Feasts of Fortune, Book 3
by Kate Steele
Ebook ISBN: 07489-02415
[ Vampire Romance, MM ]
Toby Heaton gave up his lover to save his brother’s life — the biggest mistake he ever made, and one that carries deadly consequences.
Fingers drifted over his cheek, teasing Toby awake. His drowsy gaze met that of a more alert one, directed at him through eyes the color of deep blue cornflowers.
“There he is, my sweet boy next door.”
“De,” Toby breathed, his sigh filled with joy at the sight of his lover.
De’s smile was gentle and immediate. “You fell asleep. Was it too much for you, or are you ready for more?”
“More?” Toby questioned, confusion clouding his sleep-muddled thoughts.
“You’re not sure? Then let me convince you. I want you to ride me this time, but first, I want a taste.”
The rumble of De’s voice, deep and sensuous, sent a shiver down Toby’s spine and produced a tightening in his groin. De slid his hands the length of Toby’s thighs, curved around his hips then swept slowly inward until they cupped the firm cheeks of his ass. It was only then Toby noted his position and condition. He and De were sprawled naked on the bed, with Toby draped partway over De’s large, lean body. From the look and feel of it, they’d recently finished round one.
A flush of heat engulfed Toby, his arousal instantaneous and intense. His heart raced and a fine sheen of sweat dampened his sensitized skin.
De chuckled. “I feel a certain something growing between us. While it would be poetic to say it’s love, in truth, I believe it’s your cock. It seems at least part of you is waking up.” One of his hands, where it rested on the curve of Toby’s ass, moved inward. De’s probing finger found the bud between the furrow of Toby’s pert behind. It glided over the rosy plump and pouty tissue of his anus then slid in and pumped.
Delicate nerve endings sparked at the wet friction, pulling a groan from Toby. “I’m awake. I am. I am,” he insisted seizing the pleasure even as something akin to panic rose within him, threatening to obscure the familiar bliss of De’s touch.
“Hey, I know you are. I was only teasing,” De soothed. “Now climb up here. I want you on top of me with your legs spread feeding me that beautiful hard cock of yours.”
“Yours is the beautiful one,” Toby responded as he positioned himself atop De. “But not just that part. All of you.” Toby’s admiring gaze took in the contours of De’s body, the firm, sculpted plains and molded muscles. “You could have been the model for Michelangelo’s David or any number of those gorgeous statues you see in museums that depict Greek gods.”
“You flatter me.”
“No. No, I don’t. It’s true,” Toby insisted. “You’re so beautiful, not only outside, but inside as well. I’ve missed you so much.”
“Missed me? Sweet, you slept less than an hour. There wasn’t time to miss me.”
Tears filled Toby’s eyes, overflowing and forming slow, glistening paths down his cheeks. “But there was. You’ve been gone for so long. I made you leave. I’m so sorry, De. I’m so sorry,” Toby cried.
“Shhh, come here, my own,” De crooned, lifting his arms in welcome.
Desiring nothing more than to rest against that broad, solid chest, Toby leaned down, snuggling in, and rubbing his wet cheek against De. Embraced, held and petted, Toby felt the urge to arch his back much like a spoiled cat under the stroking hands of its adoring master.
“There now. It’s all right. I’m here. Not gone,” De soothed. “I’d never leave you. How could I? I love you. You’re a part of me now, heart, mind, soul and blood. At this moment we are together in every way save one.”
“What’s that?” Toby murmured, taking comfort in De’s words and gentle touch.
“Body, my love,” he answered. “Shall we take steps to remedy that?”
The husky timbre of De’s voice caused a quickening low in Toby’s belly. “Oh yes. Please,” he eagerly agreed.
“Move for me,” De ordered.
The sensual heat in De’s voice and the firm grip of his hands commanded Toby’s compliance. Undulating against his lover, Toby groaned, reveling in the rubbing motion and increasing pressure against his thickening member. Heat and sensation centered in his groin, his hips thrusting against De’s firm muscles, each grind pushing his need higher, his climax closer.
Conceding control to his body and closing his eyes, Toby let his mind descend into a quiet, calm darkness. Part of his consciousness centered on the pleasure, reeling with it, feeding it with fleeting snippets of carnal images. His harsh breaths, low groans and the stimulation of nerve endings beneath every inch of skin being touched enhanced the pleasure, shoving it beyond the point of restraint.
Despite these feelings of sexual exhilaration, the part of his consciousness not inundated with physical sensation began to register anomalies. De’s voice was beginning to fade. His touch, at first so vivid and sure, grew weak and indistinct. Diminishing, his warm, masculine scent was replaced by something not unpleasant, but far less desired. Instead of smooth skin, Toby writhed against something rougher and colder with nothing of the warmth he so coveted.
Fighting the loss of those things most wanted, Toby savagely shoved his growing realizations away and dived into the orgasm shattering his unwelcome return to rational thought.
He shuddered, spine arching, hips humping the mattress beneath him as he came. A groan, half relief and half despair crawled from his throat as his cock spurted against newly washed sheets smelling of fabric softener.
Panting, Toby felt the post orgasmic euphoria flee, replaced by the ever present longing that had become his constant companion. “Again,” he lamented, the softly spoken words edged with anguish.
A dream. Another damn dream — so rich with Toby’s desires, so tormenting as it disappeared with his awakening. Since the day he’d sent De away, the dreams had come with increasing frequency, each one amplifying and enhancing the need Toby felt growing within himself day by passing day. At times he felt so burdened with heartache and yearning, he wanted to scream until some benevolent institution would hopefully take him away and medicate him into insensibility.
All the warm satisfaction and relief the dream had bestowed drained from his consciousness. He lay still for a time, enduring the return of anxiety-driven tension in what felt to be every muscle in his body. Not wanting to move, but knowing if he didn’t go the inevitable muscle cramps would set in, he rolled and levered himself out of bed. He made a groggy beeline toward the bathroom, and the over-the-counter pain relievers that would ease the tension enough to allow him to return to sleep.
Pale light streamed in around the edges of the closed blind concealing the window. Passing the mirror which hung over the sink on his way to the cabinet that held medicine, towels and toiletries, Toby paused, a frown furrowing his brow.
Keeping his eyes on the mirror, he blindly reached for the light switch, and flipped it on. Reflexively squinting, he blinked a few times then froze, a horror riveted stare fixed relentlessly on his face. Messy smears of bright, rich, crimson decorated his cheeks, and under his eyes as though he’d applied some kind of macabre make-up. With a shaking hand, Toby slid the tip of one finger over the still damp fluid. A sniff and a tentative taste confirmed his suspicions.
Stomach roiling with the wave of fear that swept over him, Toby whispered to his pale and shocked reflection, “What the hell?”
* * *
Eyes closed, De Valis relived the dream he’d had a few hours prior to his arrival at Mausoleum, the club he owned in conjunction with his sister and clan. His beloved Toby, speared on De’s cock, had ridden the two of them to an explosive, simultaneous orgasm. The remembrance of it alone had De’s cock struggling to fill, even though that physiological function was becoming less possible with each passing day.
Seeking distraction, De concentrated on the music surrounding him. The thrumming bass and rhythmic pound of the drums emphasized the continual echo of the name that hounded him… haunted him.
A thousand times and more that name had been called within the depths of his mind and heart, but never an answer was received. Cold, dead silence was his only response.
His former lover’s ethereal presence filled his consciousness, wounding him again and again as though spectral talons clawed torn and bloody gashes through his beleaguered soul. The jagged, unhealing wounds festered, and De’s inner beast rose, raging against the ghostly foe so easily defeating him. With the rage came his unending hunger. Coiling in his belly, it had become a living, breathing entity, desperate and demanding.
Within days of his abrupt and shocking parting from Toby, De had begun to feel the increasing hunger. Mausoleum abounded with willing donors and with so many to be had merely by the offer of an invitation, he’d easily slaked his thirst and quelled the growing need. At least for a time.
It was only the passing of days that made it evident something was terribly wrong. Gradually, De’s hunger became constant, a niggling annoyance becoming unending distress no amount of blood could ease.
He was losing weight and felt himself thinning, not only on the outside, but within as well. Inside he felt emaciated, dry, a sponge needing moisture in order for its tissues to re-hydrate and become viable again. Each time he drank from one of those who offered themselves it brought some small measure of relief, but it was short lived. A tease. A torment.
Opening his eyes he let his gaze drift, coming to rest on Neo. The worry in his pet’s eyes touched him, but he had no words to sooth it. Guilt joined the hunger gnawing at him, but he could do nothing other than order, “Bring me another.”
* * *
Two weeks later Toby sat at his desk, his eyes focused on the computer screen before him. Surrounding him was the usual office buzz; the occasional ringing of a phone, muffled conversations here and there, and the mechanical trundle of the printer as it spit out endless pages.
Putting the final touches to an advertising campaign, Toby was having trouble concentrating. His head felt heavy, his temples pounding with what he was sure resembled some primitive beat going on and on and on. Stopping for a moment to rub his forehead, he was startled by a large splash of red landing on the desk. Only when it was followed by another did Toby’s sluggish and distracted consciousness make the connection. His nose was bleeding. Again.
Fumbling with a desk drawer, he pulled out a handful of tissues from the box he kept there, pressing them to his face. Using several more, he quickly cleaned up the mess on his desk then as unobtrusively as possible, slipped out of the office and down the hall to the nearest restroom.
Locking himself in a stall and pulling the now soaked tissues away, he dropped them in the toilet. Loath to use it, but with no other alternative at hand, he pulled at the roll of toilet paper. Dropping the first wad of sheets into the toilet then using the newly exposed paper to make a pad, he applied it to his nose. That too quickly became soaked, but Toby persevered, replacing the pad as many times as needed until finally the bleeding abated and stopped.
A flush of the toilet cleared the mess away, and dizzy as much from relief as loss of blood, Toby leaned heavily against the stall wall. Striving to remain calm, he concentrated on each barely audible breath issuing from between his slightly parted lips. He began a slow, barely perceptible rocking, an age-old motion bringing with it a small measure of comfort.
The spontaneous incidences of bleeding were happening with increasing frequency. Tears of blood and nosebleeds had become commonplace. More than once he’d woken to find blood soaking into the towels he now kept over his pillow, not sure from which orifice it had emerged.
If asked, he’d be hard pressed to say which was worse, the release or the relentless increase of what he used to think of as a life sustaining fluid that had morphed into a crimson river laced with revulsion and fear.
The build up of fluids between bouts of bleeding brought headaches, lethargy, flushes of heat beneath his skin, and the heavy sensation that his flesh and organs were being stretched beyond their capacity. After his body purged itself of the excess, Toby often became lightheaded, his skin pale, and his extremities cold as what felt to be a core of ice settled in the center of his being.
Toby took several deep, slow breaths to stem the tide of rising panic. He knew he had to do something, but had no idea what that something should be. What he wanted most was to run straight to De, but that was impossible. To do so would endanger his brother Taylor’s life, and Toby was sure De would refuse to see him.
Going to a hospital was out of the question. He could only imagine what the doctors there would make of his condition. More than likely they’d proclaim him to be the possessor of some new and ultra rare disease, but Toby was sure there was only one explanation.
It had to be his status as a chrysalis child. Though he and De had not completed the ritual permanently joining them as a chrysalis pair, something had been set in motion. Some change in his physical makeup had to be causing this seemingly endless production of excess blood. The thought that he was a blood bank’s dream drew forth a rusty chuckle until the sound, laced with hysteria, was abruptly cut off by a choking gasp.
“I’m losing it,” he whispered, gritting his teeth against the cold chills moving in to replace the heat that had, before the bleed, caused him to feel overly warm.
Forcing himself to be still, Toby took in a long, shuddering breath then left the stall. A look at himself in the mirror confirmed what he knew he would see. Under the red smears on his face his skin was pale, accenting the dark circles under his eyes. He looked as sick as he felt which was just as well. As far as he was concerned, his work day was done. He was going home.
Eschewing the subway in favor of a faster taxi ride, Toby arrived at his destination and let himself into his apartment. Leaning back against the door with a sigh of relief as though closing it had somehow lessened his troubles, he flattened one hand against his middle. The ride had upset his stomach. While not inclined to move, he did so anyway, pushing away from the door while fumbling his cell phone from his pocket. Out of habit, he checked his voicemail. There was a message from a number he was more than familiar with. Seeing it, he muttered a small curse before pressing the call button.
“Toby, it’s Taylor. I figured you wouldn’t be home now, and I didn’t want to bother you at work, hence the message. I’m still out of the country. The business I’m looking into is taking longer than I thought it would, but I should be able to wrap it up in another week or so and head home.”
There was a moment’s silence. Toby held his breath then slowly expelled it when Taylor continued.
“Last time we spoke I accepted your word that you were all right, but I know something’s wrong. You’re hurting, little brother. I can feel it. I’m sorry I’m not there with you. If you need me now, I’m on the first plane out of here. Call me.”
The message cut off and silence filled the room as Toby’s eyes filled with tears. Blinking to clear them, he shook his head and smiled. Taylor’s “brother radar” was as accurate as usual, but there was no way Toby was dragging him home and into this mess.
He fired off a quick text to Taylor assuring him he didn’t need to rush then headed into the kitchen. Grabbing the teakettle from its perpetual position on the stove, he added water to it and turned the burner on beneath it, intent on fixing himself a cup of ginger lemon tea with honey.
A few minutes later, cup of tea in hand, he settled himself on the sofa in the living room. The cup warmed the chill from his fingers, and he held it close to his face, breathing in the steam and fresh herbal honey scent. He sipped the fragrant brew, hoping it would settle his stomach as it usually did. A few short minutes later it became more than apparent it wasn’t working.
Instead of freeing him from the nausea, the tea set his stomach to churning until, with a few convulsive swallows to keep his gorge at bay, Toby bolted for the bathroom. He had just enough time to slam the toilet seat up out of the way before his stomach unloaded its contents. Thick, bloody fluid splashed into the water, and the sight and scent of it had Toby retching again and again until he fell to his knees, arms braced on the porcelain bowl.
When his stomach finally settled, Toby rose on shaky legs and flushed the mess away, all the while wishing his problems could as easily be made to disappear. Grabbing a washcloth, he wet it at the sink and ran it over his face, wiping away the crimson smears from around his lips as well as the tracks of bloody tears that had been forced from his eyes with the strength of his stomach’s contractions. Next came toothbrush and toothpaste and only after brushing did he take a good long look at himself in the mirror.
His eyes, dark amber pits wide with shock, reflected his fear and something more.
The sight of it shook Toby to his core. He’d never considered himself to be a brave man. The one time he’d found himself in the kind of circumstance he’d felt required bravery was when he’d entered Mausoleum, and to do even that much required having his resolve bolstered by liquid courage.
But this. Was he really ready to give up? It was more than obvious his life was on the line and if he didn’t do something, who would? This had to stop and there was only one person he knew who might be able to make that happen.
Facing his former lover was more than daunting. De might be unwilling, would most likely do his best to turn him away, but Toby, nurturing the bubble of determination welling within him, was going to force the issue. He was going to do what he should have done from the very beginning. Tell De the truth from beginning to end. De might never forgive him, but Toby knew without a doubt that De wasn’t the kind of man who would let him or Taylor die because of Toby’s colossal mishandling of the situation.
Closing his eyes, Toby took a few deep breaths. Oxygen entered through his nose, inflated his lungs then flowed slowly out from between his parted lips. Each inhale brought with it a sense of calm relief, and Toby embraced it, held it firmly within himself, then opened his eyes.
The resignation that had shown so clearly in his eyes was fading. The mirror now reflected a strength of purpose that, for the first time in a very long while, brought a smile to Toby’s lips.
No more waiting. No more grieving for what he’d so stupidly thrown away. Maybe, just maybe, with a lot of luck, De’s help and hopefully his forgiveness as well, Toby could protect his brother, recapture at least a small part of what he once had with De, and neutralize the threat of Alec Mikos.