“I have to be imagining this.” Mirceo was so weakened that his vision had blurred, his thoughts a snarl.

“I’m here.” The demon swept the backs of his fingers over Mirceo’s cheek to brush away a tear. “I will be as long as you let me.”

“You and Mina are the only things that matter to me. But I lost you both.”

“You’ve lost neither.” He cupped Mirceo’s face. “Heed my words: We are going to find Mina alive. I took her poster from the board, entering myself and my partner into that contract. Together he and I have never failed to claim a bounty.”

“You truly believe we can?”

“Yes. And when we bring her back here, perhaps Lothaire will view my presence as something other than an insult.”

Mirceo trusted Caspion. If the demon said they’d find Mina alive, then they would. The fears that had threatened to undo him began to recede to a manageable level.

“We’ll leave as soon as you’re ready. So you need to drink, leechling. You’re far too young to go without blood.”

“You’re not the latest in a long line,” Mirceo blurted out. “You’re the last. My last. My ever. I need you to know that I kept my fangs in my pants and my dick in my mouth.”

Caspion’s blond brows rose. “Okay, vampire, you really have to drink now.”

Mirceo frowned. “Am I making sense? Can’t seem to think.”

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“We’ll talk about all this once you’ve recovered. Please feed.”

Mirceo swayed against him. “I might not keep it down.”

“You will, because your panic will be less. You’ve identified the cause of it, and we know what we face. You understand the road ahead, and you better believe we’ll prevail. But you need to drink to be strong for the job.” Caspion drew a claw over the side of his neck, then cupped the back of Mirceo’s head to press him to the bleeding slash.

Warm drops glistening against bronzed skin . . . Mirceo’s fangs went razor-sharp, but he needed to get these words out. “Why are you being so kind to me after what I did? I fucked up that morning. And I fucked up months ago when I manipulated you. I am so sorry for that.”

Caspion’s brows drew together. “I can’t regret what happened, because we’re fated. But I’ll kick your ass if you do something like that again. Now, drink.”

_______

Though the vampire panted with starvation, he somehow dragged his haunted eyes away from the blood. “I need to know that we’re bonded . . . that we will get back to where we were . . . the night you claimed me.”

“No, leechling. Because I feel even more for you than I did then. I godsdamned love you.” He thumped Mirceo on the ear. “Now, shut up and suck.”

Mirceo gave a strained laugh. But he did ease closer and pressed his mouth against Cas’s neck. Tentative licks followed.

“Bite, vampire.”

With a weak growl, Mirceo sank his fangs into ready and waiting flesh.

“That’s it, love.” Cas gazed at the ceiling as he healed his mate, solidifying their connection again. “Drink.”

As Mirceo sucked, his body began to fill out, his injuries mending.

“I’m strong for us,” Cas assured him. “Take as much as you need.”

Mirceo’s reedy heartbeat slowed and deepened. Soon it had synced with Caspion’s, one loud drum in their ears.

“You feel that, Mirceo?” He groaned in response, and together they basked in the connection. “You need someone to take care of you. Let me be that mate.”

Mirceo’s arms wrapped around Cas’s chest, and he moaned his assent.

“I’m sorry that I didn’t have faith in you,” Cas said. “Or in my ability to keep you. I’ll never doubt either of us again.”

When Mirceo released his bite with a last lick, Cas’s gaze roamed over his face. “There he is. There’s my mate.”

Mirceo’s eyes had cleared, his gray irises brightening. Color tinged his cheeks, his lips reddening. “I can’t believe you came back to Dacia for me. How did you get here?”

“Trehan traced me.”

“Did you two fight?”

“I was desperate to get to you, couldn’t spare the time. So I asked him very, very nicely to take me to my mate.”

Mirceo raised his brows. “You must love the hell out of me.”

“Trehan’s thoughts exactly.” Cas clamped his nape. “You’re under my skin, Mirceo. When we parted, you took my heart with you. Go easy with it, okay?”

“I’ll protect it forever, just as you’ll protect mine.”

“You saying you love me?”

“Madly. I already knew it the morning after, which is why I was so confounded by my panic.” He gazed up at Cas, staring into his eyes. “We really are going to find Mina?”

“We’ll storm hell if we have to.” He took Mirceo’s hand in his. We fit. “I will not let you down.”

“What if Harea finds her?”

“Then he had better hope she can’t lay hands on a sword. Somehow, someway, this family will best him a second time.”

Mirceo gave a decisive nod. His expression grew focused and intent. “Then let’s get started, old man.”

Cas gazed down at the mate he loved. “You stay on me like my godsdamned shadow, vampire.”

Mirceo’s lips curved. “Eternally, demon.”