Welcome to Valladora, a world where vampires rule and everyone dreams of being destined to be a vampire's mate.
Well, most everyone...
Simon is content being a servant and doesn't like for attention of any kind to be focused on him. When he finds out he is destined to be Ettore's mate, he can't wrap his brain around the idea, even though he knows very well that his destiny is written in his blood. Vampires are never wrong about this connection, but Simon still can't believe something so wondrous could be meant for someone as ordinary as him.
Ettore doesn't find Simon ordinary in any way and actually finds his humility endearing. At the same time, he wants Simon to get over all of this so they can be together. I've dismissed and discarded many characters over the years, but I never scratched Ettore's name off my list. Ettore is most definitely an alpha, but in a more quiet and steadfast way. He won't take no for an answer, but he shows patience--and makes all the right moves--instead of forcing his reluctant lover to submit, and this is my favorite part of their story.
Simon has never feared the vampires who rule Valladora, yet he feels stunned and apprehensive when he meets Lord Ettore. The handsome vampire almost immediately declares that Simon is his mate, and though he knows he should feel honored, Simon can’t help resisting something that sounds impossible.
Ettore is overjoyed at finally finding his mate, even if the beautiful young man proves reluctant. Ettore is patient, enjoying the slow seduction despite his desire for Simon to give himself completely and stop holding back. When Simon disappears without a trace, Ettore doesn’t know if he should blame his political enemies or Simon’s reluctance to accept his love.
No matter what, Ettore is going to find Simon and bring him home. He knows their love is meant to be and will not rest until Simon is back in his arms, willingly offering both his blood and his heart.
Here's a little snippet from the opening scene:
Simon shifted position on the ground again, but he went tumbling forward when some dirt and rocks gave way under his right foot. His hand came down on the shears he’d been using, and he jerked to the side, clutching his hand. When the throbbing subsided a little, he looked down at his slashed palm. Blood dripped from his hand. He winced when he flexed his fingers, and then he started to rise to his feet.
A shadow fell across him, and a chill swept up his spine when he looked up to see who had approached. The man was several inches taller than he was, with broad shoulders and long white hair. His irises held no color, but as he lowered his gaze to Simon’s hand, they went crimson.
One of his master’s guests. One of the vampires.
“Are you all right?” the man asked.
“Yes, though I’ve cut myself.” Simon knew what he had to do. He was a servant, and his own master served this vampire. He would be punished severely if he did not offer his blood to him. He would never be forced, but it would be viewed as the rudest of affronts. Taking a humble and submissive pose, he moved to kneel on one knee and offered his bleeding hand to the vampire. “Please, I would be honored.”
Simon could not hide his surprise when the vampire gathered his flowing golden robes and mirrored Simon’s position on the ground. He took Simon’s hand and smiled, and Simon gasped at the warmth of his fingers. Weren’t vampires cold to the touch? Simon lowered his gaze. He knew very little about vampires aside from what other servants said, so he had no idea what might be considered offensive.
“Please look at me.”
Simon lifted his head easily enough, the vampire’s touch and words calming him.
“Your blood smells wonderful.” The vampire lowered his tongue to Simon’s hand and lapped at the blood pooling in his palm. Simon couldn’t tear his gaze away anymore than he could ignore the sensations running through his body. His cock hardened when the vampire licked the wound and healed it. And he looked at Simon the entire time. He licked every inch of Simon’s hand to get all of the blood, and when he was finished he held Simon’s palm against his face.
“What is your name?” the vampire whispered.
“Simon.” He had a hard time keeping his voice steady, especially as his erection didn’t flag immediately.
“I’m Ettore.” He kissed Simon’s palm and rose to his feet, drawing Simon with him. “And I have never tasted blood like yours before.”
Simon didn’t know how to respond. He lowered his eyes and managed to say, “I am glad it pleased you.”
Ettore took him by the chin and made him look up. “Stop lowering your gaze that way.”
Wasn’t that what he was supposed to do? “I am a servant.”
“Not for long. I am going to speak with your master right now.”
The vampire’s words killed the last bit of the desire that had been surging in his cock. “What? My lord, what have I done?”
Ettore smiled, looking at Simon as though his behavior amused him somehow. “How old are you?”
“You knew it was proper to offer me your blood, yet you don’t seem to know much about vampires.” He inched closer and stroked Simon’s cheek. “The fact that I asked for your name and gave you mine in this intimate setting is significant, as is the fact that your blood pleased me so much. You are not in trouble.” He dropped a kiss against Simon’s lower lip. “You are my mate.”
Simon didn’t even have time to react to the unexpected kiss. When he heard the word mate, he felt the bottom drop out of his stomach as blood rushed in his ears. He couldn’t have heard right—and he couldn’t be this vampire’s mate! They were both men, so how could they mate? The vampire could turn him, but they could not mate. Also, he knew the vampires his master served were part of the royal family, so heirs were essential, no matter how many other family members might be ahead of Ettore in line for the crown.
Ettore brought him back to reality by pulling him into his arms. Simon looked up, holding to the vampire’s upper arms to steady himself.
“You are adorable,” Ettore said. “I’ve waited over two hundred years to find you, and I could not be happier. Stop looking so stunned.”
“Two hundred years?” Simon whispered, amazed he could even make his voice respond that much.
“My parents were beginning to worry, and my older siblings all tease me, but now they shall stop their teasing. I have finally found you.”
“I’m a man.”
Ettore laughed. “Yes, I know that, and now I understand why I prefer men in my bed. My fated one is a man. I suspected, but I did not want to assume.”
“We cannot mate. We’re … we simply can’t!”
Ettore’s eyes darkened again, almost going black this time. “Are you that innocent? I shall enjoy educating you.”
Simon began to shake, gripping Ettore more fiercely. “I don’t understand. You must be mistaken.”