He'd been holding himself in check since letting Dom get away. Being a cop had been something new to try. It hadn't been bad, it had actually been kind of fun, until he met Dominic Toretto and then his teeth had ached and he'd felt a pull that he never had before. Mia thought it was Dom's gravity but Brian knew better. It was fate laughing her ass off at him. Here he was trying to be the good guy for once and what happens?
Dominic fucking Toretto happens. Mia would have been so much easier, but that was not who he needed or wanted.
Brian leapt between buildings and paused, tilting his head to better hear the sounds carried on the wind. He heard it, a scream of pain and he knew that someone was likely going to die tonight and he would enjoy making sure it happened.
He wasn't sure what the people holding him wanted. Worse yet, no one knew where he was. He'd disappeared after the incident with the train and the eighteen-wheeler where Brian had just let him go. He had needed space from his family--they knew he was alive but that was all. Dom had needed time to lick his wounds, so to speak. He had let Brian in too close and Brian had ended up being a cop. A cop who had let him go in the end. For some reason, and he still couldn't put a finger on it, he wasn't really mad at Brian. Even now Dom was still trying to unravel the puzzle the last few days with Brian had been.
That had been almost three weeks past and now last night, or was it the night before, someone had grabbed him off the street for no apparent reason other than to be some asshole's punching bag. He'd tried to ask questions but no one was talking to him.
One of his captor's finally spoke but it wasn't to him, rather it was to the air as if the man was guessing someone else was in the dimly lit warehouse.
"Using your real name again made you so easy to track down," the man called out. "But figuring out who to take was a little more difficult. Didn't expect you to go for firm muscles and no pretty curves but your scent was all over him. Faded a little, but still there. No claiming marks though. Didn't get that far before he rabbited, huh? Are you losing your touch or did you let him go thinking you were sparing him and yourself?"
The man was taunting whoever was out there.
"Shy? Really?" the man asked and Dom didn't have a chance to brace himself as the man's hand became a set of sharp claws and his side had four new scratches--two deep, two slightly shallower--that instantly started to bleed.
Dom wasn't sure if he'd actually seen the man's fingers turn into claws or if it was just a figment of his imagination; his eyes had closed as soon as he felt the tearing of his skin. He screamed out in agony at the searing pain.
"And playing copper, no less," the man taunted on, his voice changing to have a slight lilt to it. "Bet that was a change of pace for you. Never saw you as one to walk the straight and narrow."
Dom opened his eyes in time to see his tormentor licking his blood off the tips of his fingers.
"Tasty one, he is," the man continued. "I might have to keep him for a while."
He racked his brain but the only person Dom could think of was Brian, but that didn't make sense. It didn't help that as soon as he thought of the man his pain-filled, fogged-addled mind conjured up an image of the blond-haired, blue-eyed man in question jumping from the rafters to land easily on his feet. It couldn't be real.
"Fuck off, Shaw," the figment said.
"You have a strange way of requesting a chat," Brian said, circling closer to Dom. "You could have picked up a phone or sent a message."
Shaw laughed. "I still like doing some things the old fashion way and a trap does need its bait."
This time Brian laughed while dragging his left index finger through the blood dripping from Dom's wound. He sniffed it lightly before licking his finger clean. "He is intoxicating," Brian said, his body and voice not giving away how true he really found that statement. He wasn't going to give Shaw that satisfaction.
"Brian?" Dom asked, shifting his body to try and see him.
Brian ignored Dom even as the other man tried to move but only managed to open the wounds wider. He put a hand on Dom's bare back before stroking down the spinal cord; halting Dom's movements. Brian leaned in and licked at the wound and when he moved back part of the wound was no longer there.
"What do you want, Shaw?" Brian asked calmly, walking away from Dom and bringing Shaw's full attention on him instead.
"Little cousin," Shaw said, "You left our House."
"Gang, brood, a disaster waiting to happen," Brian interrupted, and waved his hand dismissing the idea of Shaw's House. At one time the Houses might have meant family, but that had stopped being their purpose long before Brian came along. He'd left for a reason--he didn't do things the same way his cousin did. The House system was old and Brian liked roaming more than being tied to the politics of whomever had claimed the Head of House. There had supposedly been more than fifty Houses a millennia ago. Now there were maybe fifteen as people left one House for another or just disbanded and went their separate ways. Brian was a wanderer and the House system, as it was, had never worked for him. It didn't mean that he didn't have friends that he considered family; it meant that some of the Houses still held onto some very old ideals that Brian did not.
Shaw growled out a warning. "You are my blood," Shaw reminded him. "Both in life and death. I gave you a gift when the rest of our family lay dying."
Brian sighed. "Tis true, cousin, that you gave me a gift. It does not mean I had to stay with you. I grew up from the farm boy you brought to the big, dangerous city. I've thanked you before for killing me to save me, but I'm not yours. I never agreed to stay within your House. I chose to follow my own path and stay out of yours."
With the pain gone from his side he was slowly able to refocus on his surroundings. He still didn't know if it was day or night but the warehouse had no windows and was lit only by internal lighting. Brian and this Shaw character were now facing off a few yards to his right.
Brian looked different. His curly hair was clipped shorter and it made him not look as young. He seemed to be standing up straighter and looked far more dangerous than the kid he thought he had known. The only thing that seemed to be the same was the way Brian dressed, relaxed and comfortable in jeans, a t-shirt, and jacket.
Dom had disappeared from Los Angeles for another reason he hadn't shared with anyone. He was having thoughts and dreams that involved Brian when they would normally have involved Letty or another curvy woman. He had always known that he and Letty were a car crash waiting to happen and he was comfortable enough with himself to realize that he found Brian attractive. He had even been contemplating acting on those thoughts prior to the whole shootout with the Trans and then the Charger being hit by a truck. An action that even he knew was his destiny trying to tell him something.
"We're meant to rule them," he heard Shaw state and turned his inner thoughts back to what was actually happening around him.
Brian shook his head and rocked back on his feet. "You sound like a movie villain," he said. "I don't want to rule anyone. I just want to be left alone to live my life."
"Your life?" Shaw questioned. "You have no life living among the humans, Brian. The excitement you got from running alcohol or playing cop is nothing like watching them beg and crawl. They're cattle."
He heard Brian sigh. "We were both human."
"Owen," Brian said, using the first name that Shaw had been given at birth but hadn't used in more than two hundred years. He grabbed his cousin's arm and tugged lightly. "Please don't do something that will draw their attention."
Shaw yanked his arm back. "You worry too much, cousin. I now have Enforcers on my side. In my House even."
Brian wasn't sure how he felt about that. The Enforcers were supposed to be the cops of their kind. Neutrals in the House system; never swearing membership or loyalty--which wasn't to say they didn't have favorites or a connection back to the one who turned them. They were supposed to protect the Community from being discovered by the human world at large. Even worse, Brian knew, he could be an Enforcer. He could always feel it in his blood, moving, waiting to be released, but he continuously ignored it. Had he been so far gone during his time wandering the world that he didn't know what was happening? Their kind truly had one rule--do not be discovered and if you are, you either kill, turn, or bind the human to you until they are ready for death.
"I know what you are thinking, Brian," his cousin said. "That you've lost touch with the Community. That I'm thinking of coming out into the light, so to speak. I'm not. We need the cattle to thrive, after all. And it's best they remain unaware; makes them easier to manage. But something new is on the horizon."
That actually worried Brian more than him thinking Shaw was going public. "Owen?"
"Shaw," his cousin corrected. "I left that name when I stopped being one of the sheep."
Shaw circled around him. "I know what you're meant to be, Brian," Shaw said and Brian just caught the edge of the smirk on Shaw's face as his cousin stopped on his left side. "What you've been holding back and pushing away for your entire life. I tasted that unique spirit again," Shaw said, leaning in and sniffing at Brian's neck. Brian didn't move. "I bound Riley to me and my House. You should see her," Shaw's smile was almost cruel-looking. "She's vicious and beautiful. Loves the kill. She is exquisite to watch." The smile changed to something more familiar, more polite. "Come back home where you belong little cousin. Become what you're meant to be. Together we'll do wonderful things."
Brian shook his head and Shaw walked back towards Dom. "Come back home and I'll let this one go." It was meant to sound like a promise but it sounded more like a threat.
"Where is Ian?" Brian asked after Owen's older brother. Brian had only a few memories of Ian from before dying and even less from after.
"Ian likes the old country. I like this one," was all Owen said.
Brian looked over at Dom and saw the street racer staring at him and made a decision. He hated it instantly but knew he could live with it. "You let him and his family go," Brian bargained. "No touching them or their descendants and I'll come home."
"Brian, don't," Dom said, as if knowing what Brain was doing was a bad idea.
Dom was looking at him and he couldn't think of anything else to say but, "Shut up, Dom. This doesn't concern you."
Shaw laughed. Dom ignored him and kept his focus on Brian. He wanted some type of explanation. No, he deserved some type of explanation. Somehow he was being used against Brian and Brian wasn't going to put up a fight. He wanted to know why.
"Brian?" he questioned, his voice almost pleading.
"Dom," Brian acknowledge him with a sad smile.
Shaw laughed again. "He is a feisty one, Brian. Are you sure you want to give him up? I know what he is to you. So hard to find, they are, even rare some might say, and you would just toss it aside. I'll even promise him a position in my House."
"Shaw," Brian growled out and Dom saw something very dangerous flicker through eyes that were no longer blue, but a violet almost red hue instead.
Dom had had enough. It might have only been fifteen minutes since Brian had arrived but he was tired of hanging here and he was getting fed up with not knowing what was truly happening. "Brian," he demanded now, trying a different tactic. "Explain."
Brian ignored him.
"Me for his family line," Brian repeated.
"Oh," Shaw said and he sounded a little too giddy for Dom's ears. "I think this human should know what's happening here. What you are giving up."
"Owen," Brian begged. "No, please. I'll even pledge myself to your, our House in front of the Community." He'd wear the ring or wrist guard or whatever Shaw was doing to mark the members of his House.
Dom didn't know what that meant exactly but the satisfied smile on Shaw's face said it wasn't good. That it was very bad in fact.
"You'll be doing that and so much more to keep his family safe from us," Shaw said and then moved.
Dom didn't even see it. One moment he was still hanging from the cross beams and the next he was falling to the ground. His back had barely hit the floor before Shaw was on top of him, straddling his chest and a hand around his throat. Dom tried to struggle but the single hand squeezed tighter and he could feel sharp points breaking the skin and knew this time that they really were claws.
"Uh uh, Brian," Shaw taunted. "Stay right there or I will snap his neck."
Shaw grinned down at him and Dom could only watch as several of Shaw's teeth lengthened into fangs. Vampire. Brian's skin was always just a little cooler to the touch; his eyes a little more bright, but it didn't make sense--myths weren't real. Brian was a vampire or something close to it. That was what this was all about?
"Vampires," Dom choked out, still a little disbelieving even with the proof staring him in the face.
"Yes," Shaw chuckled, and leaned down to whisper into his ear. "You thought Brian was fucking your sister, he wasn’t. Feeding from her; leaving her sexually sated no doubt. Brian's exceedingly good at that. I was truly surprised to realize he hadn't bitten you. Even more so now that I know what you actually are to him. Sometimes his eyes really can give him away, can't they? That look, I've seen it before and he'll do anything I say to save you."
Shaw licked the side of Dom's neck and Dom tried to push the other man off of him but Shaw barely rocked from his position.
"Me on the other hand," Shaw continued, sitting up and voice no longer a whisper. "I prefer the taste of blood from pain and fear, but to each their own. And right now you smell delicious. But I'd never deny my cousin his right to claim his soul mate." Shaw's finger's traced Dom's cheek before sliding down to poke Dom in the chest right above his heart.
"Some of us never look, never care to find this person who brings true love to our soul. Others spend eternity wandering the globe, hoping before finally giving up and returning to the earth as dust when they fail to find them. Me, I never looked," Shaw paused for a second, glancing over at Brian before grinning wickedly. "Brian though, he's a believer, always was a wanderer and look what happened--he found you. Now he's just going to give you up. Save you while damning himself to an endless string of one night stands amongst the sheep because of a broken heart. Never feeling the completeness of his soul. Never having to deal with someone who knows you inside and out. His heart will darken and harden. He will become something even better than he is now."
"Owen," Brian interrupted. "Just because you don't believe."
Dom listened, trying to understand what Brian's crazy son of a bitch of a cousin was saying. Soul mate. It sounded ridiculous, but then again, so did vampire. Was this why he had felt such a strong connection to Brian in so short a time?
Shaw laughed and at the same time squeezed his hand just a little tighter around Dom's throat. "Oh Brian," Shaw answered, the laughter still present in his voice. "I believe, I just don't care. Soul mates are a weakness. If I turn him, here and now, he will always be your weakness and not for his short human life. You see I found mine early last century. She was just sitting in the park one day. She was a vision to behold. For a week I fucked her and drank from her. I took everything before I drained her and left her corpse to rot. I no longer have to worry about that weakness and I'm stronger for it."
"Owen," and the whispered word, at least to Dom's ears, sounded horrified.
"She was mine," Shaw answered simply, the look he gave Brian one of those that said he should have known the answer. "No one else was going to have her."
Brian didn't see Shaw's next move until it was too late. Dom screamed as a knife was plunged, then twisted, into his midsection. Shaw easily moved from straddling Dom to his feet. Brian darted to Dom's side but was caught up short by Shaw grabbing hold of him.
"Save him or kill him," his cousin whispered into his ear. "Those are your only choices and no matter what you choose, you will be coming home. Returning to where you belong, little cousin."
Shaw let him go and Brian dropped down beside Dom. His right hand resting on Dom's chest, fingers lightly grasping the blade but not pulling it out. His left hand stroked Dom's face. If Shaw wasn't here there could have been a chance at a hospital, but that option was never going to be. "I didn't mean for this to happen. You were supposed to go live a life," Brian whispered softly, ignoring the tears--which to Dom would appear tinged red with blood--that ran down his cheek. "I had even cleaned up the evidence of your truck heists until you went and tried that last one."
"Brian," Dom's voice was filled with pain and Brian could already smell it, death was setting in much faster that Brian had thought. "Do it."
"You don't know what you're asking."
"Do it," Dom gritted out.
Brian leaned down and kissed Dom, he tasted blood in the kiss. And passion. Hope. Fate. He would never know how his cousin could destroy this if he could have had it. "Are you sure?" he asked, having to be certain because he couldn't do this if Dom wasn't. "You have to be sure. So many things will not be the same," he added, not knowing if he was trying to persuade Dom to say yes or no.
Brian heard Owen laugh and then the clapping--his cousin's way of showing approval--as he bit into Dom's neck before pulling the knife and its serrated blade free from Dom's body.
The next time Dom woke he barely recalled the last; only that he was no longer in the warehouse. That much he was sure of. Just the simple fact that there was something soft against his back and not the cold of the cement floor was evidence of that. Everything else was up in the air. Vampires and soul mates and Brian with violet-colored eyes telling him to drink. He blinked his eyes open, there was sunlight on his skin but both his neck and just below his ribs hurt. The knife. The bite. Vampires. Brian was a vampire. Yes, and Brian was his soul mate. Or had this just been all a bad dream?
"Your body is still healing," a voice said from his right. Dom recognized the voice and it wasn't Brian's.
"Brian will be back in a few minutes," the Asian man answered and Dom had to wonder how Han had gotten involved in all this.
Dom turned his head away from the window towards the other side to see Han Lue sitting in a chair beside his bed. Han looked like he hadn't slept in days. His black hair definitely needed to be washed and his light brown skin seemed somehow pale. And something told him, in that moment, that Han wasn't human.
"You've been out for more than two days," Han said. "Brian's trying to buy us some more time. But," Han said, looking down at his hands. "This is my fault. I left you alone for a few hours and someone grabbed you. Granted Brian thought it would be humans and not Shaw."
Dom noticed that Han was avoiding eye contact. "Brian hasn't seen Shaw in a hundred years; probably much longer actually. We thought...it doesn't matter what we thought," Han finished; then added, "We're not in Mexico anymore."
Han knew what Brian was and that meant his earlier instincts had been right. "How old are you?" Dom finally asked.
"Not nearly half as old as Brian. Maybe. I've kind of lost track on that," Han answered as if trying to avoid the question. "He just wanted to make sure you stayed safe and I messed that up."
Neither man heard anything until Brian actually spoke. "You did not," Brian said from just inside the door. "I was banking on police or feds; not my cousin wanting to bring me back into the fold after more than two centuries. Besides your little sirens and cars trick bought me the time I needed to get out of the warehouse. Get us here. I can't destroy Owen. Even if I did it would bring Ian to our doorstep and I won't risk anyone's life where he is concerned."
"Brian?" Han said Brian's name and it sounded both like a question and a statement or warning. "I'm not leaving."
"I can't ask you to stay," Dom heard Brian say. "I told you long ago that I would never hold you to or ask for," Brian didn't get to finish as Han shoved him in the chest.
"Not your call," Han countered. "It's mine, just like it was my decision then, and I'm staying. I have my own contacts."
Brian snorted, but offered the other man a small grin. "You tell your contact to be careful."
Han laughed. "Welcome to the other side of life, Dom," Han tossed out before slipping out the door.
Dom looked from the departing figure to Brian and was at a loss for words. He was, what exactly? Dead, a vampire. "I...can you explain?" he finally asked.
Brian sighed softly but took the chair Han had just vacated. "I'm a vampire. Shaw's a vampire. Han's a vampire," Brian's voice sounded agitated, almost angry. "And now, so are you."
"Brian," and Dom noticed that the one word seemed to come out as more of a growl than he meant, but he wanted answers. He deserved answers and now that he was awake he had vague memories of being ordered to drink several times. Of the taste of blood over his teeth and tongue, tasting sweeter than anything he'd ever tasted before as he had swallowed it on instinct. He remembered liking it; and even now wanted it taste it again.
"Look, Dom," Brian said, dragging a hand over his head. "I'd made up my mind to just walk away. This wasn't going to be a life for you." Brian drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair. "So I protected myself, as well as you and your family."
"You ran, you mean."
Han was more of a wander than Brian had ever been. It had been how they had first met when Han was still human--on a ship of wood and sails with thoughts of adventure as they drifted from port to port. It was probably for the best that his friend was a wander at heart, as Han's soul mate's calling took them to where they were needed. Han was good in a fight, but he wasn't a fighter and he wasn't an Enforcer.
Brian moved to the window and looked out. "You need to decide, Dom. If you want to pretend that you are still living then you have ten years or so before people start to notice you don't age. Or you decide that you died in that warehouse. What you decide will impact the lives of your living family. What they know can get them killed, or worse." Brian turned around and leaned against the window sill. "Mia received a full scholarship, including room and board, to complete her undergrad and go to med school at a college on the East coast."
He'd had Mia's education planned out before the last truck-jacking that had ruined all his plans. He had called in a couple of favors and paid for everything himself. He knew she had tentatively accepted the offer barring any family issues. She would be able to start in the next few weeks when the next semester began. "It's in a city that Owen and his people won't enter," he added. Brian knew that Owen still feared Phil Casper and went out of his way to avoid most of New England. If he had stayed in that area none of this would have happened. If he had stayed, he would never have found Dom either--Brian wasn't sure which choice would have been for the best.
"If you go back into her life she will probably turn down the scholarship. But this decision has to be yours," Brian finished, trying hard not to influence Dom's decision but still give enough information to make a well informed choice.
"Brian?" Dom questioned, struggling to move into a sitting position.
Brian said nothing, waiting for Dom to ask whatever questions he had. It was hard being in the room. Having tasted Dom's blood, he wanted more. He wanted the strength and passion he had tasted. It didn't help that he had assisted Han in removing Dom's bloody clothes and then washed Dom's body. It had been a close call of him doing something that he would regret. He'd been so tempted to curl up on the bed and wrap himself around Dom.
"Explain, Brian," Dom said, staring at him, and looking so lost--a sight Brian had never seen from Dom before. "Just explain everything. Please."
Brian tried to portray relaxation but Dom's gaze solely being focused on him made certain other thoughts harder to ignore; harder to keep his mind on what he should be saying. Images of Dom's naked body flashed through his mind again. He thought of Shaw killing Dom and not being able to save him but the other thoughts disappeared as he sat in the chair Han had vacated. Dom need knowledge to survive; whether he stayed--with him--or not.
"You're a vampire now," Brian started at the beginning. "You will need to drink blood to survive. Fresh from the source is better, but thanks to blood banks not always necessary. Animal blood--cows, deer, rabbit--will do in a pinch. The rabbit won't live though so be prepared for that. Some blood will taste better than others. You might prefer the taste of fear over sex, or joy over pain. Male over female. The taste is hard to explain. Some say it reflects who you truly are; others say it's about how you see life and what you see in the person you are feeding from."
Brian had never gotten the same answer from any of the Elders he had ever spoken with. Even Gisele, Han's contact, but more importantly she was Han's soul mate, had no straight answer for it and Brian knew she was more than twice his own age.
"You'll need to feed at least every other day for the first few months. The hungrier you are the more likely you are to kill the person you're feeding from. Though, there are few people, that enjoy the taste of death. However, in this day and age it is frowned upon to leave evidence of a death feeding and the body should be destroyed or you risk the wrath of the Enforcers. Several of whom would rather kill you than clean up after you."
Brian had learned a lot in the last forty-eight hours. His older cousin, Ian, was still in Europe just as Owen had said. More importantly, Ian wasn't exactly his cousin. He was more like his great grandfather. It seemed as if Owen had inherited more than his share of Ian's bad habits. Preferring the taste of death was just one of them. According to Casper, Ian and Owen were trying to build a new empire that connected the old and new worlds with vampires in high positions everywhere. All taking direction from Ian--though Owen would be governor of the New World--and keeping the sheeple in the dark because the livestock didn't need to know their fate.
Now that he was looking, Brian wasn't liking what he was piecing together. Ian Shaw enjoyed toppling Houses and nations. The old House System hadn't been disappearing, it had been quietly merging for centuries. Ian had been amassing power behind the scenes for years and no one had been paying attention. Owen was his devoted little acolyte who had been promised his own empire in the new world. And apparently, Owen wanted him as well.
Brian could see how their plans could succeed. Especially as Owen, or more likely Ian, had figured out how to bind an Enforcer to their House and cause. It was simple really, find the person as a human, bind their will to the House's Master, give it at least a year to settle and then turn them and bring the Enforcer out. Then you had a vampire that was faster, stronger, and harder to kill at your beck and call.
There would be holdouts but Ian would not care about those for several more lifetimes. Instead he would slowly inch into their areas until it was too late, giving them only the choice to follow him or be destroyed. Brian had told Phil Casper everything that had happened in the last few days. Phil had been able to fill in some gaps and Brian followed up by telling him everything he knew about Owen and Ian from before his turning until he left to wander. He owed Phil for giving him a place to call sanctuary when he'd first come to the new world; an offer which was always open and had been extended to include Han. Dom didn't need to know any of that right now, though it did weigh on Brian's decision whether to push Dom away or keep him close.
"Brian?" Dom asked softly.
"Sunlight doesn't kill us," Brian continued as if he hadn't been lost in his own thoughts. "Your eyes will be more sensitive for a while. Both to bright lights and the sun--shades will definitely help. Your eye color might change slightly. Brown eyes have a tendency to look more bronze. Han's eyes had the most dramatic change I've ever seen and he used to always wear tinted glasses if he was going to spend a lot of time mixing with humans. Now he just wears contacts since his eyes have long adjusted to the light."
Brian wanted to get up and pace. This was the first time he'd done this whole spiel on what it meant to be a vampire and how your life would be changed. Han had already known about vampires before Brian turned him. He'd had a chance to ask questions and make an informed consent. Even Brian's own turning had come with more information upfront than Dom's had. He was also hoping to avoid the whole soul mate issue.
"A stake through the heart will hurt but you'll live. Dracula wasn't a real vampire. The myths about counting items that are dropped, not real. Though a highly amusing joke on some newbies. We can cross running water. We can't fly unless it's by plane or helicopter." Brian didn't want to continue as true death was always an option in no longer being a vampire. "Decapitation is our one true death and then our bodies just seem to dissolve. Though, those who have given up on this life often seek suicide by acid. It will work but there is much pain in that; and it's not quick. I guess it is their one way to feel something at the very end."
Brian didn't move from the chair, but he did smile for a second before answering. "I couldn't risk us staying in Mexico and it appears Shaw controls most everything in South America."
Dom couldn't remember having ever actually seen snow and here he was dead, a vampire, and seeing snow. All for the first time. He wanted to laugh and scream at the same time. He needed to see Mia, know that she was okay. He needed to know more about Brian. More about this pull he felt to the, well, he guessed, older man since it was now obvious that Brian wasn't exactly twenty-five. More about vampires.
"Mia?" he asked, turning away from the window and the winter wonderland that lay beyond. His sister had to come first.
He saw Brian drum his fingers on the arm of the chair again. It reminded him of the Brian he saw in the warehouse and not the one who had worked in his garage. This Brian was older and not as carefree. Dom wasn't sure he liked that image as, deep within, it felt wrong to him.
"If you tell her what you are," Brian began, barely looking at him. "You will either need to bind her to you until she is near death--school could still be possible, but no husband or children will be in her future as you would have to bind them as well--and we frown on that when it comes to children; or you turn her, then most everything is off the table."
"Bind?" Dom asked. It was at least the second time he'd heard that but Brian hadn't explained what that meant. He was afraid it was exactly what it sounded like.
"It can take away most of her free will," Brian answered stiffly. "It's an old practice but if you command her not to do something, she will not be able to do that thing. It was a way to have eyes and ears in court or at the market and the person would never be able to tell anyone who they reported to, or reveal anything about vampires. Betrayal is almost nonexistent; and, you have a ready food source among other things the person is suitable for. But, it can also be used to protect those humans who we care for."
It was actually worse than Dom had expected. "And if I don't tell her?"
"About you being a vampire and still staying in her life?" Brian asked but didn't wait for him to answer. "You risk her finding out and doing something rash. At some point she would demand to know why you constantly move around and why you don't age, or barely eat. You do not want her to draw the attention of the Enforcers and until Owen is handled neither of you can stay in Los Angeles."
Brian must have seen something in his face because he stood. "I told you that you didn't know what you were asking me to do and I should have known better. The dying almost always say yes, but I...it doesn't matter, Dom. The choice you make is yours, but you need to decide what's best for Mia and not yourself."
"Let her move from everything she knows?" Dom asked, guessing what the last option possible was. "Have someone tell her I'm dead?" he continued, angrily. He was her brother; her only living family. He paused, but he wasn't, was he? He had died in that warehouse? He was supposed to take care of her. Dom hated epiphanies but he'd just had several.
This was his fault. He wouldn't have been here had he not been truck-jacking for money and fun. If he had listened to Brian when he'd tried to warn him; the blond had been dropping hints about the trucks and cops even before Race Wars had started but Dom had thought Brian was just egging Vince on. Dom had been too caught up in the adrenaline rush to recognize the difference. If he had listened he probably would still be in Los Angeles and Jesse wouldn't be dead and in the ground. Yes, Brian had been a playing at being a cop but nothing the blond had done had actually caused any of this to happen. Vince would even have use of his arm thanks to Brian.
He knew that Vince and Letty had left the hospital before the police had come to arrest them. That their exit plan would have taken them to Venezuela and then Barbados. "Where's Leon?" he finally asked, not knowing about the last member of his family.
"He's been staying with Mia," Brian answered. "There was no proof linking either Leon or Mia to the truck-jackings. Letty and Vince ran so the police are focused on them. They are unsure of your status after the shooting and Johnny Trans' disappearance." Dom looked up at that and Brian shrugged. "Lance's body was found but Johnny--who is dead, by the way--his body disappeared and bullet casings from his weapon were found near the wreck of the Charger. If anything it led credence to the Trans being involved in the whole truck-jacking scheme. Oh, and I may have been killed as well."
This time Brian let out a quiet laugh. "I wasn't made to be a cop; not exactly, anyway," he amended. "You should also know the garage and store were seized by the Feds. The house was paid for and since, after your mother's death, you had put it in both your name and Mia's, for now at least, it's hers."
Dom sat down on the edge of the bed and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. He really had screwed up things. Maybe his death was for the best. "Leon...can," he started to ask.
"I'll make sure he goes with Mia," Brian answered.
There was a knock on the door and a very beautiful, slender woman with light brown everything came in without being asked. She ignored him for Brian. "He needs to feed and we need to talk," she said, her voice held an accent that Dom could not recognize or place.
"Give me," Brian turned to look at him, "five minutes and then send Han back."
She gave Brian a hard look before asking, "You know what I'm going to ask you to do?"
Brian nodded and Dom noticed that he looked more resigned to what the woman was asking than happy.
"Good." She nodded before finally turning to look at Dom. Dom felt like he was being sized up, judged, and appraised like a delicious snack about to be eaten. "He suits you," she said, leaving the room and Dom wasn't sure which of them she was speaking to.
Dom lifted an eyebrow in question and Brian snorted.
"That's Gisele," Brian said. "Han's soul mate and an Enforcer. Which I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you about them. Vampires have better senses, are faster and stronger than humans but it's proportional to what you were while human."
Dom nodded. He understood. He could easily lift the car motors and catch the chains, now he could probably double it. Where if before he hadn't been able to lift it, he might be able to do so now.
"Enforcers. Whatever it is in nature that gives them the ability to become the Community's protectors, it doesn't listen to that rule. Gisele could probably take your head off without really trying. They are faster, stronger, and more dangerous than the rest of y...us," Brian stumbled over that last part. "Their fingernails can become very sharp--sharper than what you experienced with Owen. Sharp enough to rip through skin and bone. More importantly, they can sever a binding or a pledge; or create new ones. However, they cannot sever a soul mate pairing--that's between the two people involved and only them. It is said though, that an Enforcer with a soul mate is often calmer, less rash, less blood thirsty, and more fair in their judgments."
He saw Brian glance at the door for a second before finishing. "If that's true then I'm glad I met her when Han was with me," Brian said, and Dom could hear the smile in the words.
"Dom," Brian began and started towards the door. "I am so sorry this happened to you. I will try my best to make sure..."
In the last half hour Brian had told him a lot but Dom was sure there was just as much still to go as he noticed that Brian had skipped over the whole soul mate thing. Dom had never been what anyone would call a romantic, but he had a younger sister and had been exposed to all sorts of things. He realized he didn't need Brian to confirm the one thing he already knew. That he had probably known since the moment Brian sat down at the counter of his store. Brian was simply his, but now he had a name to go with it. And there was a quick way to prove it.
He reached for Brian's arm, stopping the other man from opening the door as he tugged Brian back towards him. In the brief moment that Brian was stunned at the move Dom kissed him. Tongue invading Brian's mouth to deepen the kiss. It told him everything he needed to know and more. He could feel himself getting hard as he moved his arms to Brian's back and under his shirt. It was easy work to get the shirt off and then he was moving them until his legs hit the bed, tumbling them both backwards. Brian shifted his position slightly and Dom moaned into the kiss as his hardening cock rubbed against the denim of Brian's pants.
Dom slid his hand between their bodies as Brian lifted up without breaking the kiss. It probably took longer than necessary before they were both skin to skin. Hands and tongue exploring each other, bodies moving against one another creating friction and pleasure.
The knocking at the bedroom door had them yelling for whoever it was to go away. Both men felt it, deep within themselves that whatever was happening was both overwhelming and needed be completed.
Brian looked up at the older vampire and grinned. "Still adjusting and testing out things," he said, actually having a chance to sit and take a moment for himself. "Plus, I always found the view from my roof brought me the answers that being on the ground could not."
The light dusting of snow here didn't bother him any more than it had in Canada. Today it made everything look new and fresh. He'd only been back to Ireland once in the more than two hundred years since he had left Europe for the New World and that had only been to build this house in the spot where he had grown up. It was supposed to have been a refuge when he could no longer wander; now it would be home for him and Dom.
He had a soul mate now. One, that by the slight buzzing sensation in the back of his mind was still processing everything that had happened in the last four weeks. If he could manage it, Brian would kick himself for even thinking about walking away from Dom. Owen had been wrong, so very wrong. Soul mates weren't a weakness, they were a strength. They gave each other something akin to balance--filling a void otherwise left to sink one's self into.
Dom had actually adjusted fairly quickly to being a vampire after that first afternoon together. Instead of barreling through things like a bull in a china shop, Dom actually stopped to ask questions and had the patience to wait and learn. Brian had been the opposite with his turning and learned patience and calm decades later.
Watching Dom feed had been difficult though because Brian had found out he was more possessive than he thought. Dom had laughed it off until the first time he'd watched Brian feed and then they both realized that Dom was actually worse on that front. So, things tended to equalize out between them.
Han had laughed at them both and told them not to watch one another which was harder to do than it sounded since they were soul mates and could feel the other feeding. Han had laughed again and said, "I said don't watch, man; not don't feel. It will get easier. I promise." Looking at Han and Gisele's bond, Brian had believed him.
Brian had been elated when they discovered Dom preferred to feed from those whose blood sang with adrenaline--something Brian should have known from the start--and not something that mirrored his time at Owen's hands which had also been a possibility.
He told Dom the truth about his friend Roman and binding someone to you. He hadn't made Roman up while playing undercover cop, just some of the facts. He and Roman had broken quite a few laws in the 1920s and Roman had been a good friend. They had also been caught by an Enforcer because Brian had not bound Roman to him. But the mess it had created when Brian accidently blew up a truck carrying illegal alcohol instead of getting caught transporting it had brought an Enforcer's attention on them. The fact that Roman had met a woman and fallen in love had also put his new family at risk.
It had been the hardest thing Brian had done. He bound Roman to him. Bound him to forget that Brian was a vampire, made his memories of their time together a little bit fuzzy. Made him think Brian had died during the explosion. In the end Roman remembered a white man who had helped his new family get a fresh start--a home, a job, an education, everything. Brian still kept track of Roman's family, he knew one of his, great grandsons was a tech in the US Army and another owned a private airline.
And while today many vampires didn't actually treat those that were bound to them as slaves or a naturally replenishing food source, Brian had been sure that's what Owen would do; especially if it meant controlling Dom and in turn controlling him. But it had been difficult to observe Dom as he watched his mortal life end. For a moment Brian had been tempted to call a halt to it. Their soul mate bond had pulsed with grief and sadness and Brian could help take that away but only at the cost of Mia and Leon's lives. It was hard to just stand there but it was the best choice for all involved.
They had watched as the FBI had informed Mia and Leon that Dom's body had been found in a wreck that had been caused by what appeared to be a drive-by shooting. The whole setup had been made to look like the Trans had finally gotten revenge and Johnny was still thought to be on the run. Dom's personal affects, including the silver cross that had been his mother's, had been given to Mia at the same time as a canister of ashes.
There had been a small funeral and then Leon had helped Mia pack up the house and move everything they weren't taking with them to New England into storage. Mia hired a leasing company to lease the house because she thought that in the future she might like to have her family home back. With Dom's death and no proof of Dom's actual involvement in the heists, the FBI released the garage and store back to Mia. Mia hired Mrs. Thompson, a neighbor who had worked at the grocery store two days a week since both the Toretto kids had been in diapers, as the store manager. DT's Auto had been sold to Edwin with the promise not to change the name.
Mia had questioned the whereabouts of the Charger but then, even from across the street, they had been able to hear her tell the FBI: "Never mind. That car is cursed. Let it rest wherever it is."
Dom had grimaced slightly at that but had said nothing. At that moment the car had been sitting in a garage in Canada.
They had met briefly with Phil Casper who promised to have his people keep an eye on Mia and Leon. He had also offered to reach out to a few other Houses he trusted for more information on Ian and Owen Shaw.
That information was partially responsible for why he was now sitting on the roof of his house in Ireland. After all, his life had changed almost as much as Dom's had in the last four months, starting when Dom dragged him to the bed with a single kiss.
Two days later when they'd finally emerged from the bedroom and he was certain Dom was okay staying with Han for a few hours he had left with Gisele. He hadn't exactly known what was going to happen. He'd never been around another vampire like himself who had made the decision he was about to make. Not that Enforcers were all that common. There were probably twenty to twenty-five world wide compared to the estimated five thousand vampires. Brian had only met two--Gisele and Doyle. He wasn't sure who scared him the most but he had met Doyle while doing something he shouldn't have been doing. Doyle had made him clean up his own mess and been the one to tell him that he would understand in the future. It had been Gisele who had actually told him what that feeling in his blood and mind was and what Doyle had been indicating.
The remote clearing in the middle of nowhere had been an excellent choice for him to embrace his inner Enforcer. The second change hurt, perhaps even more than becoming a vampire had. His blood had felt like it was boiling and his skin and bone felt like it was stretching. But it had been the hunger that was worse. It was like being a new vampire all over again.
"It is better," Gisele had told him afterwards; after the pain had subsided, after he'd fed from three people and one vampire who he'd found guilty of exposing them to humans, "to do this change after becoming a vampire rather than at the same time. Otherwise you might have gone mad with hunger or insanity."
It had explained why there were not a lot of Enforcers. The vampire he had found guilty and then fed from, he'd popped the man's head off like a bottle cap. It had been exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. He felt the difference in himself and the irony that he had left one job for another and was still a cop had not escaped him.
Gisele had, however, failed to mention the shift in his eye color. Dom had been the one to point that out.
Phil Casper was sending him weekly updates on how his family was adjusting. Dom had been thankful and a little humbled that the head of House for New England was personally taking the time to check-in on his family. It had shown him that not all Houses in the vampire Community were as damaged as the two run by the Shaws.
Now he was having to adjust to living on another continent. Honestly, Dom had never gone anywhere outside of the Southwestern United States and Mexico. Canada had been new; so had flying in a plane. He had been asleep during the flight from Mexico to Canada. He'd been nervous on the flight between Canada and Los Angeles and until that moment hadn't thought about a vampire owning an aircraft, but Gisele owned a really nice private jet. The next time he boarded the plane he was on his way to his new life--the US being left behind, and yet, Europe in general seemed somehow both the same and yet so very different from what he knew having lived in the Southwest US his entire life.
It was like him as a vampire. He wished he could say he had been angry at first, but what he had actually felt was lost. His feelings, needs, and wants had been so crisscrossed that he hadn't even known what was real. Even as he had listened to Brian trying to explain things. It wasn't until he realized what Brian had avoided mentioning that almost everything made sense.
One kiss had sealed the realization. Taking Brian to bed--the sex, the sharing of blood--had set everything to right. Like a rubber band snapping into place to hold them together. His anger and temper that he always kept hidden just under the surface seemed to lighten as a calm that wasn't his nestled into place.
Han told him it was the opposite for him and Gisele--she had been the one with a temper, which wasn't to say she still didn't have one and Dom never wanted to be the one it was directed at. It had made Gisele a very efficient and deadly Enforcer; it had also made her less likely to forgive or settle on something that didn't end in a vampire's death. Han had given her, not peace, but the ability to judge with heart and see that a second chance was sometimes what was needed.
He knew now that he gave Brian the drive to see that not everyone deserved a second chance. Dom had felt the moment Brian had embraced his Enforcer status. Felt the pain and sorrow that ripped through Brian's mind. He had felt it all through their new bond and he had fallen to his knees and cried out with Brian.
"It's better that he did this with you in his life than not," Han had told him. "Without you he would have hardened into the killing machine that the Shaws were hoping for. Don't turn away from him now."
He'd growled like an animal and pushed Han away; pushed hard enough that Han had flown across the room. It had been an eye-opener for just how much had changed; at how much he needed to think simple human actions through--one shove and he'd thrown a friend nearly though a wall. But the comment had angered him where nothing else had; he'd had no intentions of pushing Brian away now that he was his.
Dom would let nothing or no one take his soul mate away from him; not even himself. He had still felt Brian's hands ghosting over his body, felt Brian thrusting into him, making his body arch off the bed. Making his cock harder and harder until the climax that rode through him felt like it was going to turn him into ash. The taste of Brian's blood on his lips like sweet brown sugar and cinnamon cookies. No, Dom had no thought of giving that up.
Brian had returned to him several hours later, tired and worn out. Ready to fall into bed. Dom had looked him in the eye. Brian's stunning blue eyes were gone, replaced with equally beautiful purple eyes ringed in a deep red. That night he'd taken Brian to bed. Made him relax, made him feel pleasure until they both needed to sleep.
It would be days before Gisele would admit that Brian wasn't just an Enforcer, but a Chief Enforcer. Brian was the first of those in nearly five hundred years. If he called them to him, all the other Enforcers would come. Dom had seen that trick first hand.
Owen Shaw hadn't seen that coming.
It was a history of the last two Chief Enforcers and that was when Brian realized that Phil Casper was close to two thousand years old. He hadn't wanted to take the book, it was old and personal but Casper had said that the book was meant for him. Brian had read the book twice. It wasn't a manual per say, but it had answered many of his questions that no one else could.
The book told him of the history of two Chief Enforcers--one with a soul mate and one without. The one without had been hard and cruel, decimating more than half the vampire population at the time. He had died at the hands of those he was supposed to protect. The second, she'd had a soul mate. She had been caring but perhaps a little too much. In the end, she had died by her own hand when her soul mate had been killed by humans--her grief having made her lash out at everyone--vampires and humans alike--before making that decision to end her own life.
There had been two other things from that day in Casper's office. He had learned that Doyle was Casper's soul mate.
"Did you know?" Brian had asked the other Enforcer, pointing up towards his own eyes.
Doyle had only shrugged until Brian said, "That's not an answer." It had come out more forcefully than he had intended but the instant reaction had been unexpected.
The other Enforcer's demeanor had changed so quickly. Straightening from the slouch to stand almost at attention. "No," Doyle had answered first looking at Casper and then to him. "Not exactly. There was something else there besides knowing you were meant to be an Enforcer, but I just couldn't put my finger on it. I just assumed you had found your soul mate and hadn't finished the bond."
Brian got it in that very moment. If he called them, they would come. They would answer to him. It was too much like binding someone without their permission and what would it do to those who had soul mates? Brian never wanted to find out and he didn't like the idea. He didn't want that type of loyalty.
"Your loyalty is to Phil and to those you call family but not to Casper's House itself, is it?" he asked, trying understood the other Enforcer.
Casper had not looked surprised at his soul mate's answer and Doyle had actually grinned--an action that made him seem younger, less tense and more at ease. "Phil is Phil," Doyle had answered as if that alone answered everything and maybe it had.
Brian had sat quietly for a moment and then realized that he could do what needed to be done. "That's how it should be," Brian answered. "But please inform me if you hear about things that shouldn't be happening. Spread the word about me only to those you trust."
He'd written down an email address and phone number that Gisele had set up and handed it to Doyle before thanking Casper for everything. When he had gotten outside to where Han and Gisele waited by their car he had given her a look.
She had stared right back. "I sided with you when you gave me Han."
He ignored the choking sound Han made. "For the record I didn't give him to you and the two of you..."
"If you finish that sentence," she had warned and that was all the answer he needed. She was with him because she chose to be. Also, it re-enforced the fact that he might still be a little afraid of her.
Two days later he had received three emails and a phone call from four other Enforcers letting him know their status and the regions they called home or patrolled on a regular basis. Only one had any news on the Shaws.
Within a week that number had tripled. In total he had received some type of communication from seventeen Enforcers from varying locations around the world including New Zealand. Four had had encounters with either Ian or Owen or one of their private Enforcers. From what was being reported there were now five individuals who had been bound to the Shaws before being forced into becoming vampires and then Enforcers. Three were with Owen and two with Ian whose current location was still unknown.
Brian killed the first of Owen's three Enforcers by accident. The man had attacked and Brian had defended himself and acted on instinct. He never even knew the man's name and it may or may not have been responsible for the attack that came next. Brian would never know and he didn't think it much mattered.
In retaliation Owen sent Riley after Han, believing him to be the weakest link in Brian's little family--or at least that's what Riley had said before Gisele removed her head.
She had attacked Han at a night club. Manhandling him out of the building and away from prying human eyes to a back alley. Han had been bloody; the deep scratches across his face having just missed his eyes. His right arm had nearly been ripped from his body and he was barely conscious when Gisele found them.
Gisele had felt Han's pain through their bond and whatever connections a Chief Enforcer had with their subordinates the sudden worry coming from Gisele--the closest Enforcer to him and one he considered a friend--had Brian instantly looking for her and Han. When that feeling suddenly changed to the need for vengeance and death, Brian sped up his search afraid for both Han and her.
Brian and Gisele might joke about him giving Han to Gisele, but Han had been the only person in Brian's four hundred years as a vampire that he had felt the need to turn. Han who had openly flirted with the unflappable female Enforcer until she admitted the growing bond between them. Brian had realized long ago that Han was more his family than Owen Shaw had ever been; and that relationship extended to Gisele.
At that moment though, there had been little he could do but watch as the two women fought. Perhaps if Riley hadn't gone after Han the fight might have been more evenly matched. Perhaps not. All Brian knew at that moment was that he was very glad that Gisele was on his side. She had become vengeance incarnate.
When Riley couldn't stand, when she fell to her knees because her blood ran from dozens of wounds that could no longer heal as fast as they bled, Brian called out. "Gisele," he said, "I need her alive and talking for a minute."
He had known at that moment that Gisele wanted to pull Riley's head back by the hair and dig her claws into the other woman's throat. Gisele had yanked the woman around to face him a little harder than necessary but he didn't object to the action.
"You must be Riley," he said softly. "My cousin spoke of you."
"He's going to take everything from you," Riley sneered, struggling to loosen the hold Gisele had on her. "Everything you love will be gone. You will beg him to take you." Riley finally looked up at him and gasped.
Brian's eyes glowed red. "You are guilty," he said. He had thought he'd feel sorry for her because of what Owen had done to her, but looking into her very being Brian realized that Owen hadn't truly done much to her. That in fact she had liked what he had done to her. The sex, the pain, the fear, and the power. She craved it all. She was so much like Owen and had done things as a human that made Brian wish he could unsee the truths that his gifts had given him.
"Where is my cousin, Riley?" Brian asked.
Han didn't drink much but the slashes across his forehead and down his cheek began to close.
"I don't have to tell you shit," he heard the Riley woman scream and turned just in time to see Gisele's fingers lengthen and dig into the woman's neck.
"Where is my cousin?" Brian asked again, and even he recognized the question as an order as the words seemed to itch across his skin.
It was clear the moment she realized she had no out. He had felt Brian's pity for how he believed the woman had been treated under his cousin change to something that felt like death. When Dom looked up from Han and towards his soul mate, Brian's eyes had turned blood red and the pity was clearly gone. In Brian's place stood a Chief Enforcer. Eyes that could see into a person's very being and fingernails sharper than knives that could remove a man's head from his shoulders. Temper and justice balanced with compassion and fairness.
Dom didn't believe Riley deserved the compassion.
Brian leaned in and grabbed the woman's chin. "Tell me," he ordered.
Riley went completely still. Her voice almost robotic. "He's in Chicago."
"Our main base of operations is there."
The rest of the conversation ran the same way. She would only answer the questions Brian asked. They learned, as far as Riley knew, Owen had homes in four cities--Chicago, Quebec, La Paz, and Rio de Janeiro. Rio having been their main home until a year ago. Owen alone had almost two hundred followers or supporters and she thought Ian might have double that. Though she didn't know much about Ian or where he was, just that the last time he and Owen had talked he was headed back to Paris from somewhere in Asia.
Brian ordered Riley to empty all her pockets. The cell phone was encrypted but Dom had no doubt Gisele could crack it having seen the woman working on the computers Brian had set up at his place. There was a card key to a hotel, car keys, and some cash. No wallet or identification.
Dom felt whatever anger Brian had leave his mate as something close to melancholy replaced it before it too was replaced by an unyielding rightness.
"I find you guilty of breaking the Covenant of the Enforcers," he heard Brian say. "And of endangering the Community. The only punishment for this crime is death."
The words were barely out of Brian's mouth before Gisele's nails easily ripped through the skin and bone. One moment Owen's pet enforcer had been there and the next there was nothing but ash in the air. He had known Enforcers were stronger, but knowing and seeing were two different things.
Brian glanced towards him, eyes still red as blood. Dom stared back. As Brian looked at him his lover's eyes slowly faded back to the purple ringed with a deep red. He wasn't sure if Brian thought he would be disgusted or upset with what he'd just ordered. But Brian had been a cop when they first met and no matter what anyone told him about Brian being more criminal than cop--tales of bootlegging and smuggling, Dom would always see him as someone who would do what was right no matter the personal cost. Enforcers were just another type of cop and one that was clearly needed in the Community he now lived.
Dom backed away from Han as soon as Gisele's focus was on her soul mate. The look on her face promised she would cause whoever got in her way so much pain they would beg for death. It was the first time that Dom completely understood why Brian said he feared her. Even the moment when she had to reach out to steady herself as Han drank from her neck showed no weakness.
Brian walked over to her, ignored the growl, and dropped Riley's cellphone into Gisele's coat pocket. "We're going to check out her car and her hotel room," he said. "We'll meet you back at the house. You both need blood and rest."
The car was clean. Too clean. It was a rental with nothing in it. The hotel room had been a little better. One carryon filled with clothes, an open dated airline ticket for round trip travel from Chicago, and a laptop--also encrypted.
"We're going to Chicago?" Dom asked.
"You’re not going to suggest Han and I stay here?"
"Wouldn't do any good."
"You're learning Bri," Dom said, a little cheeky sounding.
Brian gave him a look and walked out of the hotel room. "I am older than you, you know."
Dom laughed and followed in his mate's wake. Four days later he was wishing they could have skipped Chicago. The computer and cell phone had given them names, number and locations for almost fifty of Owen's little band of followers. It had also given them the last name of Owen's private Enforcers. It didn't help that they'd discovered an Enforcer with no physical connection to Owen having sided with the Shaws' plan for the future.
They started with those closest to them on the list and one by one, Gisele or Brian hunted down the person and judged them. Only three had been judged not guilty and offered a second chance. They would be monitored by the few Enforcers Brian knew he could trust. Each guilty person led them to more. It led to land deeds, bank records, companies, a senator, three Congressmen, county and district officials in and around the four cities that Riley had mentioned plus several more across Europe and Asia. That information Brian was passing onto Casper as Brian was not a political player and he knew that Casper and the few House masters around the world that Casper himself trusted could help tear down the Shaws' growing empire.
They kept Colin with them, a Brooklyn native who been an Enforcer since the late 1940s but rarely left New York. Colin thought he had lost his mate during the war but Brian got the impression that whoever Colin's mate was, the person was right under the Enforcer's nose and Colin was just too scared to hope. Colin was smart, capable, deadly, but sometimes just a little too nice for his own good. That had been Casper's take on Colin as well; and like Brian, Casper also believed Colin's mate was close by. However, as Doyle had told him, "Colin's been keeping the riff-raff out of New York since before the Dodgers left; and by the way, don't mention that to him, it's still a sore point. He's good in a fight."
Colin had several inches on him and muscles that rivaled Dom's but there was something about him that just made you want to hug him when he smiled. It was probably one of the reasons there hadn't been a single name from New York on any of the lists so far.
Good in a fight had been an understatement. The man was fantastic in a fight and Brian was very thankful that the man's morals ran to the high side of good because if he had sided with the Shaws things could have turned out very differently. As it was, the showdown with Owen had been the worst experience in Brian's life.
Owen wasn't sane. Brian supposed that he had always known something was wrong with his cousin but hadn't wanted to see it. Leaving all those years ago had meant that he would remember the older boy who had come out to visit when they were children. The boy who had taught him to ride, taught him to defend himself, and, admittedly, took him to his first brothel. Who saved him when he lay dying. But Owen was no longer that person.
Even with Dom and Han, they had been outnumbered, and Brian really was going to help Colin find his mate because that man deserved a bit of happiness after this.
In the middle of the fight Dom took a shot to the stomach from a spear gun. His attacker was ash before the woman had been able to fire again and Brian was using Dom's pain across their bond to be able to push onward through the fray. Han was only doing a little better than Dom and both had retreated to safety--to drink the blood they had thought to bring with them and to keep others from attacking their rear as the three Enforcers moved forward. The acid gun Han had rigged up, while not killing anyone, did a decent job of pushing attackers back.
If anything the direct attacks on Han and Dom while avoiding Colin, Gisele, and himself had spurred the three Enforcers on until it was just Brian and Owen circling one another.
"I see you've finally accepted what you truly were, Brian," Owen taunted. "A cold blooded killer. Did you enjoy it, passing judgment? Was it easy for you? The thrill of the kill? To send those poor souls to their death. How did it feel to use those claws of yours to rip a man's head from his body? Come to me Brian and you can feel that again and again."
Brian moved. He moved faster than even he thought he could. One second he had been standing between Gisele and Colin and the next he was pinning Owen across a table by the throat.
"Where is Ian, Owen? Where is our father's grandfather?" Brian asked.
"Shaw. I am Shaw." Owen laughed even though Brian's fingernails were buried deep enough to draw blood. "So you know that little tidbit?" Owen asked, voice cracking with excitement. "He came back for us. Us. No one before."
"He ended our family line by doing so," Brian mentioned.
"No," Owen said, stopping any struggle. "He made it better," he said, plunging a knife into Brian's side.
Brian barely flinched. "Where is he?" he asked again, this time more forcefully. This time he asked as the Enforcer he was.
Owen's reply was a laugh that sent chills running through the entire room. "I ate him," Owen admitted, still laughing. "I made us one. I am all that's left. I am Shaw."
No matter which of the three Enforcers asked Owen the question, the answer remained the same. Gisele looked around what was left of the plush office. "It could be true," she commented. "I never was able to trace the location of Ian's emails."
"But you said people had spotted Ian in China, France, and Scotland," Colin reminded them.
Which was true, but no one had actually seen him in a year and those that could only give a rough description that resembled Ian. If Owen had truly drained Ian dry and then murdered their great grandfather then they were chasing a ghost. Even though there had been a few mysterious deaths that the Enforcers in the area had covered up in a few of the locations Ian had supposedly been spotted there was no hard evidence that Ian had been there. It was possible that it had been someone working for Owen following an order to make it seem like Ian was still in charge. It didn't take much for Brian to believe that Owen was telling the truth; or at least a truth he believed.
"Finish it, Brian," Dom called from across the room, tossing his own opponent through a window. "Finish it and let's go home."
Brian looked over at Dom and nodded. He owed his soul mate some time alone, just the two of them.
"We find you guilty of endangering the Community, Owen Shaw," Brian stated, looking into the craze-filled eyes of his cousin. "I find you guilty of crimes against our Community. The punishment for both is death."
"I told you," Owen retorted. "That you would like it."
"I really don't," Brian replied to the ash that his cousin had just become. "I really don't."
Gisele and Han had sped off in a car to drive the German Autobahn--again--three days after they had returned to Ireland. He received text messages every few days letting him know they were okay and would return before the new year unless he needed them sooner.
In the three months since the Shaw incident there had been no sign of Ian. For now Brian was treating Owen's statement as fact. Especially since the house in Paris that had been identified as Ian's main home seemed to have been under Owen's ownership for the last nineteen months--about the same time period as the last confirmed sighting of Ian. The house had been wrecked but Ian's bedroom and private study had shown signs of a fight and a large pool of blood that had only been partially cleaned up. Ian's staff, when questioned by Enforcers, admitted they had been receiving their orders by text and email ever since Owen's last visit but had not seen Ian in person since that time.
Chase and Olivia had tracked down the majority of names on Shaw's South American list and were now working their way through Asia. They'd sent computer files and when they couldn't access those, they sent the computers, cell phones, and tablets. The small room Brian had intended to be a library of sorts back when he built the house had turned into an office filled with, well, Brian guessed police work would be the right term.
The Community was down to fifteen Enforcers and Brian had traveled around the world to talk with each one. However, in the last month two vampires had embraced the ability to become Enforcers. Not that Brian could say much because he was just as new to the whole Enforcer position as well. He had though, made a change in how Enforcers worked. Actually he made several changes. New Enforcers were required to spend a minimum of one year with at least one other Enforcer.
Colin and Doyle were splitting their time with one of the new Enforcers at her request as Colin and Doyle had different styles. She'd also asked to spend time with one of the female Enforcers as a mentor. The other new Enforcer had requested to stay in Hawaii with a single mentor.
The other change was the Enforcers checked in with one another and Brian at least once a week by email and once a month by phone or video conference.
Casper had made great headway on removing the corrupted officials from their offices after learning that Shaw had promised at least half of them would be turned and granted their own stables once Shaw's plan had been completed. While Brian was against binding people against their will, in this case he was making an exception. The officials would be forgetting all about the community of vampires.
The community had lost nearly five percent of its population due to Shaw and at the moment the House System had requested a ban on turning individuals. It had been the first time in three hundred years that all the Houses had agreed on something. The Houses were also meeting on a regular basis and had asked for an Enforcer to sit on the Circle of House Masters. Brian had elected Colin to the position.
After a little investigation, Doyle had helped Brian ensure that Colin accidentally ran into the vampire that they both thought was the man's mate. They had been right and Brian, given to the more romantic side since finding his own mate had described it as sparks flying when the two men first came into contact. Nicolás was a quiet man--though Phil swore the man had been a pirate in his youth, but with Phil youth could very well mean a thousand years ago--who had lived off and on in New York and Spain for the last seventy years. It explained why Colin would have thought his mate near by and then gone.
"The computer will still be there tomorrow," Dom said, coming into the office. Brian didn't even look up from the file he was reading as Dom moved around the room, just stopping to the left of his desk by the board that told him who had and hadn't checked in and where everyone was during their last check in. "Everyone has been accounted for."
Brian was going to make a counter offer of another hour, but then he noticed it; Dom was standing there wearing nothing. Brian licked his lips, felt his fangs lengthen, felt his body harden. He pushed back in his chair and stood up. He grabbed Dom by the back of the neck and brought their lips together. It brought their bodies closer and Brian wanted out of his clothes, wanted nothing between him and his soul mate.
The trip to their bedroom was quick and the path littered with Brian's clothes. The feel of Dom's hands running over his skin made him harder until he was climbing up his lover's body so he could wrap his legs around Dom's waist. Dom made short work of the last few stairs and had them on the bed in seconds. He felt Dom's fangs scratch softly at his neck and he tilted his head to the side to give his mate better access. The bite barely drew blood but Dom sucked making Brian moan and arch up against the other man.
Brian unwrapped his legs and it gave Dom the space he needed. Fingers entered him, stretched, and then Brian was arching up again with the feeling of being filled. Dom thrust, and Brian arched, together they moved against and towards one another. Brian bit into Dom's neck as he climaxed. Dom's second bite into Brian following just seconds later. The bond between them flared and brought them to a second climax.
When Dom pulled out of Brian, the bigger man pulled Brian to him, wrapped his muscled arms around him and lapped at the already healing bruise from the bite. Brian shivered for a second and then settled into his soul mate's embrace.
It could be said that both he and Dom had started new lives when Owen Shaw entered their world, but Brian liked to think that it started when he sat down on a bar stool and ordered a really bad tuna fish salad sandwich.
Their new life wasn't two separate things but one new life together.