Season Content Notes: abduction, blood, sexual content
I didn’t know what was happening. One moment we were talking, the next Victor was on the counter top, and I was being bustled downstairs between Leyla and Karen. They brought me back to the training room, opened the closets, and started pulling out gear.
Marcus came in behind us with a gun drawn. Ozanna looked in from her bedroom, then ducked back, and a moment later, I heard her on the phone with Emil.
I watched them go through practiced motions. Leyla finished getting her gear on and stepped back, leaving room at the closet for Marcus. She dashed out of the room.
Why? To help Victor and Benj? To trade places with them?
I didn’t know what was happening and I was getting pissed off.
“Marcus,” I demanded.
He turned back from the closet to look at me. He was impatient, almost annoyed.
“What is going on?” I asked.
“Now is not–”
“Are we under attack?”
“Not yet, but…”
I ignored the rest of what he tried to say. In that moment, I realized something.
All the problems of the last week? It was my fault. I hadn’t told them what I wanted and needed from them. I had let hurt and insecurity keep me from pushing when they pulled away. I was the last Lady of the Lună Clan, and I wasn’t supposed to wait. I was supposed to lead.
I straightened my shoulders, firmed my voice, and stepped up.
“Give me the 10-second version and get me tied into your comm network. I know what our enemies can do better than you do, and I have abilities of my own.”
He stared at me a moment, then shook his head. “I really fucked up,” he said.
“I was thinking the same thing,” I smiled.
The moment seemed to stretch, and I remembered all the reasons I had wanted this man as sotii, as first.
Then he nodded briskly. “Victor spotted a military drone over the house. We don’t know who sent it or why, so we’re shifting to a higher level of security and keeping our eyes on it. Once everyone is suited, we’ll decide our next moves.”
He waited a moment, then went back to the closet. When he came out again, he had an earpiece and showed me how to fit it into my ear.
While we’d been talking, Karen had left, and Benj and Victor had come and started suiting up.
When Marcus was done explaining the comm, I pushed into the closet next to them, digging out my vest, throat guard, and knives. Since no one else was talking, I activated the comm and started the run down I should have made sure they had before I first tasted their blood.
“Combat is usually fang, blade, and magic. Guns draw too much attention. But if they can make it look like a gang killing or are sure they can get away cleanly, they might use guns.
“This isn’t Vânt — they can control birds, so they wouldn’t use a drone.”
Marcus kicked himself for a dozen kinds of fool. What the hell had he been thinking? He’d fallen right into treating this like a standard celebrity gig. He hadn’t even made sure the principal — that Nastasia had body armor. Never mind getting intel on the threats they faced or any a dozen other things.
Listening to Nastasia’s info and Karen’s updates on the drone, he admitted that he’d panicked.
The morning after taking this gig, he’d woken up with a scratchy throat and already feeling at least five years younger. Nastasia was a beautiful young woman — emphasis on the young, nearly half his age — who looked at him like she wanted to lick him all over and made him feel things no self-respecting man his age would. When she’d said she needed blood, his cock had nearly ripped a hole in his pants, and he’s panicked.
The blood went in a cup, his cock got shut down hard, and he dug in his feet, ignoring both magic and his to-attractive employer.
And this was where it got him. A threat literally hovering overhead and an unprepared team, less than half an hour after their princi- after Nastasia had nearly broken down over how they’d been treating her.
They didn’t have time for him to beat himself up, but he couldn’t manage not to.
Maybe management had been right. Maybe he should have retired already…
“Stop it,” Nastasia said — not over the comm. “The bond doesn’t like whatever you are thinking, and I can guess what it is.”
Marcus paused in double-checking his gear and looked at her.
She’d pulled her fall of dark hair back into a high ponytail. Her eyes stood out darkly against her face. Black body armor covered her chest and neck.
She looked like a deadly vision.
He was so fucked.
“You’re my first, Marcus,” I said. “I picked your team — you — for a reason.”
He licked his lips, and I breathed through the rush of desire. In the background, I heard Karen say that the drone had shifted to a wider circle, not as focused on our home.
“We both fucked up, but you need to understand something.” He tapped his earpiece but didn’t take his eyes off of me. “You aren’t team lead anymore. You aren’t in charge of everything.”
He started to shake his head, but I drove over him. I refused to fail them again.
“I am the clan leader. I am in charge. And that makes it my responsibility.
“But I can’t do it alone. So please stop beating yourself up, and work with me. Help me not to fuck up again.”
He stared at me for a long moment, and the bond sang between us. Lună whispered in my ear.
I drew one of my knives and offered it to him. “Will you be first of my sotii, Marcus Lear of the Clan of Lună?”
He didn’t hesitate. He took the knife and sliced it lightly across his forearm. Blood welled up, shining against his dark skin and just as potent as the first time he’d offered it to me.
“I will be your first, Nastasia. I will be your guard, advisor, friend… and maybe one day more. And I will not fail my team again.”
I barely had time to put my mouth to his arm and taste his blood when the comm crackled.
“Sorry to interrupt, love birds, but we’ve got incoming.”