Phoenix Moorhaven liked things just so. He likes his house running in perfect order, his coffee with a bit of blood and his manservant untouched by anyone—ever. When Declan decides to start dating Moor scrambles to intercede. After all messing with Declan could upset the pristine organization of his household.
Declan has pined for Moor long enough. Determined to have a life of his own Declan accepts a meeting with a blind date. However vampire masters and dating don’t mix and at the end of the night he’ll see a side of Moorhaven he never expected.
Declan West tidied the den, plumping pillows and verifying not a speck of dust graced any surface. After the third run-through to check that everything sat in its proper place, he gave the room a pleased nod. With his obsessive-compulsive tendencies temporarily sated, Declan left his master’s office and headed for the front door.
The clock struck midnight as he reached the wooden double doors. Without checking the peephole or peering through the front windows, he pulled the doors open just as his master, Phoenix Moorhaven, walked up the steps.
“Good evening, Declan,” Master Phoenix said in his rich, mellow voice.
“It is technically morning, sir,” Declan corrected him automatically as he did every day at this time. Being exact was a science the vampire didn’t subscribe to.
“So it is,” Master Phoenix agreed, his gold eyes shining with amusement.
“You let your servant talk back to you like that!” The blonde lady on Master Phoenix’s arm sneered at Declan.
“Mind your manners, dear. I might be the leader of the vampires, but Declan is the master of my house,” Master Phoenix scolded. His tone might have been mild, but his expression went colder than the Arctic Circle.
Declan took his master’s coat without comment. The opinion of one blonde tramp meant nothing to him. Master Phoenix would fuck her, suck her, and toss her out at sunrise. He never kept his food around for long. As far as Declan could tell, his master had no interest in any human, male or female, beyond sustenance. Too bad, since Declan wouldn’t mind being on the menu.
“The den is prepared for you, sir,” Declan prodded, eager to have the vampires out of the way so he could finish his morning rituals.
Master Phoenix’s warm smile, the one he saved only for Declan, eased his irritation. He might merely be a servant, but Declan knew how much the vampire appreciated the smooth running of his household. Master Phoenix’s pleasure in Declan’s work was shown in the many bonuses Declan found in his paycheck.
“Good morning, Master Lorrie. I didn’t see you at first, please accept my apologies.” Declan greeted his master’s vampire companion.
Lorrie Bellows, the second-in-command of the vampire coven, gave Declan a friendly nod. “That’s all right. I know I don’t exist until you have Moor settled.”
Declan granted Lorrie one of his rare smiles. Lorrie had a winning way without using over-the-top flattery. There were always a few who tried to get to Master Phoenix through his prized servant, forcing Declan to waste his precious time returning their presents and bribes.
Declan’s integrity wasn’t for sale.
“May I take your coat, sir, and that of your companion?”
They both handed over their expensive outerwear. Master Phoenix’s bite for the evening hadn’t bothered wearing a jacket, probably worried about hiding her cleavage. Declan could’ve told her the vampire cared more about her blood than her breasts; however, he stayed silent. He never interfered with donors as long as they didn’t mess up the house.
Declan hung up their jackets with meticulous care, then closed the door, only to turn and find the entire party staring at him.
“There are drinks and snacks in the west parlor,” he prompted. He always put out food and juice for the guests. They tended to be hungry after the vampires fed.
No one moved. Really, why were they still watching him?
He raised an eyebrow at his boss. Master Phoenix smirked, then wrapped an arm around his food for the evening and turned to lead the girl away.
“So when are you going to leave Moor and come work for me?” Lorrie teased as he walked past.
Master Phoenix spun around, abandoning his date. “What?”
Declan didn’t roll his eyes, but only because it would take away from his dignity. “Master Lorrie appears to think I’m underpaid and overworked,” he explained. Lorrie lived to poke at the vampire leader, and Declan refused to fuel that fire.
Declan’s gaze zeroed in on a piece of lint sticking to Master Phoenix’s suit. Annoyed that it had passed his previous inspection, he walked over and plucked it from the vampire’s jacket. He carefully brushed down the fabric to smooth over the slight mark he’d made with his nails while trying to ignore how good Master Phoenix smelled. The vampire always wore an alluring scent Declan had never been able to identify, sort of a combination of cloves and honey. Why a vampire smelled sweet, Declan didn’t know, but he tried to keep his sniffing to a minimum.
Declan almost jumped when a large hand tilted his chin up until he met his boss’ eyes. “Were you considering leaving me?”
For a moment he thought he saw a flash of hurt in Master Phoenix s eyes, but abandoned the idea as foolish. The vampire never took particular notice of Declan unless something went wrong. “Don’t be ridiculous, sir. Why would I leave here? You’re an excellent employer.”
It would be difficult to find another boss who allowed Declan to arrange everything to his own liking and schedule.
“Good.” Master Phoenix stroked Declan’s head like a favored pet. “I’d be at loose ends without you.” He pointed a finger at Lorrie. “I forbid you to steal my butler. The entire coven would be in disarray if Declan weren’t here to keep me in line.”
Lorrie laughed. “Surely, you exaggerate.”
Master Phoenix shook his head. “Declan organizes my life to perfection, so don’t go messing with it.”
Declan’s head got another stroke. “Take the rest of the evening off, Declan, and don’t go wandering in the woods. You nearly gave me a heart attack last time.”
He didn’t bother to acknowledge Master Phoenix’s grumbled order. “I’ll see you later, sir.” He gave Lorrie a reproachful look that was met by a playful wiggle of his eyebrows.
Declan had only wandered close to the woods once, and the strong protection spells had kept him back. Asking around didn’t lead to any clues about what might be out there, so Declan let the subject drop. Master Phoenix’s reaction to an innocent walk was way overboard. Overprotective vampire.
Shaking his head, Declan headed for his room. He didn’t want to be around while the vampires fed. Sometimes their partners moaned really loud. It only underscored to Declan that he needed to find a lover, but who was going to get together with a slightly neurotic butler who had to be on twenty-four-hour call for his boss. Few men would put up with being second place to any job, much less one involving vampires.
Back in his room, Declan pulled up his profile on the online dating site he’d recently joined. He spent the next few hours going through the improbable bios and dirty emails he’d received while he had been working. A few he put in his saved folder to look at in more detail later. Maybe one of them would pan out. He didn’t need a full-time lover. Hell, at this point, he’d take a part-time fuck buddy. Anything would be better than spending every night dreaming about his boss.
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