It had been a week since he’d arrived in Miami. Brian was still a fugitive but for the first time since deciding to run he felt surprisingly at ease. Miami was a bustling city, filled with all kinds of places to hide and get lost in. He was a chameleon, blending in with the local populace without problem.
As luck would have it he’d met some good people. Tej owned a garage and was the local point-man for races. His head mechanic Jimmy was a knowledgeable sort and his girl Suki was a blast. They were a nice bunch, even if they didn’t hold a candle to Dom’s team.
Not that Brian would speak ill of the crew he fell in with. Especially after all Tej had done- hooking him up with a place to stay and entrance into the races so he could make some cash. He’d quickly gained a rep as a guy to beat on the street, showing he wasn’t just some pretty face trying to play the part but was someone to be feared.
Given all that, Brian wanted to stay in Miami as long as he was able. He was tired of running and prayed that being all the way across the country would count for something. Hopefully the cops would just forget about him or get tired of the hunt. It wasn’t likely but Brian was willing to give himself the delusion for the time being.
“Hey Jimmy,” Brian called from where he was buried in the engine of his Skyline. “Ya think we could get some parts over-nighted from Japan?”
“Whatever you need Bullet,” the mechanic assured as he worked on a customer’s car. “Whatcha thinkin’?”
“I need a good way to spend my money.” Brian had a cheeky grin on his face, biting his tongue after sticking it out.
Jimmy shook his head but it was Suki who replied as she stepped up next to the blonde. “Shouldn’t you be saving your cash for a quick getaway?”
Brian shrugged. “Don’t plan on leavin’ anytime soon,” he answered easily. “‘Sides… why would I wanna leave you Suki?”
She rolled her eyes before hip-checking him. “May not have a choice,” he heard her mutter as she walked off. Brian frowned, turning to call after her and ask what she meant, but a car pulling up to the garage stopped him.
The dark Navigator made him freeze. He was relieved when a couple of guys got out that were clearly not feds. Curious, Brian leaned back against the front of his car, watching as one of them opened the back door.
The brunette that emerged was dressed to kill. He screamed of power and sauntered into the place like he owned it, nothing but pure confidence and swagger. To Brian the man didn’t belong at all but apparently he was wrong as Tej appeared out of no where to greet him.
“Mr. Verone,” Tej spoke, tilting his head to the side which flashed his throat. It was only a moment and Brian furrowed his brows at the odd gesture. Perhaps it was nothing but it sure didn't seem like it.
“How are things here?” the brunette asked. Brian didn’t miss the commanding presence the man had. He also wasn’t blind to how attractive he was. This Verone guy had a nice build under that designer suit and sharp features that made him all the more predatory.
His eyes flashed over to where Brian was and he inhaled sharply at the piercing blue-grey orbs. “You must be Brian O’Conner... Carter Verone.” Brian’s brows furrowed. “Tej has spoken of you. It’s good to finally meet you.” It took all his willpower not to shrink back as Carter stalked towards him. “You seem confused. Don’t be. You could say I’m his business partner.”
“So what’s that got to do with me?”
Carter shrugged. “Well, you are staying in one of my properties.” Brian hadn’t realized the houseboat didn’t belong to Tej or that the man had any investors with his business. Carter didn’t really seem to care about him being there though.
Instead, Carter turned on his heels and clapped Tej on the shoulder. “He can stay,” he offered and Brian didn’t miss the way his new friend sagged in relief, nodding his head and once more tilting it to the side. That made it official- something weird was going on.
Carter bent closer so only Tej could hear him. “Bring him to Pearl,” he stated. “Tomorrow night.”
“Yes sir,” was the obedient reply.
He patted the point-man's shoulder before looking back at Brian. “Lovely meeting you,” he assured the blonde, heading back to his vehicle before the other could so much as react.
Carter grinned to himself as he settled in the backseat. When Tej had mentioned earlier that week that there was a new racer in town that he wanted to stay at the houseboat, he had been hesitant. Still, his familiar had asked his approval, as was custom, and so the vampire couldn’t really deny him the courtesy.
After laying eyes on the pretty blonde, well, Carter wasn’t about to lie abut the appeal. Brian was beautiful, all long legs and tanned skin. He had the most beautiful eyes and a pretty face framed by sun-washed hair. No, Carter was more than alright with him sticking around. He was an intrigue and it was more than just the call of blood.
His familiars would see that Brian came to him. Carter wanted the opportunity to get to know the man better. He could count on Tej and the others- they were loyal to a fault. The vampire had had many human vassals throughout his second life, and even fellow vampires that served him, but this group had proven especially useful to him since deciding to settle in Miami.
As the SUV navigated the familiar streets of his latest home, Carter pulled out his cellphone.
“Hello my love,” the voice on the other end spoke upon answering.
Carter’s fangs poked out over his lips as he smiled. “Owen,” he all but purred. “It’s so good to hear your voice.”
* * *
It didn’t take long for Owen to show up in Miami. He’d been on a plane that evening and arrived the following day. Carter felt it when the other entered the mansion. He shot up from his desk, rushing to the grand staircase. At the base stood Owen.
“Amante,” Carter breathed, practically flying down the stairs. He collided into Owen’s waiting arms, their lips connecting.
The kiss was filled with hunger and passion and desperation. Suddenly the time they had spent apart seemed like an eternity. To a human, perhaps it was. Even so, the months of separation weighed on the age-old vampires given their particular bond.
They may have shared a Sire-childe bond, Owen having turned him at the start of the eighteenth century, but it went much deeper than that. Carter would have thought it had something to do with Owen’s position as the first of their kind making it stronger but he knew better. No, he was the only one of Owen’s childer that had his affection in such a way- they were mates.
Owen held his face as he managed to pull away a bit. Their eyes met and when the elder vampire smiled he allowed his fangs to show. “How I’ve missed you,” he murmured, leaning in for a more gentle kiss then.
It was Carter’s turn to smile, snuggling close as he nuzzled his lover’s throat. “Welcome home.”
Kissing the top of his head, Owen replied, “Good to be home.”
Truth be told, the mansion wasn’t either of their homes per se. They were vampires after all and as such lived nomadic existences, hopping from one persona to the next, never living in the same place for half a century at a time. However one thing Owen had taught him was that wherever the other was, that was home.
“I’ve found him,” Carter spoke, somehow managing to remove himself from Owen’s arms. “I know I have.”
Owen’s lips tugged up in a slight smile, hand coming out to run through his lover’s hair. “I believe you darling.” He grasped the scruff of Carter’s neck, stunning grey eyes meeting his. “And I very much want to meet him.”
“I’ve made arrangements,” Carter assured. “But first…” He drew Owen back against him. “Just want to hold you for a little while longer.”
“As you wish my love,” Owen whispered back, nuzzling into brunette curls, taking in the scent of smoke and musk, and enjoying the sensations of home.
* * *
They had passed by the cue outside and gone straight in- guests of Mr. Verone. Brian raised a brow at their surroundings, unsure why Tej and the crew would have brought him to such a place. It wasn’t really any of their styles. Still, an invite was attached with free booze so he wasn’t going to complain.
“Oh boy,” Tej spoke up, looking towards the VIP area where Brian could see Carter was seated with another brunette.
“Is that who I think it is?” Suki inquired.
“Yup. Owen Shaw.” He huffed. “Well, this just got more interesting.”
They were let into the VIP section by the same bodyguards from the day before and Brian’s eyes strayed from Carter to Owen as they both stood to greet them. The newcomer had a presence about him, just as Carter did but even moreso. He simply oozed power. He wasn’t as sharply dressed but the man clearly had an eye for fashion with the tight jeans and flattering crew-neck.
His eyes found Brian’s, grey irises dancing with flecks of green and gold. They were hypnotizing, and when Owen smiled Brian found himself returning it. “Owen Shaw,” he introduced, holding out his hand. “You must be Brian.” The man brought Brian’s hand to his mouth, placing a light kiss across his knuckles.
Carter stepped up next to his Sire with a predatory smile, asking without words if he could feel it too. By the look on Owen’s face, he could guess the answer. They had found their missing mate.
“He’s beautiful, isn’t he?” Carter asked.
Owen’s smile was sly as he replied, “Gorgeous.”
They hadn’t bothered to be discreet in their words and so watched the fierce blush cross Brian’s cheeks as he sat with his friends. “What are you all having?” Carter inquired, waving over a waitress.
“I know what I’m having,” Owen purred, looking at Brian pointedly before smiling as he nuzzled Carter’s cheek. He was far too happy to bother hiding it and apparently Carter was the same.
Brian could feel the blush still hot on his face when Tej leaned in. “I’ve never seen them like this before,” he admitted.
They weren’t typically so affectionate in public- not that they’d ever hidden their relationship, it was just the way they were. Tej knew they were mates. Even so, he never really had seen them act so love sick. And they’d certainly never flirted with anyone they didn’t intend to use for a meal, which frankly worried Tej.
He had figured Carter’s interests in Brian were purely wanting a new familiar. Perhaps one that would be a willing donor, yes, but this seemed far more than that. Tej couldn’t help but think he’d just delivered his new friend up on a silver platter.
Their drinks arrived and Brian sipped at the Corona. It was an ingrained choice since his time with Dom and the team in LA. It had been short lived but the impression they had made on him was bound to stick for a long time to come.
There was no hiding the way Carter and Owen both stared at him as they all talked. Nor did he miss how Tej, Suki, and the others made themselves scarce onto the dance floor. He would have joined them, liking to dance, but it was rather clear that their hosts wanted him right where he was.
“So,” Owen began, “how did you end up staying in the houseboat?”
“It’s… complicated,” Brian answered lamely.
Brian had gotten the skinny about Carter after his visit to the garage. So he knew that Verone wasn’t exactly a friend to the law and he could guess Owen was of a similar stripe. Even so that didn’t exactly make them trustworthy with such sensitive information. Besides, they were still fresh wounds.
“Isn’t everything?” Carter mused.
“I know something that can be rather easy,” Owen replied, smirking at his lover. Carter apparently caught his meaning and shrugged, leaving it up to him. “Come with us.”
Brian hesitantly set his beer down, following the pair down a hallway to a private room. Carter approached the small wet bar, offering them wine. Owen turned him down however, saying something better was on tap. When the pair chuckled, the hair rose on Brian’s arms and he froze with the sudden sensation of being trapped prey.
“Come here Brian,” Owen beckoned and the blonde felt himself obeying without conscious thought. “We want to show you something.” They were standing facing each other and when Carter stepped next to Owen the pair traded looks.
When they gazed back at him they both smiled and Brian cursed, back-peddling and tripping over the coffee table to land on his ass. Looking up wide-eyed, he could only stare at the couple. He had literally just watched both of them grow fangs. “Seriously?” he asked, his voice pitched a little higher than usual.
“Very Corazon,” Carter purred, canines glinting in the low light.
Owen leaned in and nuzzled his lover’s neck before licking up its length. Carter’s eyes fluttered closed, leaning into the touch. They might have reconnected earlier that day but that didn’t mean they weren’t craving more affection. However there was still Brian to contend with.
Their focus was pulled back to said blonde as he moaned softly. He was still on the floor, legs splayed and leaning his weight back onto his hands. His expression had gone from shock to downright intrigued. “Fangs were not a kink I ever thought of having,” Brian mused.
Both vampires were taken back by the quick shift and Carter commented, “He’s taking this better than I did.”
Owen snorted out a laugh. “Yeah. Pretty sure you screamed like a girl.”
“Did not!” he snapped, shoving his Sire. He’d been startled much as Brian had and acted accordingly.
Granted, he’d also tried to run when Owen advanced on him. Anyone would have in his position and Owen had been rather aggressive about the whole thing. Not that Carter could blame him- he’d felt the presence of his mate after so many years alone and had acted in desperation.
Even so, Brian was taking it awfully well. He threw his head back, laughing heartily. It also exposed the line of his throat. “Think we broke ‘im,” Owen muttered, moving to crouch down next to the blonde. Brian looked over at him with a sly smile, doing the same when Carter knelt at his other side.
“So what do you say pet?” Carter purred.
Brian leaned forward until their noses touched. “I’m game.” He was a bit surprised at his own assuredness, at his easy acceptance of the situation. But he hadn’t been lying when he said he’d been turned on. Both men- well, vampires- were extremely attractive- he’d thought so on first sight, so he didn’t see a reason not to act on it.
Not needing any more confirmation, Carter slammed their lips together, holding the blonde’s chin to direct him. As Brian’s neck curved even more temptingly, Owen shifted to his knees and leaned in to lick a long stripe up the pale column of flesh. Brian let out a high-pitched whine, shaking slightly.
“Relax,” Owen murmured into his ear. “We’ll take care of you angel.” He nuzzled into blonde curls, feeling Brian relaxing.
Letting out a breathy sigh, Brian pulled away from Carter to look at the other vampire. When he shivered again it was in anticipation. Owen didn’t even let him speak, kissing him just as soundly as his lover had. It was Carter’s turn to tease, the edge of his fangs dragging down Brian’s neck, causing him to squirm and squeal a little.
Neither vampire needed any more prompting. Even so, Carter allowed his Sire to have the first bite.
Brian inhaled sharply as fangs pierced his neck, his whole body going rigid. Everything seemed to freeze for a few long moments before he remembered how to breathe. When fangs receded, Brian couldn't help the low moan that fell from his mouth. There was a slight pressure as Owen started to draw blood from him and Brian clung to the pair without thought. A feeling came over him like nothing he’d experienced before- he was alive.
Carter watched sea blue eyes flutter open, searching for him. When their gazes connected the brunette gave him a soft smile, running his fingers back into Brian’s curls. As his eyes closed again, Brian’s mouth opened instead to let out another soft groan.
When Owen pulled away, the human whimpered and he couldn’t have that. He cupped Brian’s face, drawing him into a deep kiss. Their tongues twinned together and Brian moaned into his mouth, hand coming around the nape of his neck to drag him closer.
Brian could taste his own blood in Owen’s mouth. Rather than being disgusted however, it turned him on even more, chasing after the taste. At the same time, another set of fangs pierced the opposite side of his neck. His free hand reached out, twisting into Carter’s shirt as he started to feed.
After Owen moved back down to his own bite, Brian could feel himself becoming light-headed. The pair continued to feed from him though, drawing his life force until he felt himself fading. His heart pounded slowly in his chest, his breathing following suit. The edges of blackness crept into his vision.
“Sleep angel,” he heard Owen whisper into his ear just before the darkness claimed him.
* * *
When he woke he couldn’t be sure how long he was out but there was light filtering in through the sheer curtains. Brian propped himself on his elbows, taking in his surroundings. He was in a grand master bedroom, laid out on a four-poster bed of dark mahogany. The cream colored sheets were a high-thread count, pooled low around his waist. It was then he was aware he was very much nude save for his boxers.
He also wasn’t alone. On either side of him laid Carter and Owen, both equally lacking in clothing. They seemed to be sound asleep, each turned in towards him, pressed against him and reaching out for each other. It was all rather domestic and endearing.
The memories of what happened caused him to reach a hand up to his neck. However he found nothing. There were no marks to say that what he remembered had ever happened. He would have doubted his own mind had his companions not been stirred awake by his movements.
“Go back to sleep Corazon,” Carter urged gently, the brief flash of fangs visible as he spoke.
“You need your rest,” Owen added, his accent rougher with sleep.
“Am I…? Did you…?” Brian sat up then, that time feeling his canines. He was expecting sharp points but rather found them to be unchanged. “You didn’t… I’m not a vampire,” he realized. The tone sounded almost disappointed.
“Were you expecting differently?” Owen inquired, paying better attention as he sat up.
“Kindda figured that was the intention, yeah.”
Carter sat up then, kissing the top of the blonde’s shoulder as he leaned against him. “If that is your wish… But you have to understand everything before that can happen. We need the decision to be yours.”
“Believe me,” Owen mused, pressing closer to him, “we want nothing more than to make you ours.”
Brian met beautiful light eyes that seemed to shift in color. “Why? What makes me so special? You don’t even know me.”
“We don’t have to. We already know you’re our missing mate.”
“Mate?” Brian’s eyebrows rose and before they could answer he laughed and shook his head. “No… there’s no way. Mates? Really?”
Carter smirked. “So the man believes in vampires but not in mates.”
“Well it’s hard to believe you could just tell that about someone,” Brian argued. “I’m not even a vampire.”
“You don’t have to be,” Owen replied. “I knew who Carter was the moment we met... We can feel each other. We know each other on sight. And that’s good enough for me.” Owen smiled softly, brushing Brian’s soft locks as he added, “The rest… that can come later.”
Brian didn’t really seemed fully convinced on the subject of mates but the pair knew he would see the truth if he chose to accept the change. Their main concern was getting him there.
“Come on,” Carter encouraged, swinging his legs off the edge of the bed. “Lets get you dressed and have some breakfast. We can talk.”
“You can borrow some of my things,” Owen added. They appeared to be about the same size and he was certain his wardrobe would go over much better than Carter’s.
Both of them had impeccable taste and fashion sense. However given all his centuries, Owen had found he preferred to be more comfortable in his dress these days- designer jeans and flattering button-downs and v-necks were the way to go. Carter would tire of his suits just the same.
To say Brian was a sight to behold in his borrowed clothing was putting it mildly. It took all of Owen’s considerable willpower not to simply drag both his mates back to bed. Instead he slipped into just a pair of jeans, smirking at Carter’s claims that he was trying to be a tease. Although the other vampire wasn’t one to talk when he was sporting a pair of slacks and a silk shirt that he left open. Neither missed Brian’s lust-filled looks and were far from shy about encouraging him to continue.
As Owen moved around the kitchen whipping up eggs and bacon, the pair sat at the island bar stools. “So you eat real food?” Brian inquired.
“Of course,” Carter answered. “We get enjoyment out of it and it does nourish us in its own way. We simply require blood in our diet.”
“It depends upon the vampire. With age comes tolerance in all things.”
“Your Sire seems to affect things as well,” Owen offered.
“Ah yes,” Carter agreed. “The older and more powerful your Sire, the more power you will have in return.”
“So,” Brian ventured, “that’s who made you a vampire, right?” When Carter nodded, he asked, “And Owen’s yours?” He’d guessed as much by the way they’d spoken in bed. Once Carter confirmed it, Brian turned to Owen. “Then who’s yours?”
Owen looked over with a feral grin. “I, my angel, am the first of our kind. I was born Vlad Tepes and died as Dracul.”
Brian’s eyes widened, his mouth falling open. “You’re… Dracula?” Owen smirked and went back to cooking, the blonde getting to his feet to approach. “So how much of the book is true?”
“Ah, Bram,” Owen mused. “He’s such a dear. I really should visit him sometime.” Carter snorted in distaste. “You’ll have to excuse him.” Owen leaned in towards Brian in a conspiratory way, despite that he spoke loud enough for the other to still hear. “He doesn’t care for Bram very much. Past lovers tend to rile him.”
“Well he can keep his grubby hands to himself,” Carter bit back, crossing his arms over his chest. Owen only chuckled.
“You mean to tell me,” Brian clarified, “that Bram Stoker is a vampire?”
“Precisely,” Owen answered. “In fact, you might say the characters of Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker are more a characterization of himself rather than any woman- fictional or otherwise.”
Brian was rather taken back by the idea that not only had Stoker been a vampire but that he was a lover to the same ancient vampire that was the subject of his novel. “But it can’t all be true,” he noted. “You can obviously walk in the daylight.”
“Ah yes.” Owen was clearly amused, pulling dishes from the cabinet so he could serve them their meal. “Bram fictionalized most of our weaknesses, even some powers. He kept grains of truth and imagined up the rest. Now others simply follow the trend set before them.”
“Well it’s good to see that Stephenie Meyer is full of shit,” Brian mentioned dryly.
Carter gripped, “Don’t get me started on her.”
“I still can’t believe you made it through the entire trilogy,” Owen mused, setting a plate of eggs, bacon, and sausage in front of him.
“I almost committed suicide on multiple occasions,” was the dull reply.
Brian sat down between them, sipping at his coffee. Even that was a high priced blend and he had to shake his head. Carter lived a good life and he could only imagine that Owen did as well. He wasn’t sure what the pair could see in some street kid like him. He knew what they had claimed of course but he wasn’t sure he was buying it.
“To answer your question Corazon,” Carter continued, putting salt on his eggs, “Owen has powers the rest of us don’t. I can’t summon bats or shapeshift myself at will.”
“Nor can I turn into mist or another human form.”
“Bats, yes.” Carter had seen that trick many times before and it never failed to impress.
“I don’t sleep in a coffin, nor do I require the soil of my home to be with me. I quite like garlic and I can cross running water just fine. Crucifixes do nothing, nor does silver, and I don’t have to be invited into someone’s home to enter.” Owen smiled over at him. “Though it is good manners.”
“We all seem to have the ability to charm our prey,” Carter continued, chomping onto a piece of bacon. “Though the level of control seems to be a reflection of personal power.”
“Didn’t Dracula have a telepathic bond with Mina?” Brian asked, picking at his eggs. It had been years since he read the novel and subsequent vampire movies and books over time added their own bits of lore.
“It’s not quite like that,” Owen answered. “We do have bonds between Sire and childe that allow us to feel the other in a sense. But we do not converse in words.” After taking a bite of sausage he added, “And Mina wasn’t a full vampire. Nor would Lucy have become one simply by feeding over time. It was a combination of these two women that holds the truth of becoming a vampire- a trading of blood both ways.”
Brian nodded. “What about…” He frowned and looked at his plate. “Dying?”
Carter was the one to answer. “Well we obviously can’t say for Owen. But it seems the only thing that can truly keep a vampire down- outside of refusing to feed at all- is decapitation or destruction of the heart. It doesn’t appear to matter the material of the weapon or needing to be blessed. Hell, a sharpened stick would do it.”
“What about Van Helsing?”
“What of him?” Owen asked coolly.
“You said Stoker placed himself as Mina and Lucy. Was there a real Van Helsing? Are there hunters out there?”
“Occasionally,” the ancient vampire admitted. “But they’re usually uneducated. People who’ve seen one too many movies and fancy themselves hunters. No, Van Helsing was the real deal. And I indeed had a brush with such a man.
“There are still those that studied under the man and his descendants who know the truth, passing on ancient knowledge. Still, they number so few that they rarely are an issue. And any vampire with years on them knows better than to be caught by them. No, most of our number die by their own hands or from each other.”
That seemed to satisfy Brian and he began to eat in earnest, just realizing how hungry he was. He supposed it was because they had fed from him and he understood the ulterior motive for the giant glass of orange juice in front of him. Humoring the pair, he took a few good gulps of it.
“Don’t tell me we’ve sated your curiosity already,” Carter mused, smiling when Brian turned to him.
“Just thinking.” Brian poked at his food for another minute before realizing, “Tej and them know, don’t they? But they’re not vamps?” At least he didn’t think they were.
“They’re vassals,” Owen replied. “Carter’s to be more specific.”
The brunette in question clarified, “They’re termed familiars now. They’re humans who know about vampires and work in service to one or more patrons. Many are descendants of others who’ve served, keeping the family tradition. Others have found out any number of ways. Some are groupies looking to be changed themselves for being loyal pets while others seek protection or favors.”
“I noticed the way Tej acted towards you,” Brian admitted. “Knew somethin’ was off.”
Carter nodded. “The Parker family has been under my protection for three generations. Tej went his own way when he became an adult but ended up finding me a few years ago after relocating here. He needed help in his business and I gave it to him. In return he helps provide runners for my enterprise. Suki and Jimmy were his friends and thus became my familiars as well.”
“So you’re seriously a drug lord,” Brian replied, scoffing at the thought.
“Sometimes you have to shake things up a bit,” Carter admitted. “You’ll see after a century or two.”
“How old are you?”
Carter tilted his head. “About four hundred?”
“I found him during the Thirty Years War,” Owen confirmed. “And then together we were part of what is now called the Great Turkish War against the Ottoman Empire... And we won.” There was a glint in the vampire’s eye and Brian recalled the known history of Vlad Tepes- the man called Vlad the Impaler, the man who defied the Ottoman Empire nearly two centuries earlier.
“What about you beautiful?” Owen asked, smiling as Brian couldn’t help but blush.
Trying to ignore the flirting remarks, Brian shrugged. “Not much to tell.”
“That’s not the way I hear it,” Carter replied, suddenly serious. “Tej is my familiar,” he reminded. “He needed my permission to allow you to stay in the boathouse. Not because it is mine but rather that anyone who were to stay on the property risks finding out more than they should. That means Tej had to tell me about you and he did.”
Brian frowned and looked away but Carter was having none of it. He scooted closer, leaning in to speak. “The way he tells it is that you’re running. From something or someone, he couldn’t say. But see, the Detective on my payroll is a clever sort. He was able to figure out quite a bit. So why don’t you cut the crap.”
Brian glared at him before pushing away from the island and getting up. When he tried to walk though, Owen’s hand encircled his wrist. “You can’t keep running forever,” he murmured gently. “Believe me. I’ve tried.”
Blue eyes gazed back down at him. He imagined that after so long there were plenty of things Owen regretted. Granted Brian wasn’t expecting the confession he got. “My wife and child are dead,” he lamented. “And I couldn’t do a thing to save them. I became what I am for them. To protect them, protect my home, my people. In the end though… I lost everything.”
“Owen,” Carter spoke gently, hand reaching out to twine their fingers. He had long since learned that trying to argue against any of that being his fault was met with anger- even after so many centuries. Instead, he did his best to simply be there- something solid for him to hold on to.
Mirena may not have been Owen’s mate but he had still felt love for her- a deep love that bore him a son. Ingeras had been his pride and joy. To lose them after everything had broken something inside Owen that time could not heal. Not even finding one of his true mates had. Perhaps with their missing mate found, Owen would finally be free to move on- or so Carter hoped.
Brian’s shoulders sagged, frown deepening. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. No one moved, each lost to their own thoughts. When Brian finally sat again he admitted, “Used to be a cop.” Once he had started, he found he couldn’t stop. Brian told them everything- the undercover assignment, letting Dom go, being on the run. “I can’t believe how stupid…” Brian couldn’t finish, only shook his head.
Carter took hold of his chin, forcing the human to look at him. When their eyes met, his lips quirked up a bit. He asked Brian the same thing he had Owen when his own past had been revealed, “If you could do it again, would you change it?” Thinking on it a moment, Brian bit his lip, shaking his head. Carter smiled softly. “Then that is what matters.”
* * *
Once breakfast had been cleared away, Brian excused himself down to the private stretch of beach to think. The two vampires watched him from poolside as best they could, wanting to give him space. They also needed to decide what they were doing.
“We need him,” Owen concluded. “But we can’t force him.”
“He wants the change. You heard him when he woke. He was expecting it.”
“Expecting and wanting are two different things.”
Carter couldn’t argue that, but he also could see the desire within Brian. “He wants us.” He looked to his mate, reaching his hand across the patio table to brush his fingers across the back of Owen’s. They continued up until they fell on the leather cuff that the first vampire wore on his left wrist- a gift from Carter, a token of belonging.
Owen’s mouth curled into a smile, turning his hand over in offer. As their hands pressed together, he took comfort in Carter’s steady presence. The golden ring on his lover’s marriage finger was an outward symbol of their bonding that went deeper than any mere human could fathom. It was a way to show the world that his soul was ever ensnared by the man before him, that only Carter would own it.
Except it wasn’t just Carter. Brian, their missing piece; he would have Owen’s soul too.
They had known the moment they had fully bonded that something was wrong. Something was absent and they didn’t know how or why. They were fulfilled in a way, but also fragmented.
Owen was patient where his mate chomped at the bit. In the end it was Brian’s decision how things played out, how long they would continue to be left waiting. “I want him as much as you do,” he assured, meeting Carter’s beautiful eyes. “As much as I desire you.”
Leaning in, Carter’s answer was to kiss him, softly at first before drawing them both deeper into it. Their souls brushed, singing against each other. It was a dance, a melding of all that they were and ever would be. It was a tune that was sadly incomplete- for the time being.
“We have to protect him,” Owen spoke against his lover’s lips. “We’ll get him out of the country. You contact your inside agents, I’ll arrange our lodgings to be ready for us.”
“Where will we go?”
Owen smiled, brushing their lips gently together before murmuring, “Home.”
“Where’s that?” another voice spoke, the pair not surprised to find Brian standing there. They weren’t fully bonded so it wasn’t as easy to pick up his presence but experience took place of that. Anyone would be hard pressed to sneak up on either ancient creature now.
“Wallachia,” Owen answered, the hint of a smile crossing his face thinking of his old home.
“We haven’t been there in a long time,” Carter spoke, gazing at Owen. It had been centuries since they’d last laid eyes on the walls of the fortress.
“Not Bran Castle?” Brian mused.
Owen snorted. “That was never really home.”
The blonde could only nod before looking at the ground, hands tucking into his jean pockets. “Is there really a place for me there?” he asked softly. It was said in a way that screamed of someone who’d never had a place they could truly call a home.
“Of course angel,” was the gentle answer, a hand offered to him. When Brian took it, he was reeled in, prodded into sitting on Owen’s lap. There was a slight smile on the blonde’s face though it was clear he was still struggling internally. “There will always be a place for you by our sides,” Owen assured, placing soft kisses at the nape of his neck, “In our hearts…”
Brian let his eyes close, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. He heard the words and yet could barely believe them. There was no explaining the light tug on his heart, or the way it skipped a beat. There was a feeling of peace just being there with the pair that he didn’t know how to react to.
Lips pressed gently to his and Brian’s hand came up to thread into Carter’s curls. They were surprisingly soft and he had to smile against the vampire’s lips at the thought. Carter only cupped his jaw in turn, tilting his head to deepen the kiss. When he pulled back, his tongue slipped over Brian’s lips in a teasing promise.
His eyes opened, finding intense blue-grey orbs looking straight back. “Stay with us Brian,” Carter urged.
What came out of Brian’s mouth surprised the pair. “Make me a vampire.”
* * *
“Are you sure about this Corazon?” Carter was gazing at the human sitting in the middle of his bed.
Brian tossed the borrowed shirt aside. “I know what I want,” was his simple answer.
“You need to be certain,” Owen continued, kneeling on the edge of the bed and making it dip.
“I am,” Brian insisted. Before either could argue, he smirked and added, “Weren’t you the ones saying something about mates?”
“And you insisted it was nonsense.” Owen wasn’t amused, getting up to move away. However Brian’s hand shot out, wrapping around the vampire’s wrist.
“Please,” he whispered and Owen looked down to find sad blue eyes gazing back. “I didn’t mean anything by that. I just… I’ve never…” Brian let go of the vampire in defeat, moving back to sit once more.
“You can feel it,” Carter guessed, moving closer to the other side of the bed. “Can’t you?”
Brian nodded slowly. “There’s this itch under my skin.” He knew it sounded strange but he couldn’t deny the peculiar feelings he’d been attempting to sort through down on the beach. “And when we touched… kissed…” A slight blush appeared on his cheeks remembering the previous night. “It was different to anything I’ve ever experienced. I just can’t describe it.”
So the human was able to feel the surface bond between them. Most couldn’t as they didn’t pay attention to the supernatural around them, to the natural magic that was in each of them if they chose to look for it. The fact Brian could was perhaps due to the fact they had a tri-mate bond and that they were all together as it was meant to be.
Giving in, Owen returned to kneeling next to Brian, pulling him into his arms. “You can’t take it back once we do this.” The blonde nodded, turning his face into Owen’s chest. “Your death would most likely kill us in turn,” he warned, wanting him to understand the seriousness of the bonding they would undergo.
When Brian’s eyes met his they were completely clear. “I’m ready,” he assured. He wasn’t sure what would happen at the end of the changing, what he might discover, but he was ready to find out and accepting of the consequences.
Carter sat in front of him off to the side a little to allow Owen room to do what he needed. Still, he wanted to be close and offer his support. He smiled softly as he took hold of Brian’s hand, pleased to see it returned even if it was filled with nervous energy despite his brave declaration. Nevertheless it must have convinced Owen as he nodded in agreement.
“Your life is in my hands,” he told Brian, fingers running through blonde curls lovingly. “I will take you to the edge of death itself… and when you feel yourself ready to fall… I’ll be there to catch you.” Owen pulled at the other’s hair to bare his neck, watching as Brian’s throat bobbed as he swallowed.
“I trust you,” Brian breathed. In the next moment he felt fangs.
The further he slipped towards the abyss, the tighter Brian tried to cling to Owen, tried to grasp Carter’s hand. It was a losing battle however, his strength weakening the more blood that was drained away. His vision clouded, his body going limp in Owen’s arms.
He tried to speak, finding it impossible. Even as he tried to think it instead, he found it difficult to process. Don’t leave me… Don’t let me fall.
The same moment he felt as though he was leaving his body, there was liquid in his mouth. He swallowed without thinking and it took awhile to realize he tasted blood, that Owen’s wrist was pressed to his mouth. “There you are,” was cooed into his ear, his hair being pet.
Something strange passed through him, a heat building deep in his gut that radiated outward. His throat felt raw, preventing him the ability to ask what was happening. He opened his eyes to find his vision blurred, the forms of Owen and Carter starting to spin as he became dizzy.
Brian blacked out before his head hit the mattress.
* * *
“What do you think Corazon?” Brian was leaning against the railing of the balcony when Carter joined him. He smiled over at the brunette, canines peeking out over his lip.
“It’s beautiful up here,” he answered, turning his gaze back to the landscape. The mountains and valley laid before him were as breathtaking as the castle itself. Wallachia was a place laid with ancient power and unbridled beauty.
Carter nodded in agreement, arm sliding around the blonde's waist as he enjoyed the view as well. “Owen brought me here after we first mated. I remember being in awe.” He smirked. “Still am.”
They stood there in silence, simply enjoying the other's company as they took it all in. They were each lost to their own thoughts. As Carter looked over at his new mate bathed in the light of the setting sun, his turned to only the few days before when Brian had awoken to his new life.
Shooting up, Brian was disoriented at first. It took him a bit to realize he was in Carter’s bed, said vampire and Owen sitting with him, urging him to calm. As Brian relaxed, he realized just how differently he felt.
His body was forever changed, that much was certain. He felt the sting of sharpened canines on his tongue, tasting his own blood. The flavor of it excited him, made him crave more.
That wasn’t the only thing he was craving however. The unexplained feeling of belonging he had towards the pair was now an overwhelming force. It slammed into him like a speeding car and he only knew the sensation of want as the foreign bond pulsed through him.
They watched as sea blue eyes flashed an even brighter shade, pupils dilating. Brian pawed at them, babbling almost incoherently. He was asking for them to mate him, to make love to him, to give him their blood. He was begging for it all.
Carter was never one to resist and he brought his wrist up to his teeth, slicing it open and offering it to their newest mate. As Brian drunk greedily, moaning in satisfaction and growing lust, Owen’s tongue twinned with Carter’s.
For the first time, the pair felt complete.
Over the next day their bonds had settled into place as Brian’s body adapted. It would continue to do so over the course of the month as they shared blood and gave into their more lustful intentions. In that Carter didn’t figure on having any problems.
“There are my mates.” Owen’s accent was thicker, having just woken from the nap they’d all been taking after their long journey. He settled behind them, arm going around each of them as his cheek rested on Carter’s shoulder. “Happy?” he inquired of them.
“Very,” Brian assured, leaning into him more.
“Always,” Carter added with a smirk.
Owen hummed in contentment. His hand traveled down their newest mate’s left arm, brushing against a soft black leather cuff that complimented his own before twining their fingers together, allowing Owen to feel the titanium band there. The burnished steel dragon necklace around Owen’s neck was a steady weight, comforting, just as Carter’s triskele pendant was to him.
Nuzzling into Brian’s neck, Owen breathed into his ear, “Welcome home.”
“Good to be home,” Brian declared just as softly, causing both his mates to smile brightly.
Home. A new beginning, a new life.
Brian thought there were worse fates than to have two gorgeous vampires as his mates. In fact, he couldn’t imagine what such a life could have been like. Rather all he could see was a future filled with endless possibility, happiness, and most of all, love. He knew that whatever darkness he stumbled into, he would only need to look up and find the twin beacons of light cutting through it all to guide him home again.