Ian opposes the death penalty and hopes to convince the king to show mercy to one of his subjects. Ian’s desire to free the man in his dungeon only grows when he discovers that the feisty, sharp-tongued leopard shifter is his mate.
Kamon’s life is already complicated enough when Ian steps into it. Kamon’s always relied on no one but himself, yet now he begins to envision a very different future. He’s trying to keep Ian at arm’s length, but that grows harder every day as the vampire works relentlessly to change the mind of a king who’s never before granted any subject a pardon.
Kamon sat in his cell, still full of rage. He’d often told himself Kara would be the death of him, but he’d never imagined it would be so literal. He ached to shift, but he didn’t want to invite more trouble, as he’d been too distracted to tell anyone he was a shifter. The guards would likely stab first and ask questions later if they found a golden leopard pacing around in his cell. He had enough to worry about already. His twin’s selfishness had finally landed him in the kind of trouble he wouldn’t be able to get out of.
The outer door opened, and a vampire entered, closing the door behind him after saying something to the guards. When the vampire turned, Kamon recognized Lord Ian. The man looked completely out of place in his billowing mint green robes, his shining blond hair flowing down his back and the silver rings on his fingers glinting in the torchlight. Kamon had never imagined a vampire lord would lower himself in this way. He’d heard that Ian was kind and generous, but Kamon didn’t care for vampires or the fact that they ruled over humans simply because they had such long lives.
The vampire approached, but Kamon didn’t say anything. He’d already confessed, so he didn’t see the point in submitting to more interrogation.
“Kamon, I’m Lord Ian. And I’ve come to help you.”
Help me? Kamon averted his eyes and pressed his lips together.
“Are you all right?”
Kamon glanced up and shrugged.
Ian came closer. “Do you need water? Food? Have you been mistreated?”
Kamon stood and walked over to the man, the stretching of his muscles feeling good despite the stiffness his desire to shift was causing. “No, I haven’t been mistreated. I’m here because I did something wrong. What do you want?”
Ian studied Kamon. “You’re obviously not afraid of being punished, talking to me this way.”
“I’m going to die. What’s the point in caring about anything?” Kamon pushed away from the bars of the cell. Something about the vampire’s scent made him want to shift even more. The vampire was attractive, and Kamon didn’t mind a man in his bed, but Ian was a little too pretty for Kamon’s taste. He preferred brawn to beauty.
Ian shifted his weight and crossed his arms. “Look, I’m going to forget your rudeness and get to the point. I hate executions and think the death penalty unjust. I want to help you, maybe save you. Domestic disputes are always complex. I’d like to be your advocate and plead with King Jareth, but I’ll need your help.”
“Not interested,” Kamon said, wanting Ian to go away. His scent was starting to drive Kamon wild. He wanted to shift, and more than that, he wanted to fuck. He turned to face the wall in an attempt to end the conversation.
“Not interested? Without an advocate, you’ll die!”
“I killed someone. That’s the law.” If this vampire pried too much, Kara might be executed instead. Many might call him a fool, but he’d never be able to live with that. His vain sister had always been thoughtless and selfish, but no one deserved to die for those things. She had an unborn child to think of.
“Why are you trembling?” Ian asked.
Kamon looked down at his hands and realized he was shaking. He folded his arms and tried to stop the tremors. “I’m fine.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.” Ian sighed, and Kamon heard the jangle of keys.
Kamon turned to see the vampire opening the cell and entering it. “No. Leave me alone.”
Ian took hold of Kamon’s shoulders. “I won’t hurt you. Or bite you. Tell me what’s wrong. Are you ill?”
Ian’s scent overwhelmed Kamon, and before he knew what he was doing, Kamon had leaned forward to breathe in more of it. He shivered, his eyes half closing, and Ian leaned away and stared at him.
“Did you … just … smell me?” Ian asked, his face crinkled in confusion.
Kamon once more pressed his lips together, something his mother had always done when agitated. He’d never been able to kick the habit. He wanted to do more than smell this man—he wanted to lick him. He tried to say something, but his brain buzzed with carnal thoughts, his body responding to the strong hands on his shoulders.
Ian studied Kamon’s face, then his eyes, which Kamon guessed had turned from green to yellow. “You’re a shifter,” Ian said, releasing him. “And you must find me attractive.”
Kamon opened his eyes. “Don’t flatter yourself.”
“Don’t get defensive. What’s your problem?” Ian asked.
Kamon needed to shift. Now. If he didn’t, he would jump the vampire before long. “I don’t have to answer your questions. Have me punished however you damn well want. Just get out!”
“You need to shift. Do it. I don’t care. I’ll turn my back if you want.” He did so. “When you shift back, you’ll be calmer. Then we can talk.”
“Are you some bleeding heart or what? Why do you give a shit what happens to me?” Kamon asked, his heart pumping and blood roaring in his ears. “I don’t want you here!”
Ian turned back to him and frowned. “Why are you acting this way?” he asked softly. Stepping forward, he asked in a more taunting voice, “Do I smell that good?”
Kamon turned away, but Ian stopped him and pushed him against the wall. His eyes lowered, and he saw that Kamon’s cock was hard and ready. Kamon met his gaze defiantly when Ian lifted his eyes. He wanted to push the man down and mount him right then, and if Ian insisted on seeing his desire, Kamon wasn’t going to be ashamed.