“Then that’s who we start with. Simon, what or who do you know there?” I question.
“I don’t know much. They are sadistic bastards who usually keep to themselves.” He bites his lip like he always does when he thinks. “But I might know someone there, a friend whom I met at a shady club when I was looking for you. He’s not too bad, actually, for the right price.”
“Contact him. Make it sly and say you just want to see the court.”
He nods. “And I go in alone?”
“No, you won’t make it out.” Azul sits up. “Just get as much information as you can, and we will go in.” He looks at me. “I will not put someone you love at risk, not in a place like that. If this vampyr is from that court, he’s either someone’s toy or he owns them. Find out which.”
“He’s right,” I agree. “Okay, and then I guess there are the others.”
“What about the one with your old rejected mate?” Zale suggests.
“We’ll save that one for last,” Nathair replies without checking with me. “We are going to put on a good show for him. He deserves it, deserves to worry and wait for the darkness to come for him. Let him suffer as much as she did.”
“Wow, that was hot,” Simon and I say at the same time and then descend into laughter. When we sober, I offer my agreement.
“Then let’s get to it. It’s time to save the world, boys and girls.” I clap.
Ihug Simon again, and he buries his head in my neck. “Don’t be a stranger, okay?” he mutters as he pulls away.
“I won’t.” I step back as Conall takes him home, and when he’s gone, my shoulders sag. Turning to the others, I find them all watching me.
“He’ll be okay, and he can come back anytime,” Nathair promises.
“But the gods—”
“Will have to fight every single one of us to make us stop,” he replies skilfully, and desire slams through me as I watch them. They are willing to fight the gods to ensure I can keep my best friend.
“Keep looking at us like that, and we will have an orgy right here.” Zale laughs, making me grin. “Now, if we are going up against a court, we need to prepare.”
I zone out as they divvy out roles. My eyes track Osis as he slips away, hunger roaring through me. I need to feed, and I want my tiger, so I follow him, leaving the others to plan. Leaning against the door, I watch as he lays out ingredients on the counter, ready to start cooking. I know he enjoys it, but I sometimes wonder if he does it because he feels like he has to.
“I’m hungry,” I call out.
He jerks and spins around, his eyes widening at the sight of me. “Oh, well, I’m cooking now. Do you want something in particular?” he asks, and again, I get the feeling it’s because he has to, not because he wants to.
Stepping into the room, I prowl towards him. He watches me come, his eyes darkening, yet he doesn’t reach for me because he’s not expecting anything. He is so used to being quiet and existing in the background despite the dominant streak in him.
“You,” I say when I stop before him.
“Me?” His eyebrows rise.
“I need to feed,” I explain when he just stares.
“I can get the others. Nathair—”
“Reve?” he questions, and I roll my eyes as I press against him. His chest rises and falls rapidly as he watches me, his expression hopeful yet resigned.
“Osis, I want to feed from you,” I tell him softly, knowing he needs the words. Have I truly been overlooking him that much? It’s hard to make sure I’m giving them equal attention with seven of them, but I need to do better. It’s a fucking travesty that Osis thinks I don’t want him. He was the first one I saw, the first one I met, and I have wanted him since that moment, so I intend to have him.
“It’s okay, Althea. You don’t have to feed from me out of pity—”