Brandon Wulfgar sat stiffly on the icy metal chair. He took a hefty gulp of his drink--a mix of blood and whiskey--never glancing away from his twin brother. Eric lay in the bed, facing the stone wall of the dungeon room. He mumbled in his dreams, the quiet mutterings occasionally punctuated by short, guttural screams. Was he reliving the painful past they’d shared, or that of Eric’s own more recent tortures?
The room stank of cold sweat, permeated by fear and agony.
Brandon’s hands clenched and the mug cracked. It crashed to the floor, shattering.
He stared at the white shards of ceramic covered in crimson. The sight mirrored how he felt, unable to help his brother pick up the pieces and leave the darkness he’d descended into.
With a sigh, he stood and headed for the hall. His king’s new wife was going to be pissed he’d broken yet another cup. He snorted, the sound lacking any amusement. Dalia would just have to deal with it.
He opened the door, then stopped short.
Dalia stood in the hall, arms crossed, tapping her foot. Her short pink-streaked blonde hair settled around her pointed chin and her green eyes flared, vampire-red circling the irises. “Again?” she demanded.
It didn’t matter he dwarfed her with his six-foot-four height, nor that he was ten times stronger. All she had to do was shoot that look of hers and even the strongest of the vampire warriors living in the castle crumbled as if facing a disappointed mother.
Brandon merely shrugged. “I’ll clean it up.”
“Yeah, right.” Her gaze softened as she looked past him to Eric. “No change?”
She straightened, rubbing her hands together. “Jordan wants to talk to you. I’ll sit with your brother. And I’ll clean up the poor cup. Again.” Shooting him an ironic look, she added, “We’re almost out of dishes.”
It wasn’t true, but she had a point. He’d gone through an awful lot of mugs lately. But it wasn’t on purpose.
As the older twin, albeit only by five minutes, he’d been raised to protect his brother. To fight the world, side-by-side. Yet he was failing miserably, unable to draw Eric from the cocoon of sleep where he’d escaped.
Dalia entered the dungeon room, and leaving the thick metal door open a bit, sat in the chair Brandon had vacated. She leaned back, hands folded in her lap and started humming. Her voice was soft and airy, a sound guaranteed to get soul-deep inside anyone listening and make them feel better.
As an Omega, she could calm people’s ragged emotions. More recently, with her magic growing, she no longer needed to look into their eyes to gain that connection. Her voice could suck anyone in when she tried.
Brandon’s shoulders tightened when her voice brought no reaction from Eric. It took most of his will to leave, but he forced himself to walk down the icy hallway, and upstairs to his king’s chamber.
Inside, Jordan reclined in a chair, facing the fireplace. The man held a glass of amber-colored liquid. A second full glass sat on the table beside him.
“Sit for a while,” Jordan stated, his Scottish brogue thicker than normal.
Brandon twitched at the tension in Jordan’s voice, and crossed the room to the waiting chair on the other side of the table.
“Any change with Eric?” Jordan lifted his drink and sipped, trying to act casual as he ran a hand through his short blond hair.
Taking his own glass, Brandon gulped it down. The smooth whiskey burned his throat, then settled warmly in his gut. “No.”
Jordan sighed, shifting to face Brandon fully.
Trepidation filled him. The man was normally direct.
“The ‘cult killings’ have started once more in the city,” Jordan said, his gaze dark with anger and confusion.
“But Connor killed the demon behind them just a few weeks ago,” Brandon protested.
“Aye. Yet, here we are.”
Brandon set his empty glass back on the table before he broke that one too. “So is Connor returning?”
“He’s busy with something else.”
“What? His refound family?”
“Nay. Something for the Magic Council.”
Considering the man was a Judge for the council, it shouldn’t be surprising. “So they’re not sending him back?”
A sinking suspicion crawled into his gut. “Then who are you sending to investigate?”
Jordan just stared at him.
Jumping to his feet, Brandon paced to the fireplace. “I can’t go. Eric needs me--”
Jordan’s voice broke through his agitation. “Needs you? He hasn’t said two words in the last month. He doesn’t respond to anything we try.” He stood, arms behind his back, as Brandon paced. “Someone has to take care of the problem. If it’s another demon, you’re the only one I can send.”
Anger turned his stomach, bile burned up his chest. “I can’t leave my brother.”
Jordan’s voice cracked like steel. “You’ll tell me no?”
Stopping short, Brandon slowly swung around and met his king’s blazing red gaze. He’d never told Jordan “no,” since the man had rescued both him and Eric from living agony. But to leave his brother...
The tension in his shoulders ached. His chest tightened and he gave his king the only answer he could. “When do I leave?”
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Genre – Paranormal / Vampire Romance
Rating – PG