into the hamper on his way.

Turning on the shower, he let the water warm as he tried to make sense of the dream that had gotten him so aroused.

Stepping under the spray, Peter’s poured soap onto a washcloth and began cleaning his body. His thoughts whirled with images of cats morphing into people, blood drops spattered against white porcelain, shadowy rooms decorated in blue and silver…

…and Neal.

Peter’s dick stirred as the scene flooded his mind.

Neal watching as the couple on the bed fucked with abandon…

The two men kissing, Neal stroking the other man as he pushed into his partner…

Peter’s hand slid down to his now rock hard cock, mimicking the rhythm of Neal’s fingers. Panting, he jacked himself as he imagined Neal’s hand wrapped around him, squeezing Peter the same way that Neal was touching the other man.

Neal’s eyes glittering as he ordered the woman to unzip him…

Neal’s head thrown back as she wrapped her mouth around his dick…

Peter wanted to feel Neal’s hardness on his tongue, wanted to be the one to suck him down. It had been too long since he had been with another person.

He braced himself against the tiled walls as he stroked himself harder, imagining what Neal would taste like, how hard he would come with Peter kneeling between his feet, his lips sliding up and down Neal’s shaft.

Peter could feel his orgasm barreling towards him.

“Oh, God…” His moans echoed off the tiles, amplifying his want.

Neal’s fangs sliding into the woman’s wrist…

Wait, what? His mind froze on that image, but his body had other ideas.

Peter came with a shout, splashing hot stripes across his chest, hand, stomach. He collapsed weakly against the wall, the picture of Neal feeding from the woman’s arm stark in his brain.

As he regained his equilibrium, Peter tried to rationalize that last image. The picture of Neal’s fangs slipping gracefully into her vein, his lips kissing her wrist. The look of utter bliss on his face.

The fact that Peter came harder than he had in a long time with that specific thought in his head.

The only thing he could come up with was that his need to get laid, his interest in Neal and his work were getting jumbled up in his subconscious.

Or not… A niggling voice crept in, chiseling cracks in his certainty.

The water started to cool before Peter left the shower.

He toweled himself off and pulled on jeans and a heather grey Henley. His thoughts kept drifting back to the vision of Neal. It unsettled him.

Sighing, he headed downstairs to his office to start the day.

Part Two

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