“Trying to keep busy.” Cas sampled his drink, his thoughts returning to Mirceo. What if additional Forbearers stalked the vampire? Mirceo traveled outside Dacia more than any others in that family—aside from Trehan, who was far too powerful for turned humans to challenge.

The Forbearers had known where to look for Mirceo. Their order would send out another force. And another one. Mirceo would never be safe. What if he’d already been captured?

Could I ever find him? Cas’s instinct to hunt burned—

“A fellow mentioned you by name last night,” Leyak said. “A vampire.”

Cas cursed the surge of excitement that the demon’s words roused. “Oh?”

“A clear-eyed one. Quite charming for a leech.”

Did Mirceo plan to infiltrate all parts of his life? When Cas’s claws shot even longer, he sank them into his palms. The bite of pain made him ache for the vampire to feed, to empty him of all this excess blood. “Can’t say this is a surprise. He’s been searching for me.”

Leyak blinked. “He didn’t ask after your whereabouts. Just used your name to get in the door here.”

A chill swept over Cas. “Are you saying he took a job?”

Leyak’s gaze shifted to the poster wall, where one ancient notice was conspicuously absent. “I’m saying he took the job.”

FIFTEEN

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“What the hell, vampire?” The demon shoved Mirceo outside of the Red Flag a nanosecond after he’d arrived.

“Is there a problem, sweetheart?” Mirceo had made sure enough of these hunters knew he was returning tonight.

Caspion released him. “You have no idea what you’ve done!”

Mirceo adjusted his trench coat. “You look tense.” An understatement.

The demon’s muscles were knotted, his teeth gritted. His member was semihard and growing. “Tense? Tense???”

“Indeed.” But Caspion’s face was weary. These four days apart haven’t been difficult for me alone. Mirceo had been choking down cups of non-Caspion blood just to maintain his weight. At his young age, a missed feeding hit hard. “If you’d like to take a moment to compose yourself, I have business to attend to inside.”

Caspion cast him a mystified look. “You’re not going anywhere.”

“Am I not?”

“Did you know you are obligated to complete any bounty you take from that wall? If you fail, the other hunters will all come after you. To kill you.”

“Someone might’ve alluded to that.” After Mirceo had yanked down the parchment. Funny, gentlemen, realllll funny.

Caspion scrubbed his hand over his face. “How did you even know to come to this tavern?”

“You mentioned it once.” He’d described it as a meeting place and exchange for hunters. Since Mirceo had possessed zero alternatives for finding Caspion, he’d laid a trap of his own.

“Let’s see the job.” The demon snapped his fingers. “Now.”

“No need to be a churlish lout.” Mirceo pulled the poster from his trench, unfolding it. “Allow me to read it for—”

Caspion snatched the parchment. “I can read now.”

“My brilliant mate.” Caspion did a double-take at Mirceo’s sudden smile. “You fill me with pride. I told you all those books would be read by you. Only I had thought to teach you.”

Pulling at his collar, he said in a gruff tone, “Taught myself.”

Mirceo sighed. “Haven’t I always complimented you on your considerable intellect?”

The demon scowled. “Can we get back to this?” Then he read:

WANTED!

Dead or alive

Adham “Silt” Harea, the Sorceri King of Sand

Murderer, cannibal, oath breaker, invoker of dark rites, and fugitive from the law

Last seen: The Plane of Lost Years

Reward: Forty dragon-gold coins

Offered by the Gaolers

Caspion’s lips parted. “How could you have . . . why did you pick this one?”

It had looked like an ideal job with lots of money, which the demon had always been concerned about. At least in the past. “Because I’m keen to visit the Poly.” To see where his mate had lived—away from me—for so long.

“Just Poly,” Caspion corrected. “You don’t know the first thing about tracking down a bounty.”

“That’s true. If only I had a scry crystal.” He tapped his chin. “Oh, wait . . .”

“You deserved that and more.”

Shrug. “Since you robbed me of the crystal’s use, you should show me the ropes. We could split the huge payout on this one. Do you know how valuable dragon gold is?”

“I don’t need money, leechling! I made plenty on Poly.”

“Exactly—you know the terrain there.”

“There’s a reason this job still posted,” Caspion said, sounding exasperated. “It is impossible.”

“If we work together, I’m sure we can find a random sorcerer.” Besides, Mirceo was chafing for the chance to prove himself to his mate.

“I can already find him. You think I spent centuries in that place unaware of the most coveted bounty in the realm?”

“Then why haven’t you claimed it?”

“Did you even read the poster before you took it down?”

“Sure.” He’d noted the reward and the location.

“That sorcerer’s lair is protected both physically and mystically. No one can fight their way past the monsters guarding it, and sorcery prevents anyone from tracing past them.”