Ioan Mic, the half-blood grandson of the vampyree king, is eagerly awaiting his eighteenth birthday, when he’ll finally be able to be with Daniel Small, the American vampyree he’s loved for the past four years. Although vampyrees are notoriously promiscuous, Ioan’s refused sex with all who offered -- he’s willing to wait. But when Daniel arrives at the party, he’s accompanied by a wife, leaving Ioan devastated.
Shandor, a wolf shifter -- he refuses to call himself a werewolf -- loves the young duke, but years before, he was given the task of keeping Ioan safe, so he tucks his feelings away.
Ioan’s twin decides the two need a push and encourages them to enroll in an online dating service. Unbeknownst to either man, he sees to it their responses make them perfect for each other. Because anyone can see they are.
The problem is will Ioan and Shandor ever see that?
Why was Daniel following him? For what purpose? To see Ioan fall apart? He nodded to the footman who offered a tray containing tiny cups of blood from every nation in the European Union and debated which one to take.
The last thing Ioan wanted was to have a conversation in front of servants and guests who'd like nothing more than a new scandal. "I've changed my mind," he said to the footman. "Thank you."
The footman bowed and approached a knot of guests who seemed in need of something to drink.
"I need some air." Ioan turned on his heel and stalked toward a pair of French doors that opened onto a balcony, not waiting to see if Daniel followed him.
The air was cool, and Ioan drew in a deep breath. Pureblood vampyres and turned vampyrees might not need to breathe, but as a half-blood, Ioan was somewhere between the two. There were things he couldn't do, but also things he could that they couldn't -- including going out into sunlight when he chose.
"You have to listen." Daniel was right on his heels. He closed his hand on Ioan's arm and tried to yank him to a halt. Ioan stopped to accommodate him. "Lindsey didn't mean to come across as so ... so --"
"I was going to say stern."
"Is that what you call it?"
"She's protective of me."
"How fortunate for you. Take your hand off me."
"What's the matter with you?"
"You know what the matter is. Why didn't you let me know you were married?"
"I --" At least he had the grace to look embarrassed. "I've been telling you for years that I'm straight."
"Well, good for you. You still could have sent an email or a text instead of surprising me like this. What did you hope to gain? Revenge for a little awkwardness?"
Valeriu had said as much, but he'd dismissed his cousin's words as simply Valeriu being the snobbish pain in the arse he usually was.
The problem was, Tyrell had also warned him. Ioan had just been too stubborn to listen.
"And for Lilitu's sake, stop calling me by that ridiculous nickname."
"It's no more ridiculous than Rascal."
Ioan treasured that name because Shandor had given it to him, and he wasn't about to let anyone -- least of all a turned vampyre who was married -- ridicule it. He looked from where Daniel had his hand on his sleeve up to his eyes and let his expression turn cold. "Take your hand off me, or I'll break it."
"Oh, come on."
"Don't. Doubt. It." Ioan rested his hand on Daniel's and squeezed. Born vampyres were very powerful, even half-blood ones, and Ioan could have broken Daniel's hand with just a bit more pressure. He didn't, but he let Daniel feel his strength. "Shandor is my friend. If you mock him, you'll regret it."
Daniel gave a weak smile. "You're joking."
"I was never more serious." He released his hold on Daniel's hand.
Daniel snatched it away, shook it to get the feeling back, and glanced warily at Ioan. "John -- Ioan, we've been friends for four years."
Four years during which Daniel had made it obvious he viewed Ioan as nothing more than an amusing nuisance. Why couldn't Ioan have realized that sooner? "Well, we're no longer friends."
"You're being childish."
Yes, he was. He was a royal duke, and it behooved him to act like one.
"I've wished you happy. I think we're done." He made his way around Daniel toward the doors that led to the ballroom.
"Wait. We have to finish hashing this out. Stay here."
Ioan stared at him flatly.
"Look, we can't have this conversation in the ballroom -- anyone can overhear." Daniel's tone indicated he was trying for placating.
Well, Ioan wasn't having any of it. He raised an eyebrow. "There's nothing to hash out. You've made that very clear."
"Don't be so damned stubborn," Daniel snarled. He started to reach for Ioan's arm again, then seemed to think better of it. He gestured to a corner of the balcony.
Did he look hopeful? Did he want to reconcile?
Or did he just want to take Ioan as his paramour?
Ioan worried his lower lip. Daniel had a point. If the beings gathered for his birthday celebration got a whiff of this, it would feed the gossip mill for days, or at least until the next scandal popped up. It would be hard enough for him to live it down as it was. He cursed himself for being so obvious in his feelings for Daniel.
"Very well." He walked to the corner Daniel had indicated.
"I ... I should apologize for Lindsey's attitude."
Ioan waited, but Daniel said nothing more.