I took that anger, not to wash over me, but to drink, to swallow, to bathe in it. I drew his rage around me like a coat of fire, and I opened up a part of me that I kept hidden from everyone. I let Primo's rage meet the great seething mass of my own rage. The rage I'd carried inside me since my mother's death. The deep endless seas of my anger welcomed his anger--embraced it, fed on it. I ate his rage and let him feel me do it.
I laughed, laughed while I stood there and burned with our twin furies. Laughed while I felt his anger falter and begin to pull back. Laughed while I let his anger mingle with mine. I already carried a bottomless pit of it, what was a few more buckets?
He stared up at me with sightless eyes, and then he did half of what I'd expected. He moved forward, but not in a mindless rush. He moved forward with a speed that was breathtaking, and I'd seen speed. He was blind, so he grabbed in the dark, and it was Nathaniel he grabbed. Nathaniel who was standing near us. I don't know if that was who Primo was aiming at, or if he missed. He grabbed Nathaniel's wrist and tried to yank him in against his body, but Nathaniel braced and would not go.
We were suddenly all moving. I was aware that the security guards were moving, but they'd be too late. My gun was almost free of its holster, but Primo had started forward as soon as he felt Nathaniel's resistance. I was closest, and I moved faster than I planned. I wasn't used to being more than human quick. I was reaching out for Nathaniel's arm, but I got too close to the vampire's face.
Primo sank fangs into my wrist, and I knew better than to try and jerk free. It would have torn my wrist open. I had my gun out as I screamed. Screamed as his mouth fed on me. Screamed as I put the gun to his head.
My finger had started that pull on the trigger, when Primo's mind slammed into mine. It wasn't his rage. It was his memories. Roman army, the murder that got him condemned, the arena where he could murder to his heart's content, where he could slake that rage, or feed it. Death after death after death. And each one fed him in a way that nothing else did.
Then one dark night a noblewoman requested he come to her bed with the blood and sweat of his victory painted on his body. He went, and found so much more than he'd ever dreamt of. She offered him freedom and a new way to feed his rage. A new way to kill. He did not know her real name. She had simply said, "I am the Dragon, and you will serve me," and he had.
Abruptly, the memories stopped. It staggered me, and I had a moment to fight not squeezing the trigger. A moment to point the gun skyward and try to relearn how to breathe and use my body at the same time.
Primo still had his mouth pressed to my wrist, but now there was healed flesh, and sight in his eyes. I knew with Jean-Claude's knowledge that Primo could heal almost anything with a little special blood. He'd been aiming for a lycanthrope. But my blood had done the trick. I understood why Jean-Claude had wanted him. Such a powerful soldier, if you could control him. The calmness in my head wasn't me.
Primo released my wrist, and his eyes rolled white with terror. "What are you?" he whispered.
"Not what, Primo, who," I said, and I reached the hand he'd wounded out to him. I meant to touch his face, but he cringed back from me as if I'd offered him harm. "Who am I, Primo?"
That great body cowered before me. He abased himself before me, and I remembered him doing it long ago for the one who had made him. "Master," he whispered, and the word seemed to be forced from his lips. He hated it, that he would never be his own master. When he took that bloody kiss, he had always assumed that someday he would rule, and now he knew different. "You are my master."
The moment he'd tasted my blood he had been bound in a way that had nothing to do with sex, or love, or friendship. It was a belonging that was possessive in a way that none of the others were. Primo simply was mine, no, ours.
The marks between Jean-Claude and I were wide open and had been when Primo attacked me. When he bit me, he wasn't just tasting me. Blood of my blood, wasn't just a pretty phrase. It was real. I understood in that moment that with the marks cranked open, to take blood oath to one was blood oath to both. I could control the dead, and Jean-Claude had power over any vampire that took blood oath, or that he'd made. Primo had been overwhelmed with a double whammy. Because in that instant, my blood had been Jean-Claude's, and his mine. I had a moment to wonder what all this might be doing to our reluctant Richard, but the thought didn't last. I had enough problems of my own without borrowing his.
I looked down at the big man at our feet and knew that Jean-Claude was utterly sure of him. Utterly certain that Primo's oath to us would hold him. It wasn't like reading minds. I just knew that Jean-Claude was no longer worried about Primo. He was confident of him. I wasn't.
I turned to look at Jean-Claude, to try to persuade him of just how dangerous Primo could still be, but of course, my being willing to turn away from Primo said that in my way I was certain of him, too. And that was wrong. He was like walking rage with a big muscular body to back it up. That wasn't safe. That could never be safe.
I think I would have turned back to Primo, but I was suddenly looking at Jean-Claude, and the world vanished. There was nothing but Jean-Claude. Black velvet had been made into a waist-length military jacket with silver buttons down the front and a high stiff collar to frame a white mound of cravat. A silver tie tack with a sapphire in its head pierced the white at his throat. The jacket fit the spread of his shoulders, emphasized his slender waist, and took the eye to the black leather pants that looked as if they'd been braided together on the sides, as if he hadn't so much slipped them on as been bound into them. The boots were only knee high, made of the same rich dark velvet as the coat. I was bespelled and I knew it, and I couldn't help but stare, but I left his face for last, because I knew in what was left of my self-control that if I looked into his face, I would truly be lost.
One slender hand came up to my lowered face. That hand surrounded by a spill of white lace. He touched my chin, the barest of touches, and began to raise my face upward. It was a delicate touch, I could have fought or stopped him, but I didn't want to. It had taken all of my willpower simply to avoid his face at first glance.
His black curls mingled with the velvet until it was hard to tell where one began and the other ended. His eyes were huge and beautiful, a color darker than the sapphire at his throat. His eyes were as dark as blue could be and did not hold a single shade of black. His face was a pale perfection like a painting almost finished. He was pale, and the fingers against my face were like ice. He was like some pale sculpture waiting for someone to breathe it to life, except for the dark glitter of those eyes. Those eyes held all the life in the world.
His voice was low and soft, like fur sliding across my skull. "Ma petite, let me in. Let me in. Do not leave me to the cold."
I actually opened my mouth to say, of course, but closed it. Once before when we'd been less bound than this, he'd taken energy from me without drawing blood. That had been because big bad vamps were in town and he needed to not look weak in front of them. And if they were to find out that his human servant didn't allow him to take blood, he would have looked weak indeed.
He needed to feed, desperately so. "Why?" I found my voice, hoarse and not at all like the smooth pull of his. "Why is your energy so low?"
"I have done what I could from a distance to make your day easier."
I reached up and laid my fingers against his cheek. "You've drained yourself for me."
"For your peace of mind," he whispered, and his voice trailed down my spine like a tiny drop of water trickling low and lower.
"You want to feed," I said.
He gave a small nod, moving his cold skin against the warmth of my fingers. In my head, he whispered, "If I am to maintain our control of Primo, I need to feed."
"You don't mean blood," I said.
"No," he raised his other hand to my bandaged cheek. "Are you hurt?"
"Not much," I said, and my voice was sounding almost like my own. I realized that he'd pulled back. He was letting me think. He didn't have to, but he knew me too well. If he didn't let me think now, I'd be mad later.
"You don't mean like you did when the council was in town, do you? You're asking something else."
His voice in my mind, "Something has happened with your binding of Damian and Nathaniel. More power is everywhere, but also more need. I have denied myself for a very long time, ma petite." His hands slid along the edge of my jawline, until they cradled my face, and his fingers were buried in the warmth of my hair. I heard him think that he was warming his hands against my hair. So cold, so empty, so needy. I'd never seen him like this, never.