Darkness had swallowed the extensive gardens beyond their bedroom window. Downstairs it had gone quiet and a little push outward through his shields told Rayne that Lord Warren was in that same quiet, contented, post-prandial state as Xavier. He relayed that to his lover, snuggled up comfortably in his arms. Rayne’s impulses were singing though. He felt that he could run on the adrenaline of their union for days.

Their hosts were absent from the kitchen when they finally tiptoed down there, but dinner had not yet been put away and was still keeping warm in the enormous oven. Rayne moved to get the plates and cutlery out then blinked briefly, a gesture that Xav was quickly coming to recognise as a sign that he was struggling to recall something at the edge of his still hazy memories. He hesitated only for a second or two though, then opened the correct cupboard and retrieved a couple of dishes and some silverware from the drawer for Xavier.

Xavier sank gratefully into a chair and inhaled the food as it was dished up in front of him. Later, he would not remember much of dinner, other than it tasted delicious and he had practically floated through the mechanics of putting away the meal. Rayne hovered over him like a broody hen while he ate, watching him shovel it away with an expression of mild incredulity and as soon as he was finished he shepherded him back upstairs and into bed. Xav did not mind, accepting the concern with an indulgent good humour.

Almost as soon as his head touched the pillow Xavier fell into an exhausted sleep. He had forgotten all about taking a painkiller before bed, but even so he slept like a stone, deep and dreamless, for a change. It was a little spooky actually, usually even in his sleep he was aware on some level of Rayne beside him, or felt it when he got up, even if he didn’t actually wake himself. This was more like going a long way under water, completely shutting down. He supposed he had never realised how lightly he’d trained himself to sleep before.

Xav had no idea what time it was when he finally woke but they had not closed the long curtains so he could see that it was bright daylight outside and Rayne wasn’t in the room with him. He got up, stretching and yawning, and headed to the bathroom. His reflection caught his attention and he stopped cold in front of the mirror before moving slowly closer for a better look.

Yesterday he’d awoken to find that his bruises were starting to fade ever so slightly around the edges, as if they were about a week old instead of only a couple of days. This morning the bruise on his cheek, which had been a lovely shade of aubergine the day before, was now merely a sickly greenish yellow, as were all but the deepest bruises decorating his torso, and even those were definitely fainter.

Moving away from the mirror he went to piss and noticed that his stream was a clear yellow, no longer tinged a muddy red. He went back to the sink and washed his hands and face, looking again in the mirror in disbelief. It was just bizarre. It should have taken a couple of weeks at least before he was so far healed. It was impossible that the bruises had faded this much overnight!

He was definitely spooked now. Having a boyfriend that was a vampire and witnessing first-hand various paranormal occurrences in the presence of Dominic, Xav had begun to accept that there were things that went on that most people never even realised and never would acknowledge as real. It had been disturbingly easy for him to accept that there actually were such things as vampires and that magic was tangible, if somewhat fickle. He had no choice but to accept them as genuine when they were right there in front of his face. So much so that he’d pretty much taken on board without question the fact thatwerewolves existed, on Matt Greening’s say so alone.

This, however, was different. This was his own body doing something he knewwas impossible. It hit him all at once then. He shouldn’t have been able to get up off the street and crawl home, even with Clint’s help. He’d taken beatings before but this one had been so vicious it should, by rights, have killed him. At the very least he ought to still be in the hospital, not standing in front of a mirror looking like it had been weeks and not mere days since his attackers kicked seven shades of shit out of him.

He could chalk it up to Gabriel’s intervention last night, and maybe the Healer’s touch had a good deal to do with it, but that wasn’t the whole picture. The healing process had begun pretty much right away, as soon as he was left for dead in that gutter. Which meant it was something he was doing to himself, something he could never have done before. The idea that he was somehowchanged had him pretty freaked out.

Rayne chose that moment to nudge the door open as it was already slightly ajar and Xav practically spun around, his expression bewildered and fearful, his blue eyes wide.

“Look at this!” he said, smoothing his hand over his cheek and across his abdomen. His tone said he wasn’t sure if he should laugh or be afraid. “Look at how much these are faded. This is like…” He shook his head uncertainly, not wanting to say the word; magic. Even if that was what this felt like.

Rayne moved towards him, looking gorgeous in a snug fitting, open necked grey top and tight black pants. His fierce green eyes moved up and down Xavier’s body, taking in the extent of his healing. Then he cupped his lover’s face in both hands and kissed him almost savagely on the mouth, something that he would not even have considered a mere twenty four hours previously, for fear of hurting his lover.

“Amazing,” he exhaled as their lips parted wetly. Xavier was not sure if he meant the healing, the kiss, or both. “You’re evolving into a superior life-form. We need to run this one past her ladyship, I reckon.”

Xav just looked at him with that same bewildered half-afraid expression, Rayne’s comment having done nothing to calm him down.

“Maybe it’s just what Gabe did to me,” he said hopefully, although even to his own ears it sounded like he was in denial. Rayne must have thought so too because he said nothing, looking at him with the same cool almost speculative expression. Xavier couldn’t stand still under his gaze any longer and pulled away in search of something to wear, the wave of barely repressed panic following after him like a clingy wraith.

Rayne crossed his arms and leaned casually in the doorway as he watched Xavier dump half the contents of his bag onto the floor and sort haphazardly through his belongings with far more vigour and ease of movement than he’d shown in the last couple of days. He wondered if the younger man even noticed.

“Take it easy, sweetheart. It’s nothing to get yourself worked up over. There are definite benefits to being stronger and healing faster, yeah?”

Xavier looked up at him, his eyes still wide and worried. He didn’t know how to reply to that though and he finally just shook his head.

“I suppose so,” he murmured, pulling on a pair of comfortably faded jeans and a tee shirt so tight it moulded itself to his body like a second skin. It was a less formal outfit than he’d worn yesterday but even in such casual garb he managed to look mouthwatering. “What time is it?” he asked, guessing it must have been close to noon by the amount of light outside. “Is Dom up?”

“Dorothy’s been up since before the sun was!” Rayne chortled. “Insane, if you ask me!”

Xavier slid back into Rayne’s arms again and he returned his kiss properly now that he’d had a few moments to let the sudden grip of panic subside. It felt reassuring somehow, even though he still wasn’t entirely satisfied by any of the explanations for his sudden rapid regeneration.

“You look yummy today,” he said, nuzzling Rayne’s ear briefly.

“So do you, but you looked better before you got dressed.” Rayne turned his head so that his lips brushed against Xavier’s wantonly. In a confidential tone he murmured; “You know… I reckon breakfast was eaten ages ago. And it’s overrated really…”

Xav chuckled softly, kissing a slow line down the side of Rayne’s throat, not at all opposed to getting undressed again if that’s what he wanted. “Well, we could stay here and eat each other instead…” he suggested, his hands gliding down Rayne’s back and over the curve of his ass.

“Mmmm… don’t tempt me like that,” Rayne growled low in his throat. He had missed the pleasures of their rough, urgent matings whilst Xav was laid up. Long fingers curled around the firmness of Xavier’s cheeks in turn and he pulled his mate close enough that he could rub the whole length of his body against Xav whilst kissing him all the way down to his tonsils.

They had been wrapped around one another that way for a few minutes when Gabriel, leaning unobserved in the bedroom doorway cleared his throat quietly. Rayne jumped like he had been shot.

“Jesus Christ! Don’t fuckin’ creep up on me like that!” the vampire barked at him, looking mortally embarrassed though it was more at being taken by surprise than anything else. He hated the way that the tall, lanky were could just seem to ‘appear’ without him being aware of it at all. Only vampires and ghosts should be able to move like that!

Xavier was surprised too, although not for precisely the same reason as Rayne. He’d never seen anyone able to sneak up on his vampire lover before, although given how spiky Rayne was around the werewolf Xav wisely did not point this out now. Rayne had pulled away so quickly that he had accidentally caught Xavier’s bottom lip with one razor sharp fang and Xav licked the tiny nick while his mate fumed at Gabriel, so irate that he was even able to overlook the scent of blood.

Once again the tall, handsome werewolf seemed completely unphased by Rayne’s rebuke, in fact he didn’t even acknowledge it, other than to grin at his vampire guest for a moment before turning his attention to Xavier.

“You look much better.”

“Um, yeah,” Xav said, rubbing a hand almost self consciously over his cheek. “It’s a lot better, actually. Whatever you did really worked.”

“I didn’t do much,” Gabriel said in such a way that it gave the impression he wasn’t just being modest. He looked back at Rayne then. “Dominic wants to know if you’re coming out anytime soon or if you’re keeping Xavier locked in this room except for meals?”

“Yeah, I was kind of considering that,” Rayne said airily. He winked at Xav though.

“Only, there’s sausages and all sorts of stuff on the griddle down in the kitchen,” Gabriel added persuasively.

Despite having eaten a fairly large meal right before going to bed Xavier felt his stomach tighten at the mention of food and suddenly he was starving. Not wanting to appear like he was taking Gabriel’s side, he chose a more neutral way to derail the discussion.

“We wanted to talk to Dominic anyway,” said Xavier.

He kissed the corner of Rayne’s mouth and Rayne, somewhat reluctantly, followed him out the door. He fired a back off look at Gabriel on the way out though.

The handsome Were just grinned at him infuriatingly.

In the bright light of day, and with his head considerably clearer than it had been the night before, Xavier took more note of the large comfortable kitchen they entered. It was bigger than most bedsit apartments Xavier had lived in, and fitted out in pale wood and chrome. The worktops were a dark, grey granite polished to a lovely shine and the floors were terracotta brick, with rush mats to protect bare feet from the cold.Two picture windows let in the sunlight from the orangery beyond the glass panelled double door. Before them, a huge wooden table inhabited the dining kitchen space, with easily enough room to seat ten or thirteen people though only six chairs were currently set out.

It was empty at the moment but the smell of food filled up the room, a lovely rich, compelling scent made up of chops and sausages, fried onions and mushrooms, fresh baked bread and good, strong coffee.

The pang of hunger Xav had felt when Gabriel mentioned food tripled as the aroma hit him and his mouth filled with saliva. He usually had a good appetite but now he was positively ravenous, like he hadn’t eaten for days. The unexpected hunger didn’t worry him though, he was used to feeling hungry. Fortunately Gabriel didn’t stand on ceremony and sat him down with a plate stacked with enough food for three people. Xav wasted no time digging in, enjoying the rich fare with obvious relish, and a lot of happy moans and finger licking.

Whilst watching Xavier eat was almost a sensual experience in itself, Rayne was usually indifferent to his eating habits. More often than not he was impatiently waiting for him to finish, but he watched Xav now with that same speculative expression he’d had on his face when Xav had showed him how much he had healed in one night.

When a vampire was injured their body automatically diverted a large portion of energy toward healing. If the injury was bad enough, that energy diversion cost the vampire in strength and blood, they got weaker and hungrier until they could feed. Apparently Xav needed to refuel as well to renew the energy expended on healing so quickly.

Watching him eat made Rayne feel hungry but it also left him feeling more than a little bit queasy. His stomach for actual food had never been strong but he ate so infrequently of late that he could not even recall the last time. He pushed himself to his feet now and kissed Xav just above his temple before murmuring something about going out to have a smoke.

He slipped out through the sliding glass doors into the orangery, a long, single storey glass structure that abutted the back of the house and was filled with fragrant hothouse plants and assorted greenery under a low, transparent roof that spilled in light and warmth. There was a path that curved through the plants and led away to his left and right. On the right another door let out into the garden. Along the way Ray saw Dominic with his feet tucked up under him on a comfortable sofa, reading.

Dominic glanced up at him as he passed and murmured; “Want some company?”

He waved his lighter and Rayne nodded wearily.

In the kitchen, Gabriel ladled up third helpings and watched approvingly as Xavier tucked it away.

“You got an appetite on you, I’ll say that,” he remarked cheerfully, sitting down to help his newest guest out, even though he and Dom had already eaten a hearty breakfast and had elevenses. “Not like most vamp bait. Wasted, sorry little things they are, the most of ’em.”

Xavier lifted his eyes and smiled with ill concealed perturbation at Gabriel. “Don’t call me that. I’m not ‘vamp bait’. And don’t call me a ‘feeder’ either, like I’m a fuckin’ happy meal or something.” He popped another bite in his mouth and chewed.

“Okay, if it rubs on a nerve, I won’t do,” Gabriel said pacifically, snaring a plump ham and turkey sausage and taking a large, appreciative bite. “Buttechnologically it’s true. You feed ‘im, and not just on blood, so you wanna keep your strength up.”

Xav’s eyes narrowed a bit but he didn’t argue the point further. “What do you mean, not just on blood?” Xav asked instead, setting down his fork after having finally hit bottom on packing away his breakfast.

“You know what I mean,” Gabriel replied darkly. “You can feel it, even if you tell yourself it’s all right. They pull on your life force cos they ‘aven’t got none to call their own. Maybe they don’t mean to, but they can’t ‘elp it, see. You’re like… a great big glowing ball of energy to them. They can’t stop themselves pulling a little bit into them everytime they touch you. Makes ’em feel better. More alive.”

He stopped talking because the look on Xavier’s face was… somewhere between fearful and angry denial.

When Xav spoke though his tone was cool and unruffled. “You know, you sound an awful lot like someone trying to talk someone else out of a relationship they don’t approve of.”

“If you made a choice, you made a choice,” Gabe Arden responded with a shrug. “Do I approve of it? No, but I don’t have no right to tell you not to do it. That’s not my job. I just looks after folks. You feel better this mornin’, right?”

“Yeah, I do.” Xavier admitted. “That’s what I wanted to talk to Dom about actually. It should have taken a couple weeks before I was this far healed. I wanted to know if… if it was just what you did. Rayne doesn’t think so.”

Gabriel shook his head slowly, his expression thoughtful.

“Way I sees it, your body wanted to help me. Sometimes, a body fights the energies that want to heal it. Yours just lapped ’em up and asked for more. You’re young and fit, that would be part of it, but even so, some of those bruises should have hung around for weeks. You’re already losing ’em,” he said with a little smile of admiration. “If I could heal another body’s injuries that well I’d be pleased with myself.”

Xav fell quiet as he thought about that. He wasn’t as freaked out as he’d been a little while ago, but he wasn’t okay with this idea either. Yeah, it would be nice not to have to suffer through a few weeks of recovery but he couldn’t help wondering what other things might change in him.

In an abrupt shift he looked up at Gabe again. “Why don’t you like Rayne?”

One of Gabriel’s dark eyebrows twitched upward at that but otherwise his expression stayed neutral. In a quiet voice he answered; “I don’t dislike him, Xavier. I dislike what he is. The Mulo aren’t like us, no matter how much they might try to be. I think he’s dangerous to have around.”

Xav propped his elbow on the table and put his chin in his hand, giving Gabriel a steady look. “And having a werewolf around is perfectly safe, right?”

“Totally!” Gabriel didn’t miss a beat. “Better’n a guard dog any day. We don’t shed, we pick up after us selves and we do the washing up as well if you tickle our bellies nice enough.

“Oh… and we ain’t walkin’ dead, neither,” he added almost as an afterthought.

“Uh-huh, and you ain’t human either,” Xav countered, his tone still mild.

“I’m mortal an’ I’m warm-blooded an’ more than half-human,” Gabe said defensively.

Perversely Xav felt amused that he’d managed to ruffle the other man a bit. “Are you stronger than a vampire?”

“I can take any fuckin’ Mulo that wants to mix it with me. Wylde included!” His smile flashed a lot of strong, ivory teeth. It was a feral expression though; part display, part warning.

Xav flashed him a smile right back, a much sweeter smile, and completely unrepentant. “Mm, if that’s true, that makes you dangerous to have around too,” he said quietly.

“If you wanna believe it, angel,” Gabriel assured him with a wink. “True, I’m not a pussy cat. But I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

From the doorway into the kitchen Rayne cleared his throat making them both jump. “You make any more moves like that on my boyfriend and I will rip your throat out.”

Xav looked over his shoulder at Rayne and smiled. Ordinarily excessive displays of propriety annoyed him but for some reason the possessiveness coming from Rayne just made him feel like melting into a puddle. His expression when he looked at Rayne could have set tinder alight it was so hot. He figured he had better try and smooth things over though before they got out of hand.


“It’s okay babe, I was just asking his opinion on things.”

“Yeah? Well if you want an opinion I’d ask anyone else before you ask the family dog.” Rayne looked ice-daggers at Gabriel.

Gabe Arden met his glare and held it, unruffled by the little vampire’s hostility. He turned at last and winked at Xavier. “See? He knows I’ve got ‘im over a log.”

“In your fuckin’ dreams, wolf boy!” Rayne snorted derisively.

“You asked him how he got those pretty scars on his chest yet?” Gabe asked Xavier amiably, ignoring the death-glare he was getting from the doorway.

“I know where he got them,” Xavier said, sobering at once and not liking the direction of the conversation at all.

Where he got them, but do you know how? Or should I say, from what?” Gabriel prodded him with a knowing expression on his handsome face.

Xav’s lips parted as he took a small breath to answer, and then he closed his mouth and frowned. Gabriel looked far too smug, and as Xav thought about it he realised he didn’t actually know how Rayne had gotten the scars on his chest.

He knew he had come back with them from Paris, knew he’d gone to a BDSM club, and knew he’d been staked, but they had not discussed the particulars of what had happened to him in that club before things had gone so horribly wrong. He knew where and when, but not how Rayne had come by those scars.

A memory surfaced now of being down on the beach with Rayne, when those scars were newer and considerably more visible and they’d just made love and Rayne had bitten him and got a rush of his memory back…and after Xav had asked him if he remembered how he’d got the scars, who had done it. Rayne had told him, in an odd tone, that the person that had put them there had been a real animal.

Xavier hadn’t thought anything more of it at the time, mostly because he’d been so pissed off that someone had hurt Rayne like that, even if he had asked for it. He’d thought it was just a euphemism. Now he suddenly saw those scars in a new light, something he’d seen all along but hadn’t really figured out. They ran parallel down his ribcage, like claws had raked him from behind.

Xav put it together now, but it was a little late because it was easy enough for Gabe to see that Xav hadn’t known until just that moment that some type of large Were had put those scars on his lover’s chest. Xav’s lips pressed together and he looked down, angry now but not really clear about what or who was making him so enraged.

“Ohhh, you had to push that didn’t you?” Rayne’s eyes narrowed viciously and he turned on his heel and stalked out, back into the garden room, shoving past Dominic who had been following him into the house.

“What in the world was all that about?” Lord Warren asked, looking at Rayne’s retreating back with a frown.

Xavier ran an irritated hand through his tousled curls and stood, although for a moment he wasn’t sure which direction he wanted to go, and then he headed toward where Rayne had just stalked out.

Dominic touched his shoulder supportively but did not try to pull him back.

“What did you do?” he demanded of Gabriel though.

Xavier left them to argue about it. Rayne could move fast when he was in a foul temper and his lover was quickly learning not to let him stew over things for too long. The vampire had not gone far in any case. Lord Warren had a little patio out on the terrace beyond the sunroom. It was private and quiet there, ringed with stepped flower beds and paved in small white pebbles with a large five-pointed star picked out in darker stones against the white. Rayne was sitting on the stone rim of one of the beds, glaring out into space morosely.

Xav slowed as he approached, uncertainty gripping him. The flash of anger he’d felt had already faded, it wasn’t like Xav had ever brought up or asked about what had happened to Rayne in Paris since the one brief conversation they’d had at Aldo’s. In truth he supposed he hadn’t wanted to know all the details. So he could hardly blame Rayne now for having yet another thing he hadn’t been told about sprung on him. He slipped down lightly next to Rayne on the stone seat like a leaf that had floated down from overhead, and put his arm around him.

“You know, I never heard you tell anyone I was your boyfriend before,” he teased lightly.

Rayne’s head turned and pale eyes surveyed him mutely for a little while. Some of the anger in him subsided at Xavier’s touch however. It was as if they balanced one another out. He could rouse Xavier to fiery turbulence and Xav was able to soothe even his most violent moods. Not even Simon, who had known Rayne better than anyone, could do that for him.

“It’s not like we’re written in stone or anything, is it?” Rayne shrugged a little but he smiled awkwardly. “I guess I’m still getting used to the feeling of it. But you’ve been hanging around like a rash for a few months now so…”

The vampire ducked as Xav swatted at him.

“Geez, first big and furry in there says I’m not much more than a blood McNugget and now I’m a skin infection. I feel so loved.”

Rayne bristled again and Xav kissed him quick before he could get off on a tangent. “You shouldn’t let him get under your skin, babe. I know a bigot when I hear one.”

Rayne looked a little surprised at that harsh appraisal and Xav shrugged. “He might be a nice guy, I suppose he’d have to be if Dom keeps him around, but he really don’t like vampires.” He turned his head slightly as he looked at Rayne. “He thinks you’re dangerous, and maybe you are sometimes, but I’ve known a lot of evil people and you’re not evil. You’ve treated me better than a lot of human beings have, so I don’t think you should be judged just cos you’re a vampire.”

Rayne managed a small, rather sad smile. “You’re in a fairly tiny minority there, sweetheart.”

He reached out to stroke his cool fingertips gently down the blond boy’s cheek then tilted his head to kiss Xav almost gratefully. As their lips parted he whispered; “Even Dom wants you to be able to protect yourself from me, and he’s the biggest vampire junkie I know.”

Xavier had to wonder how much friction that caused between Dom and his lover, seeing as how Gabriel was pretty open about how he felt towards vampires. That was not his business though.

“An’ how does he think I’m gonna do that?” Xav asked, although he seemed much more interested at the moment in Rayne’s tempting mouth, dragging the very tip of his tongue slowly across the soft fullness of his lover’s bottom lip.

“You’re better off asking him that question,” Rayne murmured, enjoying the way that Xavier’s nose touched against his as their tongues sparred loosely in one another’s mouths. “He’s the sexpert.”

“What does that have to do with it?” Xav asked, still brushing his lips lightly back and forth over Rayne’s.

Rayne took a deep breath. There were several ways of answering that question but the easiest most understandable way was also the most direct. “He wants to use sex magic to fix what’s wrong with your shielding.”

Xav pulled back a bit and looked at Rayne as if he wasn’t sure if he believed him or not.


“It’s a tantric thing… He’s been fiddling about for years with using sex to raise spell energy.” The vampire grinned at his lover’s baffled expression.

Xav frowned while he rolled that around for a moment. He started to get pissed that Dom went and talked to Rayne about it before he’d talked to him, but he let it go because Dom was just being practical.

“So…uh, who’s gonna be…involved?”

“Don’t worry, he’s not roping in the whole of his Coven to do this. It’s something that he and Gabe play around with. I don’t think his High Priestess is terribly keen on the idea from what he tells me,” he laughed softly. “I’ve only met Geraldine once but she seems quite straight laced. Not how you’d picture a witch priestess at all! No, I reckon it’ll just be me and you ultimately, though he and Gabriel are going to have to show us the ropes, I’d imagine.”

For the first time, Rayne actually looked less than happy and Xavier thought he could imagine the reason why. It was tall and furry and it didn’t like vampires much. Xav was quiet for a moment.

“Isn’t there some other way to do this?” he asked. Not that he minded so much, as long as Rayne was with him, but he could tell his lover wasn’t happy and that made him nervous too.

“Yeah, there’s other ways to raise energy, but…”


“They take time and training to be effective. You’ve gotta practice, and it could take a while before you’re good enough to raise enough energy to make the spell work.”

Xav chewed on that for a second. “So why is this any different?”

Rayne quirked a grin at him. “Dom’s already seen and felt the energy we’ve raised with sex. He thinks you’re a natural for it.”

Xav snorted and laughed. “All right, whatever. If this will work I’d rather try now than wait. When are we gonna do this?”

“I’m not gonna rush you, sweetheart,” Rayne murmured, kissing his nose. “As soon as you feel well enough we can start to talk about it. Dominic’s got a few days up here before he has to go back to London and I don’t want you taking on anything you’re not ready for.”

For the moment, all he really wanted was to take Xavier back to bed and make love to him for the rest of the day. It was procrastination, he knew, but surely another day wouldn’t make much difference. His fingers wandered lazily through Xavier’s pale golden curls as their lips met once more in a slow dance.

Xav was more than happy to let go of serious thoughts for a while and sink into the embers Rayne was stirring up. He slipped his arms around his lover’s waist and returned Rayne’s slow warm kiss with a fierce passion hot enough to burn the place down around them. He had no idea where the sudden intensity came from but all at once he wanted his horny mate naked and writhing with him, likenow!

Rayne was certainly not unwilling to accommodate him. Within moments he was on his back in the flower bed, sprawled under Xavier on a scented lawn of thyme and camomile as fondling hands slid into clothing and quickly began to peel it off.

Shirts and pants were scattered wherever they happened to fall. Xavier’s hungry mouth barely left Rayne’s until he reached a point of aroused confusion because he didn’t know what he wanted more, to be inside Rayne or to have his lover filling him up. His rampant cock finally made the decision for him and he hooked his arms under Rayne’s knees, lifting them up as his wet cock head nudged between his cheeks. His tongue licked a wet path down Rayne’s neck and chest all the way to one taut nipple and he sucked it into his mouth sharply as he pushed up with his hips, breaching Rayne’s tight entrance. He moaned appreciatively as his teeth scraped over the sensitive bud in his mouth.

Rayne was certainly not making any effort to resist him. Intriguingly, since returning to London, the vampire had been rather more prone to delicious submission when they were locked around one another. Xavier knew he loved to top and he was good at it, but without warning he could switch and he never failed to give of himself completely once he chose to yield.

Strong fingers clawed down Xav’s naked back as he pulled on Rayne’s ultra sensitive nipples and thrust deep and hard inside him. A long, low, shuddering growl escaped the vampire’s throat as he braced his heels in the hollow of his lover’s spine, writhing under him like a hooked eel, pulling Xavier into him fiercely.

The scent of their naked, horny bodies and the lush fragrance of the herbs that ground against their skin as they fucked, rose like some elemental incense around them. Rayne yelped with pleasure as he felt Xav stroke urgently into his core, nudging his buttons with every thrust.

Xavier was losing himself quickly, dropping into the pleasure of his lover’s restless body. The feel of Rayne’s snug channel around his throbbing prick, strong, slim fingers clutching his shoulders, and heels digging into his back to urge him on, all sent a firestorm whirling through him. He braced his hands just under Rayne’s knees, pushing his legs up higher and bending him almost double as he spread his own thighs a little wider and drove down into him with each pump of his lean hips.

He absolutely adored having a lover that was just as flexible as he was. They moved so well together, each complementing the other’s rhythm stroke for stroke and thrust for thrust. Even with nothing more than just their naked bodies wrapped around each other Xavier often reached levels of pleasure he could only get to via the stimulus of bondage, or other means, with previous lovers.

He hissed in a breath through his teeth now as the scent of the herbs and their own heat perfumed the air around them, nipping and sucking and teasing at Rayne’s nipples as his hips pounded out a fast paced tempo. Rayne’s slender arms snaked up around his neck and towed him closer until their lips clashed and merged in a hungry, groaning kiss that would have melted raw iron. Xav pulsed faster and Rayne whined desperately for him, so aroused that his shaft was constantly wet with a slick of cum that pooled slowly in the hollows of his groin and on his heaving belly.

“Ohhh jesus! Harder!” Rayne keened in an urgent tone. “Fuck me hard. Please Xav, don’t stop!”

Xav gave him exactly what he asked for, bucking into him fierce and fast while one hand reached down to wrap around his cock and stroke him in time with their rhythm. His breath was moist and hot where he kissed the curve of Rayne’s neck.

“Fuck! You feel so fuckin good!” he panted. His thumb rubbed in the slippery spill leaking from Rayne’s velvety glans and he pressed small circles on the sensitive underside as he alternated his strokes.

Rayne threw his head back, his breath coming fast and hard as Xavier rubbed him inside and out. The tendrils of ecstatic electricity were snaking wildly through his body in time with the vigorous stimulus that his stunning mate was inflicting. Little panting, whining sounds trickled from his throat as he arced violently under his lover. Steadily the noises rose to a sequence of full-throated cries as he felt the hot surge of supreme pleasure rising in his throbbing balls.

“OhhhOhhhOhhhhhjesus! Fucking… y-y-y-yyeeeessssss!” he keened on a sharp, whistling note as a fierce jet of cum erupted from his straining cockhead, bathing Xavier’s belly in a slick of wet silk.

Xav held on, riding out the pulsing waves of his ecstatic lover’s orgasm until he’d milked every last drop from Rayne’s twitching balls. Only then did he let go the thin thread holding him back and felt the starburst come over him like a supernova.

“Oh, babe…oh, fff-f-fuck yeah!” His arms wrapped around Rayne tightly and he bucked a few more fierce thrusts as deep as he could go, splashing his insides with his hot climax. He collapsed on top of him, chest heaving and heart pounding even as his limbs went weak with spent pleasure.

As Rayne’s arms curled up around him, pulling him close for an intensely grateful kiss, a husky, richly accented voice chuckled; “Bugger me! Dom didn’ warn me there’d be live porn!”

They both sat up a little too quickly. Gabriel was sitting on one of the window ledges in the orangery looking down on their nest in the shrubbery. The handsome Roma had a perfect view from up there. When he knelt up to get a better look at the outrage on Rayne’s face, the tent in his jeans suggested that he had certainly been enjoying the free show. Xavier figured that Matty had not been wrong about Gabriel’s manhood. Judging by that bulge Dominic’s boyfriend was incredibly well-hung. In fact, his tight jeans barely constrained him, the head of that big cock was threatening to force its way out over his waistband.

“Fuck you!” the vampire hissed, visibly uncomfortable under Gabriel’s hungry stare.

“In your dreams, dead boy!” the Were laughed mockingly.

In the normal scheme of things, Xavier wasn’t particularly fussed about being caught with his pants down, literally or metaphorically. That was one more thing he and Rayne had in common, they both liked the little thrill of risk from fucking in public places. However, it was so quiet and private out here that he hadn’t thought anyone would poke their nose in on them and Rayne’s automatically defensive response to Gabriel telegraphed through him like he was a lightening rod for his lover’s mood.

Even so, Xav gave off a perfectly cool vibe while Gabriel taunted and Rayne bristled. He was used to people watching him, he took his clothes off for a living after all, so he was not actually embarrassed to be caught naked and fucking. Although if he’d had the choice he wouldn’t have wanted to be spied on in quite so intimate a moment with Rayne. One dark blond brow arched as he looked up at Gabriel casually.

“Well Dom didn’t warn us about peeping toms, or in this case voyeuristic werewolves! Hope you enjoyed yourself,” he said dryly as he handed Rayne his jeans.

“Ve-ery nice,” Gabriel said, lazily stroking his hard-on through his pants as he watched the two young men down below. “You’re gonna have to learn a bit of self-control for the rite, though. Raisin’ energy’s about more than just a quick hard bang. Pleasin’ as that is.”

“What the fuck are you on about?” Rayne asked irritably, wriggling himself rapidly into his tight black trousers and buttoning the fly. “I thought having sex was the whole point of the thing.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right,” Gabe acknowledged, grinning at them. “But you work up a lot more energy if you can keep it rollin’, if you know what I mean.” He winked at Xavier, who was still wearing little more than a sheen of sweat and his lover’s spunk.

Xav’s ire was starting to be piqued but he held Gabriel’s gaze steadily. He was getting tired of the way the Were took every opportunity to try and yank Rayne’s chain, and he hadn’t asked for a critique!

“My control is just fine when I want it to be,” Xav said, picking up his own jeans and sliding smoothly into them.

Gabriel’s gaze slid towards Rayne who bristled again.

“What?” the little vampire demanded, his tone growing sharper. “WHAT?”

“Nothin’,” Gabe said innocently, and ducked back inside before Rayne could get even more annoyed.

“Is he implying that I can’t turn the taps off, or something?” Rayne fumed irritably.

“Maybe,” Xavier said, no longer sounding so unruffled himself. “Or maybe that we have no control when it comes to each other.” His lips twitched after a moment though when he looked at Rayne. “Guess that’s just the truth though,” he admitted as his eyes caressed over Rayne’s half clad body and he kissed him again.

A shadow drifted over them and Rayne looked up with an awkward half smile as Dominic appeared at the top of the steps leading down into their sheltered arbour. The older man had his hands on his slim hips. His expression tried for stern but failed absolutely and an answering smile pulled at his lips as he surveyed them.

“Mizz Wylde, I’ll thank you not to fuck your cherubic consort in my herb beds, if you please. There are plenty of places for you to find a little privacy without destroying my plants!” he intoned.

“Sorry,” Rayne said, managing to sound not a bit contrite. “We smell fabulous though.”

“Good enough to eat, I’m sure,” Lord Warren concurred with a nod of his head. His eyes roamed over Xavier speculatively. “You’re quite an accomplished Top my dear. I’m pleasantly surprised.”

There were very few things that could actually make Xav blush anymore but for some reason Dominic’s comment put spots of colour in his cheeks. He cleared his throat softly.

“Um, sorry about the plants,” he offered, sounding considerably more sincere than Rayne had managed to be.


They wandered back up to the house and Xav realised that between breakfast, Gabriel and Rayne he hadn’t even said good morning to his host yet. He grinned sheepishly as they drew level with Dominic but before he could say anything the older man took his chin between his fingers and tipped his head slightly. Examining the light olive coloured bruise on his cheekbone he remarked on the same thing that Xav had noticed this morning.

“That looks much better.”

“I feel much better,” Xav said. “I’m healing fast,” he added unnecessarily, a hint of bewilderment in his voice.

“Hmmm, so I see,” Dominic Warren examined him close enough to almost bring more colour to the younger man’s face. His interest was so plainly unsexual however that he recovered more quickly this time.

“It’s weird, isn’t it? I mean, how could I be healing this quickly?” asked Xavier, the underlying anxiety plain to hear, despite how cool he was trying to sound.

“My own experience with vampire bites was similar.” Dominic reassured him. “Without the blood that Cameron shared with me I would not be here today. It extends beyond healing though. Between Gabriel and Jabez Everman I have a health regime that most women would kill for.”

It was true. Xavier wasn’t sure of Lord Warren’s exact age but he was over sixty and he had the smooth unlined skin and firm toned body of a man less than two thirds of his age. There was brightness in his eyes that gave him even more of a youthful spark. If that was down to vampire bites… well!

“Does he need magic then?” Rayne had shrugged into his shirt on the way back up to the house although it was still open and fluttering loosely around his slim frame as they walked slowly up the steps together. “Are my bites enough?”

“If you bite him again this moon he will be as you are,” Lord Warren reminded him. “Vampire marks fade, just as ordinary wounds do. It takes a little longer but their power wanes like a phone left uncharged. With magic he can recharge if he is alone, or if you cannot bite him. Call it a fall-back position, if you like.”

“I thought this…whatever this thing is we’re doing…was just to keep me from picking up on what everyone around me is feeling,” said Xavier. He managed to keep his voice even but his tension level was on the rise again. He did not want to be different. It was a little sad that someone so young could be so jaded already but Xavier couldn’t help being wary. In his experience everything good had a price, and he had to wonder what being a little better than just human was going to cost him.

“That is mostly what the spell is for,” Dominic said. “However, while the rite I have in mind will help you with this problem there is still much more you could learn, before other problems come up.”

Xav didn’t say anything and Dominic added gently; “There is no reason to be afraid, Xavier.”

“I’m not afraid,” he denied automatically.

“But you are sceptical, wary even,” Lord Warren leaned back in the doorway of the glass-roofed winter garden surveying him with a serious smile. “Xavier, I will not force you to do this. If you don’t want it, then I will not make you do it. But I do think that it is a good idea to know how to protect yourself. One day, maybe, you will get homesick and want to go back to Frisco. But wherever you go, you are marked now, and other vampires will know that. It will draw them to you, precious boy. A strong shield is an invaluable weapon. And knowing how to raise the energy to create such a weapon is knowledge that will stand you in good stead.”

Xavier opened his mouth to say something but the older man held up a finger for silence.

“Darling, I chose this method purely because you are comfortable with your sexuality. I know for a fact that you raise remarkable levels of energy when you are sexually charged. If I could teach you how to use those energies to protect yourself and I did nothing then I would feel that somehow I had failed you.”

He lowered his hands and looked Xavier squarely in the eye. “I do not like to fail.”

There was a tense moment of silence and then Xavier chuckled.

“Yeah, and you’re not real thrilled when you don’t get your way either,” he said with a little grin for Dominic. “I guess I’ll have to trust you on this, won’t I?”

Their host flashed a radiant smile at him. “I’m glad you trust me. I practise a faith based on love and trust. But if at any point you want to stop then you only have to say the word.”

“You’re the ultimate dirty old man, do you know that?” Rayne laughed at his friend. “That’s the tag-line to every underhanded seduction in history.”

Dominic looked offended. “Darling, that’s a terrible thing to say! When have I ever put you under pressure?”

“All the fucking time!” Rayne teased him. “Every time I come here you devise a new plan to get into my pants and chalk it up to ‘protection’ you desperate vampire junky!”

“You’re not helping, Raymonde,” the older man advised him solemnly. “I’m trying to explain a very serious matter here and you’re just taking the rip, child. Keep this up and I will have to seriously think about putting you over my knee.”

The smile twitched his oh-so solemn face briefly out of line as he said the last part though. Rayne cackled wickedly at him.

“In your fucking dreams! What’s the game plan, Professor Dumbledick?”

Dom ignored the nickname and shook his head with a little sigh. “Let’s see how much of a smart-arse you are when I really put you under pressure shall we? Do you know how much energy you waste through ejaculation?”

He licked his finger and stroked it down Xavier’s bared belly, tonguing the sticky residue off the tip with a little smile.

Xavier watched him with amusement, privately thinking Rayne wasn’t really that far off the mark calling Dominic a dirty old man, but not in a predatory way. Dom liked to flirt and he liked to tease but for all the time they’d spent together Xav had not once landed in Dominic’s bed. Of course, Xavier’s hands had been rather full while they were in Italy.

“That’s kinda the point, Dom,” Xavier said, trying not to snicker. “If I didn’t wanna come I wouldn’t be fucking in the bushes!” he said baldly.

“You miss my point entirely, darling. If you don’t spill when you come, then the energy doubles back, that’s the theory behind the tantra. Have you ever managed to come without ejaculating? I don’t mean just holding back until you can’t hold back any more.” Lord Warren smiled at the look of slowly dawning comprehension on his young guest’s face.

“I dunno…maybe once.” Xavier said, shifting awkwardly. He wasn’t uncomfortable discussing sex exactly but the time he was remembering had involved heavy bondage in a basement dungeon while being fucked front and back over a padded spanking bench. He’d been warned not to come but he’d got too close to stop it and at the last second he’d sort of squeezed down on everything inside and he’d felt the orgasm but didn’t shoot.

“Do you think you could do it again?” Dominic’s expression was tempered with concern.

He had seen perhaps a little flicker of something dark in Xavier’s face when he told the boy what he wanted of him. Rayne felt it more intensely. He moved against Xavier at once, sliding his arms around his mate protectively.

“You don’t have to,” he whispered with his lips touching Xav’s ear.

Xav turned his head and gave Rayne a reassuring look, feeling steadier just from the simple touch of his hand on his back. He brushed a sweet kiss across his lips and then looked at Dominic.

“I think I can do that again, maybe,” he said softly and looked once more at Rayne, a hard to read expression on his face, almost shy but with a definite hint of excitement too. “If you tell me not to come… when I’m close, then I won’t.”

“That’s not exactly what I mean,” Dominic said in a careful voice. “I want you to come, I just don’t want you to shoot. It can feel quite exquisite, once you get used to the technique.”

“That’s almost impossible,” Rayne countered defiantly. “Not without a cock wand, or something in.”

This was getting vaguely embarrassing and Xavier could feel the colour staining his cheeks again as his cock stirred.

“No, I get what you meant Dom, and yeah, it’s hard but it can be done,” he said quietly to Rayne. He had to consciously tell himself not to squirm because this conversation was getting him kind of hot. “When…when I did it that once before, I was with someone that told me not to come, but I was right on edge and I couldn’t stop…so I just…I dunno, pulled it inside. It’s hard to explain. I came but didn’t shoot, like you said. I don’t know if I could do it any other way, without someone else, um, you know, being dominant,” Xav finished awkwardly.

“There are no rules that say you have to do it on your own,” Dominic told him with a knowing wink. “If you need to be topped then… that can be arranged. I always find that it works best for me that way.”

He pushed himself up from the doorway and turned gracefully to go back inside. Rayne was staring at his back, eyes quite wide.

“Jesus. H. Christ.” He intoned the words very slowly and precisely. “Did he just say what I thought he said? He wants us to fuck but not…” The vampire made a vaguely explosive gesture with both hands, then shook his head warily.

“Uh-huh,” Xav answered. He bumped Rayne’s hip with his own lightly. “We could go practice,” he teased, kissing Rayne’s cheek.

“Practice makes perfect!” Dominic’s voice sang out from somewhere deep within the covered garden walkway, hidden by the foliage of his tender exotics.

Rayne shrugged graciously. “I guess there’s no harm in that.” His expression grew more mischievous. “You wanna practise in bed or… umm… out in the open?”

He cast a glance back outside where the late summer sunlight was shimmering on the extensive greenery of the Warren Place estate. There was an awful lot of ‘out in the open’ to practise in. Xavier followed Rayne’s gaze as if actually noticing there was an outside for the first time.

“Let’s go for a walk,” he suggested.

It was still warm out but it was late in the season, that in between time where summer was really over but fall hadn’t yet got a good grip. You never knew when a nice day might turn nasty. After making a short run back upstairs for Xav to get something a little heavier to wear over his tee shirt they headed out.

Beyond the private patio there were walled gardens with pristine lawns and trimmed archways of hedges and scented roses. A greenhouse ran the whole length of one wall, packed with all kinds of flora in various states of growth. Through an arch in the high wall a gravel path ran down into proper woodland, the golden light dappled by high, rustling leaves overhead. The house was invisible from here; they might have been in the midst of the wilderness. Even the traffic noise, what little there was, was inaudible over the creak of branches and the shiver of summer foliage.

To Xavier this much private land was almost inconceivable. He was definitely a city boy, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t enjoying himself. It was good to stretch his legs a bit, breath fresh air. Yesterday he wouldn’t have believed it was possible for him to take a long hike through the woods but he was in virtually no pain now. It was a nice companionable walk, neither of them feeling the need to fill the space with idle chatter and the quiet between them was comfortable.

Rayne’s fingers curled through Xavier’s as they walked and from time to time he slowed and turned his head, touching his lips to his lover’s mouth, seeking a kiss. As little as twelve months ago he would never have dreamt that something as simple as this would bring him so much pleasure. After a while he stepped off the path, leading Xavier deeper into the woodland, where the lush grasses tugged at their legs. A few minutes’ walk found them surrounded by tall poplars and shady chestnut trees, on the edge of a shallow valley, cut by a wandering stream.

He turned now, pushing his mate back gently against the broad trunk of a horse chestnut and kissing him more passionately, overwhelmed by the intimacy of such an expansive setting and overcome by the tempting beauty of Xavier’s eager face and hot young body.

Xav twined his arms loosely around Rayne’s neck as they kissed, both the location and their earlier coupling putting him in a mellow easy mood. Rayne’s hand moved under his tee shirt, gliding over his warm skin and Xav swayed lightly with his touch, moving like one of the saplings bending in the breeze.

He smiled at Rayne as they broke off the kiss for a moment, foreheads touching and noses rubbing. He suddenly grinned; “We had to walk out to the middle of nowhere to get to do this without your ex or Dom’s pet wolf trying to horn in.”

Rayne’s eyes were as green as the sunlit leaves as he looked up playfully at his mate. His tongue flickered between Xavier’s lips as he whispered; “There must be easier ways to get some peace and quiet, huh? Maybe we should run away? Or just stay out here in the woods. We can hunt and make shelters and fuck all the time to keep warm.”

The hand beneath his tee shirt stroked slowly up and down Xavier’s torso, caressing the warm, sweat damp skin. Rayne’s fingers splayed over his belly and down over the front of his jeans, fondling him steadily as they sank into a deep, hungry kiss once more.

“Mmm…ok…yeah…sounds perfect,” Xav breathed between kisses, his sex rising under Rayne’s caressing hand. His own hand slid up into Rayne’s hair, his fingers sinking into the silky darkness while the other moved down to stroke slowly over his back and the firm curve of his ass while they tongue kissed.

Though he had said it in jest, right now the idea of just slipping quietly under the radar and disappearing with Xavier sounded like total perfection to Rayne. The events of the last year and a half had left him feeling jaded and drained in more than just body. Until this summer he had been seriously considering ways to end his life.

Xavier understood the darkness in his soul. Whether or not he guessed at the seriousness of Rayne’s intentions when he vanished in Paris that time, the younger man would, he sensed, have understood why he needed to do such a terrible thing. No one else in his life, not even Dominic, who had seen some dark places in his time, would even try to comprehend his reasons for seeking death at another’s hands.

Rayne buried his face in the curve of his lover’s neck and drew him so close that he almost felt that he could sink into Xavier and possess him completely. The silk of his hair was scented still with the sweet, herbal shampoo from their bath the night before and the smell of crushed herbs from their earlier, vigorous coupling. By rights Xav should be exhausted; too wrung out to even walk all the way out here, but he seemed as energised as Rayne by the change of scenery. A sudden realisation hit Rayne that from this moment on everything could change.

It was true. Everything could change. He only had to say the right words.

So why couldn’t he say them?

Xavier was pliant in Rayne’s arms but held him tight just the same, feeling a rush of… something, coming from his lover, despite Rayne trying to shield it. The sensation was sweet and painful and it brought a shimmer to Xavier’s eyes and a tightness in his throat as he buried his own face into the hollow of Rayne’s shoulder. They stood there like that for a long time, simply clinging to one another like lost children and neither knowing exactly why or where the fierce wave of emotion had come from.

At last, Rayne pulled away with a little sigh, but his fingers laced through Xavier’s again, tugging his lover along with him. He stumbled backward through the long, shimmering grasses and sank to the ground, towing Xav towards him with a sparkle of mischief in his eyes.

“You make me feel alive,” he said huskily, drawing his mate’s hands to his mouth and kissing the backs of them. “I don’t quite understand what it is that you do to me, but I feel more alive right now than I’ve felt for years. It’s like you’ve… you’ve given me back something that I’d lost. And I never even realised it wasn’t there until you gave it back to me. Am I making any sense?”

“No, but that’s okay.” Xav said, smiling down at Rayne. “If I make you happy, I’m glad.” He leaned in to kiss him, slow and sweet, tasting his lips as if savouring him for the first time.

He wasn’t sure what had brought on this sudden moment of tenderness in Rayne, but he didn’t want to waste it.

As they kissed softly Xavier could feel the tumult of Rayne’s emotions, both the sweet heart-swelling tenderness, and the shadow of fearful resistance, and he thought that if Rayne could not admit to those tender feelings out loud, if he could not bring himself to say those three little words, it was all right. Xavier did not need to hear them spoken when he heard it in the way he told him he was the most important person in his life, when he said he made him feel alive. Hefelt it when Rayne came home immediately because he’d been hurt, and every time they twined passionately around one another.

Rayne’s eyes shimmered with that sunlit woodland green as their lips parted and his smile had fangs as he looked up into Xavier’s heartbreakingly clear blue gaze. They were earth and sky brought together in that one short, sweet moment.

Then he whispered; “So, you wanna get dirty, yeah?”

Xavier dissolved into a fit of giggles and answered that fanged smile with a lecherous grin of his own.


He sat up astride Rayne’s hips and crossed his arms, grabbing the bottom edge of his shirt to peel it slowly off and toss it aside. Shoes and pants were quickly discarded by them both as well and they once again were writhing naked together in the late afternoon sunshine.

Slowly Rayne pulled Xavier down into his arms and snaked butterfly kisses all over his lean, beautiful body. The light here was so perfect, so clear and luminous that Xav’s golden skin almost glowed with energy. Even not quite fully healed he shimmered with it as if the power that dwelt within the Warren Place estate was rising up through him. That was the only explanation for it. Every time Rayne came here he felt the Goddess energies that Dominic spoke of resonating beneath his skin. Though he had never been religious, he came as close to conversion here as he had in his whole life. When he was by the sea he felt it call to him too, but had always believed that it was due to growing up on the shore.

It was the same here though; he felt the song of the earth when he was in this place, so far from the noise and grime of civilisation. He could think and feel when he was here. Was that why he was so sensitive to how Xavier made him feel too?

His lover’s skin was like warm silk under his hands and lips. Rayne pressed his face to the softness of Xavier’s belly, thinking how easy it would be to bite, to rip, to sink into his body and consume him utterly. At the same time he knew that he would not. He was hungry, a reality that had been pushed to the back of his mind by his concern over Xavier’s health, but he would not drain his lover. His own needs could wait.

Well, some of them!

Rayne’s studded tongue found the blood-swollen head of Xavier’s cock, where it nodded against his belly and he licked a slow, wet line down the curve of that delicious muscle, right to the base where his balls throbbed with pleasure.

Whereas Xav had pounced on Rayne earlier with a needy wild desire, now he was lazily relaxed, although no less aroused. He lay back in the tall grass, stretching his arms up over his head and letting his thighs fall loosely apart as he looked down the line of his body with a heated smile for Rayne, watching the way that his tongue laved over his cock. His glittering eyes half-closed and he bit his bottom lip lightly as his lover licked over the smooth skin of his sac, nudging and tugging at the orbs within. He brought one bare foot up to caress softly along Rayne’s side, thoroughly enjoying his attention.


“Mmm… Tasty boy,” Rayne purred, lips parting to wrap softly around one pulsing sphere, drawing it into his mouth so that it strained against it’s mooring to Xavier’s naked body.

He let it pop softly free and enclosed its partner, sucking on him tenderly as his hands caressed the sleek warmth of his lover’s languidly parted thighs. Rayne lifted off him and moved around so that he was curled head to tail with Xavier, taking the plump bulb of his cock head hungrily into his mouth again and running his tongue slowly over it, feeling it twitch and lurch between his lips.

Xav happily curled into the sixty-nine, humming his pleasure as he slid one arm between Rayne’s legs and swirled his tongue around his lover’s sex. He took him into his hot wet mouth and eagerly gulped him down. His hand caressed and kneaded Rayne’s perfect little ass while his lips slowly slipped up and down on him.

For a little while they moved in tandem, both nodding down and pulling up together, the mirrored movements sending sparks all through them. Then they switched to alternating, Xavier plunging down on Rayne’s thick shaft as the vampire drew back with suction hard enough to make Xavier’s eyes roll back. Xavier’s fingers tightened on Rayne’s beautiful ass and he pulled him in as he went down on him, his own hips rolling in tight little circles that pushed him into the delightfully wet mouth sucking him.

Rayne’s finger circled his entrance but did not delve deeper for the time being. He was content to apply firm but gentle suction to different sections of Xavier’s powerful shaft, occasionally causing the blonde to thrust eagerly into his mouth when the pleasure got too much for him. Rayne eased back then, taking a breath as Xavier’s lips or his caressing tongue did ingenious work on his own aching rod. He was edging up slowly and loving every moment of their mutual appreciation.

All the while the soft summer breeze and dappled sunlight played over their nude bodies as they writhed in the silken greenery like a pair of naughty dryads in some erotic depiction of medieval England. He wanted it to go on for eternity.

Xavier upped the ante first, pulling off of Rayne’s pulsing shaft and sliding his tongue down behind his balls and into the valley of his cheeks. His hand curled around Rayne’s cock and stroked slowly while his tongue circled and dipped into the musky flavour of his ass.

The slow ride up was tantalising and he was enjoying every moment but the lazy sensual way they’d begun was slowly evaporating under the heat building inside Xav. Rayne sensed it in him too and for the first time he hesitated, lifting his head to look back over the long, golden line of Xavier’s hip and his lean torso.

“Ummm… you’ve done this before?” he ventured, huskily. “How…? I mean… no one’s ever asked me not to before. I can stop, but…”

His pale face was mildly confused, as it had been back on the patio when Dominic first expounded on what he wanted them to do. The very idea of it seemed impossible to him.

Xavier kissed the top of Rayne’s thigh and gave a breathless little laugh. “I’m hardly an expert. I did it once, by accident, and I’m not even sure how,” he said, nuzzling softly at Rayne’s hip. He thought about it again as he slowly caressed Rayne’s legs and torso, letting them both cool down just a little. He knew what Rayne meant, he could usually stop the rise of an orgasm if he wanted to prolong what he was doing, they both could, but that wasn’t the same thing.

“You know what it feels like if you’re peeing and you stop before you’re done? If you tighten that muscle up right at the moment you start to cum, I think that’s what keeps you from shooting.”

“Shit! That’s me cooked then!” Rayne nibbled tenderly along Xavier’s thigh. “I’m hopeless when it comes to stopping. Once I get going… well, you get the picture! I always thought the whole point was to jizz. Why the fuck are all my friends total screwballs?”

Xav laughed again and kissed his way lightly up Rayne’s body. “Don’t worry about it, if you start thinking too much we’ll never get there anyway,” he said, grinning at the way Rayne looked so flummoxed.

He pushed his lover back gently and moved over him, straddling his hips and leaning down for a long slow kiss to take his mind off what they were trying to do. They would either get it or not but Xav wasn’t going to stress about it, not when he had much more pleasurable things to do!

Speaking of which… Xavier rolled his hips, grinding against Rayne’s erection and then smiled down at him, still moving and lightly rubbing their cocks together. “If you come all over the place it’s not like I’m gonna run back and tell Dom.”

“I should hope not!” Rayne laughed breathlessly loving the feel of Xavier’s body surging against him. “If you keep doing that, I’m gonna come like a fuckin’ waterfall!”

He pulled Xavier down into his arms and pressed his mouth to the younger man’s lips hungrily. For the second time in as many hours he was naked underneath his sexy mate. This was getting to be something of a habit but for the time being Rayne, at least, was not complaining.

Xavier certainly wasn’t either. As they kissed again it was like they started over, a slow build up of sensual pleasure in every kiss and touch and stroke. Xav would have been happy to let it just go on and on, but eventually he got to the point where the teasing was getting too much to take and he couldn’t wait any more.

They were locked in a tongue tangling kiss, Rayne’s long fingers cupping and caressing Xavier’s ass while they rubbed and leaked all over each other. Xavier curled his hips forward more, making Rayne’s cock run up along the cleft of his cheeks, a low needy sounding whine in his throat.

“Christ! I dunno if I can do this!” Rayne keened, rubbing full length along his body, wrapping himself around Xavier like his life (or unlife) depended on it. “It’s just… it’s natural to wanna let it go, yeah?”

He turned his head slowly, pressing his lips to the line of his lover’s collarbone as they contorted. Xav had one hand curved around the side of Rayne’s neck, his fingers splayed along the base of his skull and up into his hair as he nuzzled the other side of his throat.

“I don’t fuckin’ care what Dom wants us to do any more, I just want you to fuck me!” he panted.

Rayne really didn’t need the incentive but he rolled hard as Xavier’s words quivered across his skin, practically slamming his mate into the lush mattress of greenery beneath them. He felt Xav’s lean thighs part around him as he wriggled into position, the head of his needy cock butting urgently against the hot, yielding point of entry.

“The magic words,” he chuckled huskily, thrusting his hips forward with a little groan of delight.

“Uhh-hhhhhh!” Xav exhaled, his head tipping back and body arching with pleasure-pain as Rayne breached him. They had played for so long and he was so turned on he wasn’t sure how much longer he could go. One thing he was certain of though, it felt absolutely divine to finally have his lover inside him.

Xav snaked his arms around Rayne’s shoulders as he pushed a little deeper. Rayne leaned in and Xavier opened his eyes, their faces were very close, mouths open slightly, breathing each other in as Rayne sank deeper yet.

“Ohh yes-s-s-s-s! God, I want you so much…” he whimpered, their lips almost touching.

Rayne’s mouth took possession of his own as they became a creature of one purpose, the supreme cause of getting off! Every little lick of grass on bare skin; every whisper of warm, late summer air took them higher. Rayne pulled Xavier to him and thrust urgently against him, so glad that he could finally make love to his beautiful mate with the passion that he deserved. Though it had been less than a week of abstinence it felt like a lifetime when he cast his mind back to the way they had coupled when he first brought Xavier back to England.

For a little while he was able to forget his problems; Clint, Kevan, everything that had been troubling his mind recently. No one had ever been able to wipe him clean like that before. Xavier was a force of nature. Maybe even completely unnatural.

But then of course, so was Rayne Wylde.

“I dunno what you do to me,” he panted, as he drove himself hard between Xavier’s thighs. “But I’m glad you do it.”

Xavier made a breathless sound, moving with Rayne’s every hard stroke inside him. “I know what you do to me…” he gasped. “…and I love it!” He groaned again as Rayne plunged deep and hard. His warm hand caressed over the sleek muscles of his lover’s back, his legs hooked around the back of Rayne’s thighs, his body flexing and urging him on with every thrust.

His own hard cock rubbed against Rayne’s belly and he was nearly delirious with the climbing pleasure. He felt the tingling buzz tightening in his balls, the pressure growing down deep as Rayne’s cock head butted repeatedly against his gland. He knew he was gonna blow any second, and even in this passionate state of ecstasy he did think briefly on what they had started out trying to do. He squeezed down for a moment, his mind and body at odds with what it wanted to do before his body won out and he let go, his whole body clenching and writhing under Rayne as he burst.

“Ohhh… ohhh… oooohhhhhh!!” His husky cries rose an octave as he came uncontrollably, his crème jetting in several pearly ropes up his chest and belly.

Rayne was handling the steady pressure climbing in his balls although only a very small portion of his brain was actually trying to figure out how to accomplish their challenge. Xavier’s explosion threw all of that out the window and he practically fell into the seething grip of his lover’s pulsating colon, shooting a surge of pleasure into him that he would not have thought possible after their earlier coupling in the shrubbery.

“Ohhhhh….fuckinfuckinfuckinyeahhhhh!” he keened, his body shuddering furiously as he collapsed into Xavier’s trembling arms.

Xav lay panting, clinging to him in a sweat soaked boneless heap. When his galloping heart finally started to slow slightly and he regained most of his motor skills he opened his eyes and grinned.

“I’ve never been so relieved to fail.” He laughed softly, utterly happy, completely sated, and totally unconcerned they hadn’t been able to perform Dominic’s little trick, yet.

“It can’t be done,” Rayne huffed contentedly, licking his partner’s sweat-slick neck. “He’s winding us up. He just wants us to shag ourselves to a standstill trying. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was up a tree somewhere with a pair of high powered binoculars, watching!”

“Yeah, well…” Xavier lifted one arm with some effort, extending his middle finger and raising his voice a bit. “If anyone is watching…fuck off and leave us alone!” he laughed.

“I can’t quite get my head around this,” Rayne sighed happily. “Dom reckons we’re raising energy but it feels like it’s the other way around. If I wasn’t undead, I’d be totally fucked by now!”

He laughed wickedly.

Xav had dropped his arm to the side and lay sprawled under Rayne contentedly. He looked a little startled though when Rayne said this. It was still bizarre to him that yesterday he’d been hurting so bad he could hardly make it in the door after their trip and today he felt fine. Better than fine, he felt fantastic, like he had a total body buzz!

He shook his head slightly. “I don’t know what Dom’s talking about half the time, Ray. But, something is going on. Every time we fuck I feel better.” He finally grinned a little. “I mean, better than usual. Which isn’t a bad thing.”

He looked up at Rayne, who had pushed himself up on his arms and was looking down at him.

“What?” he asked, taking in Rayne’s suddenly blank expression. Rayne touched his face, his fingers tracing lightly over his cheek.

“That bruise has faded even more,” he answered. In fact it was almost gone.

Xav shook his head again, not really wanting to think too much about it. It still scared him to think about what was happening to him. “How weird is it to be able to fuck yourself better, huh?”

“If we could sell the formula we’d be rich!” Rayne chuckled, but there was a dark edge to his humour. He was clearly still thinking about this. “We’re making our own medicine,” he mused. “Our inbuilt elixir of life. I don’t want to even start believing that can be possible. It’s crazy, Xav. Weird enough that the bites can give you vampire-style healing powers, but they’re acting like a kind of amplifier. That’s something I don’t even think Lady Warren’s ever considered.”

Still gazing up at Rayne Xav’s expression turned serious for a moment too. “Yeah, Dom always makes it seem like everything is perfectly normal and expected, but I saw how close he looked at me earlier. He didn’t expect me to be healing that quickly, despite him saying how the bites he got did things to him too.”

“So if he’s right and we can create even more energy by somehow managing this impossible trick he’s decided we should try out…” Rayne shook his head at the potential and rolled off his lover, flopping down in the long grass and staring up thoughtfully into the verdant canopy overhead. “Sky’s the limit, innit?”

Xavier’s tension level rose and he sat up. “Listen, I just want to…to fix what’s wrong with me, okay? So I don’t feel like a schizo off his meds when I’m in a crowded room. I dunno if I want to mess around with a buncha metaphysical crap, Rayne.”

Huge green eyes blinked back up at him, clearly taken aback by this sudden outburst. Rayne recovered fast though. He shrugged his shoulders slightly, stroking a hand ever so gently up Xavier’s forearm in response.

“Then… we won’t. If that’s what you want,” he said levelly. “You heard what Dom said, he’s not going to make you do any of this and I’m certainly not. And we don’t have to be in crowds if you don’t want to.” He sat up slowly and reached out to cup his lover’s flushed and anxious face in one hand. Softly he touched his lips to Xavier’s quivering lips. “We don’t have to do anything, sweetheart. Okay?”

Xavier was still tense for a moment, as if he didn’t quite believe it was that simple, that Rayne wasn’t going to push him into anything. It took him a few seconds to accept it and then he turned his face into the curve of Rayne’s hand and let himself be soothed.

“I-I didn’t mean that I don’t want to try it at all…” he said, softer this time. “I just want to be careful.” He kissed the edge of Rayne’s palm, wondering if he knew how much it meant to him, how different it was for him, to be given the choice. Every other person he’d ever had a relationship with had pushed him in one way or another, either cajoling him or forcing him into situations he didn’t want. He almost didn’t know how to react when he was allowed to make up his own mind.

“We’ve got plenty of time,” Rayne reassured him quietly. He tilted his head to kiss Xavier’s lips more intimately. Somehow the setting demanded tenderness and he sensed that Xavier was anxious but could not quite reach what it was that made him feel that way. He understood not having a choice though. For so long it had been his own lot. If being with Kevan had taught him one thing it was that he was not so far removed after all from the fragile boy he had been when he was Xavier’s age. “You can think about it. If you wanna talk about anything… you know… you can do that as well.”

He stroked his fingers through the wayward blond curls on his lover’s head, loving the way the sunlight danced on them, picking out the gold. How many times had he believed that this time he’d maybe found the one? None of them made him feel the way he felt when he looked at Xavier; like he wanted to please the boy and protect him, to do whatever he needed to make him smile. The tremor in his breast was almost painful.

Rayne was scared, but he would not have admitted that to anyone. Now he understood; knew the reasons why he had run away to Paris. The pieces were slotting back into place and if he had not felt such a fiercely possessive flame in his breast he would have sunk into quiet despair at the realisation. He was a coward and he always would be.

Perhaps picking up on Rayne’s mood, despite his trying to shield him from it, Xavier leaned closer and caught his lips again in another tender kiss that was no less intense for it’s sweetness. Earlier Rayne had joked about just staying out here, but right then Xav wished more than anything that they really could. The quiet peace that settled over him whenever Rayne wrapped him in his arms was something new too and he didn’t want to give it up.

“Don’t be afraid, Rayne,” he murmured ever so softly along the shell of his ear.

“I’m all right,” Rayne lied grimly. “I’m just worried about you. I want you to be okay. Why do crowds freak you out, anyway?” he asked, to divert the subject away from his own inadequacies. “I’d have thought, given your previous employment… well…”

His words tailed off in the face of Xavier’s expression. His lover was not fooled at all by the diversion, but he went along with it because Rayne seemed to need a bit of breathing space.

“They never did before,” he answered. “But now if I go out and you’re not there it feels like I’m going crazy. Like everyone is screaming at me, only they’re just being normal and I’m the only one that can hear it. No, not just hear it…feel it. I’m doing fine and then all of a sudden I feel frustrated as I walk by the lady that just dumped her groceries while she’s trying to pick up her car keys, and then a couple seconds later I’m totally pissed off as I go by the couple arguing, and then I’m confused as I go by the guy that looks lost, and then horny as I go by the guy trying to chat up some girl… although admittedly that could just be me, ” he finished, shaking his head. “It’s exhausting, and it’s scary, not knowing if what I’m thinking and feeling are what’s in my own head or just there because I’m standing next to someone having a bad day.”

He fell quiet, sitting comfortably naked in the slowly fading afternoon sunshine. For the first time he really thought about this problem he was having with being so overly sensitive, and when exactly it had started. It was hard for him to pinpoint it because he’d been so hurt and despondent when Rayne left him and then he’d gotten angry but didn’t have any time to deal with that anger because Rayne had come back to him basically in pieces. His emotions had been on such a roller coaster anyway that it was hard to decipher what had been his and what he’d been soaking up from others.

When he really started tracking it down though he all of a sudden knew when it had happened, when something had changed in him. That moment he’d shot up in bed screaming because he’d felt like he’d just had his heart ripped out of his chest and he had known without any doubt at all that something horrible had just happened to Rayne. That was it.

His eyes came up to meet Rayne’s once more and he took a breath and then another as some pieces started falling into place. He licked his suddenly dry lips, not knowing if he could explain what he was thinking now or not. He was going to give it a shot though.

“You and Dom have both said you think I had, like, some kinda natural empathy, right? Before I even met you; and I can buy that because I’ve always been good at getting a line on people right from go, you know?” He paused for a second, gathering the rest of his thoughts. “So, when you marked me, that first time, it linked me up with you. I could just sort of feel you in my head… know if you were okay or whatever, and it made that empathy a little stronger.”

He paused again, chewing thoughtfully on his bottom lip. “When you left and went to Paris I kept trying to feel you… kept trying to feel that connection, and then something ripped into it and…” He had to stop for a second and took a deep breath before he could continue. “I couldn’t let go. I wouldn’t let go! I just grabbed onto that link that was hooking us together and held on no matter what.”


He stopped again and rubbed at one temple, getting frustrated because he didn’t know if he had the right words to try and explain. “You were always in my thoughts, but keeping that up, keeping that hold on the link…it was like throwing the door wide open, dropping all the shields and filters and everything just to hang on, and now I think maybe doing that, keeping that up for so long, got the damn door stuck open. Jesus, I sound as bad as Dominic!” He barked an uneasy laugh. “That’s what I think happened though. I got everything stuck wide open and can’t shut anything out cause I did more than I was really capable of doing.”

“You can close yourself off again,” Rayne told him quietly. He had been absorbing all of this in silence, never really taking his eyes off Xavier’s anxious face. It was easy here, he felt so still, so untroubled. And he knew that it was easier for Xav too, but at the airport he had felt the disturbance in his lover’s mind and though he was able to shut things out better than Xavier did, he still could not close the door on his lover’s emotions. If he did not get a handle on it, then he would pull them both down.

“When Dominic started to teach me how to lock down he said that I needed a place to run to. You need to build a safe place inside. It sounds a bit loopy, I know, but you build this place and you visualise it. It can be somewhere you’ve known, somewhere that you felt secure. You have to see it really strongly in your mind and you have to put yourself there and close all the windows and doors, if there are any, so it’s just you and the place and nothing else can get in. It isn’t easy to do. I practically went crazy just trying to get my head around it. But when you do, it works.”

He kissed Xavier’s forehead again, still running his hands all over his lover’s beautiful body, trying to share some of the stillness that being here brought him.

Xavier sighed and relaxed into Rayne’s gentle caresses. “So, if all I got to do is visualise this place, how come Dom says we need to do this ritual?”

“The ritual is to help you put power into it, to make it permanent, so you don’t have to actually stop and concentrate and build power every time you need to shield. You’ll just think of the place and all you’ll have to do is step into it.”

Xavier had a little frown on his face but he nodded solemnly.

As the sun started to sink a little lower the air began to get cooler and they decided they’d better get dressed and head back, although both were more than a shade reluctant to leave the sheltered little place where they’d spent their sensual afternoon.

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