By Chiara Picchi

[cw: slight gore]

The smell of flesh and blood hangs thick in the air as Hunter’s footsteps echo on stone. It clings to the humidity, turns it so dense it condenses on the walls, and he breathes it in, closes his eyes with a purr. The sharp tang coats his palate like gravy, and he can’t help but swipe his tongue over his lips. Laurent always did have impeccable taste.

The door is already open when he reaches the end of the corridor. He stops at the doorstep – the smell has become a dense fog, perturbed only by the piercing notes of Laurent’s scent.

“You’re late.”

            Sat on a chair facing away from the doorstep, ebony hair falling in rivulets over his shoulders, Laurent stares at the fireplace. The glass in his hand catches the flames, casting crimson shadows over the carpet. How very rude of him to start already.

            “I lost track of time.” He takes a few strides towards the man, comes to stand by his side, a hand on the back of his chair. He notices then that meat is gyrating amidst the flames, the juices dripping. Saliva floods his mouth.

            “You always do.”

Laurent stands up, his movements fluid, languid, the glass still pinched between his fingers – he tips it back against his lips, lets its contents paint them crimson, then wraps his arms around Hunter’s neck. His touch burns, ice cold against sensitive skin, but there is pleasure to the sting. Hunter lets his nose scrape against the dark-haired man’s jawline, so many scents, perfume and blood and death, weaved together in the most alluring of tapestries…

            “What are you going to do about it?” He breathes out against marble skin. He senses, rather than sees, Laurent’s lips pulling back over sharp teeth. Long fingers climb vertebra by vertebra up the nape of his neck only to lose themselves in unruly hair, smoothing them over. Hunter stretches his neck, welcoming the touch.

            “Late and cocky.” Laurent’s chuckle echoes against his ear like shards of glass and before long fingers are untangling themselves from the younger man’s hair as he pulls away. Hunter growls his disapproval but doesn’t stop him.

He watches Laurent strut across the room, watches the deliberate roll of his hips, the haughtiness in his shoulders, in his chin …such an actor …he bends over something…no the stench of fear is too poignant, too fresh, so acrid it pricks at Hunter’s nose like pins…someone. Curiosity tugs Hunter closer until he can make out the legs draped over the back of a chair, the head hanging limp, blonde curls brushing the ground. He licks his lips. Blank eyes stare at the ceiling – he moves into their line of sight, brushes his gaze over the unnatural curve of the neck, the droplets of blood coagulating on its side, there were the tap has been planted.

            “Care for a drink? It’s fresh,” asks Laurent and there it is, that devilish grin, that mischief sparkling in the depths of his pupils.

            “Not just yet.”

            “Suit yourself but I’ll have one if you’ll indulge me.” He places the glass beneath the tap and flicks it open. Blood rushes out, flooding the crystal at first, then reducing itself to a steady trickle when Laurent tightens the faucet to control the flow. The liquid is flirting with the edge of the glass by the time he turns it off. He takes a sip, then smacks his lips, satisfied.

            “I left you the husband,” he grins, gesturing towards the fireplace. Hunter turns to watch the meat roasting above the flames – red has turned crispy brown, fat glistening on the surface, sending pangs of hunger shooting through his stomach. Laurent presses himself against his back, his breath causing goose bumps to erupt over the back of his neck “Thought you might enjoy someone with more meat on their bones.”

            His fingers come to lace with Hunter’s, and he tugs him towards the fire – the younger man follows him, tongue darting over his lips in anticipation. He watches as Laurent plucks the skewers from the fire and holds them out, the juices trickling down the back of his hands, sliding along the pale skin of his forearms, a smirk dancing on his lips.             “Bon appétit, mon chéri.

Chiara Picchi is an MA Literary Translation student currently based in Norwich. She writes flash fiction and short stories that focus on the surreal and the supernatural; her work has been published in the 2019 and 2020 UEA Undergraduate Creative Writing anthologies,  Just Snails?! magazine and Life Lines magazine. More of her work can be found on instagram at @neverlandslostboy