Zarkon watched with baleful eyes as the slave served him wine, his attention drawn to her hands and the way they trembled around the decanter. Her breathing was shallow as she poured. Zarkon noted this with a grunt and her eyes were suddenly upon him, fearful and wide.

It was slow motion the way the decanter shattered on the dais, tiny shards of glass ringing in discord as they hit they stone. The wine, a red so deep it almost looked black, slid down the steps leading to Zarkon’s throne like a succession of blood-washed waterfalls.

Grabbing the slave by her chin, Zarkon brought her close, his eyes locking cruelly with hers. There were gasps from behind—the other slaves tending to him—however the one in his tightening grip remained silent. She knew better than to look away, not with the claw of his thumb pressed against her cheek. He saw how she held her jaw steady, careful not to lean into his touch, but the rest of her quivered. She opened her mouth to speak.

“Do you know,” Zarkon said, cutting her off before she had a chance to beg forgiveness, “What is used to make that wine?”

The slave closed her mouth, offering him a shake of her head in answer. Zarkon smiled, sadistic and cold.

“Blood,” he said. She flinched and her skin grew chill. Zarkon pressed his thumb into her cheek to hold her still. “The blood of slaves just like you.” With a quick jerk, he buried his face between her neck and shoulder. “A sweet bouquet, full bodied,” he inhaled sharply, licking along her collarbone, “With a slight tang of copper that lingers behind. It’s what I love best in a good blood wine.”

He used his tongue to taste her, experience her the way he would any human woman. Blond and slim. Bending to any of his whims without so much as a whimper of protest, that was how he chose the slaves to serve him personally. Fangs grazing her neck, Zarkon could feel this one little slave trembling, fighting not to move lest she impale herself. When her body relaxed, Zarkon bent her head sideways with a hard shove of his hands.

His mouth went dry as he fingered the curve of her neck with slow, deliberate strokes of his claws. A smile then while watching a bright red line appear in their wake. “As a slave, you should know you pay for what you ruin twofold,” he said, voice quiet and dangerous. “My glass is anything but full.”

Seizing her wrist, Zarkon yanked the slave into his lap and bit down. She bled for him, the sweet taste of blood running from her wrist over his lips. His tongue. The slave looked down, screaming in horror as she watched her life quickly collect in Zarkon’s cup.

“I don’t want to die!”

“Shhh,” Zarkon soothed, running the claws of one hand through her hair, pricking at her scalp, as the other shook her wrist into his chalice. The slave quickly dissolved into a fit of sobbing and pleaded for her life. Zarkon frowned, tossing the quivering body of his slave to the floor.

His cup full, Zarkon took a large swig, reminding himself just how much he hated it when his slaves cried.

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