“If you don’t take a breath, you’re going to pass out, Bello,” the man whispered against Ridge’s ear.
The sound of his voice was like warm honey being poured over his tingling flesh. Ridge tightened his grip on the railing and held his body still, refusing to sink back into the warm, solid heat this man’s body offered.
Ridge took a deep breath, then another. The smell of burning wood surrounded him. The smell and heat coming from the stranger was sinking into every pore on Ridge’s body. It was if he was drowning in a sizzling fire.
“Relax, Ridge.” The man lifted his hand to place against Ridge’s stomach. The damn thing covered his whole abdomen.
“How do you know my name?” Ridge’s voice shook as he spoke. Something wasn’t right. Ridge didn’t know this man because he sure as hell would have remembered that knee-weakening scent that clung to the stranger’s skin and that sultry accent. “Who are you?” Ridge asked as he spun around to face the man. “Oh, shit,” Ridge groaned. He instantly recognized the man. It was Giovanni Merroti. Giovanni’s dark eyes bore into Ridge’s, and his heart thumped loudly in his ears. A smile curled the man’s lips, but Ridge wasn’t buying it. Ridge didn’t know Giovanni personally, but he’d heard enough about the man to know he didn’t want to be caught alone in a dark alley with him. If Asher hadn’t been such a good friend, he would have never helped Asher find this vampire.
“Hello, Bello. Have you missed me?” Giovanni caressed the back of his hand down the side of Ridge’s cheek.
The sexual excitement at having this man so close evaporated in an instant. Giovanni played for the wrong side, and getting caught in his grasp could only mean bad things for Ridge. He had to get away.
Ridge didn’t like physical confrontations. Growing up, his father had taught him how to fight and protect himself, but Ridge was a laid back kind of guy, and he hated having to use his fists to get his point across. He was a pacifist like his mother, but right now it was fight or flight, and Ridge thought he better incorporate a little of both in order to get away.
“Oh, come now, my sweet.” Giovanni rubbed his thumb over Ridge’s bottom lip. “Don’t be afraid.”
Don’t be afraid? Is this guy for real? Ridge was shaking in his boots. It was weird he was scared shitless but also really turned on. It was a weird combination, one he could decipher later, but now he needed to get away.
The music picked up and someone bumped into Giovanni’s back as they walked by. It was the momentary distraction he needed. Giovanni took a small step back to regain his balance, and that’s when Ridge moved. Ridge jerked his head back then flung it forward, catching Giovanni in the chin. The adrenaline pumping through his veins numbed the pain, but Ridge was positive he’d feel it later.
Giovanni spat out a curse and reached up to grab his chin. When he did that, Ridge stomped on his foot, which caused Giovanni to shout in pain and reach down toward his foot, and that’s when Ridge raised up his knee to connect with Giovanni’s nose. He felt the crunch against his kneecap. Giovanni stumbled a few steps, and Ridge shoved him hard in the side, knocking the larger man over.
Ridge didn’t stop to see if he was being followed, he just ran. The fight had caused people to stop and gather around them, and Ridge was able to slip past them as he darted toward the door. He pushed his way outside into the cool, evening air. His chest was heaving as he took off running. He didn’t stop until he was a few blocks away and was able to hale down a cab.
The whole drive home he kept looking over his shoulder to see if Giovanni was behind him, but it was too dark to see much. His heart pounded in his chest, and his hands trembled from fear. He wasn’t sure why Giovanni was here or why he was looking for him, but Ridge didn’t want to stay and find out.
The cab pulled up along the curb to his apartment, and Ridge handed him a couple of twenties and quickly got out. He punched in his code and took the elevator up to his floor. He ran toward his door, and it took a couple of tries to get the damn thing unlocked. Ridge got the door opened and rushed inside, slamming the door behind him. He stood with his back pressed against the hard wood.
Tears burned at the back of Ridge’s eyes. He was going to have to leave. Staying in San Francisco was no longer an option. Giovanni knew he was here and that made staying in the town he’d called home for the past thirteen years no longer safe for him.
The sadness filling Ridge’s chest overcame him. He slid down the door, sobbing into his hands. He didn’t want to move away, but he couldn’t stay either, not knowing why Giovanni was searching for him. Ridge tried to convince himself it was an accident that he saw Giovanni tonight, a coincidence, but Ridge was only fooling himself.
One good deed to help a friend has forever changed his life. If Giovanni knew about Ridge, that meant that something terrible had to have happened to Asher. Ridge wept for his friend and for himself.
Ridge wasn’t sure how long he sat on the ground crying into his hands when a knock startled him. He climbed to his feet and, without thinking about it, opened the door. Standing before him, with dried blood down the front of his shirt, was Giovanni.
“Oh, my god,” Ridge whispered. Panic flared to life deep in his gut. His grip tightened on the door knob, but he couldn’t move. He was frozen in fear.
“Now that wasn’t very nice.” Giovanni swiped his hand under his nose, glaring down at Ridge.
Ridge forced himself to take a deep breath. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do now, but the look on Giovanni’s face didn’t ease the terror he was feeling. Ridge was completely and utterly screwed.
Giovanni breathed a sigh of relief when Ridge climbed in the bed. Granted, he stayed on the very edge, but it still was comforting having him so close. Giovanni hadn’t been lying when he said that small couch was insufferable to sleep on, but it wasn’t the only reason he snuck up into Ridge’s room and crawled into bed with him.
Giovanni slid closer to Ridge’s stiff body, wanting to feel it pressed against his. Ridge’s body was thin and delicate in a way that screamed to be dominated. He wanted to take control of Ridge’s desire and make the man beg.
“Don’t come any closer, asshole,” Ridge snapped. He tugged on the thick comforter then pulled it tight around his body. “This bed is way too big for you to have to lie on top of me.”
“Fine.” Giovanni grunted then flopped down on the bed. He was pouting, but he wanted, no needed, to be closer to Ridge. “Night, Bello.”
Giovanni closed his eyes and silently started to count, crossing his fingers that he fell asleep fast.
* * * *
The press of soft, dry lips to his chest sent a jolt of desire straight to Giovanni’s cock and brought him to awareness. He opened his eyes and had a moment of panic not knowing where he was at, then it all started to come back to him. He was in Ridge’s apartment in San Francisco.
Low murmurs and a hard cock humping against his thigh had Giovanni shifting so he was able to look down upon Ridge’s disheveled hair and closed eyes. He was still asleep. Ridge’s fingers caressed over Giovanni’s furry chest, and Giovanni whimpered then hissed when Ridge fisted his hand, pulling on the delicate hairs. Giovanni’s cock began to stir and was now fully erect, causing the blanket to tent around his lap.
Giovanni bit his lip and clenched his fist. The right thing to do would be to wake an obviously sleeping Ridge, but Giovanni had never been one to do the right thing.
Ridge rubbed his face into Giovanni’s chest and peppered sweet kisses around his nipple. Giovanni was stunned for a brief moment, warring with himself on what to do. If he woke Ridge up, it would end this glorious feeling coursing through his body, but if he didn’t wake Ridge up and the man came to on his own, he might become angry with Giovanni.
Who was he kidding? Ridge would be livid, and Giovanni might not get this opportunity again.
“Please,” Ridge whispered as mouthed against Giovanni’s chest. “Please.”
Giovanni bit the inside of his cheek, debating with himself until his desires couldn’t be contained any longer. He rolled over, half lying on top of Ridge, pressing his smaller body into the mattress. Ridge seemed to like this and moaned as Giovanni slowly rubbed his hardened cock against his own. Ridge spread his legs further apart and arched up slightly into Giovanni.
It was almost too good to be true, Giovanni thought to himself. Ridge was so responsive in his sleep, and Giovanni found himself wondering what it was his little witch was dreaming about.
“Oh God, G!” Ridge grunted and thrust his hips up into Giovanni’s.
Well that answered his question. Giovanni smiled down at Ridge then leaned in to kiss along the smooth, delicate jaw. He sucked and nipped lightly, breathing in a deep lungful of Ridge’s sweet scent. Giovanni grounded down against Ridge’s legs, his naked cock rubbing a wet mark into Ridge’s boxer briefs. It was a delicious sensation, but Giovanni needed more.
Giovanni sucked a bruise on Ridge’s neck right where his pulse beat a rapid rhythm beneath the flesh. He could practically smell the thick, sweet blood pumping through Ridge’s veins. He so badly wanted to take one little sip, but that wouldn’t be right. If he ever bit Ridge, he wanted the man to be awake to enjoy the pleasure his sharp teeth gave.
Ridge’s hands clasped onto Giovanni’s back, his short nails digging into Giovanni’s skin. The pain combined with pleasure had Giovanni lunging forward, slamming his lips to Ridge’s. His fangs were exposed, and he accidently nipped too hard and a thin trial of blood dripped from the puncture. Giovanni growled and thrust his tongue deep, fucking Ridge’s mouth the way he wanted to do to his body.
“So fucking good,” Giovanni rasped against Ridge’s mouth as he sucked on his bottom lip, drinking in Ridge’s blood. He jerked his hips forward. His balls were drawn up tight to his body and close to exploding.
“G,” Ridge whispered as he slowly opened his eyes, staring up at Giovanni. A flash of emotion skirted across his dark blue eyes, fear, panic, and hunger. Giovanni was for certain Ridge would push him away, but he was surprised when Ridge raised his arms up to wrap around his neck and pulled Giovanni into a kiss.
Giovanni hummed and pressed harder into Ridge’s slender body. He propped up on his left elbow and moved his right hand down to palm over Ridge’s cock. The front of his boxers was damp with his excitement. He curled his fingers around the thick length and squeezed. He swallowed down Ridge’s moans.
The kiss grew more erratic, and Ridge tugged on Giovanni, scratching him. Giovanni’s primal urges were taking over, and he needed more. He needed naked skin against his. Giovanni curled his fingers in the material covering Ridge’s cock and yanked. The fabric ripped, and Giovanni jerked it free from Ridge’s body. Ridge whimpered, and his body quivered.
Giovanni opened his eyes as he kissed Ridge deeply. He wanted to see his witch’s reaction to his touch. Giovanni’s right hand caressed lightly down Ridge’s side, circled his nipple before moving lower. When he reached the weeping tip of Ridge’s cock, he ran his thumb over the small slit in the center, pressing down gently with his fingernail. It drew a hiss from Ridge, but still the man didn’t open his eyes. Giovanni moved his hand to massage the egg shaped orbs hanging heavy between Ridge’s thighs, then moved further back. Giovanni ran his forefinger over Ridge’s small, tight pucker.
Ridge’s entire body jerked back, and he opened his eyes. He was panting, and fear shown clearly in his blue eyes. Giovanni held still, not wanting to spook Ridge.
“I’m…I’m…” Ridge took a deep breath and swallowed deeply. “I’m not ready for that.”
Ridge’s body when limp underneath him, and Giovanni hated that. He liked the feisty, argumentative Ridge that broke his nose and yelled at him for sneaking into his bed. Giovanni strongly disliked this scared version of the man he was growing to care for. Giovanni was many things, but a rapist wasn’t one of them.
“No worries, Bello.” Giovanni raised his hand from between their sweat-soaked bodies and brought it up to cup the side of Ridge’s face. “We don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for. This is enough for me.” Giovanni leaned in close and brushed his lips over Ridge’s.