Mirceo had broken that rule more times than he’d followed it. “Absolutely not.”

“But Uncle Lothaire says it’s time for us to open our borders and interact with other Loreans.”

Among other radical changes, the mad king had relaxed all travel restrictions. He even planned to lift the veil of Dacian secrecy, bringing the kingdom out of hiding.

“This is my final word on the subject, sister. I will speak with Lothaire.” Mirceo didn’t relish the idea. Though the Dacianos had brought the rightful heir into the realm to rule, the three-millennia-old Enemy of Old had proven to be a handful. “Somehow I will make him see reason. Or I’ll prevail upon our queen if necessary.” Lothaire’s vampire mate, Elizabeth, was a former human, a tough-as-nails mountain girl he’d turned immortal.

It hadn’t been so long ago when she’d nearly decapitated Lothaire during one of their fights—which, knowing Lothaire, had been a justified response. Once he’d healed, the king had cut out his own heart and mailed it to her as a kiss-off. She’d severed her middle finger and mailed it back in salutations.

With his red eyes merry, the Enemy of Old had once summed up their courtship: “There was drama.”

If those two could get past their matehood issues, surely Mirceo and Caspion could. He told Mina, “Elizabeth will back me on this.”

Lothaire worshipped his “hellbilly” queen, and her influence over him was substantial. Mirceo had seen them together just this morning in one of the castle’s shadowy nooks. Lothaire had stroked Elizabeth’s mink-brown hair behind her ear as he’d gazed into her eyes. “You are everything,” he’d said simply.

She’d sighed, “I’m sweet on you too, Leo.”

Mina stopped in the street. “Brother, please just consider the possibility.” Her eyes glinted. “I feel like . . . like I’m slowly dying down here.”

“As opposed to quickly dying out there?” At the thought of losing her, his lungs seemed to contract. I couldn’t survive it. He just prevented himself from digging his black claws into his chest.


He had adored his mother and father. Though they’d been formidable immortals in their prime, they’d perished easily enough.

Mirceo would lock Mina in the dungeon before he lost another loved one. He pinned her gaze. “Mark my words, Kosmina Daciano, you will not be leaving this kingdom for centuries to come. . . .”


New Rome Pleasure Palace

“Which female would you like, sir?” the palace purveyor, a vampire/fey halfling, asked Cas. “All of them are available, except for the two on the settee.” He gestured toward a pair of busty, redheaded nymphs. Just Mirceo’s type.

Stop thinking about him.

Cas had tried to keep busy today, checking on the apprenticeships he’d set up before he’d left for Poly. Now he was able to fund as many as he liked, benefitting even more pups in Abaddon.

For some reason, he’d never told Mirceo about working with those foundlings.

Stop. Thinking. About. Him. Easier said than done; Cas had first met the vampire in this very place, a usual haunt of Cas’s when he’d been in his twenties—mere months ago on this plane.

He gazed over the line of remaining females. Demonesses, succubae, nymphs . . . He finally had the finances to pay for his shadow life, yet all he could think about was Mirceo’s promise to make him ejaculate till his balls pled for mercy.

And just like that, Cas’s shaft stirred. All day, he’d wondered how Mirceo would find him. A blooded vampire would not take separation from his . . . fated one lightly.

Cas still couldn’t believe he’d blooded his former friend. Or that the vampire had bitten him! Now the arrogant prince could dream his memories. Every demeaning one.

Last night, Cas had peered in the mirror at the healing bite on his neck, tracing it with a sick captivation. In a way, Mirceo had marked him, which had alternately infuriated and aroused Cas.

He’d stroked off repeatedly, gritting his teeth against the pleasure that prick had forced on him. Focus, Cas.

Demonesses, succubae, nymphs . . . Yet none of those smiling beauties called to him—

A familiar scent hit Cas. Mirceo was here? Chasing me again!

“Fancy meeting you here,” the vampire said as he strode into the salon. He wore even tighter leather breeches and a form-fitting white shirt that highlighted his teeth and fangs.

The ones that were shoved inside me last night. Cas grew rock-hard. “Do you think to stop me from enjoying myself here?”

“Stop you?” Mirceo flashed him a confused glance. “I’m here for myself. I’ve got two females on reserve. I can indulge in my old pastimes now that you’ve blooded me and awakened my body once more. I mean, look at me, Caspion”—he gestured at himself—“someone should be enjoying all this perfection.” So sly, so bloody seductive.

Cas’s heart pounded in his ears.

The vampire’s gaze dipped to Cas’s groin, then back up. “Careful, sweetheart, your eyes are turning black with rage.”

Cas heard the females whispering:

“Mirceo’s already been blooded!”

“The demon and the vampire are mates!”

“Would’ve loved to see their claiming.”

“To be the jam in that sandwich!”

There’d been no claiming! Turning to the purveyor, Cas said, “I’ll take those.” With a careless wave, he indicated a succubus with purple hair and a dark-eyed nymph, then chanced a glance at Mirceo.