CHAPTER 10

 

By the time they’d trudged all the way back to the house it was getting dark and Xav was glad he’d grabbed a jacket before they’d left to explore the woods. Rayne seemed untroubled by the chill in the air, and strolled along with bared arms and the wind stirring his dark hair so that it swirled like a pall of smoke. He had reached down to curl his fingers through Xavier’s as they walked, and from time to time he stopped in his tracks to turn and kiss his mate, unable to get enough of the pleasure of being alone with him, though he knew it could not last.

“Awrr… cute!” a rich Cornish burr drifted down to their ears as they approached the steps leading up to the rear of the sprawling mansion. Gabriel was perched on the wall, smoking a roll up and making gagging noises at them.

Rayne flicked the bird at the cheerful gypsy Were and shook his head. “Haven’t you got a bone to dig up or something?”

Gabriel just laughed wickedly at him.

Xavier noticed something more than Gabriel’s teasing. The shifter was wearing a lightweight jacket and boots. Not so unusual maybe, except Xav tended to notice little things, such as how people dressed. Gabriel hadn’t been wearing shoes yesterday, or this morning around the house and there was only a slight chill in the air, even now. It certainly was not cold enough to need warmer clothes on inside. Xavier tilted his head as he looked up at the wolf.

“Have a nice walk?” he asked, not bothering to hide the suspicious tone.

Gabriel’s smile widened a little bit, looking very white and toothy in the shadows, although he said nothing. If he was embarrassed about being caught out, it didn’t show.

Xavier snorted; “Geez, you could at least have the decency to pretend you weren’t spying again!”

“I wasn’t,” Gabriel said. “Not fer long anyway. Her Ladyship was getting a bit worried when it started getting dark. I was just making sure you two hadn’t got lost.”

“Uh-huh,” Xav responded cynically. “Or maybe, you were hoping to see something more than just the two of us walking back. Perv!” The merest hint of a grin curved his lips with his accusation.

If he was feeling mellow enough to be light hearted about it, sadly his lover was not.

“If I catch you with your nose where it shouldn’t be, I will rip the fucker off!” Rayne advised the Were coolly.

“Gotta catch me first,” Gabriel told him, completely unfazed by this threat. “And I’d not put money on it!”

Rayne bristled. “Don’t be so sure.”

Gabriel’s stance changed too, becoming slightly more menacing. “Anytime you wanna go, Deadboy.”

“Stop it!” Xavier threw his hands up, eyes screwed shut with frustration. “Will you two just… Stop. Doing. That? It feels like I’m in a goddamn pressure cooker!”

For a moment the preternatural pair suspended hostilities, utterly taken aback by Xavier’s interruption. Gabriel adopted an expression of studied contrition. Rayne reached out to put a hand on his lover’s arm.

“I’m sorry sweetheart. He just riles me, that’s all,” he apologised, knowing as he said it that he was an idiot. Xavier had just explained to him how he was open to other people’s unwanted hopes and fears and random stray emotions, here he was making it ten times worse.

“We get off on dissin’ each other,” Gabriel said cheekily. “It gives Deadboy there a proper boner, don’t it?”

Rayne glared at him with a fire in his emerald eyes that could have melted the Eiffel Tower. But he kept his mouth shut.

Xavier sighed, rubbing his temple with one hand. He had not exaggerated. Listening to them sniping at one another was bad enough. Feeling their naked antagonism and barely repressed tension was seriously grating on his nerves.

“You two are like fuckin’ kids on a playground, running up and pulling each other’s pigtails.” he muttered as he headed inside. He almost hoped they would just fuck and get it over with so maybe they could relax.

Rayne followed him in and Gabriel was right behind him after he snuffed the embers of his smoke.

Inside Xavier was assailed at once by two things that helped to bring his tension levels down a degree or three; an absolutely mouthwatering smell wafting from the kitchen, and some pop trash turned up loud on the sound system coming from the same direction. Xavier drifted that way as if pulled by a lure. He stopped in the doorway for a moment, a grin quirking his lips as he watched their host shimmying around the kitchen stirring various pots and pans on the stovetop to the tune of Lady Gaga’s ‘Love Game’.

His mood shifted again as he absorbed some of Dom’s happy good-humour and he snickered and shook his head as the older man unselfconsciously sang along with the refrain, “…lets have some fun, this beat is sick, I wanna take a ride on your disco stick.” Xav could just imagine whose disco stick Dom wanted to ride.

This time he didn’t mind so much the way his emotions changed as he was pulled in by their host’s playful mood. He glided into the kitchen pulling off his hooded sweatshirt, swaying and undulating to the music and laughing as Dominic licked his lips at him from behind the rising steam. Xav camped it up, dancing across the kitchen and somehow managing to look both comedic andsexy as hell at the same time. Then he hopped up on the countertop, crossed one knee over the other and made a show of inhaling the delicious aromas Dom was stirring up from his pots.

“Hiya, what’s cookin?”

“There you are, darling!” Dominic passed him a long handled spoon containing a mouthful that was richly, darkly, sinfully sweet and side-stepped neatly to the stove, ducking down to check on something that was bubbling away there like a proper witch’s cauldron. “I knew your radar wouldn’t let you miss dinner. You two have been working up a decent appetite, I trust?”

He glanced up and winked at Xavier knowingly. Beyond them, Rayne and Gabriel circled the long dining table and settled at opposite ends of it, trying very hard to be good but still managing to bristle at one another.

Xavier licked the spoon Dominic handed him and mmmmm-ed appreciatively. He managed to sound sexual without even trying too hard. Gabriel didn’t say a word but the glance he cast in Xavier’s direction was as hot as the items bubbling on the burner. The object of his attention, who had been trying to ignore the occupants of the table, missed the glance but looked over at them anyway because the tension level had suddenly ratcheted up by about ten notches over there. He slid down from the counter and moved to go sit next to Rayne, but as he did so he noticed something he had missed when he first saw Gabriel in the gathering gloom outside.

“You look different,” Xav blurted out as he dropped into the chair next to Rayne, his expression slightly puzzled as he tried to put his finger on just what exactly it was that had changed about him. He couldn’t settle on one thing; Gabe’s features were slightly sharper, his eyes somehow more ‘set’ in his face, his strong jaw a little more defined. The overall effect did not deter from his handsomeness one bit, but it gave him a more predatory appearance that unsettled Xavier.

“It’s her time of the month,” Rayne snickered bitterly. “Bitch could do with a shave if you ask me!”

“Girls!” Dominic warned them in a low tone, though Gabriel did not rise to the bait. He just smiled wolfishly at Xavier.

Xav was not sure if Dominic was including him in that warning tone too, but he looked up apologetically anyway.

“I, um…didn’t mean anything by it.”

“No offence taken,” Gabriel said affably, although he made sure the comment was directed at Xavier and didn’t necessarily include Rayne.

When Xavier looked at him again though, he got caught by his eyes, lost for a moment in all the little shades and flecks of silver and grey. It was sort of like a vampire trick, but not quite the same, he didn’t feel the sort of pressure on his mind that he’d known when Jabez had forced him, or Elian had invaded his memories. Still, when he suddenly pulled his gaze away he was flustered and usually when Xavier was flustered things came out of his mouth that he wouldn’t normally say out loud. He looked back up and met Gabriel’s eyes steadily without letting the wolf draw him in this time, just to prove he could.

“So, Rayne said you were born a werewolf, not like in the movies where someone gets attacked and turns into one. When you were little did you change into a puppy?”

Rayne cackled and slapped a hand over his mouth when Dominic gave him another ‘warning’ look. Gabriel Arden leaned back in his seat though and said; “Come sit on my knee and I’ll tell you all about it.”

The look in his eyes was keen and serious, all the playfulness dropped for a moment. Nor was it an entirely suggestive remark. He kept his eyes on Xavier the whole time, refusing to be distracted by the background sniping. Xavier’s upper body tilted toward him ever so slightly but he was almost unaware of it, as if he was being tugged very gently by an invisible thread. He suddenly shook his head as if throwing it off and his eyes narrowed on Gabriel.

“Knock it off!” Xavier growled.

“Knock what off?” Gabriel asked mildly.

“Whatever you’re doing…”

“You know what it is, even if you won’t say it.” Gabriel smiled at him. “You felt the wards yesterday when you came in, you shrugged me off just now. You feelmagic even if you’re afraid of it.”

Xav rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Just don’t try and pull that shit.”

Gabriel made a little gesture with his hand. “I was just testing you a bit.”

“Well, don’t,” Xav warned him again.

“Come over here and sit on my knee, and I won’t pull no tricks this time,” the wolf invited again.

Xavier drummed his fingers once on the table, looking at Gabriel shrewdly. Rayne hadn’t said anything, and out of the corner of his eye Xav saw he’d taken up a casual, almost bored pose, though no one in the room was fooled by that for a moment. When his lover was looking less than interested you could practically put money on the fact that he was coiled and ready to pounce. With a little sigh, Xav got up and moved over to Dominic’s handsome boyfriend and perched lightly on his thigh, his curiosity getting the better of him.

Now Rayne stiffened slightly, his attitude a little sharper and his mood definitely darker. It was Dominic who moved to quiet him though, melting into place at his back and running long strong fingers over the tight muscles in the vampire’s slim shoulders as Gabe Arden surveyed Xavier appreciatively, without laying a hand on him.

“That’s better,” the Were grinned. “You’re a saucy little thing, aren’t you? You like a bit of non-human kink, huh? Just like Her Ladyship…” and he nodded towards Dom Warren with a salacious smile. “I can handle that.”

Xavier smiled back at him, his eyes taking on a sultry cast that any number of men at the clubs he’d worked in the past would have recognised just before they’d emptied their wallets for him. Not being in the game anymore didn’t mean he had forgotten how to hustle when he wanted something.

“Just because I like Rayne’s fangs as much as his cock, it doesn’t give you a leg up with me, honey,” he purred sweetly.

Gabriel laughed; a rich, deep, masculine growl of genuine amusement.

“Oh I like you, babes!” he commented straight off. “Definitely no shy little wallflower, you! I’ll tell you straight, sweetness. I don’t need no leg up. I can make my way with my own natural attributions, an’ you know what they are already don’t you, my little tease?”

He leaned forward touching the tip of his sun-tanned nose to Xavier’s and looking him in the eye with that unblinking dark-silver gaze. Rayne let out a little hiss of warning through clenched fangs and Dominic’s hands tightened on his shoulders again.

“Shhh darling, it’s all right,” he whispered, reading Xavier well, even as his undead lover focused all his wrath on Gabe. “Calm down. They know what they’re playing at here.”

Xav leaned back a little, even as he said it, and put his hand on Gabriel’s chest to gently push him back and get some space.

“I know plenty of hung studs babe, and that don’t turn my head none either.” Xavier switched on a dazzling smile for the Were though and leaned in close again. “You know what would really turn me on?” he asked in a seductive husk, wriggling just a bit in his lap, his lips close enough that Gabe could feel the warmth of his breath on his own lips (well, if he was going to be called a tease he could at least play the part!). “Be nice to my boyfriend!” He said each word clearly and leaned back again, crossing his arms and giving the wolf a challenging look.

Gabe’s lips twitched as he tried to stay serious. His gaze wandered briefly to Rayne Wylde and there was heat in his dark eyes as he murmured; “I could be plenty nice to him, but he don’t like it like that. Mizz Deadboy prefers it nasty, don’tcha babes? Rough and very, very nasty!”

He uttered a little growl as he said it and Rayne made a noise somewhere between a laugh and a sneeze.

“In your dreams, furball!”

“I know I’m in yours,” Gabriel told him with a grin. “The ones where you wake up screamin’ and not in a bad way.”

“Leave it, Gabriel!” Dominic said, in a tone of voice that he rarely used. It had a cold, sharp edge and his lover sat back with a humourless smile.

Rayne’s breathing had quickened and he shrugged Dominic off now and moved to his feet. Xavier moved to his feet as well, suddenly feeling the lash of Rayne’s turbulent emotions as his lover let his grip on them slip for just a moment. Turning to face him quickly, Xav reached out, not with his hands or his body but something deep inside. It snaked around Rayne and held him there, calling him back even before he fled.

Xav’s brows were pinched slightly with confusion as he took in Rayne’s expression. He could feel that his lover was angry, furious even, but also he was quite anxious and… something else, something harder to define. Like a mix of shame and arousal.

“He’s not just teasing, is he?” Xavier asked in a whisper, watching the look that was in his lover’s wide, green eyes. Rayne’s pupils were wide and dark, lips parted wetly as his tongue darted across them again.

“You dream about him?” Xav asked softly, feeling like he was being pummeled by the heightened emotions rolling off of Rayne, and confused because Rayne acted like he couldn’t stand the werewolf.

Rayne shivered fiercely. “Not him, exactly.”

Xavier’s lips started to form another question but before he could ask who it was exactly that Rayne dreamed about, the answer clicked in place and he suddenlyknew why he was feeling Rayne’s chaotic swirl of emotions, and why his lover was trying to hide them. In an intuitive leap he figured that if it wasn’t Gabriel that put that guilty arousal on Rayne’s face then it must be someone like Gabriel.

Xav’s eyes dropped to the line of skin showing down the middle of Rayne’s unbuttoned shirt and although the faint tracery of scars was hidden, he could see them clearly enough in his mind’s eye. Scars made by some kind of Were. Scars that Gabriel had deliberately brought to his attention earlier and that Rayne deliberately hadn’t talked about. Xav had thought he wasn’t saying anything about how he came by those scars because it was too painful for him to talk about, but he wondered now if it was more than just the pain that had kept his lover’s mouth shut.

Xavier blinked twice, rapidly, as he tried to sort out how he felt about Rayne dreaming about the guy that put those scars there, and not in a bad way… He remembered again, their brief conversation on the beach outside Aldo’s villa, Rayne talking about the ‘animal’ that had ripped into him, how Rayne’s voice had not been frightened or angry, but shivery with excitement and arousal. He’d put it down to the vampire being confused and still trying to remember what had happened to him, but now Xav was looking at it in a different light. His lover had even defended the guy, Henning, when Xav had gotten pissed off about him hurting Rayne.

Xav dragged his eyes back up and they locked with Rayne’s for a moment. As hard as the other man was trying to hide it Xav could see through the anger and anxiety to that hint of arousal. Xavier had known that Rayne went to the club in Paris wanting to work out his frustration and sorrow with pain, he understood that. What he hadn’t known was that the man he’d chosen to dish it out was not just an animal in the figurative sense, nor had he realised how much Rayne had gotten off on submitting to a powerful, brutal creature that could top him properly.

His expression suddenly closed down and this time it was Xavier that turned on his heel and stalked out. His temper simmered just under a boil as he stormed down the hall toward the staircase. He wasn’t even sure why he was so pissed off.

No, that wasn’t right. He knew, he just didn’t want to admit it. He was pissed because Gabriel had suddenly made him feel inadequate. If what Rayne reallywanted was someone that could overpower and dominate him, Xavier wasn’t it. Not only that but, yet again, Rayne had shut him out about something serious.

How was it that Gabriel should know what Rayne dreamed about, what he really wanted, but Rayne wouldn’t give Xavier the first clue? About anything! Rayne said he was important to him, and yet he told him nothing! He hadn’t told him about Matt, he hadn’t told him about Clint, he hadn’t told him about the girlfriend or wife or whatever the hell she was in Manchester. Now he was finding out that Rayne would rather have a strong dominant partner in bed, in the most humiliating way possible. Why didn’t he just tell him if that was what he really wanted? Why did he have to let him find out like this?

I wish you were my equal, Xavier, but you’re not…

Those words still haunted him, and maybe now he knew a bit more about what lay behind them. Xav could never physically overpower him, so he went to someone else, someone who could, someone who Rayne didn’t have to worry about hurting if he got a little careless. Why would he bring Xav here, why would he say Xavier was important to him if he wasn’t what he wanted? The one area where he thought they were most suited, where nothing ever went wrong between them, was sex. Now he felt like Rayne hadn’t even been honest with him about that.

Xavier had been trying to give him his space, trying to not push him, but if he asked anything at all about his life Rayne brushed him off and changed the subject. Empathy was one thing, but other than the emotions they shared while they were fucking each other’s brains out Rayne shut him out of every other area of his life, and now even in that one safe haven he found secrets.

 

All of this went through Xavier’s head in a rising tide of temper until he reached the bedroom they’d slept in last night and slammed the door behind him.

Rayne watched him go, frozen by his anger and disbelief, his pale gaze fixed on the doorway into the hall until they all heard the bedroom door slam upstairs. Then the little vampire rounded fearlessly on Gabriel.

“Thank you!” he growled sarcastically. “Thanks for that, Gabe! You’ve got a really, fucking, great big mouth, do you know that? I know you’ve no time for me, but that was below the fuckin’ belt!”

“True though,” Gabriel Arden said, unapologetically.

“Gabe!” Dominic warned him. “Shut up now.”

Briefly the mortified vampire looked from the mortal to his wolf with blatant disgust in his eyes, then he stalked out of the kitchen. He broke into a run as he reached the hallway, following Xavier’s angry traces up the stairs and down the long, illuminated landing until he reached the implacable barrier of their bedroom door. Coming to a halt there he lifted his hand to knock but let it fall again. In truth he hadn’t expected Xav to fly off the handle like that. His lover knew that there were other men in his life and he had always been pretty cool about it before. Did it make that much of a difference to him that this time it wasn’t, strictly speaking, a man? Or was it something else that was bothering him?

He sagged heavily against the door and sank down to the ground outside, feeling his spirits plummet. Just an hour ago he thought that he had finally discovered how to be happy. Now he was not so sure that he wanted to go through all the highs and lows of a committed relationship again. The deep wound left by Kevan’s murder still ached and he was not ready to face up to that level of loss again. Not yet.

He leaned his cheek against the warm, unvarnished wood of the door and quietly called; “Xavier? Are you pissed off with me? Can we talk about this?”

Xavier yanked the door open so fast that Rayne almost fell inside.

“Why do I always have to find out everything about you second hand?” he demanded. “You get off on letting other people humiliate me with how much Idon’t know about you, or what? I’ve never expected you to spill your guts and tell me every little thing that’s ever happened to you, Rayne. I get the whole ‘trust issues’ thing, but if you’re gonna keep shutting me out of the rest of your life, don’t tell me things like I’m important to you or that you trust me, okay? If you don’t trust me enough to tell me anything about yourself, then… fine!”

“I’m not deliberately shutting you out, Xavier,” Rayne said atonally, gripping the doorframe with both hands and leaning into it, but coming no closer. He could feel how hurt, and furious, and desperately confused his lover was and he knew that was probably, no… scrap that… it was absolutely his fault. But he couldn’t figure out how he was supposed to make it better.

“Really? It sure seems that way to me!” Xavier shook his head, trying to calm down but the anger and hurt inside just kept bleeding and he couldn’t seem to shut his mouth now. “The first person you called when we got to London was your ex, only you didn’t tell me who he was, or that he still had a key to your place, or that he’s also a vampire, oh, and that you’re still fucking him. I think I handled that pretty fucking well. Then, you forget to tell me, oh by the way, the emo brat on the front step, he’s my kid. Okay, fine, I rolled with that surprise too. I accept that maybe you just didn’t have time to let me in on that one before you went to Manchester.

“Speaking of which, do you know how fucking hard it was to sit back and let you go deal with the things you had to deal with up there, all alone, when I wanted to be there for you? But I guess you didn’t need me there when you had your girlfriend or wife or whatever the fuck she is to console you, huh?” Xav said bitterly. “Now I get to find out from a virtual stranger about your fetish for big and furry, and even though it’s not as big a fucking deal as Gabriel hoped it would be, I’m sure, it would have been nice to hear it from you before we came out here. I’m not exactly the judgmental type when it comes to personal kinks, you know.

“Not one of those things would have pissed me off, Rayne. Not the ex, not the kid, not the woman, and not that you apparently prefer someone bigger and stronger in bed. The only thing that pisses me off is, you think you gotta hide it all from me.”

Rayne opened his mouth a couple of times to try and get a word in edgeways during that tirade but Xavier was too fast for him. The accusations flew like daggers and by the time his mate stopped for breath the vampire in him was beginning to see red again. He could just about get his head around Gabriel’s taunting, because the furball didn’t know any better, but to get it in the neck from Xav as well was just a bit much.

He leaned into the doorway, bracing his hands against it, gripping tight because he wanted to punch something right now and that would not be a good move. All the feelings of tranquility from earlier in the afternoon had deserted him in the face of Xavier’s burgeoning rage. And yes, maybe he was right that Rayne didn’t tell him everything, but there were some things that you couldn’t just come out and say, not even to someone you thought you might have started to trust with your heart.

“First off, I don’t have a fetish for ‘big and furry’ as you put it. That’s all in Gabe Arden’s warped head,” he snapped back tersely. “Thanks for taking his opinion as fucking gospel on that one. That really makes my day. And secondly; I don’t have a fucking girlfriend! I haven’t had a girlfriend since…” He raised his hands then let them fall helplessly, shaking with a sense of righteous anger that had no place to go. “I can’t remember when, not for a long time. And even if I had, it’s actually none of your fucking business, Xavier. What’s done and in the past is just that, it’s done. It has no bearing on what I do or feel now, don’t you understand that? So if I decide I want to share my fucking burden with you, you’ll know about it! If I decide! Why is it so important to you to know every damned, sordid detail of my fucking life anyway? I just don’t get that. You just can’t keep your nose out of anyone else’s business, can you? If you’re not cosying up to Clint or gossiping like a teenager with Lady Warren you’re getting UC&P with that fuckin’ mongrel down there and it makes me sick!”

Rayne caught his breath, knowing as he did so that he’d said far too much and already wishing he could rewind and edit himself before the shit hit the fan. He felt himself falling like a fragile glass dropped from the lip of a high table. He saw it in slow motion, that interminable tumble from grace, seeming to take forever to hit the floor and shatter into a thousand pieces. He wanted to catch it, to stop it happening but he knew it was much too late. Instead he turned away, biting down on his lips so that he would not have to see the train-wreck of his life smash into the buffers again.

Xavier stood there like he’d been slapped, despite Rayne having controlled that urge at least. He was still hot though, Rayne yanking out all the flaws in his reasoning not having helped ease his temper any. The hell of it was, Rayne was at least half right. Xavier didn’t have any right to expect him to share any details of his life. He’d made it very clear that just because he’d invited him home it didn’t mean anything more than that he liked having him convenient. Their lives were still separate, and he hadn’t made him any promises.

“I didn’t ask for every detail!” Xavier shot back, although it was lacking some of the venom he’d been feeling a moment before. “I just thought… I just want… to be part of your life, too,” he finished, much more quietly than he’d begun, the terrible hurt he felt was seeping through the angry words now. He hated the way that sounded, so needy and helpless, and Rayne already thought he was that. He figured that he’d gone and done it again, pushed too hard, asked for too much. Why couldn’t he ever learn?

If Rayne was like a precariously balanced glass ready to fall off the ledge, then for Xav that ledge was crumbling out from under him.

Rayne felt the accusation like a barb in his flesh and he actually winced at the cruelty of it. Until that moment it had never truly occurred to him that Xavier might feel left out in any way. He accepted that he was not used to sharing his space long term with someone else but he’d not really figured that he was isolating Xavier to that extent so his reaction was maybe a little harsher than Xav deserved.

“You aren’t a part of my fuckin’ life?” he snapped, shaking his head incredulously. “What the fuck d’you think this is all about, huh? Why are we here if you’re not a part of my life? What the fuck reason would I have for spending my weekend hanging out with that mangy furball downstairs if I didn’t fuckin’ well have to?Well?”

He slapped his hands against the doorframe again, pulling himself up short once more, holding back the impulse to strike out because, god damn it, he wasn’t so much mad at Xavier as he was with himself. When they came back from Italy he’d just about convinced himself that he could be with Xav; that they could be a proper couple and it would all be fine because they were good together and all that shit, but now he was beginning to figure that he’d been kidding himself all along. The reason he was alone was because he fucked up every relationship he touched. It had been true before he fled to America and it was still true now.

Damn it all to fucking hell!

Xav didn’t have an answer for that, other than the obvious one, but he still clung defensively to his anger because now he felt stupid on top of everything.

“So you’re telling me Gabe’s wrong? You don’t really want someone that can overpower you, do that to you…” he said, waving a hand at the faint tracery of scars on Rayne’s chest as proof enough that Rayne did in fact want just that. Xav’s expression hardened against the pain that wanted out at the thought that he was going to lose Rayne because he couldn’t be what he really wanted. “Am I just an experiment for you? Or is it just you felt sorry for me?”

“Why the fuck should I feel sorry for you?” Rayne wanted to know, neatly sidestepping the issue of what he did or did not want in bed for the time being. His memories of the night that he earned those scars was still hazy and for now he resisted anything that would bring them back into sharper focus. Being around Gabriel Arden brought up the physical recollection of rough, warm fur against his naked back and thighs though. It made him shiver with a primal need that also left him feeling slightly nauseous. What the hell was he? When Xavier had come home with him he’d almost allowed himself to feel normal in the younger man’s company but now he was less certain.

Xavier took an involuntary step back as Rayne moved closer to shout at him without having seemed to notice.

“Why should I feel sorry for you?” The vampire asked again. “You clearly don’t need my help. I mean you’re doing fine on your own, aren’t you? Just fuckin’ peachy!”

They squared off for a moment then, each bristling with their own private anger and hurt.

Xav dropped his eyes first. His heart felt like it was trying to hammer its way out of his ribs and there was a tight painful knot lodged in his throat.

“Are you married, Ray? Is that what the ring and the dress are? Why you keep so many secrets?” he asked in a whisper husky with emotion.

Rayne blinked at him for a second or two, not comprehending this at all. Generally they younger man was pretty good at working him out but sometimes, just sometimes, Xavier surprised him by getting him so wrong that he questioned himself. This was one of those times.

Married? He was sure he would have remembered that. No, that was not it at all.Focus!

“Xavier…” he exhaled, all the fight temporarily stunned out of him. “I’m… No, I’m not married. No woman is crazy enough to take that on. Um… Kevan my ex, had the ring made for me. A kind of… well… y’know. What do people give one another rings for? He wanted people to know I was with him.”

Xavier’s eyes came up again slowly, cautiously tasting the truth of those words. He looked so wary, like he was expecting Rayne to say or do something cruel, or tell him he’d had enough and was going. Rayne’s genuine surprise took the wind right out of his sails and just like that the anger was gone, if not the hurt and the fear.

His unguarded expression in that instant spoke volumes about where all this was really coming from. He loved Rayne fiercely, he would do anything for him, and the fear of losing him was a wound far more tender than any of the fading bruises those thugs had left him with. Gabriel may have only been trying to yank Rayne’s chain, but he’d inadvertently tapped right on Xavier’s worst insecurity. He rarely let it show but somewhere in the back of his head was always the worry that he wouldn’t be enough for Rayne, that maybe Rayne didn’t really want him so close, but didn’t know how to tell him to go. He bit his lip now as the anger flowing out of him left him feeling foolish and weak and he was wondering why he’d gotten so angry to begin with.

“Ray… I’m sorry,” he said, reaching for him hesitantly. “I’m sorry, I’m a total idiot. I don’t even know why I got so wound up… over nothing.”

Rayne stiffened but at the same time that little shiver ran through him, the pleasure of having Xavier so warm, so close. His eyes closed tight and he fought it but he could not pull away. The perverse edge in him that always wanted to fight was being held in check by the long suppressed side of his nature that was still just a child, simply wanting to be held and told that he was brilliant, sparkling, worthy of love.

He lowered his head and in a low tone muttered; “You don’t… you really don’t need to know about any of that shit. That’s all it is. Me and my shit, not important. Not really. After all the grief I give you, if you’d rather be with Gabe I’d understand. He thinks he’s a funny guy. He’s probably not so fucked up if you can get over the dog-breath.”

He looked up quizzically at Xavier, a half smile twisting his lips awkwardly. “I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve that.”

Xavier took a breath and sighed.

“Maybe I did.” He lifted a hesitant hand, brushing the backs of his fingers lightly over Rayne’s shoulder. “I don’t know what got into me, getting so worked up like that…” He leaned a little closer since Rayne hadn’t pulled away from him and kissed the soft skin just below his ear. “…and you already know who I want to be with.”

When Rayne turned to face him in the soft golden light of the hallway he looked almost ghostly, his skin so pale that it was practically translucent. His ice green eyes were rimmed with a hungry redness and the trickle of moisture already aspirating on his lower lip where he had bitten himself was little more than a whisper of pink, more colour than there was elsewhere in his face.

“I guess I just don’t quite understand why,” he responded hoarsely. “When we were in Italy, you told me that I said you weren’t good enough to be with me. But I think that was wrong. Xavier, I don’t deserve to be with you. I’ve never been good enough for you and I don’t think I ever will be. And it hurts when you believe stuff about me that isn’t true, because I always expect you to know what’s right about me and what isn’t. I convinced myself that you knew me better than I knew myself. And that was wrong, I shouldn’t have presumed like that, just because I wanted it to be true.”

Rayne lowered his head again with a little sigh, hands hanging limply at his sides, almost too dejected and exhausted to move. The argument had taken the last of his will and he just wanted to lie down and not get up for a long, long time.

Xav sighed again softly and cursed himself for letting his temper run away with him and ruining what had been such a sweet afternoon. He pulled Rayne into his arms though, and closed the door, pulling him over to the bed so they could sit down and talk more reasonably.

“Babe, it’s not like I just swallowed some bit of trash talk I heard on the street. You were sitting right there and you didn’t say it was bullshit, not in a serious way. You didn’t deny it earlier when he said something about your scars either. I don’t see what the big deal is anyway, it’s not like I believed anything bad about you. If he’d said you were a child molester or something and I bought that shit I could see you getting pissed, but you’re the one that thinks of yourself as bad, not me. And you were the one that told me you had a girlfriend,” he reminded him.

Rayne actually had the grace to look sheepish at the reminder that he’d personally instigated that little white lie. He knew that he should never make things up, he was notoriously bad at fabricating the truth and invariably those he lied to saw right through him straight away. Having filed the lie away in his head he promptly forgot all about it, but Xavier forgot nothing. He ought to remember that in future.

If they had a future after this.

The vampire lowered his head again, feeling instantly gloomy. During the afternoon as they rolled around in the sunlight together it had seemed such a good idea to come here, and now he was having second thoughts. All this peace and tranquility was giving Xavier the space to think things over and the more he found out, surely, the less enamoured he was going to become of the human train-wreck sitting next to him.

Not even human, his conscience reminded him and he groaned softly at the sudden impossibility of their relationship.

“I was just trying to behave when he started that about the scars,” he said carefully. “Dom was sitting behind me all the time and I could feel how his hands got tight on my shoulders every sniping remark Gabriel threw at me, like it was some kind of test. Put up with his shit and win a prize! Jesus! I love Dominic to bits but I can’t for the life of me get what he sees in that hairball!”

Now that Xavier’s simmering temper had abated, he watched his beautiful lover as he spoke and was able to see and hear more clearly what Rayne so often did. He’d neatly sidestepped actually giving any information while at the same time deflecting the conversation in a different direction. Xav should have recognised it sooner since it was so much a habit of his own that he hardly ever thought about it anymore. He wondered if Rayne even realised he was doing it, and figured probably not.

“Rayne…” Xav paused for a second, obviously picking his words as carefully as Rayne was now. “You are confusing the fuck out of me.” He sighed and wiped a tired hand over his eyes. “Okay, I’m gonna tell you what I saw and heard and if you tell me I’m wrong or that you just want me to drop it I will, I promise.”

He lifted his hands and slid them into Rayne’s shirt, the warmth of them almost shocking against Rayne’s cool skin. His fingers pulled down in a light caress over the tracery of scars on his ribcage and down his sides. “You never talk about this, about what happened, and I left it alone because I know you don’t want to talk about it, but when Gabe hinted they were made by something other than a human you didn’t deny it, you got pissed and stormed out, like it was the truth only you didn’t want it brought up. Then he hinted you like werewolves or something like that and… I saw the look on your face Rayne. You weren’t just behaving for Dominic. I know that look. I felt what you were feeling, and it wasn’t all just angry denial. You felt guilty, and a little turned on. I wouldn’t have taken Gabe’s word on what he’d said if I hadn’t saw that look, felt how you felt, or heard how you said you didn’t dream about him exactly.

 

“Then we come up here and you act like I betrayed you for putting two and two together and guessing maybe you do like werewolf sex. If you don’t then fine, I’ll take your word for it. I just want you to know it wasn’t Gabriel that I was believing, it was what I saw in you.”

He paused again for a second, looking into Rayne’s eyes, which were wide and apprehensive but he didn’t reply so Xavier went on.

“When you were unpacking your stuff and tried to hide that dress and panties and things…I shouldn’t have snooped and I’m sorry. I’ve got no right to pry like that. I don’t know why you lied and said they belonged to a girlfriend, but I knew you were lying. When you said you don’t have a girlfriend just now, even if you did scream it at me, that felt like the truth. So…” He shrugged, letting that line of reasoning go without saying. If the stuff didn’t belong to someone else, it had to belong to Rayne.

A couple of minutes ago Rayne had been despondent that he’d been wrong about Xavier knowing what was right about him and what wasn’t. He hadn’t been wrong. The problem wasn’t that Xavier didn’t know him, the problem was that he saw through to the truth even when Rayne didn’t want him to; even when he was lying to himself.

As Rayne listened to his lover’s words, he felt each point drop inside him like a heavy stone tossed into a deep hole; the bottomless chasm of his life so far. He weighed up his options with a leaden heart now. If he told Xavier to back off, he was pretty sure the boy would. He was also sure that his mate would simmer over it for as long as it took him to get pissed off and leave.

And he also knew that he did not want Xavier to do that last thing. If he and Xav went their separate ways, for any reason, he did not want it to be over this, and he could not bear for it to happen right now. Rayne was used to being alone, but he was not sure that he was strong enough to be completely alone just at this moment. Sometimes he just needed someone warm and rational beside him, someone to hold onto. And Xavier was already much more than just that.

“I guess I don’t need to tell you that I have trouble expressing myself,” he began, awkwardly.

Xavier managed a wan smile in acknowledgement of that. He wondered silently just how it was that someone who could put so much feeling into a simple song lyric, then sing it out loud in front of thousands of strangers, had such trouble admitting to himself how he was feeling, let alone confessing it to others.

“I’m not perfect,” Rayne croaked huskily, fighting the constriction in his throat as he picked over the choice of words. “Fuck it, I’m not even sane most of the time! I’m cranky and unpredictable and fucked up and I do really stupid things because… sometimes I can’t feel anything and it’s not just me shutting things out. I get this vast sense of just how far I am from being properly human, properly alive and I need to feel alive, and real. And I need to feel… loved, but it makes me sick just how much I sometimes need that, so I compensate by letting people love me then pushing them away as hard as I can before I hurt them or… or they hurt me. And that’s just the way I am, nothing to do with the vamp thing, I don’t know how to be any other way.”

He flopped back on the bed staring up at the ceiling as if there were answers written there. “I went through a phase where I thought, for a little while, that I needed to be in charge. I’d spent so long on my back for guys that meant nothing to me. So all my lovers were sub kids, a lot younger than me usually, pretty and inexperienced so they wouldn’t give me grief and we’d look good if some twat from the Sun snapped us falling out of a nightclub together, totally wasted. And it worked for a bit, but I started to feel like, like I wasn’t really in control. And then I had this blazing row with a friend, someone whose point of view I actually respected. And he told me that I was turning into some kind of coke fuelled monster; that people were actually shit scared of me. So I ripped him off a strip and we didn’t talk for a long time, which I totally regret. And during that period I… I kind of backed up… I turned everything in my life upside down. I OD-ed on heroin. It was an accident!”

Rayne looked quickly at Xavier so that he would know that this was the truth. “I’ve never been suicidal. My mum topped herself, I know how it fucks up the people they leave behind. But I wasn’t right in the head and Kris, who owns our record label, he threw me straight in rehab after the hospital let me out. And I just… I don’t know how to explain it… I had this kind of weird epiphany while I was lying on the floor covered in my own puke and wishing I’d died.

“When they let me out I still wanted to get wasted but…” He stopped and held up his hand, turning it so that the scars he usually tried to hide under his long sleeves caught the light; a shimmering patchwork of slim, pale stripes and little round burn marks like a dysfunctional noughts and crosses competition had been fought out on the patchwork of his arms and hands. “I used to do this when I was a kid, to remind myself to feel again.”

He felt silent, his eyes wandering over the marks on his arm as if he could recall the origin of each and every one. When he did not say anything more, Xavier wondered if he had actually called a halt on the proceedings. He did not interrupt though or say anything stupid like he knew where he was coming from, although he did understand, probably better than most. He’d let Rayne tell it at his own pace if he wanted to.

He slid down next to Rayne and curled to his side, a solid, comforting warmth as Rayne silently examined the scars on his arms. Xavier knew exactly why he did it without him having to explain. He had never self-mutilated, but he’d found other ways to either let out the pain or escape the numbness it caused. He did not like to think about the things he had done.

He kissed Rayne’s temple softly, just to let him know he was still there, and maybe pull him up a bit from ghosts of the past. When he didn’t respond Xavier caught his hand and brought it to his lips, kissing his fingertips. “You still like pretty young subs that make you look good.” He winked at him.

“You’re not always my sub,” Rayne reminded him atonally, still examining his forearm thoughtfully. His head turned so that he could look into Xavier’s eyes now, his expression wary. “Do I… do you ever feel that I bullied you into doing things?” he asked tentatively.

Xavier propped his head on his arm, looking at Rayne with a small smile. “I look younger than I am, remember? I’m not one of those inexperienced kids. If you push me too hard on something I do push back.” His smile widened a little at Rayne’s expression. “You can get a little high handed sometimes, but I don’t let you bully me. If I felt like that I wouldn’t be here right now.”

Rayne half turned, lying on his side, one hand propped beneath his chin as he studied his mate; so smart and so beautiful. He wanted more than anything just to kiss Xavier and make him forget about all of this. And therein was the danger.

He knew that he could do it. One kiss, and a little bit of psychological pressure and Xavier would do what he wanted. Unless the bites Rayne had given him put him beyond that, and he really did not want to try it out. Jabez could wipe a person’s memory faster than they could breathe and he did so without any hesitation, without morals almost.

That set him apart from his rebellious Fledgling, already.

“You’re not some wet-behind the ears kid, Xav. I know you can stand up for yourself, that’s why I’m here, lying beside you. But I… I know that I forced people to make difficult decisions sometimes in the past. And I worry that I’ve done the same thing to you, given you no real choices. Everything I’ve done since I came out of rehab, I’ve questioned somehow. And the more I ask myself questions, the less I like the answers.”

Xavier looked thoughtful for a moment before he spoke again. “Rayne, I don’t know what things you’re questioning, but…you haven’t pushed me into anything. I wanted to be here with you. I still want to be here with you. Even if I get frustrated and blow off some steam, it doesn’t mean I’m calling it quits, ok? If you mean you’re questioning other things…well, if you want to tell me about it I’ll tell you what I think.” He held up a hand. “I’m just offering to listen, I’m not pumping you for information… just so you know.”

Rayne curled around him, pulling him close and just enjoying the warmth of his body, even if his lover was being doubly careful with him since their brief, fierce slanging match. That in itself was wrong. He could remember being fourteen years old, wary of every word that he said around Brian, careful not to upset his uncle too much because that upset his mum and it all came back down on his head sooner or later.

“You’ve seen inside me a bit,” he ventured tentatively. “You know that I… there are places… places in my past that I still can’t go. After I lost my memory those places were locked away from me. But when I went to Manchester something opened a door in my head and I saw something that I wasn’t ready to see. And I think that my ex possibly manipulated that a little bit. Not in a malicious way, but to get what he wanted. And the thing that freaked me out about it was that I never saw him doing it. I think I felt a little bit out of step with him sometimes but I never realised what it was that he was doing to me.

“And the thing is…” Rayne held up his hand again and Xavier realised for the first time that it wasn’t the scars he was looking at but the dark, platinum and diamond band that had appeared on his finger before they came up here. It glistened in the soft light from the bedside lamp. “I really was starting to believe that I was in love with him. And now I wonder. I actually wonder if I even knew what love was.”

Xavier kissed his cheek very softly and slowly stroked his fingers through his silken hair, holding him gently. “I can’t say if you did, or didn’t Ray… but I do know that just because you love someone doesn’t make them automatically perfect. Maybe he wasn’t the best for you, but he couldn’t have been all bad or you wouldn’t have felt like you did, right?”

He was thinking back now to the ghosts of his own past relationships, especially Josh. If ever there had been someone totally wrong for him Josh had been it. He’d lied to him, cheated on him, hooked him on smack, hit him and sold him for drug money…and Xav had been hopelessly in love with him. It might have been a sick and wrong kind of love, but it didn’t make it less real.

“I hate feeling manipulated,” Rayne responded, a hard little edge creeping into his words now. “Perhaps it’s just my conditioning but I feel cheated somehow, like he was subtly making me into something that I wasn’t, to suit himself and I just fell for it because I needed it. I needed what he gave me back, that sense of being in control. I needed somebody to be strong for me. There,” he said, looking down at Xavier grimly. “Now you know something I’d never admit to anyone. Sometimes I just… I just want to be looked after. Kevan brought out the child in me. I stopped being a child when I was about ten, when my mum and dad split up. And I never admitted it, but it was hard for me.”

Xavier looked at him solemnly, his big blue eyes blinking once, slowly.

“That’s… that’s just unspeakable. My image of you is totally blown. I can’t believe you’d ever actually need someone to look after you sometimes.” He saw dark storm clouds gathering in Rayne’s eyes and quickly cut off and wrapped his arms around him and pulled him close before he could move away. “Babe…everyone wants to feel looked after sometimes, `There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s no crime. Life dumped a lot of shit on you, if you weren’t as strong as you are you wouldn’t have survived at all. It doesn’t mean you’re not strong either, just because you let someone help carry the load once in a while.”

He cuddled up close, wrapping his warmth around Rayne like a blanket. That felt so good that for a little while neither of them much wanted to speak or do anything but snuggle up to one another. Xavier could gradually feel Rayne beginning to relax and calm down again. After a short time he went on.

“Kevan manipulating you and you letting him, whether either one of you realised you were doing it… that’s not exactly healthy but it’s not so unusual either. Why do you think he was playing mind games though? What was he making you do?”

“Ummm…” Rayne said uncertainly. The little light flickered behind his eyes; the one that flashed whenever he was trying to decide how best to avoid answering a difficult question. “It’s kind of… sensitive.”

Xavier held his wary gaze, looking at him patiently. He wasn’t angry or upset that Rayne didn’t want to tell him, but he couldn’t help being curious. What could he think was so bad? As Xavier looked at him he realised something else, if he’d had more blood in him Rayne would be blushing. So far the things he’d tried to hide from Xav had been because he thought they made him bad, or weak, this he was actually embarrassed about.

A little frown appeared between Xavier’s eyes. What had this guy made Rayne do that he was so ashamed of? He was struggling between wanting to know and being afraid to push Rayne on it. He had felt sorry for the man when he heard how he died, but now he wasn’t so sure.

“What did he make you do?” he asked again and then bit his lip as if trying to bite back the words that were already out. He couldn’t help it; couldn’t stop the rise of indignant anger on his lover’s behalf as he started to imagine all kinds of perverted things Rayne might have been forced into.

Rayne shook his head. “You’ll laugh at me. And I don’t think I can stand that, just now. It’s so stupid that… I don’t even know how I let him talk me into it in the first place, Xavier. I must have been out of my mind. And we did kinkier things, it’s just…” He managed a half laugh and hugged Xav to show that he didn’t mind him being curious but he wasn’t sure how to answer the question. “This really got to me, for some reason.”

The crease in Xavier’s brow smoothed a bit but he still looked perplexed and a little anxious.

“I wouldn’t laugh at you. I don’t care what it is, I wouldn’t laugh,” he said. “You don’t have to tell me if it’s that hard, but…now I’m worried I might hit a nerve accidentally, if I don’t know… since it bothered you so much.”

“You can be very manipulative when it suits you, Mizz Gavrilov? Did anyone ever tell you that?” Rayne’s nose settled against the tip of Xavier’s and he ran his hands slowly up and down his lover’s torso, relaxing slightly now that he sensed Xav wasn’t going to lose it with him again. It bugged him a little bit still that he felt that way, but not so much as it once might have. “You won’t be happy until I have no secrets, will you?”

“I prefer to think I’m focused rather than manipulative,” he replied. “For example, I’m not easily led away from things in a conversation, like you keep trying to do.” He winked at him.

“I dunno why I put up with you really,” Rayne lied, kissing his way along Xavier’s jawbone to the lobe of his ear and sucking lightly on it as his fingers wormed under the younger man’s shirt. “You’re nothing but trouble, and you’re always digging for something. Honestly!”

A slow smile curled Xavier’s lips as Rayne’s hands started to drift and he breathed kisses across his skin. He relaxed and enjoyed the sweetness for a few moments, letting Rayne be lulled by his passive acceptance. When Rayne’s lips found his own for a more heated kiss Xavier sunk into it with a soft moan and pushed on his shoulders gently until he lay back and Xavier slid a leg over to straddle him.

Still plying him with warm kisses Xavier slid his hands over Rayne’s arms, bringing them up above his head, and then grinned down at him. They both knew there was no way Xav could really pin him but his grin said he wasn’t serious anyway.

“Now, tell me all your secrets or I vill be forced to torture you!” he demanded in a very comical German accent. When Rayne just arched a brow at him Xav attacked, diving in to tickle him until he got him to laugh.

Rayne laughed huskily, and the curl of his lips exposed the extension of his tidy little fangs but the glint in his eye was more mischievous than malicious. He pushed against Xavier’s hands but not hard enough to dislodge his lover. Instead his hips rose and fell restlessly between Xav’s thighs.

“I’ll never surrender. You can do what you want to me!” he flashed back in a slightly hysterical falsetto. “Please!” he added, with a cheeky wink.

Xav dissolved into laughter and curled forward to claim his lips in a hungry kiss while he pushed Rayne’s shirt off his shoulders and down his arms. “Resistance is futile… I vill have to ravish you now!” He giggled while he tugged at the rest of his clothes.

“Oh God! Not that! I can resist anything but that!” Rayne wriggled out of his shirt sleeves and his hands got to work helping Xavier to peel down as their mouths did silent battle save for the occasional low moan of appreciation.

How they had gone from a tender intimate intensely gratifying afternoon, to screaming at each other, to rolling around like a couple of playful naked otters was beyond Xavier. All he knew was that he was infinitely grateful that that his short burst of hot temper had not cause any lasting damage.

It did not take them long to get naked, although it took a little longer for Xav to cover Rayne with kisses and let his clever tongue tease them both into a state or eager readiness. He spread Rayne’s legs and settled between, sliding down to treat his lover to a long, slow, wet, mind melting blow job.

When he had reduced Rayne to a writhing, panting, puddle of need he pulled off of him and moved back up, smiling seductively down at him as he kissed him soundly. He rolled his hips, rubbing his dripping cock against Rayne’s hard shaft.

“Are you ready to tell me all your secrets now, beautiful?” he murmured, a soft chuckle humming in the back of his throat.

Rayne leaned back beneath him, writhing up against him playfully, his hands still eternally restless, roaming up and down Xavier’s delicious body. He loved to fuck but even he was amazed how incessant they had been together since he came back from Manchester.

“Mmmmhhhhh…” he sighed, pretending to think about it. “You’re getting me there. Making me so hot!”

Xavier was kissing and nuzzling along his throat and he nipped him there just a little harder than he usually would have. He was fiercely turned on by their bit of playing too and flashed him a grin. “I just love a challenge! I will wear you down, sweetheart…” he promised, and without warning flipped Rayne over.

Instead of pouncing on him though he smoothed his hands up Rayne’s sleek back and let them glide up and down for a while, his thumbs occasionally kneading small circles into tight muscles. He leaned down to pepper his shoulders with little kisses when he reached for the lube, and a wicked little smile curled the corners of his mouth as he pulled out the toy in the drawer as well. Quite an impressive sized vibrator!

“Jesus!” Rayne whispered, a little squeak in the end of his voice and he tried to wriggle around for a better look. “I know Her Ladyship likes ’em hung but that’s… that’s enough to make even my eyes water!”

He was incredibly hard now, his body still tingling pleasurably from the rough frottage of Xavier’s nude body on his own. The look of daring in his lover’s big blue eyes was almost enough to make him drool, and not just from his mouth.

 

Xavier looked at him with half closed sexy eyes and lifted the dildo to his lips, flicking and circling his tongue around the bulbous end while he eased two lubricated fingers between Rayne’s checks and into his tight little hole.

“You can still save yourself if you want to missy.” He grinned and winked at Rayne.

“Cheeky pup! I could wipe the floor with you if I wanted to, just remember that,” Rayne blew him a kiss. “Besides, I got something much tastier down here for you to lick on.”

He waggled his stiffening dick teasingly and wriggled back against the feel of Xavier’s slippery fingers inside him. A little gasping sigh escaped his parted lips.

“Mmmm… not ready to talk yet I see,” Xavier said, still grinning at him as he smoothly pumped his fingers inside Rayne. “Never fear, I will make you spill your secrets yet!” He chuckled wickedly as he stroked and rotated his fingertips over the small, smooth, hot spot inside his lover. Kissing and licking and nibbling along Rayne’s back, he worked more lube into him and stretched him open. Now he squeezed some more lube into his other hand and stroked the slippery stuff over Rayne’s already wet cock head, working him from both sides in a steadily climbing rhythm. He wanted him nice and hot for this!

When he felt the time was ripe he picked up the vibrator again and pressed the smooth rubbery end to Rayne’s slick opening. His other hand kept jacking his cock slowly as his firm steady pressure pushed the phallus into his rectum.

“Uuuuhhhh! Son of a Bitch!” Rayne yelped as he felt it stretch him hard and slumped into the rumpled bedclothes, huffing like an exhausted dog. The stretch and burn was painful, but in a good way. Sometimes he almost understood what it was that Matty enjoyed about pain. Sometimes! “You… huhhuhhuh… you won’t break me… huhhuh… break me so easily, Gavrilov!”

His fingers clenched in the crisp material and he whined urgently.

Xav paused only to add a little more of the lubricating gel onto the dildo before he worked a few more inches into Rayne. His own cock stood up against his belly flagpole straight and weeping with anticipation. He was so fucking turned on it was making him a little dizzy and he stroked a hand up and down his dick while he got even more of the toy inside Rayne.

He pulled back a little and pushed more, fucking him with it slowly until he’d gotten him to take it all. He was beside Rayne now and scooting up on his knees toward his shoulder, fingers twining gently in his hair and pulling his face around into his lap while he twisted the end of the vibe to turn it on.

Rayne was keening long and low in his throat as he writhed against the duvet, making hungry little animal noises as he was filled up but offering no resistance to the vigorous penetration. When Xavier pulled on his hair he turned his face willingly towards his lover and curled around him, sinking onto his side as he kissed and licked the underside of Xavier’s cock, easing his wriggling tongue slowly up and down the heat of that delicious shaft.

He made a noise like metal under pressure, a low, straining, whining sound that vibrated through his tongue stud and quivered in the Xavier’s throbbing flesh. Xav’s fingers tightened slightly in Rayne’s hair as his lips quivered over his excited shaft.

“Ohhh… suck me sweetheart,” he breathed and pulled in a shuddering breath as Rayne’s lips parted around his head. He rewarded him immediately by pumping the long humming vibrator vigorously in and out of his chute.

Rayne’s slender body quivered like a plucked string. He undulated slowly around Xavier’s knees and swallowed him deep without a second’s hesitation, full, wet lips drawing sweetly on his sex. Long lashes fanned his alabaster cheeks and when they flickered back they framed a gaze that was pure emerald, the wide, dark pupils bleeding into the lush, organic green of his irises.

Xavier flexed his hips, bucking slowly between Rayne’s lips, his own gaze slightly luminous as he stared into his lover’s eyes. His breath came a bit faster as Rayne nodded down on him.

“Uuuhhh uhhh… oh god, babe…that’s so-o-o good,” he whispered tumultuously.

After a few minutes he was getting close and he didn’t want to come this way. He tugged back on Rayne’s hair, pulling him off his cock with a wet pop, then nudged Rayne’s shoulder, pushing him onto his back with the vibe still buried deep and climbed up on him. Angling his lover’s cock upward slightly he sat down on him so quick it stole his breath.

“Jeee-sus!” Rayne exhaled at the sharp tug of Xavier’s tight ring sliding down over him. It pulled on the slick flesh of his erection in ways that brought tears to his eyes, Undead or not, and his head sank back against the softness of the quilt beneath him as he veiled that shimmering stare behind near translucent lids. Urgently he bucked and writhed between his lover’s thighs, adjusting to the heat and the snug grip of his passage, coupled with the incessant hum of the dildo buried deep in his overstimulated body.

Xav began to move, circling his hips slowly at first, only coming up the slightest bit before grinding into Rayne’s groin. His bottom lip was caught between his teeth as his thighs flexed tight on Rayne’s sides and he picked up the pace, riding him harder.

“Aahhh-hahh… sweet Christ!” Rayne sucked in a shuddering breath and his hands gripped Xavier’s slender legs almost painfully tight as he quivered inside the younger man, his loins on fire. The vigorous pulsing deep in his colon was driving him crazy with lust but whenever he tried to buck his legs turned to jelly. “Jesus! It’s been years since… ahhh… since I felt this… ohhhhh… ohh god… this turned on!”

Xav smiled at him, his lean body undulating over him in rippling waves that took them both higher and higher. He leaned in and kissed Rayne long and hard, assailing him with another layer of sensation before his lips moved on to kiss and suck at his ear lobe and the side of his throat. His lips pressed into Rayne’s skin, muffling his little moans and words of encouragement.

“Mmm… you taste so goo-mmuah… love the way you fee-uuahh… gonna make me come… I lo-muah you, so much…”

Rayne’s fingertips skated smoothly to the curve of Xavier’s hip and traced a line inward to the base of his swollen cock. He curled his long cool fingers around the shaft and tugged on the soft, flexible covering of skin, gently milking his lover. Laying the underside of Xavier’s erection against his undulating belly he stroked his hand up and down the upper-side so that it was rolled back and forth across his bared stomach leaving a fine trail of pearly stickiness there.

For once he was beyond words, just reduced to a low, frantic chorus of sexually charged mewing sounds as the unremitting pulse in his colon stirred the rising explosion in his balls, edging him higher and higher until he could not hold it any more.

“UuuuhhhhhAOOOWWWWW!” he yowled, his hips arcing upward, pushing deep into the lush, wet suction of Xavier’s passage. “Y-Y-Y-Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmhhhhh!”

Xavier had been holding on to the precipice by his fingernails and the moment Rayne went over he tumbled after him. His whole body shuddered as Rayne slammed into him, the kind of white hot orgasm that flashed red behind his closed eyelids and made him lose every bit of control until the spasms of pleasure coursing through him finally started to subside. Then they both lay limply in a panting, sweaty tangle of limbs.

Xavier finally moved only because he needed to turn off and gently extract the vibe from Rayne’s twitching colon. His lover barely stirred and Xavier took the opportunity pull him into his embrace, holding him close and whispering kisses over his damp skin while his hands stroked him soothingly. When Rayne opened his eyes again Xav kissed the tip of his nose.

“Tell me your secret now, or I’ll do it again!” He winked at him to let him know he was only half-teasing.

“Uhhh… I can’t even remember my own name after that!” Rayne groaned huskily.

He did, however, remember that he was hungry and now that Xavier seemed to be recovering from his own injuries it seemed less imprudent to allow himself a little nip. His lips were soft and chill on the younger man’s blood-suffused skin as he let his fangs extend and just punctured Xav’s neck very lightly. The taste that filled his mouth was pure heaven and he kissed his lover harder, just beneath his earlobe as he sucked on the small, double bite wound.

Xavier’s eyes slid closed and his breath caught in his throat. He melted under Rayne as a sweet lassitude spread through him, like the pleasant buzz after fabulous sex only magnified times ten. It felt like it had been ages since Rayne had taken any blood from him.

“Aaa-hhhuh…” The little mewl of pleasure that came from him was almost sexual except he just spent himself utterly in that regard.

In spite of his hunger Rayne held back. One small bite and once it healed, he told himself strictly, no more. Even so, he lingered over the sweet sharp buzz of Xavier’s blood, licking gently at the marks until they were all but gone. He could still taste his mate, warm and delicious on his tongue but he already felt stronger for feeding. Now he curled around Xavier, still lapping at his skin and kissing him gratefully.

“You are so good to me,” he whispered huskily. “It feels so good being this close to you, gorgeous. There is no-one else. Do you believe me when I say that? I might fuck people but I don’t need anyone the way that I need you. Is that enough?”

Xavier gave him a soft, sweet kiss, his eyes half closed and sleepy looking. He practically radiated with contented bliss and he nodded rather than trust himself to speak right then. It would do for now, but he was determined that he was still going to get to the bottom of this mystery with the dress.

He would have liked to just stay there in bed with Rayne wrapped around him and drift off to sleep, but two things eventually made him get up. Rayne wasn’t the only one that was hungry, and he needed to go apologise to Dominic.

He went to the bathroom first and washed up a little before sliding into a comfortable pair of track pants and a tee shirt. Rayne hadn’t moved yet and lay in the centre of the bed with the duvet pulled up around him, although his eyes shone in the darkened room, a contented look on his face as well. Xav bent to kiss him again, stroking his fingers over the curve of his jaw for a moment.

“I’m gonna go get something to eat. I won’t be long,” he promised and kissed him lightly again before slipping out the door and making his tentative way back down the stairs.

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