Holden has watched as many of the gargoyles in his clutch have found their mates. His hope that his own mate will turn up begins to wane when years pass, and no new mates are found by the remaining single members of the Falias clutch. He begins to despair that Fate has moved her gift of mates to another clutch.
When a fellow gargoyle’s mother becomes gravely ill, the chieftain of another clutch—Chieftain Kinsey, who is also her son—comes to pay his respects. Holden is pleasantly shocked to find, amidst all the grief, there’s a ray of happiness. One of the men in Chieftain Kinsey’s entourage is his mate. He learns the man’s name is Lathe, and he’s a vampire.
Except, Holden discovers that scenting Lathe and wooing him are two very different things. Lathe only came because Chieftain Kinsey wanted his people to review Maelgwn’s security measures while he was there. Holden realizes that Lathe’s reclusive and wary nature has something to do with the scarring he sports on his left side.
Can Holden figure out a way to earn Lathe’s trust before the one who left Lathe so scarred comes to finish what he started?
When Lathe Mantuvian heard his phone ring, he nearly ignored it. The lines on the screen were just too captivating…and bone-chilling.
He’s still alive, and he’s found me.
After nearly fifty years, Lathe couldn’t believe it. He rubbed his palm over his left thigh, feeling the indents and bumps where he’d lost muscle in his leg. The beating had been bad enough, but the fire…that had been what should have ended his life.
Only Sorbin’s intervention had saved him.
The trill of his phone ringing again yanked Lathe out of his memories. He turned away from the unsettling words and focused on his phone. Seeing Sorbin’s name on the screen, he happily grabbed the device and accepted the call.
For an instant, Sorbin didn’t respond. “What’s wrong?”
Grimacing, Lathe felt a tremble work through him. “I say one word, and you think something’s wrong?” He rubbed his palm over his damaged leg again. “How?”
“I know you, Lathe,” Sorbin replied softly. “Your tones have different qualities depending on if you’re distracted, excited, or in this case, upset. So”—he pressed—“what’s upset you?”
“Can you come to my office, please?” Lathe knew there was no point in denying it. Besides, he could really use his friend’s advice.
“I’ll be right there,” Sorbin promised, then disconnected.
Lathe wished he could focus on something other than the message on his screen, but it kept snagging his attention.
There you are, pet. I’ve been looking for you. And in such a nice secluded location. See you soon.
Tears burned at the backs of Lathe’s eyes, and he swiftly blinked them back. After almost fifty years, the asshole was back. It had been so long that Lathe had fallen into a false sense of security.
There was never a body. I shouldn’t have allowed myself to become complacent.
The bang of his office door slamming against the backstop caused Lathe to jump. A squeak of alarm that he would forever deny escaped him. He swung around in his chair, pressing a palm to his chest.
Relief flooded him when he spotted Sorbin hurrying across the large computer room to reach him. Sorbin’s beloved, Second Destrawn, stood inside the doorway. He peered around with a scowl darkening his features, glaring at everything.
Sorbin grabbed Lathe and hauled him to his feet. His fellow vampire wrapped him in a tight hug, clutching him close. He even rubbed a palm up and down Lathe’s back, obviously catching on that he needed soothing.
Sagging into the larger vampire’s hold, Lathe hugged his friend back. They stood that way for several seconds before Lathe felt someone else join them. Huge dark-green arms wrapped around both of them, telling Lathe that it was Destrawn.
A second later, a low vibrating noise not only filled the room, but it seemed to sink into Lathe’s bones. He immediately felt his pulse slow, and he began to breathe easier. His body sagged a little between the two men.
“Wow,” Lathe mumbled after a moment. “So that’s trilling.”
“That’s trilling,” Sorbin confirmed.
Lathe had heard of the gargoyle ability. They made a humming, vibrating noise that he’d heard was soothing. The ability was usually used to soothe an upset mate, someone injured, or when caring for a child. Lathe had never expected to experience it himself.
The tales didn’t do the phenomenon justice.
“Are you settled, Lathe?” Destrawn asked, ceasing his trilling. He spoke in a soft, deep voice, betraying that he was still worried about him.
With a sad sigh, Lathe admitted, “I don’t know how to answer that.”
“Start by telling us what upset you,” Sorbin encouraged, squeezing his shoulder. He began releasing Lathe, so Destrawn did the same, obviously catching his cues from his lover. Sorbin peered down at Lathe and offered him an encouraging smile. “Whatever it is, we’ll fix it.”
Shaking his head, Lathe murmured, “I’m not sure you can.” Before his friend could counter him, he pointed at his computer screen. “I received that thirty minutes ago.”
Sorbin read the message, and a frown immediately creased his brows. A low growl escaped him. “And you’re assuming that’s from Edward?”
Lathe cringed just from hearing the vampire’s name. “Yeah.”
“Who’s Edward?” Destrawn asked, sounding a mixture of confused and concerned. “No one good, I take it.”
Sneering, Sorbin stated, “Edward’s a rogue. We were told he’d been put down.”
“The long and the short of it is”—Lathe inhaled deeply, focusing on Destrawn as he tucked his long hair behind his left ear, revealing the extensive scarring on his cheek and trailing down his neck—“he kidnapped me when I was out clubbing. He called me his pet and tried to turn me into his submissive.” Crossing his arms, hugging his torso, Lathe told him, “He beat me, extensively, when I refused. I was unconscious when the house he’d been squatting in caught on fire.” Focusing on the floor, Lathe muttered, “Sorbin found me and saved me. He found us a new coven. That’s how we ended up out here.”
“Why?” Destrawn asked. “Not that I don’t appreciate that you ended up here.”
“We were in a coven in Montgomery, Alabama at the time,” Sorbin shared. “Very conservative, and Lathe was open about the fact that he preferred men.” A low growl filled his voice as he stated, “When I told the master that Lathe was missing, he said, good, and refused to assign enforcers to help me find him.”
“Asshole,” Destrawn snarled. “Those types of leaders should be taken out.”
Sorbin chuckled coldly. “Oh, he was. I reported him to the Vampire Council.”
Recalling those days, Lathe shivered. Once again, both Sorbin and Destrawn wrapped their arms around him. He sighed as he soaked up the comfort. Lathe wasn’t a fan of being touched, but right then, he knew it was exactly what he needed.