Virgil has been hiding something… But then again that isn’t anything new to him. He doesn’t fit in with the family that doesn’t even know who he really is. Learning long ago that he wasn’t normal, he strives to just fit in. Fate just doesn’t seem to have it in the cards for him.
Mareo and Foma have been searching for their other mate for centuries. Now that they think they’ve found him, Virgil’s running from them. Panicked that he’s only staying in Greece a few days and confused by his reaction, they decide to take desperate measures. After their plan backfires instead of opening up Virgil to being their mate, can they convince him they were only trying to help? Or will it be the last straw to push Virgil over the edge and leave everything behind to start over somewhere else, saying good-bye to the Mariuses forever?
Marius Brothers 8 (Marius World 18)
Copyright © 2013
“Your highness, good to see you,” Stefan ribbed Caleb as he hugged one of our family’s oldest friends. He might have been Micah’s best friend, but he was like a stepbrother we actually liked to the rest of us. Caleb laughed before pulling away and giving me one of his bear hugs.
“You’re so high because you’re so tall,” I mumbled in his ear. “Good to see you, man.”
“You will address the King as his majesty,” one of the warriors who escorted us from the airport growled menacingly.Read More
“Dude, Evander, take it down a notch,” Caleb chuckled as we parted. “Friends of mine, remember?”
“Sorry, your majesty.” The man bowed and stepped back, looking properly chastised.
“Wait, did we do it wrong because you’re a guy?” Patrick asked while hugging Caleb as well. “We called Queen Magdalena your highness all the time. Is it different for women and men?”
“Don’t feel bad, we had to explain the difference to our mate as well,” Liam answered with a snicker.
Micah had told me that since Caleb’s mates were identical twins, there was an extra security risk if they couldn’t keep them straight. Since then, Liam always wore something with the shoulders cut out so his birthmark showed, distinguishing him from Lorcan.
“The fae Queen keeps things informal or she doesn’t like to have everyone treat her so differently, but she should be called her majesty as well. Ruling King or Queen get majesty. Anyone else in the ruling royal family gets your highness.”
“Okay, so you and Lorcan get your majesty because you’re Caleb’s mates, but you’re both still Princes because you can’t be Queen since you don’t have boobs,” Patrick surmised. I bounced my head along with that one and then snickered. My brother’s mate had such a way with words.
“I love how Americans know how to turn a phrase,” a deep, loud voice chuckled from behind Caleb. I saw him before his scent hit me and I almost fell over just from how handsome he was. There were too many flowers in the throne room where we met up with Caleb after a meeting of his for me to have caught his scent sooner. But when I did, I froze… Except my fangs. The stranger’s eyes met mine and he saw them come out, schooling his reaction carefully.
“I don’t know if he’s picking on me or not,” Patrick said to his mate, getting the fae’s attention.
“No, not at all,” the man replied gently, shooting me another look quickly. “I honestly do love it. I appreciate bluntness. And his majesty, Prince Liam, is correct, our Queen smacked one of us once for calling her by that term. She said she was more mother to us all than ruler to be put up on a throne away from her people. We call her the term highness. She couldn’t make us stop so she gave up.”
“This is Foma, one of the new additions to our security,” Caleb said as I stared at the god of a fae man. His scent was confusing me though because it wavered almost as if there were two of him. Then again I was desperately trying to get my fangs to retract so I was slightly distracted. “And this is his mate, Mareo.” Caleb gestured to the other side of him and I locked eyes with the deepest midnight-blue eyes I’d ever seen. And I knew Mareo had seen every second of my reaction.
Did they know they were my mates? Fuck!
Stefan reached for Foma’s hand. “Nice to meet you. We didn’t get a chance to when the fae crossed over.”
“We crossed over a couple of centuries ago in search of our mate,” Foma explained, staring at me again. I felt the blood drain from my face, knowing he’d busted me, and glanced away… And met Mareo’s gaze. Shit! “When we heard that the Queen and the rest of our people crossed over to this plane and some were coming to Greece, we made ourselves known to Caleb and offered our services to help acclimate the fae.”
“Very nice of you,” Patrick said as he shook the man’s hand next. “Damn, you’re just huge in a whole new way, man.”
“So I’ve been told,” Foma drawled and then snickered. “I’ve almost got two feet on you. I’m seven seven.”
“Five eight,” Patrick chuckled. “Just call me shorty.”
“Virgil, are you going to come meet Caleb’s people or stand there?” Stefan asked jokingly but I could hear the slight concern in his tone. “Dude, you okay?”
“Yeah,” I answered, clearing my throat. “Just weird seeing Caleb like this with all the grandeur.” I gestured around, lying through my teeth. “That and the flight.” I shrugged. “Sorry. Just kind of spaced out.”
“Then we should show you to your rooms for some rest,” Mareo said as he moved closer to me. “I didn’t catch your name.”
I swallowed loudly as I stared up at the massive man. Yes, I had to stare up at him. He was maybe an inch shorter than Foma but at least seven and a half feet tall. “Virgil Marius.”
“Nice to meet you, Virgil,” he said in a slightly husky voice. We shook hands and I noticed that Stefan and Patrick were talking to Liam and Lorcan again, everyone else distracted. They wanted to see their new baby before we settled in.
“Same,” I mumbled, trying to get back my hand and not breathe at the same time. If I took in his scent with how attracted I was to him, my fangs would come right back out and I’d be busted.
“Virgil did you say?” Foma asked, suddenly right next to his mate, both of them practically surrounding me but keeping a polite distance… Technically. To everyone else it might have looked as if we were just in a private conversation. “Lovely fangs you have.”
“Thanks, I’m, um, th–thirsty,” I lied. “Tired and thirsty.”
“Hmm.” Foma glanced at his mate and I had a feeling they didn’t believe me. “Then we should check on you during your nap.”
“Maybe keep an extra close eye on you,” Mareo agreed as he let go of my hand only for Foma to take it in his massive one. I stared into his light brown eyes and found myself twenty seconds from swooning. I swear he had gold flecks swirling around in them or something. It was hypnotic and alluring all at once. “Like as you’re lying naked and sated in our arms.”
I felt a thrill of desire go through me and my fangs, the fucking things, popped back out. I shook my head and pulled my hand back as I got them to retract. “I’m sorry, no thank you. I appreciate the offer but I’m straight.”
Mareo leaned in until his shoulder-length black hair brushed against my ear. “The erection you’re sporting would suggest otherwise. Why do I get the feeling most everything you’ve said is bullshit, Virgil?”
Because you’re smart. But I couldn’t say that. “If you’ll excuse me, I want to meet my nephew.” I cleared my throat and went to step around them.
“Running won’t stop us from pursuing,” Foma warned. I glanced at him, noticing a blond curl had fallen out of his tie. He had it bundled at the nape of his neck and it looked so soft I just wanted to bury my face in it.
I shook almost at the threat and promise rolled into one, his deep, commanding voice doing a number on my already-melted brain. Stefan shot me a look as I joined their group. “What was that about?”
“They thought they knew me,” I lied again, giving him a look that clearly said none of his business though. He nodded, knowing I wasn’t telling the truth because it wasn’t for mixed company. “Oh, he’s so cute!”
“This is our son, Prince Nicholas Michan Kyros,” Lorcan announced proudly as he handed me the baby. He wasn’t even three months old yet and it was always scary to hold a child that small, but I’d gotten lots of practice with Micah and Riley’s daughter.
“You look like you know what you’re doing there,” Foma said as they joined us. I flinched but focused on Prince Nicholas.
I glanced at my mate, a need to be honest with him when I’d told him lies already filling me. “My brother has a daughter and I’ve sat with her many times being the only single one left in our family. Plus, she’s just fun.”
“And there’s another on the way we hear?” Liam asked, a huge grin on his face.
“Yes, our surrogate, cool Aunt Sydney, is pregnant,” Patrick practically squealed. “With the six-month gestation period vampires have, and that one threw me because no one told me that until after we found out she was pregnant in March, she’s due end of September.”
“Congratulations,” Caleb said as everyone started hugging again. I smiled as I looked at them. They were so excited to have a family. I wanted that. I cooed at the baby as I snuck glances at my mates. And yet, I found them so why wasn’t I saying anything?
That’s right. I was stupid in the head and fucked up. I had always planned on my mate being a woman and now I had two mountains of fae warriors that were actually who fate gave me. So it seemed my phase of wanting ménage gay sex wasn’t really a phase.
I didn’t know what to do with that. I really, truly, didn’t. I just needed time.
Prince Nicholas smacked my face with his chubby hand and I stared down at him. Not a bad idea, kid. I could use a few more good cracks though. When Liam looked ready to bust open with need to have his child back, I handed the Prince over.
“Sorry, it’s just we’re new to this and we be so scared of the dangers,” Liam explained.
“Does this have anything to do with why Caleb suddenly wanted to be King and be officially sworn in? I wondered why he hadn’t over the past two years but now did before the baby was born,” I said quietly.
“It’s complicated and something he wantin’ to discuss with ya tonight when no one be listening,” Lorcan mumbled under his breath. “But let’s get ya to your rooms. We’ve got a few meetings and then we’ll all have dinner, relax, and catch up.”
“Anything you guys need, we’re here for you always. Never doubt that, Lorcan,” I assured him as I wrapped a comforting arm around his shoulders. He leaned into it and sighed, nodding his head. Wow, there was really something going on here then. That was never good.
Then again, when was there not drama and shit hitting the fan in our lives?
* * * *
I watched as the man I suspected was our mate comforted the Prince as we left the throne room. Their bags had been brought to their rooms by the staff so it was just a matter of showing them where they were. I was shocked when Caleb had made a point to say his visitors were going to be staying in the royal residence wing instead of in the guest wing. But now that I saw how close they were, I understood.
Caleb and his mates treated these men like family. I was glad for him because while the O’Hagans were a big family, Caleb mated into that clan, though really having no family of his own so that had to be hard for him. I now saw that wasn’t really true since the Mariuses seemed to be Caleb’s family. Caleb pointed out Virgil’s room and when the man broke away from the group, I shared a glance with Mareo and we did the same.
“Are you sure you won’t take us up on our offer?” I asked as I let my fingers graze his hip as he reached for the doorknob. “We could be so good to you, Virgil. Show you so much you’ve been missing out being straight. There’s nothing wrong with just sampling what else is out there.” I saw the slight shiver even as he shook his head.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you said,” Mareo purred as he leaned in closer and kissed Virgil’s neck. The man tilted slightly to give him more room and then realized what he was doing and flinched, turning to face us. And that’s when we saw his fangs were out again. “Did you say yes, please come into my room and ravage me?”
“No. Please leave me alone,” he whispered, shaking. “I can’t do this.”
“Do what?” I asked gently, seeing the fear in our mate’s eyes. “What’s the big deal? It’s not like we’re mates or something, right?” Virgil flinched as he went pale. I opened my mouth to specifically ask the question, forcing him to answer, but he opened the door and darted into his room before I could, locking it behind him.
“I knew it,” Mareo whispered as he ran his fingers over the door. “He’s ours. I’d bet all our savings that he’s ours. Why wouldn’t he tell us? What’s happened to our poor mate that he looks so scared?”
“Closet case?” I guessed, shrugging.
“No, something more than that.” He shook his head and then gave me one of those soulful looks that made me always melt at how intense my mate was. The man saw everything. “Let’s go talk to Caleb. He’ll help us.”
“But he’s Virgil’s friend,” I hedged even as I trailed after my mate.
“Exactly,” he chuckled. “He’ll know all we need to know about our potential mate and how to get him into our arms.” I hoped Mareo was right. I felt intensely attracted to Virgil. He was gorgeous and all but it was more than something shallow. The only other man I’d ever felt that draw to before was Mareo. It just seemed all the signs were pointing to Virgil being our mate so why would he not be glad and instead look scared?
I knocked on the door to King Caleb’s study, knowing he had a meeting in a bit. “Come in.”
“Sorry to interrupt you, your majesty,” Mareo said as we entered, both of us dipping our heads in respect.
“Guys, seriously, if it’s just us, call me Caleb,” the King drawled yet again. “Or I swear I’m going to think we’re not friends.”
“Yes, Caleb,” I said quickly before Mareo could argue. He was very stuck in his ways and sometimes I had to snap him out of his ruts. Caleb was awesome and our friend. I didn’t want to lose that. My mate gave a slight nod, letting me know he understood what I’d just done.
“Cool. So what’s up?” Caleb glanced at us from what he’d been looking at.
“We were wondering about what makes a vampire’s fangs come out,” Mareo said smoothly. “There’s been some rumors among our people and we felt it was best to come to our most trusted source to get answers so we didn’t have the wrong ideas running rampant.”
“I hate rumors but I can understand why the fae would be gossiping about vamps, especially with this blood thing,” he grumbled as he rubbed his hands over his face.
“You mean that’s true?” I gasped, not being able to hide my shock in time.
“Yes. I thought everyone knew that now.” Caleb swore under his breath and got to his feet. “Please press upon the fae staying here that it’s not a rumor. Your blood, if not despelled by your Queen, pretty much drives a vampire mad. And not the good kind of crazy shifter blood can do.”
“Okay, give us the short version on that,” Mareo sighed. Yeah, I wasn’t up to date on all of this either. Caleb quickly went over what fae blood did to vamps, and then how shifter blood worked.
“So your kind isn’t specifically drawn to fae or shifter blood? Your fangs won’t just pop out when you smell one of us?” I asked, trying to get the answers we needed.
“No, not at all,” Caleb said firmly. “Unless a vampire is severely thirsty for blood, they should have complete control over their fangs.”
Mareo nodded as if this conversation was no big deal. Damn, my mate was smooth. “What else would make them come out? Aggression of course. I’ve seen yours descend when you’re sparring.”
“Yes, but normally when it’s aggressive our eyes change to like a gray or black and our hands to claws if we’re threatened,” Caleb clarified. Good, so it wasn’t that Virgil had been threatening us. “They pop out when we’re turned on.”
“So every time you see a man you’re attracted to your fangs come out?” I asked. “Have they ever come out for women since you’re gay?”
“No, nothing like that,” he snickered. “I was never with a vampire woman, but most of us don’t bite other vampires than our mates. Micah used to tell me of the human women he’d bed, his fangs would pop out as they’d climax, he’d drink, lick the wound closed to heal as they finished, and most times they’d never be the wiser he just had a pint.”
Mareo nodded and I was out of questions so I deferred to him. “But he had control no matter how turned on he was? Ever a time when vampires can’t control them besides severe thirst?”
“When I say severe thirst, I don’t just mean we’ve gone without all day. I’m talking like getting over injury and need to replenish big-time,” Caleb explained. “Other than that, the only time I’ve seen vampires not be able to control them is when they smell their mates. My situation was a little different because I was frightened of hurting Liam and Lorcan but they still popped out when I smelled them.”
“I think that gives us enough to answer any other questions we might get,” I said, nodding my head as I took in what Caleb said. He basically just confirmed what we’d thought. Virgil was our mate and he didn’t want to admit it.
“Anything else then?” Caleb asked as he walked back towards his desk.
“You said we’re friends, right? We can ask you something personal?” Mareo hedged as he shot me a glance.
“Of course but we have to make it quick. I have a meeting and I don’t want it to run long because I really just want to take the night off and visit with my visiting friends. I know it’s Stefan and Patrick’s belated honeymoon, so they won’t be staying with us too long. They’re going to want lots of alone time.” He wiggled his eyebrows as if we hadn’t already known what he’d meant.
“We were wondering if we’d step on any toes if we asked to spend time with Virgil Marius while he was here.”
I held my breath as Mareo’s words hung in the air, hoping Caleb didn’t see the question as crossing some line.
“You can try but Virgil’s straight,” Caleb chuckled. “Then again, I thought I was too before I met my mates. Or maybe I didn’t. Who knows.” He bit his lower lip and stared off at the empty fireplace as if wondering about his past.
“Virgil?” I hedged.
“Oh, right, sorry. Yeah, I’ve really never known him to date much or talk about anyone he’s been with. He’s kind of closed-mouthed about his personal life. He’s a great guy though. He’s not a bigot and won’t freak if you ask him. Just don’t be offended if he says no. I’m pretty sure he’s never crossed the fence. He’s been looking for his mate for as long as I’ve known him, always saying he’s ready to make a life with her.” Caleb shrugged.
I felt my heart drop into my stomach. That could explain a lot. Depending on how old Virgil was, he could have spent hundreds of years waiting for a female mate only to find out he was mated to two male warriors who towered over his six-three frame. Ouch. Yeah, that would make anyone flip.
“How long are they staying?” I asked, trying to keep the panic I was feeling out of my voice.
“Only two nights, though I was hoping to talk them into a third. There’s a lot I need to discuss with them at dinner tonight that I couldn’t over the phone or e-mail. You’ll be there, right? I trust your input and with some new developments I was thinking of sending you to discuss what’s been going on directly with your Queen.”
“Of course. We’ll leave you to your meeting,” Mareo agreed. We excused ourselves and left his study.
“We only have two nights?” I whispered in horror. “He looked so scared and was so quick to push us away. That’s not going to be enough time to change his mind, Mareo.”
My mate scratched his chin as he nodded. Then he got a feral smile on his lips and that mischievous twinkle in his eyes. “Not without help, it’s not.”
Oh shit. He was up to something. That could either be really good for us, or really bad. With Mareo it was a fifty-fifty shot if his plans worked or if it made things worse for us.
I prayed to the gods it was that the plan worked this time. We couldn’t lose our mate.