Las Vegas, Nevada
Christian J. MacKenzie, known as C.J. to his closest friends, owner of Nocturnal Entertainment and Hospitality Corporation, or NEHC, walked into the dimly lit bar of The Purple Tulip.
“This should be interesting.” C.J. absorbed the sight the outside the nightclub with the typical Las Vegas style glitz and glamorous. Inside, another entire world flourished. Veiled in black gossamer, fabrics draped throughout with accents of various shades of purple. The décor of the large expanse reflected the tone of a macabre sanctuary, the newest creation of Black Heart Entertainment and Ian McAlester, Christian’s former friend and latest business rival.
Ian catered to the young, up-and-coming Hollywood types such as actors, musicians, models, producers, and, oh yes, human vampire wannabes. Not interested in the luxury Christian gave his clientele, Ian’s craved the dark and Gothic, dangerous and edgy. Getting them addicted to the lifestyle, as well as the benefits of a vampire’s blood, became Ian’s sole purpose. The power he had over the rich and famous humans fed his hunger just as much as their blood.
“Can I help you, sir?” The platinum blonde woman dressed in black leather-like boy shorts and a bra with spikes on the cups smiled.
“No. I’m good.”
Christian made his way to the bar, a round, black, polished granite and brass area at the center of the club. He sat and surveyed the establishment. Several dimly lit VIP niches in the upper level offered anonymity for the celebrities. The dance floor was small but adequate. However, probably not much dancing took place. No doubt, it was a gratuitous item, for aesthetics only. The eerie music played loud and reverberated through the state of the art sound system.
After gaining the attention of the bartender, Christian ordered the house special, a concoction of whiskey and synthetic blood, called Vegas Spitfire.
“Hey, old man, checking yer competition out?” Ian asked as he came up behind Christian and slapped him on the back.
Christian spun around on the barstool and gave Ian a glare, showing his fangs. “Nice place, but it willna last,” he said in a deep, throaty tone.
“Ye think? I hate to disappoint ye, C.J., but my clubs are hot. Ye may have succeeded in running all the other vamps out of business, but ye haven’t got me yet.”
“Ye’r right, I’m no’ finished with ye. I’ve been easy on ye because of our past, but ye’r going too far, Ian, and endangering us all.”
“I use and exploit humans for what they are. If they want what I have to offer, they’re taking the risk, not me. If more find out about us, I say bring it on. I’ll be a rich man. I doona like ye, and ye doona like me. I’ll have no regrets when I take ye down.”
“I see that’s the way ye want to play it. This venue of yers will burn out its appeal eventually, but not before it does severe damage. The mortals want the glamour and privacy I provide them, not this dark, morose style. Ye’r endangering the safety of us all with what ye’r doing.” He swallowed the last of his drink and slammed the glass down on the bar.
“Yer clubs have lost their edge. You’ve lost yer edge. My clubs are the hottest and latest thing. The young mortals love them, and they drive this industry. Ye’r catering to the old rich bastards, and they’ll be leavin’ their money to their young. They doona want what ye offer, they want what I have. Ye’r dead and doona know it.”
Christian didn’t continue arguing. He stood and glared, the blood burning in his veins, and knew his emerald eyes were greener than usual. It always happened with the onset of anger, right before they turned into the brilliant red of fame and legend.
Christian turned to leave, not saying a word.
“Go ahead, walk away. Ye know I’m right, yer nights are numbered. When I take ye down, it will be too late for ye to do anythin’ about it.”
Ian’s laughter followed him out. As of tonight, they were enemies in ways beyond the entertainment world. Ian’s policy of open membership at his clubs threatened possible exposure of vampires to the human world, tipping the balance beyond their past friendship. Christian vowed to take Ian down at any cost.
The limousine ride back to the Nocturnal Desert Rose, his latest resort in the United States, offered Christian the opportunity to think hard the inevitable showdown with Ian. What happened between them that led them to this point? Christian missed his friend, but Ian changed after he lost his mate, Cassandra. She betrayed him with another vampire. After killing both of them, he turned into a bitter and dark vampire bent on destroying anything that crossed him. Christian refused any association with him. After years of avoidance, their paths went in separate directions. He didn’t hear from Ian until about twenty-five years ago when the Vampire Rage came into fashion. They were rivals in the entertainment business of vampire sex and blood, and quite possibly the delicate balance of humans and vampires co-existing.
Had Ian spoke some truth? Am I losing my edge? His vampire resorts were world renowned among the famous and infamous celebrities who loved to hobnob with vampires. Cavorting with vamps became the chic thing to do, drink vampire blood for the healing benefits and have hot sex. Blood, the new drug of choice, like cocaine in the 1980’s, led to his business success. With a couple of his human and vampire friends, he formed a joint venture and developed private resorts around the globe catering to the rich and famous and their ‘thirst’ for vampires. After a few successful years, he bought out the partners and became sole owner of one of the most successful vampire entertainment businesses. Other groups of vampire entrepreneurs had tried to muscle in on Christian’s territory by bringing in a more unsavory, darker side of the business with Goth-style clubs and resorts, but they didn’t survive. He put them out of business, except for one—Ian.
The patrons of Christian’s clubs had at least a net worth of tens of millions. Many of those in the local governments, where the resorts were located, played in the inner circle of the Vampire Rage with financial benefits. For the general populace, vampires were nothing more than a legend, a myth for the macabre-minded people who fantasized about them. The elite circle of select humans liked it that way, and Christian eagerly accommodated their desires. He and his vampire friends and colleagues didn’t want their existence to be known to the general population for fear of being hunted down to be used for medical experimentation and eventual extermination. They, the vampires, had survived for centuries and intended to continue for centuries more. Ian changed the rules by making his clubs available to a younger, less affluent crowd. A move, which could lead to exposure of their kind with an outcome Christian didn’t want to contemplate.
In addition to the older customers, a few select young mortals patronized Christian’s establishments. Revenues were up, and he thought about projects for future expansion. They were less expensive to develop than large resorts and his board of directors was more likely to approve a smaller venture. The outstanding decision was the location. Viable locations included Berlin, Hong Kong, Ibiza, and even Buenos Aires, or maybe another location in the States. None seemed right. This time, he wanted a somewhere with a warm climate. The resort theme in Vegas had a small club on-site, but nothing on The Strip. To put one there to compete with Ian, didn’t make sense. Another location, perhaps in the south would be more viable, maybe even on a Caribbean Island. Was Ian correct? Was he losing his edge and couldn’t make a simple decision like choosing a new club location?
Christian needed to clear his head. He wanted to be the best at what he did, always had been, and always would be. “Ian isn’t getting away with filling my head with bullshit,” he mumbled.
The Nocturnal Desert Rose came into view, and Christian made a decision. He required rest and relaxation, time to collect his thoughts, and choose his next plan of action. His favorite resort rested in Crete, Greece. To him, the Elounda Resort remained the most peaceful place on earth. There, he could find himself and regain self-confidence. A visit during the peak season of July with the international crowd would make for vibrant conversation and pique his creative juices. He’d spend a couple months relaxing and getting his edge back before thinking about his next project. After finishing his business in Vegas, he would leave for Elounda.
“Sir, we’ve arrived,” the driver announced.
As the limousine came to a halt at the front entrance, Christian spied a pair of unaccompanied tall and lanky women, one blonde and the other a brunette. The doorman opened the limo door and Christian stepped out, immediately making his way to the women. He needed companionship and a blood-fix tonight. The effects of not feeding in four days showed signs in his mental stamina. The bloodlust was the first indication of the need.
“Ladies, are you here unaccompanied?” he asked as he put his arms around their waists.
“Not anymore,” one of them said, giggling.
“My name is C.J., the owner of this establishment. What do you say we have a party in my suite?”
The two women smiled as their eyebrows arched and pupils widened with excitement. They made their way to his penthouse suite where he had his way with them, sexually and by taking their blood. He sent them on their way before dawn.
Closing his eyes, he felt the weight of three hundred lonely years. As the sun began to rise over the desert sands, Elounda called to him.
Two more weeks.
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