Vail Tamang is a playboy. He’s never claimed to be anything else. What he does claim is that he doesn’t want a mate. The truth is a little more sinister. When he scents Draven Mansetti, Tim’s half-vampire, half-warlock mentor, he realizes his worst fear has come true. Draven is his mate. Vail tries to avoid the man, but Draven manages to track him down anyway. He’s left with no choice and shares a family secret. His family line is cursed. Can Draven convince Vail that some curses can be broken? Or will Vail walk away before giving them a chance?
“You smell upset and horny. Why are you hiding in here?” Lamar asked bluntly.
Vail scowled. He didn’t particularly want to explain this to Lamar, but his friend would know if he lied. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Lamar settled on the end of the bed, his back against the footboard. He lifted one brow and tilted his head, studying him. “You haven’t been out much. That’s not like you. I know several of the guys are feeling a bit pent up from having to stay in San Francisco for so long,” he mused. His eyes narrowed as he looked at him. “But I don’t think that’s your problem, is it?”
Damn the man for being so perceptive. Lamar obviously saw a lot more than he normally let on. Vail rubbed his temple and fixed his gaze on the wall. “I think Draven is my mate,” he admitted. “I’m waiting here until he leaves.”
“Ah, I see,” Lamar murmured. “You’ve always claimed, quite vehemently, really, to not want to find your mate. I’ve never actually believed you,” he said, smirking. “Everyone wants to be loved and accepted by a partner just the way he is.”
Vail couldn’t help it. His jaw dropped. Lamar knew he’d been whistling Dixie all this time? “Do all the guys think that?” he asked incredulously.
Lamar shrugged. “Couldn’t tell you. I think some of the others definitely have their doubts.” He leveled a searching look on Vail. “Wanna tell me the real reason you’re avoiding the man? Is it because he’s a vampire? I’d think you’d enjoy the pleasure brought on by providing for your mate,” he pointed out, reminding Vail of his love of pleasure.
What would it hurt to tell him? He knew Lamar could keep a secret. And at this point, Vail wasn’t sure he wanted it a secret anymore anyway. He could feel his wolf clamoring at his insides, wanting out to find their mate. He’d need his friend’s help to keep a level head about himself. He couldn’t endanger his mate.
Letting out a deep breath, he told Lamar, “The short of it is…my family was cursed by a witch. My grandfather is alpha of my old pack. At the time, he was already mated, though it wasn’t to his true mate. He ran across a witch, Eliza, who got it in her head that she was his true mate. When he disagreed, she went after my grandmother. My grandfather drove Eliza from his territory, but as she left, she vowed that should any of his descendants dare to mate, the mate would die within a year.”
“My God, that’s quite the curse,” Lamar muttered, his eyes wide.
Vail grimaced. “At first, they thought it was foolishness. Then his eldest son took a mate. My father.” He stared at the ceiling vacantly, remembering how sad his father often was, how he’d find him staring off into the distance from time to time, and how he’d drummed into Vail’s head the importance of taking the curse seriously.
“So, what I told everyone was true, from a certain point of view.” Vail met Lamar’s concerned expression and gave him a pained smile. “I never wanted to find my mate. I never wanted to be put in that position,” he admitted, shrugging.
“Shouldn’t you at least tell Draven?” Lamar urged. “This does affect him, too,” he pointed out.
Hating how reasonable Lamar was being, Vail grimaced. “I’m not sure I can face him without wanting to jump his bones,” he mumbled. Flicking his gaze over Lamar’s surprised expression, he continued, “Come on. It’s not like I have the best track record for maintaining self-control.”