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Stefan's Salvation

By:N.J. Walters

Stefan's Salvation

Chapter One

A vampire walked into a bar.

Stefan Dalakis smiled inwardly as he pulled open the weathered wooden door and

walked into the dimly lit bar, leaving the dark of night behind him. It amused him to

wonder what the patrons would think if they only knew what walked among them.

But there was no joke to follow the opening line.

The door banged solidly shut behind him and every head in the place turned his

way. They all eyed him suspiciously. His gaze swept the room, cataloguing each patron

in turn. Even though the room was poorly lit and he was wearing mirrored sunglasses,

he saw everything. His vision was many times greater than any human's and there was

no place on earth where it was so dark that he could not see.

He knew very well what they saw as they stared at him. At six-foot-six, he was a

tall man, but he was heavily muscled as well, which gave the illusion that he was even

bigger. The long, black leather duster that he wore was open, revealing a black linen

shirt and a pair of black jeans. He pushed his waist-length, black hair back over his

shoulders and ignored the barely veiled looks of mistrust as he ambled toward the bar.

His boot heels scuffed across a scarred plank floor that had obviously seen better days.

The bartender eyed him uncertainly as Stefan came to a halt in front of him. "Did

you lose your way, mister?"

Could he be any more obvious? Here's your hat, what's your hurry? Clearly they

didn't get many strangers here. And why would they? This was a rundown roadside

bar nestled deep in the mountains of North Carolina. From the outside, the place was in

rough shape. The paint was peeling from the sides of the building and the gravel

parking lot was rutted with potholes. If it wasn't for all the trucks parked in front, one

might think it was nothing more than an abandoned building.

Slowly, Stefan reached up and removed his sunglasses. He wore them whenever he

drove at night to cut down on the glare of the oncoming headlights. Folding them

carefully, he tucked them safely inside his shirt pocket before raising his eyes to pin the

bartender with his glare. The other man gasped and gripped the side of the bar, his

fingers digging into the thick wood. It was perhaps an overreaction, but Stefan was

used to it. In fact, these days he encouraged it.

The corners of Stefan's mouth turned up slightly, but it by no means could be

misconstrued as a smile. He glanced into the mirror hanging behind the bar. His eyes

blazed a brilliant emerald green...Dalakis eyes. They were a family trait that marked

him, his brothers and all other Dalakis males who had come before them. "No, I'm not

lost." He turned his gaze back to the man standing behind the bar.

The bartender swallowed hard, his Adam's apple bobbing. He opened his mouth to

speak and croaked instead.

Stefan waited patiently, listening with half an ear to the strains of country music

blaring from the jukebox in the corner of the room. He preferred classic rock, but he did

enjoy some of the older country songs.

The other man finally cleared his throat. "What can I get you?" He picked up a rag

and began to wipe down the top of the bar. Stefan didn't know why he even bothered.

The rag was more gray than white.

"Beer. Whatever you've got in a bottle."

The bartender was starting to relax the longer Stefan just stood there. He reached

behind him and opened up a cooler, pulling a frosted bottle from its depths. Opening

the bottle with a flourish, he placed it in front of Stefan. "You visiting?"

Stefan had been expecting the not-so-subtle probe for information. It was the same

everywhere he went. Ignoring the question, he dug into his pocket, pulled out a few

bills and tossed them onto the counter. Grabbing the bottle, he turned his back on the

bartender and ambled over to a table in the corner.

Plunking the bottle down, he snagged a chair and placed it directly in the corner.

Satisfied, he settled himself on the chair, tipping it back so that it balanced on two legs.

Taking his time, he surveyed the room.

It was mostly men hunched over the tables, drinking and talking in small groups.

There were a few women--not many, but those who were there had obviously come

looking for a good time. With their skintight jeans, skimpy tops and high-heeled shoes,

they were walking, talking sex. Two were blonde and one was a brunette, but all three

of them wore their hair teased into high, poofy styles that seemed to defy gravity. Their

eyes were rimmed in dark mascara and their lips were painted the same crimson red as

their long fingernails. The two blondes sat by themselves at a table. The brunette was

laughing and chatting with three men who were hanging on her every word.

One of the blondes eyed him with interest and he returned her stare. She nudged

her friend and bent to whisper in her ear. They thought they might get lucky tonight.

Stefan heard every word they said as if they were sitting right next to him. His hearing

was as acute as his vision.

Sex. That was something that hadn't interested him much in decades. But that

wasn't totally true, he reminded himself. He'd been very interested a couple months

ago when he'd watched his brother, Lucian, have sex with Delight. He'd envied the

close bond between them. He'd shared the experience with them, yet been apart from it.

But tonight, he found himself noticing both women's bountiful breasts. He could

imagine them stripped naked and lying on a bed just waiting for him to do as he

pleased. They'd spread their long legs at his command. God, he could almost smell

their heat--the heady aroma of an aroused woman. There was nothing else quite like it.

And it had been a long time since he'd felt much of anything other than a deep,

unanswered yearning to find a woman of his own. A true mate.

Maybe he'd get them to pleasure themselves while he watched. He could imagine

their red-tipped fingers sliding in and out of their hot cunts. No. One of them could

pleasure herself while the other sucked his cock, her red, pouty lips sliding up and

down his length, taking him deep into her throat. The low moans would get more

frantic and when he was ready, he'd toss both of them onto the bed and fuck them.

And when they were sated, he'd lower his mouth to their necks and drink from

them, appeasing his own hunger. Just the thought of it had his cock rock hard and

straining against the zipper of his jeans.

The beast inside him rumbled to life. Every heartbeat in the room pounded in his

ears. He could hear the swoosh of their blood pumping through their veins. The

sensation was hypnotic. He licked his lips, almost tasting the tang in his mouth.

He was hungry and they were sustenance.

Closing his eyes, he willed the beast back into submission. It wasn't easy. He could

feel the sweat trickling down the back of his neck. As the nights seemed to grow longer,

it had gotten harder and harder to even have the will to fight his very nature. It would

be so easy to take what he wanted with no consequences.

Taking slow, steady breaths, he ignored his throbbing erection and centered himself

until he was back in total control. He opened his eyes and carefully scanned the room

again. Nothing had changed. No one here knew the battle that had just been fought and

won. No one knew that their lives had just been spared.

The beer was cool and the bottle sweaty in his hand as he took a long pull. He

welcomed the bitterness of the brew as it slid down his throat to his belly. It did nothing

to still the hunger within him.

He knew he had to feed. His brothers usually drank blood that they purchased

from various blood banks through dummy companies. He didn't mind living that way,

but on the road there was no other way for him to survive except to eat straight from

the source. Stefan was always very careful not to take too much and to implant a

pleasant memory in the mind of the donor. They were no worse off when he left them,

so it didn't trouble his conscience any.

He raised the bottle and took another swig. That was, if he even still had a

conscience. Some days he wasn't sure.

His brothers would be appalled at how close he was to the edge and it was that fact

that constantly pulled him back from the point of no return. He walked a fine line

between survival and insanity. His nights grew darker and bleaker as each one came

and went.

He knew he could return to New Orleans. His brother, Lucian, and his new wife,

Delight, would happily include him in their lives. Or, for that matter, he could fly to his

homeland of Transylvania and spend time with his eldest brother, Cristofor, and his

wife, Johanna. He was truly happy his brothers had found the women who completed

their lives and made them whole.

But it was for that very reason that he stayed away.

Watching the two couples and their obvious happiness had almost driven him out

into the killing sunlight. Almost. Stefan Dalakis was no coward and no quitter. But

more than that, he would not do anything to hurt his brothers, who he loved more than

his own life.

As the youngest of the three, Stefan had grown up being watched over by both Cris

and Lucian. Even now, they still tried. But those days were long over. He was more

than capable of taking care of himself.

His brothers, although both extremely dangerous and powerful men, had grown

lax. He, on the other hand, had survived by pushing himself to his limits both

physically and mentally, constantly testing his powers and learning more.

He'd wandered the world over the past few centuries and, for the most part, he'd