New Rome Pleasure Palace
Months ago . . .
“I like your style, demon.”
Cas had just tipped his head back to relax in the warm springs when he heard that low voice above all the others in the bathhouse.
He sat upright on the underwater bench and gazed over in that direction, peering through the steam across the sizable pool. Hooded gray eyes stared back at him.
The black-haired vampire? The ladies at this palace whispered that he was a prince of some ancient line, rich beyond measure, and a generous lover of both males and females. He was a contradiction—a natural-born vampire whose eyes were clear of the red that signaled bloodlust.
Fawning admirers surrounded the prince; so why would he be addressing Cas?
“My style?” He must’ve watched me tonight. Cas was fresh from the Monday night free-for-all, an orgy with hundreds of immortals. He’d just stopped for a soak and a last mug of cheap brew before returning to his home realm of Abaddon.
To face his failure. The first-ever hunt he couldn’t complete.
The vampire’s expression was amused. “I saw you in action earlier, sweetheart.”
Cas’s face warmed at that endearment. Blushing? As a demon well-versed in sex, he didn’t blush. “We do what we can.”
The prince laughed, the rich sound pleasing to the ear. A lock of shoulder-length black hair fell over one of those gray eyes, and he smoothed it back. Though his clean-shaven face was vampire pale, his high cheekbones were tinged with healthy color. “A charmer, aren’t you?” He had a thick accent. Romanian? “Come join us.”
Everyone in the bathhouse—immortals fucking on lounge chairs, in the water, even in the air—seemed to be watching this exchange.
What does he want with me? “I’m good, thanks.”
Gasps sounded from all around. The prince’s brows shot up with surprise. Never been turned down before? With a slow grin spreading over his face, the vampire rose and began making his way across the pool.
Those deserted admirers shot Cas killing looks. As if he’d sought this attention? He was straight, which the prince would have gathered if he’d truly watched Cas in action.
Instead of tracing, the vampire chose to wade through the waist-deep water. He looked to be a few inches shorter than Cas’s seven feet. Whereas Cas possessed a brawny build, the prince was leanly muscled.
Other immortals clocked his hypnotic movements. A succubus riding a blue zalos demon on a massage table tweaked her nipples as she stared. When the prince passed a nymph—who was getting railed from behind by a huffing warlock—she stretched just to brush her fingertips along his arm.
Typical vampire magnetism. In order to feed, members of that species lured other beings within striking range. A biological necessity made vampires some of the most mesmerizing creatures in the Lore.
Once he reached Cas, the prince stretched out on the narrow bench beside him, utterly at ease. “Greetings, demon.”
Cas inclined his head. “What’s brought you over here?” Into this darkened corner. With me.
“My cock.” The vampire gestured to his semihard shaft, visible through the steam and water.
Cas tensed. “Pardon?”
“The wayward thing has a mind of its own. It points, and I must follow.” Staring down, he gave a woebegone sigh. “If only it weren’t so beautiful . . .”
“Your wayward cock was mistaken to point you in my direction.” A sentence I never thought I’d say. Already in this limited exchange, Cas had lost his equilibrium and couldn’t quite recover it.
The prince raised his gaze. “I’m jesting with you,” he said, immediately mouthing, I’m not jesting with you.
“I desire only females, friend.”
The vampire’s lips curved, revealing white teeth and fangs. “My own desires are not as . . . restricted. But I have others who can sate those needs. I didn’t seek you out for a mere fuck.”
He didn’t want to fuck Cas? An odd thought arose: What does he find objectionable about me? “Then what do you want?”
“For now, I’ll have your name.”
He grudgingly answered, “Caspion.” The other males Cas hung out with—rowdy demons in Abaddon and fellow bounty hunters—seemed far less complex than this vampire.
“I’m Prince Mirceo. Call me Mirceo.”
“Prince of what kingdom?”
“A secret one. I’m afraid I can’t tell you more.”
Was this vampire toying with him? Though Cas’s closest friend, Bettina, was heir to the throne of their demonarchy, he mistrusted the wealthy. Bettina was the rare exception.
Mirceo said, “Already I break the laws of my people, just by conversing with an otherlander.”
Cas doubted the prince wanted only conversation. They always want more. He felt as if he lived two lives: his normal existence in Abaddon, and his shadow life filled with sexual exploits. No one in his shadow life cared to converse with a demon like Cas. “You joined me for a reason. . . .”
“Perhaps I seek the friendship of a fellow erotic connoisseur. Tell me about yourself.”
Why waste his time with me? Unlike the others here, Cas had little money and zero education. He’d grown up on the streets, wearing rags, scavenging from refuse bins, and begging. He’d had no name, so everyone had called him Beggar.
Cas came to this opulent pleasure den solely because the management let him in for free, and the women were always stunning.