I Won’t Stop by J. Hali Steele

I Won't Stop by J. Hali Steele

I Won’t Stop

The Triumvirate, Book 2

by J. Hali Steele

Halicats Publication

Ebook ISBN: B01H7RGD40

[ Vampire Romance, MMF ]

Carnage amongst both species has Layne Indigo uncertain of his ability to continue as a member of The Triumvirate that rules over vampires. One thing he is sure of after Emerald surrenders her virginity—Layne wants more. Until Esme belongs to him, Layne won’t stop.

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Chapter One


Power and Greed devastated civilizations leaving wreckage for archaeologist to plunder. Layne Indigo swore his vampire nation would never suffer such an end. Something else disturbed him damn near as much. A wooden bullet made of holy wood that narrowly missed his heart now hung from a gold chain around his neck. His assailant had a name that might as well be tattooed across his fucking ass.

Emerald Franklin.

He glared across Shadows’ spacious dance floor waiting for her to look in his direction. Bitch always did before she made a move she knew would certainly haul him to within an inch of her luscious body. This time her flirtation could tumble the vampire kingdom as if it were humpty dumpty slipping from his perch.

Layne’s redeeming grace tonight—he recognized her powerful suitor. They had been intimately acquainted. Didn’t matter. He locked Emerald’s mind the day he took her from Curtain.

He watched their heads close together, her long, brown hair mingling with the creatures almost black lengthy waves. Fuck me. Catching soft laughter emanating from lips so close they almost kissed turned him on more than he cared to admit. He had to think hard to recollect his last sexual rendezvous. Since taking charge of Emerald, Layne thought he had lost his desire to crawl between lusty, feminine thighs. However, secrets she thought hidden played through his mind like moving pictures and began to elicit an all too familiar erotic response.

Yet sullying her virginal body for mere pleasure of fucking was beyond even him.

All went well until the undead beast caressed Emerald’s cheek. Air crackled loudly and left smoldering sparks on a few table tops stunning many whose blood ran just as cold. Heads spun in every direction wondering who amongst them carried enough ancient blood to provoke such a display of fireworks.

The old vampire never glanced toward Layne. Bastard!

“She yanks your chain because she believes you’re not interested.”

“Don’t remember seeking companionship or advice, Cayson.”

“You require someone’s counsel. Your best friend, Julius, is busy courting your inamorata’s mother, so you’re stuck with me.” Cay’s eyes remained glued on the couple at the bar. “Jesus.” He adjusted his cock. “Except for Jack I’d be all over that piece of tail. He’s magnificent.”

Layne grunted. “You tread close to death.”

“And which would I be dying for?”

Stretching his legs, slouching further into his seat, Layne turned to look at Cayson. Studying his protégé, the only vamp privileged to digest his blood aside from Julius, he smiled baring sharp fangs. “Perhaps both.”

“Yeah, right. Who is he?”

“What do you want?”

“Jack’s going over accounts in his office and we couldn’t help but feel your displeasure.” Cayson Covett’s mate, Jackson Reynolds, owned Shadows in Curtain as well as club Shadows in Charlotte, South Carolina. Vampires frequented both clubs in the wake of Jackson’s hunter cell disbanding months ago. “Why didn’t you keep Esme in New York?”

“She missed Curtain and asked to come home.” Cay attempted breaking his barriers. “That’s not going to pan out. Ask what you want to know.”

“I spent a lot of time at your side learning to flush out strays and hunters.” All vampires knew Layne to be an extraordinary stalker and he’d trained many including Cay. “Aside from Julius you never gave a damn about what anyone wanted.”

Layne returned to observing the couple. “Did you not benefit from my kindness?” Attacked by an ancient undead creature, Cay’s lover had been near death before garnering two votes needed from The Triumvirate to gain salvation. Cay wasted no time turning Jack who soon after admitted his gayness along with declaring love for Cay. Both men grew up in Curtain and bore not only sexual discrimination, they now carried another label—monster.

A different world yet prejudices still reared its grotesque head.

“I can never thank you and Julius enough for allowing me Jack.”

Layne had turned one vampire in his lifetime, Julius Talmane who, before becoming one third of The Triumvirate, made Cayson. Layne smiled recalling the exorbitant fee his friend extorted from Cay’s racist father even though Juls would have done it for nothing. The council needed a fledgling with compassion to temper both factions’ desire to kill. Cayson, dying of cancer, met all requirements. “I don’t need thanks every time we meet.”

“I’ve seen you screw women, wipe their minds, and move on.”

“Thanking me will not smooth over what you’re going to say next.”

“What are you after?” Cay searched Layne’s face. “You’re gone for a month, you’ve been back the same length of time and nothing has changed. Why haven’t you taken her?”

He and Julius had come to care for the young vampire whom they imbued with enough strength to conquer fiends from either side of the equation—undead or human. But Layne would only allow Cay to go so far. “Not your business.”

“She’s like family, Layne.”

Layne watched her closely each day and he’d come to like her sassy bad ass. Why, indeed? And he wanted her so badly his balls ached. He’d asked himself every single day since he snatched Emerald away from everything she knew why he didn’t just fuck her and call it a day.

Because once won’t be enough.

“I don’t get it.”

“There’s nothing for you to get.” Layne stared head on at Cay. “When did you know Jackson was right for you?”

“I think we belonged to each other from the first moment we touched in high school.” Sitting back in his chair, Cay asked, “Does this have to do with Emerald and why you won’t release her?”

Had Layne become so transparent? “I simply wish to keep her.” He fingered the bullet hanging from his heavy chain. Fabricated from holy wood and shot from specially made hunter weapons, it could destroy some vamps. “We won’t discuss this ever again, Cayson.” Emerald had fired the bullet at Layne after a ruckus between a hunter and stray vamps that interrupted a celebration a few months ago in honor of Covett Petroleum’s newest oilrig off the coast of South Carolina. “When did you last enter a sacred place?”

“I’ve made piece regarding my relationship with God.” Cay nodded toward Layne’s chest. “How do you wear that thing so close to your heart.”

“Are you afraid of it?”

“We already talked about fear.”

“We discussed Jackson’s fear regarding his sexuality many weeks ago behind your home. What are you most afraid of?”

“Losing Jack and living alone forever. I fear Hell.” Cay shrugged. “I lost hope of entering Heaven.”

“Why did you let your beliefs go?”

“I don’t relish entering and dying in a place of worship surrounded at every turn by consecrated wood if that’s what you’re asking.”

“You only lose what you give away.”

“What is this about, Layne?”

“We take life, shit, we live on human blood. If we are to survive it’s important for our undead nation to remember we are also the Lord’s children.”

“Are you okay?”

“I’m going to rip that motherfucker’s heart out and bury it so goddamn deep his God won’t find it.”

“Because he’s talking to Emerald?” Cay’s eyes widened. “I’ll be damn! You do want her.”

“I might.” Layne snapped his fingers and vanished with the male vampire who had dared touch Emerald in tow.

* * *

Emerald had dealt with Layne’s antics far longer than she cared to. “Cold bastard,” she muttered. She searched Shadows well aware he was gone and he took the only other interesting man with him. Only other. Shit, she hated to admit she found Layne fascinating in any way whatsoever. He’d watched her talk to the newcomer and she relished seeing Layne’s discomfort. “A dick, a big fat dick is what he is.” For almost a week after their first meeting in Jackson’s kitchen, he led her to believe he was human. Had it not been for strays crashing Covett’s party she would have made a complete ass of herself with Layne Indigo.

“You were more concerned whether or not Layne was gay if that’s who you’re calling names.”

Emerald whipped around to see Cayson sitting where the guy she’d set her sights on had previously rested. “You fuckers move too quietly for my liking.”

“You’re in my care until he returns or sends for you.”

“It’s been four weeks since we returned. I grew up here and I can take care of myself.”

“Esme, why do you play with fire?”

Pinching her earlobe, she asked, “What are you talking about?” She understood Cay’s meaning. Two months in Layne’s company and, vamp or not, her panties got wet whenever he entered a room. Goddamn she hated it but no matter what thoughts she paraded through her mind, nothing kept carnal visions of him from surfacing. “I have no designs on your legendary stalker.” Layne often took her out to dinner. When he wanted to go dancing, he always asked Emerald, politely, to dress up. He’d even purchased some of her dresses and she enjoyed wearing sexy outfits and high heels in a bid to draw his attention. Her appearance never seemed to faze him even when other men could barely turn away from her fit body. She’d even used a few onlookers in an attempt to raise Layne’s ire. Never worked.

“He’ll know if you do.”

“Ooh I hate you icy pricks.”

“Even the one you had your sights set on?”

“No!”

“Jesus, Esme, did you touch him?”

“He had his hands all over me.”

“I doubt that.”

“Cay, he wasn’t cold.” She moved fingers to trace where the stranger’s hand had been on her face. “I swear…” Stopping mid-sentence, she stared at him. “Why do you doubt his hands were everywhere?”

“Layne wouldn’t allow it.”

“Why? It’s not like he wants anything to do with me other than believing he can make me accept bloodsuckers.”

“Well, I’d say he’s accomplished that.”

“No way would I ever sleep with one, Cay.”

“If you could tell, right?”

“Kiss my ass.”

Jackson sidled up to Cay. “Whose ass you kissing?”

“Yours. Later. First, Esme is going to reveal her amazing powers of vampire detection.” Cay twisted on his stool and kissed Jack’s chin. “How the heck did she ever perform as a hunter?”

“Don’t poke fun at me, Cay. You’re all paler, the white ones anyway, since you spend very little time in sunlight.”

“Was he pale?”

“No.” Lord, he had what she considered an island tan, one surely perfected while his naked ass lay on some beach probably with a hussy on each side. “But frosty as hell fingers are always a dead giveaway.”

“I gather this person is white?” Jack joined their conversation. “Did he possess cold hands?”

“Babe, she said no. I think she spent too much time checking other parts of anatomy.”

“Cayson! I don’t eye men’s crotches.” Liar! Every presented possibility she surreptitiously stole a peek between Layne’s legs. What hung there occupied many nights in fantasies she dared not put into words. Talking about Layne, thinking about him, placed Emerald’s body into overdrive. The other one, whew! She shoved hair from her forehead as she remembered walking into her dorm room one night to find her roommate belly-to-belly with one man while another rode her ass hard. Two men at once! “Damn, it’s hot in here.”

“I bet.” Cayson chuckled. “Thinking about his big fat dick.”

She’d discovered a while back vamps, other than Layne and maybe his friend, Julius, lost their ability to access her mind unless permitted by their illustrious stalker. There were times she wondered why but mostly Emerald was glad. “I said he is a big fat dick.” She hoped Layne remained too occupied to delve inside her head now.

“Liar,” Cay mocked as laughter bubbled from his throat. “You’re thinking about it.”

“Leave me alone.”

“She’s right,” Jack said over Cay’s head. “It’s not our business.” He cleared his throat. “But other things are, Esme. Anything you want to tell us?”

Emerald studied toes of her shoes. She had listened to a couple rough types talking before Mr. Sexy showed up about hunting down and ending a vampire couple’s life hoping to make a name for themselves. Even without mind reading, nothing got past these fuckers. Taking a quick look around, she wondered where the strangers went. Both patronized the club frequently. She recognized their faces and, if need be, could find them again.

“Other than gaining knowledge you belonged to a hunter cell, they hadn’t done any harm. I shooed them away with a stern warning.” Jackson bared and licked pearly fangs. “Showing them off can be enough deterrent sometimes.”

“You told them you hunted?” Cay sighed. “Esme, let that shit go.”

“If I can’t?”

“Stop being stubborn.” Cay took her hand. “You know they don’t all mean harm.”

“I’m aware of that. Christ, I grew up with you two but all that power and magic, it’s frightening.”

“They’ve been around eons. Enough time to have tripled in numbers if they so choose.” Releasing her hand, Cay studied her hard. “Esme?”

“What?”

“You like Layne.”

“Okay, yes. So what? You picked that up easily enough. Are you satisfied?” Suddenly she missed him. Layne hadn’t left Emerald to her own devices in a while. Where had he disappeared? “Guess you can’t stay completely out of my head if I’m your charge until Layne decides differently.”

“I catch bits and pieces when you’re in my care because his blood courses through my veins and he permits it. I should be able to get a read on the new vamp but there is nothing. Not a single thing.” Cay shook his head. “I’d like to know more about our visitor. Ancient if he controls his temperature.”

“Our?” Jack snatched him up and pressed his crotch against Cay’s butt. “Except for me, you’d be all over that piece of tail, right?”

“Babe, I only looked.”

Jack nipped Cay’s earlobe before saying, “Sorry I missed him.”

“Get a room you two.” They left her alone and Emerald signaled the bartender to order another gin, this time sans tonic. Nibbling nervously on a thumbnail, she wondered if Layne knew about her conversation with two wanna be hunters. More worrisome, did he ascertain her interest in the sexy, dark haired vamp who briefly stole her attention. Damn. Damn. Damn. Had the strange vamp glamoured her? Had Layne? If he entered her mind, held her in thrall, she’d never know.

Tall and athletically built, authority dripped from every pore of Layne’s walnut hued skin. Silken hair usually in a thick braid dipped past his shoulders and Emerald frequently speculated on secrets odd sea green eyes held hidden in blue-flecked depths especially when overtaken by whirlpools of red. Any time she watched him cross a room it brought to mind a big cat stalking prey. She remembered ropes of muscle bunch across Layne’s abdomen beneath his much-favored black tee shirts. Strong thighs encased in soft, always dark, trousers could probably crush her should she be lucky enough to enjoy that sort of attention from him.

Swiping moisture from her forehead with the back of her hand, Emerald murmured, “For Heaven’s sake, he’s a freaking vampire!”

One Emerald wanted.

* * *

“You like her.”

Layne had allowed his shields to slip. “So.” He had good fortune to be familiar with Brakius Demeter. Deliciously familiar. Watching him tempt Emerald angered Layne. After departing Shadows leaving Esme in Cayson’s care, he became aware she had eavesdropped on two hunters before Jackson frightened them away. It only perpetuated his angst. Goddamn it! “Do you remember what happens when you endeavor to fuck around in my head?”

“You’re bewildered, or should I say bewitched?”

“Kiss my ass.” Brakius saw too much. “What lured you from Greece?”

“Thought I’d check on you and your pet, Julius.”

“Disparage him once more and I’ll make you sorry before I kick your ass out.”

“My liege.” Jackass bowed low. “You remain supreme.”

“Call me your liege again and something other than my dick may find its way in your ass.” Mystic blue eyes tugged at memories Layne thought buried.

“Am I not entitled to a little jealousy?”

“Jealousy has no place in our lives.”

“I miss you.”

“You miss my cock.”

“Same difference.” Brake stroked Layne’s cheek. “Your jewel is delightful.”

“You discovered her name is Emerald.” He’d never shared blood with Brake, but had taken his often. “She’s off limits.”

“Why?”

A question befuddling him more and more. It began to piss Layne off. Strengthening safeguards and wishing to mask true feelings, he fondled Brake’s dick. “I locked her mental path so others couldn’t surf her psyche.” He twisted the vamp’s nuts hard. “Don’t touch the mind of anyone who even knows her.”

Brake showed no pain. “You always preferred women.”

You never enjoyed their softness.”

“They fill a void when nothing else is available.” He pushed Layne’s hand away. “Virgins, male or female, are too much work.”

Laughter ricocheted from walls in the penthouse suite Layne had accommodated for himself and Esme. “Liar. You love to be sheathed in a tight, new asshole.”

“Will you suck my cock?”

“You can suck mine.” If only to shove Emerald from his thoughts for an hour.

“Will I get to take the great stalker?”

“No.” Layne reached behind Brake’s neck and pulled him forward so fast and hard he ripped into Brake’s lip. God, everything he wanted to do to Emerald burst into his mind. Honey-hued skin, shapely legs, and a behind begging for penetration. His dick pressed hard against his zipper seeking release but he refused to remove his slacks. Tongues lashed, slipped deep, and savored everything he and Brake experienced in absence of each other.

“You like dancing with her, holding her close.” Brake drew away. “You freely share past remembrances as well as what you want from her.”

“Don’t pretend you don’t like it.”

“We never danced.”

“And you don’t want to now.” Layne tugged his hair. “It’s not who we are.”

“Perhaps I don’t like you tripping through my mind.”

“Stop. Petty bullshit and jealousy doesn’t become you.” Layne pivoted and walked behind his well-stocked bar. “Absinthe?”

“Unless you have something higher in alcohol content. My body craves the false warmth it provides.”

He kept a case at his home and whenever he traveled, he made sure there was one on hand. Why? It had been nearly two years since he last saw Brakius yet it felt as if only a week separated them. Living perpetually, vampires became bored and sought gratification in ways they otherwise would not have discovered if they lived one lifetime. He found pleasure in Brake who resented Juls. Liaisons with other men never bothered Brake because Layne never befriended any aside from Juls. Passing a tumbler to Brake, he stated, “I had Julius once.” He poured himself a shot of bourbon and moved to stand beside his lover. “If I have to remind you again, or if you ever touch him, you will not be welcome within a hundred miles of me.”

“A hundred miles?”

“You know no other man will ever hold the place you did in my life.”

“Did?” Brake’s eyes became midnight blue. “It no longer matters.”

“There must be better use for your delicious mouth.” Virgins, male or female, are too much work. Brake’s words bounced back into Layne’s scattered mind. “I will use you.”

“Why a hundred miles?”

I still need him. “Because any closer I’d smell you and hunger after salvation only you can give me.” Brake’s soft hands, his whispers of deliverance had once drawn Layne from Hell’s precipice. He owed him his life. Grasping behind the vampire’s neck again, he brought him close enough to lick his lips before he snapped, “Tell me how you know she’s a virgin?” Not only did he need Brake, he no longer felt annoyed thinking of him with Emerald.

Unraveling, out of control—all because of her.

Christ, Layne hadn’t even touched her yet!

“You’d have to put her in a bubble to hide her aroma of innocence.”

Layne hadn’t reckoned with Emerald’s scent. Nothing he could do about it unless he kept constant vigilance over every vampire within sniffing range. Thank God, they all feared Layne. Hoisting Brake up, he commanded, “Wrap your legs around me.” He carried him upstairs.

“She can’t be erased from your mind.”

“I intend to try.”

“If it doesn’t work?” Brake searched Layne’s eyes.

Fear of once again looking into that black hole of death and destruction gripped him. Unable to banish Emerald from his mind, wanting, needing Brake more than he cared to admit. Layne growled, “I’m going to fuck you until you can’t walk.”

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