Arthur’s footsteps thudded nearly silently on the thick carpeting as he walked the halls. The house was large and empty, the gas lamps lining the walls every few feet giving off only a dim glow of light. Arthur’s shadow followed him, drifting along the wall and the edge of the floor.
The walls were lined with portraits and the air smelled faintly dank, as if the rooms hadn’t been aired in some time. The quiet seemed almost eerie; a big manor house like this shouldn’t be so silent, so abandoned. It should have been teeming with servants, maids cleaning the rooms and tending to the fireplaces, young men in fine livery serving tea to the family.
Arthur’s ears pricked at a small sound, a ruffling, almost like wind. Movement, perhaps, someone moving through the halls, unseen. The hairs at the back of his neck rose unbidden, his body’s unconscious response to possible threat.
“Mr. Eames,” Arthur called out. “We are both aware that you can’t actually turn into smoke or a bat, so you may as well come out.”
A figure emerged from the shadows, wearing a sweater that was frightening only if you enjoyed nice clothes.
“Oh, Arthur, ever the party pooper,” Eames said. “Always out to ruin my fun.”
“And here I thought you were actually working. My mistake.”
“I am working! See for yourself. Besides, I don’t see why work and pleasure can’t be mixed. They say you should enjoy your job.”
While Arthur was one of those rare souls who actually did take great pleasure in his work, he wasn’t about to tell Eames he was right. Heaven forbid. Arthur raised his fingers to Eames’ lips, which Eames parted obligingly. Arthur felt his elongated canines, impressed in spite of himself. “I’m still not entirely certain how you think this particular forgery will help you.”
“You might be surprised. Vampires, they never go out of style, you see.”
“You’ve been reading too many teen novels again, I think.”
Eames tutted. “Vampires aren’t just for teens, love.”
“If you say so.” Arthur began walking again, coming to a door on the left and opening it.
It was a bedroom, with a huge four-poster bed, a fireplace, a small table with two chairs, a gilded mirror against the wall.
“I see you’ve found the most important room,” Eames said.
“And I see you’ve taken particular care with the bed, as always.”
“Never know when you might need a nice bed.”
“Yes, especially when you’re working. Pretending to work. What is it you’re doing here, exactly?”
“Trying out my new forgery, of course. Would you like to help me test it?” Eames moved closer to Arthur, standing behind him so Arthur could feel his heat.
Unconsciously Arthur tilted his head to one side, exposing his neck, and Eames took the opportunity to press a kiss to the bare skin revealed above his collar.
Eames reached one hand around, loosening Arthur’s tie. Arthur tugged at Eames’ hand, stopping him. “Will you be playing the vampire seduction card very often, do you think?”
“What else is the point of being a vampire?”
“You’re the expert, apparently.” Arthur turned around, so he was standing face to face with Eames. He removed his tie and undid the first few buttons of his shirt, allowing Eames to pull the shirt open, kissing his collarbone, dragging the edges of his abnormally sharp teeth along Arthur’s skin.
Arthur closed his eyes in spite of himself. “I wonder if I should clarify my stance on biting.”
“Oh, Arthur,” Eames said, pressing another open-mouthed kiss to Arthur’s neck. “Just be quiet and let me seduce you.”
At the tiniest prick of Eames’ teeth against Arthur’s fragile skin, Arthur decided that considering Eames had gone to all the trouble of creating this forgery, Arthur might as well ensure he got to use it. Just this once.