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Authors: Carol Lynne

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BOOK: Liquid crimson
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Michael picked at the loose threads on the blanket. “Have you ever wanted someone to love you so much you ached every minute of the day?”

Gunnar didn’t say anything for the longest time, and Michael didn’t dare look up at him. He was laying his heart out there for Gunnar to see, and he wouldn’t be able to handle it if Gunnar laughed at him.

“I have,” Gunnar finally said.

Because his friend had been truthful, Michael decided to confide in him further. “I have a special gift to give Neo, if only he would fall in love with me.”

“You love him?” Gunnar asked.

“Yeah. Why is that? Other than a few brief snatches of time, he’s been nothing but mean and nasty to me since I got here. But sometimes, when he thinks no one is watching, he gets this look in his eyes.” Michael stopped to clear his throat of the quickly forming lump of emotions.

“I think he wants to be loved, but because of what’s happened to him he doesn’t feel he deserves it. Maybe it would help if you just told him how you feel?” Gunnar suggested.

“You think so?”

“Can’t hurt.”

“Did you tell the person you ached for that you loved him?” He watched Gunnar spit out the blade of grass and stand.

“No. He was killed before I could gather my courage.”

Michael stood and wrapped his arms around Gunnar. “I’m sorry the world’s not fair for you.”

Gunnar seemed to hesitate, but eventually wrapped his arms around Michael. “If anyone has the ability to make Neo happy, it’s you.”

Michael squeezed his big friend tighter. “You’re not as tough as you lead people to believe,” he teased.

Gunnar growled. “Don’t spread that around.”

* * * *

Later that evening, Michael approached the study door and knocked lightly. “Neo? Can I speak with you?”

“Come in,” Neo barked.

Michael entered and searched the room for
. He’d rehearsed all day what he was going to say. Before he’d reached his seat, Neo sprang out of his chair and wrapped his hand around Michael’s throat.

“You dare come into my office smelling like a wolf?”

Shocked, Michael opened his mouth to refute the allegation, but found he couldn’t speak.

“And not just any wolf, the head of my security!” Neo yelled and pushed Michael to the floor.

Michael’s hands immediately went to his throat, making sure Neo hadn’t broken anything. Although he’d witnessed
temper, he’d never known the man to be violent. “It wasn’t like that,” Michael croaked.

“Get out of my house!” Neo bellowed, walking away.

“Wait, please,” Michael begged. He knew that if he just told Neo the truth he would be forgiven.

Neo spun around, his face contorted into the mask of the vampire. “I knew it was a mistake to let you stay here. The only reason I agreed was because I pitied you. Spiro no longer wanted you around and now neither do I.”

Michael felt tears begin to build. He knew his father hadn’t felt that way, but the look in
eyes as he said it cut like a knife. “Do you really hate me so much?” he dared to ask.

“You’re a whore,” Neo spat. “You offered yourself to me within the first twenty-four hours, why should I be surprised you went elsewhere when I turned you down.”

“But I didn’t. I don’t want anyone but you.” Now was the time to say it. “I love you.”

Neo snorted. “If only you understood the words. Go home, little boy.”

His head snapped back as if he’d been slapped. Michael couldn’t believe what was happening. His emotions took over, and he threw his hurt at Neo like a weapon. “At least I don’t parade around a fuck partner in front of you. Do you think I’m so stupid I don’t hear what goes on in the next room? I’m the one who loves you!”

is no concern of yours!” Neo left the room in a puff of smoke.

Michael stayed on the floor, trying to figure out where he’d gone wrong. For whatever reason, his love wasn’t enough for Neo. What else did he have to give? No way would he run home to Spiro. He needed to think, to figure out what was so wrong with him that Neo found the idea of loving him revolting.

He remembered a cave he’d passed while jogging. Gunnar told him it was the wolves den when the moon was full. With the full moon more than a week away, Michael decided the cave might be just the place he needed to lick his proverbial wounds.

* * * *

After the third bottle of Liquid Crimson, Neo was starting to stagger. He leaned his head back and looked at the beams above. As they began to spin, he chuckled. “Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows,” he sang.

He’d retreated to his tasting barn to get away from the tears in Michael’s eyes. There was a part of him that wanted so much to believe Michael’s final words. What would it be like to have someone as special as Michael to love him?

He’d done a lot of thinking over the previous weeks and had come to the conclusion Michael had been sent to trick him into resuming the role of King. Well, he wouldn’t be pushed into something he wasn’t ready for.

Despite the fact that his brother had gone to a lot of trouble to arrange the little charade, Neo had figured it out before he’d made a fool of himself and confessed his feelings. Oh, he’d tried not to, but he’d dare anyone to be around the golden-haired man and not fall for his easy going manner and zest for life. The night in the vineyard had been the closest he’d come. Michael’s hair in the moonlight had drawn his eyes like a moth to a flame. The story Michael had told about his friend had really gotten to Neo. Now he questioned whether the story was as fabricated as Michael’s love.

The painting had been a reality check for Neo. One more reminder that he was no longer the man he once was. It would be unfair to Michael to ask him to also live his life in the dark of night. Even if Michael was a pawn in Spiro’s game, Neo wouldn’t condemn a man to live a life in the shadows.

The next thing Neo knew he was standing in Michael’s room. He hadn’t even remembered stumbling there. The first thing he noticed was the empty bed. Neo swallowed around the lump in his throat and went to the closet. When he found nothing but empty hangers, Neo sighed. “Maybe it’s better this way.”

He stumbled into his own room, unsurprised to find
naked with his cock in his hand. The
was beautiful, Neo would give him that, but for weeks he’d been unable to reach climax despite his best efforts. “Not tonight.”

sat up. “I heard the two of you quarrel earlier. I’d hoped to make you feel better so that you could forget all about Michael.”

Neo narrowed his eyes. Why hadn’t he noticed it before? Something in his bed partner had changed. It seemed
no longer looked at their time together as simple physical release. Somewhere along the way,
had begun to have feelings for him.

Neo sat on the edge of the bed and tugged gently on the plaited braid that draped over
chest. “You’ve been a good friend and companion for many years, but my heart does not belong to you. I’m sorry.”

Tears filled
eyes. It was the first time Neo had ever witnessed the alpha so emotional. “You don’t have to love me. Just let me love you, and it’ll be enough for me.”

Neo shook his head and cupped
cheek. “I can’t allow that. You deserve more.” Neo leant in and placed a soft kiss on
full lips. “It would be best if you didn’t come to me anymore.”

* * * *

Three nights later, Neo went looking for his chief of security. “Gunnar,” he called, walking into the dormitory. He’d tried his best to stay away from the wolf that had pawed Michael. Losing Michael had been hard enough, now it looked like he might lose his best friend as well.

“What?” Gunnar opened the door to his apartment.

“I just received a call from Morris Jones wanting to check your references.”

“And? I hope you gave me a good one. I’ve shown you more loyalty than you probably deserved.”

Neo pushed his way inside Gunnar’s small studio apartment. “What the hell is this about?”

Gunnar crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. “I thought what happened to you all those years ago sucked,
know? And I used to pass off your moods because I knew you’d been wronged, but then a man like you is actually given a chance at love and he spits in its face. Sorry, I just can’t work for someone like that.”

“I know
is going through a hard time, but I could no longer allow him dreams that would never be fulfilled.”

?” Gunnar took another step towards Neo. “I haven’t seen
in days. I was talking about Michael and the shitty way you’ve treated him.”

“Well aren’t you feeling all high and mighty for someone who had his hands all over Michael the same day he pretended to profess his love to me.”

“You can be such a dick,” Gunnar said, slamming the back of his fist against the wall behind him. “If you smelled Michael on me it was because he cared enough to comfort me when he saw me upset.”

Neo had never known Gunnar to lie to him. He narrowed his eyes and tried to read his friend. “Why were you so upset?”

“Michael asked me if I’d ever loved someone so much it was like a constant ache.” Gunnar met
gaze. “He loved you and you sent him away for it.”

Neo felt like he’d been punched. Without another word, he left Gunnar’s apartment. Memories of Michael’s face the night he’d thrown him to the floor came crashing back in on him. How could he have been so cruel?

As soon as he was in his study he called Spiro.

“Neo? Is there something wrong?” Spiro answered, his voice sounded like it was drifting down from the ceiling.

“Yes. I need to talk to Michael.”

“What? Neo, what’s going on?”

, Spiro, just let me talk to him.” Neo began pacing around his study.

“Michael’s not here. I haven’t seen him since the morning after I brought him to you.”


“I’ll be there in thirty seconds,” Spiro said.

“No. I’ll find him. I did this, so I’ll fix it.”

“It’ll be your head if something’s happened to him,” Spiro warned.

Neo didn’t need to worry about Spiro. If something had happened to Michael, he’d gladly offer his head to the gods. Visions of the dungeon came to mind. “No!” he screamed, forcing away the memories. “Michael will be fine.”
And when I find him,
I’ll never again let him out of my sight.

Chapter Four

Huddled against the back wall of the cave, Michael shivered. He’d been waiting for someone to care enough to look for him for three days. By the end of the second night, he knew the truth. Everything he’d thought was in
heart had been a pipe dream.

It was no longer a matter of wishing someone would come, but where he should go. To return to his father would only bring shame to the best man he’d ever known. Michael couldn’t do that. He loved Spiro too much.

A noise outside caught his attention. Michael sat up, hoping it was the man he’d fallen in love with. “Neo?”

A shadowed figure stepped into the cave. “No, but I’m happy to know you’re expecting him.”

Michael pressed his back against the rough wall. “Who are you?”

“My name is Liam. I’m an old friend of

The hair on the back of Michael’s neck prickled as he got to his feet. The man was lying. Although Michael didn’t know everything about Neo, it had become obvious in the months he’d been at the vineyard that Neo didn’t have outside friends. “What do you want?”

Liam laughed and moved towards Michael. “You.”

Michael darted to the side and took off. He didn’t get far before he was tackled to the hard floor by a much bigger body. “Neo will kill you if you touch me.”

Liam ground his hardened cock against Michael’s ass as he pinned his arms over his head. “Oh I plan to do much more than touch you.”

Michael dug his fingers into the packed dirt. He swallowed the bile that rose in his throat when Liam began stripping the clothes from his body. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because Neo took something from my coven. For hundreds of years we’ve waited for him to fall in love so we could exact our revenge.”

Michael couldn’t stop a laugh from escaping. “Oh, you’re so screwed. Neo doesn’t love me. I’ve been in this cave for three days and no one’s bothered looking for me. I imagine he’s in bed fucking that damn

Michael flinched when he felt Liam’s bare cock brush the cheek of his ass. “Help!” he screamed as loud as he could, bucking upward. The back of his head connected with Liam’s face as he continued to thrash.

Suddenly Liam sat up, grabbing Michael around the neck with his arm. “Someone’s coming.”

Liam tried to pull Michael to his feet, but Michael remembered what his father had taught him and forced his body to go limp. A blow landed to the side of his head, a heavy ring connecting with his cheekbone.

BOOK: Liquid crimson
10.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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