“Where is Chico?” I asked. He was usually at the centre of the group, since he was kind of like the ‘chief’ in a social sense.

Denny flashed me his dimply smile – he had the most adorable baby-face and guiltless blue eyes – and pointed to a spot behind me. “On the dance floor.”

Turning, I saw Chico dancing with Jude. The female Sventé had remained at The Hollow after we had helped her get justice on a criminal organisation that had been snatching human babies and selling them to vampire couples. One of those babies had been hers. On becoming a vampire, she had tried hunting the people responsible but hadn’t gotten very far all alone.

I noticed that the final three members of the squad – Max, Reuben, and Harvey – were standing near Chico, talking with members of other squads. There were, all in all, ten squads in Antonio’s legion. I also noticed that my best friend, Fletcher, was dancing with his boyfriend, Norm – both looked more like they were hyperventilating. Spotting me, they waved. Fletcher also happened to be mine and Jared’s personal assistant. And I absolutely loved the camp sod.

The energy in the place and the almost electric atmosphere was affecting Dexter, who was now in his tattoo form once more. I could always sense his mood without even looking at his colouring. Right now, he was feeling energised.

“No Evan?” Stuart asked.

I shook my head. Being Jared’s twin and a fellow commander, Evan often joined us to celebrate. Lately, though, he hadn’t been his usual playful self and had taken to brooding. He had been in a foul mood since the day after the Binding ceremony when all the guests had left. One of those guests had been a consort of one of the High Masters. As Bran was actually g*y but simply too private to announce it publically, his female consorts were nothing but a smokescreen. Evan had been pursuing one of those consorts, Alora.

Evan had actually seen Alora in a vision long before he met her, thanks to Luther whose gift of precognition allowed him to make others have a vision of their own. Evan had been waiting impatiently for her to finally appear in his life. It had been obvious to everyone that she wanted Evan. For whatever reason, however, she had resisted him. I’d asked him about it several times, but he refused to speak of it – even to Jared.

Threading his fingers through mine, Jared pulled me close and gestured to the dance floor. “Come on.” I followed him despite that dancing with Jared was never a good thing. Why? Because it was more like foreplay, and no one was as good at foreplay as Jared. Swaying and grinding his body against mine, he fondled and caressed and teased, but none of his touches were invasive. He didn’t need to have any part of him inside me to make me so ready for him that the feel of my own clothes was pissing me off.

In no time at all, the entire squad was plastered. Vampires could only get drunk by drinking the blood of intoxicated humans. Some of those intoxicated human females had approached Jared – which was dumb of them really, considering my homicidal tendencies. But Jared never drank from anyone other than me, and vice versa. Despite that I was sober as a judge, I felt drunk from Jared’s teasing. Of course he thought that was hilarious and was very pleased with himself. So I bit him.

The thing about Sventé saliva was that it could spark the ‘blood donor’ to have an orgasm if the vampire drank from them for more than ten seconds. Despite that I was now a hybrid, that hadn’t changed. I counted to eight before releasing him, but the damage was done – he was as horny as I was and more than ready to f**k. About bloody time. “I take it you’re ready to leave now.”

His lopsided smile had me smiling back. “You’re a tricky bitch, aren’t you? I can respect that.” He teleported us both to the living area of our apartment, where we instantly dived on each other, kissing wildly. A few seconds later, we froze. We weren’t alone. Breaking apart, we pivoted to find Antonio and Luther sitting on the sofa, blushing and avoiding our eyes.

A blush stained my own cheeks. Like Jared, I was fighting to contain a laugh. “Er…What a pleasant surprise.”

“Sorry to intrude,” said Antonio with a forced cough, still looking everywhere but at us. “As Luther and I knew you would be returning home soon, we thought we would wait here. Rest assured that we will not be doing that again.”

It took everything I had not to laugh. “You can look now.” Finally the two Kejas met our eyes, still extremely embarrassed. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but why are you here?” Usually when Antonio wanted to speak with us, he simply waited until the daily meetings he held at dusk in one of the conference rooms at his mansion. The fact that it was now approaching dawn made it even stranger for him to come to us.

“This is not about an assignment. It is a personal matter.”

I exchanged an uneasy look with Jared.

“Do not be alarmed. It is not bad news.” The Latino-looking vampire’s huge dark eyes were filled with reassurance. He was a very calming person to be around, which I wouldn’t have expected from the ruler of all vampirekind. He was a very elegant, graceful, and collected individual. Luther, his Advisor, was just as elegant. They couldn’t have looked more different. Whereas Antonio had dark shoulder-length hair, Luther looked…well, like Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.

Jared retrieved two breakfast stools from the kitchen for us, and then gave Antonio a questioning look.

Once we were seated, Antonio took a long breath. “I’ll get straight to the point. I have decided to step down from my position as Grand High Master.”

My brows flew to my hairline. “Say again?”

“I’m tired, Sam. I have had this position for a very long time, and I’m tired.” He sounded it as well.

“You’re kidding, right?” asked Jared. I sensed that he was feeling as incredulous as I was.

“I would like to step down and spend more time with the people I care about.”

“You mean Lucy, don’t you?” I quite liked the brunette. Lucy was one of the humans on the island and was also one of Antonio’s vessels – a human who fed him and only him. I’d noticed that Antonio had shed himself of his consorts and vessels until there was now only Lucy.

“In my early years, I was as ambitious as Jared,” Antonio told me. “And I fought hard for this position. Then I put everything I had into it, neglecting many of my own needs. At first, I avoided relationships because I wasn’t prepared to divide my time and attention. After that, it was because it seemed that I was surrounded by people who were not so much attracted to me but to the idea of being with the Grand High Master.”

Tags: Suzanne Wright Deep In Your Veins Vampires
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