Borscht Kuznetsov is the master of his vampire coven. He likes his donors silent, his people obedient, and his life orderly. When an alarm on the northern outskirts of his property alert him to intruders, he leads the charge to drive the humans from his land. To his surprise, Borscht discovers they were chasing an Egyptian fruit bat. Confused by his sudden onslaught of protectiveness, he realizes the little creature is a shifter…who refuses to shift.
With his only memories that of his time spent in captivity, Sekani doesn’t know much. He can’t even understand the words of the people around him after he escapes from his prison. Still, one of them smells really good…and the man saved him from the hunters. When the man finally says a few words in halting English, Sekani learns that his world is so much larger than he could ever have imagined.
Can Borscht handle his beloved’s overabundance of excitement, especially when he learns that Sekani has friends that need rescuing?
Sekani peered through the leaves at the strangers. They smelled funny. Well, most of them did. One of them smelled really good. He’d found himself fluttering and creeping closer before he even knew what he was doing.
He’d stopped when he heard the hunters.
To his surprise, Sekani had watched the strangers easily disarm and knock out the four men hunting him. At least one of them was dead. Sekani smelled the stink of death now permeating the area.
Sekani felt uncertain what to do. His instincts warred inside him. While he wanted to draw closer to the biggest of the strangers—his smell was strangely alluring—he didn’t think that would be wise.
One of the hunters was still awake. What if he told the big man about him? What if the big man ended up helping the hunter?
As Sekani watched, the big man snarled at the hunter he’d disarmed. He shoved him toward the other man, who quickly captured the hunter’s arms behind his back and tied his wrists with something. The big man started up the hill, his head down as he climbed, seeming to look for something.
Sekani’s heart tripped in his chest as he watched the big man pick up the square device the hunter had been holding. Turning, he looked around the forest, trying to decide in which direction to fly. When he heard the big man bark out something in a language he didn’t recognize, he paused and listened.
Not recognizing the words, Sekani couldn’t say why he paused. Hearing the man talk did funny things to him. It made him tingle in ways he’d never experienced.
Instead of flying away, like he knew he should, Sekani crawled along the limb. He drew closer to the big man. Spreading his wings, he flitted to another tree, even closer. Something about the man’s scent just smelled…right. He liked it a lot.
Sekani watched as the big man lifted his hand to his ear, then spoke again in that funny way. He tapped at the machine, then touched his ear again and spoke. After a second, he swept his gaze around the area.
To Sekani’s surprise, the big man’s nostrils flared and he scented the air. Then, the man tipped his head back and stared up into the trees. He couldn’t stop himself from gaping, even in his bat form. The man’s eyes seemed to glow red in the moonlight.
Sekani had never seen anything like it.
The man tossed the device to the ground and tilted his head. He narrowed his red-looking eyes. When another man said something in that odd language, the man waved his hand. Focusing on the tree where Sekani hid, he said something in that funny language.
It sounded coaxing and nice, even with all the hard consonants.
Sekani found himself crawling closer.
The man’s gaze seemed to rivet on him. The glow of his red eyes faded as he focused on Sekani and he smiled. He held out his hand, palm out. Talking softly in that language Sekani didn’t understand but sure loved to listen to from this guy’s tongue, he watched the man wiggle his fingers a bit in invitation.
Sekani had never thought about his instincts—after all, he couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t live in a cage—but everything in his tiny bat body urged him to go to the man.
Doing just that, Sekani spread his wings and fluttered to the man. He landed on his upper arm, gripping the smooth, black fabric tightly in his tiny claws. He froze as he stared at the surprised look on the man’s face.
Oh, crap. What did I just do?
Then, the man’s whisker-covered features softened and he smiled. He slowly lifted his hand and touched Sekani’s fur gently. Once again, he murmured some unfamiliar words.
Sekani chittered softly, telling the man he didn’t understand.
Chuckling, the stranger just grinned and caressed his wing. His fingers slid ever-so-gently along his sensitive appendage. The man’s light touch belied his massive size.
When another man approached, saying something to Sekani’s infatuation in that harsh language, Sekani tensed. He skittered around the man’s neck. Using the stranger’s jacket for purchase, he huddled close to his neck.
The man growled at the other guy, whose brows shot up in obvious surprise. Then, his new friend started barking orders and pointing at the hunters they’d taken down. Finally, he reached up and gently cupped Sekani’s body. Instead of pulling him off, he urged him to maneuver over his shoulder, down his chest, and under his coat.
After a few more crooned words, the man started running.
Sekani clung to the man. He couldn’t remember ever seeing someone move so fast before! The trees zipped by at shocking speeds…there and gone, almost as if they were flying on the ground.
After a while, Sekani didn’t know how long, he felt the man slow. He peeked through the opening of the coat and tensed. They were at the door of a building. The building itself didn’t appear to be anything like the places he’d been kept in, but fear still caused a chirp of worry to escape him.
The man shushed him soothingly. He slid his left hand into his jacket and petted him as he used his right to unlock a door and push it open. His chance to flee disappeared when the man holding him stepped inside the place and closed the door behind them.