Nine years ago I wrote “Willing”, a queer vampire story in which I explored sadism and the yearning for a willing bottom who could really take it. I had already begun thinking of my own sadism as a beast that lived under my skin, that fed on blood and fear and that I kept caged and leashed in order to manage it. The metaphor of a vampire who saw his sadism and blood thirst the same way felt delicious, and affirming. For me, this story was an important step in the acceptance and celebration of my own sadism. If you talk to other sadists, in quiet moments, they will often admit that they rarely unleash their hunger for pain, that they barely feed much of the time. This story was about a sadist finally letting himself feed, and in the process of writing it, I let myself touch some of the deeper parts of my own sadism. In fact, writing the story brought out my sadism; I wrote this in my journal in the middle of that writing process:
“Writing about sadism just makes me want to hurt somebody. But I know that if I do that, I won’t finish the goddamn story. Must write it out first, and then hurt somebody.”
An important thread in “Willing” is trust, trust that the bottom will be a full meal and then some, trust that the bottom is truly willing and up for it. One of the struggles common amongst sadists is finding bottoms that are up for it, and know themselves well enough to truly consent. I know that in my early days as a sadist, when I wrote this story, I was struggling to imagine such a bottom. And so I wrote him. And wrote a very jaded top that took a risk and trusted him.
“Willing” captures two inner struggles within the top—the struggle to trust the bottom, and the struggle to allow himself to unleash his sadistic beast. In the end, these characters come together in a sweet and satisfying way that is reminscient of romance, sadist style. In fact, this is one of the more romantic stories I’ve written, a fact that comes through in reviews mentioning the story:
“Xan West provides a powerful and passionate account of vampirism and BDSM”
“If you like your fantasy on the extreme side, Xan West’s vampire tale “Willing” is packed with sharp edges, blood, and violence. For the “Been there, done that to death” crowd, the vampire’s restless ennui will speak volumes, as will the thrill at finding that life can still hold some surprises.”
“violent and sweet”
“Willing” is among the tales in Coming Together: In Vein, a brand new collection of vampire-themed erotica and erotic romance edited by Lisabet Sarai. The list of contributors includes many names you’ll recognize. Every one of these authors has provided their work free of charge, to support the charitable aims of the project. Furthermore, the editor is giving away a free copy of her short story collection Body Electric to everyone who buys a copy of Coming Together: In Vein. (For details of this offer, click here.)
All sales of this novel-length volume support Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières). You can help, simply by indulging your passion for vampires. Buy a copy of Coming Together: In Vein in ebook, Kindle format, or print.
You’ll find an excerpt below – just to whet your appetite, and give you a sense of the themes in the story that I discussed above. (As a heads up, this except contains descriptions of knife play.) Sink your teeth into Coming Together: In Vein.
From “Willing” by Xan West
I pull out my blade and show it to him. His eyes widen and he whispers, “My safeword is chocolate.” I am surprised. Most who frequent the fetish scene know nothing about real BDSM. That these are the first words out of his mouth shows that there may be more to this boy than I thought. I stand still, watching him. He is older than I had first surmised, at least twenty four. The little leather he wears is well kept, his belt clearly conditioned and his boots cared for by a loving hand. He is motionless, knees slightly bent, shoulders back, offering me his chest. His pulse is not rapid, but his eyes eat up the knife and his lips are slightly parted, as if all he wanted was to take my blade down his throat.
His brown eyes stay fixed on the knife as I move toward him. I tease his lip with the tip of it and then speak softly.
“How black do you flag?”
His eyes stay on the blade. He swallows.
“Very black, on the right, Sir.”
“Is there anything I need to know?”
“I am healthy and strong. My limits are animals, children, suspension and humiliation, Sir.”
“And blood, hmmm?” I am teasing. I know the answer. It is why I found him here, and not at the Lure.
“Oh please, Sir. I would gladly offer my blood.”
He takes a deep breath, closes his eyes a moment, and then opens them. The pulse in his throat starts racing, but his voice is calm, and matter-of-fact. I tease my blade against his neck.
“I have been watching you a long time, Sir. I have seen how you play. I see the beast inside you. I know what is missing. Those boys at The Lure don’t know how to give you what you really need. They don’t see that they are barely feeding your craving, and not touching your hunger. The boys here don’t see you. They just see their own fantasy. They are simply food. I am strong, Sir. Strong enough for you. I can be yours. My blood, my flesh, my sex, my service. Yours to take however you choose, for as long as you want. To slake your hunger. I would be honored, Sir.”
I take a deep breath, stunned, studying him. This boy who would offer what I never really thought was possible. He has surprised me again. That alone shows this boy is more than a meal. He just might be able to be all that he has offered.
I almost leave him there. I am ready to walk away. Fear creeps along my spine. With the centuries I have lived and the things I have seen, this boy is what scares me. There is nothing more terrifying than hope. I rake my eyes over him. He is standing quietly. He looks like he could stand in that position for hours. He has said his piece; he is content to wait for my response. Oh, he is more than food, this one. What a gift to offer a vampire. Can I refuse this offering when it’s laid out before me? I step back, looking him over, and decide.
I breathe in possibility, watching the pulse in his throat. My senses heighten further as I focus my hunger on him, noticing the minute changes in breath, scenting him. I want to see him tremble. I want to smell his fear. I want to devour his pain, without holding back. Forget this public arena. If there is even a possibility that I might truly let go and move with the beast inside my skin, his growl on my lips and his claws grasping prey, I know exactly where I need to take this boy.
[ETA: The featured image for this post is a business card for The L.U.R.E. (Leather, Uniform, Rubber, etc.), a leather bar in NYC that was open from 1994-2003. The first NYC leather bar I ever went to. It is one of the places where the vampire in my story stalks his prey. The image is from an archival site, BackintheGays.com.]