Content Warning: BDSM
Orion is a vampire with a tragic past. After running away from abusive parents at the tender age of sixteen, he was turned by a ruthless elder vampire and forced to torture and sexually abuse human feeders and submissive vampires. Though that's all behind him now, he still lives in the shadow of what he was, and it has cost him the loyalty of Xavier, the human feeder he loves. Malagan is Orion's closest friend--the vampire who saved him from brutality all those years ago. Malagan knows the dominant side of Orion--the side Xavier needs--is still there, lurking below the surface. But if Orion's going to find his way back to who he ought to be, he'll need help. And Malagan is just the man for the job.
Excerpt: Three months later, he had his answer, as Orion paced frantically around the library, clenching and unclenching his shaking hands. “I told you I couldn’t do this!” Orion hissed.
Malagan steepled his fingers in front of him and leaned back in his chair. “What happened?”
“What always happens! He ran away from me again! I found him at a club two towns over, being fed on by vamps from another clan.” Orion ran his hands through his hair, clutching his fingers at the ends and tugging. “He bore my scent. My mark. And they ignored it!”
Malagan shrugged. “Just as any other vamp would if they found a stray.” He tried unsuccessfully to keep the snide tone from his voice. Stray feeders were like stray cats—cute enough everyone wanted to pet them and feed them, but dirty enough no one really wanted to keep them.
“He’s not a stray!” Orion rounded on him, eyes glowing bright red, fangs descended. “You would do well to mind your clan and your borders!”
Though impressed and encouraged by Orion’s display of domi- nance, Malagan couldn’t let it go unanswered. He curled his upper lip in a snarl and stood. “You would do well to remember your place, Orion.”
Orion glared at Malagan, breathing hard, his internal war evident. At last he pulled his fangs up and took a step backward. “I’m sorry.”
Malagan crossed to him, tipped his head back with a finger under his chin. “Don’t be sorry. Be respectful. That’s all I ask. You know as well as I that a marked feeder far from his home is probably a stray. They likely didn’t ask if he had a Master, and Xavier likely didn’t offer the fact that he did. You are my dearest friend, but it’s not a situation I’ll go to war over.”
Orion nodded. “I know.” He looked away, but rested his hands on Malagan’s hips. “What am I to do, Mal? My heart is in chaos. If I cannot command Xavier’s loyalty, how can I command his love? Or anyone else’s? A vampire master who wakes in the night with no clue where his feeder has gone.” He shook his head miserably. “I see the looks the others give me. I have neither their respect nor their regard.”
Malagan leaned in and nipped at Orion’s ear. “You have mine, on all counts.”
“I’m grateful for that.” Orion raised his head to meet Malagan’s eyes. “More than you know. My Maker said he’d change my life. That’s what he told me, the night he found me. He promised me power, control, and I believed him.” He turned and stepped away, but Malagan caught him by the arm and pulled him close again.
“You had no reason not to.” Malagan fitted their bodies together tightly, ground his hips against Orion’s ass.
“I should’ve known better. I should’ve found a way to leave.” Though Orion finally leaned back into the embrace, his body was rigid.
Malagan tugged Orion’s neatly tucked shirt up and slid his hands up under it to touch the only slightly chilly flesh, fascinated by it, as always. Orion had never been as cold to the touch as most vampires. “And how many would be dead, if you had?”
Orion shrugged. “Maybe they’d be better off that way.” He pulled away, head hanging, and wrapped his arms around his middle tightly, shaking. “You should take Xavier. Or someone else should. Anyone.”
“No. He needs more from me than I can give. I’m not that man anymore.”
Malagan sighed. He’d watched his friend struggle these past few years, had tried to stand back and let Orion figure things out. What he should’ve done was shown Orion what he saw when he looked in Orion’s eyes. Shown Orion the strength buried under all that doubt and shame. He took a deep breath and quirked an eyebrow at his own idea. This might hurt a bit. Malagan grabbed Orion by the shoulder and turned him around roughly.
“Shut up!” Malagan snapped. “If you’re not a Master, then you’re a feeder.” He shoved Orion back against the wall and lowered his head to Orion’s neck.