“You have got to be fucking kidding me.”
Brady Duncan looked at himself in the mirror, open skepticism tinged with mortification in his light blue eyes.
“Oh, shut up,” his best friend, Tessa McNeil said, batting him on the back of his fair head. “You look hot.”
“I look ridiculous.”
He turned his head one way, and then the other, examining what Tessa had spent the last hour accomplishing. His nearly white blond hair was combed back from his forehead and gelled into place in a style he’d never have worn. His features were faintly pointed and sort of aristocratic, his eyes wide set and light. Of course, with the nearly white pancake and the hollows artfully created with a darker shade of powder under his high cheekbones, he also looked dead. He scowled at her reflection.
“What’s with the white face paint?” he asked, his brow furrowing.
She rolled her eyes, which was something of a trick while she was outlining them with a black kohl pencil. “You’re supposed to be my donor, dear; you need to look pale and fey and anemic.”
“Donor.” His lips, painted black, twisted to one side.
She sent him a saucy grin, which made him cringe when he saw the disturbingly realistic fangs that indented her full, blood red lower lip. “My own little traveling blood bank. I’m your Sire; a full-fledged vampyre. It’s my job to show you the ropes, as it were.” She set the pencil aside and straightened, studying her reflection. She really did look amazing. With the long, slightly wavy black wig, the leather studded bustier and the floor length black velvet skirt with modified bustle, she looked curvy and svelte and very, very sexy. Add the high topped Victorian button boots, and the small hat on her dark curls with the jet studded half veil, and she looked beautiful and slightly fanciful.
“You look incredible,” he said grudgingly, and she smiled.
“Thinking of changing teams, love?” She arched one black brow at him saucily, and he snorted.
“Hardly. You don’t have a cock.”
Her grin ripened. “More’s the pity. Think how I could pull if I did.” She shot him a wry look and picked up another makeup pencil, then turned toward him, taking his face in her hand. He grimaced when her long, blood red nails lightly skimmed his cheek.
“Just some liner, darling. You have such spectacular eyes; let’s bring them out a bit.”
He huffed, but held still as she moved the soft pencil gently around his eyes. She did the right, then the left, then leaned back and studied his face. Finally, she nodded and flipped the pencil onto the cluttered bathroom counter. God, he thought, the woman is such a slob.
He glanced at his own reflection and paused briefly to study it. He had to admit that now, while he still thought he looked dead, he looked like a corpse with very large, very blue eyes.
“All right, now for your wardrobe.” She rubbed her hands together with glee, the large rings she wore on almost every finger sparkling in the bright overhead lights, and walked out into the hotel room. He sighed and followed. Much like he’d been doing for all of their lives.
Brady wasn’t quite sure how he’d allowed himself to be talked into this. Oh, the trip had been a very easy sell, even though it was July and hot and humid as all hell. Tessa’s wealthy parents had told her that as a gift for completing her B.A., she could go anywhere she wanted, and she’d chosen New Orleans. Brady had thought that they would be spending the six days in the French Quarter drinking and partying, and while they’d done quite a bit of precisely that, this evening’s little “adventure” had come as something of an alarming surprise.
“We’re doing what?”
“We’re going to a local ‘haven’, darling! Isn’t that exciting?” Tessa’s dark eyes had been sparkling with excitement as he’d frowned at her.
“A Haven, Brady. A Vampyre gathering place! And this one is famous. I mean, everyone knows about Maison Bertrand.”
Brady had sighed inwardly.
When Tessa had first started dying her strawberry blonde hair black and wearing her odd assortment of gothic clothing, Brady hadn’t thought too much of it; they’d been friends since pre-school, and Tessa had always been theatrical and mercurial. She’d gone through phase after phase; punk, glam, prep. One had pretty much followed the other, complete with elaborate wardrobe and makeup, each discarded when she’d gotten bored with it. But when she’d hit on this “vampyre” kink, it seemed to take hold with uncharacteristic tenacity. He knew that she’d gone to some of the goth themed clubs in SoHo while they’d been at Columbia, but he’d refused to go with her. He’d met some of her new “friends” once, and they’d kind of freaked him out. It was one thing to like to dress in dark Victorian style clothing and dye your hair and affect the weird ennui they all seemed to slouch around with; it was another thing entirely to have fake caps put on your incisors and actually drink blood. When Tessa had come home from one long weekend with what looked like more than just an enthusiastic hickey on her throat, Brady had been disturbed enough to even threaten to call her mother.
After that, they hadn’t talked about it, and Tessa had seemed to modify her involvement somewhat. She’d even worn a color on occasion, and her makeup hadn’t been as dark, or as dramatic. He’d thought they’d turned the corner on this particular phase, which was why he was so irritated when it reared its ugly head during their vacation.