top of page

SAMPLE CHAPTER: The Vampire Jack Townson - Fame Has Its Price

Chapter Four

The Audition





A four-block walk brought us past sixteen homeless people, a jazz player, a living statue, four pissed-off dogs, a rat dragging a pizza slice, and a cab that almost ran us over in the crosswalk, but we did make it to our destination: The Prepotent


This mysterious building seemed older than the city itself, modernized with flashing lights and a digital sign across the front, yet it boasted an air of antiquity. It stood tall with stone pillars and gargoyles perched high above, casting their watchful gazes down at denizens below. Old stone carvings with Latin inscriptions adorned its exterior. It was a sight that belonged in either the darkest nightmare or the grandest fantasy, depending on the time of day. 


As I stared at this architectural marvel, I couldn’t recall ever noticing it here before. I frequented the city. I knew the blocks—the alleys. It felt like a Mandela effect, making me question if this place had sprung from the ground like a cursed tree. I was horrified to enter and meet the person who claimed this kingdom as his domain.


“Alright,” Chris chuckled hurriedly. “Get your ass up to the top floor. Tell them Chris Cornton sent you for a private audition, and they’ll get you to Alexander’s personal office.” He turned to me, smoothing down his lapel.


I gaped stupidly at him. “Wait, you never mentioned that I was auditioning with the owner himself. That’s not how this usually works!” 


It felt like showing up for an audition for E.T. and finding Steven Spielberg waiting for you in the casting office. My stomach flipped and my knees turned to putty. 


Chris grabbed my shoulders and pulled me into what could only be described as a bro huddle. “Hey! Knock that shit off. You’ve got this. Do you want to be stuck in that broken town forever, waiting tables, and being your dad’s whipping boy?” 


I shook my head. 


“Then get the fuck up there, kick down the door, and impress the hell out of this guy with your talent and charisma, okay?” 


Chris may have left me behind—he may have found success while I tripped over failure, but he was a true friend. He always had been, and I was starting to remember why I once felt so connected to him.


“Alright. You’re right,” I exhaled, hyping myself up. “I’ve got this.”


“Damn right, you do! Now stop wasting time and get up there!” 


Chris gave me one last slap on the arm and a shove in the right direction. My shoes nearly slipped as I struggled to catch myself from the force.


Inside, the massive, marble lobby was overwhelming as I scoured the various corridors and entries in search of the right way to go. An older man seated at the front desk waved me over. He had very little to say, glancing down at some list on a clipboard. I supposed he’d already been informed of my arrival. How efficient Chris was. 


The paunchy-gutted guard guided me toward the elevator, punching a button for me. “Up you go, Mr. Donovan. Break…a leg.”


I scrambled inside. His wrinkled sausage-like fingers pressed the button for the top floor, the light illuminating the fleshy pink just above his nail. Then his fingers retreated, finding the hat he wore, and gave it a reassuring tug in my direction. A creased smile appeared, causing his lips to pull broader under his mustache. 


Up I went, the elevator screeching its way to the top floors of the old stone building in a straight vertical ascent. Once I reached the sixth floor, it lurched to a stop. I exited the cage and was greeted by something unexpected— 


Confusion washed over me as I took in the sixth floor. The area was a departure from the grand venue below. It was a tight space flooded with red neon light, almost resembling a nightclub—but one that would have felt very intimate. 


An island bar stood against the back wall, offering a view of the city through plated glass that stretched around to the right. I cautiously explored the empty place, my shoes awash in the flashing blue lights along the floor that trailed the bar’s base. The dance floor was not far from the surrounding tables, but what caught my attention was a hidden room tucked away in the back, past a set of very curious-looking stairs. 


Ignoring the red velvet stairway, I made my way toward the room, which was partially obscured by sheer, rose-embroidered curtains.


As I approached, I could make out the shape of what appeared to be a throne inside. It seemed out of place—a gothic piece of furniture that stood as a symbol of power and authority there in a seedy nighttime establishment. I wondered who would have the audacity to sit on that throne there in that club. Perhaps it was a perk for fancy bottle service… or maybe for patrons who requested a lap dance. 


Just as I reached to touch it, a voice boomed from behind me, startling me.

“James, right?” 


I turned to face the source of the resonant tone, my heart nearly leaping out of my chest. I thought I had been totally alone in that room. 


Before me, stood a stocky man, likely in his thirties or forties, gazing at me with concern. He had dark salt and pepper hair, a thick beard, glassy blue eyes, and heavy brows. He grumbled, his hands resting on his wide hips. 


“You okay, buddy?” he asked in a surly southern drawl. 


My eyelids fluttered rapidly before I nodded in acknowledgment. My bones gave a shiver under my damp worksuit.


“Just looking for where my audition is supposed to be. I got lost. This isn’t the top floor?” I asked, the whipping motion of my soaked black curls threatening to slap me in the face.

The stranger chuckled before running broad fingers through his beard. “Actually, this is technically the top floor. See, the elevator doesn’t go any higher. It stops here, and then you’ve got to rely on your feet to go the rest of the way.” He indicated the velvet stairs. As I turned toward the bar, he offered, “Just up the staircase and to the right. Don’t go any further than that, or we’ll have to call security. Understand?” 


I nodded quickly. I didn’t want to jeopardize this opportunity any more than I already almost had.


“Not a problem.” I swallowed hard. “I understand. I’ll mind myself.” I practically choked out the words. 


The man’s pale features scrunched as a single ashy eyebrow lifted in skepticism. Muttering something indecipherable, he continued ambling toward the bar as I made my departure.

I could hear his grumbles fading as I ascended, gripping the gold-trimmed railing so tight my knuckles turned white. Nerves made the climb feel like scaling the side of a mountain, pulse thundering in my chest. 


Finally, I reached the top, gaining a clearer view of the hallway stretching out before me. Paintings, large enough to climb into lined the walls. Their images seemed from a time long forgotten, unfamiliar faces glaring back at me. 


At the end of the hall, a dark wooden door with golden letters sat in reticence: A. Lamont

I came face to face with the entry, my hand trembling as it hovered just above the large O in front of me. This was it, a massive opportunity to change my life—a chance at a dream that could lead to stardom and fame. I was ready—ready for this chance to become more. 

But I hesitated another moment. 


Something held me back even still. Was it the image of my little sister with her infectious smile and attempts to take care of me? Or was it the memory of the mother I had lost, the pain still fresh despite the passing years? Perhaps it was the fear of a life-altering transformation—the idea of breaking free from the complacency I had forced upon myself. Was it normal to fear freedom and independence?


“Come inside,” A voice like hand-spun silk, urged me through the entry. My hand instinctively gripped the doorknob, and with a twist and push, I found myself inside without fully realizing how my feet had carried me. My gaze fixated on the owner of the establishment, sitting in an expensive-looking leather chair before a large, oak desk.


“Please… do not fear. I don’t bite,” he said, his jeweled hand sweeping at his front, inviting me to take a seat before him. 


“R-right,” I stammered, momentarily forgetting about the audition. 


My focus remained locked on Alexander La Mont, unable to shake the image of his face from my mind. The room and its surroundings were suddenly inconsequential; The gothic fixtures, gaudy paintings, mural overhead, and the long, blackout curtains mildly drawn aside—they all faded into the background, overshadowed by the man’s captivating visage.


His eyes were of the deepest purple—an unnatural color, akin to a field of lavender with the saturation dialed up to the maximum. They pierced my soul and tainted it with their hue. His hair resembled a golden lion’s mane, radiating an impossible luster and shine. It cascaded across his chiseled jaw and cheek, reaching his shoulder before spilling onto his chest. His brows were furrowed, giving him a perpetual scowl, like a predator on the hunt, ready to tear its prey limb from limb in the darkness of night. 





But his voice… that voice. It was like a siren whispering words of damnation to a sailor lost at sea, simultaneously shaking my courage and drawing me in.


I couldn’t help but notice his outfit as well—a partially open black mesh button-down that revealed the contours of his firm and muscular chest—the tight curvature of his nipples.

“Um, I—” I shook myself out of the trance induced by his presence, realizing that I had forgotten basic protocol. 


I still hadn’t given my slate: my name, age, and where I was from. I took a moment to collect myself and provided the necessary information, my voice cracking terribly in the process. 

“James Donovan, twenty-six years of age, from—”


Alexander sat up straighter in his chair, his voice curling out from between his pale lips like he breathed smoke. “James... peculiar. I would have taken you for something a bit more exciting.” 


I blinked, unsure of whether or not his words were meant as an insult or a compliment.

My voice quivered as words tumbled out, “It’s the name I was born with, sir.”


The man shook his head defiantly. “No, no. That won’t do.”


“I’m sorry, sir, I don’t… understand,” I stammered, panic bubbling in my gut. My hands grew clammy, and my breathing came more rapidly as my heart raced in my chest. Had my very name somehow ruined this opportunity?


Leaning forward, the man tapped his chin with manicured fingers. “You’re far too dashing for such a name. James is so common... so bland.” His head tilted against his hand, and a realization seemed to strike him. “How about…” A slender finger rose to his lower lip. “Jack.” He leaned back in his seat, flicking his wrist to send waves of golden hair scattering from his face. “Has a certain…electricity. Don’t you think? That would suit you much better.”


This audition was more than strange. Here was a man I had just met, suggesting I change my name as if the one given to me by my deceased mother was no longer sufficient. The thought fluttered briefly across my mind. How far was I willing to go for success? Even so, I felt unable to resist the mesmerizing gaze of his violet eyes. They drew me in and drowned me like a hapless victim in a bathtub.


“Should I… c-continue with my slate?” I managed to ask, my words catching in my throat as I struggled to maintain composure. 


The sight of him left me disoriented, my inhibitions slipping away.


His voice was as intoxicating as rose perfume as it filled the room, enveloping me completely. “Tell me about yourself, Jack,” he commanded, effortlessly adopting the new name like I’d worn it forever. 


I couldn’t deny the allure of his presence. Not because he was gorgeous, but because— what was I thinking? I tried to regain my focus.


“I’m not really very interesting,” I began, but he raised a hand to interrupt me, the rings on his fingers gleaming in the sultry light.


“Please. Everyone has something interesting about them—some hidden secret, some delicious little dream or goal. You must have something you can share with me... something forbidden that no one else knows. Something... unique," he prompted, his words slicing through the stillness in the air.


Then, I remembered my most coveted journal. 


I had always considered myself unremarkable— a failed actor, a failed brother, and son, a failed worker. But there was one thing I cherished, something I had kept hidden within the depths of my soul and the stillness of my room back home. 


I was a poet.


“Actually,” I began, hesitant but unable to resist his probing gaze, “I enjoy writing. Particularly poetry. I love the arts—singing, dancing, performing—but I haven’t found the right platform to showcase these talents. They’ve sort of been… in limbo. But writing is something that I’ve kept close to me my whole life.”


Alexander beamed, his eyes seeming to glow in the darkness. “A writer, you say? Is that so?”

“Yes, sir... I’m a poet.” The words stumbled out of my mouth and onto the polished marble floor. 


As Alexander expressed his interest, head tilted to the side, a new question emerged from his lips. “Do you have any of these poems on you by chance?” 


My heart raced as I nodded fervently. “Of course!” I always carried my poems with me, kept within the sanctuary of my phone.


“Share one with me?” he requested, leaning against his desk with his hands stacked, his chin resting upon his knuckles. 


I was taken aback. How did an acting audition with the biggest producer in New York turn into a poetry reading? Nevertheless, I had little choice but to comply with his request.

I pulled my phone from my pocket. 


Feeling the weight of his gaze upon me, I selected a poem that I believed captured the essence of the evening. With trembling hands, I began to recite the words aloud, offering a glimpse into the depths of my soul, surrendering to the lion that stood before me, hoping my words would satiate his hunger, lest I become his next meal.


I cleared my throat and started to read aloud…


Beautiful Agony

In glass entwined

She sits

Aching beautiful agony

Sweet sinister lips

My mirrored soul

She sits

Love, sweet love

Burning twisted pleasure

Tainted by my touch

I call her mine, forever

She sits

Waiting

Writhing

The reflection of a goddess

I saved them for her

Pages burned and tattered 

Mended with mangled claw

Scribbled phantom words of wolf

Written lions roar

She ignites me, this twisted thing

Sets my love aflame

Rakes my soul across the coals

Then makes me whole again 

Through the flames she takes firm grasp

My heart pulsing in her palm

A decision she could make, any time

To smother or to calm?

Would she, 

she could and even that would be enough 

No

The twisted thing, scorched and changed

She holds the lump softly still

Cares for it, molds it

Until...

What once was broken stands renewed.


Silence lingered in the room as my recitation came to a close. A wave of panic threatened to drown me. Had I failed to impress him? Was my poem not good enough? His expression was so unreadable, I wondered if my poetry had insulted him. 


“Should I continue my slate, sir?” My words fumbled across my tongue. I felt the panic rise again, my heart throbbing in my chest at the fear that I had somehow destroyed this new opportunity. What a stupid idea, I thought to myself, reading my poetry to some famous savant like some love struck fool in a romance novel, how moronic. I emotionally battered myself as I awaited my fate, my self esteem plummeting off of the edge.


“No. Don’t bother.” His protest stabbed me like the bluntest blade from the rustiest dagger, I had truly failed.


I hung my head, my nerves wilting in my skin as I could feel nothing but numbness take me, “Well then, thank you for everything.” Hanging my head in defeat, I got up to leave. 


Suddenly, Alexander’s voice broke the quiet. “Don’t you dare!” he exclaimed, his voice filled with urgency and determination. 


The sudden change in his demeanor shocked me. It seemed that he had been deeply moved by my poem, despite his initial silence.


Confusion and doubt clouded my thoughts as I hesitated, unsure of what to do, but Alexander’s words reeled me back into my seat. 


“You have the job. Please…don’t go,” he uttered simply. 


“What?” 


“I said…” He stood to his feet, palms pressed firmly to the desk. “You have…the job.” 


I couldn’t believe my ears. It was a sudden turn of events. A surge of hope and excitement coursed through my veins. It was hard to breathe. Alexander’s presence filled the room, his energy weighty and overwhelming. He possessed an undeniable magnetism, and my heart leaped into my throat with a mixture of anticipation and uncertainty. His words echoed in my mind, his praise igniting a spark of confidence within me I thought had been snuffed out forever.


My eyes widened in confusion. Heat blossomed in my cheeks as I watched the man round his desk and stalk towards me, his arms wrapped behind his back like some aristocrat. I obsessed over his every step. It wasn’t like me to be so taken so quickly, and especially never before with a man. 


“That was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard,” Alexander mewed. “Clumsy, a bit unrestrained, but the heart and passion in it make me yearn for my younger years–something so few have been able to do. You are so much more special than you realize.” He paused, seeming to deliberate over something. The corners of his eyes strained. “Perhaps even like me. Perhaps… destined for greatness.” 


As he approached me, his eyes filled with admiration, his hand left his side to rest upon my bicep. His touch fixed me in place and I was unable to move, unable to speak. 

I had the job. The audition was successful.


Successful.


I wasn’t used to the word. The notion rolled around heavy and strange in my brain. I wouldn’t live my life as a failure after all.


I mustered up a meek “Thank you,” unable to fully articulate my gratitude and surprise. My focus narrowed in again on his hand perched against the muscle beneath the wet fabric of my sleeve. The weight of his words finally began to sink in, and I struggled to comprehend the magnitude of everything.


Alexander spoke again, his voice softer this time. 


“Now, of course, we’ll have to speak about your lodgings and fetch someone for your things,” Alexander mumbled as his hand on my arm stayed in place…constricting even. His other hand tapped upon his cleft chin.


“Excuse me?” I blurted, breaking the hold that his glorious presence had on me. “Did you just say I was going to be living here?”


His tapered eyebrows lifted high on his forehead. “Did your friend not explain it to you in full? The position here is to be my protégé, my ward, my… apprentice. You will learn everything I know; every skill, every tool, every trade. And have every contact of mine at your disposal. It is truly…” He raised his index finger. “…a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”


I doubled back at his words. “Mister La Mont—”


“Please. Just Alexander—”


“Right. Alexander, I need to think this through. I have a sister back home that I care for. I have to make sure she’s alright—that my family doesn’t go hungry. I have… I have fam—family—” 

As I spoke, Alexander’s soft pads left my arm to find their way to my lips in an attempt to silence my fear.


“Poor boy. Please… no anxiety, no worry. I would not let your family go without compensation. You are more than welcome to share what you make here with your dear sister to keep her comfortable.” 


His words didn’t help, but that finger… oh it was sending euphoric, little zaps through my skull.

“I have an idea! You come with me—see my world, embrace all that this life has to offer, and you make a decision when the night is at its climax. Do we have a deal?” Alexander brought his finger to dance down my chin and tap over my clavicle. 


My mind spun violently. “Just tonight…?”


His responding chuckle was a drug. “Just tonight. And then, if you don’t enjoy it, you may return home without a second thought, and I will think of you from time to time as the one who got away.” 


I inhaled deeply, holding that breath at the base of my throat before giving him one, fateful nod. I agreed to venture into his world for just one night, knowing that my next decision would have a profound impact on my life.


“What’s the danger in a single night?” I whispered…but only barely. “Show me your world, Alexander.”







62 views0 comments

Commentaires


bottom of page