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a torment to themselves

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Charlaine Meyer is an amazing woman. She's stunningly beautiful with a smile like diamonds glittering on the snow and hair like a slice of midnight, cut to bring out her perfect cheekbones and slender neck. She has enough elegance and good manners to share with an entire royal household, and she's never rude or impolite to anyone. She's a rising movie star who turns heads wherever she walks and as a cherry on top of a perfect cake, she's a genuinely nice person. She's kind, considerate and generous almost to a fault. All of this makes it very difficult to dislike her, but Rayflo still manages to do that.

He hates her with a passion, especially the way she clings to Chris' arm like she belongs there. The nerve of her, touching him so freely right there in front of Rayflo's eyes. Rayflo doesn't want to ruin the party but at the same time, if Charlaine Meyer were to suddenly disappear, he wouldn't shed a tear. It's terribly unfair and he does feel guilty about it, but not nearly enough to stop.

Minea slides next to him, balancing a tray full of fruity drinks with all the effortless grace of a cat and none of the disdain. "Master Rayflo," she says quietly and Rayflo swears he can hear a faint trace of disapproval in her voice.

He reaches for the tray and grabs the tallest glass, swallowing the drink with one go and reaching for another. "I've been a good boy, just like I promised. I haven't done anything scandalous." The yet hangs in the air and Minea may or may not raise her eyebrows a little. "But it's not fair."

Chris has the ears of a bat because he turns his head and Rayflo can see the question in his eyes. Or maybe Chris just knows when there's something troubling him. Rayflo wants to believe it's the latter and flashes as genuine a smile as he possibly can. Maybe it's believable enough because Chris smiles back, so soft and happy that it makes Rayflo's heart flutter and dance a little. Much like Chris danced with Charlaine Meyer only minutes ago, damn her excellent dancing skills, not that Rayflo particularly wants to remember the careful way Chris held her hands in his.

Chris leans in and whispers something into her delicate ear, and the glass in Rayflo's hand shatters. "Excuse me," he says and knows that the only reason Minea doesn't snort is that she's too well-bred to do something like that. "I think I need some fresh air."

It's difficult to walk out of the room with any dignity and discretion when his hand is bleeding, but Rayflo does it nevertheless. He has centuries' worth of practice at sneaking around.

The balcony is large and conveniently empty of other guests, and Rayflo leans on the railing with a sigh. The night is dark and cool and silent, a pleasant change for the hectic party inside. He shakes his stinging hand, sending small shards of glass and drops of blood to the garden below, and tries to hate the poor, innocent Charlaine Meyer a little less. It's not her fault that Chris is so charming and that Rayflo desperately wants to keep him for himself, every moment of every day and night.

"Let me," Chris says quietly behind him and startled, Rayflo spins around, heart in his throat and then ready to leap out of his chest and into Chris' hands."Waste not, Master."

Chris steps closer and reaches for his bleeding hand. There's something in the air, possibly Rayflo's steaming jealousy or the effect of Chris' devastatingly good looks, and there's no way Rayflo could even pretend to resist him. Chris lifts his hand to his lips and for all this has happened thousands of times before, it still makes Rayflo shiver. Now though, there's a new kind of gentleness and honesty in Chris that wasn't there before the whole Vassalord-slash-Alford mess, and that alone makes it worth all the trouble. Chris isn't feeding from him or touching him because he has to, it's because he wants to. It's a novelty Rayflo knows won't wear off no matter how long they might have together.

Chris' tongue drags over the closing wounds and the blood between Rayflo's fingers, and it takes all the self-control he has to stay still. He wants to jump forward and push Chris against the wall, into the shadows and out of sight, and to shove his fingers deeper and make Chris bite them.

"I know what you're thinking about," Chris says, his pale fingers curling around Rayflo's wrist and caressing the pulse point. He has to know how Rayflo's heart is hammering in his chest, how his blood is flowing into two places at once. Rayflo certainly knows that his cheeks are burning just from this, just from Chris' soft lips on his knuckles and his eyes smiling at him, and that his expensive trousers suddenly feel too tight. None of this is new but repetition hasn't made it any less exciting and wonderful.

"Oh?" Rayflo says, putting as much innocence and suggestiveness into it as he possibly can. It's a lot, he knows that. "You have such a dirty mind, Cherry."

Chris bites down then, sharp and sudden, and Rayflo grabs the railing behind him, can't hold back a whimper.

"Yes," Chris says agreeably and Rayflo wonders how he ever survived without the sight of him like this, eyes dark and intent on him. "Quite so, Master, and if this wasn't an actually important business meeting I have to attend, we'd do all of that right now. I'd let you push me against the wall and kiss me, for one. If it weren't for all the people who'd hear you, I'd bite down into your throat just to hear the sounds you'd make. I love them, have I told you that?"

He has, in fact, described in great detail of what exactly they do to him, and remembering that makes Rayflo's blood burn hotter and knees feel weaker.

"But as it is, it'll have to wait until we're home." Chris lets go of his hand and it's a little like a world's end and a lot like the best promise in the world. "Come dance with me, I know you can. I've seen the pictures."

Rayflo clears his throat. "What about your date for the evening? She might get jealous."

"Like you do?" Chris smiles and leans in to kiss him, a quick and soft, featherlike touch on Rayflo's lips. Rayflo sighs into it and misses the touch as soon as it's gone. "Don't worry, I think Charlaine will be busy dancing with her girlfriend."