Roman extended a hand to touch VANNA's neck. The skin was cooler than a real human's, but still very soft. Beneath his fingertips, the artery throbbed, strong and constant. At first, he felt the pulse with only his fingers, but then the pounding sensation crept up his arm and into his shoulder. He swallowed hard. How long had it been? Eighteen years?
The pulse spread inside him, filling his empty heart and all his senses. His nostrils flared. He could smell the blood now. Type A Positive. His favorite. His entire body throbbed in sync with the female. His rational thought seeped away, overpowered by a driving sensation he hadn't experienced in years. Bloodlust.
A growl vibrated deep in his throat. His groin hardened. He curled his fingers around the doll's neck and dragged her toward him.
"I'll take her." With lightning speed, he tossed her onto a velvet reading chaise. She lay still, her legs still bent and now sagging open at the knees. The erotic sight was almost too much to bear. The small amount of blood in Roman's veins cried out for more. More woman. More blood.
He sat and brushed her blond hair away from her neck. Her dopey grin was a bit disconcerting, but easily ignored. As he leaned over, he caught sight of a reflection in her blank, glass eyes. Not him, for his form could not be mirrored. All he could see were the red, glowing lights of his own eyes. VANNA had turned him on. He turned her face away to expose her neck. The pulsing artery within her sang out, Take me. Take me.
With a low growl, he pressed against her body. His fangs sprang out, causing a ripple of pleasure to surge through his body. The scent of blood rushed through him, stripping away the last shreds of self-control. The beast within was unleashed.
He bit her. Too late, his frenzied mind realized an unusual fact. Her skin might feel soft on the surface like a human's, but the inner texture was totally different. Tough, thick, rubbery plastic. If this was relevant, it didn't register, for the smell of blood shattered his thoughts. His instincts claimed victory, howling in his brain like a starving animal. He sank his fangs in deeper and deeper, till at last he felt that sweet popping sensation as he broke through the arterial wall. Heaven. He was swimming in blood.
With a long suck, the blood gushed into his fangs and filled his mouth. He gulped it down and greedily drank more. She was delicious. She was his.
He smoothed a hand down to her breast and squeezed. What a fool he'd been, content to sip blood from a glass. How could that possibly replace the hot rush of blood flowing through one's fangs? By the devil, he'd forgotten how sweet this was. It was a total body experience. He was rock hard. All his senses were on fire. He'd never drink from a glass again.
With another tug on her neck, he realized he'd drained her dry. Good to the last drop. But then a touch of clarity broke through the sensual daze. Bloody hell, he'd lost control. If she were mortal, she'd be dead. And he would have murdered another child of God.
How could this possibly advance the cause of civilized vampire behavior? This doll would remind every vampire how intensely pleasurable it was to bite. No vampire, even the most evolved, modern-day Vamp, could partake of this experience without wanting the real thing. All he could think about now was biting the first live female he came across. VANNA was not the answer to human preservation.
She was the death knell to their existence.
With a groan, Roman ripped his mouth away from her neck. Blood splattered onto the doll's white skin, and at first, he thought she'd sprung a leak. But no, he was sure he'd drained her dry. Damn, the blood was coming from him. "What the hell?"
"Oh my God," Laszlo whispered.
"What?" Roman looked at her neck and there, lodged in the tough plastic, was one of his fangs.
"Sheesh!" Gregori stepped closer for a good look. "How'd that happen?"
"The plastic - " More blood dripped from Roman's mouth. Damn, he was losing his lunch. "The plastic is too tough and rubbery inside. Not at all like human skin."
"Oh dear." Laszlo attacked another button with his nervous fingers. "This is terrible. The texture was so real on the outside. I didn't realize... I'm so sorry, sir."
"That's the least of our problems." Roman wrenched his tooth from the girl's neck. He'd explain his unfortunate conclusions later. For now, he needed his fang fixed.
"You're still bleeding." Gregori handed him a white handkerchief.
"The feeding vein that connects to the fang is open." Roman pressed the handkerchief against the gaping hole where his right fang should be. "Thit."
"You could use your own healing powers to seal the vein shut," Laszlo suggested.
"It would be clothed permanently. I'd be a one-thided eater for all eternity." Roman removed the bloody handkerchief from his mouth and reinserted his fang into the hole.
Gregori leaned over to look. "I think you got it."
Roman released his hold on the tooth and attempted to retract his fangs. The left fang did as it should, but the right one fell from his mouth and landed on VANNA's stomach. More blood seeped from the wound. "Shit." Roman stuffed the handkerchief back in his mouth.
"Sir, I suggest you go to a dentist." Laszlo picked up the fang and offered it to Roman. "I've heard they can put a lost tooth back."
"Oh, right." Gregori snorted. "What's he supposed to do, waltz into a dental office and say, 'Excuse me, I'm a vampire and I lost a fang in the neck of a sex toy.' They're not going to line up to help him."
"I need a vampire dentitht," Roman announced. "Look in the Black Pageth."
"The Black Pages?" Gregori zoomed to Roman's desk and began opening drawers. "You know, you're starting to lisp."
"I have a bloody rag in my mouth! Look in the bottom drawer."
Gregori located the black phone directory for vampire-owned businesses and flipped it open to reveal the white pages within. "Okay." He ran a finger down the advertisements. "Cemetery plots. Coffin repair. Crypt-keeper services. Custom-made crypts - fifty percent off. Interesting."
"Gregori," Roman growled.
"Right." He turned the page. "Okay. D's. Dance lessons - learn to move like a Latin lover. Dirt deliveries - sleep like a baby in topsoil from the Old Country. Dracula costumes - small to plus sizes."
Roman groaned. "I'm in deep thit." He swallowed hard and grimaced at the taste of stale blood. The meal had tasted better the first time down.
Gregori turned another page. "Draperies - guaranteed to block out that annoying sunlight. Dungeons - your choice of several floor plans." He sighed. "That's it. No dentists."
Roman slumped into a wingback chair. "I'll have to go to a mortal." Damn. He'd have to use mind control, then wipe the dentist's memory clean afterward. Otherwise no mortal would be willing to help him.
"We may have trouble finding a mortal dentist who's available in the middle of the night." Laszlo dashed to the wet bar and grabbed a roll of paper towels. Then he proceeded to wipe the blood off VANNA. He gave Roman a worried look. "Sir, it might be best for you to keep the tooth in your mouth."
At the desk, Gregori thumbed through the Yellow Pages. "Sheesh, there's a ton of dentists." He straightened with a jerk and grinned. "I found it! SoHo SoBright Dental Clinic - open twenty-four hours a day for the city that never sleeps. Bingo."
Laszlo let out a deep breath. "What a relief. I'm not sure, since I've never heard of anything like this happening before, but I'm afraid if your fang is not successfully implanted tonight, then it never will be."
Roman sat up. "What do you mean?"
Laszlo threw the bloodied paper towels in a trash can by the desk. "Our injuries are naturally healed while we sleep. If dawn comes and you fall asleep with your fang still missing, your body will close the feeding veins and the wound for good."
Shit. Roman stood. "Then it mutht be done tonight."
"Yes, sir." Laszlo fingered a button on his lab coat. "With any luck, you'll be in perfect shape for the annual conference."
God's blood! Roman gulped. How could he have forgotten the annual spring conference? The Gala Opening Ball was scheduled for two nights from tonight. All the major coven masters from around the world would be there. As master of the largest coven in America, Roman was hosting the big event. If he showed up, missing a fang, he'd be the brunt of jokes for the next century.