FIVE

Upon returning home from Cat's, Dominic was waiting for Dorian and he was in true form. Not two seconds after Dorian tucked his keys into his pocket did Dominic hit him with a retort he was sure his brother had been sitting on since he left.

"So, how was she? You did have her didn't you?"

The words hung in the air for a time as Dorian approached behind Dominic, he poured himself a glass of the blood laced scotch they were both so fond of before responding.

"That's crass and low even for you."

"Even for me?" Dominic snorted.

"Glad to know your ears still work."

"My someone's snippy. Dare I say, you're starting to feel something for the girl beyond curiosity and this new-found bleeding-heart kick of yours. So, did you two get all nasty and sweaty on her hello kitty sheets?"

Dorian rolled his eyes. He should have known better than to expect anything less from Dominic, he was doing nothing but acting exactly like he always did. Dorian pursed his lips all the same and stared at the fire recalling the moment things got too close. How could he tell her his secret when she hadn't even come to terms with her own.

"Awe, she shot you down, didn't she? I see that frown. And every time I do I make a mental note to smile more because holy shit are we ugly when we're broody."

"Would it kill you a little to grow up?" Dorian snapped, eliciting a chuckle from the ever-smiling Dominic.

"Look at you, Mr. Defensive. I know it's fun but all you're doing is playing with your food. We both know that's the real reason you're here. Witch blood, good to the last drop. And with how things are going for those all too tasty humans she very well may be the very last drop."

"I'm going to bed." Dorian set his glass down.

"You look like death, brother. You need to feed and I don't mean that shit you keep in the minifridge in your closet. I mean real live, wriggling and screaming human blood. You're only a half-step above those losers who only drink animal blood."

"Why do you care?"

"I don't. I'm just torturing you. Figured I'd get in on it to see if it's any fun since you keep doing it to yourself, and you know what? It is!" He snickered.

Nothing Dominic said bothered Dorian in truth. After all their time together he'd begin to view Dominic in the same breath as a needlessly yappy dog. If they were barking at nothing their owners tended to tune them out. So that was exactly what Dorian did, which was why he heard the footsteps while Dominic was in the middle of his rant.

Dorian turned to find a towering blonde male vampire being lead into the parlor by Scott who had the dazed look of someone forcefully glamored. The fact that a vampire who could glamor someone through protective means—like Scott's watch—was in the area sent Dorian's stomach into a knot.

The man was handsome, as most vampires turned in their prime, were but he walked with a certain purpose Dorian had only seen once before with a vampire who was over a thousand years old. No one got to be that old by playing fair and being nice. Dorian swallowed.

"I hope I'm not interrupting anything." The vampire smiled at them. "I do hope you apologize for my glamoring your human, but as is customary I wanted to introduce myself and make with the formalities before dawn. And he tried to send me away." There was a slight accent to his English and a cold blankness to him that made everything inside of Dorian sit on edge. Dominic's silence didn't go unnoticed by Dorian either, but Dominic was always careful around vampires older than they were.

"And your business in the area?" Dorian spoke crossing his arms.

"Nothing untoward I assure you. We all play our games from time to time and if you wish to be seen as mortal I promise I'll do nothing to hinder that. You see, I want nothing more than what you have." The blond man's lips twitched at the corners but didn't raise as he paused. "Rumor has it there's a sole surviving mirror twin, which means they can perform a version of the day-walking spell that can't be undone. My intentions are to visit the witch, have her cast the spell and leave."

"Without draining her like a third grader with a juice box after a fun run?" Dominic asked winning a him a raised eyebrow from the stranger.

"She's quite possibly the last of her kind. So no, I have no wish to partake in her blood. If you've claimed her for yourselves already in that regard I swear off any stake in it."

"So you just come in here to tell us what you're doing? Just like that?" Dominic glared at the stranger.

Dorian sighed. "It's custom, Dominic." He took a step forward toward the visitor. "Would you care for a drink?"

"Looks like you have all of this handled. I'm going to bed." Dominic hopped off the couch and exited the parlor.

"No thank you, I won't be much longer."

"All right. If you need anything don't hesitate to call."

"I won't. Though I should let you know there is a Fang nearby."

Dorian twitched at the mention of a Fang, it was the name for a group of vampires. Usually they were solitary creatures who paid lip service to the handful who named themselves leaders. Occasionally some upstart vampire would surround themselves with other vampires and humans who followed their every word and order as though it came from some form of god. Humans called them cults, but when a vampire was at the middle it was a Fang and they were known to wipe out whole towns when not kept in check by a leader with political aspirations.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I watched them take an offering to their Master earlier this evening."

"How long have you been in town?"

"A few hours. I've never been one for Fangs. Personally I find them detestable. Have you heard of the witch? I believe her last name is Caro."

Dorian pursed his lips and eyed the stranger skeptically. "Before I tell you what I know of her I want your word that no harm will come to her, and I want your name."

"I'm Tyr Odenson, and I give you my word. I mean the witch no harm, I only want the spell cast."

"And if she's not ready or skilled enough."

"I can wait." Tyr shrugged.

"Give me a few days and I'll let you know what I can."

"Thank you. I'll return in a few nights." Without say more Tyr left and Dorian's body relaxed, his shoulders sagging as he heard the front door click shut.

Dorian closed his eyes and rubbed his neck a bit, only to open them and find Dominic standing across the room.

"I thought you were going to bed?"

"Then I realized tall blonde and creepy could be the person who killed Esme."

"There's also a fang in the area."

"He pretty much came here and told us he was after her, which is pretty much what whoever left Esme's body in the old house did."

"Why do you care so much? Scared that you might not get to rip my heart out all over again?" Dorian shouldered past his brother as he headed for the stairs.

"Nah, of course not. That would imply you have a heart and we both know you only pretend to have one." Dominic's sour laughter trailed Dorian up to the second floor. "And you know I'm right about him. Millenia old vampires just don't show up on your doorstep they do whatever they want and if they piss you off then they say 'sorry, not sorry,' and go on their merry little creepy as hell way." Dominic's thudding footfalls gained on Dorian as his voice neared. "He's taunting us."

"That's nice, but we both know there's absolutely nothing we can do if that's really the case."

"Life isn't a fairytale, Dorian. Sometimes the big bad wins. You know this. Just because you're starting to feel something for a mortal girl doesn't mean the world's going to stop devouring delectable little things like her whole just to appease you."

"Which is it Dominic? Do I have a heart to feel for people or am I heartless? Your insults might hurt more if they weren't so goddamned contradictory." Dorian slammed his bedroom door and sagged against it. Dominic was right and Dorian knew it. The world wasn't going to stop being cruel just so he could have some time with Cat in peace. As Dorian knew the world to be Tyr was more than likely the one who killed Esme, just like Dominic said, which meant only one thing—Cat wasn't safe. The thought of her being in danger made his insides knot up and his skin prickle.

Sleep was an impossibility, and as Dorian paced his room he came to the only conclusion he could. He needed to protect Cat and he was probably the only one in her life who had the slimmest possibility of keeping her safe.