Title: Interlude: A Little Clarification
Author: Gil Grissom
Series: Shifting Tides Season One
Summary: Knowing other members of his Clan are going to end up converging on L.A., and also knowing that eventually he’s going to have to inflict the rest of his Clan on Brian, he decides to explain the sexual habits of some of his rather unconventional Clan members before they inevitably hit on him.
Author’s Note: This is set within Shifting Tides, season one. It’s a scene that I thought would be entertaining to write, but doesn’t fit within the actual episodes and plot. Takes place at some point after episode 3 or 4, but you don’t have to wait for those to read this.
Dom watched fondly as Brian roamed around the beach house living room, studying the framed photographs of various pack members. He’d thought it would do both of them good to have a night away from the controlled chaos the entire situation with Tran had created, and so brought him to the beach house so he could relax without a ton of people breathing down his neck.
It had the added benefit of allowing them to have a talk about some members of his Clan and their almost freakishly open – for Vampires with actual Mates – sexual practices they tended to indulge in. A necessary talk, since Brian had been asking rather pointed and detailed questions about it, after bouts of clear noodling over everything he’d learned.
Han and Adam had both convinced him that it would probably be best to give him all the information, because honestly, his Clan wasn’t exactly the shyest one around, especially when it came to where they went at it, some more than others.
Daniel and David came to mind immediately, and Dom rolled his eyes so hard at his own thoughts he was certain he saw brain matter. Those two had no sense of decorum whatsoever, so much so that Dom was of the opinion they should just set up a theater in town, charge admission, and perform for a packed house.
Not that he would tell them that, because they would most likely give it far more serious consideration than the sarcastic suggestion would warrant.
“Are these all Clan members?” Brian finally asked, not having said much once they got here since he was too busy being nosy.
“Yes,” Dom confirmed, standing and crossing the room to pull out a thick scrapbook album. He sat back down on the sofa and patted the seat next to him. “This is better for showing you our different pack members. Alma’s a not-so-closeted scrapbooker, so all the Clan homes have scrapbooks she’s made in them. She’ll also stalk you with a camera once she finds out about you, so be prepared.”
“She and my mother can never meet,” Brian said with a laugh as he sank down next to Dom, so close their sides were flush against each other. “My mother is a photo-taking fiend. I swear from birth to eighteen, I had every moment, no matter how minor or eventful, how proud or embarrassing, captured on film. She has an entire bookcase full of photo albums, plus boxes and boxes of duplicates in one of the closets.”
Dom grinned and then snorted when Brian pointed his finger at him and said, “No.”
“Oh, come on, Brian. You can’t tell me that and then expect that I’m not going to hit her up for all your childhood photos,” he protested as he slid the scrapbook so it rested over both their laps, and he opened it. “And I can tell you even if you manage to keep me from it, Han is just going to charm his way into your mom’s good graces while I keep you distracted.”
Brian blew out a dramatic, put upon sigh. “I can see I have no allies in this. Fine. But I still maintain Mom and Alma cannot meet, because so far Mom hasn’t discovered the wonderful world of scrapbooking. I’d like to keep it that way for my dad’s sanity.”
Dom laughed. “Well, your mom won’t hear anything about it from me. But do you think that you’ll be able to keep your parents away from the Clan, if you decide that being part of this is something you want.”
An eyebrow raise was his response to that. “I’m your Mate, am I not? I think it’s required that I be part of it what with the whole Mates thing.”
Dom blew out a breath, though he had to admit to himself that it was something of a relief that Brian’s comment was a positive one. “Not necessarily. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out for a variety of reasons.” He opened the book and flipped through a few pages until he found Gabriele’s pages.
“This is Gabriele Demarco. He’s the clan’s Doctor. He’s older than dirt, Turned sometime in the early-ish 1600s. I don’t remember the exact year. Back then gay people obviously existed, but it wasn’t exactly accepted by the majority because of religious and cultural beliefs. A decade or so after he was Turned, he found his Mate in a young man, who he fell into a relationship with. The guy had issues with the gay thing though it didn’t stop him being with Gabe, but when he became ill and Gabe revealed that he was a Vampire and that the guy was his Mate, and offered to Turn him, the guy freaked out, thought he was some kind of demon. He recanted his ‘evil ways’ and elected to die rather than stay with Gabe.”
“That’s really sad,” Brian murmured as he brushed his fingers over the bigger portrait of Gabe.
“He’s over it, as much as any Vampire can be over something like that. He moved on and has always been a bit of a man-whore. His most steady relationship has been his on-again off-again thing with Domenico Rossi, his Sire and Sylum’s Psychiatrist.”
Brian smirked and raised an eyebrow. “You tapped that?”
Snorting, Dom looked at him. “What do you think?”
“That in your shoes I would have climbed him like a tree first chance I got if given the option,” Brian said and laughed. “He’s gorgeous.”
“He is and he knows it, but he’s not arrogant about it. And he’s sarcastic and sweet and soothing to be around. Very calm and steady. Flirtatious. Generous of his time and his money if need be. He’s got a great bedside manner and children adore him. That guy was an idiot to let him go.”
Dom flipped to Joaquin’s page. “This is José Joaquin Fernandez de Lizardi. We call him Joaquin because there’s a few Josés in the Clan. He’s another case of having a Mate out there but choosing not to Bond with them, on both their sides this time.”
“I’m guessing it’s not the same case as with Gabe?” Brian asked.
Dom shook his head and snorted. “His Mate is Santa Anna.”
Brian’s head tilted. “As in, Mexican President, Mexican General who wiped out everyone in the Alamo? That Santa Anna?”
“Yes. He’s also the one that caused David’s Turning, when he mortally injured him to poke at his Sire, who had been in town at the time. Plus what with Sam Houston and David being in the Clan itself…
“He’s not a good man, but he could be a hell of a lot worse. He’s done a lot of crap in his life, and honestly, I don’t think he wants to make things difficult for Joaquin or taint him with who he’s been in his centuries of life. I’m also pretty sure at this point even he doesn’t like who he was.”
“So Santa Anna isn’t a Clan member, but clearly he’s a Vampire since you talk about him in the present tense.”
Dom nodded. “He is. Technically he’s an Enemy, though he’s not a Hunted one. He’s actually calmed a lot since he discovered Joaquin was his Mate and part of Border. His chaos is usually very calculated and staged, because he tends to spy on any Enemies who might be causing us, and in turn Joaquin, trouble. He has a home in town and Joaquin acts as our go-between.”
“And it doesn’t bother the others that he’s near?” Brian asked.
“Meaning David and Sam? Not really. Sam doesn’t generally hold it against him so much anymore now that time has gone by. He’s of the opinion that war is war and horrible shit happens and people do horrible things on both sides. He says he’s got more important things to do than worry about asshole behavior that lots of people indulged in at that time. With David, he’s more of an irritant than anything else. His interaction was a little more personal, since he facilitated his Turning by trying to kill him.”
“Yeah, I can see how that might put a wrench in any kind of favorable friendship,” Brian said, shaking his head. “So they’re not Mated.”
“No, but they tend to torture themselves by orbiting around one another when the urge gets to be too much. We let them do what they’re going to do, since it doesn’t seem like he’s going to hurt Joaquin.”
“What do you think is going to happen?”
“I think eventually Antonio is going to either step in front of a sword to protect Joaquin or he’s going to go to the Council and request a dusting so he can return as someone who might not horrify his Mate and himself, and we’ll have to hold Joaquin together until he comes back.”
“Man, that’s tough. Who would have thought Mating could be so complicated?” Brian murmured.
“It’s rarely simple or easy. You might get that if you’re dealing with two Vampires who have been around awhile or maybe a Vampire and a human in the know. I mean, Adam and Nathan went pretty smoothly, if you ignore the fact that Adam operated on Nathan’s potentially fatal gunshot wound.”
Brian laughed. “Oh, man, that’s right. I forgot Nathan said they’d met when he was in the hospital.” Then he frowned. “Yeah, I can see why someone might be overwhelmed. I mean, it was a lot of information to take in, and having your entire worldview rearranged is kind of disconcerting.”
Dom snorted. “Well, let’s tilt your worldview a little more.” Dom flipped to the portrait of Daniel and David. “Let’s talk Mates.”
“I know that Vampires are supposed to have a Mate out there, or possibly two, and that they can find them quickly, or it could take hundreds or thousands of years. Bonding ties Mates together, and when one dies, the other one does,” Brian said, summarizing what he’d learned previously.
“Pretty much, yeah,” Dom said. “Mating itself is pretty much straightforward. Find Mate. Bond or don’t Bond. If you Bond, your lives are pretty much attached to the other. With triads, it’s a bit different because there are three, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment because we don’t have one in the Clan.”
He cleared his throat. “Being Mated doesn’t automatically equate being with only that person for the rest of your life, nor does it preclude inviting someone else into your bed. Not to say that there aren’t those who are strictly exclusive with their Mates, because there are, but Vampires live a very, very long time.”
Brian nodded. “I think I get it. Centuries together can make for a rut and wanting more than what you have.”
“Yeah. It’s not that Mates really stop loving or wanting to be with one another, but sometimes they want to part ways for awhile and explore the world and possibly other relationships, or even expand their horizons together.”
He tapped the photo of Daniel and David. “Or, they can be like these two from the get go. They’ve always had a tendency to invite people into their bedroom for a variety of reasons.”
Brian raised an eyebrow and smirked, clearly amused. “And what kinds of reasons are those? And did you partake in their offerings?”
Chuckling, Dom nodded. “They’re exhibitionists. Honestly, as long as there aren’t a bunch of kids running around, which there usually aren’t unless we’re having a party, they’ll pretty much go at it whenever, wherever. And they don’t care who sees them. They do like to be watched, and they frequently sleep with someone else either together or individually.
“And yes, both Han and I ‘partake in their offerings’. They’ve had a lot of sex and are very good at it. Plus they indulge in certain tastes that can make watching or participating a lot of fun.”
“Let’s save that story for another time, because I’d like to be able to look them in the eye without turning beet red, and I’ll have a hard enough time with that as it is, considering they’re kind of like living legends,” Brian said, shaking his head.
Dom laughed and turned the page. “Then there are these four.” He pointed to each. “Ezra Standish, Vin Tanner, Chris Larabee, and Buck Wilmington. Ez and Buck are Mated to one another, and Vin and Chris are Mates as well. However, these four are in some kind of four-way relationship that means if you walk in on them at any given moment, you’re as likely to find Ezra in Chris’ bed than Vin.”
“So musical beds rather than chairs,” Brian replied, smiling at him when he snorted.
“Exactly. Then there’s the added bonus of ‘who else is sleeping in our beds’. They’re pickier than Daniel and David are, but once they’re interested, they tend to stay that way. There are several Clan members that can be randomly found in their bedrooms when they’re at the ranch.”
He grinned wickedly. “Poor Vince made the mistake of listening to Josiah when he told him to go and wake up Buck because he needed to talk with him. I think he was about eighteen at the time. He walked in on basically an orgy. All four of them, Daniel and David, and James McCandles and Jason Doyle. I don’t remember what Vince did… Probably said something really smart-assed to Josiah or Chavez. He has terminal foot-in-mouth syndrome.”
“Just a little.”
Shaking his head, Dom continued. “Anyway, he was dumb enough to walk into that room without thinking it through. The scream could be heard through the entire house, and it’s not exactly tiny. Han heard him way out in the garage where he’d been working. Vince bitched and moaned for a week about being scarred for life.”
“He doesn’t strike me as having issues with same sex couples,” Brian said, his brow furrowing.
“Oh, he doesn’t. He does have issue with seeing the people he looked to as uncles while growing up engaged in explicit sexual acts.” He smirked. “It’d be like you walking in on your parents.”
“Ew,” Brian said, slumping down. “I know in theory my parents have sex. But I really don’t want to see that.”
“Neither does he. He sulked at Josiah for two weeks. Josiah just kept smirking at him.”
Brian laughed. “Okay, so why are you telling me all of this, out of curiosity?”
Dom sighed. “Because at the very least, Daniel and David will be converging on this area, and probably a couple of others. You’re gorgeous yourself, and flirty, and you respond well to us. Not to mention you’ve taken the whole Vampire thing a lot smoother than some do. Plus there’s every chance you’ll walk into the living room here and find them naked on the couch and David’s dick up Daniel’s ass.
“I wanted to prepare you because we do have some unconventional relationships in our Clan. You’re as likely to catch Alma and Mia together as you would Alma with her husband and his Mate. Daniel and David spread it far and wide. Give James indication that you might be interested and he’ll be more than happy to have you sit on his face. Adam and Han thought it would probably be better to make you aware before you end up with some sort of culture shock. Especially when one of them hits on you, because flirting is like breathing for them, especially when presented with someone like you.”
“Okay, I can understand the head’s up,” Brian replied, rubbing his forehead. “I mean, I’ve had sex, but I’ve never really been with a guy other than things like hand jobs and making out a little. I’ve not had a serious relationship because I put school and career ahead of that. It would be a little surprising just to walk in without knowing what I might be able to expect.”
He shrugged. “I did know a few people in college that were in more unconventional relationships, so I think I’ll be okay.” Brian grinned and poked him in the side. “Thanks for thinking about my delicate sensibilities though.”
Dom laughed and poked him back. “I just didn’t want to see you running and screaming into the night after leaving a Brian-shaped hole in the nearest wall. Repairs can be a real bitch.”
Snickering, Brian closed the scrapbook, tossed it on the coffee table, and straddled Dom’s lap. “So, now that I’m all caught up with the knowledge that your Clan is full of a delightful number of perves, you wanna make out? Because we can do that now that I know your big secret and I’m not stepping on Han’s toes.”
Dom slid his hands up Brian’s thighs and rested them on his hips. “Han would be more than happy to make out with you too.”
“Sharing is caring,” Brian said with a grin and leaned down for
Title: Sylum Excerpt – Libera Nos A Malo
Author: Gil Grissom
Summary: A new person comes to Salina Cruz.
Lucas tilted his head back and smiled at Spike when he bit his forehead lightly, the weirdo. “What’s up?”
“That Winthrop bloke is supposed to be coming in today, isn’t he? Do Jack and I need to pick him up still?”
Nodding, Lucas looked at his phone. “Stefan’s scheduled to land in about three hours at the airport in Salina Cruz. He decided on a commercial flight because he plans on hiding out here for a couple of weeks.” He smirked up at Spike. “Apparently the people who work for him are driving him insane, so he left his asshole junior partner-slash-brother in charge to sink or swim on his own with the whiners and is taking a much needed vacation. Surfing is definitely on his agenda.”
“Ogling is definitely on mine, then,” Spike said, wagging his eyebrows. “He’s pretty.”
“He is,” Lucas replied. “I think he’s really looking forward to hanging out here. His family has been Chosen for Bruce for a while, but I don’t think he’s ever been able to just really hang out with a big group of Vampires before.”
“Well, the lot here will definitely be a novel experience.” Spike flopped down into a chair and let his head flop back so he could stare up at the ceiling. “I’d say tell everyone to be on their best behavior, but we all know that’s never going to happen.”
“Plus we don’t want to be accused of false advertisement,” Lucas said and laughed. “May as well let him get the shock over with all at once.”
Spike grinned at him. “Yes, he’s the epitome of class and grace and he’s so very proper. Brought up to be a right proper gentleman.”
“While Border’s motto starts with the words ‘hold my beer’,” Lucas replied and then shrugged. “If he doesn’t run screaming after a couple of days, he just might be worth keeping around for more than his investment.”
“We’ll find out soon enough.”
Lucas smiled brilliantly as Spike and Jack strode through the door and into the visitor’s area of his laboratory, Stefan on their heels, eying everything curiously as he hadn’t even seen photographs of Lucas’ labs as of yet, in spite of the fact they’d been consulting back and forth for a couple of years. “Welcome to the madhouse.”
Jack snorted. “We skipped the madhouse. We saw no reason to inflict the main house on him without you there to run interference.”
“I just couldn’t be bothered to keep anyone from trying to lure him into their own private lairs for their own nefarious purposes,” Spike told him as he slid bonelessly onto the sofa.
“Probably for the best then,” Lucas said with a laugh, and he motioned to the chair next to his. “How was the flight?”
“Aside from the offers of joining the Mile High Club from two flight attendants who didn’t know how to take ‘no’ for an answer, fine.” Stefan rolled his eyes.
“The trials and the tribulations of the rich and pretty,” Jack lamented, grinning when Stefan leveled a glare in his direction. “Hate to break it to you, but even you in jeans and a t-shirt screams old money as odd as that seems. The way you carry yourself speaks of good breeding and a rich boy’s upbringing. An unfortunate side effect is having to deal with assholes with dollar signs in their eyes and an overwhelming need to take a ride on your dick. You’ll just have to learn to deal with it.”
“He’s the one we go to when we’re looking for compassion and understanding,” Lucas said dryly.
Stefan laughed softly. “It simply caught me unaware, because I usually take my private plane wherever I go. If my attendants have an urge to take a ride on my dick, they keep it close to the vest.”
Lucas snorted and stood. “Come on. Let me show you what I’m working on right now.”
“Hah! Take that, bitch!” Vince yelled as Jesse’s half of the screen went red.
Jesse rolled his eyes and tossed the controller on the floor in front of him and stretched out his legs. “You take games way too seriously, dude.”
“That’s because he has so little in his life,” Brian murmured from behind the paperwork he was reading on the sofa.
“Bite me,” Vince sing-songed as he stood up. “Don’t hate on me because you suck at this.”
Brian blew him a kiss and Vince rolled his eyes and flipped him off as he walked out of the room.
While Vince knew Brian was just teasing him because sass and good-natured mockery was the baseline of their relationship, he also had to admit that Brian had a point. He didn’t have a lot going for him at this point.
He wandered into the empty kitchen and opened the drink fridge. He grabbed a soda and used the bottle opener bolted to the wall to pop the lid. Walking over to the table in the breakfast nook, he sat down and looked out the window.
The problem was, he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. He loved racing and working on cars, but he really didn’t want it to be the be all and end all of his life, even if he potentially had centuries or millennia. And if he learned any lesson from Leon, and from Lucas’ devastation at losing Maturin and Aubrey, it was that there was no guarantee of life whether Human or Vampire.
“You look like you’re thinking thinky thoughts,” Jim said as he slid in the seat across from him.
“My thoughts are pretty thinky,” Vince murmured as he ran his finger over the lip of his bottle.
“If you need a sounding board, I’m not doing anything right now. Jonathan is off bothering Han and Dom in the garage and Lucas is playing with his new friend,” Jim told him, grinning when Vince snorted.
Vince sighed. “I just…I don’t know what I want to do. Dom Turned me, which awesome and it was what I wanted, but…”
“Now you have many, many years ahead of you and don’t want to do the same old thing every single day.”
“Considering my days consist of getting grease under my nails, playing video games, or staring at the ceiling in boredom, I really, really don’t,” Vince replied and laughed a little. “And let’s face it. There’s no guarantee of a long ass life. You know that as well as anyone.”
Jim winced and nodded. “That’s very true.”
“Yeah, and I’d kind of like to make my mark on the world. I don’t want to just be some sort of afterthought or a footnote in the Clan’s history. I’d like to do something that matters. Maybe not to the world at large, but at least to our little corner of it.”
Jim hummed. “But you have no idea what.”
Sighing, Vince finished his soda and then dropped his head to the table with a loud thunk. “I don’t even know how to go about figuring out what I want.”
“The same way anyone else does,” Jim said, walking over to the fridge and pulling out two more sodas. “Read. Research. Try out different things. Find out what interests you and if it’s something you want to pursue. Go to school, or take independent courses. If it’s a craft or trade, find someone to do some kind of apprenticeship with. Travel for your studies. You don’t have to stay in one place.”
Jim sat down and slid one bottle his way, this one apple flavored. “You don’t have to find the meaning of life in one day. Have fun figuring it out, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t stress over it, because no one else is going to judge you for it. Well, maybe Brian, but you two judge each other over your choice in hair products.”
Vince laughed. “Okay, point. It’s just overwhelming thinking about it. Maybe I’ll take a trip up to Los Angeles and do some browsing through the bookstores. Do some exploring and expand my horizons or some shit.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Jim said.
“Can you take these to the sideboard, Vince?” Missouri asked him as she held out two big baskets of rolls.
“Sure,” he said, smiling at her as he took them and wound his way through those putting the finishing touches on different dishes. “There room for these?” he asked Brian, who was adding silverware to each table setting.
“That end over there,” Brian said, motioning to the sideboard against the shorter wall on the far end of the room.
“You met the new guy yet?” Vince asked him.
“Nope. Lucas has had him holed up in the labs all day. I had to send Jonathan and Jim down there to drag them out and remind Lucas that the dude’s actually a human and needs to eat.”
“He wouldn’t remember he needs to eat until he was halfway to being a shriveled prune-looking thing if we didn’t shove blood at him now and then,” Vince pointed out as he set the rolls down.
“He’s kind of high maintenance, isn’t he?” Brian asked with a laugh.
Vince threw his arms open wide. “Just a little. But he wouldn’t be him if he wasn’t.”
The others began filing in and placing the other dishes in their proper places, so Vince got out of the way and headed toward the living room to wait until they were ready. There he found Lucas and another man sitting and speaking quietly.
“Vince! I’d like you to meet Stefan Winthrop. Stefan, this is Vince Matthews,” Lucas introduced.
The other man, Stefan, looked up at him and smiled, and all he could think was ‘wow’. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Vince.”
“You too,” Vince said after clearing his throat, feeling a bit off-kilter but pushing it aside and smiling back. “Dinner should be ready soon. Unlike this one, the rest of us will remember to feed you.”
“He’s not a pet,” Lucas groused.
“You’re just offended because you know it’s true.” He smirked at Lucas when Stefan laughed.
Lucas sighed. “I have no idea why I like any of you people.”
“Because we’re just that awesome,” Daniel said from behind Vince. “Time to strap our feed bags on.”
“That’s Daniel Boone,” Lucas said as he heard Daniel jog back down the hallway. “We don’t find him funny at all.”
“Kinky, yes. Funny, not so much,” Vince muttered as he turned and the three headed down the hall. He frowned inwardly at the little jolt he felt when Stefan brushed against him as they walked. It wasn’t physical, but it seemed weird, like nothing he’d experienced before.
A large crowd – not everyone who was currently housed in Salina Cruz by any means, but still sizeable – milled about in a sense of controlled chaos, and Vince leaned back against the wall next to the entryway while Lucas whistled sharply, gaining everyone’s attention.
“This is Stefan Winthrop. Introduce yourselves as you go along, because there’s too damned many of you. Please, for the love my little black heart, don’t break him. Mentally or physically.”
“Your faith in us is overwhelming,” Josiah called out.
“Only because I know you so well,” Lucas retorted.
“You know, you could always get Spike, Jack, and your Mates together and form a little Vampiric wall around him,” David replied. “At least until we find enough bubble wrap to roll him up in and shove him in a closet.”
Vince snorted and leaned toward Stefan. “David Crockett. Mate to Boone. He’s not funny either.”
Stefan laughed and placed a hand on Lucas’ shoulder gently, a sure sign he knew well Lucas’ tendency to react badly to unexpected touch. “It’s all right, Lucas. If Bruce hasn’t sent me running by now, I doubt anyone here can manage it. Believe me, Bruce has spent a lot of quality time trying to send me to the nearest mental institution. It’s something of a hobby for him.”
Lucas sighed and slumped a little. “Okay, fine. Don’t get me wrong. I love all these assholes. It’s just they’re as bad as my Clan, and you wouldn’t think that would be possible.”
Vince rolled his eyes as half the people in the room preened at that. He was surrounded by weirdos. “Not that staring at Stefan is a hardship, because he’s hardly a sideshow freak, but food? Might be nice for it not to be ice cold before the one person here that actually needs it can get to it.”
He ignored the fact that a few people were looking at him oddly and grinned when he heard an all too familiar exasperated sigh.
“Honestly, one would think that all of you were born and raised in a barn,” Missouri said, shooing people out of the way. She smiled up at Stefan. “I’m Missouri. You need anything, you just come find me.”
Stefan’s warm smile toward Missouri had Vince’s stomach doing a little flip. “I’ll keep that in mind. I’ve already been forewarned that Lucas has a tendency to forget to eat.”
Missouri sighed and guided Stefan toward the stack of plates. “That boy.”
Vince smiled gleefully at Lucas’ offended ‘hey!’ and followed along with a shake of his head. He jumped a little when Dom nudged him.
“You okay?” Dom murmured.
Frowning, Vince picked up a plate. “Yeah, why?”
“Your face is doing weird things.”
Vince threw him a flat glare. “And your face is just weird. I’m fine.”
Dom’s eyebrows rose as he stared. “Uh-huh. Sure.”
“I don’t have a problem. But I think you might need more therapy,” Vince said, rolling his eyes when Dom narrowed his at him.
He ignored the rest of the sidelong glances he kept getting. Being around people he’d known since he was practically in diapers came with the problem of them knowing him so well that when something threw him off even the slightest bit – like having a man around who was attractive and didn’t make him queasy thinking about his relative hotness factor – they knew instantly. And he wasn’t about to have the ‘his smile makes me fluttery’ conversation with the guy right there. Hell, he wasn’t sure he wanted to have it if Stefan flew off to China. He was surrounded by assholes. He was one himself. That didn’t make for good talks about feelings.
After picking and choosing his favorites out of everything, he took a seat across the table and two seats down from Stefan, which actually happened to be his usual spot, and proceeded to ignore the conversation around him.
Or at least he pretended to. He couldn’t quite make himself ignore Stefan when he spoke, and in spite of the fact he knew he was doing it, he froze slightly every time he heard his voice. And he knew damn well Dom and Han at the very least had noticed, since they were on either side of him.
He did his best to slip out unnoticed in the chaos that was the end of dinner, but just as he managed to get out the back door and his house in sight, arms hooked around his own and he was lifted and hauled into the living room of said house.
He glared at Dom and Daniel, the two culprits, as he flopped onto the sofa. “What the fuck is your problem?”
“You’re acting weird,” Han said as he, David, and Brian made themselves at home. “We were concerned.”
“I didn’t realize acting weird was a crime in this Clan. We’d all have to turn ourselves in if that were the case,” Vince said, dropping his head back and staring up at the ceiling.
“Stop deflecting,” Daniel said, nudging him with his foot from where he was sprawled on the floor. “Fess up. What’s going on?”
“Nothing, really. Just find the new guy attractive. It’s no big deal.”
David snorted. “We’ve seen you when you think a guy is attractive. You don’t ignore them. You flirt. And you don’t practically hang on his every word while pretending he doesn’t really exist. Try again.”
Sometimes having family sucked. “I don’t know. It’s nothing big. I just felt this little tug toward him, and I felt a little offside around him. In case you didn’t notice, he’s kind of beautiful. I just kept focusing in on him whenever he spoke, and it’s not like I could keep myself from doing it, even when I knew you nosy assholes were watching.”
No one said anything for at least a full minute, and curiosity got the best of him. Vince lifted his head and looked around to see each and every one of them looking away from him and trying not to smile. “What’s wrong with you jackasses?”
“With the exception of Han, I believe that all of us have become well acquainted with that feeling at one point,” Dom told him, clapping him on the knee. Then he grinned. “Stefan Winthrop is your Mate.”