Blood Spatter: Part 6

WARNING: This part contains smut.

Eyes turned to focus on them as Kiril urged Miho away from the table to where there was enough room to dance. This fictitious crowd bowed their heads respectfully, curtsied, before Kiril twirled Miho around.

“There have been many balls such a this,” he told her, their faces close.

“How are you controlling all of this in such detail and yet still able to form sentences?” Miho blinked, still preoccupied by their surroundings to pay too much notice to Kiril’s touch,

“You think women are the only ones able to multi-task?” he huffed, squeezing her body a little tighter against him. “The blood of a true vampire is very potent… among other things.”

At this, Miho sputtered out a laugh and accidentally trod on his toes, and their slight stumble saw them slide directly through a passing couple.

“I’m sorry,” she chuckled stepping back into the rhythm of their graceful path around the glittering space. “But that…”

“I wonder what potent thing you are imagining, Sparrow,” he grinned, knowing full well the innuendo he’d made.

“What’s with the nickname?” she asked on a different tangent, but it had been something she’d thought about on and off.

“Sparrows are small and delicate,” he replied easily, spinning her with the dramatic flourish of intangible cloth.

“Delicate? Me?” she snorted, somewhat proving her point.

“And you have this furtive awareness, always looking for danger,” he added.

“Ah, can you blame me?” she laughed, gasping a little when he leaned her back draped over one arm.

“No, I cannot,” he conceded, staring down at her with suddenly greater focus.

From her eyes, to her lips, his gaze then travelled to the extension of her neck, and as she noted this, Miho’s muscles tensed.

“You look hungry,” she exhaled quietly, her fingers clenching tighter against his jacket. “Should I be sensing danger?”

“Do not doubt I want to taste what Alex stole,” Kiril admitted, the hand not holding her reclined touching lightly to the line of her jaw before trailing slowly downward. “His trespass was unforgiveable.”

“Because he attacked me without provocation and that was wrong, or because the alpha male in you thinks my hunter blood should only be for you?” she breathed, but her eyes had narrowed sharply.

Slowly, maintaining eye-contact, he brought her upright, so close the tips of their noses were touching.

“Yes,” he told her quietly, and Miho was so transfixed, so consumed by the lush gleam of his eyes, that it took her several seconds to notice the orchestral music had ceased, as had the movement of bodies around them.

“I should kick your ass for that response,” she told him flatly, but he saw the continuation of her statement twitching on her lips.

“But?” he prompted.

“But I’d rather you kissed me,” she admitted, but Kiril still did not look especially moved.

“Why then, do you not kiss me?” he offered, challenge smeared across the slight upward tweak of his mouth.

Glowering, Miho lifted herself a little onto her toes and leaned forward, pressing against him with her lower body whiles her lip drew closer to him; then she smugly pulled back, just before their lips made contact – she made a point of showing him he was not the only one capable of playing games.

At this is was not pleased.

“Frustrating, isn’t i…” Miho began, but the air was crushed from her as he tightened one arm, and with the other slid his hand into her hair and brought her face to his.


It’s a ravenous kiss so fierce I think I might disappear inside him completely, sparking a fire almost beyond my control.  Every inch of my skin is suddenly singing a heavenly choir of rapture – and it’s terrifying just how ready I feel to face the apocalypse, if only to prolong this a little more. As my fingers dig into the taut muscles of his upper arms I can feel just how much he wants me too; I’m doing more than flirting with danger now, but whatever spell he’s got me under I don’t think I can resist it for much longer.

Even at the nip of his teeth against my lower lip, I’m still so caught up in the desire to taste his skin I ignore the potential of him biting down just a little too hard. Oh God, my head is spinning because I can’t remember the last time I took a breath – and I don’t care.

My gasp echoes around the hall, now empty but for Kiril and I, my panting a stark contrast to his complete composure. But his eyes are devouring me so indecently I cannot bring myself to move my face any further than I absolutely need to ensure I don’t pass out.

“See?” I grin in dizzy triumph. “You’re not the only one who always gets what he wants.”

“Is that all you want?” he inquires, the seriousness of the question dropping the floor from under my feet.

What he wants is obvious, and I simply cannot deny I want it too – trying to convince myself otherwise is now futile.

“Aren’t my thoughts loud enough for you now?” I volley, brushing my fingertips beneath the collar of his shirt.

“You told me not to intrude, Sparrow,” he points out, teasingly pecking at my cheeks, “so you are just going to have to be explicit.”

“Oh, explicit is exactly what I’m thinking,” I reply breathily, chasing his lips until he allows me to warm them with my own once more. “Distract me from this insufferable waiting, Kiril.”

“Is that what I am? A distraction?” he frowns, but the way he’s tugging me against his body by the waist tells me right now it’s highly unlikely he cares about anything other than getting me naked.

“Distraaaaaact me,” I hiss against his throat, before kissing up under his chin.

His reaction startles me at first, giving me a shove away, but his sharp bark at the pair of attendants to clean up precedes the equally as sharp snatch of my hand and the swift jerk of my body toward the exit.


There is a faint sense of travel, but the distance between the castle and my hotel is little more than a blur, pouring like molten liquid into the moment Kiril and I burst into my suite. The push and pull of emotions I’ve experienced since meeting him is full throttle forward – pull his jacket away, pull his shirt buttons free, pull his bare chest against mine.

The air rushes loudly from my lungs as I’m slammed against the door, and my legs wrap naturally around his waist; his tongue, cool and moist against the inflame of my skin, slithers maddeningly down my throat, across my collarbone and across my chest until his lips suck my left nipple into his mouth.

“Gaaaah,” I hiss as his teeth pinch, and a thrill of fear shakes magnitude 10 down my spine. “Kiril… wait…”

“Rrrrwhaaat?” he growls, lifting his head with a face full of fierce. “Do not tell me to stop.”

“No… not that,” I pant, helplessly drowning in his eyes, raking my fingers through his hair as I struggle to find more words. “No biting.”

“Are you afraid, Sparrow?” he whispers against my cheek, though his unflinching gaze doesn’t break contact.

A denial is derailed before I can voice it, the promising strain of his desire pressing between my legs.

“Yes,” I admit, a word frighteningly loud as even the sound of our heavy breathing vanishes.

“Good,” he praises, his wolfish grin at first suggesting a twisted satisfaction in my alarm, but then I see in the sudden stillness that’s gripped our bodies, it’s my honesty that has garnered his approval. “Trust me.”

“Take me,” I shudder out, and throw the last of my caution to the whirlwind that envelopes us both.

Thought gives way to pure sensation: the tearing of fabric refusing to give; the swimming intoxication of breath held far too long; the slick of perspiration and persistence.

Trembling in desperate anticipation, I welcome the weight of his body, frantic to smooth my palms over the sculpture of his muscles, aching for him to touch more than just the surface.

Begging like I have never felt lust before.

Teased from toe-tip to top, to the very limit of my frustration, until he can see the wildness, the agonising fracture lines of my libido chasing every caress.

And begging like I have never felt lust before – or perhaps once – I had the taste of him in my mouth and the heaving delight of him within; even though it wasn’t him, even when it was no more than the craft of my imagination and a warm substitute.

Now there is no need, but need for him, and had I sense of anything other than that, my pride might protest. But he is every bit as hungry as I am.

Ravenous, he drags me up, a puppet sobbing feverishly for him to end my torment. My body curls, back arches as he reaches around to dance his fingers against the throb of my suffering, and I can’t hold out any longer.

It doesn’t sound like my voice, but somehow it’s the most natural utterance I’ve ever made – a choking moan without meaning to be a word, just the pure expression of my body’s inability to comprehend anything other than the pleasure of Kiril tipping me over the edge.

The way he pulls back on my hair, the gratification of his teeth grazing my shoulder, that he is unrelenting even as I convulse, is finally punctuated by the surprisingly slow ease of him inside me. This delicious pressure from within, slow, measured strokes, causes my muscles to contract so tightly I may never unwind.

Who cares?

I’m a tense ball of yearning wanting more, rocking myself against him forcefully until I’m rewarded by his voice mingling with mine in incoherent harmony.

“Sparrow,” he grates out through his teeth, my earlobe bearing the brunt of his next assault in a stinging bite that draws close to breaking his word, but doesn’t.

“Don’t stop,” I breathe giddily, grasping for enough air to fill my lungs but light-headed regardless as another storm breaks over me.

Thunder rumbling at my very centre.

Lightning searing every nerve ending.

There is no way to distinguish between sweat and tears of ecstasy, but neither he or I care.

In a slight moment of terrible respite, my back hits the bedsheets and I peer up at Kiril looming over me with an ardent restraint I both hate and admire.

“What?” I swallow heavily, unable to keep from squirming as he poises at my entrance but moves no more.

“I want to burn that face you are making, into my memory,” he declares, and it’s now, now that he’s hovering above looking down at me I see his teeth, his fangs, the touch of his tongue tapping one point.

My chest stops moving; I am mesmerized.

“No,” he whispers, leaning slowly forward to frame my face with large hands, lying against me with a tenderness I do not associate with monsters, “not that face,” he continues, brushing my lower lip with one thumb before burying himself inside me again.

With his head nuzzling into the crook of my neck, his hands slithering up my arms to grip my wrists and hold them firmly down, I know there is nothing I can do to fight him – if he’s going to kill me, I’ll die.

It’s not death that’s bubbling in my veins though, not death tingling through every fibre of my body, nor are the screams Kiril smothers with his tongue cries for help – it’s a star gone supernova consuming everything in its path.

And if he stops now without filling me to the brim?

Perhaps that is death.

That is the face,” he groans, and I open my eyes to see his – wild and shameless – trying to fix me in his focus as I watch him come undone.


Kiril’s voice drifts softly to where I lie comfortably beneath the bed covers. Blearily, I try to blink away the tattered remnants of sleep and listen in.

“… control freak,” Kiril sniffs, standing by the window with bright of morning cutting a black silhouette out of the day. “Give me more time.”

There he pauses. I cannot hear who he’s talking to, but he doesn’t seem irritated or in any way put out.

Typical Kiril.

Though I make no attempt to hide my interest in his conversation, sitting up, my interest moves from his lips to the bare of his chest. There are no marks on his skin where last night my fingernails broke the surface in my ardour.

Our ardour.

Slowly, my eyes widen, because beneath the sheets I’m a mess, and I’m a mess because…

“Oh shit,” I gasp, suddenly scrambling to free myself of the tangle.

“Just do it, Narumi,” Kiril huffs, turning to fix me in his gaze. “I have to go.”

The hand holding his phone drops to his side, and I become motionless.

A naked, vulnerable example of intimacy without protection.

“I’m ahh… I’m going to…” I mutter.

“You look like death,” he smirks, amused as he makes absolutely no effort to hide his appreciation of my figure.

“Kiril… we… I’m…”

“Yes, a frightful reminder of the things I would very much like to repeat,” he grins, approaching.

“You need to tell me right now,” I demand in a fluster, pointing at him almost in accusation. “Can you get me pregnant?”

Kiril blinks, but his surprise is feigned.

“We could try I suppose,” he offers, spreading his hands and approaching with clear intent.

“This isn’t funny, Kiril, can a vampire get a human pregnant? Because I don’t want some needle-teeth horror chewing its way out of my body.”

“Then it is lucky I do not sparkle in the sunlight then,” he smiles, but I shuffle back before he can touch me.

“I am not joking!” I cry in agitated frustration, only to find myself swiftly backed up against the wall.

“And I am not laughing,” he hisses against my lips, our noses point to point. “Do I seem a man who longs for the complication of a child?”

“Just tell me you can’t get me pregnant,” I sigh, shivering as his fingers brush my bare hip.

“You and I, cannot have children,” he assures me gently, but his grin is teasing.

“And other things? Oh god, where was my head when I just…” I rush on, thinking about all the diseases one might catch from unprotected sex.

“I am not sure where yours was, but mine,” he chuckles, smoothing hair over my ear as he breathes against my cheek, “was somewhere deep, and dark, warm and beautiful.”

“I bet you say that to all the vaginas,” I stammer out, my fingers tensing against his sides, hankering to dig in.

“Those conversations do not usually last very long,” he admits, kissing one cheek lightly then moving to the other, “but I would definitely like to resume the discussion I began with yours last night.”

“Now you’re just being vulgar,” I snort, but a smile tugs my lips upwards as he lightly kisses them again.

What I’m doing – other than the obvious – I don’t know. What I do know, is being touched by Kiril is unlike anything else, and it’s utterly stupid how much I want him to never stop.


After running the water cold with activities other than cleaning, Miho dressed and sat on her suite’s balcony in the mid-morning sun. She’d been staring at her phone for some time before inhaling deeply and calling a number she had not hesitated to dial in the past.

It rang only once before Sebastian answered, and the image of him crouched over it, glaring, waiting for it to ring flashed in Miho’s mind’s eye.

“Have you any idea how worried I’ve been?” were the first words he said, and Miho rubbed her brow where a frown instantly formed.

If his concern for her was indeed so fierce, why had he not told her about the vampire in their midst? Why had he been so cryptic about his warnings to stay away from Kiril when he had to have known she would push back when not provided with a valid reason.

“Would you have accepted the real reason if he’d told you?” she wondered silently, finally responding loud. “I’m pleased to hear from you too, Sebastian.”

“Really? You know, if that were true, you might have responded to the fifty message I’ve left for you already,” he snapped.

“I’ve been running all over Prague looking for my missing best friend,” she volleyed curtly, her mood quick to darken. “Imagine Selina went AWOL,” she continued, leaning forward in her seat, “because that is how I feel right now, how I’ve been feeling, so I’m sorry if I’ve gone deaf to all your warning-warning danger Will Robinson over Kiril Lambert.”

A short silence ensued, during which time Miho sucked in a deep breath and flopped back; she hadn’t meant to be quite so savage.

“Uh, I’m sorry,” she sighed, rolling her eyes across the city. “I’m really exhausted, and Jazz’s trail’s gone cold.”

Why she was especially tired, she did not say.

“I don’t mean to badger you, Miho,” he responded, his voice also tempered by apology, “but that family are just so dangerous. I don’t want you to get hurt anymore.”

“Then tell me everything at Pale is fine,” she replied, trying to muster up some positivity. “I hope you’ll manage to give Selina some of your time.”

“You know she loves the club,” Sebastian conceded, letting the matter of the Lamberts go – or the moment. “I actually think she was happier helping Mieke and I out than she would have been having boring old dinner with her boring old brother.”

It wasn’t the first time Selina Ross had visited and spent time at Pale, and though she was several years younger, Miho quite liked the girl. There was an infectious optimism about her that made being grumpy almost impossible, and patrons at the club found that incredibly magnetic.

Having her around was good for business.

“I doubt very much she travelled all that way to see the club,” Miho chuckled. “Boring old or not, kid sisters and big brothers have special relationships.”

As she spoke those last few words, Kiril stepped out onto the balcony behind her.

“Maybe,” Sebastian grunted, and there was another pause before he spoke again, during which time Kiril made it clear he wasn’t going to give Miho space to finish her call in privacy. “So, I meant Mieke and I can handle things here but, if there’s nothing…”

“I’m not coming home without her,” Miho stated flatly, staring up at Kiril whose lips began to part as if he meant to speak.

In warning, Miho sharply raised a finger and her stare became a glower. The last thing she needed was for Sebastian to recognise Kiril’s voice. Teasingly, he leaned closer.

“I know you love her,” Sebastian said somberly, “just, promise me you won’t destroy yourself in this search.”

“I’m a big gi…” Miho began, but Sebastian cut her off, his tone of voice absolutely serious.

Promise me,” he insisted, and hearing him, Kiril’s eyebrows twitched downward.

“You know I don’t like making promises,” Miho answered carefully, “especially ones I may not be able to keep, but… I promise I will keep my eyes open and my wits about me.”

A heavy exhale signalled Sebastian’s surrender.

“Okay, well, you know how to reach me if you need anything, so call me,” he added.

“I will,” Miho affirmed. “Say hi to Selina for me.”

“Will do.”

That ended the conversation, and Miho dropped her phone into her lap, chewing the inside of her cheek for a few seconds until Kiril’s shadow across her caused the bloom of a shiver.

“Mr. Ross seems very invested in your wellbeing,” he noted, and it might have sounded casual but for the slight scowl he was wearing.

“Friends usually are,” Miho shrugged, trying not to play into his looming broodiness.

“You and he…”

“Don’t finish that sentence, or question or thought,” she huffed, rocking to her feet and standing, but Kiril caught her wrist before she could slip back inside.

“Which question would that be?” he queried. “Whether you are in a relationship with him? Sleeping with him? I suppose that would go some way to explaining his hostility toward me.”

“Yes,” Miho replied ambiguously.

Kiril’s touch was warm – generally it was not, and it reminded her of the first time he’d heated his skin for her.

“That, and I imagine in large part because he doesn’t like the idea of a vampire making a meal out of his boss,” Miho added.

“Mmm, just his boss. Doubtful,” he asserted, walking his fingers up her other arm in a gesture Miho thought was absurdly cute – so much so she couldn’t help but laugh. “What?”

“And what if Sebastian and I are a thing?” she posed, teasingly, and Kiril’s expression became serious.

“One more reason to kill him,” he answered flatly, pulling her against him and trapping her in his arms with her back to his chest.

“Don’t you dare!” she hissed, struggling as he nudged her closer the balustrade and lowered one hand to the front of her pants.

“Or what, little Sparrow?” he smiled against the shell of her ear, his fingers burrowing into her underwear.

“Fuck you, Kiril,” Miho growled, squirming as he rubbed against her, but her declaration sounded less fierce as his name twisted into a moan.

“It is kind of you to be so explicit in your invitation,” he hummed against her throat, grinding against her even as she squinted at the street.

“Someone is going to see us,” she grumbled, fighting a losing battle with her self-restraint. “Damnit, why does this feel so good?”

“I have had a lot of practice,” he responded, delving into her with slow strokes – one, two, three fingers – until the volume of her encouragements grew conspicuous. “Sing louder, Sparrow,” he groaned into her hair. “Let all of Prague know how I make you feel.”

Clenching her teeth, Miho resisted that urge, trapping cries in her chest even as Kiril began to work free the buttons of her blouse.


Then his phone rang.


“Ignore it,” he snapped quickly, withdrawing from her so he could tend to his own pants, but this afforded Miho a moment of clarity.

“Kiril, answer it,” she panted. “What if it’s Arno?”

“Grrr,” Kiril snarled, standing straight and digging out the phone, barking into it the moment he answered. “What?”

With a hand on her chest, heart beating wildly beneath her palm, Miho stumbled into a seat. And her heart wasn’t the only thing pulsing – she was sure if there was any more friction, even if she just crossed her legs, she was going to lose it.

Instead, she tried to focus on what Kiril was saying. His expression had sobered, but his body was still tensed… everywhere.

“We made our agreement, and I will keep it if your information turns out to be accurate,” he said curtly shifting over to Miho, whose hand reached up to him without prompting. “We will head there now,” he continued, his lips pinching when Miho traced her fingers lightly around the front of his pants. “Mhm, ensure your people do not alert them.”

Grinding his teeth, he listened to his caller’s response while Miho palmed him, grinning up cheekily.

“Fine,” he grunted, then without bidding his caller farewell, he hung up and tossed his phone aside before grabbing Miho’s hand.

“Sparrow, you are asking for trouble,” he warned, dragging her back to her feet. “Here I have the location of our fugitives, but all I want is to tear your clothes off.”

“God, I can’t believe I want you to,” Miho shuddered, wrapping her arms around his neck. “But Jazz? They really found her?”

“According to Arno,” Kiril confirmed, his forehead lowered to hers. “But right now I do not want to leave this suite.”

“You deliver Jazz to me, and I’ll do whatever you ask,” Miho exhaled breathily, tapping her fingers against the swell in is pants for extra emphasis. “And I’ll even enjoy it.”

“Get your coat,” he dropped, before clicking his tongue and forcing himself to turn away from her.

In a flurry, Miho did as she was bid, the burning in her loins distracted by the prospect of finally seeing Jazz again. Kiril hadn’t said whether Arno described her physical state, but Miho assumed Kiril would extend the courtesy of preparing her for the worst if… if what they’d found was a corpse in a ditch somewhere.

In the cab she couldn’t keep still, fidgeting and twisting in her seat. Though Kiril sat beside her watching, her mind was elsewhere – what she would say to Jazz, how relieved she would feel, how to hold her tears back so she could yell at her for just up and disappearing.

“This waiting is unbearable,” she muttered, wringing her fingers until her knuckles cracked, until Kiril closed much larger hands around hers.

Immediately she sat up a little straighter, the touch of his flesh against hers like an aphrodisiac that made her thighs quiver.

“According to Arno’s people, both Konstantin and Jazz are located on the outskirts of Prague in a cute little cottage… playing house,” he explained, sounding exasperated.

“Playing house,” Miho repeated quietly to herself, gnawing on her lower lip before leaning back and looking up into Kiril’s face. “With a vampire? Is that even possible?

Immediately Miho could tell Kiril had heard her thoughts, but he said nothing.

Miho considered her feelings for Kiril more seriously now. If Jazz had run away to be with Konstantin…

“You were talking to Narumi earlier,” Miho stated out of the blue. “Is something going on?”

“Hmmm,” Kiril hummed thoughtfully. “Konrad is wondering where his favourite son has disappeared to, and doesn’t have his least favourite son to take it out on.”

“What does that mean?” Miho frowned. “Is he going to send an army to march on Prague and extract you?”

At this Kiril emitted a pithy laugh.

“For Konstantin, perhaps, but not for the like of me,” he expounded. “If his golden child does not return soon, he may indeed send agents in search of him. Better that he goes back of his own accord.”

“And is Narumi on your side, or your father’s?” Miho pressed, trying to distract herself with backstory.

This caused Kiril to chuckle.

“Konrad is a tyrant,” he asserted. “No one is truly on his side, at least not out of choice. Fear maybe.”

“Is he really that much of a monster?” Miho scowled, then continued. “So, if he found out I was a hunter?”

“That in and of itself is not enough to condemn you,” he explained, but lifted a hand to her cheek. “But treaties are tenuous things, Sparrow. It is best you tell no one about yourself, not even Jazz.”

This caused Miho to frown.

“Jazz and I don’t keep secrets from one another,” she declared, her lips quivering as Kiril’s thumb approached them.

“We both know that is not true,” he smiles slowly. “Or she would not have disappeared without your knowledge.”

“You’re assuming Konstantin didn’t force her,” she scowled, her stomach churning. “Kiril, if she is with him, if she has been with him all this time… could he… would he turn her?”

There was silence but for the rhythmic sound of the car.

“It is a possibility,” Kiril answered eventually watching her reaction closely.

“What will that mean?” she exhaled, leaning into his hand until her head slipped to his shoulder.

“Complications,” he replied, idly stroking Miho’s hair, “but nothing I cannot handle.”

“Complications how?” Miho persisted.

“My father has no love for the turned vampire,” Kiril explained, disdain thick in his voice. “In the hierarchy of influence, they are even less than humans; the turned are a bastardised form of pure vampire blood, stains he refuses to acknowledge as being of worth to his domain.”

Miho pondered this, but the brush of his fingers against her scalp made it difficult to think.

“If Konstantin has turned your friend,” Kiril continued. “If they fled together and Konrad finds out they are involved, he will kill her.”

“He’ll have to go through me,” Miho snarled, straightening, and Kiril pinched the back of her neck.

“He will kill you too, Sparrow,” he pointed out. “Especially you.”

“Narumi,” Miho scowled. “Whose side is she on?”

“Hmph,” Kiril snorted, his fingers slackening. “Narumi is in the unenviable position of being caught between her place in the aristocracy and Konrad’s law-keeper, and what she believes is right.”

“So if she finds out I’m a hunter?” Miho prompted.

“It would be a terrible shame if I had to kill her,” Kiril mused. “I actually like her.”

“You’d kill her?” Miho frowned, shifting her body a little sideways so she could look into his face. “For me?”

“Let us not dwell too much on hypotheticals,” he responded, leaving the question unanswered. “Soon we shall have the information we require to move forward, and prevent Konrad from becoming more of problem for anyone.”


Soon the city gave way the green countryside, and in the hills to the south of Stradonice, the car came to a stop at the entrance to a dirt road where a man stood waiting.

Fiercely biting into her lower lip, Miho approached him with Kiril at her side, watching and listening as the pair spoke in Czech. Impatiently she scraped her toe through the gravel, until the man turned to his own car.

“There is a cottage half a kilometre up this track,” Kiril reported, taking Miho’s hand and pulling her into motion. “According to our friend, Konstantin and Jazz are both inside.”

“How the hell did they find them out here?” she whispered, as much to herself as to him.

“I imagine Arno really wanted to avoid the consequences of not locating them,” Kiril answered, and continued. “When we reach the house, allow me to approach first.”

She didn’t question why. If they had gone to such lengths to disappear, then they may not be all that happy about being discovered. Still, Miho couldn’t imagine Jazz ever doing her harm, vampire or not.

At the sight of the cottage, Miho found herself barely able to breathe, and Kiril gave her hand a squeeze.

“Wait here,” he instructed, and after releasing her he pushed through the picket gate and began up the path to the front door.

“Wait here,” Miho sigh, resuming her lower lip attack until she couldn’t stand it anymore.

Kiril pulled back the tattered fly-screen door and knocked three times against the chipped paint of the wooden door beneath. He could sense Miho at his back, knew she wouldn’t listen, but focused his hearing on any sounds of movement.

Then he was gone, one blink and he had dashed away, leaving Miho blinking at the space where he’d stood. She could only think he’d hear something and rushed off to intercept it.

“Jazz!” she shouted, shouted with all the energy she had, and after stomping up onto the porch she turned the front door knob.

Beneath her palm it turned, and steeling herself, she moved into the dim interior of the cottage.

“Jazz?” she called again, this time a little more discretely, but her answer came not in the form of her best friend’s voice, but in a loud crash and the sound of splintering wood.

There was little time to wonder at how her reflex was to run toward the sound rather than away from it – before rational thought blossomed, Miho had sprinted through the unfamiliar house and burst out the back door.

“Do not run,” Kiril warned, pointing at where Konstantin was struggling from the hole in the side of the cottage he’d made with his body’s impact. “For the chosen son you are a real pain in the ass.”

“Jazz,” Miho dropped in a breathy whisper, and the blonde woman’s head snapped in her best friend’s direction.

“Miho?” she mouthed, barely a sound at all – just enough for Miho to hear, enough to break the dam that held back the tears.

But Jazz’s expression was a conflicted twist of joy and angst, and her eyes darted between the two brothers before returning to Miho.

“My life has nothing to do with you Kiril,” Konstantin growled, brushing off his shoulders.

“Do you have any idea…?” Miho wept.

“Konrad has tasked Narumi to find you…” Kiril volleyed.

“I didn’t want to hurt you…” Jazz murmured, taking a hesitant step toward her friend.

“No, Jazz!” Konstantin called out urgently. “If Konrad’s looking for us we need to get even further away.”

“Who do you think our father is exactly?” Kiril rumbled, stalking toward his brother again. “There is no place you can hide he will not find you.”

“I thought you were dead,” Miho sobbed, peering up from where she’d sunken to the ground, Jazz’s figure wavering through tears like a ghost. “Are you dead?”

“I’m…” Jazz began, but her sentence faltered.

As Kiril and Konstantin physically clashed once more, Jazz crouched down before Miho and lightly placed her hands on Miho’s knees.

“… it’s complicated now,” she finished, Miho’s raw pain cutting her deeply; but she knew she deserved it and more.

“Why couldn’t you tell me about this? About him?” Miho choked out, taking hold of Jazz’s hands tightly, wrapping warm fingers around cold.

So cold that her eyes widened.

“You… He…” she stammered, blinking furiously to clear her vision. “Did he force this on you?”

Miho stopped listening despite having asked a question. The answer had already formed in her mind – this vampire who had taken her best friend away, turned her into this thing against her will… she would kill him, and it was written all over her face as she rose.

“No, Miho!” Jazz exclaimed. “It isn’t like that.”

“Really?” Miho balked, swiping away Jazz’s attempt to place a gentle hand on her shoulder. “So he sat you down and asked you politely and you said, oh sure son of a vampire king who’ll kill us both for it, make me a vampire!”

“We… not exactly,” Jazz admitted, fixing her grip around one of Miho’s wrists and holding her back easily.

“I don’t care who he is!” Miho shrieked, fighting against Jazz tooth and nail, but both women were nearly bowled over when Kiril came tumbling toward them.

“You of all people should understand the desire for freedom, Kiril,” Konstantin glowered, his voice suddenly so much lower, his body inexplicably growing until his clothing strained and threatened to tear.

“Konstantin don’t!” Jazz shouted, as she jerked Miho back against her chest and folded both arms around her. “Just calm down, we need to, to talk to them!”

Kiril was picking himself up, his expensive clothing streaked with mud and grass, while Miho struggled, and he cut a glance to her and paused when Jazz lifted her head a little toward her friend’s neck.

“Miho, we need to talk,” Jazz said thickly, and the taller woman fell still, just a moment, before wriggling around in Jazz’s hold to hug her tightly. “Inside,” Jazz prompted, looking around Miho at the two brothers briefly, before sliding her hand into Miho’s and guiding her back toward the cottage.

Voltage Server RP: Session Introduction

In the far-off mystical land of Trespadia, an arrogant king once rose swiftly to power. With his wealth he built an empire, ruthlessly cutting down all those who dared get in his way, and though the little people barely caught a glimpse of him – they were far too unimportant – for the most part they lived in peace and prosperity.

In his fifth year reigning over Trespadia, however, a sassy, quick-witted witch visited his court with jello-pool tidings… and a worrisome prophecy the king could simply not ignore.

“King Eisukeol Von Ichinomiyastein, you have no heart,” she declared smugly. “No woman will ever love you.”

The king just smirked his usual smirk and glowered at the impetuous woman confidently.

“What need have I of love?” he snorted, gesturing around with the sweep of one arm. “All this is mine – any woman would be lucky to fetch my mead!”

But the witch was not impressed by his wealth or status, and simply shook her head.

“You need to listen more carefully when you make bargains,” she smiled far too innocently for her to be innocent. “All this, all you’ve gained will die with you, for you – arrogant king – may bear an heir to your throne only with a woman who truly loves you.”

Then of course it clicked into place. If what she said was true, and none could love him while he had no heart, then his line would end with him.

“You can fix this,” he growled, rocking forward from his throne and lurching toward her, but the witch was sure-footed and side-stepped his attempt to grab her.

“It’s possible,” she mused, amusement touching sparkling hazel eyes, “but I don’t really feel like it. This is one mess you’ll have to figure out for yourself!”

With that, her body disintegrated in a shower of tiny purple stars.

She was gone, leaving the king to mull over his problem.


Not long after, notices were posted in villages and cities all across Trespadia. The king had a perilous mission in need of heroes, who for their services would be handsomely rewarded. Many a fool-hardy adventurer flocked to Trespadia’s capital, where through some strange divination, a band – a fellowship if you will – were chosen to undertake the king’s quest.



Blood Spatter: Part 2

It isn’t often I wake in the morning, even when its Sunday and the club is closed, so it takes a while for sleep to fall away and for me to gather my faculties. The place beside me is empty and cold, and I stare at the impression left on the sheets where the blanket it still a little pulled back.

Torrid recollections flood my mind, awakening the same heat deep within my body – it’s so intense I can feel Kiril’s thumb trailing down my cheek, playing across my lower lip and slipping into my mouth. But I know for a fact it was Sebastian who warmed my bed last night.

There has never been anything remotely unsatisfying about our encounters – when we relent to our need for carnal relief he is all I am able to think about, if I’m able to think at all.

I’m just lucky I didn’t moan Kiril’s name while in the throes of rapture.

I hope I didn’t.

Noises from elsewhere in the apartment draw my attention to the fact Sebastian is still here.

Another first.

He has never stayed the night, nor have I at his place, and that’s the way we’ve preferred to have it… have each other. Flesh on flesh without the hang-ups.

So what the hell does it mean?

He’s pottering around in my kitchen by the sounds of it, again not something he’s ever done nor am I used to – I am not entirely sure how I feel about this, especially with the memory of Kiril Lambert’s hands gripping my hips still vivid and fresh.

Wrapping myself in my fluffy robe, I take a moment to stretch out the wonderful ache of my body, and marvel at how much better I now feel.

Jazz still weighs on my mind – I will never let it go – but my brain is free of pain.

“Sebastian?” I call tentatively, poking my head out of the bedroom to scan the hall before heading to the kitchen.

“Expecting someone else?” he quips, meeting me under the arch, and if he hadn’t been smiling his usual charming smile, I might have really worried I’d sighed the wrong name in satisfaction.

“No, it’s just… this is different,” I offer, flopping onto a stool.

“Well I had to make sure you’re okay,” he points out. “You were pretty messed up yesterday. How’s the head?”

“Still there,” I quip, rubbing the back of my neck. “Pain free, thanks to you.”

“Luckily for you, that’s the kind of healing I’m good at,” he grins, and with a wink turns to open the fridge.

Luckily he can’t see my expression – a cringy hybrid of guilt and scorching reminiscence.

“Your fridge is a tragedy, it’s no wonder you’re unwell,” he grumbles, removing a bottle of milk well and truly past its used by date.

“I don’t eat here often,” I shrug.

“Often enough to stock up on beer though,” he snorts.

“Beer is an important food group!” I defend sheepishly, and he casts me a reproachful look over his shoulder. “Come on Sebastian, you’re not my nutritionist.”

“Maybe I should be,” he grunts, holding up a jar of… something. “This has been here since you moved in, hasn’t it?” he sighs, and I shrug. “Miho, it’s growing features of its own.”

“I’ll call it Jeff,” I announce proudly, and Sebastian straightens. “Fine, I’ll go shopping today and fill the fridge with vegetables.”

“Which you’ll inevitably not eat,” he huffs.

“Well it’s your fault for letting me have dessert first!” I volley triumphantly, and he narrows his eyes.

“You’re not having dessert for breakfast,” he tells me sternly.

“I’m an adult, I can eat whatever I like,” I proclaim obstinately, and he approaches when I get to my feet.

I feel like I’m playing a dangerous game with him standing here in my kitchen, like we’re about to cross an invisible line that borders fuck-buddy and love interest; not sure how I feel about that.

What I am sure I feel, is the settle of his hand on my hip and the warmth radiating from his chest as he draws closer.

“Eat whatever you like, huh?” he smirks, tapping his fingers.

“And yet I’m very selective about, what I put in my mouth,” I exhale against his lips, tempting him with half lidded bedroom eyes.

“Sadly, I’m not one of the food groups,” he teases, nipping my lips but refusing to allow me to delve much deeper.

“That’s fine,” I grin, pursuing him, wrapping my arms around his neck. “I’ll counteract with some exercise.”

“Mmm,” he murmurs, letting me catch him, delve into him, and get far too aroused before he pulls away. “Wish I could,” he says.

His eyes say yes, but he’s stepped back.

“But I have to get to Heathrow.”

My arms cross sulkily over my chest.

“My sister is coming home for a visit, and I promised to pick her up,” he adds in explanation.

“Fiiiiiiine,” I grump. “Guess I’ll just have to amuse myself.”

“Now there’s a stirring image,” he smiles cheekily.

“Ugh, get out before I jump you,” I growl, taking his arm and swinging him toward the door, and laughing he allow it.


Doing something as normal as supermarket shopping feels for some reason quite strange. It’s not like I’m above the mundane necessities of life, but wandering up and down aisles pushing a cart is so far removed from the doof-doof of the club or the crystal finery of Pale’s lounge.

Hmm, the lounge, my wrist encircled by Kiril’s fingers.

“Are sanitary products truly so fascinating?” a voice queries, a caress down my spine though no contact is made.

“Did I just…” I blink, turning to look into Kiril’s laughing eyes.

“Did you just…?” he prompts, the slow smile creeping into his lips indicative of where he thinks my mind has gone.

He’s a regular customer and a powerful man… a stunning specimen… and so I try my best to hold in the roasting return volley that jumps fist to my mind. Still, he’s the one inexplicably ambushing me in the feminine hygiene section.

“I’m just trying to decide if it’s worth paying extra for the organic product,” I remark casually, “considering its ultimate fate.”

To his credit, he doesn’t flinch at the discussion over tampons.

“One should never compromise on the finer things,” he philosophises, as easily as if we were talking about fine wine. “If you are unable to afford the more pleasant option, however, I would gladly pay the difference.”

There is no way I can’t laugh at this.

“Seriously?” I chuckle. “What on Earth are you doing here Mr. Lambert?”

Shopping for a girlfriend perhaps? I know he doesn’t have a wife – a wedding like that would be spectacular. Kiril Lambert is business royalty after all.

“I’m stalking you,” he declares, his boy-like shrug incongruous with the expensive, clean lines of his charcoal, Savile Row suit.

A thrill shudders through me. It shouldn’t, but it does.

“I read somewhere you’re the CEO of a high-profile insurance company,” I say slowly, trying to measure my breaths. “That doesn’t dominate your time?”

“One should never compromise,” he repeats, reaching to the shelf and picking up a the most expensive box of tampons available, “on the finer things.”

Fighting a blush, I cover the effect of his implication with an incredulous laugh.

“So, let’s finish your shopping so we can talk,” he adds, and I feel my cheeks relax in response to the change in his tone.


“Talk about what?”

“Your missing friend,” he replies, “and what I can do to help you find her.”

This I did not expect, and it slaps me into a bit of a daze.

”Wh… why?” I manage.

“Here is not the place to hold such a discussion,” he tells me, and begins to wheel my trolley.

Together we travel up and down the aisles in silence, and when all is done and paid for, he tells me his limousine driver will deliver them to my apartment when we’re finished with our café date.

Kiril’s words, not mine.

But it’s not just the café around the corner, oh no, we ride in conspicuous luxury to London’s newest exclusive eatery. This isn’t somewhere you can just walk off the street and enter, grab a table and a latte – it’s the kind of exclusive that opens with a month long waiting list, and a menu with pastries costing more than I might spend on food for a week.

As we enter, I’m aware of eyes turning to us: mostly women envious of my company and equally as critical of my ‘day off to slum it’ attire.

“This isn’t awkward at all,” I murmur but Kiril doesn’t break stride on his way through the doors toward a spacious booth at the rear of the café, urging me along with the feathery touch of his fingers in the small of my back.

“Ignore the spiteful stares of the envious, Sparrow,” he tells me softly, adding to the heat in my cheeks. “Unless you’d like to draw their ire a little more with a true spectacle?”

Suddenly, all I can hear, see, smell, taste and feel, is him. The recollection of the previous night, with the sense of him superimposed over Sebastian, hits me with full force and I actually stumble as my legs weaken.

“That’s a yes, is it?” Kiril whispers into my ear, my back against his chest, his arms steadying me. “Hmm? Right here in the middle of the café?”

“Mr. Lambert, welcome back,” a voice welcomes cheerfully, and Kiril shifts his eyes slowly in that direction. “Oh…uh… I apologise for interrupting,” the waiter rushes. “Should I… just…”

“Bring menus,” Kiril snaps, and the waiter scurries away, nearly falling over his own feet.

“Hungry?” I ask gaining control over my senses again, but when I pull away from Kiril’s body I immediately wish I hadn’t.

“Oh, I could eat you up right here,” Kiril rumbles, and I think all my clothes fall off.

“I don’t think you’ll find me on the menu,” I tell him, leaving off the part where I’d happily make the necessary amendments.

“Shame,” he muses, entering the booth and settling.

He watches me do the same, every move I make catalogued by a stare tat misses nothing.

“You said you could help find Jazz,” I say, knotting my fingers in front of me on the table top. “How?”

“I’ll be honest,” he says bluntly, the toe of his perfectly polished shoe bumping into mind, “but my information doesn’t come for free.”

That I will give him anything he asks for without hesitation is on my lips instantly, and I only just manage to keep from voicing it.

Anything is awfully broad.

“What could a man like you possibly want from me?” I ask instead, and his answer comes first as the slow brush of his foot up my calf.

So here is this insanely remarkable man playing footsies with me, and I ask him what he could want?

“Miho, it’s pretty clear what he wants!”

Even though his expression is polite, the amicable look of a man conducting business, he’s nudging me closer and closer toward a reaction. And I should want to demand he stop – hot or not he is all but a stranger and I do have a sense of decency – but I’m paddling against rapids trying ardently to sweep me away completely.

I want it, but I have my pride, and men like him don’t do anything without reason – take the risk?

“Take it,” a voice whispers: silk flowing over my skin.

“I’ve an incredibly boring work event to attend tonight, which would be infinitely more interesting with you at my side.”

“A date?” I chortle, unable to keep in my incredulity trapped. “That’s the best you can manage?”

Then the toe of those perfect shoes are against my thigh, moving closer to somewhere he most certainly shouldn’t be touching – my leg clench together, trapping his foot.

He doesn’t fight, leaving it where it is, and I absolutely should be standing up and stalking about enraged, but a very large part of me want to find out what he intends to do with those mirror-shine shoes.

“Shall I show you the best I can manage?” he grins, an animalistic gleam in his eyes.

“I accept, on one condition,” I manage, my voice thin and dry, and one of his eyebrows lifts in amusement,

“Which is?”

I want Jazz back more than my own life is worth, but I’ve never uttered a sentence more difficult.

“You keep your hands – and feet – to yourself.”

Is there disappointment there? Frustration? Anything mirroring the rage of my own flesh? Maybe, but Kiril agrees nonetheless.

“I will hold you to your word,” he tells me seriously: a smouldering promise rather than a threat.

“And I to yours,” I exhale, wanting it to sound a whole lot more self-assured than it actually does. “So…”

Looking satisfied, Kiril leans back and temples his fingers.

“I’ve a business engagement this evening, for which I need an escort,” he declares smugly. “It promises to be tedious – you, will make it less so.”

Not exactly what I was anticipating, and that, along with some measure of disappointment I wish I could have kept to myself, must be written on my face because Kiril’s smile widens knowingly.

“Escort?” I repeat sceptically, hardly oblivious to the connotations.

“Would you feel better if I referred to you as my date?” he offers, challenging me in a different way. “is that what you want it to be?”

A hawk, his gaze sharpens on his prey – me, a pigeon – and he’s about to sweep in for the kill.

“I suppose it doesn’t matter what it’s called,” I finally reply: non-committal. “You want arm candy, it is what it is.”

Entertaining arm candy,” he adds. “Old men in pressed suits and starched collars are anything but exciting.”

“Surely a man in your position is used to that environment,” I point out.

“My familiarity with it has nothing to do with my lack of enjoyment,” he volleys easily. “And here you are, the perfect candidate to spice up the evening.”

“Because you have something I want,” I frown. “Or so you say.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered by his proposal, and my attraction to him is so powerful, I can barely contain myself.

I cross my legs.

“The moment you concede to my request, is the moment you find out for sure,” Kiril smirks, choosing to emphasise that word specifically, and I scowl.

It’s clear he is used to getting his way, but it’s just as evident he knows I’m not one to roll over, to bow, to surrender – but this is Jazz.

My greatest weakness as well as strength is laid bare before him, and he is taken advantage.

“I already told you,” I sniff, trying not to sneer or pout.

“Use my words, Sparrow,” he insists, burrowing through my sense of self-respect, laying waste to my ego.

Swallowing my pride, I square my shoulders confidently, owning my decision, my commitment to getting back my friend.

“I concede.”

This victory doesn’t seem to please him as much as I thought it would, and I capitalise.

“Now tell me what you know.”

Without hesitation he nods, and I’m floored.

“The Konstantin you’re searching for,” he begins, leaning back in a more casual posture, “is my little brother.”

Like I’ve been punched in the gut, all the air leaves me. Gaping like a fish out of water. The song and dance I’ve been making all over London in my attempts to locate Jazz and the one person of interest I have in her disappearance, and his very brother has been in my club every other night.

Suddenly I’m livid.

There’s no way he didn’t hear about my quest; I’ve been shoving my nose into every place I can think Jazz and Konstantin might have gone together, shouting my distress from the rooftops, and received only silence, even from the police.

“You had to have known before now,” I hiss, only just managing to keep the venom behind my teeth.

Leaning forward, I rise up, hands now fists pressed against the tabletop if only to keep them from lashing out at him in anger.

“Calm down, Sparrow,” he instructs, no longer smiling, but he can take his pet name and shove it up his ass.

“Don’t you dare birdie me,” I growl, barring my teeth and pouring out all my potential for intimidation, which isn’t insignificant by any means. “Where is she?”

“That I do not know,” Kiril responds, spreading his hands with perfect calm. “In point of fact, I don’t even know where Konstantin is.”

Quivering with indescribable rage, I rock back and shuffle out of the booth, dead set on marching to the hell out of there and placing a call to Detective Parker about this revelation, but Kiril slaps his hand around my wrist.

“You intend to go back on your word?” he whispers, tugging me against the edge of the table at his side.

“Oh, you set me up!” I exclaim loudly, glaring down at him – stares across the café turn to us.

“Yes, I did,” he admits, ignoring the attention we’ve drawn in favour of attempting to freeze me with those beautifully verdant eyes. “But if I’m not mistaken, you’d do anything for your friend, and agreed to do so.”

“I don’t need you to find her, Mr. Lambert,” I grate, lifting my arm, but Kiril holds firm. “I will take your name to the police and tell them you know something, so get your secretary to leave some time open for your interrogation.”

“Unlikely,” he volleys, stroking the inside of my wrist with his thumb, which only enrages me more.

Against his pale skin, Kiril is suddenly wearing the handprint of my displeasure.

“If you knew anything about, about Jazz, you wouldn’t act like such a smug bastard,” I seethe, and my lips poise to continue when Kiril’s eyes narrow keenly.

The rising crest of my anger and indignation shudders as an opposing force meets it, attempts to push it back.

“Get off,” I snarl, throwing off his grip and stepping out of arm’s reach, allowing the swirl of ire to gather momentum once more. “If your brother has done anything to Jazz, I will burn him, and you also for daring to stand in my way.”

Storm clouds gather in his expression and thunder rumbles through ever word Kiril speaks.

“It is unwise to threaten me, Miho,” he annunciates slowly, and a cold ripples through my body.

“I… I’m leaving,” I stammer around the lump in my throat, but I find it impossible to move.

“If you leave now,” he says, so quietly and yet not whispering, “you will likely never see Miss Mann again.”

“And it’s just as unwise to threaten me,” I exhale thickly, though the heat in my face and the trembling air in my lungs is evidence enough I’m losing control of my composure.

Unaffected, Kiril rises, not once breaking eye contact. He is far taller than he should be, and the darkness at his back, outlining the shape of his imposing figure seems too real.

“Konstantin has an apartment not far from here,” he tells me, ignoring my unimpressive retort. “And I have a key.”

“Give it to me,” I hiss, breathless, too proud to cower, but far too unnerved to raise my voice much more.

“No,” he drops plainly, then his very edges soften. “But, you may join me – assuming of course you can wrestle your ego into submission long enough to reiterate your commitment to our agreement.”

Hubris calls for me to slap him again, to stalk out and ban him from even entering Pale again – by my friendship with Jazz is far stronger than that. Even if he has something to do with Jazz’s disappearance too – and I’d be stupid not to consider this given his manipulation – I have no real choice but to accept.

“I agree,” I tell him frostily, reaffixing my handbag on my shoulder and crossing my arms over my chest.


Kiril watched Miho closely, relentlessly, where she sat beside him in the back of his limousine. She was still, a statue frozen in a moment of wrathful indignation, with her gaze fixed forward; but he knew she had him in her peripheral vision, seeming ready in an instant to defend herself from unwanted contact.

Contact he wanted.

There she was, so close to him, warm, determined and fierce, and desire pulsed through his veins. How easy it would be to drag her into his lap, snake his hands around her and squeeze around her delicious curves, and bury his face against her neck.

But he didn’t, because he suspected something Narumi had missed when she manipulated Miho’s thoughts into forgetting her encounter with Alex – a recollection that had already begun to surface once more. This resistance, the way she fought against his ability to overwhelm her emotions – and won – suggested she was even more than the stunning, confident businesswoman he’d first taken her for.

And he wanted her all the more for it.

As their vehicle pulled into a secured underground car park, Miho’s eyes widened a little.

“He lives here?” she questioned.

One Tower Bridge overlooked the Thames, and the iconic Tower Bridge itself. The complex as a ridiculous piece of real estate someone like Miho would never be able to afford – millions of pounds for luxury she only ever saw in film.

“This is the most recent address of his I know,” Kiril responded, exiting the car himself, though it was the driver who released Miho from its confines.

Unlike the subterranean car parks Miho had experienced across the city, this one was bright and absolutely spotless. There were no petrol fumes, no rubber marks on the sealed concrete ground, and all painted markings were in pristine condition.

Without a word, Kiril began in the direction of the elevator, using the same key-card that had admitted their entry to the car park, to open them.

Dubiously, Miho stared at the confines of the elevator interior, obviously cautious about being trapped in the small space with Kiril without the presence of another person. Pure obstinacy pushed her forward and to the very back, where she leaned against the mirrored wall and glared as Kiril joined her.

“It’s going to be a very long night for you if you keep that up,” he pointed out, smiling like he actually hoped she’d persist.

“I suppose you’ve love me to be compliant and pliable and all over you like the women you bring to Pale,” she snorted, continuing to glower as the doors closed them in.

“Oh no, I quite prefer you combative,” he chuckled, moving closer, and Miho sidestepped to avoid being further boxed in. “Much more entertaining.”

“I’m not here for your amusement,” she huffed, crossing her arms again, but it made balancing a second dodge a little difficult.

She found herself in the corner, Kiril directly before her looking most pleased with himself; and she was infuriated, in part because he insisted on challenging her when she was here only to serve her mission, but more so that the closer he drew, the more her skin eagerly anticipated his touch.

The doors opened on the fourth floor to a clear and pleasant chime, but Kiril continued to smoulder, close enough to Miho for her actually feel the radiant heat from his body – or so it seemed.

“No comeback, Sparrow?” he prompted smugly, leaning his head forward, and Miho turned her cheek.

“My comeback might very well be my knee to your groin if you keep pushing me,” she growled, but Kiril’s smile only widened.

“The lady likes to rough-house,” he noted, and Miho expelled a frustrated breath, using her shoulder to nudge past him and exit to the landing.

Chuckling, Kiril followed – the more she rebuffed him, the greater his desire to her submit to him willingly.

“So you’re a big-wig CEO,” Miho said, approaching one of only two doors on the floor. “What does Konstantin do to be able to afford a place like this?”

“I tend not to involve myself in my brother’s affairs,” Kiril replied, touching the key-card to the electronic lock beside the door. “The origin of his wealth has nothing to do with me.”

“Yet you’ve access to his luxury apartment,” Miho pointed out dryly.

“I never said it was given to me,” he responded, reaching around her to push open the door. “Ladies first.”

Well that obviously changed things a little – card or no card, it was trespass if Kiril didn’t have permission to be there. What if Konstantin was home?

“Even better,” Miho muttered in determination, and stomped into the spacious, dark wood appointed living area.

But it was quiet and clean, and Miho’s call to Jazz went unanswered.

“Refrigerator is empty,” Kiril noted, not that he was especially surprised, but Miho did not respond.

In the master bedroom she’d thrown open the door to the walk-in robe to search for women’s clothing, but finding none, she made her way to the ensuite. There she found no evidence of a woman either, but that only meant Jazz hadn’t made herself at home – or maybe hadn’t been given an opportunity to.

“Damnit,” she cursed, rushing from room to room, scanning, opening, searching every nook and cranny.

Kiril, meanwhile, was far from frantic. He wandered lazily from room to room, but wasn’t really looking for anything in particular. When he finally reached the master bedroom, he stopped in the doorway, staring.

On all fours, with backside in the air and her right cheek pressed against the plush carpet, Miho was peering under the king-sized bed, fishing around for what, Kiril did not know; but he found himself transfixed by the sight. Her posture was not an invitation by any means, and yet the idea of folding himself over her, pulling back on her hair and tasting the skin of her throat, bubbled furiously in his blood. Resisting the urge to follow through, tainted the sound of his voice when he finally spoke.

“What are you expecting to find under there?”

Her body flinched but did not straighten. Instead she reached a little further, grunting as she reached her limit, and only sat back when she’d snared her prize.

“Apartments like this are serviced by professional cleaners,” Kiril pointed out, approaching. “It’s unlikely you’ll find any traces of your friend.”

“And yet…” Miho smiled thinly, staring at the small bead black and white swirled.

To Kiril it meant very little, but obviously Miho knew something.


Inhaling slowly, I close my eyes.

This seemingly generic bead clasped between my fingers is personal to me. The ridiculously overpriced Pandora bracelet I’d given Jazz for her last birthday, comprised elements I had chosen individually.

But there is something much deeper here, and I’m suddenly not me anymore.

The world tilts and my ears are filled with the sound of Jazz laughing, laughter emerging from my lips. She opens her eyes and I’m staring into the face I know as Konstantin’s, and his lips press against my collarbone.

Raggedly, my breath hitches as he holds me firmly against him, my legs, Jazz’s legs against the edge of the bed – and I’m giggling as he kisses up my neck and threatens to topple me backwards. But he has to work for it, I struggle and squirm and try to fend him off, but the way he grips Jazz’s wrist is a grip unbreakable, somehow gentle but commanding against my refusal to submit. Finally, he twists a leg behind mine and shoves us back against the mattress, and as Jazz’s back sinks into the deep softness of the duvet, the Pandora bracelet explodes from my wrist and beads bounce all around us.

A stillness falls as the last glass sphere rolls into hiding beneath the bed, and Konstantin peers at me with an intensity that stokes a dangerous furnace within my belly – and I can feel his desire pressing insistently between my thighs, and as he releases Jazz’s wrist, I fold my arms around his neck and draw him down to meet a fierce passion of my own.

It bounces twice, the black and white, silver swirled bead as it drops from my hold to the sound of a breathy moan. A shudder rips through my body, but as I blink, it’s Kiril’s hand I find against my cheek, his body so close we’re lightly touching. We’re standing in Konstantin’s bedroom of course – I was always there despite what I saw and felt – it doesn’t make sense. And my emotions are muddled, mine and Jazz’s blended together, my flesh singing from Konstantin’s promise of carnal pleasure: suddenly reflected in the coolness of Kiril’s palm brushing against my face.

“What… are you?” I exhale, heat on my breath, a shivering anticipation of his slowly approaching face and a painful conflict between wanting him to take me like his brother had – hadn’t – and knowing I have every reason to shove him away.

I should shove him away.

“That look,” he responds, green fire crackling in the slim space between us, and I tremble as his other hand comes to rest lightly against my hip. “That invitation.”

“It’s not…” I begin, but my body betrays me, shifting with his encouragement to close all distance. “Kiril…” I hiss, desperately fighting to order my thoughts before I’m drowned by this wave of inexplicable need, this ludicrous urge for him to smother me. “I saw… I saw them…”

“I see you,” he states plainly, and his lips tease across mine.

Arching into him flashes an unintentional green light, and our mouths unite with a dizzying lust over which I have very little control.

Blood Spatter: Part 1

It’s the shrill and frantic screaming of a phone that abruptly interrupts the dreamless dark of my sleep. Thundering jackhammers valiantly try to drown out the sound with blinding pain in my head.

“Fuck, shut the fuck up,” I growl, pawing around wildly for the location of my phone until I somehow coincidentally manage to hit the answer button. “What?”

“Miho?” comes an urgent male voice that makes me cringe for more than one reason.

“Jesus Sebastian, stop yelling,” I hiss, covering my eyes with my forearm though the room is already dark.

“Maybe if you answered your phone when I call you, I wouldn’t have to,” Sebastian argues, his tone a blend of relief, worry and scorn. “Where the hell are you?”

For a moment I ponder this answer – I should be more concerned that I have to think about it.

“Home,” I finally determine.

“Are you sick?” he pursues. “Mieke, Kara and I opened the club without you, but that’s never happened.”

“Oh shit,” I curse, sitting up far too suddenly for the likes of my migraine. “Mmph, um… I’m sorry, I’ll…”

“Are you sick?” he repeats more seriously.

“No, I… um…”

I… um… struggling to answer that question – why am I struggling to answer that question?

“Some guy nearly hit me with his car,” I respond finally, the memory hazy. “I hit my head when I stumbled.”

“I’d ask if you’re all right, but clearly you’re not; I’m coming over,” he states, leaving no room for argument.

“Fine, you can drive me to work,” I conclude, pushing back the duvet and wriggling into a sitting position.

“We can discuss if when I arrive,” he grumbles. “Don’t do anything crazy in the meantime.”

Pfft, like I ever do anything crazy.


There is nothing interesting about my getting ready for work routine, except that my headache wanes a little. Still, I’m sloshing some aspirin around in a glass when he buzzes my intercom.

For a few seconds I look at him on the LCD screen, admiring the strong line of his jaw, the faint hint of stubble and the fall of several dark strands of hair that constantly fall across his forehead.

I’d be lying if I didn’t think there might be a better – more fun – way to get rid of my headache’s remnants.

“Are you going to let me in?” I hear his voice through the speaker, and I break from my lascivious reverie.

“Sorry,” I apologise, though he can’t even hear me, and in what seems like a far too short time, he’s travelled up several floors and is knocking on my door.

“I’m angry with you,” are the first words from his mouth, and though he’s frowning, he’s looking me up and down with an analytical eye.

“Thanks, Dad,” I mock, turning to get my handbag, but Sebastian takes my wrist and slowly forces me to straighten.

“I’m not done checking you over yet,” he grumbles, and there’s a pout in his voice though his expression remains stern.

His hands begin on my cheeks, large hands I always feel could crush my head and yet are so incredibly gentle as they graze my skin.

“Sebastian,” I whisper in complaint – but the downward intonation of his name, and the tilt of my head against his palm, betrays my alternate agenda.

“Don’t you Sebastian me,” he huffs, sliding his hands deliberately down my throat as he leans closer to examine a contusion on my left cheek. “You’re never late, never sick, never out of touch, and with… well…”

His sentence trails off, but I know exactly where it was going.

“I was afraid,” he admits, and I actually think he’s being serious.

This guy, who I feel has never been afraid of anything in his life, his brow is now creased, and my reflection in his sometimes-animalistic brown eyes wavers with genuine unease.

“I was afraid something had happened to you too,” he adds, shifting his weight, and when I cannot help but form a slight smile, I think I see him faintly blushing.

“As if,” I snort, slapping his chest with the back of my hand before scooping up my handbag. “I was an assassin in a past life.”


It takes a little more convincing to get Sebastian to allow me out of my apartment, but eventually he drives me to the club – on the provision I let him drive me home after closing. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. Though he’s come home with me plenty of times, our relationship has never been more than a mutually agreeable meeting of flesh and pleasure. The depth of his disquiet is surprising, and I’m not sure how to take it.

“Where the hell have you been?” Mieke glares, the moment we enter Pale’s foyer.

“Easy tiger,” Sebastian grunts in Mieke’s direction, then heads off to do the rounds.

“Overslept,” I tell her sheepishly, and it’s not really a lie.

“Oh yeah? Well I didn’t – I got here three hours early because Seb’s losing his shit about you not answering your phone,” she huffs, but I can tell she’s not actually mad at me. “Kara’s already doing rounds in the basement.”

“Sorry, I’ll get to work, Boss,” I smirk.

“You might want to start with Mr. Lambert in the lounge,” she suggests, and I know she sees the way I’m suddenly more focused. “Thought that’d get your attention,” she sniffs. “And tonight, believe it or not, he’s alone.”

“That’s weird,” I agree. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a harem.”

“Right?” Mieke nods. “Go and take advantage.”

No harm in buttering up a VIP.

The man is an immaculate specimen, the kind who conveys so much with his mere presence alone. His suit is easily worth as much as the entire contents of my wardrobe, clearly custom tailored to emphasise his best physical features: and god damn, those features. They’re a sonnet of masculinity, a rousing canticle of sculpted muscle in perfect proportion.

Intimidation is not something I’m used to submitting to, but every time I’ve had cause to interact with Kiril Lambert – billionaire CEO of KeepsGuard Risk Management and Insurance – I’ve had to struggle against a tide of uncertainty and doubt.

He makes me feel small: I hate it, but affix my best smile as I approach, and bury the instinct to act meekly behind a fortified wall of self-confidence.

“With compliments of the house,” I smile, placing the tray down on Kiril’s table, before taking the uncorked bottle of very old and expensive whiskey in hand.

“It’s my understanding, you are the house,” Kiril points out blithely as he adjusts his silk tie slightly, but for a few seconds I find myself enchanted by the nonchalant motion of his hand. “So it’s you I have to thank. Join me.”

It wasn’t a question, it was a statement, but for some reason, I don’t feel offended by his assumption; I am no stranger to this type of attention in my club – without being arrogant – but in this instance, I shock myself by acting completely out of character.


I put it down to my headache and try to cover a grimace with graciousness.

“It’s my policy not to mix business and pleasure, Mr. Lambert,” I tell him casually, but slip into the booth opposite him nonetheless, “but since you’re Pale’s resident celebrity, I’ll make an exception.”

“Is that the only reason?” he enquires, eyes fixed on my fingertips, apparently fascinated by the way they dig into the wax sealing the amber liquid behind crystal and begin to peel it away.

“What would you like me to say?” I ask, pouring carefully into his glass before pushing it toward him.

I sense my quip is a dangerous one, but simply can’t help playing his game.

“That you’ve finally given in to your burning desire for me,” he replies: so blasé, it almost doesn’t sound like the words of a consummate playboy.

Here is a creature blessed – sublimely handsome, connected and wealthy – oh he never wants for companions.

Normally, I would scowl at such a line, but he drops it so effortlessly I actually laugh.

Then regret it.

Grimacing, I resist the urge to rub at my temples and straighten my back.

“Something wrong?” he queries, slowly coiling his fingers around the whisky tumbler.

It’s such a simple gesture and yet I find it so incredibly sexy I nearly forget my pain.

The unusual green of his gaze pierces through my attempts to appear unaffected, and though I have reassurances on my tongue, I find myself barely able to inhale, let alone form words.

“Ah, it’s just a headache,” I finally manage, and frown at how breathless I sound.

“Late night?”

At this I scoff.

“I run a club, I’m practically nocturnal,” I point out, but thinking about the night previous makes the pain increase threefold.

“A woman after my own heart,” he chuckles, “but that doesn’t explain your obvious discomfort.”

“I had a run in with… with a…” I begin, then cringe when it feels as if my brain is expanding, threatening to burst from my eye sockets.

“You look like you’re in need of a medicinal dram,” he declares, turning his glass slowly by the rim, casually observing my growing distress.

“Hm, if I did, it certainly wouldn’t be from the top shelf,” I murmur, trying to blink away the stars sparkling across my field of vision.

“Then please,” he beseeches, though the two words again sound more like an instruction, “allow me to make you feel a little better.”

Men like that don’t beg.


Used to being propositioned in my own club by drunken idiots, I totally take it in my stride – though I find my answer uncharacteristically more flirty than is routine.

“And how might you achieve that, Mr. Lambert?” I question, tweaking a crooked smile despite the continuation of heavy drums in my head.

Before his lips even part, his eyes flicker somehow more brightly, and again I find myself transfixed by the way emerald flames seem to dance within their depths.

“Kiril,” he corrects, “and I have myriad ways.”

His voice low – the brush of velvet across my skin, and that alone seems to dull the war raging between my ears.

“I’m not sure it’s appropriate for me to call one of London’s most successful CEOs by his first name,” I point out, not that I believe in elitism.

“This successful CEO is offering it to you,” he shrugs, it being his first name, not the lewd other it that suddenly invades my mind’s eye. “But for now…”

His fingertips are cool, smooth, as he turns my right wrist over onto his palm, and I flinch at the unexpected contact.

“Close your eyes,” he orders firmly, and before the thought can even register, I’m smothered in the darkness beneath my lids. “Just breathe,” he whispers, a breath I can almost feel against my cheek though I know he is still across the table.

A shudder ripples through me, tingling that begins at the stroke of his thumb against the pale underside of my wrist, and gathers momentum up my arm.

“And that’s just my thumb, Sparrow,” I hear him say, see his lips moving and the hungry blaze of his stare though my own eyes remain closed.

Sparrow? But did he even speak? I can’t tell, but I respond anyway.

“Oh really?” I sniff, wanting to smirk at the boldness of his allusion, but the deepening pressure of his thumb into my skin, the tendons, warns me not to.

“Shh,” he soothes, pressing against one point that for several seconds makes me feel dizzy.

Then the clattering discomfort of the marching band parading through my brain is silenced.

Everything falls silent.

The sweet jazz piano.

The quiet chatter of staff and other nearby patrons.

The clink of glassware.

Until a new rhythm emerges – faster and faster and faster, until the pounding of my heart is almost unbearable.

“How did you…” I exhale, finally opening my eyes.

Pain free, I meet him halfway, though the intensity of those penetrating meres threatens to cause my calm to crumble.

“Magic,” he smiles confidently, continuing to gently caress from my wrist, along the lifeline of my palm.

Swallowing the lump in my throat, I struggle to the surface, swimming valiantly out of a verdant ocean to break eye contact and reclaim my hand.

“What the hell is going on?” I wonder, for I can feel him crawling across my skin, sliding to places hidden beneath my clothes.

I have seen him in Pale a hundred times, and while I’ve acknowledged his inexplicable beauty, always pausing in my rounds to perve discretely, I now feel an almost overwhelming magnetism that sticks me to my seat.

But there is someone else observing us; I can feel Sebastian’s scorn as surely as if he was waggling his finger disapprovingly in my face.

“Looks like your boyfriend doesn’t like me touching his property,” Kiril snickers, taking my other hand when I look in Sebastian’s direction. “Not one to share I take it.”

“He’s not my boyfriend, but I should…” I begin, but he cuts me off.

“Stay,” he commands quickly, a word from his mouth before he even thinks it over; he surprises even himself, as much written in the sudden – though fleeting – change in his countenance.

Because that makes it so much better.

“Excuse me?” I snap, and whatever hold he’d had on me shatters. “Pardon me, Mr. Lambert, I should resume my duties. Please enjoy your drink.”

He lets me go, regaining his air of self-importance, but I hear him as I walk away – am sure I am supposed to.

“I think I would, very much.”

“Fraternising with customers now?” Sebastian almost accuses, the moment I am within earshot, and I feel myself souring further.

“Any issues?” I redirect, but Sebastian has me caught in a purposeful gaze.

“Miho,” he levels. “Kiril Lambert is not someone you want to get involved with.”

“Oh yes?” I sniff, undaunted by the seriousness of his expression. “Successful, influential, wealthy, and not shy about spending his money here,” I add.

I leave off how hot Kiril is – no sense in provoking Sebastian.

Working his jaw, Sebastian stares at me, attempting maybe to transmit his disdain via telepathy.

“It’s already not my night,” I sigh, finally heading for the stairs. “Please don’t make it worse.”

Surprisingly he doesn’t follow to my office, which is just as well.

Still, it means I’m alone as I flop down behind my desk, and beyond, Jazz’s empty work station screams out her conspicuous absence.

It just doesn’t feel right without her, and it’s not just about the physical space she should be taking up – she means so much more to me than that. Her absence is like a hole, carved right through my perception of everything; we’re sisters in all but blood, and the only family either of us have left.

“What did he do to you?” I hiss to the room, but further ponderance of Konstantin’s involvement in Jazz’s disappearance is brutally shoved away by the feeling of someone driving an ice-pick through my skull.

But that isn’t the only sensation.

Against the lacquered wood I ball my fists, leaning forward like it might make the pain less severe, but my mind is tugged in the direction of a solid collision.

The ground.

Wet under my body.

In the darkness, afraid, and barely clinging to consciousness.

Vaguely I hear a question and a name.


Groaning, I blink away the vision, and through clenched teeth I breathe moist patterns against the desktop. The images, the sensations, the emotions all feel so real.

Then it’s Kiril Lambert who floats into my mind; the gentle touch of refreshingly cool skin against the flush of mine lulls some of my present affliction. Desperately I want him to caress me again, and I realise it’s not just because of the way he so easily chased away my resurging migraine.

“And that’s just my thumb, Sparrow,” I hear him purr again, and though I hate the diminutive, I cannot deny the growing knot in my stomach and the tingling warmth in places I’d like to experience his other fingers.

Resisting the urge to allow my own hands to wander, I settle for some more aspirin and paracetamol, before heading back downstairs to work.


Adding to my pre-existing irritation, the sensitive throb of my nethers doesn’t fade as the night wears on, any more than my headache. Crossing the basement nightclub dance floor, nodding to Kara as I go, I’m afforded the occasional, incidental bump in the right spot and it sends a shudder of pleasure through my body – and though Sebastian and I have enjoyed each other’s company many times since he came to work at the club, it’s Kiril Lambert who flashes into my mind.

Avoiding him is suddenly not so easy when my feet seem to have a will of their own, but I stop in my tracks on the far side of the lounge, when I find he is now not alone.

“Of course he’s not,” I chide myself. “Come to the club and just sit there for hours alone? Him?”

No indeed. He’ surrounded by his typical entourage of slender beauties, who stroke down his lapel, touch his skin, murmur against it.

Perhaps he feels my gaze as it lingers too long, because he looks through his company at me; they don’t seem to notice he is no longer with them, as surely as if he’d gotten up and walked away.

“Feeling lonely, Sparrow?” he smirks, I see the question alight in those green pools that penetrate me so thoroughly.

And I don’t even think I mind, not that I’d ever admit it aloud.

”Ah, not lonely, something else?”

His smile grows wider with certainly as his gaze wanders down my body.

“Am I actually hearing him in my head?” I scoff at myself. “You have bigger issues to worry about than your libido.”

“Speaking of bigger things…” I hear him grin, as I turn away and force myself to shift toward the lounge bar.

Which is just as well considering the insolent flick of my hair causes a chandelier to drop and brain me: not literally, obviously, but that is certainly how it feels.

Clutching the edge of the bar, I lean against it heavily with my eyes tightly shut, and Morris the bartender is quick to show his concern – and he is not alone.

Faintly, I hear a woman yelp, then the touch of a hand against the small of my back.

“Still broken, Sparrow?” Kiril whispers into my ear, leaning a little over my shoulder.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” I gasp out, trembling and unable to open my eyes.

Though Morris puts a glass of water in front of me, I don’t notice, too busy shaking, too busy glaring into the face of someone I vaguely recognise and the way his teeth are bared threateningly.

“Where is she?” I hiss, losing my legs to slump back into Kiril’s arms, whimpering pathetically.

“What did you do?” Sebastian barks, and his voice rings in my ears as he rushes up to pull Kiril away by the shoulder.

Kiril’s response is to slap Sebastian’s hand away, but he neither confirms or denies his involvement in my debilitated state.

Had I not been just about ready to empty my stomach on any available pair of shoes, I might have wondered at the ferocity of their accusatory glares, that, and the origin of the prevailing notion in my mind – both a source of agony and truth.

“Alex knows where Jazz is!” I exclaim breathlessly, but the moment the sentence is from my mouth I want to curl into a ball. “Fuck me…”

“Another night, perhaps,” I vaguely hear Kiril murmur.

“Back up,” Sebastian commands savagely, and I feel his arms close in around me.

So warm, but there is something I suddenly miss about delightful prickle of cool skin, and from Sebastian’s embrace I blink away tears to fix my watery gaze upon Kiril once more.

“Where’s Alex?” I hiss, but my body is suddenly exhausted, and I collapse against Sebastian’s chest.

To this I get no answer, not that I could actually process it if I had.

All I want is for the evening to swallow me completely, to wrap me in darkness that steals away the terrible vortex of torment tear my brain to shreds.





With refined detachment, Kiril watched Sebastian easily sweep Miho into a princess carry, but he found himself captivated by the limp swing of her arm when the other man stepped away. Crushing a surprisingly tenacious desire to snatch Miho away like a jealous dog over a bone, he instead watched Pale’s head of security disappear with his prize, without stirring further.

He was by no means oblivious to Miho’s amateur – though by no means insignificant – investigation into the disappearance of her business partner; he was aware she’d ruffled many feathers by shouting out the name Konstantin in places she was sure she’d be heard.

Oh, she’d been heard.

Smirking, Kiril didn’t even bid farewell to his vacuous company, and left Pale without a fuss, pressing his phone lightly to his ear.

“Ah cousin dear,” he drawled, his free hand in his pocket as he strolled down the street. “I love what you’ve done with that problem from last night.”

There was a short silence, before a female voice responded.

“Are you following up?” she queried and didn’t sound especially impressed about it. “You?”

“Pure happenstance,” he shrugged, even though his cousin could obviously not see him. “I heard the girl nearly got herself killed by one of Konstantin’s fanboys.”

“What’s your angle, Kiril?” she asked suspiciously. “Why the interest?”

“We both know full well she’s hunting for Konstantin because he’s abducted her friend,” he responded – because abduction was no big deal. “What I don’t know, Narumi, is why you didn’t erase her desire to find him.”

“You don’t think her sudden disinterest in the location of her business partner and best friend would be a little suspicious?” Narumi volleyed, and Kiril could tell she was annoyed – just as she always became annoyed when he challenged her. “Especially to the likes of Sebastian Ross.”

“Oh yes, and he is very interested in her, a real knight in shining armour,” Kiril chuckled, stopping at an intersection to wait for traffic.

“Don’t provoke him, Kiril, I don’t need the headache,” Narumi sighed, and Kiril got the impression of her rubbing her temples. “For once it’s Konstantin causing a stir, and unless you want Konrad on the warpath, just stay out of this and let me handle it.”

The mention of Konrad caused Kiril’s top lip to peel back in a sneer.

“Where is Konstantin and his little friend?” he grated between his teeth, stepping – no, stalking – across the road.

“I haven’t located them yet,” Narumi admitted. “He’s doing a remarkable job of concealing himself.”

“Remarkable, isn’t that him just all over,” Kiril huffed, abruptly taking the hand of a passing woman.

She looked at him quizzically, before smiling and staring wordlessly: starry-eyed.

“If you find him before I do,” he continued into his phone, leading the woman along with him, “tell him I said hi.”

“Just stay out of this,” Narumi warned. “I mean i…”

But Kiril hung up and tucked his phone away, focusing on his present company.



In the darkness of my apartment, I’m alone again with Sebastian. Murmuring a mixture of concern and how much trouble I am, he helps me to the bedroom and sits me down on the end of the bed.

“I’ll get you some water,” he says in a low voice, his hand still resting on my shoulder. “Think you can get undressed by yourself?”

There is nothing untoward about his question, not even a hinting undercurrent of lust; he could take advantage, but he doesn’t – that’s the kind of man he is.

“It’s not so bad anymore,” I reply, slowly sliding the jacket from my shoulders.

No sudden moves just the same.

“I’d say you’re working too hard, but I know that’s in your nature, so, what’s going on?” he questions, and though it’s dim I can see him frowning. “In the year and a half I’ve known you, you’ve never had so much as a sniffle.”

“There is the whole best friend missing and nearly getting run over thing,” I point out a little snappishly, but it’s a measure of my low tolerance levels rather than any actual anger I have toward him. “I’m sorry, Sebastian, I don’t know – I just have this terrible feeling something horrible has happened Jazz, that I’m so close to finding her but she’s just beyond me reach.”

Blinking, I find my cheeks wet again, and Sebastian gently wipes his thumbs across my cheeks.

“Do you want me to stay?” he asks, and though he’s a seriously impressive looking man, this inquiry leaves his lips unsure, tentative.

If I was able to think more clearly, I would certainly challenge him; though we care for one another as friends, he made it clear very early on our relationship beyond that was just physical: a way for us to relieve some of the tension in our lives without romantic entanglements and all the obligations that come with. He has never stayed and never asked to, always leaving when we’re both satisfied.

Saying yes might lead to something I don’t need, but I know right now I don’t want to be alone.

My chin drops forward before lifting again, and the warmth of his palm cupping one cheek is a reassurance I’m grateful for.

“Okay,” he smiles simply, crouching a moment to unzip my boots and slide them away. “Hop into bed, I’ll get you that water and be right back.”

Sighing, I undress to my panties and slip t-shirt on – normally Sebastian wouldn’t get to see such a thing, the Miho ‘home-body’ in her unflattering night clothes, but it’s not something I worry about.

What I want is to be held, and stroked, and told everything will be okay – that I’ll wake up tomorrow and Jazz will be back, no harm done, and this blasted headache will be long gone.

Wordlessly upon his return, Sebastian strips down to his underwear and joins me beneath the duvet, leaving me no time to appreciate the stirring cut of his physique. Instead, I settle for the strong coil of his arms around me, and snuggle against his firm chest, inhaling slowly.

“Just close your eyes,” he whispers into my hair, but it’s not his voice I hear.

Kiril Lambert.

His are the fingers weaving softly through my hair, his breath against the side of my head, his ankles entwined with mine. Just as it had, sitting across from him in the booth with my wrist in his grip, the pain my skull abates, and I am left with a slowly growing ball on tension in my stomach.

“You okay?” Sebastian queries, leaning his head back.

My answer is to kiss him, a slow and searching notion, probing for interest.

The tense of his body and then the smooth of his hands down to the small of my back is his response, but he ends the dance of our tongues.

“I don’t think this is what you need right now,” he tells me, but his body is already telling me what he needs.

“I don’t want to think,” I hiss, my voice a little hoarse, and his response to the trail of my fingers to the band of his boxer briefs and beneath. “So get naked and fuck me.”

These words are the kind of vulgar imperative I might use in a moment of passion to provoke him, not the kind of thing once says while vulnerable; but I can’t help it, I suddenly need it.

Also surprised he hesitates, but not for long when I palm him firmly and bite into his lower lip, at which point Kiril takes hold of the hem of my t-shirt and tears it all the way to my throat.


It’s Kiril Lambert’s weight I feel pressing over me, and into me not long after, his shoulder-blades I’m digging my fingernails into and his hips my legs are wrapped around. Gentle at first, I feel he doesn’t want to hurt me but is definitely holding back – he needs encouragement, and my teeth sinking into the taut flesh of his shoulder and the arch of my body to deepen our contact provides this.

The night is a heavy blanket that hides us from each other’s sight, but through the fierce thrust and grab, and the heady thickness of panting breaths and desirous moans, I can clearly see the ravenous depths of Kiril’s gaze by which I am willingly consumed.