1

Xavier stretched out lazily, the crisp, white sheets rustling around him as he yawned and opened his eyes. It was the crack of noon, according to the clock on the wall, and he could see another beautiful, sunny day out through the open balcony doors of Aldo di Bocaccio’s spacious Neapolitan villa. The sea breeze drifting in kept the room cool and made the gauzy curtains around the French windows billow like restless sails on a galleon. It was good to be here; quiet and serene, finally. During the last couple of weeks Xavier had mainly been relaxing and healing. The vampire-inflicted bruises on his lean body had all faded and he’d spent a lot of time just soaking up the Italian sunshine. Now he was all golden skin and blond curls once more, against the pristine white of the sheets. 

Rayne was already up and gone. His vampire lover didn’t seem to want a separate room like he had in San Francisco. Maybe it was just that he now knew Xavier wouldn’t freak waking up to a cool, apparently lifeless body lying next to him in bed. Rayne had been fairly protective of Xavier since their arrival. Not that he really needed to be here, but there was a subtle undercurrent from him of something almost territorial when they were in the company of others. 

For himself, Xavier didn’t mind. 

After everything that had gone down in San Francisco he sort of needed a break. He was more than happy to have only Rayne in his bed. Or on the floor… in the shower… on the beach… in the stairwell, or… Xavier grinned and slid a searching hand down the front of his body, wishing wholeheartedly that Rayne was still here to help him out. 

But Rayne still did whatever (or whoever) he wanted, and that was fine with Xav too. They had a good understanding of each other. Xavier stretched once more and pushed himself up from the bed. He walked out onto the balcony for a few minutes, closing his eyes and letting the sultry breeze blow around his naked body. Then he went back inside and headed toward the bathroom to wash and get dressed. 

The days had flown by since their arrival at Capodichino, jet-lagged and exhausted, in the small hours, to be met by a small cavalcade of vehicles. Squeezed into a convoy of 4x4s they were whistled away through the outskirts of Naples as the sun rose slowly over the mountains behind them. Xavier slept with his head on Rayne’s shoulder and missed the sight of the slowly smouldering Vesuvius as they passed around the foot of the notorious volcano en route to his friend Aldo’s spacious villa on the Neapolitan coast. 

He was not to be denied, however. The terraces of Aldo’s house had stunning views across the bay and the young American’s face was a picture when he’d stepped out onto that balcony for the first time, refreshed by several hours’ sleep, to find most of their party already chilling out, mainly nude, by the pool. Rayne had not missed the way his young mate’s eyes travelled over their handsome, well-muscled Italian host. Xavier had only seen Aldo briefly through the fog of sleep, wrapped in bulky clothes against the pre-dawn chill. 

Aldo Bocaccio was looking pretty hot for a guy in his forties. His trim, toned body was richly tanned, as ever. He had a sunburst tattoo on his upper left bicep and a nautical star on his abdomen, beneath his navel. Thick black hair was trimmed close to the nape of his neck but left longer and looser on top so that it tumbled into his smouldering mahogany eyes. The rest of his body was perfectly smooth. Aldo no longer used his stage name, di Boccato (a pun on the Italian word for Mouthful), although he still appeared in the occasional porn movie, usually at the behest of his old friend the movie director, Patrick McNamara. The teasing nickname still applied, mind you, even at rest Aldo’s long brown cock was a mouth-watering eight inches plus. Roused and ready for action it could stretch by at least a quarter of that length.

These days, of course, Aldo was better known in Italy as a racing driver. Along with the silver BMW X5, and an immaculate black Porsche Cayenne, he had a blood red 4.3 litre Ferrari F430 Spider parked on the driveway of his villa. The Spider had Rayne’s aristocratic English friend, Lord Dominic Warren, drooling with envy even before they set foot in the house. Dom was passionate about cars and practically had to be dragged away from the gleaming V8. Aldo soothed him with the promise of a spin in the beautiful convertible before they went home.

So it was that Xavier’s gaze was only torn away from the gorgeous Italian standing stark naked in front of him when Aldo moved to dive into the pool and left his view across the glistening, sunlit bay unobstructed. Xav’s baby blue eyes widened at the sight of the enormous, smoking mountain looming over the bay of Naples and the distant, sprawling city wrapped around its foot. 

That view had not grown old no matter how many times Xavier saw it, and he had spent a lot of time out on the patio. The pool terrace was where he found his new friends this morning (or was it afternoon?) stretched out in the sun like huge lazy cats. Conversely, considering his former occupation as an exotic dancer, Xavier was usually the only one wandering around with any kind of clothing on. It wasn’t a totally self-conscious thing, he’d never been uncomfortable or shy nude, usually the opposite, in fact. 

Rayne was stretched out on a lounger on the sunlit patio, head back, eyes closed, enjoying this rare opportunity to do nothing but let the sunlight kiss every inch of flesh, unimpeded by the encumbrance of clothing. It was a myth that Vampires shrank from the sunlight. Rayne loved to feel warm, as did his imposing Sire, Jabez Everman. The Everman had been born and raised in Ancient Egypt and to him everywhere was cold, even Naples in the height of summer! In spite of which the vampire Ancient had flown back to London, pleading the demands of his many business interests. That was a shame, Xav would have liked the chance to see the Everman in little more than shorts and a towel.

He bent to kiss Rayne’s cheek and got a lazy smile in return but the gorgeous little English vampire hardly stirred. Xavier settled on the chaise next to him. He had just gotten up though, and wasn’t really interested in napping in the sun right now, pleasant as it was. Looking around for something to do, he spotted Rayne’s mp3 player on the little side table and picked it up. Xavier wasn’t really that hopeful, Rayne had different taste as far as music went. What he sang and what he listened to weren’t necessarily in the same ball-park. Xavier had already listened to a few of his playlists with a raised brow and no comment. 

He put the little ear buds in and started scrolling through the last stuff Rayne had been listening to. Some punk, completely un-danceable; some pseudo-punk, a little better as far as the beat went, but still nothing he could move to; some 80’s pop, Xavier shook his head. How could his lover be so damned sexy on stage, produce such intensely grinding rhythms and listen to such crap? He chuckled inwardly at the thought. The title of the last track on the list got his attention and he hit play out of curiosity. 

Mousse T and The Dandy Warhols’ “Horny as a Dandy”. It was still pop-trash, but he had to grin at the lyrics. By the time it got to the chorus he was laughing. He looked over and Rayne was watching him through half open eyes, one brow arched slightly. For some reason that struck Xavier as even funnier and he laughed harder. 

Rayne wrinkled his nose sleepily and closed his eyes again. 

“If you like that you should check out what Lady Warren’s plugged in to!” the vampire muttered, nodding across the pool to where the ageing gay lothario was shamelessly checking out all the rippling flesh in Aldo’s pool from his own lounger.

Still grinning Xavier set the mp3 player down and went over to Dominic. Sitting down on the edge of his sun-bed he asked him what he was listening to. Dominic handed over the headphones, but Xav thought he sensed a hint of reluctance from the older man. He put them on and tuned in for a minute, his lips starting to twitch, and then he laughed out loud. Dom Warren gave him the look he usually got on his face right before he was about to call Xavier a cheeky impudent pup and reached for the player but Xavier snatched it up and moved swiftly out of reach. 

“Xavier, give it back.” Dominic said, a warning note in his voice.

Laughing hard enough now that he had drawn everyone’s attention, Xav shook his head and went to the little alcove that held the bar and also the sound system. He slid the player into the port and the imperious tones of Katy Perry came through the speakers around the pool. 

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chap stick
I kissed a girl just to try it…

Dominic looked a little pink but Xavier was unrepentant. It was just too damn funny for the aristocrat, who Xavier doubted had even a single drop of heterosexual blood in him, to be listening to this song. Lord Warren scowled at Xavier who grinned back shamelessly. 

“Hey, at least this has a beat you can move to!” he said encouragingly, and proceeded to do just that, making his way seductively back over to Dom. His usual, casual shuffle disappeared as he executed a slow glide, the movements fluid as water, the sway in his hips theatrically exaggerated. 

His lean, straight body held no hit of feminine curves, but he had such a pretty-boy face. The way he tucked one arm up behind his head, made his steps slide into line, one in front of the other, and he rolled his hips and body coquettishly, purposely mimicking a feminine rolling gate, that gave him a bit of the illusion he wanted. 

Soft skin, red lips, so kissable

Hard to resist so touchable

To good to deny it

He batted long silky lashes at Dominic and then dissolved into laughter again. 

Lord Warren was trying to look stern but a little smile kept twitching at his lips as he crooked his finger at Xavier, beckoning him closer. Aldo and Chavez had heaved themselves onto the edge of the pool to watch Xav’s performance, and the others alerted by the sudden blast of music were now observing with some amusement. 

“Come over here, Tinkerbell,” Dominic ordered mock-seriously. 

Xavier did a graceful little half pirouette, which ended with him dropping over the side of the lounger into Dom’s lap. “You rang?”

The older man smirked and towed the boy fully into his lap via the waistband of his shorts then slapped his arse with a ringing crack that prompted a chorus of sympathetic “oooh!”s from the assembled audience. 

“You are such a bad boy!” he declared solemnly. “I suppose I can count myself lucky that I wasn’t listening to Britney, huh?”

Xavier had flinched in surprise put didn’t pull away. The look he gave Dom was somewhere between feigned shock and a slow simmer. 

“Well, Britney would be about your speed,” he said with a cocky grin.

That got him another hard swat and Xavier arched slightly, trying not to squirm. Xavier rolled his hips, lifting his butt enticingly. 

“You can give me a spanking but I’m not calling you daddy!” He laughed.

The warmth of the older man’s hand remained where it had landed for a few moments then a slow smile spread across Dominic Warren’s still-handsome face. Xavier felt his palm slide slowly up his back and down again, fingers slipping beneath the waistband of his snug swimsuit to stealthily caress the smooth, tingling globes beneath. 

“Such a wicked boy!” Dominic reiterated almost affectionately. “It’s such a pity I can’t stay out here longer.”

Xavier shifted around and sat up. “Why? Where are you going?”

Dominic bestowed another fond smile upon him and caressed his cheek tenderly.

“I’m afraid England calls me. It’s been wonderful to spend so much time out here with you delicious boys, but I have to fly home tomorrow or the my High Priestess, the saintly Geraldine will give me absolute hell!” 

It was a timely reminder that Lord Warren was also a practising witch, the High Priest of a coven of some repute back in England. It was a part of the reason for his being here, having come out to San Francisco to help them deal with a coterie of malicious vampires and travelled on to Italy in their company. This fey, elderly Englishman was more than met the eye. He leaned forward to kiss Xavier on the nose and pushed the boy gently off his lap. At the same time Rayne made a move, rolling smoothly to his feet and sauntering sleepily across the terrace, running his fingers through Xavier’s hair as he passed Lord Warren. 

Xavier felt the pull, like a tug on an invisible leash, and he got up to follow Rayne, admiring the sleek naked backside in front of him as he did. 

“We should go out tonight then,” he suggested. “There’s gotta be something to do in this burg, right?” 

“We’re heading into Sorrento, Aldo knows a guy who runs a club there,” Rayne said casually, without looking back. He could feel that Xavier had followed him even without turning to check. The boy’s heat was like a small inferno all down his naked back. He was hungry to just sink into that delicious fire. 

Out on the terrace however, the other guys all exchanged glances; some with a private smile, some with a bemused shake of the head. 

“How does he do it?” Dominic chuckled and settled back down on his lounger to complete his all over tan.

Xavier brightened at the news that they were going out. He had been fairly content to just hang out, relax, and soak up the peace and quiet along with the sun, but over the last few days he’d been feeling increasingly restless. As they passed under the archway leading to the cool interior of the villa he reached out to let his fingers trace down the smooth curve of Rayne’s spine. His hand came to rest in the little hollow at the small of his lover’s back as he drew up beside him and leaned in to kiss the nape of his neck.

Rayne turned at once, pulling him into the shadows of a cool, white alcove and lifting his face for a more intimate kiss. Some of the sun’s heat lingered in the touch of his fingers and his lips as they pressed softly onto Xavier’s mouth, parting in quiet submission to the younger man’s wordless enquiry. Rayne was normally so cold. He raised his slender arms and looped them around Xav’s neck, leaning his lithe, nude body into the American boy’s welcoming embrace. 

Since their arrival, rest and regular feeding had restored some of the old mischief to Rayne Wylde’s features and he practically shimmered with health this afternoon. Most of the silver acquired during his captivity by the Frisco vamps had faded from his dark hair, although the odd rogue strand remained, stubbornly. There was even a subtle glow to his skin, which surprised Xavier. He had not figured that vampires could tan.

Xav slid his arms around Rayne’s waist, his hands wandering over flawlessly smooth skin. Flattening his palms he slid them down over the curve of his boyfriend’s silky cheeks, cupping and kneading the firm globes. Rayne responded by pushing him against the back wall of the alcove and thrusting a searching, studded tongue into his mouth. For some reason it reminded Xavier of their brief, interrupted coupling in the chapel at San Francisco International airport on the way out here; how hot and impatient they’d been for each other then. They were still hot and impatient; they’d only just made it inside the doors, out of sight but still within earshot. 

Xavier lifted his lips from Rayne’s with a small breathless chuckle. 

“You want to go get more comfortable, or you want me right here?” He grinned, happy either way.

By way of a response, Rayne let his lips wander down Xavier’s neck, into the dip between his collarbones and tenderly kissed the rippling, golden expanse of his sleek, tanned torso. He lipped and licked at Xav’s stiffening nipples, catching the firm buds of flesh teasingly between his small, sharp teeth and tugging gently. His hands glided down the younger man’s naked back, snaking around his flanks and letting his fingers hook into the waistband of Xavier’s brief swimsuit. 

Slowly he pulled downward until the flexible fabric met the resistance of his lover’s stiffening cock. Rayne’s hands fanned out around the boy’s firm, sexy little buns. He squeezed hard, feeling Xavier buck against him in response. 

“Didn’t think he’d slapped you that hard!” he chuckled, enjoying the heat of his mate’s briskly-spanked behind in his hands.

“Hard enough to sting for a bit,” Xav panted, hooking his thumbs into the waistband of his shorts and tugging them down further. “Wanna kiss it an’ make it better?” he asked playfully.

“Why do I get the feeling I’ve been set up by the pair of you?” Rayne murmured against his breastbone, but from the look on the singer’s face he wasn’t too heartbroken about that!

Slowly he kissed a meandering route down over Xavier’s deliciously sculpted abdominals. His fingers snaked around the prominent tepee in his lover’s re-adjusted swimwear, tugging the fine material down so firmly that it hugged every ridge and curve of Xavier’s beautiful cock. Rayne went to his knees smoothly and buried his face in the boy’s crotch. Then he nuzzled him hungrily. 

“You feel so fuckin’ hot,! he whispered, his lips touching Xav through the straining lycra. “I just wanna take you in my mouth…” his lips roamed slowly up towards the tip of that throbbing shaft; “…take you in my mouth and eat you all up.” 

His green eyes were huge and feral as he stared up at Xav like a penitent before the altar. As he had done so many times on stage, with a mic in his hand instead of a young man’s erect cock, he slowly stroked the swollen head in a slow circle against his parted lips. His breath blew quick and hot around it, moistening the thin material so that it clung even more suggestively.

Xavier buried his fingers in the cool dark silk of Rayne’s hair. He let out a little mewl of pleasure at the soft torment. Eyes grown dark with desire, he resisted the urge to tug his lover closer. He behaved, he was patient, though sometimes he was sure Rayne just wanted to hear him beg. Strong fingers pulled down hard on the flexing material, dragging his cock head with it. Deliberately slow, Rayne kissed his way down that golden trail from his navel to the very root of his manhood. He pressed his face against the younger man’s hot skin and closely trimmed pubes, breathing in his delicious scent as he lapped greedily around the base of Xav’s cock, which was pulsing and struggling to get upright again, trapped in the net of his own Speedo. 

Gently the little vampire ran the tips of two fingers down the smooth, golden valley between his lover’s cheeks, exposed now by the lowering of his very brief bathing suit. Xavier tried to stay still, but he couldn’t help the little roll of his hips. Rayne’s lips and tongue felt warm on him but the hand stroking over his backside was a little cooler as it passed over the globes of his freshly spanked behind. He quivered as Rayne’s fingers slid down the crack of his ass and his lips hovered enticingly over his straining cock. 

“Mmmmhhh… Rayne… please…”

“Enjoying being a little tease out there, were you?” his lover whispered around the head of his cock. The words vibrated softly there, quivering through every sinew and fibre and making him jolt eagerly. He closed his mouth on Xavier’s swollen tip and drew his lips back slowly, letting it slip wetly between them. His fingers pressed harder, seeking admission between the dancer’s sexy buttocks. Xavier sucked in a little breath at the feel of those soft lips engulfing him. 

“Was I teasing?” He was trying for feigned innocence, but it came out too breathless. The pad of Rayne’s fingertip circled gently around the rim of his little puckered hole and Xavier groaned. “Mmmmuuuahhhh…” 

Deftly, Rayne tugged the front of his Speedo forward and down, exposing Xavier as he lowered the tiny garment to the floor. His tongue swirled up the underside of his mate’s defiantly upright cock and he murmured; “Those old men out there might not be capable of rising to it, but I know a tease when I see one. And believe me, I’m gonna punish you properly, sweetheart!”

“If the punishment is sucking my cock, you can punish me all day long,” Xavier said with a grin and wrapped his hand around the base of his erection to guide it along Rayne’s lush lips. His tone was still playful and cocky but the expression on Xavier’s face had changed subtly. Rayne had definitely pushed some buttons and turned him on like crazy. 

The lithe Englishman rested both hands on his hips and rose slowly to his feet. His arms moved up around Xavier’s neck again, pulling those enticing lips onto his own and kissing him greedily. Xav was a little taller and Rayne had to draw him down slightly to force his studded tongue into his lover’s mouth, still deliciously briny from its contact with his cock. 

“Turn around,” he said quietly, but firmly, into the chasm between Xavier’s jaws.

Xavier complied, turning and resting his hands and chest on the cool mosaic tiled wall. He stood with his feet slightly parted, presenting a nice clean line from shoulders, down the ‘v’ of his back to his narrow waist and the swell of his buttocks, to smooth, lean, muscled legs. He looked over one shoulder at Rayne and wiggled his butt enticingly. 

Rayne took his time admiring the view, an appreciative smile curving his cherubic mouth. He sucked on his middle finger suggestively and moved closer, touching his soft lips to the nape of Xavier’s neck, nuzzling gently into his hair as his cold, wet fingertip slipped between the boy’s proffered cheeks and tenderly caressed his perfect, pink, pucker. He pressed gently on the tight little ‘o’ of muscle that was the gateway to so much joy. 

“I love it when you play ‘ard to get!” he whispered sarcastically.

“First I’m a tease, now I’m too easy… keep complaining and your gonna hurt my feelings.” Xavier said with a pretend pout. 

“I’d rather hurt somethin’ else!” Rayne growled huskily just behind the curve of his ear. 

He pressed himself firmly up against Xavier’s waiting body, curling himself around the younger man so that they fitted together perfectly. His cock arced up between Xavier’s thighs, rubbing suggestively along his perineum until the swollen, sensitive head bumped up against the backs of his balls.

“ooo… hurt me, honey!” Xavier purred and wriggled against him.

Rayne said nothing, but he smiled like the Cheshire Cat as he leaned back and lined himself up with that twinkling pink star that led him into so much sinful pleasure. His fingers and thumb worked the head of his sex firmly into the tightness of Xavier’s sexy arse and then he let his hands slide seductively out to grip the boy’s hips. 

“Mmmmm…. I love this view,” he growled softly as his fingers squeezed on his lover’s pelvic bone, pulling him steadily backwards.

“Uuuhhhhggg!” Xavier’s groan echoed off the tiles, a mix of pleasure and pain. Rayne gave him no time to adjust and Xav huffed out a hard breath as he was impaled completely, grateful that they’d spent most of last night fucking and he wasn’t totally tight and dry. 

“Jesusfuckin’christ… uuh, fuck…” he panted as Rayne eased about halfway out then rammed it back in again hard. He felt the heat of his lover’s satisfied chuckle run along the line of his collarbone. Rayne began to stroke more urgently inside him, rocking himself vigorously up against Xav’s quivering body as he filled the boy over and over. His hands crept stealthily up Xavier’s bared chest now, clawing at him gently as he thrust. 

“Aaaahhhhhh… so goo-ood!” Rayne exhaled, pressing his open mouth against the curve of his mate’s neck as they fucked.

Xavier spread his legs a little further, his groans becoming needy whimpers and then pleasure-soaked moans as his body slowly became more accustomed to the invasion. He picked up Rayne’s rhythm as he relaxed, rolling his hips to meet the inward thrusts. The air that had seemed balmy before was now close and hot. Small beads of sweat formed to roll down the centre of his spine. Rayne’s lips caressed over the bite mark on his neck, turning him on like an electric circuit had been made between them. 

Xav reached a hand down to stroke his own very hard cock, rubbing the slippery pre-cum over the smooth head. 

“uhh, yeah… fuck me baby…oohh…” he crooned a stream of pleasure and encouragement. He flexed and gripped Rayne tight, or relaxed as he slid back on his pole, milking that lovely cock pounding inside him.

His lover moved with him. It seemed as natural as seeing to adjust to each of Xavier’s movements, driving deeper and harder. Rayne let himself go, swallowed up by the powerful attachment he still shared with Xavier. His tongue caressed that sensitive spot on his mate’s sweat damp neck and he lapped up each jewel that spilled down from his blond hair greedily. 

Rayne’s skilful fingers moved to Xavier’s lovely cock, displacing his own and sliding rhythmically up and down the throbbing shaft as he bucked fiercely, just a couple of times more, ready to explode into the younger man at any moment. The other hand cupped the blond boy’s balls, milking them hard as he bottomed out in his mate’s tight channel and groaned with unfettered ecstasy at the overwhelming sensation of being swallowed whole by him. Rayne felt as if he could easily melt into Xavier and be consumed by the liquid heat of his grinding loins.

“mm-uh… fuck…!” Xavier’s head tipped back to Rayne’s shoulder. He could feel the way Rayne’s body tightened. Every sound he made, every move, told Xav that he was very close; right on the edge. “ahhh…I’m cumming…” he got out, in a husky murmur, as the first powerful wave slammed into him. 

Rayne was virtually climbing up him as he felt the orgasm burst and bloom from his frantically thrusting groin. He was still fisting Xavier hard as he bit down on the blond’s neck, feeling his fangs extend into yielding flesh and hard-straining muscle. The horny vampire let his lover’s hot blood squirt into his mouth even as he felt the first spurts of cum erupt from the boy’s pulsing cock, all over his industrious hand.

“Ahhhghrrr!!” Xavier cried out, his teeth coming together with a click and his breath huffing out in sharp pants. The hard pulses of his orgasm were suddenly drawn out into longer waves as Rayne’s small, sharp teeth sank into him. He didn’t know how one little vampire could give so much pleasure. His orgasms had never been as intense or lasted as long as they did when he was with Rayne. 

This particular one had him seeing black spots behind his eyes and he leaned his forehead against the cool tile. His legs quivered and if he hadn’t locked his knees they wouldn’t have held him up.

His lover surged into him more slowly now, licking his neck with long, satisfied strokes of his tongue. Momentarily he was still inside Xav, just clinging to him, enjoying the heat of his virile young body; the pounding of his heart and the delicious pulse of his hot blood. Now he rocked gently against the blond lad, braced astride him, virtually pushed up onto his toes in order to keep his dominant position straddling his mate. 

“You are so fuckin’ delicious!” he growled huskily into Xavier’s ear. 

Xavier turned his head a little further so he could catch Rayne’s lips with his. 

“That was amazing,” he murmured into the soft kiss and gave him a lazy smile that promised more of the same. Movement caught Xavier’s eye though, someone else coming in from the terrace. 

Rayne moved back off him almost too casually, sliding out of Xav smoothly and pushing a lazy hand through his dark hair that was still damp from the pool. He murmured; “I could kill for a smoke now.”

Xavier pulled a face. “Those things will kill you,” he said. 

Their little joke. Cigarettes wouldn’t kill Rayne, of course, but Xav had to say something about it anyway. Even when Xavier had fed his system with all sorts of illicit substances, he hadn’t been a smoker. He couldn’t stand the smell, or the taste. Xav turned around, just a little disappointed. He’d been hoping for a second bout. 

He looked up as their host sauntered casually into the hallway, pushing his expensive looking shades up into his neatly cropped, ink-black hair. Xav had no idea if he dyed it but Aldo looked pretty good for a guy in his forties. He had not lost his physique by swapping porn for motor-racing, that was for sure. Every muscle of his torso and abdomen was perfectly sculpted and tanned. Even the one that hung suggestively between his legs, whilst not as large as the freakishly huge porn director PJ McNamara’s or even their pornstar friend Clay’s lovely black cock, was still breathtaking.

“Hey honey, what you hiding in here for?” Aldo drawled lazily, his accent tilted somewhere between the Adriatic and New York. He bent his head to kiss the back of Rayne’s neck then spotted Xav in the shadows looking indisputably well-fucked and just a shade irritated. “Am I interrupting something?”

Xav wasn’t fooled a bit by that innocent sounding question. They hadn’t exactly been quiet, Aldo knew what he’d find them up to in here. He supposed that the handsome Italian was hoping to snag Rayne away for a little tryst himself, or perhaps was hoping to join them. Although Aldo had totally respected Xav’s boundaries since he’d come here, hollow eyed and looking pretty battered, bruised and ill-used. In general he’d been polite to Xavier but the American youth did notice slight hints of tension in their handsome, amiable host. It wasn’t to hard for Xav to guess that, whatever history there was between him and Rayne, their visit had rekindled some kind of flame in Aldo and he probably would have preferred it if Rayne Wylde had shown up on his door step without Xavier in tow. 

Xavier was perfectly willing to share, he’d never been a very possessive lover. What bothered him were the subtle hints of smugness whenever Rayne disappeared with Aldo for a while, or like now, when he hoped take Rayne’s attention. Xavier didn’t think Aldo even knew he was doing it, the guy was genuinely a nice person, which was why Xav had been able to ignore the few times he’d felt like this. That, and Xavier just wasn’t very good at dominance-related games. Maybe if he let some of his walls down a bit, Aldo might stop seeing him subconsciously as a threat. After all, other than this mysterious little thing going on with Rayne, Xavier did like the man. 

He leaned his shoulders back against the wall in a deliberately casual pose, his features smoothing into a soft smile. “It’s okay, you can interrupt.” 

“That’s cool then,” Aldo winked at him. His fingers were still playing distractedly with Rayne’s hair and he half turned now and touched his mouth to the singer’s lips. 

They kissed for a moment or so but then, to Xavier’s surprise and no little pleasure, the singer pushed him gently away. Aldo looked surprised too, and maybe a tiny bit hurt but Rayne just murmured; “I really, really do want a ciggie, sweetheart. Look after Xav for me, he’ll only get disgusted about my bad habits again.”

“I like your bad habits,” Aldo chuckled. “They’re all a part of you, Wylde. You wouldn’t be the guy you are without them, I guess.” 

Xavier rolled his eyes, but Aldo was looking at Rayne so he didn’t see it. 

Rayne ignored the comment completely. He leaned across the alcove to cup the back of Xavier’s head, pulling the younger man’s lips to his own for a slightly longer and sweeter kiss. 

“Play nice,” he whispered into the blond’s open mouth, touching the upturned tip of his nose to Xavier’s gently. “He’s a sweet guy, really.” 

That told him that Rayne was utterly aware of his own reservations about Aldo. Xavier just smiled, for once not giving away what he was thinking. 

“Go smoke your lungs out,” he said, and got a little chuckle from Rayne before the vampire slipped off to find his cancer sticks. 

Xavier watched that slender body walking away for a moment then turned his intensely blue eyes to Aldo. They were close enough that a slight sway of his body made them brush lightly against each other. “You like him a lot, don’t you.” 

Aldo’s dark, dark chocolate stare grew briefly serious as he contemplated Xavier’s question. To the younger man’s surprise his answer was not completely frivolous. 

“He’s a total pain but, yeah, I gotta admit there is something about him. I have known him for many years and he never changes… well no, not true, I guess he has mellowed a little. One time he would never have let one person get so close. You understand?” The Italian smiled then, an expression that lifted and altered his whole face. “You like him very much too, Signor Gavrilov?”

“We have a kind of… connection.” Xavier said. Which was only kind of an answer. Xavier knew there were several people, in this house alone, that loved Rayne. The singer was affectionate enough with them, but he played it pretty cool. Whatever he felt, if anything, Rayne didn’t let show. Not a whole lot anyway. 

Xav did not try to figure out what Rayne felt for him. They certainly matched up well physically, their appetites were well-mated. They had a weird empathic connection, which seemed to be working somewhat both ways now since Dominic had been teaching Xav a little bit of meditation and control, but when Xav tried to see a little deeper…feel what the vampire might feel for him, he got shut out. So he didn’t press it any further. 

What did he feel for Rayne? He wasn’t all that sure. Before they left San Francisco he would have affectionately said he was a great fuck buddy. He had expected Rayne to leave. He had expected to go back to his normal life after their little affair ended. Now… well, for one thing, he didn’t exactly have a normal life to go back to but even if he did, if Rayne dumped him it was gonna hurt. He was pretty sure somewhere along the line he’d fallen in love, which was a stupid dumb ass thing to do. Mostly because he was sure that love was not reciprocated. 

He didn’t want to think about it. Better to find a distraction… He moved a little closer, the artless brush against Aldo’s nude body a little less casual this time. His hands drifted up that smooth tanned chest and he looked up at the handsome ex-porn actor in a clear invitation. 

The Italian’s smile broadened; and he had a fabulous smile to begin with. Sunlight and shadows danced in his eyes as he looked from Xavier’s face to his wandering hands and back again. 

“I think that he will need to watch out for you,” Aldo chuckled, letting his own hands slide around Xavier’s lean hips, the long fingers playing a private tune against his skin. “You are more… what do the English say? More savvy than many of the kids who chase after him. You are a different breed, yes?”

Xavier flashed a smile at the unintended choice of words. 

“I didn’t chase after him,” he said with a wink. Well, maybe a little bit, when they’d gotten into trouble. And he couldn’t just leave Rayne to the mercies of Cole Lagrado and his cruel servants, could he?

His hands now slid up to those broad shoulders, the line of their bodies as close as they could be without actually pressing together. “Are you gonna kiss me, or what?”

Aldo’s expression was a little too knowing but he said nothing, only tilted his head and leaned into Xavier, slowly pressing him back against the rear wall of the alcove before covering the blond boy’s lips very softly and firmly with his own. His powerful hands caressed the younger man more urgently, sliding up over the sweat-slick heat of his bared flesh as he made the most of Xavier’s tempting proximity.

He was quite a delicious kisser, not letting Xav come up for air for several minutes.

Xavier’s fingers rested lightly on the back of Aldo’s neck. He opened his eyes as he broke the kiss, his pretty baby blues dilated with desire. He let one hand trail back down Aldo’s chest, his lips following the path of his fingertips. The slow glide of his lips paused over the smooth skin of his nipple to tease the tip of his tongue over it, the trail of his fingers continuing to trace downward over nicely packed abs. When they reached his hip Aldo caught his wrist, surprising him. He looked up and Aldo slowly lifted his arm until he had Xavier’s wrist pressed to the wall just above his head. 

It wasn’t a tight hold, but it was very deliberate. Xavier could feel his pulse beat harder, his breath come a little faster, and he instantly came fully erect. He had just enough presence of mind to wonder if Aldo had known which buttons to push to get him really hot, or if he’d just made a lucky guess. At the moment he was having trouble not drooling on himself.

“Mmm… I like it that you are not shy,” Aldo murmured against the curve of his earlobe. 

He caught Xavier’s free hand and gently pushed it back up towards the wall on the other side of the younger man’s head. Then he began to kiss Xav hungrily on his neck and throat, lips caressing the sensitive skin around his adam’s apple, tongue sliding down into the hollow between his collar bones. 

The Italian moved closer to him again, letting his rising sex brush against Xavier’s erection as he kissed him like a starving man.

Xavier’s eyes slid closed again, a soft purr in his throat as Aldo kissed there. His lips brushed over where Rayne had bitten him and the purr turned into a moan. Aldo had his upper body pinned to the wall, but his lower half reacted automatically. His hips pushed forward in a slow grind and he brought one leg up around Aldo’s hip with all the flexibility his lithe dancer’s body had to offer. 

“Mmm…. you want me between your thighs?” Aldo growled quietly against the curve of his neck. 

He let his body undulate slowly so that his cock head eased beneath Xavier’s balls, bringing his hands down so that they were level with the blond lad’s shoulders. As Xav’s leg snaked over his hip Aldo writhed up against the younger man’s surging torso and abdomen, releasing Xavier’s wrists so that his hands could move right down to the boy’s bare ass.

Xavier deftly lifted his other leg as Aldo’s hands slid down to grip his cheeks, crossing his calves behind the other man’s back. His arms wrapped around Aldo’s neck simultaneously and he rolled his body sinuously, the wet tip of his cock head rubbing along those powerfully muscled abs. That felt good and Xavier bent his head to kiss and nibble along the lobe of Aldo’s ear.

Aldo leaned into him, the glossy head of his long, beautiful cock finding Xavier’s recently vacated, and very receptive passage with the precision of a guided missile. His strong arms pulled the younger man firmly against him as he steadily thrust his rigid tool into the yielding wetness of the boy’s chute. If he had doubted for one moment that Rayne had already taken him, the evidence wiped those doubts from his mind. Aldo grinned more broadly as he took advantage of his friend’s thoughtful preparation. 

“Mmmmm… you just can’t get enough, can you?” he growled huskily into Xavier’s mouth, seconds before he kissed the blond again.

Xavier could only groan in response, the feel of that big tool sliding into him was like being impaled on a spike. Aldo was not the only one glad for sloppy seconds. Taking that big cock dry would have been murder. As it was Xav squirmed and moaned through the first few urgent thrusts until he got used to the stretch and burn, and then he could relax a little more. By this time, Aldo was almost all the way in him.

His back pressed up against the wall gave Aldo the leverage he needed. Xav pivoted his hips to meet each thrust, his legs wrapped around the strong body holding him in place. He liked the way Aldo kissed; he was a big fan of a great tongue and returned the enthusiastic forays into his mouth with enthusiasm. 

“And I thought you didn’t like me!” Xavier teased breathlessly between hot kisses. 

“Whatever gave you that idea?” Aldo’s lips hovered over his mouth as he pulled Xavier more tightly around him, rocking steadily into him, and riding the wave of the younger man’s undulating body. “Sweet God, you feel good!”

Xavier agreed with a lusty groan. It felt damn good, the way the older man’s cock slid in and out of his body. He kept one arm around Aldo’s neck and let the other slip down to stroke the shaft standing straight up from his own crotch. 

“Mmmmm-yeah… that feels so good!” he panted hotly along the curve of Aldo’s ear. “Gimme that big cock, babe.”

Aldo seemed in no way hesitant to give him exactly what he craved. The Italian was bucking almost savagely between his thighs now, groaning with uninhibited pleasure as he pressed deeper and harder into Xavier’s arse. They were both so caught up in their own desires that neither saw or heard the small, silent figure that came back into the house from the terrace, his much needed nicotine fix assuaged. 

Rayne leaned against the wall on the edge of the alcove and watched with a curious little smile as Aldo and Xavier fucked like animals in the shadows.

Xavier’s stomach muscles tightened, his fingers moving light and quick over his hard shaft. He was only a few strokes away from coming when he felt Rayne’s presence. He opened his eyes and saw his lover over Aldo’s shoulder, watching them fuck, one hand playing lazily up and down his stiffening shaft. Xavier’s spine arched and his fingers tightened on the back of Aldo’s neck and around his own throbbing cock as the orgasm slammed into him. 

“Uuuuuuhh! Fuck! Oh, fuck…mmmhh…” His eyes half-closed but they stayed on Rayne as he shot his load with Aldo’s dick thrusting fiercely in his ass. 

The little vampire’s smile broadened and grew fangs as he watched his beautiful, naked lover climaxing uncontrollably. He lingered just a little longer, his eyes swallowing up the scene as Aldo responded to the delicious shudders of release tightening and vibrating through his mate’s undulating body. The powerful Italian pulled Xav close, the muscles of his perfect, golden arse clenching and swelling rapidly as he neared his peak. Growling his satisfaction and thrusting his magnificent cock forcefully into Xavier he pinned the sexy blond dancer to the wall as he burst within the tight, rippling sheath that gripped him. 

Rayne shook his head a little. Then, to Xavier’s surprise, he turned and vanished. 

Xavier’s forehead came down to rest on Aldo’s shoulder for a few moments while he caught his breath. Eventually, Aldo withdrew and Xavier eased his legs down, hips aching from the exertion of the fast, hard fuck. He gave Aldo a sated little smile and kissed him lightly. 

With a sigh Xav looked down at himself, covered in a light sheen of sweat and sticky with semen. He ran his fingers experimentally through the spill on his belly then lifted them to his lips and licked them with sultry look at Aldo. “I need to go take a shower.” 

“Go for a swim instead, the pool is right there,” Aldo gestured out towards the terrace with a challenging grin. 

Xavier looked like he was about to say he’d rather not when, still grinning, Aldo snagged him around the waist and lifted him over his shoulder like a rolled sleeping bag. 

“Come on, you need to get rid of your tan lines,” he joked and turned with Xav across his shoulder to walk back out onto the patio. “You want to have a little white ass your whole life?”

Xavier chuckled and made a few half-hearted protests that he didn’t want to be dumped in the pool. It was all just teasing and horseplay, but as they walked through the patio doors toward the rippling water the thought crossed Xav’s mind that Aldo hadn’t seen Rayne watching them, and that carrying him naked and obviously well-fucked out where everyone could see might just be for Rayne’s benefit. He didn’t have much time to think about that though as he was tossed squirming into the pool. 

Dominic applauded and issued a lusty wolf whistle, which would have seemed out of character had the others not known him better. Clay was whooping delightedly as Xav hit the water, showering those closest to the edge with a fine spray. 

“That’s it, man! Cool the hot-stuff off!” he hollered. 

Rayne had been sitting on the edge of the deep end, letting his legs hang down into the water and he uttered a soft, vicious laugh as Aldo upended his lover. When Xavier surfaced, shaking the crystalline droplets out of his hair and eyes the vampire was still watching him with that same unreadable look as he had worn in the house on his pale, solemn face. 

Now Aldo executed a perfect dive from the lip of the pool, barely breaking the surface as he plunged in after his victim. A hand grabbed Xavier’s ankle as he trod water, still catching his breath, and pulled him under playfully. 

Xavier hadn’t really gotten a good breath before he was tugged down. It was okay, he knew, but a momentary thread of panic zipped through him when he couldn’t immediately surface. He was a good swimmer but the feeling of being held under caused an instinctive reaction that was hard to ignore. 

When Aldo let go of his ankle, Xavier pushed off the floor of the pool and came up spluttering. He wiped the water quickly out of his eyes and took a deep gulp of air, wary of being pulled under again, but Aldo had to come up for air too. Xav sent a big splash of water his way that hit him as soon as he broke the surface. That gave him just enough distraction to shoot away like the proverbial minnow being chased by a shark. 

He got his hands on the lip of the pool before Aldo caught up to him, grabbed him around the waist and dunked him under a couple more times for good measure. 

“Okay! Okay! I give. Stop trying to drown me!” Xavier protested with a helpless chuckle.

They were down towards the deeper end of the pool now and Aldo backed off, but still lurked around the perimeter with a menacing grin. On the edge, Rayne had drawn his feet up and was sitting with his knees hugged tight to his chest as he watched them play. He still didn’t react though, only his eyes moved, following them both now. The smile was gone; he was chewing his lower lip almost thoughtfully. A small trickle of blood ran down his chin from one side of his mouth but he hardly seemed to notice. 

Xavier set his hands on the pool edge, pushed up out of the water with a little half turn, and settled on the edge. Okay, he’d let Aldo fuck him, let him parade him out here naked to prove it, let him half drown him to prove that he was the bigger, stronger, more dominant male. All of which Aldo probably didn’t even know he was doing. Xavier had not considered it in a calculated way, but when he thought about it, it seemed that way. He was hoping now that the atmosphere might be a little less tense between them. Of course, it could always have the opposite effect. 

He stood, water sliding from his smooth sun-kissed skin as he walked over to where Rayne sat and settled next to him. He reached with his thumb to gently wipe away the little smear of blood. 

“You nicked yourself,” he murmured. 

Rayne took his hand and gently sucked the blood from the pad of his thumb before pushing his hand away. Not roughly, but in a firm, not now kind of way. He was still staring out at the water making Xavier wonder if he’d even been looking at them all that time, or just staring into space. 

Xavier didn’t just take a hint, he felt what Rayne wanted, as if he’d built a stone fortress around himself, shut the gates and barricaded them. Someone else might have asked what was wrong, or pushed him back, but Xav knew that would just annoy him. He also knew a brush off when he got one. He got up without another word and wandered back into the house. 

Aldo on the other hand, couldn’t feel Rayne in his head the way that Xav did. At least not until the moment that he popped up out of the water at the little vampire’s feet and grabbed him by the ankles, trying to tug him into the pool. 

Xavier heard the screams through two walls.

He winced, and part of him wanted to just keep going but the other part wanted to know what the problem was. Well, he’d never been one to lay low and keep his head down much. Xav paused just inside the double doors and turned back around to see if this was just playing around or if things were going to get ugly. 

The peaceful atmosphere around the pool had fermented into chaos in just a few moments. Aldo was clinging to the side with blood pouring from his nose and Chavez was crouched by him, apparently keeping him above water. PJ and Dominic were both with Rayne, and it was not clear if they were trying to restrain him or if he was fending them off. 

At last the little vampire writhed free of them both and stormed back towards the house muttering; “Well he fucking asked for it!”

He almost collided with Xavier in the shady porch that led back into the hallway. Rayne was still wearing sunglasses but the younger man knew his night sight was good enough to compensate. At the last moment he physically flinched away from contact and broke into a run, heading back towards the bedroom they shared.

Xavier stood there, looking between the scene outside and the way Rayne had gone. He bit his lip with indecision, not wanting to move in either direction really.

Clay came in a moment later, shaking his head. He looked a little surprised to see Xav still standing there. “You gonna go talk to him, or what?” 

“He doesn’t want me around right now.” Xavier answered. 

Clay snorted. “And you always do what you’re told?” 

Xavier arched a brow and made a gesture out toward the pool. “I’ve sorta got incentive not to bug him if he wants to be left alone, don’t you think?” 

Clay shook his head and continued on into the house. Xavier sighed and went inside as well, but turned down the hall toward the bedrooms. He found Rayne sitting on the edge of the bed and he closed the door quietly behind him feeling uncertain. For the first time it occurred to him that Rayne might be pissed at him for fucking Aldo. He hadn’t really thought that Rayne would be. He didn’t seem to have a problem sharing Xav with Clay or Chavez, and he’d rather suggestively told Aldo to look after him… maybe they’d both read the signals wrong. 

“Hey… you uh… you pissed at me?” 

Rayne’s head came up and for a moment he just looked at Xavier as if he wondered what the younger man was doing there. The shades were off and for the first time Xav saw the shimmer of emotion in his eyes before he looked down and away again, rebuilding the walls. 

“I’m…” he mumbled, shaking his head. “No… I’m not… No…”

He glanced up again, seeming to come back to his senses a little and suddenly conscious of the fact that Xav was hanging back, wary of getting too close. 

“Fuck!” he exhaled softly and vehemently, and dropped his head into his hands again.

Xav silently crossed the room. He sat down on the edge of the bed next to Rayne and put his hand lightly on his back. “So what’s wrong? What’d you clock Aldo for?”

The singer kept his face in his hands but he muttered; “He crossed a line. And it’s my fault because I let him do it. Jesus… why did I agree to come here?”

He moved as if he would shrug Xav off him again but didn’t have the energy. Instead he flopped down on the bed, lying on his side and cradled his head in the crook of one arm. “Why am I still such a fucking idiot around him?”

Xavier’s hand hovered near his shoulder and then drew back. He wanted to wrap his arms around Rayne and hold him, but he was giving off such a strong vibe of stay-the-fuck-away that it was almost like he was physically holding Xav at arms length. Oh, to hell with it! If Rayne shoved him away he’d back off. Xavier lay down next to him and slipped his arms around from behind, pressing his cheek just behind his neck. 

Feeling dense because he still didn’t get exactly what his lover was so upset about he said, “I’m sorry Rayne, I woulda kept my distance if I knew it would bother you. I just wanted to… kinda mellow things out. Be nice to him.” 

He winced at his own words. God, that sounded fucked up. 

“I’m not mad at you,” his mate said quietly. “I’m mad at myself. I can’t go off on one because you let him fuck you. Not when I’ve been with him myself more than once since we got here. And I know you know it, so don’t even try to pretend.”

He didn’t turn around though, just lay still with Xav wrapped around him, a warm and comfortable presence against his naked back. After a short time his hands moved to Xavier’s hands on his chest and cold fingers closed around them, holding tight.

“I don’t deserve this,” he whispered at last. “I don’t deserve you.”

“Rayne, you’re making me feel like an idiot here. You didn’t do anything wrong. What have you got to be mad at yourself for? I didn’t ask you not to fuck anyone else. I wouldn’t ask you for that.” 

He lifted his head a little so he could peer at Rayne, over his shoulder. “What? So you’re mad because you gave him the opportunity to fuck me and he took it? I could’ve said no. He didn’t force me…” 

Rayne already knew that though, so Xavier was just as confused. 

“Would you stop being so goddamn cryptic and just tell me what the hell is going on?”

His slender English lover half-turned, so that he was almost on his back, almost lying in Xavier’s arms. His eyes were huge, a kind of melting green around the enormous dark pupils and when his lips parted the delicate curl of his extended fangs was all too visible. It was not a snarl though, not a warning. Instead there was a kind of helplessness to his expression. He looked almost… scared.

“I’m not mad that he fucked you. It was good for both of you, I could see that,” Rayne hissed softly. “I’m not blind! It doesn’t matter, Xav. It just…” He shook his head again and lay back, closing his eyes. “I shouldn’t have come here with you. It leaves me… wanting something that I can’t have. That’s what made me angry, sweetheart. It wasn’t what you did, okay?”

It was as if saying the words loosened Rayne’s hold on the walls he’d put up, or maybe he’d just gotten tired of keeping people out, but Xavier could suddenlyfeel him again; that subtle tickle in his head that was uniquely Rayne. He’d gotten rather used to it being there since before they left San Francisco and when Rayne did shut him out he felt a little cold inside. His emotions were running high though, and they were not happy. 

Xavier put his head down on his mate’s shoulder and wrapped his arms around him again. The confusion went away. No, Rayne couldn’t have normal, not long-term anyway. But he could have sort of normal, for a little while. 

“You can have me,” he said softly, and immediately wanted to call the words back. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud, it was too close to saying… something else. 

Rayne tilted his head and touched his lips to Xavier’s forehead tenderly.

“Ah sweetheart, I wish that was true,” he murmured into his mate’s soft, damp, blond hair. “And even if I could have you for just a little while…” he broke off, sighing quietly. “Shit… seeing you with Aldo just made me realise what it is that I can’t have, I guess.”

Xavier fell quiet, soaking up Rayne’s melancholy mood like a sponge and retreating behind his own emotional walls. It was nothing he hadn’t expected, but it still hurt to offer his heart and be turned down. No matter how gently. 

Obviously what Rayne wanted wasn’t him, so it must be Aldo he wanted. Why he couldn’t have him wasn’t exactly clear, their sexy Italian host practically salivated on himself when Rayne was around. There must be some reason though… and it suddenly occurred to Xavier that maybe it was him that was the impediment. Maybe Rayne felt like he was stuck looking out for him and just hadn’t found a way to get him out of his hair yet. 

Feeling a bit like he’d been sucker punched Xavier got up. He needed a distraction in the worst way. As much as it hurt to back off he wasn’t going to cling to Rayne like a needy kid and try and hold him down to something he never wanted to begin with. He remembered that Dominic was leaving and he started rummaging around for clothes. 

“We still going out tonight, or what?” he asked with far less enthusiasm then he’d had just a short time ago.

“Guess so,” Rayne mused, still sprawled on the bed like a broken doll. “Since Her Ladyship’s gotta go back to the Big House tomorrow, I guess we ought to give the old queen a good send off.”

He rubbed his face wearily and pushed himself into a sitting position wearing nothing but a wan smile; “D’you reckon I should go apologise to Aldo? I think I kicked him pretty hard and he wasn’t expecting it. Don’t want him sulking all night, do we?”

“You probably should.” Xavier agreed neutrally. 

Rayne ran a caressing hand through his damp hair on his way to the door. Xavier waited until he’d gone out and closed it again before he covered his face with his hands. God, he wanted a drink. Actually he wanted something more, but he pushed that craving away. He was going to go out, get trashed, dance his ass off, and have fun. He was not going to mope, feel sorry for himself, pine after Rayne, and most certainly he wasn’t going to cry about it.

He took a deep breath and continued looking for what he wanted to wear tonight, shovelling all of his unsettling thoughts aside. He wasn’t given to prolonged bouts of self-pity or jealousy, he could shut it off for a few hours anyway. Alcohol would be a big help.

Rayne was still rather sullen as he made his way down the corridor to Aldo’s room. The door was ajar and he could already hear voices from inside. Which meant that Aldo wasn’t alone; brilliant! Rayne had never been the best when it came to gracious apologies, and an audience was just going to make things worse. 

Not entirely to the Vampire’s surprise, it was PJ who was in there with their Italian host. However he was not alone, Dominic was perched on the edge of the bed, gently pinching Aldo’s prominent nose between his fingers and applying a bag of ice in an effort to stop the bleeding. PJ McNamara got up as soon as Rayne entered the room and stepped between them to diffuse further violence. There was an expression of profound disappointment on his ruggedly handsome face. Rayne felt about six years old.

“I just wanna talk to him, okay?” the little vampire said wearily. “I’m not gonna hurt him.”

“You already did that,” PJ pointed out unnecessarily.

“I know. I didn’t mean to.” Rayne held his hands up. “Will you lot give us a minute? Please?”

Paddy McNamara turned his head to look a question in Aldo’s direction but the Italian just waved him towards the door with a grunt. Lord Warren rose to his feet slowly as Rayne approached but to his surprise the older man said nothing. He too looked rather sorrowful though, and shook his head quietly.

When the door had closed behind them, Rayne sat down on the bed beside Aldo and reached out tentatively, noting how the normally composed Italian flinched slightly from his touch. 

“I’m sorry,” he said automatically. “I guess I don’t know my own strength!”

“I thought you normally stuck to doing guys emotional damage,” Aldo said, his voice gruff and slightly constricted as if he was suffering from a bad bout of flu. “Didn’t realise you’d graduated to physical violence. Should I warn the boy?”

Rayne stopped short of actually touching his face and let his hands fall back into his lap. 

“Xavier’s not a child, and I’ve never done anything deliberately to hurt him. I never would,” he answered defensively. 

“But I’m fair game, huh?” Aldo forced a smile that didn’t quite reach his sad brown eyes. “I should be used to it by now, is that the way you figure it?”

“Owch!” Rayne shook his head. “I guess I asked for that.”

“Are you gonna tell me why?” his old friend asked solemnly. 

“Do you care why?”

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt any more to know. Or would it?” Aldo set the ice pack aside. The bleeding from his nostrils had slowed to a crawl now but his poor nose was in quite a state, swollen and red where Rayne’s heel had impacted with it. 

“Is it broken?” Rayne asked, not trying to hide the shock in his eyes, or the slight extension of his fangs at the scent of hot Latin blood. 

“Dominique does not think so.” Aldo touched it tentatively and winced. “It burns like Hades though.”

“I am so sorry,” Rayne declared earnestly. “Christ! I really didn’t mean to hurt you like that. I just lashed out, I wasn’t thinking; just reacting.”

“I don’t know why you believe I should be so surprised by that?” Aldo said levelly. 

“You know me pretty well,” Rayne said with a shrug.

“That is not true,” his friend countered sadly. “I wonder if you ever let anyone know you completely, Rayne Wylde.”

“You know as much as anyone, maybe more than most,” the singer told him somewhat evasively. “You know how my head works.”

“I can guess at some of it,” Aldo managed a warmer smile. “So let me guess what was running through your thoughts just before you tried to kick off my head. I figure you saw me with the boy, no?”

Rayne tried not to smile but his lips were already twitching. 

“Most people would wait for me to bring that up then try to deny it,” he observed casually. 

“And what would be the point in that?” Aldo retaliated at once. “I fucked him, and you know it. And now I know that you know it. And now you have kicked in my handsome face for it, are we even again?”

The vampire laughed quietly, shaking his head. 

“I didn’t kick you because you fucked Xavier,” he said at last. “Though it would have been polite to ask first, I suppose.”

“Then why?” Aldo moved a little closer to him. “He is a good boy, by the way; a sensible boy. He knows that I fuck you. I could see it in his eyes as he pulled me close. I think to myself, this one has a strong will; it is what Rayne needs and I know that he thinks the same. And Xavier thinks to himself that what you can have, he can also have. He was not shy about what he wanted from me.”

“I noticed.” Rayne’s smile thinned for just a moment but he was not angry, just thoughtful. Aldo’s words had struck a chord. He had not previously considered that maybe Xavier’s competitive streak had pushed him into Aldo’s arms; that maybe he had gone with the Italian stallion to make a point. “Aldo, it wasn’t that. I don’t mind that you fucked him. In fact it makes it easier in a sense that you fancy him, and he gets off on being with you.”

“Ahahh…” Aldo shook his head then remembered just too late that it would hurt. He groaned slightly and held up a warning finger instead. “No-no-no! Don’t you start that again! I was just beginning to wonder, do you think that this boy isthe one and…”

“It’s nothing like that,” Rayne interrupted automatically, but he too had been wondering. The bond that he had unwittingly forged with Xavier through his bites was like nothing he had ever known before. His closest emotional ties had always been to those who were somehow inaccessible to him; to Simon who had been kept at arms’ length to preserve their friendship and Skye, his sister. Paddy and Aldo had both come dangerously close to breaching his boundaries in the past but he had never let down the walls with them as he did sometimes with Xav. 

“Aldo, I… I can’t… there’s never going to be the one!” he said ominously.

Rayne wriggled his fingers like horns to emphasise the final words and looked away, unable to bear the expression of bewildered tenderness on his friend’s handsome, though battered, face. To his dismay, Aldo’s arms slid around him and the other man pulled himself closer. 

“You are too exacting, my friend. You will wind up alone; old and embittered if you cannot lower your standards,” he murmured sadly into Rayne’s ear. 

“You’re forgetting something. I can’t technically grow old!” Rayne flashed back a bit too testily. Aldo let him go and he craved the warmth of his friend’s strong arms at once. “And that’s gonna be a problem isn’t it? Sooner or later, people will start to notice. The One will start to notice, no matter how much he, or she, cares. There will always be that fundamental difference, the fact that sooner or later, they’re going to die and I’m not gonna look a day older than I did the moment we met.”

He turned his head when Aldo did not respond right away. The other man was watching him sadly and possessively, he thought. 

“Stop it!” Rayne warned him. “Don’t look at me like that. I’m getting used to the idea, okay? So long as I don’t think about it; so long as I don’t let anyone get too close, it’ll be fine.”

“And you will grow angrier and angrier inside,” Aldo murmured sorrowfully. “Watching others who can be in love and hating them for it.”

“Christ! That’s not true!” Rayne yelled at him. “I don’t care, and I never did! You know that! You’re supposed to understand me so fucking well, then try and understand that!”

“I know that you lie to yourself, and you always did,” Aldo told him, refusing to be cowed by his friend’s outburst. “We have always looked out for one another, you and I. And you have always known that you can punch me and you can shout at me as much as you need to but I will always tell you the truth. And that is why you come back here. You need your whipping boy, no?”

Rayne stared at him, distraught. His head shook slowly. 

“No!” he wailed. “That’s not why, Aldo.”

“Then tell me, because right now you are hard to understand,” the Italian demanded, his expression betraying impatience for the first time. “I love you, Rayne. I took a beating for you, and I took lives for your sake when you were not much older than Xavier, and you have always kept my confidence. At first I wondered if it was wise to tell you the truth. You were very young and very much afraid, but you never betrayed me.”

The vampire looked down, unable to meet his eyes now. It was true; some twenty years ago the normally peaceable Aldo had given vent to his Italian passion and, so he had claimed, sealed five men in a villa before setting it alight in an act of revenge after Rayne was attacked by them. They had all died horribly, and Rayne had not been sorry. 

He had not even begun to comprehend the depth of Aldo’s feelings for him until that day, when the Italian youth admitted his crime and showed no repentance for it. Rayne was not sure that he understood it even now, though he accepted that Aldo loved him and would do anything for him. The knowledge frightened him; he was careful with his emotions around Aldo now, never knowing what remark or reaction might set the other man off. Initially he had also worried that his friend might be jealous of the bond he had with Xav. It was a part of the reason why he shared his body so freely with the handsome Italian when they first arrived. 

Now he merely worried that doing so had set another barrier in the way of his relationship with Xavier. A relationship he was doing his damnedest to deny, to himself and anyone else who was listening.

“I couldn’t ever betray you,” he promised faithfully. “You know that. I owe you so much.”

Aldo took his cold, pale hands in his own long, warm, golden-skinned ones. He drew them to his lips and kissed Rayne’s fingers gently. His friend mellowed then, letting cool fingers skate tenderly around the peripheries of Aldo’s battered face. He made small, concerned noises at the damage to the older man’s once splendid proboscis. When Aldo made no objection he finally leaned closer and touched his lips to the bridge of his companion’s nose, kissing and licking the damaged flesh unstintingly. Aldo closed his eyes, simply enjoying the curious, almost fetishist worship of his proud Roman nose. He understood in part what the little vampire was trying to do; that his saliva could heal a flesh wound better than any drug. 

Finally, Rayne sat back, just planting a quiet kiss on the tip. Aldo still looked beaten up but the red-raw soreness was receding already. He leaned across to study himself in the mirror on the wardrobe door. It was little more than a miracle really.

“Does the boy know what you are?” he asked softly, at last. 

“He knows. And he’s not a kid, by the way.” Rayne kept his hands in Aldo’s not even trying to pull away. “He’s older than I was when you first fucked the daylights out of me.”

“And I am in my forties now, everyone under the age of 25 is a boy to me!” Aldo laughed, with genuine warmth and affection. “May I ask you a question?”

“You’ve had your fill, but I guess I’m your guest so I can’t stop you,” Rayne said grudgingly.

“If he asked it, would you make him as you are? If he was The One?” 

When Rayne lifted his head to look at him almost angrily, he added; “You would not grow old alone then.”

The vampire made a small, dismissive noise in the back of his throat, half laugh, half sneeze. He finally drew his hands out of the protective clasp of Aldo’s and moved to his feet. 

“You ask that as if it was something simple,” he said without inflection. 

“And is it not?” Aldo queried mildly. 

“And maybe he theoretically loves me today and maybe, theoretically, I love him. But what about in a year? Ten years? A hundred?” Rayne held out his hands to infinity. “What if he comes to despise me for it, to resent me for it? What if we wind up like Jabez and Kal, hunting and hurting and hating each other for centuries? I loathe this thing that I am, Aldo! Can’t you see that? I hate it with a passion! If I could die tomorrow, I would walk into the arms of death with a smile on my face. And you ask me, could I do this to another man? Well you have your answer!”

Rayne turned his back and stalked out of the room, slamming the door behind him. He did not want to think about the matter any more. It had already been too much in his mind to start with. His feet kept him moving out across the terrace into the darkness, until he had gone all the way down the four hundred steps to the cove below. He kept walking across the yielding sand, eventually feeling the surf lap at his ankles and feet. Even then he did not stop and the waves surged restlessly around his calves, then his thighs. Rayne pushed against the tide until the water came up to his armpits then at last he came to a halt, tilting his head back and letting the sea play over his scalp and the nape of his neck, cooling the fires of his temper, soothing his pain as it always did.

Some twenty plus years ago, a much younger, more idealistic Aldo had pulled his unconscious body from the waves of this self-same sea and called him back from the arms of death. Aldo, who loved him so much that he had killed for Rayne and would do it again in a heartbeat. Most people spent their lives yearning for such a love. Rayne Wylde had spent his on the run from it.

Tonight however, he turned and walked back to shore of his own free will. His rage was cooling slowly. The sea would not have him this night.

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