Hearts of Blood
Kay Doherty © 2019
All Rights Reserved
Sakima glanced around the yard at the wolf shifters, both in human and wolf form, before settling his gaze on the one he’d come for—his destined companion. He had waited hundreds of years for this creature to arrive. The beautiful golden-brown wolf whined and took a small step back, crouched in wariness, tail tucked.
“What do you want, vampire?” the Alpha asked.
“My name is Sakima Hawke, and I want him,” Sakima answered as he took in the tawny wolf.
The wolf began to shake, making Sakima’s skin itch. This creature was his destined companion; he should never be fearful of him. Sakima squatted so he was eye level with his wolf, his gaze never straying from him, in an attempt to show through action he was not a threat. He’d known the moment the tawny-haired man had brushed against him at Elysium they were meant to be together, but the place had been packed that night and the wolf shifter had quickly melted away into the throng. Sakima had searched the club, attempting to pick the man out from the crowd, but the wolf shifter had turned out to be quite elusive. He’d lost the wolf’s scent for weeks before finding it again quite suddenly moments ago while on his way home.
It was an act of the fates Sakima had decided on a leisurely stroll rather than traveling home at hyperspeed after visiting one of his oldest friends: a human donor who was declining in health. Excitement he’d not felt in decades thrummed through his veins at the sight of the wolf now crouched before him. The sharp tang of fear wafting from him increased Sakima’s discomfort. Perhaps the wolf wasn’t aware of what they were to each other yet, though it was more likely he was simply uneducated about vampires. Sakima was well aware of the fear his kind generated. Too many rumors, myths, and misunderstandings circulated about vampires.
Many believed they were the walking dead, that anyone they fed from would become a vampire as well, but that was all fallacy. Sakima was no more dead than anyone else present, though he knew he appeared to be with his pale skin, long white hair, and ice-blue eyes. He could love, mate, and feed from his partner without changing the beautiful creature. Sakima would take great care in helping his destined understand he was no more of a threat than the Elemental, dragon, or Alpha he kept company with, each of whom had their own myths and rumors.
Desire to touch the gorgeous animal before him had Sakima extending a hand. He did so with extreme caution, so as not to frighten the wolf further, but was unsuccessful. The wolf curled into himself, becoming as small as his bulk would allow, crouching lower to the ground on shaky legs, ears flattened to his skull. Sakima lowered his hand to the grass but otherwise remained still. Instilling trust with a shifter while they were in animal form being ruled a great deal by their animal instincts was difficult. This would be far easier if the young man would shift back to human, though Sakima understood why he wouldn’t do so at this moment. When the man shifted, he would be naked, which the shifter may view as a vulnerability in his human form.
“You must know I won’t hurt you,” Sakima said softly. “We are destined companions.”
The wolf whined and turned to the pack leader. If Sakima understood wolf shifters well, there was a bond between his wolf and the Alpha that allowed them to speak telepathically. He’d never been jealous of such a thing before, but he didn’t like his fated companion being able to communicate telepathically with anyone other than him. Unfortunately, the telepathic bond was an inevitable part of being in a wolf pack. And if he wanted to claim this wolf shifter, he would have to accept the pack as a whole because there would be no removing his companion from them. Not safely. Sakima rose to his feet, his heart sinking a bit when his wolf scurried away to hide within the house. He gave no reaction outwardly, but he gave a mental sigh as he turned to face the Alpha.
“My apologies,” the Alpha said. “I asked him to go inside for a moment. He’s a bit overwhelmed.”
“Frightened, you mean,” Sakima corrected.
The Alpha wasn’t concerned with semantics. “We’ve all been through quite a lot recently, and this is a bit of a surprise. I’m sure you understand…Sakima? May I call you that?”
Sakima inclined his head in acceptance. “And you would be?”
“Tanner McBane. I’m the Alpha, and Vance is a member of my pack.”
Vance. A unique name for a uniquely beautiful wolf. Sakima scanned the “pack,” his gaze drifting from a gray wolf to a gray-and-brown wolf to a dragon to a white wolf with wild eyes to an Elemental, finally coming to rest once again on the Alpha.
“Quite the unconventional pack, if I may say.”
“Yes, I know.”
“Word has spread through the paranormal ranks of a pack of outcasts who have gained more power than is considered safe or wise. I feel I should be concerned for the welfare of my destined companion being bonded to such a pack.”
The statement was met with several growls and a strong wind that only affected Sakima, whipping his long hair in every direction. Sakima smiled. Vance was clearly cared for and protected. Tanner glanced at the dragon on his left.
“Have you ever heard of a wolf mating a vampire? Chevaliers aside.”
“No,” the dragon answered. “But I’d never before heard of a wolf mating an Elemental either. Or a dragon.”
The expression that passed between dragon and Alpha was not missed by Sakima. The name Chevalier shook him, but he pushed the memory aside—a centuries-old mistake best left to the dust of time.
“So, the rumors are true,” Sakima said.
“What rumors?” the Elemental asked.
“Of same-sex, interspecies matings taking place openly. I had hoped, given what I now know of my own destined companion, but had remained skeptical,” Sakima answered.
By way of introduction, Tanner said, “The dragon shifter is Luca. He’s my mate. The Elemental is Deacon and his mate is the white wolf, Ross. The gray wolf is Ean, and the grayish brown wolf is Theran. If you truly plan to claim Vance as your mate, you, too, will be an openly mated interspecies couple. You need to be comfortable with that if you’re going to become part of the pack.”
Sakima showed plenty of fang when he spoke. “Oh, I have every intention of claiming my fated mate, Alpha, but I said nothing of joining your pack.”
Movement at the patio doors drew Sakima’s attention. Vance in human form was as handsome as his wolf was beautiful; golden-brown hair and the lithe, toned physique all wolf shifters possessed. Those hazel eyes showed fear and hesitation, but also recognition, making Sakima believe Vance knew they were destined companions. Vance simply wasn’t accepting it, yet.
“You would risk his safety and sanity by taking him from his pack, severing his pack bond? What kind of mate would do such a thing?” Deacon asked through clenched teeth.
Sakima was surprised by the vehemence and animosity coming from the Elemental. He’d made the simple suggestion that claiming his wolf did not necessarily equate to him joining the pack. Nothing more. Though perhaps removing his destined companion was something to consider, given the volatile nature the pack exuded.
“I won’t leave my pack,” Vance said softly.
His voice was melodic to Sakima’s ears. Despite the fear and uncertainty, Vance’s words didn’t waver. They were strong and decisive, despite the fact the wolf was still hiding behind the pack. Vance had donned a pair of shorts and a tank top, leaving his toned arms, legs, and feet bared to Sakima’s perusal, and he soaked in the sight.
“I know what I’m about to suggest will be difficult for you,” Tanner said. “But I think you should leave. Perhaps stay away for a few days to give Vance time to acclimate to the idea of having a vampire for a mate.”
“Not as difficult as you might think,” Sakima said.
He’d been living a solitary life for nearly forty years, and he planned to use the time apart from Vance to prepare for the wolf to join him. He moved with vampiric speed past the pack to stand before Vance. While he was willing to leave for a short time, he wouldn’t allow his companion to put the pack between them. When he stopped, he stood face-to-face with his beautiful man. Vance yelped and jumped back, but Sakima caught him with an arm around his waist, aborting any attempt at escape. Heat immediately seeped through the cloth of his shirt, warming his skin.
“Until next time, pet.”
Sakima placed a chaste kiss on Vance’s lips so as not to cut him with his fangs. Not yet. He would draw blood from Vance only after they became lovers, and Vance demonstrated his willingness. As quickly as he had appeared before Vance, he disappeared, leaving the outcast pack and his destined mate behind. It was a temporary situation, after all. Now that he knew where his wolf companion was, he felt far more relaxed and willing to let things progress at a pace comfortable for Vance.
He continued in hyperspeed until he reached the loft above Elysium he called home. While the wolf would be most comfortable near trees and wildlife, Sakima could live anywhere. There were no rules truly governing what, or who, he could feed from and life of some kind could be found everywhere. In all reality, wolves and dragons could eat humans, but there was something about shifters being partly human that made most of them shy away from the idea. Sakima could well understand. He’d been desperate once, long ago, and fed off one of his own kind. While his hunger had been sated, the act had felt…wrong.
Sakima stopped at his front door, pulled out his keys, and entered his loft. The heartbeats of three employees downstairs thumped softly against his eardrums. Though quiet for now, soon the club would open, and he would be hit with hundreds of heartbeats, thundering music, and the scent of paranormals from every species. Taking a deep breath, he reveled in the scent of his wolf still lingering on his clothes. Such a brief moment of contact, but the combined smells of wolf and man would be forever burned in Sakima’s memory.
One particular heartbeat drew closer, so he lingered in the entryway. A knock sounded on the shiny wood surface a moment later, and he opened the door to find his head bartender, Colby, standing on the other side. Sakima’s nostrils flared as he once again attempted to identify Colby’s species. He knew he was paranormal, but the boy had a myriad of scents clinging to him, and those scents changed almost daily. It was intriguing and annoying.
“Are you well?” Sakima asked.
No one bothered him at home due to an unspoken rule that he not be approached unless he was in his office, or on the main floor of the club working. Otherwise, you might be feasted upon. The rumor was wholly untrue, but Sakima valued his privacy enough to allow the assumption to stand. He momentarily wondered why the young bartender never appeared to be afraid of him, and how Colby always seemed to know where to find him.
“I’m quite fine, thank you,” Colby said.
Colby’s face remained expressionless, as was typical when he wasn’t tending bar. Behind the mahogany, the boy was a flirt, a tease, the unobtainable dream. With his long brown hair and sparkling eyes, he earned abundant tips from first-timers and regulars alike. Away from the bar, he was as unapproachable as Sakima. The only thing that did not change was Colby’s dry, sarcastic humor. His manner allowed him to deliver insults disguised as playful ribbing that left the recipient unaware of the fact Colby truly found them repulsive. Sakima spent hours at the end of the bar enjoying the show as the boy hurled his daggers with a flirtatious smile on his face. Sakima cocked his head to the side.
“I’m restocking the bar and it appears we’ve sold out of vanilla vodka,” Colby told him.
Sakima did inventory on a weekly basis, and because of this rigid schedule, Elysium rarely sold out of anything. In fact, it had been years since the last occurrence.
“How is that possible?” he asked.
“Well,” Colby said. “It’s a bar and we sell drinks. All night. And some of those drinks require vanilla vodka…that we’ve sold out of.”
Sakima couldn’t decide if he wanted to slap the boy or smile at him. Colby was often entertaining and infuriating simultaneously. Rather than decide, Sakima kept a straight face as he turned away from the bartender and walked into his home office. He kept quite a bit of cash inside the bottom drawer of his desk. He pulled out a few one-hundred-dollar bills and then returned to Colby, who still stood outside the door. Colby’s eyes raked over Sakima when he held the money to him. He wrinkled his nose.
“You smell like dog,” he said.
Sakima ignored the comment. Vance was not a dog; he was a wolf shifter. There was a paranormal world of difference.
“Go to Hallahan’s and buy as much vanilla vodka as the money will allow. I want the receipt and the change.”
Colby rolled his eyes. “Like I’m stupid,” he mumbled as he headed back down the stairs to the building’s exit. Sakima tracked the progress of the bartender’s heartbeat until the steady thump melded into the hundreds of other heartbeats out on the street.