Upon arriving to the second floor landing, Dani and Rowan encountered a surprising sight – standing in a row against the wall were, presumably, all the members of Madame Schachter’s ‘staff’. About seven males and 12 females of all shapes and denominations stood still, heads turned to see who the visitors that Madame Schachter had been expecting were. These were the people for whom the rest of the clientele had been kicked out early.
“You have a lovely staff, Madame Schachter” Rowan praised as she stepped forward and closed in on a ravishing young African girl with long brown hair and terse ebony skin. The girl wore a cream silk negligee and a small robe that covered her delicate round shoulders. Rowan glided her hand against her chin and along her jaw, eliciting a shiver from the young girl who leaned in to the touch. “She isn’t more than 23…so ripe and young” Rowan thought. She could feel the girl’s agitation and basked in the warmth of it; she whispered in the girl’s ear
“What is your name?”
“Delia” a breathless whisper from the girl.
“Tell me, Delia, do you like my touch?” sensuality dripped from Rowan’s every word, thick and sweet, like syrup, ice cream under the sun. Delia nodded quickly, her eyes lost in Rowan’s swan song. Rowan sensed fear underneath Delia’s desire and fascination; the fear rubbed itself against Rowan’s palm, creeping up her arm, down her spine making her smile with anticipation. This one was going to be a lot of fun…so scared, so good.
“Do I scare you, Delia?” Rowan whispered hotly in Delia’s ear, grazing her lobe; Delia gasped
“…yes” and her pulse beat loud enough for Rowan to feel. It made Rowan chuckle as she circled Delia, examining her as if she were prey; for that is what she was – prey and this was the danse macabre between sheep and wolf.
“Good” Rowan mused; and before Delia knew it, Rowan left her, moving on to her next victim.
Dani, Madame Schachter and the nameless bodyguard could not help but watch, enthralled, the scene unfolding before their very eyes. Rowan playing cat and mouse with the whores was a riveting sight for Dani; watching Rowan stalk those people as if they were market animals reminded Dani of a video he once shot, “Babalon A.D” it was called. “Damnit, talk about life imitating art” thought Dani. It was ridiculous how much the phrase ‘so glad for the madness’ jumped at him at that exact moment, slapping him in the face with a ton of irony. Things he had sung about, thought about, written about, dreamed about, fantasized about; they were all morphing from just fantasy to a startling reality – the fates were weaving the two together, leaving no difference, no way to discern one from the other; and it scared Dani, hard to believe as it was. It was alluring and sexy as hell, but just as unnerving and dangerous.
Rowan was the epitome of lust, she was clever and smart-more so than the great Faustus himself-, calculating and detached as a predator, powerful and vindictive as the gods, and drop-dead gorgeous… “Drop-dead indeed” a thought soaked in bitter sarcasm, lodged in Dani’s mind. A frightening combination in a woman.
Rowan soon found a new victim to stalk – a raven haired man with deep brown eyes and wanton demeanor. The man was barefoot and shirtless, his only article of clothing being a pair of low rise, form fitting black pants that framed his strong legs and sharply contrasted with the pallor of his skin. The man was of a solid build with a feminine air. A chocolate fire danced in his eyes.
“This one is a keeper” Rowan grinned as she thought. This one clearly did not fear her; he lusted after her and was as taken with her as she was with him. “Bless Madame Schachter and her staff”
“Tell me your name” Rowan demanded of the man, to which he answered cockily in a husky voice
“If you tell me yours”
Rowan had never met someone, to that day, anyone who would have challenged her point-blank in a situation like this (maybe except for Dani, but that was different); it was foreign to her, but she kind of liked it.
“It’s Rowan” she muttered while she walked behind him.
“David” he said, unsure of where Rowan was going.
David felt Rowan’s arm snake around his torso; her skin burned his, the silken fire of her hands roaming his chest made him pant and gasp with something other than pain. Then came the visuals.
Rowan kissing David.
Rowan riding David.
Rowan draining David.
Rowan echoing David’s screams.
Lots of power.
David faltered, his body quivering with spasms, trying to catch his breath. Rowan’s arms were still locked around him, holding him upright.
She really liked David. So willing. So eager. So powerful. So helpless. So good.
Rowan’s power of the mind was overwhelming, not only to David, but to anyone who was around. Her power of seduction rendered Dani helpless and he couldn’t peel his eyes off that scene happening in front of him. Who would have thought that Dani would find voyeurism so appealing? Although he did feel jealous because it was David who was Rowan’s present center of attention and not him, he was enjoying the show more than he liked to admit, way more than he was willing to admit. More conflict for him; ‘fucking great’…like he needed it anyway.
“Remember me always, David, always” she whispered almost soundlessly in David’s ear and let go of him, leaving the nameless bodyguard to succour David. She continued to pace up and down the hallway, scrutinizing the rest of the men and women. She finally decided on Delia, a blue haired Irish man by the name of Lucian, and David. Now that her small harem had been chosen, she looked at Madame Schachter and nodded; Madame Schachter nodded back and said to Rowan
“We have reserved the V.I.P room for you, dear. Lucian will escort you to said room. If there is anything you need, phone my son, Will to the main desk and he will attend to your needs. Enjoy yourself, Rowan…Dani; aren’t you going to pick someone? All of them would be honored to be of your service” Madame Schachter was taken aback by Dani’s lack of participation. Usually, men weren’t that quiet or unmoved once they got to The House. That was not her concern though. That was his loss anyway.
“Not tonight, Madame Schachter. I will just watch tonight. I don’t feel very well” replied Dani, a bit embarrassed for refusing the invitation, but couldn’t bring himself to pick anyone – he just would not have fun that way. Besides, he came along because he had nothing better to do and he was sure Rowan would get into some sort of trouble. It wasn’t like he would be able to do something about it given Rowan’s nature, but he could be her voice of reason… “Ha-ha, that was a funny one” Dani was getting even better at the sarcastic jokes and irony very quick. It was all so damn ironic – all of his lyrics about vicious and beautiful women, evil and sex were coming back to bite him in the ass; and every time Rowan said, did, everything about Rowan made him think of some song of his…and he liked it. He really had a problem with that; the fact that Rowan was so scary and so dangerous did not make her any less desirable nor did it make him like her less; it was the other way if anything. It was as if she was the woman of his dreams, the only that he had been idolizing in all of his songs; but, the woman of his dreams had ALWAYS been Toni – he knew he didn’t want anybody else, she was the one for him, but Rowan was challenging that. He just wondered if he got over Toni and Rowan became his partner how everything would be; but would he be able to live with an escaped mental patient/murderess? Could he really, despite everything he said and did? How would Luna see the new woman in his life? What would Toni think? Could he ever…love her? He knew he wanted Rowan, but ‘Why the hell does it feel like I need her!? Oi! Where the fuck did that come from? I don’t need her, I need Toni, and I want Toni ’
‘What the fuck? Since when did I start planning out my life with her? Why am I thinking this shit? Ugh, this is so not helping…I came here to forget about everything, fuckfuckfuck’ the confusion was grabbing a hold of Dani’s guts and his heart and giving it a good squeeze- not so good on Dani’s side…painful as hell- however, any physical pain was welcome if it overrode the emotional pain and turmoil. “Damn, I really need a drink” he almost said out loud; it didn’t matter because Madame Schachter had picked up on his uneasiness
“Dani, do you take Bourbon? Rowan, how about you?” Madame Schachter asked
“I’ll take anything right now, as long as it’s alcohol” Dani jumped at the offer like it would flee…much like his sanity and stability.
“No thank you, Madame Schachter. I’ve had enough alcohol for tonight.” Rowan politely refused any alcohol; she wanted to be as sober as possible when the games began. Anymore alcohol would only make things worse- she knew she would show her eagerness if she drank. So, alcohol was out.
“Okay. Will, would you be a dear and get Dani some bourbon?” Madame Schachter turned to the least expected person – she turned to the man that they thought was the bodyguard- and smiled lovingly at him; he smiled back, bowed to Dani and walked down the hallway into a room.
Rowan would have sworn that the man was a butler, a bodyguard or even Madame Schachter’s lover…but her son?
As Rowan wondered about the situation, Will came back and handed Dani a glass of dark strong bourbon; the rich dark color reminded Rowan of blood – just like an animal making the kill, the sight of blood or anything like it gave her a rush of adrenaline. Blood usually was a welcome sight for her, it just was.
Rowan’s derailed train of thought soon found the tracks again and ran over the thoughts of blood. She focused on William, her inquiring eyes matching her inquiring mind, and scrutinized him. He was pleasant and not ill-mannered; however, that affable manner was heavily shielding something else, he was trying to blend with the background and he did it well- she was having trouble zooming in whatever he was hiding. Whatever it was, it was powerful, he was powerful, and she needed to watch him. Something told her he could be useful later on. Now, it was time to play. Finally.
Lucian put his hand on Rowan’s shoulder gently, and spoke
“This way, luv” and he took off down the corridor and up another set of stairs. Rowan, Dani, David, and Delia followed Lucian.