Zsadist is copyrighted to J.R. Ward and belongs to her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Like Nick, I borrow Zsadist to role play with. Of course doing so with all respect to the author and the source material.
If you thought Nick and I were strange together, that’s nothing compared to Zsadist…
Stalking a vampire is tricky business. Following after a vampire in the midst of hunting down his prey was probably really, really stupid.
Chasing Zsadist down a snow-covered sidewalk, now that’s downright suicidal.
One would think that after hearing his reputation as a woman killer, in the literal sense, that I’d be trying to keep at least a whole city block between us. Most people took one glance at his screwed up face and beat feet in the opposite direction. Not me, though. Oh no, I had to go and form a friendship of sorts with the male. If you could call what we had a friendship; it was more like a business arrangement. A rather bizarre business arrangement.
I followed him around the corner with my gaze before quietly jogging to catch up. There was a metallic whisper, Zsadist pulling one of his daggers free from its holster. My feet slowed to a crawl. Not out of fear of being run through by his blade, but because the telltale scent of baby powder hung heavy in the air. The lesser Z had been stalking waited down at the other end of the alley. I could just make out his form through the darkness. Evil bastards, the whole lot of them. Their entire existence centered around killing vampires, some of which were my friends.
“I told you to get your ass home, female.” Zsadist growled from the shadows right beside me.
“Jesus Christ,” I hissed. “You could have given me a heart attack.”
“It would serve you right.”
Zsadist stepped out of the shadows. The dim light from the moon didn’t do him any favors. A wicked scar ran down his face, making it look as though he were always snarling. It wasn’t far from the truth. He wasn’t exactly the most easy going member of the Brotherhood. I could count the number of times I’d seen him smile on one hand. And I wouldn’t even need all the fingers.
I tore my eyes away from the scar. After all these years it still managed to creep me out. “I just wanted to see you in action.”
“You could have waited until I hit ZeroSum later. The real action happens in the alley,” he sneered. The comment struck a nerve.
See, Zsadist’s taste in women ran towards the type that required a cash transaction. He wasn’t too picky about cleanliness either. He’d pick up the most trashed whore he could find so long as her hair was out of the way. I knew why he did it, had suffered through the story so many times just thinking about it broke my heart. The one time I tried to sit down and have a heart to heart with him about it turned into a disaster. I refused to talk to him for weeks after. The pain was too much. He and I were too close for me to stomach his self-hatred.
Z used that knowledge as a weapon when he thought I was meddling in things best left alone. It cut as sure as those black daggers Vishous made him.
“Don’t be disgusting. You know I hate it when you feed like that.”
“And yet you keep writing it.” Zsadist got closer. I could smell the soap he’d used in the shower. “Know what I think?”
“What?” God, I shouldn’t have followed him. If I could, I would’ve kicked myself.
“I think you get off on it. My perversion stokes your fire.” He grabbed the front of his leather pants, purposely drawing my attention to his crotch. “If I dropped a couple hundred on the street right now you’d play like a whore for me. Wouldn’t you, female?”
Just when I thought I couldn’t despise him any more, he went and pulled something like this. The hate never stayed with me, though. All too quickly it morphed into pity. Forces far beyond his control made him this way. I’d be a shitty friend if I judged him poorly for lashing out all the time. Didn’t mean I wasn’t wicked pissed at the moment, though.
“Go. Fuck. Yourself.”
Zsadist gave a low chuckle. The sound hit my spine like a block of ice. Instinct told me to run, but it was Z. I knew he wouldn’t actually hurt me. Scare the piss out of me, threaten to tie me up and lock me in a closet, yes, but never intentionally harm me. The scars he left were on my mind. I could not forget the hell his life had been.
His arm shot out suddenly and connected with my shoulder, knocking me off balance. I toppled into the slice of darkness he’d been hiding in. Rough brick caught me before my ass hit cold pavement.
“I must be one lucky fuck,” a stranger’s voice drawled. The scent of baby powder was back.
Stupid me. I forgot about the lesser we’d followed into the alley.
A pissed off face blocked my view. “Keep your ass right there or I will kill you myself.”
All I could manage was a nod. The idea I’d had when I set off to follow Zsadist was to hang back at a safe distance and watch how he fought. It was a side of him I’d never seen before. He flat out refused to fight in front of me, like he didn’t want to soil my brain with the nasty part of his Brotherhood business. Yet he would torture me endlessly with tales of his twisted sex life. The male confused the hell out of me.
“I’m going to fuck your female with my knife after I’m done with you,” the lesser called.
My skin ran as cold as the snow under my boots, getting damn near Artic when Zsadist laughed at the pale-haired man.
“Not going to happen.” He flipped his dagger blade up against his forearm and sank into a balanced fighting stance.
The lesser’s eyes went wide for a moment. His hands moved to the small of his back. I held my breath, half expecting the muzzle of a gun to come back around. A knife blade winked in the dark as his hands came around again. He hunkered down, back at an odd angle. I couldn’t help but smile in my little piece of shadow. Zsadist was going to use the undead asshole as a mop.
Zsadist moved first. Each step carefully calculated. As he circled around the lesser, I saw his eyes darting to the blank stretch of black pavement between them. He took two steps forward and braced himself again.
The lesser watched him like a mouse caught in a snake’s cage. His grip on the knife was so tight I saw the detail of his knucklebones. But that look on his face, it was all business. He really thought he could take down a brother. The idiot probably already had a speech worked up in his evil brain about how it was “so easy” to one-up the brother.
“Are you done dancing, vampire?”
“No, but I’ll have to wait until I can dance on your skull.” Zsadist didn’t even crack a grin.
A sound part laugh, part growl came out of the lesser. He launched himself over the space separating them, knife raised above his head. Just when I thought Zsadist would close the gap and take advantage of the man’s exposed stomach, the lesser gave a startled yelp. Combat boots flipped up in the air. Air wooshed out of the pale-haired man’s lungs as his back slammed onto the ground. A crack rang through the alley, his skull bouncing off a thin pane of black ice.
Zsadist took his time walking over to the fallen lesser. The man groaned and tried to roll over. Black, oily blood soaked into his hair. My stomach did a funny flip-flop and I told it to shut the hell up. It was time to man up. I chose to be there, knew what it was Z did when he went out on patrol. If I tossed my cookies this would be the last bit of action I ever saw.
The black blade tucked up against Zsadist’s arm flipped down as he changed his grip from a slashing attack to a stabbing one. With the lesser TKOed by the ice, all he had to do was clean up the mess. For once Caldwell’s lack of warmth came in handy. I had to give my boy credit for using it to his advantage.
He knelt down next to the lesser. His free hand disappeared into the guy’s pants and reappeared with a tattered brown wallet. The wallet sailed my way. Pure instinct helped me recover from my shock in time to catch it. I frowned at Zsadist, but he wasn’t looking at me. His black eyes were all for his next kill.
“You should thank the female, asswipe. If she weren’t here I’d play Operation on your ass. We’d see just how painful it is to yank out your breadbasket.”
The lesser rolled his head my way. Pure hatred radiated in those dead eyes. I knew he would’ve gone after me if Zsadist wasn’t there. Swallowing past the sudden lump in my throat, I gave him a confident stare I didn’t quite feel.
Then he was gone.
I blinked a few times. The flashy exit lessers made was brighter than I anticipated. When my vision cleared I squeaked. Zsadist stood less than a foot away, looking me over head to toe.
“Yeah.” Was I okay? All I did was make like a lawn ornament and watch. I held out the wallet. “I could use a drink, though.”
Zsadist nodded and led the way back out to the street. I followed, trying to stay between the giant wall of pissed off vampire and the streetlights. With the combination of the two I managed to feel safe. Surprising given who and what my company was and the death I’d witnessed.
ZeroSum pulled into focus like an oasis in the middle of the desert. I hesitated at the door, remembering what Z said before. He was going to feed tonight, I knew it. Well, I told myself as I walked to the VIP section behind him, that would be one show I’d be glad to sit out. Watching him off the lesser was enough of a shock to my system. I needed therapy in the form of Jameson’s finest whiskey. Straight. Up.
I was wondering if I could sucker the waitress into leaving the bottle when I felt like we were being watched. Zsadist must have sensed it too because his eyes peeled off the whore he’d been sizing up and focused on something behind me. Those pitch-black eyes narrowed down.
“I’ll send back whoever I use in one piece,” he said after a few seconds.
“Yes, yes you will.” A large, furry shape walked over to stand at the open end of the booth.
Jesus. Fucking. Christ. The male, I knew it was a vampire because he flashed those pointy chompers at Z when he smiled, was huge. The bulk of his fur coat probably helped the illusion, but I had a feeling that if he took it off, he’d be just as imposing. I reached for my glass, needing some of that sweet brown nectar to help keep my heart from tap dancing in my chest. The damn glass was empty.
“My ladies are slacking tonight.” The vampire flagged down a waitress. “Her glass goes dry, so do your tips.”
The blonde did the bobble-head thing and filled my glass. I raised it in a silent toast and downed the thing. God did it burn. “Thanks…”
He leaned down, lips way too close to my ear. “Out here I am The Reverend, but since you are a friend of the Brotherhood you may call me Rehvenge.”
I laughed, I couldn’t help it. “You all have some mean-ass parents. None of you have remotely normal names.”
“Renee,” Zsadist growled in warning.
“Okay, I’ll shut up about it.” I sulked and took a sip out of my magically refilling glass.
Rehvenge laughed and looked over at Z. “Never thought I’d see you bring a date to my club.”
“She’s not my date.” He’d gone back to sizing up whores. The redhead with the very short bob caught his attention.
“Oh? Then what is she?” Amethyst eyes looked me over like I’d done something interesting. I couldn’t blame him, with Zsadist’s reputation seeing him with any female was cause for alarm.
“A royal pain in my ass.” He leveled a finger at me. “I’ve found what I want to drink. You stay right the fuck there. If you try to follow I’ll have you instead.”
The rest of my whiskey went down the hatch as I watched Zsadist approach the whore and disappear out the fire exit. There was no way in hell I’d follow. My sick curiosity had taken enough damage. I didn’t want to end up like that poor metaphorical cat everyone kept going on about.
“If I were you,” Rehvenge said as he headed off. “I’d find a new friend. That one will land you in a pine box.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“You do that, female.” He gave me a nod and walked away, leaving me alone with the memories of black blood oozing over thin ice.