Freda Warrington’s “Gorgeous Grave-throbber” Tour

A Taste of Blood Wine by Freda Warrington

A Taste of Blood and Wine by Freda Warrington Blog Tour

The 3rd of May saw the re-release of A Taste of Blood Wine by Freda Warrington from Titan Books. This is the first in the award-winning British fantasy author’s Gothic ‘Blood Books’ series. Described as True Blood meets Downton Abbey, it is sure to make an impact on the dark fantasy scene.

To celebrate this release, Freda Warrington is serialising two of her rarest and most risque stories, set in the Blood Books world and spread across a number of websites and blogs, including this one.

Below you will find the fourth part of the short story And Their Blood Will Be Prescient to Fire. Check out the rest of the tale here:

And Their Blood Will Be Prescient to Fire: Part 4

by Freda Warrington

Ruth woke from a heavy sleep, her mouth dry, pain hammering delicately behind her eyes. She pushed her hair out of her face and remembered…

Not shame or guilt, but disbelief. Before Mark she’d had affairs she’d regretted, but never in her life had she succumbed to a stranger, a celebrity, a woman. Her skin felt burnished smooth like leather, beautiful. She remembered sensuality, heat, orgasm, all laced with a nightmare of being pinioned and drowning. Her neck throbbed. As she tried to move it began to hurt, really hurt, shooting pain deep into her shoulder. She reached across the crumpled landscape of sheets but the space beside her was empty.

The ballerina sat on the end corner of the bed, staring at her. Violette’s knees were drawn up, arms wrapped around them, ankles crossed. Under the shower of raven hair, she was a white statue. She gazed at Ruth like some lavender-eyed cat, unblinking. There was blood on her mouth.

Pushing herself up on her elbows, Ruth asked, ‘You okay?’

No answer. The ballerina appeared catatonic.

‘Violette? What’s wrong with you?’

Blood gleamed freshly on the parted lips. Ruth put her hand to the sore place above her collarbone and her fingers came away red. A recent nerve-memory of pain lanced her, of being pulled down into a red-black whirlpool where pleasure and horror congealed together.

‘What did you do to me?’ Fear made Ruth angry. ‘You have to be some kind of…’ The word maniac didn’t touch the slow, oppressive heartbeat of fear, the wrongness of an atmosphere tainted with the bitter honey of opiates. ‘For God’s sake, say something!’

Still no response from the thing on the bed. Ruth panicked. She was on her feet, struggling to dress, stuffing her belongings into her designer holdall, muttering, ‘Oh God, oh Jesus.’ She couldn’t breathe properly. Couldn’t make her limbs move fast enough. As she floundered to escape, the only parts of the ice sculpture that moved were the eyes, watching her.

At daybreak, Charlotte wandered the hotel looking for Violette and in a corridor she found the woman who looked like Robyn. She was emerging from a room, struggling to heft a bag, fasten strappy shoes and talk into her mobile, all at once.

‘No, I’m done with the conference… Something happened and I’m kinda freaked out… I sound weird? Babe, wait ’til I tell you… Yeah, come pick me up like now. Yeah, you can park in front of reception like we said… okay, ’bye.’

‘Anything wrong?’ Charlotte asked.

Ruth Sarandon jumped so hard she nearly dropped her phone. Pushing uncombed hair out of her face, she looked at Charlotte wild-eyed. ‘Your friend is out of her mind. I don’t give a rat’s ass how famous she is.’ She pointed at the half-open door. ‘She’s just sitting there. And who the hell is Robyn?’

Charlotte let her face betray nothing. She probably looked as strange to Ruth now as Violette did, all porcelain and glass. ‘I’m sorry,’ said Charlotte. ‘I should have tried to warn you.’

‘Warn me – what?’

‘You reminded her of someone else.’

‘No kidding.’ Ruth’s face was beautifully flushed with anger. She rubbed at faint bruises on her throat. ‘She used to bite them too? That’s assault. She put something in my drink. I should call the police!’

‘I’m sorry you were hurt.’ Charlotte meant it; her low tone seemed to calm the woman. She pushed her hair back again, sighed shakily.

‘It’s okay. Consenting adults, and all that. But she is seriously disturbed. I have to go meet my sister.’

Ruth went striding away, shoulders back, as fast as she could without actually running. Charlotte watched her from a distance, stabbing at an elevator button. Then she entered the room.

The dancer sat folded on the end of the bed, a dark elf.

‘Violette?’ Charlotte said softly. ‘What are you doing?’

‘Wondering if I can love her or not.’

Charlotte gave a short sigh. ‘It’s academic, since she’s bolted.’

‘She wasn’t Robyn.’

‘I tried to tell you that.’

‘But I had to touch her and taste her before I could believe it.’ Violette relaxed, turning to drop her feet to the carpet. Her hands rested loosely on the bed cover and she sat forlornly. ‘The question is, would I hate her for being so like Robyn but not actually her, never her? Or could I accept her as a different person and love her anyway?’

‘The thing is,’ Charlotte said, folding her arms, ‘that while you were having this debate with yourself, you freaked the living daylights out of Ruth, and didn’t even notice.’

Violette’s eyes flashed up at Charlotte through a winter lattice of hair. ‘Did you try to warn her away from me?’

‘No. I wish I had!’ Charlotte put up her hands but Violette came at her and seized her arms.

‘Yes, you still think you have a right to interfere with my life. Still want to control me, all out of guilt for having unleashed me on the world.’

They stood face to face, glaring. Violette’s words hurt, but they were true.

‘I’m only pointing out the obvious, since you can’t see it,’ Charlotte snapped. ‘You’re only thinking about what you want. You don’t even know her! You’re in a dream, wondering can you or can’t you? Meanwhile, she’s too terrified out of her brain to know or care what’s going on in yours. You drugged her, drank her blood and called her Robyn all night. From her point of view, this is not the start of a promising relationship.’

Violette released her. ‘It was Stefan’s wine. What a sad excuse.’ Outlined by the glow through the curtains she was a creamy silhouette like Venus rising. ‘It was a dream, a lovely, depraved dream.’

‘Come on,’ said Charlotte. ‘It’s time to leave.’

Violette’s bloodied mouth twisted in a smile. ‘I can’t.’

‘Why not?’

‘I think Ruth, in her haste, took my top. I’m not asking for it back. Best we never meet again.’

Charlotte half-smiled. ‘She’s in no mood for an apology. Take this.’ She took off her cardigan, a lacy thing crocheted of gold silk.

‘Poor Ruth,’ said Violette. ‘That’s it: I’ve forgotten how even to pretend to be human. I’m designed to be alone. I know that. I bring light to others, but I’m damned if I can find it for myself. I feel as if I’m made of bone.’ She came forward again, slim hips swaying; so beautiful, Charlotte could only stare. ‘That sounded wonderfully self-pitying, didn’t it? I should be beyond all that. But it still hurts.’

‘You’ve always got me,’ said Charlotte.

Violette shook her head sadly. ‘No, I haven’t.’

Charlotte leaned in and kissed her on the mouth, tasting Ruth’s blood, lapping the red sweetness from Violette’s tongue and lips until the stain was gone. They stood looking at each other, hands soft on each other’s arms, as they had a thousand times in the past.

‘Ruth tasted nice,’ said Charlotte.

She touched Violette.

Safe in my parked car, Ruth spills it all out. ‘ You have to know the truth, Sarah,’ so apologetic – as if she’s doing me a favour, while plainly relishing every moment of the scandal. Calm at last, she even starts making little jokes about it. ‘What a night! (Oh, Mark must never know, right?) Wow, what a kick.’

She doesn’t notice my silence, my knuckles turning white on the steering wheel. Ruth of all people – with her perfect career, perfect marriage – Ruth has had what I’ve only dreamed of. Violette’s attention, her desire, her yearning, her body, her pleasure and anguish. And it meant nothing to her. Just as she didn’t truly see Violette, she doesn’t see me either.

I feel like telling my sister the simple truth. When she bit you, it was me who felt it. When she realised she couldn’t love you, those were my tears that fell.

But I can’t speak and suddenly she’s getting out of the car again. ‘I’m acting crazy,’ says Ruth, fishing in her bag. ‘I can handle this. I’m going to go right back in there and give Violette her shirt back.’

The first book in Freda Warrington’s Blood Books series, A Taste of Blood Wine, is out now from Titan Books, £7.99. Read the rest of the short story, And Their Blood Will Be Prescient to Fire, here:

© Freda Warrington

Buy A Taste of Blood Wine by Freda Warrington


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