The wind caught the tent, making the sides and top roll and pop. It also brought another scent, one which was unwelcome, but had him sitting bolt upright and sniffing as he tossed back the sheet and jumped out of bed. He shoved the gym shorts off and grabbed his jeans. He pulled them on then got a T-shirt from his bag. By the time he was out of the tent he was shoving his feet in his boots and the shirt was halfway down his torso.
“Do you smell that?” It was Malcolm, standing there in a white sleeveless shirt and kilt, broadsword strapped to his side. “I caught the scent over there, by the booth where they sell roses.”
“Yes.” The scent, stronger now, was calling to his stallion. It would be nearly impossible to control the animal part of him. This need to gather mates, to form his herd again, was pulling hard at him. “Malcolm, I can’t do it again,” he whispered, jaw clenching.
“You would prefer to live with this torment for the rest of eternity?”
Eternity. They didn’t have any idea how long they would live. They knew some shifters, vampires, and other creatures that were thousands of years older than they were. Ian closed his eyes for a moment. “No,” he said finally. Though he and Malcolm were lovers, they couldn’t reform their soul bond without sharing a mate. It meant everything to them.
The direction of the wind changed, swirling, carrying the scent to them once more. They turned, back to back, trying to determine the source of the scent as they scanned the area for any likely candidates. Ian wondered if this mate was female or male. Their first mate had been a female. The others had been of both sexes, men and women his stallion’s instincts had forced him to gather. Most had not been permanent mates. Those that were not went on to mate with others. Malcolm had teased him, telling him his life was so hard, that many men would trade places with him. Being physically and emotionally connected to so many had been a burden at times. It eased some, when they found mates of their own and he was no longer their primary mate. Yet, Malcolm did make one good point. The sex had been great.
Ian already knew of one young wolf shifter who would be more than willing to be part of the White Horse Clan. Snorting, he followed the scent, Malcolm at his side. He could do without all the extra sex. If they found their mate, this one they would share, the one which would bind them together once more, perhaps he could ignore what his stallion wanted.
That earned Ian an angry inner snort. His stallion was restless. He was horny, too.
They followed the scent along the path where there were stalls set up. The costumed sellers offered everything from pottery to wooden flutes. His nose curled and the scent disappeared as they approached the point where a troll was doing a pretty good job scaring people. Humans couldn’t smell the creatures, but paranormals could quite easily. They smelled of the earth where they lived. The trolls were mostly stupid creatures. Many were also bad-natured. But they seemed to love working at the fair so he had given them jobs that suited their nature instead of trying to make them go away. The costumer had dressed them as small trees and stumps and let them do what they did best, scaring humans. It didn’t hurt that he could pay them with the food that was left over from the vendors.
“I’ve found it again. It’s that way, through the trees over there!” Malcolm pointed and Ian saw a flash of blue and red. Winding their way through the crowd, they crossed the rope barrier marking the edge of the fair’s land. “Damn! They’re fast!”
They ran as fast as they could. Malcolm was considerably faster than Ian was in his human form, but they couldn’t risk being seen as anything other than ordinary humans. Everyone had a camera these days. Malcolm could even disseminate, going from place to place in the blink of an eye. They couldn’t risk that. Just being around so many humans was a risk they had to take if they wished to live in reasonable comfort throughout the rest of the year.
Malcolm must have thought finding their mate was worth the risk of detection because he suddenly disseminated in mid-stride. Ian kept running toward the northeast. Though he could no longer detect the scent, his stallion seemed to have some instinct as to which way they should go. It wasn’t until they came to a high cliff overlooking a river did he come to a stop.
Ian nearly jumped off when Malcolm appeared at his side. “Fuck, are you trying to kill me?”
Malcolm slapped him on the shoulder and chuckled. “No, my friend, I am not trying to kill you. We now have too much to look forward to, to live for.”
Ian wouldn’t get too excited too soon. “Did you find where our mate went?”
Ian cut the man off as he reached for Malcolm. “Enough. You’re making my head hurt. Vampires make everything so fucking complicated. Just sell the land and pack your suitcases. Get your pretty ass upstairs.” He gave him a quick, hard kiss and headed for the stairs.
“I will have you know I have a fine, manly ass.”
Unable to disagree, Ian said nothing until the bedroom door was closed behind them. Why he felt the need to close it he didn’t know. It might have been the illusion of privacy or intimacy. Turning back to the room he saw Malcolm take a deep breath and knew what he smelled. Miriam’s clothes still hung in one closet, small rose sachets tucked between. He didn’t say anything. He should get rid of her things but had never been able to do so. It was the same with their children’s rooms.
“You have to let go, Ian.”
“Not now, Mal.”
“I will when I can feel your soul bound to mine again!” Ian shouted, lashing out. “Is that soon enough? When I can have you with me every day and every night and when I don’t have to feel so fucking alone anymore.”
Malcolm had stayed in the beginning. Their loss had been devastating. Their need for one another had been all-consuming. Then the leader of Malcolm’s coven was killed and he was chosen to be their next leader. It was all very democratic. It was not something Malcolm could refuse. It was considered an honor and he was nothing if not honorable. That had not changed in all the centuries he had known the vampire.
Strong arms wrapped around him. “I love you. That has not changed. I will speak to the elders. I doubt they will say no. They are tired of having to deal with petty squabbles.” Malcolm sighed and tightened his hold on Ian. “You should have said something sooner, my love. I did not know you were still in such pain.”
Ian didn’t want to talk about pain and loss any longer. He wanted to concentrate on what he had and that was one very handsome and sexy vampire. Despite what Malcolm told him, he knew nothing was simple with vampires. It had taken twenty years for them to decide to leave Scotland for America three hundred years ago.
Just the thought of having to wait years for them to make a decision was enough to depress him. Hopefully Malcolm could convince them that moving the coven was for the best.
He knew he needed to finally release his hold on the past and look toward the future. They had a mate out there somewhere. They needed to find this person so that they could once again share the ultimate bond.
Warm lips grazing the side of his neck made Ian chuckle. “You only want me for my vein.”
A playful nip caused a ripple of pleasure to run through him. “Come, let’s go take a shower. You smell of horse.”
The shower was a short one. Making love during it was out of the question. He had to replace the hot water tank, something else he had let go. But there was just enough hot water to allow them to play briefly. By the time they dried off and were in the bed, they were desperate to make love.
Malcolm rose over him, a decidedly wicked expression on his handsome face. He grinned as he slid between Ian’s legs, rubbing their cocks together as he braced himself above him. Pre-cum was leaking steadily. Ian ran his hands over the man’s muscled back, down to the curve of Malcolm’s sculpted ass.
As much as they loved being together, they both tried to avoid it. When the lovemaking ended the sadness returned full force. Malcolm would have to leave. Ian would remain behind, surrounded by memories in a place where they had both known the best years of their considerably long lives.
“Where’s the lube, precious?”
Ian reached back under the pillow and pulled it out, handing it over to the horny vampire.
“Think the bottle is big enough?”
Ian could feel the heat burning across his cheekbones. “I didn’t want to go into town too soon.”
“You could have bought a dozen smaller bottles.” The cap was flipped back as Malcolm kneeled between his legs. He pulled back his legs without comment, offering himself to his lover. A lubed finger pushed into his asshole. He grunted. It had been a while. Jerking off had been the extent of his sexual endeavors. “You don’t know how badly I want to be inside of you.”
“I imagine about as badly as I want you inside of me?” Ian closed his eyes and moaned as two fingers were pushed inside of his dark channel. They crooked to brush over his gland, increasing his pleasure. “Hurry. I can’t wait.”