Ryland and Ryder are in danger…
Celebrating their 298th birthday, the Durand brothers are still at an impasse over their third, Dale Mooney, and the cause of their maker Gren DuMont’s death. As they battle personality clashes, Ryland and Ryder set out to slay Gren’s killer as well as conquer their own fears; Ryder’s fear of losing Ryland to Dale and Ryland’s fear of the unknown lurking around their safe haven in New Orleans.
With little help from the demon Valios, the twins travel to Paris to meet the murderer face to face but will their own insecurities impede their goal of slaying the killer? At this point they only have each other to rely on and the fate of all vampires lies in their hands.
“Happy birthday, dear Ryland and Ryder! Happy birthday to you! Yay!” Dale, Kajika, and Waylon sang the dreaded song for the twins to celebrate their two hundredth and ninety-eighth year on earth. Although this was a joyous occasion, Ryder could think of a million other places he wanted to be.
My brother doesn’t love me anymore.
Ryder sighed inwardly and thought about the moment he and his brother had alone a little while ago. Everything was perfect. They were at the club, inside the office, alone, just the two of them, as it had always been. Ryder asked for Ryland to let him drink from him while they made love. Not fucked but made love. No one would satisfy him as much as Ryland could despite anything anyone had tried to throw at him. Everyone, including the luscious Kyla, tried to tempt him into bed, but like Ryland, he had a conscience. A fucking conscience to tell him no, don’t fucking be with anyone other than your brother and Dale. Why? Why the hell should Ryder care so much when his brother didn’t give him the same regard? Ryder bristled at the thought of turning down all those offers to have mindless sex with others while Ryland got his fill of the human.
Ryder clicked his teeth and glared at Ryland who shared a kiss with Dale. Of course he wouldn’t kiss him in front of Kajika. Their nephew had no knowledge of their relationship.
“Happy birthday, brother. Mon frère!” Ryland gently kissed the side of Ryder’s head. “I am thrilled we made it to this point.”
“So am I.” Ryder shrugged his shoulders and got up from the table, wanting to get away from the party. He wasn’t in the mood to celebrate anything right now.
“Unc, what’s wrong, huh? Would you like a little cake? I know you don’t really eat this, but… I was hoping you and Unc Ry would for your party.”
Ryder shook his head. “No thanks, Kajika. I’m good.” Ryder walked to the window, aching to go outside and hunt for food, but he knew Ryland would be upset if he did. It was the perfect time to do so too; a perfectly clear night and cool air, meaning there were plenty of good tasting humans walking around to prey on in the Quarter.
After all, it was almost the end of summer festival season. Many tourists were still in town, getting drunk at wild parties, not caring about their welfare. Ryder loved to prey on them because in his mind, if they were too stupid to pay attention, they didn’t deserve to live.
“Mhmm, Ryder, come have a little, please? It is actually very good. Kaj made sure the color was similar to blood, and it isn’t overly sweet. You must try a little, my dear brother. It’s our party, Ryder. Come enjoy yourself.”
Ryder only shook his head and kept looking at the moon, wishing he was outside. Despite the happy time this was for him and Ryland, he refused to be part of this celebration after Ryland rejected him earlier. His eyes narrowed, looking out the glass at the bright full moon in the sky. “Ah, Gren, wherever you are, I wish I was there with you right now.”
* * * *
Ryland shook his head and stopped eating the small piece of cake his nephew had given him. Suddenly, he’d lost his appetite for human food and set the dish down on the table. “I’ve had enough, Kajika. Thank you very much.”
Kajika nodded and hugged Ryland. “You sure, Unc? Are you all right? And what’s wrong with Ryder? Did something happen between the two of you earlier?”
Ryland inhaled and twitched his nose. “No, nephew, nothing to worry your pretty little head about.” Ryland softly stroked Kajika’s hair and pressed his lips to his temple. “Why don’t you go and talk with Waylon a little bit, hmm, and send Dale back over here. There’s something I want to ask him.”
Kajika flashed him a smile and did as Ryland asked.
Ryland watched Kajika with interest, hoping he didn’t read too much into his brother’s poor attitude and lack of hospitality. It was hard enough to keep things from Kajika and Dale without Ryder acting like a spoiled brat.
Ryder, you need to stop acting like a petulant child! You’re making me angry, and you felt a taste of my wrath earlier tonight. Don’t push me anymore, mon frère. Don’t fucking test me on our birthday!
Ryland closed his eyes tight, sending the message to his brother across the room. When he opened his eyes, he noticed Ryder look back at him with a slightly startled expression but then he looked back out the window. Obviously Ryland’s threats didn’t concern him all that much.
“Yeah, babe, what’s up? Ready to have our own little party, hmm? I mean, I’m enjoying hanging out with Kajika and my older brother, but I want you so badly tonight.” Dale wrapped both arms around Ryland’s waist and pulled him close.
Dale’s touches caused a tent in Ryland’s tight leathers. He sighed inwardly. “Just tonight?” Ryland elbowed him in the chest and flashed him a wicked smile. “Lover, we need to ask Kajika and Waylon to leave. I have a very upset twin over there that needs our attention. He’s acting like a spoiled brat, but I need to at least attempt to make him feel better.”
Dale glanced in that direction before turning Ryland around to face him. “Oh, yeah? You mean…”
“Yes, that, love. I refuse to allow him to be the gloom and doom of our birthday celebration. And actually, I might need to have a little alone time before you come with us. Is that all right?”
Dale’s smile turned down, and he dropped his gaze. “Aw, shucks, sugar, I suppose. I mean, I know you guys are brothers and all, but even if I don’t participate at first I’d like to watch, you know? It’s hot seeing the two of you together.”
Ryland stroked the side of his face and planted a firm kiss on his lips. “I would agree that it is, but I believe he needs a little brotherly nurturing first. He thinks I don’t love him anymore. I need to settle his fears before he goes out amongst the masses and kills everyone in his path. He can get that way, you know. I’m saving the world heartache by reeling in his energy and allowing him to unleash it all on me.”
Dale looked sheepish, disappointed. “Oh damn, man. All right. I’ll wait in the other room or something. You wanna say bye to Kajika and Waylon right now then?”
Ryland sighed and kissed his lover once again. He really hated disappointing Dale, but his brother’s mood bothered him a lot more. He’d read things from his mind and heart that needed urgent attention, and that meant leaving his lover alone for a while. Ryland leaned his head against Dale’s and caressed his chin. “Yes, Dale, let’s do that. The quicker we can say goodnight, the faster I can get to my twin and make him happy.”