Asher wasn’t in the best of moods this evening. The last few nights had been passed in morose solitude, partially
by choice, but mostly not. Jean-Claude was his best friend and the only one Asher truly felt connected to in the entire city.
But Asher hadn’t seen Jean-Claude for days and was more than aware he was spending the majority of his nights with Anita.
Asher simply had not been invited. Left to his own devices, Asher merely pondered his existence night after lonely night and
found his life sadly lacking.
Tonight, his need for his friend’s companionship took him to Guilty Pleasures. But Jean-Claude was busy working and
really hadn’t the time to spare for Asher. In resignation, Asher retreated to the back office to do some work of his
After a few hours had passed, the door to the office opened. Asher looked up as Jean-Claude entered. At first, Asher murmured
an automatic greeting and returned his attention to his filing, but then the sudden sharp smell of blood in the room made
him do a quick double-take.
“Are you all right?” he asked, rising from the chair behind the desk. Asher noticed there were spots of blood
on Jean-Claude’s usually pristinely white shirt, apparently from a wound on his right hand.
Jean-Claude waved away his concern with a bloody handkerchief, which only succeeded in alarming Asher more. “I’m
fine, mon ami. It’s nothing.”
“Nothing?” Asher more or less exclaimed in disbelief. He was at Jean-Claude’s side in seconds, reaching
for him. “Let me see it. What happened?”
Jean-Claude slipped from Asher’s grasp and strode to the small closet just behind the desk where the office supplies
were kept. The master vampire awkwardly shrugged out of his ruined silk shirt and tossed it on the floor at his feet. Then
he turned his attention back to the contents of the closet. As he rifled through the shelves one-handed, he explained his
mishap, sounding more perturbed than pained.
“It looks far worse than it is. I simply pricked my hand on a piece of jewelry. I was greeting some of the familiar
customers in the lobby when Mrs. Clausen came in. I happened to compliment her broche, so she removed it from her blouse
to let me examine it closer…and she accidentally stabbed me with it.” He sighed heavily. “Unfortunately
for me, it was sterling silver and I’ve been subsequently drizzling blood everywhere since.” Jean-Claude popped
out of the closet to give Asher an exasperated look. “Asher, I could use your help. I need a proper bandage to stop
the bleeding. A knotted handkerchief is a little too conspicuous.”
Eagerly, Asher went to assist his friend. “What are you looking in there for?”
Jean-Claude turned back to the closet. “I thought there was a first-aid kit in here. Did someone take it?”
“Not that I know of,” Asher replied, looking over Jean-Claude’s shoulder at the shelves. “What
does it look like?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never had to use it before,” Jean-Claude muttered under his breath.
“Give me a minute to look in the back,” Asher muttered in reply. He leaned closer to the other vampire, reaching
above him to rummage through the top shelf. As he twisted around Jean-Claude, a button abruptly popped on Asher’s shirt,
making it gape across his flexed chest, brushing him up against Jean-Claude’s bare back. The sudden, unintentional skin
to skin contact both startled and thrilled Asher. Apparently, after all this time, the mere touch of him made Asher's
entire body tingle.
Asher immediately became very aware of Jean-Claude’s half-naked state and found himself all but transfixed for a
moment as his mind struggled to re-focus. Finally, Asher cleared his throat and gestured behind him.
“There is a box of little bandages in the desk drawer on the left. I saw them there earlier tonight.”
Jean-Claude shifted around in the confines of the closet and peered up at Asher. He smiled at him for the first time this
evening and inclined his head in appreciation. “Oui. That’ll do.”
Asher nodded, but just as he was about to turn to fetch the box of Band-Aids, he froze, blocking the doorway, and all but
trapping Jean-Claude inside the closet.
The scent of blood wafting in the air was intoxicating. Combined with the rather intimate proximity of his former-lover
within the dark privacy the closet provided, Asher’s already hyper-senses were being assaulted. His mind was systematically
turning to things beyond silver brooches and bandages. As it was, Jean-Claude’s lips were mere inches from his and a
wispy hair’s breadth separated their bodies. Asher couldn’t help but feel a stirring of excitement, imagining
closing the miniscule gap, and claiming something he felt long past due him.
He smiled at Jean-Claude and turned his head slowly, parting his lips. The air around them seemed charged with anticipation
suddenly. He looked deeply into Jean-Claude’s eyes and bent closer still, hoping for a glimmer of reciprocation. Surely
he was feeling it too? The sense of golden opportunity?
“Asher,” Jean-Claude said in a clipped tone of voice. “The bandage?”
Asher reeled back as if struck. “What?”
Jean-Claude’s eyes narrowed. He gave Asher an impatient look. This rare display of expression seemed reserved for
Asher and only Asher. It was as if Asher was the only person Jean-Claude felt comfortable enough to show emotion to. Now Asher
had to wonder if Jean-Claude had been somehow unmoved by their previous encounter. Surely his face would have conveyed something
if he had.
“If you don’t move, I can’t get out,” the master vampire prompted when Asher still didn’t
Asher swallowed hard as a realization dawned on him. Defiantly, he stretched out his arms, grasping each side of the doorframe,
caging Jean-Claude inside the closet.
“Maybe I don’t want to let you out,” he rumbled, his cultured voice growing thick with rising emotion.
Jean-Claude’s eyes widened slightly. Confusion hardened his expression. Finally, he sighed and held up his wrapped
“Enough, Asher. I do not have time for this. I‘ve already ruined a shirt.”
Asher smiled humorlessly. Naturally Jean-Claude’s mind was fixated on his clothes. In a way, it wasn’t surprising,
but it hurt Asher unreasonably. He tamped it down and tried to relax. Maybe a different approach? Teasingly, he stepped forward,
forcing Jean-Claude deeper into the closet. Perhaps if they inadvertently touched again it would spark something in Jean-Claude
and he would get the hint. “Try to get pass me. I dare you.”
Now Jean-Claude shot Asher a piercing look. His voice was full of cold authority. “Let me out of here. I’m
not in a frame of mind for games tonight. Do you want to tell me what this is all about?”
Asher was too stunned to respond. Clearly, Jean-Claude just wanted him to move. He simply wanted Asher out of his way.
He had felt nothing. There wasn’t even the slightest inclination that Jean-Claude had been affected.
There was a time Jean-Claude would have been even more affected by the same sense of possibility that Asher had been. It
wasn’t that it was so far-fetched. The feelings that moment had stirred inside Asher had been profound. Indignation
welled up inside him which quickly turned into anger.
“Or what?” Asher snapped, his toleration at an end. Frustrated, he reached forward and tauntingly trailed his
fingertips along the other vampire’s jaw line. “Are you going to punish me?” He stared back at Jean-Claude,
daring him to respond.
Then he did, but not in the way Asher had expected. For the briefest of moments, as soon as Asher had touched Jean-Claude,
the impatience in his eyes had dimmed. He sighed so subtley it was nearly imperceptible. The power surrounding
Jean-Claude had shifted and the master vampire seemed to absorb the sensation into him. Asher’s hollow heart suddenly
shuddered to life and throbbed inside his chest.
Almost as if suddenly realizing what he had just done, Jean-Claude jerked away from Asher’s caressing hand.
“Don’t be absurd,” he answered, sounding bored now. He lowered his eyes and seemed to study the doorframe.
Asher’s hope fizzled. Now who was playing games? he thought to himself. Was Jean-Claude only toying with him? Was
he testing his limits?
His temper erupted. He reached up and seized Jean-Claude’s shoulders, pushing him back roughly against the closet’s
shelving and pinned him there with the weight of his body.
“I used to enjoy it when you teased me,” Asher growled. “It used to heighten my anticipation. My beautiful coy
lover. But you‘re playing with fire now, Jean-Claude. I’m warning you, mon ami, play with me, and I‘ll
Jean-Claude looked startled, but did not push Asher away, and when Asher brusquely took hold of Jean-Claude’s
chin to force him to look up, Jean-Claude’s lips parted slightly as if expecting a kiss. It was as if he couldn’t
seem to help himself. Then suddenly Asher understood. Jean-Claude had felt something. He just didn’t want to admit it,
and that made Asher angrier still.
“I knew it. You fucking hypocrite,” the blonde vampire hissed. “You think you’re the master of
self-control, but I can see right through you, Jean-Claude. You want this to happen.”
Jean-Claude lowered his eyes once more. “I don’t know what you are talking about.” He sounded a
little too convincingly apathetic.
Furious, Asher smashed his knuckles into Jean-Claude’s jaw, splitting the corner of his mouth. In return, the master
vampire only glared at him. Asher hit him again, driving his fist into his abdomen, doubling him over. He forced him to straighten
and wedged his thighs between Jean-Claude’s legs, ripping open the waistband of his pants. As his hand roughly roved
Jean-Claude’s naked torso, Asher covered his bleeding mouth with his, kissing him hard. Jean-Claude gasped, stuggling
only to breathe.
“You know damn well what I‘m talking about!” Asher exclaimed, tearing his mouth from Jean-Claude’s.
“If I fuck you right now, I’d get what I want, but so would you! In all aspects. Admit it. You’d be blameless,
but you’d still get yourself screwed senseless. I could take you, right here and right now, and you wouldn’t lift
a finger to stop me, would you?”
Jean-Claude’s eyes glittered with warning. His curvaceous lips were set in a grim, determined line and his jaw was
rigid with anticipation. “I would stop anyone who tried to take me without my consent. Including you, mon ami.”
“I don’t believe you,” Asher grumbled. “You want it.” Seizing Jean-Claude’s wrist and
twisting it behind him, Asher spun him around and slammed him face first into the shelving. Using the leverage he had on Jean-Claude’s
arm, Asher bent him over a lower shelf.
Jean-Claude snarled at him, baring his fangs. His eyes had burned over blue, like the hottest center of a flame.
“Why are you risking everything for this?” he hissed. “I have granted you asylum, I have given you rank
and authority within my Kiss. I have laid my empire at your feet, taken you into my bed, shared my lover. Is a moment of physical
gratification worth such loss?”
“Only a moment, Jean-Claude? I keep thinking if I can finally break through your barriers, it will be more than a
moment. It will be an eternity.”
“Asher, I am warning you--”
Un-phased, Asher laughed at the veiled threat and unfastened his pants. “Is that a challenge?” He leaned over
and grazed the points of his teeth across Jean-Claude’s cheek to his neck, tangling his fingers in the other vampire’s
thick, black curls. He yanked his head back, stretching the length of his flawless white throat to the side as far as it would
go without snapping the bones. “To win your coveted consent first, mon ami? Non, non, non. It would be
much easier...and faster for both of us if I just rape you.”
Asher’s intention was to bite him--sink his fangs so deeply into his yielding flesh he’d scream in agony--but
as soon as his lips touched the smooth cool surface of the other vampire’s skin, Asher’s aggression all but dissipated.
Jean-Claude’s body was anxious with tension and pain. He felt fragile in Asher’s arms. Remorse flooded Asher's
heart, knowing he’d been the cause. Now Asher wanted to ease that tension and soothe away his lover’s pain. He
wanted his lover to surrender to him with passion, not just tolerate his abuse.
Carefully, Asher kissed the sloping curve of Jean-Claude’s face, caressing his skin with tender nibbles and languid
strokes of his tongue. Jean-Claude turned his head to look at him, apparently feeling the shift in Asher’s dispostion.
Asher delicately kissed him. When his mouth settled tenderly over Jean-Claude’s, the sensation of sweetness was
nearly overwhelming. It didn’t matter that Jean-Claude still didn’t kiss Asher back.
A new hunger pulsed in the pit of his stomach and Asher was quickly consumed by a craving so intense, it brought tears
to his eyes. Pulling away from Jean-Claude’s mouth, Asher could only stare back at the master vampire with a paralyzing
Jean-Claude’s beauty had always affected Asher with a lust beyond anything he’d experienced before, and falling
in love with him was ultimately inevitable. Asher hadn’t realized at the time how deserving of his love Jean-Claude
was. He was realizing it now. In the short time they’d been back together, his love for this man burned inside him like
the center of a star and his need for him had grown into something that seemed boundless and intangible. He was forced to
admit to himself that he wanted Jean-Claude’s consent more than anything else in the world in that one moment.
Taking a deep breath, Asher straightened, releasing Jean-Claude. He stepped back shaking his head, his long blonde hair
whipping around his face.
“Don’t worry,” Asher whispered dejectedly. “I would never force myself on you.”
Righting himself, Jean-Claude turned around, giving Asher a distinct glare of rebuke. But then his expression softened.
He tentatively reached up and passed his thumb across Asher’s scarred cheek. Now it was Asher’s turn to submissively
lower his eyes.
Jean-Claude dropped his hand from Asher’s face. “I know.” Nevertheless, he sighed heavily, as if in relief.
“You don’t have it in you anymore, mon ami.”
Asher looked up admonishingly. “Perhaps not, but you shouldn‘t provoke me the way you do.”
The sudden return of tension in Jean-Claude’s body was visible to Asher, even in the dimly lit closet. “I did
NOTHING to provoke you,” he declared. He unwrapped the bloody handkerchief from his wounded hand and waved it in front
of Asher’s nose, taking a menacing step forward. “If I can’t bleed in front of you, or disrobe in front
of you, without fearing you’ll do me harm, you will suffer the consequences. I’m not about to tolerate that level
of brutish vulgarity even from you.”
Catching Jean-Claude’s brandished hand in his, Asher forced Jean-Claude’s body tightly against his.
“But you do!” Asher spat back at him. “Doesn’t that tell you something, Jean-Claude? You insult
me by insinuating I have no self-control. I stop when I want to stop, but I also know what I want and I go after it. You,
my comely little bitch, continued to deceive--yourself as well as me. What I don’t understand is why? I want to
know why. You are so quick to show me your anger, yet time and time again you hide from me what I crave the most.”
Jean-Claude’s face became a mask, but his eyes scalded Asher with unspoken threat.
For the first time tonight, Asher knew he was risking more than his life of luxury if he could not make Jean-Claude understand.
His mind was racing now and alarms of impending emotional disaster reverberated throughout his consciousness. He could faintly
feel Jean-Claude’s fear, and wondered who exactly the seeping emotion was on behalf of. Deep down, Asher knew Jean-Claude
was powerful enough to defend himself against any outward aggression. Asher quickly concluded the fear the master vampire
was allowing Asher to feel was for Asher’s well-being, not his own. He clearly didn’t want to hurt Asher and that
gave Asher an idea.
“Fight me,” Asher replied into Jean-Claude’s ear. “If you really don’t want me to touch you,
then why won’t you fight me off?”
There was a sudden surge of metaphysical power between them and for a moment, Asher believed he had perhaps, gone too far.
After all, he was assaulting not only the Master Vampire of the City, now his master, a powerful sourdre de sang, but
the man he loved--all to prove a point. There had been whispers within this Kiss as well as others, that one day, Asher’s
temper would be his undoing. Maybe this foolishness tonight would fulfill that particular bit of prophecy. His long, sad tale
of existence would merely become a legend to warn others of the real perils of unrequited love. The only thing was, his love
was not unrequited and that was what he yearned to prove.
Asher shifted his weight against Jean-Claude, pressing him back against the closet shelves. “Fight me, damn you.”
He captured Jean-Claude’s mouth with his and kissed him hungrily. When the other vampire refused to respond, Asher squeezed
his wrist, visibly bruising them with his frustration. He dragged his mouth from Jean-Claude’s, down his neck, and then
sharply nipped his shoulder.
Jean-Claude winced slightly, but otherwise did nothing to fend Asher off. Asher shook him roughly.
“Don’t you dare displace yourself!” Asher seethed. “Don’t you dare put me on the same level
as all those who used and tortured you! I’m not like them! I love you! You know I do!”
Jean-Claude slowly raised his eyes to Asher’s. “Why then?” he replied in a barely audible voice. “Why
are you doing this?”
Asher’s throat constricted with emotion. His voice came out ragged and hoarse. “Because I can look at your
face and see your sadness or your fear or your anger. I know when you are happy or content. I see your humor, your impatience,
and your boredom.”
With apparent apprehension, Jean-Claude moistened his dry lips with the tip of his tongue before speaking. He twisted his
wrist in Asher’s grasp in an obvious attempt to relieve the pressure.
“I don’t understand,” he said flatly.
Feeling completely defeated now, Asher released Jean-Claude and once more stepped away from him. “Don’t or
won’t, Jean? Just like every other time you feel an inkling of desire for me--my affections, my devotion, my passion,
my lust--you hide it from me. I can catch tormenting glimpses now and then, but when you banish it deep within you, I’m
left with nothing. I’m denied the never-ending possibilities that slip by me night after night. For once, can’t
you acknowledge how I make you feel?”
“It is for your own protection,” Jean-Claude stated, his voice still monotonous. He took a deep breath, absently
massaging his red wrists. He took a tentative step forward and when Asher did not move to hinder him, he quickly pushed past
him out of the confines of the closet and into the office.
Slowly Asher turned to watch him. “Bullshit. It is for your protection, Jean-Claude, not mine. Just admit it. You
can’t cope with the love you feel for me. It overwhelms you and makes you lose control. Mon Dieu, that
is the worst thing in the world to you, isn’t it?”
Jean-Claude was at the desk now, searching the drawers for the elusive box of bandages. Despite the fact he had been released
by Asher, his hands were noticeably shaking and the way he was slamming the drawers disclosed his continued tension.
“Maybe it is, Asher,” he admitted quietly. “Maybe it is.” He finally found the Band-Aids and fumbled
with the box to dress his still bleeding palm. After a few futile attempts, Jean-Claude paused, took a deep cleansing breath,
and then looked at Asher pleadingly.
Sadly, Asher moved toward him and took the bandage from him. He peeled back the tape and placed the gauze center over the
puncture wound on Jean-Claude’s raised hand. Asher’s eyes couldn’t help but wander over Jean-Claude’s
body. The bruises and abrasions Asher had inflicted upon him had already healed, symbolizing the futility of Asher’s
outrage. It had accomplished nothing. If anything, it had only put Asher’s relationship with Jean-Claude on an even
more precarious footing.
Feeling the weight of Jean-Claude’s gaze, Asher slowly looked up and met Jean-Claude’s eyes. There was a pain
reflected there, running just beneath the master vampire’s calming demeanor. Asher realized he had hurt Jean-Claude
in more ways than one tonight.
Asher’s heart constricted inside him. Poor Jean, Asher thought to himself. The only reason he had come in here was
to get a bandage and instead he gets assaulted by his best-friend. After all Jean-Claude had done for him, Asher
still wasn’t satisfied. Jean-Claude had given him everything he possibly could and Asher knew he loved him. Why couldn’t
that be enough? Was an open expression of that love so important?
“Je suis vraiment navre, mon ami,” Asher said suddenly in a breathless rush. He reached for Jean-Claude
and took him in his arms, hugged him tightly, and covered his head with kisses. His eyes were watering, stinging with unshed
tears and his throat felt so tight, he could barely speak. He thoroughly hated himself right now. “Please, please forgive
Asher felt Jean-Claude’s arms encircle his waist. His body seemed to melt against him and he laid his head on Asher’s
shoulder. Asher stroked his hair and kissed the side of his face.
“Sometimes I just cannot stand it,” Asher murmured against his hair. “I feel as if I’m going to
burst. It drives me nearly crazy, Jean-Claude. Maybe I should go away after all. It’s only getting harder, not easier.
The more of yourself you give me, the more of you I want. I’m so sorry. I’m pathetic. I don’t even deserve
the small part of you that I have.”
“Hush,” Jean-Claude soothed him. He leaned back to look into Asher’s eyes and reached up to trace Asher’s
trembling lips with his fingertips. “There is nothing to forgive. A mere truth-seeking altercation between old friends.”
“Truth?” Asher whispered as if the word sounded strange to him. “What is the truth between us, Jean-Claude?
I thought I knew, but I really don’t.”
For a long while, Jean-Claude merely stared into Asher’s eyes. His expression was unreadable.
“This is the reality of our truth,“ Jean-Claude replied gently and then stretched up and pressed a soft kiss
on Asher’s forehead.
Asher’s tears finally spilled from his eyes. He shook his head and regarded Jean-Claude with despair. “I understand.
That kiss was not the truth, but it is all I’m allowed.”
Sighing, Jean-Claude nodded slowly. “If you ever want to know the real truth, you need only look into my eyes. I
know when you see the truth there, it hurts you, so yes, I hide it to protect you. But sometimes…sometimes Asher, I
cannot help myself.”
Having said that, Jean-Claude stepped back and turned to go. Before he did, his eyes languidly drifted over Asher’s
face and down the length of his body as if Jean-Claude were drinking in the sight of him. The yearning in his expression was
The door closed with a resounding bang. All alone, Asher buried his face in his hands and cried.