Immortal Pleasures

Paperback

April 16, 2024 | ISBN 9780593499726

Ebook

April 16, 2024 | ISBN 9780593499733

Audiobook Download

April 16, 2024 | ISBN 9780593677162

About the Book

An ancient Aztec vampire roams the modern world in search of vengeance and love in this seductive dark fantasy from the author of The Haunting of Alejandra.

“Hauntingly rendered and decadently written, Immortal Pleasures is a surprising and fantastical portrait of one of history’s most fascinating (and perhaps most misunderstood) figures.”—Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke

Hundreds of years ago, she was known as La Malinche: a Nahua woman who translated for the conquistador Cortés. In the centuries since, her name has gone down in infamy as a traitor. But no one ever found out what happened to La Malinche after Cortés destroyed her people.

In the ashes of the empire, she was reborn as Malinalli, an immortal vampire. And she has become an avenger of conquered peoples, traveling the world to reclaim their stolen artifacts and return them to their homelands.

But she has also been in search of something more, for this ancient vampire still has deeply human longings for pleasure and for love.

When she arrives in Dublin in search of a pair of Aztec skulls—artifacts intimately connected to her own dark history—she finds something else: two men who satisfy her cravings in very different ways.

For the first time she meets a mortal man—a horror novelist—who is not repelled by her strange condition but attracted by it. But there is also another man, an immortal like herself, who shares the darkness in her heart.

Now Malinalli is on the most perilous adventure of all: a journey into her own desires.
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Praise for Immortal Pleasures

“V. Castro lures readers into a perilous netherworld charged with debauchery and primal sensuality. Hauntingly rendered and decadently written, Immortal Pleasures is a surprising and fantastical portrait of one of history's most fascinating (and perhaps most misunderstood) figures.”—Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke
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Excerpt

Immortal Pleasures

1

It’s my last night in Dublin before I head to the south coast. Ireland was the first stop on my way to London because of its landscape, particularly its grass—that dreamy electric green, surrounded by dark cold waters and even colder winds.

That landscape had called to me while I was flipping through an airline magazine during one of my business class flights across South America. The advertisement showed a green pasture that ended with a cliff dropping to leaping waves in the shape of giant conch shells. I had to see that grass with my own eyes, feel it beneath my feet.

You see, my name is Malinalli, which means grass in my native Nahuatl language. The glossy photo ignited my soul with wonder, and I knew I had to overcome my irrational fear of exploring this part of the world, Europe. It was a European who changed my given name Malinalli to La Malinche and Dona Marina. Neither did I choose, nor could I refuse as a human. At least as a vampire I could take back my name. Small steps.

But you may wonder why a Nahua vampire from the sixteenth century like me would harbor a fear of anything after being an apex predator for so very long. After all, my blood is powerful and intoxicating—it comes from a vampire made by one of the very first vampires. However, like the demolished temple Tenochtitlán, my heart still bears the scars of history.

Before this trip was even an idea, my concentration on work had been waning. I kept finding myself slipping into daydreams of distant places. My heart would sink to depths of emotion I could not allow myself to wade in. In train stations and airports, I used to walk with a smug swagger past couples if I saw an obviously out-of-sync partnership, and past families if I saw screaming children throwing themselves at the feet of exhausted parents. Ain’t no one holding me down or holding me back, I’d think. But recently I’d also think soon after: Ain’t no one waiting for me either. Walk enough crowded terminals alone, your hand swinging aimlessly by your side, and it starts to feel dead. And mine had hung empty for centuries. I couldn’t care less about the offspring. As a vampire, my bearing a child was not an option. But lately I’d wanted to feel an arm around my waist. A companionship that lasted longer than a night would be nice.

Two days after the idea of traveling to Ireland first struck me, I received an out-of-the-blue opportunity to purchase rare Mexican artifacts from a dealer in London. I am a collector, buyer, and seller of antiquities from all over the world; however, my specialty is Mexico and South and Central America. As a blood huntress it was a natural fit.

Since 1972, I had made my living tracking rare objects, although I began my search for these objects long before I’d ever earned a cent. My career had begun not as a career, but as a sort of spiteful secret mission to reclaim our culture’s lost treasures one object at a time from the colonizers. The more I learned about my new vampire life and all its strengths, the more I thought about my purpose in life. My work has given me purpose beyond servitude or mere survival. I could create some good for myself and others.

The artifacts are two skulls I first encountered when I was still human. When I read the email and saw the photos of the skulls, the excitement in my work that I’d lost came back, and I nearly jumped out of my skin. My instinct told me these were the very same treasures I had been hunting for since I began my journey in acquiring antiquities. One skull is carved from pure clear quartz. The other is an embellished mosaic of turquoise and obsidian set in a human skull with most of the teeth still intact. Judging from the photo, the gold that once plated the human skull had been scraped from the bone.

The skulls had once belonged to someone I loved dearly. Her name was Chantico. She was like a mother to me when I first became a vampire. She helped me find the will to live for myself.

I had been searching for centuries for these skulls with no luck, and I’d been on the brink of giving up on ever finding them. It wasn’t until the birth of the internet that my journey began to gain a little momentum, though every path had led to a dead end until now. However, life can be as unpredictable as the height of waves crashing on a shore; now, at long last, the skulls were within my reach. The universe presented me the perfect opportunity to act on my desire to reclaim these treasures.

So I simply had to fly across the Atlantic to purchase those skulls and keep them safe. The catch was the skulls were now in London with a private collector. But this purchase was too important to leave to chance, to buy on the evidence of digital photographs alone, even if the photos I’d been emailed appeared legitimate. My usual London-based antiquities broker, Horatio Hutchings, a trustworthy man in the business, assured me it was not a scam. However, he did not possess the same skill that I did in detecting forged objects—and I had seen my fair share in my many centuries of existence. To reclaim the skulls—and with them, a part of my soul—I had to take the trip. And that trip would be first class all the way, including the best hotels. Everything paid for by the business I had built from scratch and the antiquities I’d acquired over time. I deserved to have everything I wanted in this life. Divine timing can be a stubborn bitch, but when she comes through, she delivers divine rewards.

And so, eager to finally possess the skulls, and with a nagging desire to travel, I created a four-week itinerary to explore Ireland and England at the same time. Spain would be the next place I’d visit—where perhaps I could finally lay my anger at its colonizers to rest—and finally Vienna, Austria, to see the Penacho, a rare surviving Aztec headdress, bright green and feathered, that didn’t belong halfway around the world from its country of origin, in a museum for people who could not fully appreciate its true importance. Indeed, part of my mission has been to reach out to museums around the world and broker deals to give back stolen items to their original cultures. The treasures can then go on tour or on loan to museums in other lands; however, sole ownership belongs to the people who created them. That particular headdress had long been on my radar. I figured my kind emails to the museum were not doing enough, and that my power of persuasion in the flesh could serve me better. After years of practice, vampires can use their energy to influence the emotions of humans. We can’t force them to do something, just steer them toward what we want from them. I was not opposed to using my vampire magnetism to get what I wanted, and I wanted this headdress back in Mexico City.

In my human life, as a translator, I’d watched villages and temples be sacked by the conquistadors. The terror and sorrow at one’s powerlessness to stop the destruction of one’s home is something no one should experience or witness. And with the treasures of our past stolen, our children would grow up without anything to remind them of their history or story. The children of Europe had no tie to this object and could, at best, see it only as a unique piece of history of a people they could not fully understand, but more than likely, as just a nice artifact with pretty feathers from a bird they had never seen before. But the headdress had the potential to instill pride and awe in my people if returned to its rightful place in Mexico. And that is exactly what I was going to do. The Hapsburg Archduke Ferdinand II was long dead—what would he care if an item he acquired out of imperialist greed was taken back?

And as soon as I landed on the distant cool shores of Ireland, I knew I had made the right choice. Even the sight of the drizzle on the small window as we landed excited me. An undercurrent of expectation made my body alert to every sensation and sight. The climate in Ireland differs greatly from my home. Although it is summer in Ireland, there is always a damp chill in the evening air. What a change from the heat I’m accustomed to! This is exactly why I’d made the decision to cross the pond to explore the Old World. My trip would be a gust of change to rid myself of my inner demons—and perhaps introduce me to a few new ones along the way, just for laughs.

All of this to reclaim the freedom once stolen from me back when I was a mortal. Imagine going from “Will this be the day I die as a slave?” to becoming the very embodiment of death. And now I wanted to appease the restlessness that had settled over me the last few years. I am worth millions, but as life has shown me, cash only goes so far in creating a fulfilling life.

And so on this trip I felt open to the unexpected. Perhaps destiny had even brought me across the pond for a reason beyond the skulls. Part of me wanted to believe Chantico watched me from wherever her spirit hovered and sent me a blessing of joy.

About the Author

V. Castro
V. Castro is a two-time Bram Stoker Award–nominated Mexican American writer from San Antonio, Texas, now residing in the UK. As a full-time mother, she dedicates her time to her family and writing Latinx narratives in horror and science fiction. Her most recent releases include Alien: Vasquez from Titan Books, Mestiza Blood and The Queen of the Cicadas from Flame Tree Press, Goddess of Filth from Creature Publishing, and The Haunting of Alejandra from Del Rey Books. More by V. Castro
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