Tepesch Drakul wants a future for his people and a male heir. He co-founds the Carbon Institute with visionary Chaldean priest Seamus Crane, using his immense wealth to blend DNA between human and vampire. Tepesch’s dream is to regenerate his race and return to Vasudha, the home world of his people.
The novel commences with a series of brutal murders as wayward daughter and erotic emasculator Angelica Drakul clears up evidence for her father. Realising his mistake, Crane recruits Finn Angmon, eternal slayer and arse-kicker to join a small team from the Institute. Others include Sam King, an enthusiastic but inexperienced investigator and Shaolin Fei Chok, destined to become Finn’s lover and ruler of Vasudha, home world of the vampyra. Finn summons the spirits of four comrades from the Crusades, banished to the outer darkness to atone for a terrible crime. They are Finn’s adopted son Galeal, Hain, Tibor and Cerin.
Fei, Drakul and Finn are linked together by the Nexus, an inescapable destiny. Controlled by an unknown power she does not understand, Fei allows herself to be seduced by Drakul, who she first encountered as a child. She travels to his castle in Hungary but uses her Shaolin training to hold the vampire forces in her blood at bay. She is visited by the Jananii, witch-queens of the planet Vasudha and discovers her destiny as they teach her how to retain her human spirit.
Fei explores the castle until she is drawn to a secret room and inside finds a black box. It is a space-time portal and she travels back to the Crusades as Tepesch Drakul and his followers ride for Jerusalem. Fei encounters Tepesch Drakul’s son and kills him, taking his place on the ride. She learns they are in search of a vampire priest to commence Drakul’s long experiment. She meets Finn Angmon and the Four for the first time, but she is vampire and he the slayer. Under duress, she tells the Four that Tepesch Drakul’s daughter Saskia is about to give birth and staying at a village in the hills, but she does not know that Finn is the father. When she returns to the present time, everything has changed…
The rope seared his wrists as Jake squirmed against the sweaty plastic chair. He scanned the stamping bawling mob for a friendly face but found no pity in their eyes, only cruel anticipation. A storm was coming, the whole weight of atmosphere pressing down and the feeling that something bad was about to happen was getting stronger. Jake’s scalp prickled as the first bellow of thunder came, a dull thud that vibrated upwards through the chair followed by a tearing explosion. Lightning painted faces into clown masks. The incessant drumming fought back, deafening. The crowd bayed, waving bottles and cans, but when the woman finally appeared, everything changed.
The mob fell silent and parted respectfully to let her through, no one dared speak as she sauntered up to Jake. He inhaled her scent, something musky and wonderful that set his senses aflame despite the danger. The alcoholic haze cleared with a popping sensation and the room stopped spinning. Sounds faded to nothing as he observed the woman with startling clarity and it came to him then, that the stag night was a bad mistake.
She was dancing directly in front of him and Jake had never seen anyone move the way she did, gazing hungrily with parted lips as if in a fashion shoot whilst she brushed against him. The police officer’s hat sat at a jaunty angle on flowing blond hair. Her face was almost elfin, the ears delicately pointed. Her eyes were enormous, the gaze questioning and promising. Black, spun with Tiger’s Eye, set wide above Slavonic cheekbones, they gleamed with the essence of lust. To poor Jake, dreams of forbidden pleasures swirled in their depths. Her full bottom lip was blood red and pouted dangerously. She was looking straight at him as if they were the only people in the room, even in the world. An errant thought flitted through Jake’s over-heated brain – someone like her would never be interested in an overweight, beer-sodden lump like him – but he was lost and he was damned and truth had no meaning. Even her mocking laugh turned him on but below his lust was a deep void of fear. When she stuck out her pointed tongue, he noticed small silver balls nestling above and below the dark flesh, matching the metal pierced through her right breast. The chrome was dewed with condensation and the tongue was strangely dark as if she had been eating liquorice, but he doubted she would do such things. Her perfect teeth were very white, the canines pronounced – catlike, sexy.
She held onto her hat as she lowered her head to whisper secret words whilst she continued to sway to the music, but the words meant nothing to Jake. He was only aware of her cold tongue caressing his ear and that cinnamon smell seeping into his brain. Sweat, musk, pheromones. His own swelling urgency, the distant yells of his friends. Jake felt reality slipping away until he seemed to be floating in space, tied to his plastic chair, alone with the woman.
The music changed as ‘Addicted to Love’ throbbed through the room, and Jake’s infallible memory clicked into place – Robert Palmer, 1985. It had never sounded so good and as she danced before him, she undid the tight, dark blue shirt and took it off. The little he knew of females told him she was as excited as he was, from the swell of her lip and each nipple standing proud in its dark aureole. She moaned softly and a thin trickle of saliva escaped from the corner of her wanton lips, the remarkable eyes half-closed. Jake felt he was going to explode or have a heart attack and as she brushed against him, he wished more than anything that she and his friends would go away. He wanted order restored and he needed Jenny. He longed to put on his striped cotton pyjamas and slide under cool sheets, safe and alone with a book and a mug of tea. Jake was to be married the next day, but the man who craved normality was staring down a precipice and about to fall.
Robert Palmer screamed out the message. You can’t be saved, oblivion is all you crave…
Her hips swayed enticingly as she slowly unzipped the dark blue miniskirt and let it fall, running her fingers down her gleaming thighs. Her lips moved, but she wasn’t singing to the music. Each sighing word was a shining jewel spinning a web of poison and he was the plump, tasty fly. “Caruu aamisa, caruu yazu,” she mouthed and wiggled her tongue in his ear. He could guess what it meant. The song thundered on. Your heart beats, in double time, another kiss and you’ll be mine…
Two a.m. Jake remained lashed to the chair as the drunken cries and singing receded. The old biddy in the flat below ceased banging on the ceiling and laid down her stick. He was finally alone and grateful for it, but still thinking about the stripper no matter how hard he tried not to. He heard the strange mantra of lust whispered endlessly – caruu aamisa, caruu yazu.
Thunder rattled the windows. Jake peered at the sky as lightning punished the spire of a distant church, leaving him dazzled. He tried wriggling but the rope tightened obstinately and he realised he was soaked in sweat. It occurred to him that he could probably stand up and walk into the kitchen to get a sharp knife, and the sense of relief made him feel like weeping. He would free himself then take a shower and go to bed with his cup of tea, Earl Grey. All would be well in the morning, when the sun came up and drove away the darkness, and he would be with Jenny for the rest of his life. He tried to stand as the first hailstones clattered against the glass, but it was more difficult than he had expected. His feet scuffled against the marble tiles as he tried another lift-off and nearly toppled backwards. It could be worse, he could be in Poland, or tied to a lamppost . . . or both . . . and he had not done anything to regret. Not done exactly but boy, he’d thought plenty and Jake could still detect that primordial smell. It seemed to hang in the air, unsatisfied and insatiable. Addicted to Love seemed to be stuck in his head and at that same moment, the lights dimmed to twilight.
“Hello, lover.” The stripper seemed to appear from nowhere.
Jake let out a small yell of surprise.
She placed a finger against her lips. “Shh.” She pouted the sound, as if blowing him a kiss.
He gaped at her, wondering what to say whilst he experienced the plunging sensation of pure fear. The police hat was gone and her hair had been tied back in a ponytail to reveal a perfect neck, but his thoughts of lust were flown and all that remained was a strange anxiety. This was not a lad’s adventure any more, it was real, disturbing, wrong. She moved in front of him so that her endless, naked legs were either side of his, and her stilettos clicked against the expensive Italian tiles that his mother chose. She had abandoned the ridiculously short skirt and the police officer’s shirt hung open. He could not avoid seeing inside and a voice in his head was telling him to be very careful. His mouth dried up.
“What are you doing here? I thought you’d gone.” It came out as a panic-laden squeak.
“I came back, Jake. You have something I need.”
“Look, my wallet’s in the bedroom, in the right hand drawer. There’s plenty of cash. Take it and I won’t tell anyone, I promise. Take it and go, please go.”
She smiled perfectly and tossed her head, swinging the ponytail. “I have much money. That is not what I need, Jake.”
He was nonplussed. “So what do you want? Tell me.”
She smiled again, so perfect and yet cold. “I will show you.”
She moved in closer and trapped his knees between her cool thighs. It was surprisingly painful, her grip unexpectedly strong. She put her hands on her hips, lifting the police shirt in the process, and he found himself staring at her crotch and its narrow strip of golden fuzz. The ruby in her belly button gleamed like fresh blood.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to insult you. But I d-don’t want you here, you understand.”
“We have unfinished business, lover,” She chuckled.
Her voice was husky, the accent exotic. Central European, he surmised pointlessly as he tried to make sense of what she was saying. He squinted up at her. “I don’t think we’ve been introduced,” was the best he could manage. “What’s your name?”
She laughed loudly, the sound harsh in the silence. “I am Angelica, but you will call me Angel. Yes, my name is Angel.”
She widened her stance and sat astride him whilst unbuttoning his beer-sodden shirt, her elfin face filled with mischief and a betrayal of cruelty. Her tongue curled out to dab her top lip and flicked again as if tasting the air. The image of a snake came unbidden. The snake’s eyes were soulless drops of gleaming jet, her skin pale and perfect but so cold in the choking heat of his flat. Before Jake could protest, she had undone his trousers. She laughed throatily as he pushed the chair backwards across the room, panicking. She grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him forwards with astonishing strength. The sound she made was half way between pain and delight and he had the unpleasant feeling that she was about to feed. The drop of saliva that fell from her tongue onto his lap was almost black and his mind cleared instantly at the sight.
“I want you to stop. Take the money and go,” he shouted.
Her expression hardened as she stood. She yanked his trousers off with brutal force, lifting his body half out of the chair so that it rocked forward alarmingly, and Jake weighed well over two hundred pounds. “Jenny and mother will miss you,” she whispered as she straddled him again, taking his head between her hands. Her bear-trap nails drove into his skull as he screamed. The fingers were icy. She was panting as quickly as he was praying and a strand of dark saliva swung from her lip, but he felt no breath on his face. The hands suddenly twisted his head with shocking force, the room blurred and Jake heard a cartilaginous crack. There was no pain and all sensation ceased instantly.
He found himself looking down on his vast, flaccid body as if it belonged to someone else and he knew he should be screaming or fighting back, but he could only experience an absurd sense of disbelief. Angelica did not simply lift herself off. She seemed to float upwards, drifting toward the ceiling and he was a puppet with severed strings. A weight had settled on his chest making it hard to breathe and he knew what she had done, but he also understood it was not over. He licked his lips and his tongue tingled with pins and needles.
“You’re going to kill me.” Each word was an effort.
Her eyelids lowered in silent acknowledgement. “Are you frightened of death, Jake? Do you know what death is?”
He was more frightened than he had ever been. All he could think of was why him, when there were so many others more deserving. He needed to say goodbye to Jenny and the thought that he would never see her again was more than he could bear. Jesus would look after him and he imagined the son of God taking him by the hand, guiding him into the light but below the comforting image was a gaping void. The finality of death was more terrifying than he had ever realised and he felt utterly alone.
She was watching him with a cruel smile. “Did you pray hard enough? I don’t see him.”
“Jesus loves me,” he gasped.
“How sweet you are, a fat little boy who believes in Jesus. Would you like to see me, Jake?”
Jake tried to understand the question. Part of him was too tired and cold to care, part of him needed to know the truth. “Yes.”
She slipped off her shirt and darkness seemed to swirl around the perfect form until he could only see an outline. Within her cocoon of darkness, the woman was growing taller, the head flattening and needle teeth glinted where soft lips had been. Grey scales rasped as long limbs unfolded and the air was freezing. Bony wing struts scraped against the ceiling, setting the lampshade swinging and the dim light played over the monstrous shape. Angel’s eyes alone remained unchanged and Jake stared into them, transfixed. The thing before him was ancient, brutal, hideous yet strangely beautiful. The giant head tilted and lowered to his neck, a strangely intimate gesture that was more invasive than any atrocity. He felt a rush of warmth and when Angel looked up at him, blood poured from the grinning shark’s mouth. Sleep washed through him as if he had been drugged, but he was not ready to go and life had never seemed more precious than at that moment.
“Mmm.” She licked her a curved talon. “Very tasty, Jake.”
He managed to utter one word. “Why?”
She shrugged. “I get bored, you know?” The words were sighs.
The snake-woman was bored so he had to surrender his future and his very existence. Jake was dying and he had never seen God and he had never seen Jesus, but he had finally seen the devil. As he watched with detached interest, the dark angel knelt down before him and bent her scaled head towards his lap. He could not see what she was doing to him because of the mound of his stomach but he could hear, and the trickling sound was his own blood pooling between his feet. His mind was slipping into a confusion of memories and he allowed his eyes to close. Sleep would be his escape and when he awoke, he would get married. Sleep would make the devil go away. She must have known what he was thinking because she sucked hungrily, a race against the last of his free will. The huge, curved wings trembled against her slender back.
When Jake’s eyes closed and his tongue lolled, Angelica stopped. The transformation came fast until the human form she loved so much was returned and she ran bloodied hands over the perfect body, gasping with pleasure. It could never be enough and frustration was already bubbling up inside. She knelt next to the dead man and stroked his hair back in place, disappointed but also angered by his passiveness. “Was it good for you, Jake?” she whispered.