Alek has spent all his life living in his twin brothers’ shadows. He was there to help Kaden when Davv’id betrayed their family and their race, and he could always be relied on to keep Kaden’s business empire running smoothly. It was only when his brother’s personal life started interfering in his own playboy lifestyle that things started to get too complicated.

When things go badly wrong at Alex's father’s funeral, and Matty suddenly goes into labor with Kaden’s baby, Alek and Kaden panic and race to get help. When they’re pulled over for speeding by a big, handsome and very stubborn traffic cop named Max, Alek fears the worst, but Max turns out to be literally a lifesaver. To his horror, Alek is unable to compel the cop to forget all he has seen and realizes that can mean only one thing. The handsome, gruff, and very straight cop must be Alek’s true mate.

Can a cop who says he’s straight overcome his distrust and distaste for a gorgeous vampire and fall in love with him? And can Alek put aside his own bitterness and feelings of betrayal for his older brother Davv’id so the brothers can save the world from the evil force that’s threatening them all? If Alek and Max can stop arguing long enough to listen to each other, they might realize that words are unnecessary when their hearts beat out a rhythm only they can hear.

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It was cold. No, Alek reminded himself. Not cold. His body had stopped feeling the whims of the human climate some four hundred years ago. He looked around at the rocky outcrop overlooking the small private inlet. Desolate. That was the word, and it wasn’t the scenery or the climate that was the problem; it was the emotions battering him from the sixty vampires and their mates that were present.

His brother, Kaden, was still speaking. As of three days ago, Kaden had become the leader of their race and The Guardian of the Five Rubies, and that was why everyone was so sad. It wasn’t something that began with a celebration like most humans had on this world when they got a new job; in their world it began with a death.

Their father had finally succumbed to the blood sickness, the vampires’ equivalent of humans dying of old age, except his father had been two thousand and ninety-eight years old. Alek heard a sob and looked across at his mom who was being comforted by his aunt. The completely shitty thing was now that his dad had died, his mom would probably only live another sixty years or so, a mere blink in time to them.

His mom was a ruask’aa or blood-angel — human until she had mated with his father. The benefits of the mating for a human was long life and health. A ruask’aa would live as long as the vampire did, but after the vampire died, the ruask’aa would revert to a normal human life-span.

Aleksandre’s eyes roved over the people present until he came to Matty, and he smiled a little. Matty wasn’t the only blood angel present, but he was, at the moment, the most fragile. Kaden’s little blood-angel had been quite a surprise to them all. It was the first bonding to happen on Earth for starters. Alek and Kaden’s race had to flee their own planet before Alek was born and their sun had gone supernova and destroyed everything. Not one of the generation that had been born on Earth had found their blood-angel before Kaden did, although it hadn’t helped that their elders refused to let their children mix socially with anyone outside their community.

Kaden was trying to change all that. Kaden had his own real estate company, and they both shared the penthouse apartment in the top of one of his luxury complexes. Downtown Orlando suited Alek much better. In fact, even his brother had called him a man whore a time or two, but then Kaden was a little old-fashioned. Must come with the huge responsibility of keeping their race a secret, managing a multi-billion-dollar group of companies and his latest and biggest problem…Matty.

His human mate. His very pregnant male human mate that Kaden had bonded with that meant Kaden would now only be able to feed from Matty for the rest of his life. His human mate who was sick and often fainted at the sight of blood. For all the day was solemn, the irony still amused Alek to no end.

Alek frowned, taking Matty in. Matty was close to delivering, and this was the first time he had been out of the apartment in weeks, but he had insisted on paying his respects to their father.

The trouble was because Matty was with them they hadn’t been able to move at the supersonic speeds they were all capable of because their mom had insisted it might harm the baby, even though Kaden would have carried Matty. So they had driven here, which would normally have been fine, except finding a deserted area of coastline in Florida had been nearly impossible, and Kaden had ended up going to the trouble of buying a huge hotel and apartment complex for its private beach access, and then immediately closing it for a week to ensure their privacy. The tradition amongst their people didn’t include graves and headstones. The body would be cremated, and then the person’s ashes would be scattered somewhere they would have been happy. His father loved the beach. It also meant they were a good three hours’ drive away from Orlando, and to be honest, Matty looked dreadful.

Alek moved around to where his brother was speaking and silently stood behind Matty, who jumped a little at Alek suddenly appearing. Within less than thirty seconds he’d taken a grateful step back and was leaning up against him. He could feel Matty’s heart beating fast, and a wave of exhaustion rolled over him.

It wasn’t his, though…vampires didn’t really get tired unless they hadn’t fed for quite a few days. It was Matty’s emotions he was feeling. He’d thought he was going mad at first when he started picking up other people’s feelings just over two weeks ago. It was uncomfortable…especially anytime he was near Matty and Kaden. Kaden’s fierce protectiveness of his blood-angel was off the charts but the lust that thickened the air so much he could hardly breathe when he was in the same room as them both, made him so embarrassed he wanted to be far away from them both as much as possible. He hadn’t told Kaden about his new gift yet — if that’s what it was.

The jury was still out on that one.

Alek looked towards where the sun was setting. On Saffton’da, their home planet, the sun was so hot their race had evolved over the centuries to sleep in sunlight, as it was too hot to do any other. The older the vampire, the more able they were to stay awake as the sun came up, but even the generation born on earth could not rid themselves of the need to regenerate, and quickly fell into a deep sleep every morning.

Kaden suddenly stopped talking and looked back towards the road. If Alek had been capable of it he would have shivered as the fear flashed across his brother’s face. Kaden wasn’t afraid of anything normally. At five hundred and seven years old and possibly the most powerful of his people, the only thing that caused Kaden any distress was any risk to Matty.

Kaden shot Alek a glance as most of the vampires present looked over towards the road.

“What is it?” Matty asked as they all turned. All the vampires had heard the sound of the cars approaching, but they were still too far away for the humans to hear.

“Alek, get Matty to the car.”

Matty opened his mouth to protest, but Alek just put his arm around him and steered him around.

“No.” Matty shrugged Alek’s arm off. “What is it?”

Kaden looked at Matty. “Darling, please.”

“I’m not going anywhere without you.”

Alek grimaced. Matty was stubborn, and they didn’t have time for this. Kaden’s gift was foresight. His brother had seen something, and he needed Matty out of the way. Alek bent and in a second he’d picked Matty up. Matty, thank goodness, was so shocked he shut up. Few people were so unafraid of his brother’s wrath they would touch his ruask’aa.

“Take him to the car,” Kaden implored as at least five black limousines came up the road. He glanced at Matty. “I’ll see you at home, darling.”

Alek moved quickly towards his car and had Matty in the passenger seat before Matty had taken another breath. As soon as he realized, though, he started struggling. “Matty,” Alek ground out. “Kaden is having a completely shitty day. Do not make it worse.” Matty opened his mouth, but the brown eyes softened, and he nodded silently. “Put your seatbelt on,” Alek added as an afterthought and ran around to the car.

Alek started up the Mercedes. He saw the first limousine turn in, and the others follow it. He just needed the last one to clear the gates, then he would get Matty out. Alek put his foot on the pedal, ready to move, but at the last second the first limo swerved a little, completely blocking his car. Frustration and anger rolled over Alek. That had been deliberate, and he knew full well who was in the car. He glanced towards Kaden, who still stood on the beach. His brother’s enigmatic mask had risen. Kaden obviously knew who it was as well.

All the elders present stepped nearer Kaden as the first car’s door opened. A young man—human—jumped out from the driver’s seat and opened the back door. Alek could just see the man who got out and he sighed. Identical gray eyes to Kaden, the five-thousand-dollar suit that clung to his skin, the arrogant lift of his eyebrow as he stared…Davv’id, his older brother and Kaden’s twin.

Alek shot a look at Matty. “Stay here.” He quietly got out of the car and locked it, earning an indignant glare from Matty.
“I have come to pay my respects, as is my right.”

His cousins Elyria and James both closed ranks with Kaden, and he appreciated their show of loyalty, especially as the offers that Davv’id had made were especially attractive to the younger ones. Davv’id wanted the very opposite of what the elders insisted on. He didn’t hope to one day find a new world they could move to, to live in peace with their blood-angels. No, Davv’id was satisfied with this one…except he didn’t want to live in secret either; he wanted to rule it.

The three brothers had once been very close. But all that had died the day Davv’id had found and lost his blood-angel to the heroin this world was peddling. He had never had time to bond so her death hadn’t caused his, if the embittered shell Alek’s brother existed in could be counted as living. Davv’id blamed the humans and their weaknesses for her death, and immediately set about building a secret army of the vampires that had flocked to his call, along with the human dross that answered it. It was only because none of his vampires had found their blood matches either that their numbers were low.
Davv’id looked over at Alek and at Matty, who was still sitting in the car, and turned back to Kaden. “I have told you before, Kaden. You of all people should know I would never hurt a blood-angel.”

Kaden didn’t reply but nodded towards Alek. He unlocked the car door. Matty was out surprisingly quickly, considering he looked nearly as wide as he was tall. In seconds Kaden was lifting his arm and dropped a kiss on Matty’s head as he tucked him in close.

“Matty,” Davv’id murmured politely. “How are you?”

Alek nearly snorted. Kaden might have to make nice because of their mother and her hope that their brother would still return to the fold, but Alek had to do no such thing. Davv’id disgusted him.

Their mother came rushing over, eyes bright with tears, but obviously delighted to have all her sons there. Davv’id clasped her hand.

“Kaden,” Saha’ssa stepped forward. Everyone fell silent as the old man held out the small gold urn. At two thousand and three years old, and following the death of their father, he was now the eldest among them and deserved the usual respect. “It is time.”

Kaden gently pushed Matty onto Alek and reached out for the urn. He took a last look behind him and then walked to the edge of the rocks overlooking the shore. The others stayed exactly where they were. As newly appointed Saak’da, he would make this journey alone.

Alek clasped Matty a little more firmly as Matty seemed incapable of standing still without fidgeting. Matty groaned a little and leaned heavier against Alek. “Patience,” Alek admonished. “It is nearly done.”

“I know,” whispered Matty, “and I’m sorry, but my back is killing me.”

“Do you want to go sit in the car?”

Matty looked up. “Would you let me go on my own?”

“Of course not,” Alek replied. His brother would kill him if he let Matty take so much as one step away on his own. There was also a group of Davv’id’s men between Matty and the car.

“Then I’ll stay here,” Matty whispered back and rested his warm eyes on Alek. “He was your father too.”

Alek didn’t know what to say. Matty was in some discomfort clearly, but he was putting up with it, because he didn’t want Alek to miss anything. Alek smiled, suddenly acknowledging what his brother saw in him.

One of Davv’id’s men took out a cell phone while he was watching. He noticed the man glance at Davv’id and Davv’id let go of his mom and stepped over, just as Kaden turned and started walking back towards them.

Kaden looked up suddenly straight at Davv’id and with a flash of supersonic speed he had his hands around his brother’s throat. “How could you?” he spat, and turned to everyone, dropping Davv’id. “Get to the cars now.”

“What is it?” Alek felt his brother’s panic like he had just stepped into an ice bath.

Kaden turned to him. “Amariska is on her way.”

Alek stared incredulously at Davv’id. He had told the vampire assassin where they were? He couldn’t set their differences aside for even an hour so they could bury their father?

“It wasn’t me,” Davv’id said in fury, brushing his jacket where Kaden had touched him. “She’s out of control. I have been searching for her for weeks. She must have found out we were all here.”

It was too late to argue. Alek once more picked up Matty, who flailed slightly as Alek ran for the car and bundled him in the back. Kaden was directing the rest of their family and then blurred, appearing in the seat next to Matty in a blink. “As fast as you can, brother.”

Matty gasped a little as they moved so fast he was flung back onto Kaden. “I’m sorry,” Kaden tightened his arm around his mate, “but I need you safe and I am better able to protect you at home.”

Matty bit his lip and Alek glanced in the mirror at his pale face. Much as he was grateful for Matty’s unusual silence, he was starting to get a little concerned. Suddenly he understood why Kaden hadn’t wanted him to come — except they didn’t trust anyone else to stay with him. Matty had an awful habit of persuading Kaden’s staff to agree to anything, and he wouldn’t put it past Matty to suddenly try and turn up at the ceremony on his own.

When Alek got his own ruask’aa, he would make sure he did everything Alek said. If Kaden asked Matty to do something, Matty usually did the opposite. No, Alek’s ruask’aa would be sweet and biddable and nothing like his brother’s.

“Is that better?” he heard Kaden murmuring as he rubbed Matty’s back.

Alek took a turn a little too quickly. Matty bounced again.

“Alek,” Matty huffed. “Are you trying…”

Alek looked in the mirror as Matty bit off his sentence and squirmed out of his brother’s grip. “I…ohhh,” Matty gave a frightened squeak, followed by an agonized moan.

“What is it?” Kaden sounded frantic.

“Agghh,” Matty cried helplessly. “That’s it.”

“What’s it?” Alek demanded. Matty knew how to be dramatic.

“The baby,” Matty ground out.

Alek just bit off the words “what baby” stupidly before he really pissed his brother off. “What do you mean?”

“Do you want me to draw you a fucking picture?” Matty nearly snarled and arched on the seat.

“Darling,” Kaden said in awe and looked at Alek in shock. Alek swerved quickly. He’d been so distracted looking at them both in the rear view mirror, a car had pulled in front of him and slowed, and he’d nearly driven straight into the back of it.

“Damn,” he bit off as Matty’s groan became a wail, and he twisted again trying to get comfortable.

“We need to get to the clinic,” Kaden ground out. Kaden had paid for everything. He’d set up a private clinic and had a doctor on standby. When Matty had delivered, the doctor would be generously compensated and then Kaden would compel him to forget everything he had seen.

Alek swore as the cars in front of him slowed. He wanted to bang his head on the steering wheel. His dad had died. They were fighting his older brother. An assassin wanted to kill them. There was construction up ahead, and he was approaching a bottleneck. He swore again as he became aware of the siren behind him.

Fucking great. He was two hours away from home. His brother’s pregnant mate — a man — was about to give birth in his car, and there was a fucking traffic cop trying to get him to pull over.

Could his day possibly get any worse?

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