Three months ago.
Simca stretched out lazily on Maximus’ gigantic bed and proceeded to meticulously bathe herself with her sandpaper tongue until her fur glistened a bluish black in the darkened room.
Given the city lights that flashed from the nightscape outside through the floor-to-ceiling window beside the bed, Simca saw everything with crystal clarity through her predatory feline eyes. In fact, she’d see even more clearly if the room was submerged in total darkness.
The shower turned off in the en suite bathroom, making Simca pause in her ablutions and raise her head with alertness.
A few seconds later, Maximus emerged through the open doorway, in the process of toweling off his hair, the rest of his freshly washed body still damp from the shower but drying quickly under the blast of the central AC and the heat of his skin.
Simca tilted her head slightly. His internal temperature seemed hotter than usual. Something was bothering her warrior.
He forgot his toweling for a moment and simply stood there fuming, his face a grim mask, his brows slammed down over his eyes, his mouth a tight line.
Simca casually flicked the vampire male’s naked body from head to toe with her keen, golden-green eyes.
So ugly, these bipedal creatures.
Hairless in places they should have hair, and hairy in places that didn’t make sense. Why didn’t their creators spread their fur more proportionately over their body instead of clustering it on their heads, under their arms and between their legs? What was the point of that?
Surely, this was why humanoids wore clothing—to cover their ugly naked flesh and ridiculous patches of hair. That, and to protect their fragile hides from the elements.
Simca had seen a naked mole-rat once in East Africa, when she’d traveled there on one of her many journeys across many centuries with her warrior. It was the ugliest thing she’d ever seen, all pink and wrinkled and alien looking. Humanoids weren’t a whole lot more pleasing to the eye in Simca’s view.
But her warrior was different. He was slightly less ugly than most.
She appreciated his prowess in battle, the power and strength coiled in his long, lean limbs. There was not an ounce of softness in him, his muscles and sinews sharply defined under the thin layer of his skin. Veins raised visibly on his rock hard biceps, his steely forearms, meandering like tree roots over the backs of his large, long-fingered hands.
She liked his hands. They gave her the most heavenly pleasures when he stroked them through her fur and smoothed them over her face.
She’d seen him kill with them countless times. They were as effective at subduing prey as her claws.
But they were always gentle with her. He knew just where to touch and tickle her to make her purr like a helpless kitten.
Simca licked her chops with a hint of greediness.
She was a carnivore. She was a predator. The sight of veins and succulent flesh always fired up her animal instincts, her bloodthirst and hunger.
She’d had seven pounds of raw ribeye steaks for a light supper, but the sight of her warrior made her hungry again.
It was strange, because she’d never wanted to take a bite out of any of the other humanoids she’d come across, other than to eliminate targets. But she’d always been tempted to sink her teeth into Maximus, naked mole-rat notwithstanding.
So caught up in her bemusement, Simca didn’t notice when Maximus threw his towel viciously across the room, the dampness from his hair adding weight to the material to increase its velocity as it landed with a smack on her face.
She yowled in surprise and swatted the towel off with a massive paw, then looked peevishly at her warrior and narrowed her eyes.
Not cool, vampire.
“Sorry,” Maximus bit out reflexively. “I wasn’t aiming at you.”
Hands on hips, he continued to fume, his massive chest heaving with pent-up frustration, his mind obviously churning through who knew what.
Humanoids were so complicated, Simca thought.
Their gigantic brains came up with all sorts of things—they built things, cooked things, invented things, wrote things. They plotted and schemed and struggled for supremacy.
She didn’t understand most of it. She didn’t want to. In her opinion, they made life more difficult with their complications and intrigues.
Now she, on the other hand, liked to keep things simple:
Eat. Sleep. Pee. Shit. Hunt. Run. Play. Rut.
That’s all it took to be happy. What more could anyone ask for?
Well, with the exception of that last bit.
She hadn’t had a good rutting since Dark Goddess knew how long ago. It wasn’t as if her Kind ran around the streets of New York City in droves.
That didn’t stop her from having her feline cycles, however. Which was extremely strange, because panthers were induced ovulators. If there wasn’t a viable male in the vicinity, she shouldn’t be able to go into heat.
Unfortunately for Simca, she was regularly in heat, as if a viable feline male was always in her vicinity.
Well, where the hell was he?!
When the desperate need to scratch her itch was particularly bad, she’d escape the Cove, the base of the New England vampire hive, to race to the Bronx zoo.
But the caged beasts there held no appeal for her. They were tamed, pitiful creatures. The males, even the larger cats like the tigers and lions, cowered in her presence.
For she was a real predator. She was danger and death incarnate.
No rutting then.
If she’d allowed any of those weakling males to mount her, she’d probably end up killing them with a bite to the throat or a vicious swipe of her paw for their fumbling attempts.
She focused her attention back on the one and only male she cared about.
Whatever was bothering him was radiating from his heated skin in waves of anger and frustration. Exhaustion too. He was using his brain too much. He needed to relax and focus on the more tangible things in life. The physical things.
The simple things.
Simca attempted to distract him from his black mood by rolling playfully onto her back, upside down on his bed so that her head dangled off the foot of the massive platform as she blinked at him with her adoring golden-green eyes.
Don’t be mad, my warrior, she silently communicated. Come play with me instead. I could use a good scrubbing on my belly.
She wiggled back and forth to make her point.
Reluctantly, a corner of Maximus’s mouth quirked, and he strode over to do her bidding, sitting beside her on the bed and stroking his fingers into the wiry softness of her fur.
She luxuriated in his touch and purred loudly for a good long while before attempting to catch his hand and arm with her paws in a mock skirmish.
He chuckled softly and wrestled with her, man and beast in perfect harmony.
At last he lay flat on his back with his hands stacked behind his head, the tension and stress that had overloaded him earlier chased away by her playfulness, as she’d intended.
Simca lay mostly on his torso, as she was wont to do, her paws on his chest, her tail flicking and curling happily to and fro.
There were many aspects, besides his muscles and veins and hands, that she appreciated about her warrior.
She loved his body heat.
A vampire’s body heat was higher than that of humans, which was in turn slightly higher than that of Pure Ones. A feline predator’s body heat was still a bit higher than that of vampires.
But Maximus’ big body radiated enough heat to rival a seven hundred pound Siberian tiger. It took less than ten seconds for his skin to dry the droplets of water from his recent shower.
When she lay on top of him like this, she felt like she was lying on desert dunes baked by a blazing sun, blanketed by smooth, soft skin stretched taut over the rolling hills and valleys of his body.
She closed her eyes and purred to her heart’s content. If felt soooo good. She wanted to take a nap.
The other thing she loved about him was his scent.
Humanoids were generally too odiferous for her taste, what with the artificial scents they wore to disguise their natural foul odors. She didn’t know what was worse, the acrid smells of their perfumes, deodorants, shampoos and gels, or the stench of their sweat and musk.
Maximus was different.
He never wore scents to disguise his own. He used an almost scentless bar of soap when he washed. When he was clean, as he was now, he smelled like sunshine and desert heat and male.
Truthfully, he smelled like her next meal.
She even liked his smell when he exerted himself. His natural musk grew stronger then, darker, more potent. Then, he was the thrilling darkness of the jungle, dangerous and wild.
He made her want to mark him.
He was hers.
Bipedal or not, she owned him, and she took every opportunity to remind him as well as others. Whenever females of his species came around, she always made sure they knew to whom he belonged.
She dipped her head down to bathe his face and neck with her sandpaper tongue, nuzzling his face and jaw and throat with the scent glands on her cheeks and head.
There. With her scent mingling with his, he smelled even more delicious.
She licked her chops again and purred more loudly with both hunger and affection.
He rubbed his wonderful hands up and down her back and head and sides, making her practically pant with pleasure.
“What am I going to do with you, love?” he murmured as he scratched her behind each ear and under her chin.
She rubbed her nose and jaw against his face and neck and purred so loudly the whole bed seemed to vibrate.
Hope you never have to find out, she silently replied and bathed him with a long swipe of her tongue from his chin to his brow.
He sighed and closed his eyes, falling asleep within seconds.
Simca remained awake stretched out on top of the warrior’s body, her long, thick tail curling at the tip and undulating back and forth as she mulled over the complicated knot of thoughts in her head.
Animals felt only basic emotions. They felt attachment, like the sort between a mother and her cub, a feline and her mate for the brief periods that they hunted and slept together to satisfy her urges. But they didn’t feel the emotions humanoids felt.
Simca, however, was not purely animal. She was an eternal familiar.
She was something other.
She lived mostly with her partner in his world, in cities and skyscrapers these days rather than the deserts of her African homeland in the wild. They’d been together since a time beyond the reach of her memories. Verily, she didn’t have memories of when she hadn’t known Maximus.
She was mostly animal, but she was also more.
She loved her male.
Perhaps it was not the love humanoids felt for each other, but it was love nonetheless, and it was every bit as intense and all-consuming.
She wouldn’t be able to describe how she felt, even though she understood the language her warrior spoke by now. Because what she felt was beyond description.
She just knew that she wanted to be with her warrior forever. If she were ever to lose him, she’d lose herself as well.
She was possessive of her male.
She hated with a vengeance the rare occasions that he left the Cove without her for a late night rendezvous, and returned to his room, to their bed with another female’s scent all over his body. The stench of rutting.
It made Simca want to follow that scent to its owner and tear out the bitch’s throat. It made her want to tear into Maximus too, just to show him who his rightful owner was.
Even as she was bewildered by these tumultuous emotions, she never questioned them. She simply followed her instincts.
Her instincts told her that she needed to be even closer to her warrior. She needed to find a way to bind him to her forever.
Before he found a Mate.
Simca couldn’t bear it if he tied himself to another female for eternity.
If any female were to share his life, that female was going to be her.