Hundreds of years ago Pax was summoned, and then enslaved, into the Beyslar line. Masters have used him as a reaper to kill their enemies for years. Much of the Beyslar fortune is his responsibility. And he’ll keep being a slave to them until one of them can’t guess his name on the night that his service moves to the next Beyslar in line. He knows that Noah, the last of the Beyslars, won’t be able to guess his name, and Pax is looking forward to finally being free again.
In order to be free, Pax has to kill his current master and that isn’t a task he’s ever wanted. For over sixty years he’s belonged to Anton, and he’s loved him as much as any reaper could ever love a human. But the man he fell in love with is now old and sick. Forcing him to stay alive is only hurting them both and soon Pax knows he’ll have to reap his lover and best friend. It’s the only way to free him, but Pax isn’t sure if he’ll ever be strong enough to go through with the one thing Anton needs him to do most.
The room was quiet except for the soft whisper of silken drapes as they fluttered in the open breeze from the window. An owl hooted somewhere in the distance, the sound almost strange as it interrupted the still of the night. Anton Beyslar lay in the room he had begun to think of as a prison, the same one his doctors had forced him to stay in since the heart attack.
It had been three long months since that day in the city. He had been shopping for Christmas presents, his beautiful young companion on his arm as they walked through the Cherry Creek shopping district in downtown Denver. His companion took the form of a young man that men a fourth of his age could barely hope to get the attention of. He had collapsed right there amidst the overly frilled holiday wreaths and a group of young girls in varying shades of red velvet dresses. The pain hadn’t frightened him. Collapsing without warning hadn’t even managed to shake him. In the end it had been Pax’s eyes, so full of worry and love, as he rode with Anton in the ambulance that told him just how bad things were going to be.
Two days in the hospital and his doctor had given him the news no man in his nineties wants to hear. He would be bed ridden for at least a month, if not more. He had broken already brittle bones when he fell. He would never walk again. No more quiet strolls, no more outings to the theater, no more walks through the botanical gardens. He would never again see his face light up at the sight of the elephants spraying each other with dust at the zoo. There was no point in living anymore.
His doctor had assured him it wouldn’t be as bad as all that, but Anton would not listen. He would not be pushed around in a wheel chair. He was a man of power and grace. He provided for the man he loved. He would not be reduced to this. He would not live his life in a bed and be waited on by the one person he would never ask that of. He would not endure the pity in Pax’s eyes.
But there had been no pity from Pax. Everyone else seemed to weep at the mere sight of the once powerful man, reduced to nothing more than a wasting body amidst creamy Egyptian cotton sheets. But Pax only gave him silent understanding as he raged and ranted as best he could. His voice was muffled by pain, and he could hardly throw the crystal vase more than a few feet but at least he could do that much.
Pax never left his side those first few weeks. His Pax. He was bound to Anton, to his family, but that didn’t mean Pax had to stay with him. That Anton knew Pax did by choice. Pax touched him no more than Anton had always allowed, but Pax seemed content to just sit silently beside him and watch CNN. The times he had awoken in the middle of the night to find Pax missing from his familiar spot in that high wing back chair were few and far between. His work had suffered because of the time Pax spent with him. He knew it did. But he would not send Pax away, selfish as he was, he would not refuse Pax’s company.
Little by little his muscles started shutting down. Decency and respect became new concerns to him. He fired half a dozen private nurses in the two weeks after his first accident on the sheets. He had started screaming then. He screamed until his lungs ached and his body seemed to cry out with each haggard breath he forced himself to take. He couldn’t die. Only Pax could do that for him. Once again though it was Pax that came to save him from his private torture. Of everyone in the large mountain estate, Pax was the only one that would not pity him.
He had not changed in Pax’s eyes and for that he was eternally grateful. Pax tolerated these new, sudden outbursts of anger and was silent as always as Anton raged, cursing everything he could think of. Pax would not leave his side. The young man who had been his constant companion for nearly five decades stayed with him even as he endured the last act of private torture. Pax merely nodded when Anton informed him that he needed to be changed, but instead of getting the most recent nurse for him Pax did something else and entirely unexpected.
The nurses had seemingly held barely restrained contempt at the idea of doing this most menial task, even as they had just finished lecturing him on the importance of turning every few hours and keeping a sort of thick cream on his backside to prevent skin breakdown, often caused by bacteria and incontinence. Pax, his wonderful little prince, he had merely nodded, put aside the TV guide he was browsing and pulled the sheet just far enough down to change the thick pad beneath Anton. Pax was quick, thorough, and efficient. Nothing was said afterwards, not that Pax had ever said more than a few words at a time anyway. Pax cleaned up, washed his hands, and went back to choosing a movie for them to watch.