The meat vanished quickly beneath the onslaught of Jacques knife and fork as he consumed his sustenance with speed rather than for flavor. The last time he had been this hungry was after a full moon when one of the betas was being an asshole and holding back food from the younger children. Luckily Alpha Caldera had heard about his actions the next morning and disciplined the jerk. Knell had carried the scars from his actions until last year when he was killed in a bar fight. Apparently he hadn’t restricted his jerk behavior to inside the pack and a human with a knife had taken exception to his behavior.
After polishing off his plate he sought out Nevio. The vampire stared at him for several minutes before bowing his head.
“I apologize for taking so much blood. It appears you are sensitive to my bite.”
“What does that mean? Does it affect our contract?” Fear slid through him like a winter fog. If he cancelled the contract he would have to leave. He paused, his racing thoughts. Since when had that been a concern?
“Please have a seat, my dear.” Nevio pointed to a well-padded leather chair on the other side of his desk before moving to sit in its twin.
Jacques pressed his lips together to hold back his demands that Nevio tell him everything. It was obvious from the way Nevio watched him that the vampire knew something about this situation and what it meant.
Nevio rested his elbows on the chair arms then steepled his fingers. For several minutes he didn’t speak as he regarded Jacques like an interesting problem he had yet to solve.
A low growl build in Jacques throat, only years of learned restraint held it back. “You said you wanted to talk.”
The slow smile lighting Nevio’s handsome twisted Jacques up inside. Why couldn’t he be bonded to an ugly vampire. Surely they had those.
“I think we have a problem due to the fact we are mates your blood is more delicious than any other which leads me to taking more than I should and making you weak.”
Jacques scratched at the back of his neck. “How do you think we can solve this problem? You have more experience with this sort of thing so I’m sure you’ve already thought of a solution.”
“Yes, I have. I propose that I drink more frequently from you.”
“And this will help how? I don’t think it will make me less drained unless you plan to take less when you feed.”
“Exactly, you are as brilliant as you are beautiful.”
Jacques rolled his eyes. It must be something about vampirism that made them so over the top with their compliments. He had noticed it in the speech pattern of some of the other vamps also, this need to over compliment people.
“So how will this work?”
“I know this isn’t wasn’t in our contract so I’m offering a special incentive if you will.”
“A bribe you mean,” Jacques didn’t believe in talking around an issue.
“I always forget how straightforward you shifters are,” Nevio pouted.
Jacques yanked his fascinated gaze away from Nevio’s lush mouth to try and stay focused on the conversation. “So what’s the deal?”
Best get things back on track before his lion instincts took over and he pounced on the sexy vampire before him.
“If you allow me to take a small sip of your blood every day for the next two months, I’ll let you go with Mr. Underson on his archeological expedition.”
The immediate urge to pounce on the offer wavered with his innate suspicion over Nevio’s idea. “How will you survive while I’m gone?”
Jacques raised his right eyebrow. “Who said I was going to let you go without me?”
“Am I never going to do anything alone again?” An entire pack of wolves couldn’t hold back his whine.
“Are you so eager to leave me?”
Although Nevio asked in an even tone his eyes reflected a sorrow Jacques hadn’t expected. He chose his next words with care. “No, I just wanted to know the parameters of our relationship. It’s not that I’m trying to escape I’m just used to doing things alone.”
“You lived in a pack,” Nevio pointed out.
“Yes, but I was the only lion and we are more solitary by nature. The pack knew when to leave me alone.”
“I can understand that.” Nevio went back to examining Jacques with his eerily knowing gaze. “I can’t promise anything. Every relationship is different and ours is even more so. I want you to be happy so I will try not to crowd you but I have to tell you, my sweet, that I will always need to know where you are at all times. I might not need to be plastered to your side but my protective instincts want to know that you are safe.”
“Fair enough. I can’t exactly argue over someone following their instincts. My inner lion certainly has enough of them.” He let a wry smile curve his lips. “You aren’t alone in that need. I just don’t want to live my life in a gilded cage.
“Which is why I’m trying to give you space by allowing you to go on this expedition. I am going for blood and curiosity. I’d like to learn more about why you are so fascinated with this sort of thing. For me antiquities are merely parts of my past.”
“How old are you?” Curiosity overcame politeness.
“Old enough.” Nevio flashed a toothy smile.
“Fine, don’t share,” Jacques muttered.
Nevio’s husky laugh rolled through Jacques like a warm tingly wave. He crossed his legs to hide how much he enjoyed the sound