Laurent Boudreaux, London’s Darling and most eligible bachelor in Town, should be down in the ballroom entertaining all the guests that have come to Greyside Manor to gain his favor and, perhaps, his affection. Instead, he’s hidden himself in the library to sulk the night away. Very impetuous behavior for a proper gentleman. Even worse for a vampire charged with the simple task of attracting dinner for his coven.
Due to his immense fortune, obvious good looks, and charming personality, Laurent’s gained quite a coterie of admirers, and with his popularity growing more and more every day, the meals are never in short supply. Unfortunately, his new duty for the coven has caused some of his favorite pastimes -- flirting, bedding lovers, irritating people, to name a few -- lose their excitement. Laurent is bored. And boredom always leads to trouble.
Tonight Laurent’s solitude and pouting is interrupted by a young man who stumbles into the library, disheveled and exhausted and definitely not supposed to be there. And he happens to be everything Laurent’s ever fancied.
Seth Faolian has had a rough night, and ending up in the Marquis de Castelnau’s library isn’t the way he expected to end it. All he wanted was a place to hide while he recovered from tonight’s full moon. Being a cursed werewolf is hard enough. Finding himself face-to-face with a vampire is even worse. But Laurent Boudreaux isn’t like other noblemen. He isn’t even like other vampires, and Seth finds himself strangely intrigued by his unexpected host.
Although typically enemies, the spark that ignites between this vampire and werewolf sends them both on a journey that spans across more than a century.
As though completely exasperated of him, or maybe simply the night and the circumstances that led to him being here, Seth sighed.
“I suppose that’s true.” He paused. Flicked his gaze back to Laurent. “Did you mean that?”
“What ya said about bringing me down to the ball.”
Instead of answering, Seth gestured to himself and then at Laurent. He didn’t need to expand on that. Laurent knew what he meant.
They were very different. Not because Laurent was a vampire and Seth was a werewolf. Or, well, not only that. They came from two entirely separate worlds.
Laurent was a nobleman. An aristocrat. He had only ever known a life of wealth and privilege and prestige. He’d never really known a hard day’s work in either of his lives. Even during his First Life, which he remembered as nothing more than a shadow of a dream, he’d been held in high regard. Respected and renowned. As far as he knew, he had never gone wanting.
Seth, on the other hand, would be lucky not to live in the slums of London. If he didn’t live there already. Those clothes -- clothes he stole -- were probably the finest he’d ever put on, and they undoubtedly belonged to a servant. By the way he ate earlier, Laurent had every reason to suspect he didn’t get his fill all too often. The dirt and grime and sweat on him now came from his night as a wolf, but he likely didn’t have the chance to bathe regularly and his big, strong hands were rough and calloused from hard work.
Laurent was rich and pampered.
Seth was poor and disadvantaged.
Laurent was a favorite among the ton. He was desired. Fashionable.
Seth was not. He was a nobody. A commoner.
Still, Laurent smiled and said, “Why should that make a difference?”
Seth made an irritated noise in the back of his throat. He wore something of an unamused grin on his face.
“Ya know exactly why.” He crossed his arms and shook his head. “Yer a Marquis. I work in a textile mill. You live in Greyside Manor in Mayfair. I rent a room with two other men in Whitechapel.” The East End of Town. Not quite a slum, but far from a fashionable neighborhood either. “You have the whole world in the palm of yer hand. I'm lucky to earn enough shillings to cover rent, with a bit left over for a sparse diet. Other than being monsters, we've nothing in common.”
Once again, Laurent smiled. While everything Seth said was true, there was one thing he didn’t seem to understand.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” he swore. “Do ya work hard at bein’ insufferable, or does it just come natural to ya?”
“Both,” Laurent laughed. “But what you've failed to realize is that I don't care what people think.”
“Aye. That's ‘cause ya can afford not to care. Most've us don't have that luxury.”
“I can concede to that.” He drummed fingers on the arm of his chair. “To answer your question, these parties have become quite dull. You see, I’m the excuse for them.”
“Then this ball is for you?”
“No, it’s their ball. I was perfectly content feeding on my own. Now that I’m the coven’s bait, my normal pastimes have lost some of their joy. I enjoy the thrill of the chase. Being somewhere I ought not be, with someone I oughtn’t be with. Danger."
The idea of it, anyway. As a hunter, a predator, a monster, as Seth put it, danger was hard to come by. But the mere thought of being caught gave Laurent a rush like nothing else.
"Afternoon tea?" he continued. "Dinner parties? Croquet? All a dreadful bore."
At least he could go out of doors.
A superstition humans got wrong. Sunlight didn’t kill vampires. They tended to stay indoors during daylight hours because it was uncomfortable, becoming unbearably painful the longer they stayed out in it, but it wouldn’t kill them. A polo match in Hyde Park or luncheon in a brightly lit drawing room was tolerable. London’s gloomy weather made it easier.
“So what you'd really be interested in," Seth said, "is using me as yer entertainment."
"You make it sound so villainous when you say it that way." Laurent shrugged. "But…yes. You'd be remarkable in causing quite a stir if you were to come with me, pup. However, you've made your decision on the matter perfectly clear, and I shan't push any further for you to accept my proposal."
Tight grin on his face, Seth rolled his eyes with a soft shake of his head. Looked as though what Laurent said amused him in a twisted sort of way.
"Now it sounds like you're trying to trick me into going by pretending to be compassionate."
"Are you implying I'm without compassion?"
"I'm saying it's a farce, and it'd be a folly to trust you."
“Why do you think you shouldn’t trust me?”
“Because you’re tryin’ to convince me to.”