Black Butterfly Chapter 1

I’m not too sure where I’m going with this, but I hope that you enjoy.

The Hunter from the Vatican

She called herself Emma. It was short and modern. A contradiction to her classic beauty.

She was tall and lean, with fair skin and long, dark hair. But her most striking feature was her eyes. They were a startling sapphire blue, which caught every movement and missed nothing.

She sat in the farthest corner of the parlor to the brothel. Her customary seat next to Andre, the boss. The Russion Mafioso feared her, she could smell it. He feared what she was, and what it was that she could do. Yet, he was reluctant to part company with her. Even now, he attempted to curry her favor by offering her expensive wine.

The Budapest brothel was quiet yet, customers having to begin to come in. Beautiful young women of every shape and size languished about the room. They reclined on sofas or knelt on the floor, nibbling on fruit and sipping wine. All the while chatting idly, flipping through fashion magazines, and brushing each others hair.

Two guards sat in the parlor with them. Dmitri sat at the front, chatting up a buxom redhead curled up on his lap. Mikhael stood at the back next to the stairs. The bulge of a pistol in his jacket and his rigid stance was enough to convince anyone that the ex-KGB was all business.

Other guards were stationed both inside and out of the building. They were in all of the exits and stairwells. No one came or went without being seen.

A man wearing a trench coat and hat came in. The collar was pulled up and the hat was pushed forward. He shrugged off the cold as he stomped the snow from his boots. He moved with purpose as he strode toward the parlor, his gaze settling intently upon Emma.

Dmitri dumped the girl from his lap as he scrambled to his feet. He intercepted the man on his approach, his hand extended in expectation of payment. Only instead of multi-colored bills, a gold coin was proffered. Dmitri took it, looked it over, and passed it back. He then sat back down in his chair.

Andre had feigned an expression of mild interest at the appearance of the gold. The Mafioso was fond of the stuff and was skilled at getting it. Emma, however, looked on with disinterest.

The man stepped over and around all of the various women who occupied the room. As he approached Emma, a dainty blond came over to kneel and lean against her bare legs. Emma then reached down and began to stroke her hair, much to the man’s disgust.

Adopting an amused expression, Andre took a long, slow sip of wine before speaking to his guest. “How can I help you?” he asked, studying the glass.

The stranger made her wary. Not only was it unusual for him to carry gold coins, but he kept his thoughts guarded. They were vague, clouded. It was impossible for her to get a clear read of his intentions.

“How much for the whore?” he demanded, gesturing toward Emma. He spoke with a thick Italian accent.

Mikhael had stepped nearer, taking offense to the man’s tone and body language. Andrei waived him off with a great belly laugh, taking the words as a joke.

“They are all whores here,” he said with a grin. “But this one will cost you extra.”

The Italian’s lips curled up in a snarl. “How much?” he repeated.

Andrei picked up a small, golden case from the side table. Opening it, he selected a cigar while the blond readied the cutter and a match. He then proceeded to take his time in lighting it and taking a few puffs.

“That would depend on how much of your gold you are willing to give me,” he said finally. “My lovely Babochka has, shall we say, a unique skill set.”

“Name your price,” The Italian said finally, his jaw set firm with indignation.

“Half your gold.” There was a twinkle of amusement in Andre’s eyes.

With a look of contempt for Andre, he reached inside of his coat and brought a small leather pouch into the light. The contents jingled as he removed a number of coins. He slowly set them on the side table and stepped back.

Andre watched with detachment, leaving the coins where they were. Instead, he took Emma by the hand, a signal that she was to stand. “You have some hospitality to deliver, moy Babochki,” he murmured.

Emma rose to her feet, fingers brushing the blond’s cheek. She wore a sheer, black negligee with a robe of black silk. Bending down, she briefly kissed Andre on the lips before straightening to lead her customer from the parlor.

Mikhael gave the man a hard look as they passed. Jealousy and anger colored his thoughts. Emma knew that it was only a matter of time before he acted upon those feelings.

“No,” she mouthed as she passed, much to Mikhael’s consternation.

His emotions followed after them up the stairs, much to Emma’s concern. Mikhael’s possessive nature was becoming more and more pronounced. It would only be a matter of time before Andre would take offense…

The Italian’s body was rigid, as if he were a coil that was ready to spring. His eyes continuously roved, catching every detail.

“So what brings you to Budapest?” she asked, both hands lightly touching his arm as she led him along.

He only grunted in reply.

She continued to try to get a clearer glimpse of his mind, but got very little. There were disgust and derision both for the brothel itself and the Russians who ran it. She could sense no feeling of trust, but there was one almost of desperation. She arched an eyebrow, which would have been imperceptible to one not of her kind.

Then finally, after an almost agonizing silence, they reached her room. It was at the end of a long hallway, isolated from the rooms of the others. Opening the door, she then gestured for him to step inside.

A trio of lighted candles in a tarnished candalabra stood on a small dressing table just inside the door. Walking in, he blinked to help his eyes adjust to the dim lighting. He seemed to have lost some of his confidence.

A soft smile crossed her pretty red lips as she followed after him, closing the door behind her. She moved deftly about the room in the near dark, retrieving a box of matches. She drew it across the strike plate before bringing the small flame to the wicks of another set of candles.

The soft glow lit the room even more as she circled around him. “So what can i do for you?” she asked softly, trailing a fingernail across his shoulders as she passed behind him.

He flinched at her touch, turning his head to keep her in his sight. “You know what I’m here for,” he growled.

“Well, you are a man, and a man has needs…” she drawled, attempting to help him off with his coat.

Instead, he spun around, grabbing her by the throat. “Do not play games with me.”

“Why, however do you mean?” she gasped, and he squeezed tighter.

“I know what you are, vampire!”

Her eyes narrowed as all pretense fell away. Reaching up, she pulled his hands from her neck and twisted his arms around behind him with ease.

“While you, are a hunter from the Vatican,” she hissed. “I have survived for over one hundred years, despite your kind and mine. This will be no different.”

“I didn’t come here to kill you,” he grimaced.

“Then enlighten me,” Emma snarled, baring her fangs.

He was no longer resisting, and was now slouching in her grasp. She let him go then, stepping back and tying her robe closed.

The hunter dropped down to one knee, his head bowed. “You know what I seek,” he murmured.

“It is in my power to grant it to you,” she dipped her head in acknowledgement of the plea for death. “Although it is highly unusual for a Hunter from the Vatican to ask for such a favor.”

“I want you to turn me,” he begged.

She arched an eyebrow. “I swore an oath to neither take a life, nor make another of my kind. You know this.”

“But I have connections. We can avoid the Hunters. Go to a different country, even.”

“No,” she said simply, taking him by the arm and hauling him to his feet. “I think that you should leave.”

She led him to the door, knowing that Mikhael and Dmitri would not allow him to leave the brothel alive. Anyone who sought her out specifically, knew too much.

“Not until I have what I came for.”

With that, he took an oaken stake from within his coat and rounded on her. The sharp, fire hardened point ripped into her belly, tearing at her innards.

Emma stumbled backward, hissing and growling. She clawed at the stake, the skin of her hands and the flesh of her stomach smoked and steamed.

“You bastard!” she yowled, resorting to tearing at her own belly in an attempt to dislodge the stake.

With a second shaft in his fist, he punched Emma in the face. She toppled backward, landing sprawled on the floor. She writhed in pain, all of the skin having touched the stake beginning to blacken and smolder.

Holding the stake in both hands, the hunter put all of his weight into the blow and plunged the stake into her chest. Emma screamed in agony and fury as ribs fractured and her lung was punctured.

Bringing out a third stake, he then began to trail the point along her skin. Red welts quickly sprouted, only to blister and burst. “Let us try this again.”

“I will not do what you want,” she gasped.

He sneered. “We’ll see.”

Through her torture, Emma could hear footsteps in the hallway. The subtle vibrations coming through the floor were the most welcome thing she had ever felt.

The hunter stopped, pressing the tip of the stake to the underside of her jaw. She and Andre were in league together, so it stood to reason that his men would go to lengths to protect her.

Nikoli kicked the door in with a bang, the sudden gust blowing out two of the candles. Mikhael launched himself inside, pistol drawn, to land in a crouch.

“I want what I came here for,” the hunter yelled. “And I will kill her if I don’t get it.”

He angled her in the light just right to enable them to see the stake protruding from her jaw, ribs, and abdomen. The contacted flesh continued to steam and smoke, becoming blackened and charred.

Deigning not to even attempt to negotiate with him, Mikhael squeezed the trigger.

The first bullet ripped through Emma and buried itself in his shoulder. The second and third tore into his throat. He fell back, making wet, choking sounds as his lifeblood flowed freely.

Mikhael gestured to Nikoli and Gregor to take the man away. “I want to speak with whoever was on the front,” he growled as they lifted the dying man and carried him from the room.

Closing the door behind them, Mikhael turned back to Emma. He took out a handkerchief and used it as a barrier to pull the stakes free, tossing them away as he did. Almost immediately, the flesh began to heal.

Emma blinked up at him, the room around her still a blur. But at least the pain had lessened. “Moy Babochki,” he murmured, gently touching her cheek as he brushed some of her hair from her face.

She could only look up at him, breathing raggedly. She was at his mercy now, and he knew it.

Mikhael pulled her across his lap, being careful of her injuries. “The bastard treated them with holy fire…” he muttered.

Emma only blinked. She felt as if she were in a daze. Like she was slowly slipping from her body.

Her gaze fell upon the glistening dark red stain in the rug. The smell of the blood had come to hold her focus as hunger pangs had begun to twist her belly. Seeming to sense her need, Mikhael took out his knife and bared his forearm.

“No,” she whispered.

“You need to feed, and you cannot drink of a dead man,” he said simply, drawing the blade across his skin.

Beads of bright red welled up before trickling down toward his elbow. The closeness of his heartbeat and the scent of fresh blood made her begin to salivate. But not Mikhael, it could not be Mikhael.

“Ilyiana,” she breathed. “Please.”

“You might kill the girl in your weakened condition,” Mikhael scolded, bringing his arm to her mouth. “Now drink.”

Having little choice, Emma allowed Mikhael to press the bleeding slice to her lips. She knew that this would cause her to be indebted to him, but the sweetness of Mikhael’s blood and the strength of his pulse overrode all logic.

She gulped greedily, gripping his arm with both hands. Fangs pierced flesh and he grunted, but did not pull away. He only rested his head back against the bed while tangling the fingers of his free hand in her hair.

To be fed upon by a vampire could be very erotic indeed. Not only was there the intimacy of close proximity, but there was the seductiveness of the pheromones. No doubt an evolutionary trait designed to lure in prey. Then the venomous neurotoxin in her saliva served to stimulate the endorphins within the victim’s pleasure center. It was all quite addictive for a willful donor.

Which was why Emma had not wanted to feed on Mikhael. She did not want to be beholden to him at anytime. He would never forget any favor owed to him, and she knew what he would ask for.

After several minutes, Mikhael pulled his arm away. “That is enough, moy babochki.” He used his thumb to wipe a trickle of blood from the corner of her mouth.

He then lifted her up and set her on the bed. He arranged her much as if she was Snow White, with her hands resting on her abdomen and her hair flared out over the pillows.

“You must rest now,” he said, brushing her cheek with the fingers of his good hand. “I will let no harm come to you.”

Before leaving the room and closing the door behind him, he blew out the candles. The only light now coming from the crack beneath the door.

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