Reach Out For The Sunrise Ch. 12bySadieRose©
"So, what do you think I should do? I mean, as nice as Aldo's been, I can't stay here forever and you've got a place, and a life to go back to..." He lifted one shoulder in a little shrug. "I've got enough money from the job I just did here to go back to San Francisco, but I don't think that's a good idea right now. I just haven't thought about where to go next."
Rayne mirrored his pose almost unconsciously, running his thumb slowly back and forth over the back of Xavier's hand as he studied the unprepossessing cream-painted ceiling as if looking for minute cracks.
"I still have a place in London," he said at last. "There's room for a guest... if you fancied seeing London, I mean? I've got to go back up to Manchester and sort some stuff out there but it's not far away. I'll be coming and going. I'll probably be under your feet all the time. But if you get sick of that, Dominic's got a house in Holland Park, just around the corner. I'm sure he'd be up for showing you the sights when I'm not about. If you wanted to, I mean?"
He glanced at Xavier anxiously now, aware that the younger man had been very quiet whilst he was rambling inanely on.
Xavier realized that was a pretty monumental step for Rayne. The invite was a way they could be together, without necessarily being tied down. And it made Xavier a whole lot happier than, say, if he'd told him to stay with PJ and he'd visit, maybe. With a smile blossoming over his face he rolled hungrily onto Rayne, coming up on hands and knees above him and kissing him like he was all the air he needed to breathe.
Nicolas lay on the bed staring up at the ceiling, hands resting peacefully on his flat stomach. He was not at peace though. His mind kept drifting to the adorable blond boy he had brought home just a couple of days ago and had to let go without even having tasted him. He could still smell the light scent of Xavier on the sheets, so faint a trace no human would have picked up on it. Nicolas could though, a warm clean scent, like almonds and sugar...and hot blood throbbing just beneath the surface.
He moaned and closed his eyes. An image of Xavier half undressed under him came to mind. So sweet, and so hot and eager, he had not been sure which he wanted more, to fuck him or bite him. And then he saw the marks and he could not do either. The temptation had been keen, and still was or he would not be brooding over him now. Maybe Xavier was right, and the lover that had marked him was gone for good. He had seemed so lonely; so desperate for intimacy; wanting to share his warmth and his beautiful body with Nicolas, even when he knew what the vampire was and that he would want to bite and feed as they made love.
That was why Nicolas kept thinking of him, he decided. That and those heartbreaking, clear blue eyes...and that very sexy little ass. The vampire abruptly opened his eyes and stood up. He had to stop this. Seeking that boy out was the very last thing he should do. It was asking for trouble. Xavier belonged to someone else, whether he thought so or not.
Nicolas knew that he should forget meeting him. Definitely he should not be thinking of going to the building where Xavier had been working. He chided himself sternly even as he headed out the door. He just wanted to check if Xavier was all right. That was it. Maybe see if the boy had been correct, and the marks on his neck had faded.
Nicolas returned to the photographer's flat and settled unseen on an escarpment under one of the tall windows, the same one he had used to spy on Xavier before. Instinctively Nicolas knew Xavier was gone, the warm, familiar feel of him was not there, but Marco, the photographer was not alone. Nicolas curled his lip in a little snarl when he recognised the man he had dragged off Xavier in the alleyway. He was arguing with Marco in heated Italian.
Ironically enough they were arguing over Xavier. Even with the windows closed Nicolas had no trouble picking up their conversation. The older man was trying to talk his hot-headed companion into giving up on the idea of driving out to Vico and the other was just as animatedly insisting that he and Xavier only had a misunderstanding that would be worked out if he talked to him.
"Leave it be Palo!" Marco hissed. "I don't know what happened between the two of you but I do know Xavier showed up here with bruises after being out with you. I told you before and I'm telling you now, stay away from him!"
"It was nothing! He just likes playing hard to get. And you are not my keeper Marco!" The argument ended abruptly then and Palo stormed out.
Nicolas had let the mortal live the other night because he generally had no taste for killing; even when someone obviously deserved it, like the arrogantly handsome rapist. Now as he watched the good-looking, dark-haired man storm down the pavement he regretted letting him go. Xavier had obviously not told Marco the truth of what had happened, and now Palo was apparently going to seek him out, and Xavier had no warning. Nicolas knew he could simply make sure Palo never arrived, but if he killed Palo then he still would not know where Xavier had gone. Palo clearly did, given the speed and purpose of his exit. Making a snap decision Nicolas followed the mortal discreetly.
Palo fumed verbally for most of the winding shoreline drive up to Vico Equense, but he managed to calm himself down sufficiently before approaching the gated driveway of Aldo's villa. He could not remember all of what had happened the other night when he took Xavier out. He knew he had got drunk and got rough with the kid. He didn't recall how he'd ended up lying in a dirty alley with his pants undone. Palo had a vague impression of pressing Xavier up against the grimy bricks and of the blond struggling. He was certain it had just been a game though. Maybe he had fucked him, but he wasn't even sure of that. What he was sure of was that he could not get the sexy blond model out of his head now.
Aldo buzzed him through into the courtyard and he parked up. Taking a deep breath to steady his nerves he knocked on the door and gave the older man his best winning smile when it opened, apologising profusely for not calling first. Aldo Bocaccio leaned casually in the doorway in casually donned slacks and an open shirt, still impossibly good-looking for a guy of his age, letting Palo do most of the talking.
"I won't stay long. I wanted to see if Xavier would go for a drive with me," Palo explained, feeling awkward with Aldo's dark, solemn eyes resting on him.
The older man surveyed Palo with a twitch of the lips that fell just short of a smile. Aldo could not fault the lad's enthusiasm but at the same time he was still trying to decide whether it would be better or not for Xav to see other men just now. A light had come back on behind his beautiful eyes since Rayne came back to Vico. And they had spent most of today down on the beach together. Even without Lord Warren's gift for seeing auras he could tell that they had probably spent a good deal of that time snuggling up on the blanket, making love to one another like it was going out of fashion.
"I think perhaps he's kind of busy right now, Palo," he said diplomatically.
Palo's expression flickered through a rapid series of emotions, settling on frustration and doubt.
"What did he tell you? Whatever it was, it was just a misunderstanding," he protested, in a repeat of the argument he'd had with Marco. "I just want a chance to straighten things out. Can I at least come in for a minute and talk to him?"
"I simply don't think he will thank you for interrupting right now. He's in his room and he not alone," Aldo said, rather more bluntly.
"Oh..." Palo looked crestfallen.
Aldo could see the wheels turning and that Palo was actually bloody-minded enough to considering sticking around until Xavier came out. He could only shake his head at that kind of determination. His inclination was to get Palo to leave, but he figured that maybe the only way he would get the message was if Xavier told him straight. So he invited Palo in to wait, which was humiliating enough in itself. Though the walls were not paper thin, there were few places within the villa where one could not hear the fierce, urgent cries and low, satisfied groans of ecstasy emanating from the room Xav shared with Rayne. Palo had a rather long and embarrassing wait, but Xavier eventually did come out of the bedroom, looking so happy and sated he floated more than walked into the kitchen where they had been waiting for him.
Xavier really was starved now, the pear he had eaten for lunch wasn't nearly enough. It was so hot he hadn't bothered to do more than wrap one of Aldo's sarongs around his waist but when he saw that Aldo had company he wished he'd put on a pair of jeans.
"What are you doing here?" Xavier demanded, glaring at Palo.
Palo stood up, his smile a little strained. "I wanted to apologise. I sent you flowers, but you didn't call."
"That should have been clue number one," Xavier hissed.
"Xavier, I'm sorry... How can I make it up to you? I was drunk and stupid, that's not really me."
"You should leave, Palo." Xav said coldly, not buying this line of bullshit.
Some of the pleading tone went out of Palo's voice as he began to lose patience. "Why are you being so stubborn? We got along good at Aldo's party..."
"I already told you, that was a mistake!" Xav cut him off sharply. "I'm not gonna make the same one again."
Palo's expression darkened and he came closer. "What, you think now that you got Marco's attention you can do better, huh?"
Xavier shook his head slightly. He had already had enough of this crap. "I really don't give a fuck what you think, Palo! But just so you got this real clear, I'm not going to see you, I'm not going to fuck you or your friends, and you're an asshole!"
Palo's handsome face flushed with barely suppressed rage and he moved aggressively toward Xavier. The blond boy stood his ground though. He even smiled cynically.
"Guess that apology meant a whole lot! What now? You gonna hit me again? Go on, I dare you! This time you don't get a whole fuckin' bar full of your buddies to back you up!"
Palo didn't hit him, perhaps sensing even through his anger that this would not be a wise move here. He sensed that others had come into the room now and were observing the argument. Instead he grabbed Xavier by the upper arms, shaking him rapidly.
"You are impossible! You play games, teasing like you want me, than walk out on me in front of everyone!" He hissed an ugly word in Italian and shoved Xavier vehemently.
Rayne's fangs automatically extended as he walked into the kitchen and observed the unexpected scene, and he moved towards the young model. He did not need to speak the language to understand what Palo just said to his mate. But Aldo was closer and their host did understand. His dark eyes narrowed as he seized hold of Palo's shoulder, spinning him around so hard that he almost lost his balance.
"I invited you into my house, as a guest," Aldo said coldly, in English so that his other companions would know what was said. "It is not an invitation that will be extended again. You have abused my hospitality, Palo. You're a nasty, evil, mother-fucking creep! I am not a violent man, but trust me, you will pay for treating my friend like this."
Palo had far too much arrogant pride to feel chastened. He shrugged out of Aldo's grip, although he did not do it easily. Still speaking in Italian he told Aldo his friend was worthless trash and he would make sure Xavier never worked with Marco DeCellio again.
By this time Xavier had recovered and pushed himself away from the edge of the counter top he had been shoved against. He didn't know what exactly what Palo said, but he'd heard Marco's name and he could guess. Bullies like that were all the same.
"You're a brainless fucktard, Palo!" Xav said, but with a cooler temper than a few moments ago. "I kept my mouth shut, you moron, because you are so low on my radar that you don't even rank with the shit I scrape off my shoes, but if you want to play stupid games I'll be more than happy to tell everyone what a loser you are. Starting with Marco! You think you will ever work for him again if I tell him what you did? You think anyone will put your face in a magazine once it gets around that you're a bully and a rapist?"
Aldo's head turned sharply. He had opened his mouth to give Palo another piece of his mind but that little snippet was so unexpected that he had to look Xavier in the eye just to confirm that he had heard it right. And as he let go of Palo, Rayne Wylde laid into the younger Italian. He was a good half a head shorter than Palo but it didn't deter him.
Neither did he waste words. One minute Palo was standing there glaring at Xavier and the next he was on his back, blood pouring from his nose. Rayne licked his knuckles and stared down at him, pale eyes on fire.
"You filthy Latin cunt! Give me one good reason why I shouldn't break your fucking neck?" he snarled softly at the groaning youth.
Xavier held Aldo's concerned gaze for only a moment before he dropped his eyes. He shouldn't have said anything. That look on Aldo's face was exactly why he hadn't said anything. He felt sick to his stomach now.
"My nose! Dio! You broke my nose!" Palo cried in a tone at least an octave higher than his usual voice and muffled by the hand he was holding over his face as the blood gushed between his fingers.
"You think I'm done there?" Rayne huffed incredulously, kicking Palo's legs apart to stand between them. "Clearly you're not that smart, arsehole! You're still here. In my book that means you probably want some more, yeah? Gagging for it, are you?"
He brought the heel of his foot down hard on Palo's kneecap. The sickening crunch of bone and sinew was only just drowned out by the younger man's scream of pain and shock. Rayne turned his head to look a silent question at Xavier then kicked him again in the back of the broken knee, making him shriek like a train whistle.
It was Aldo who pulled the vampire away, shaking his head. "No! That's enough!"
"Not your call, Aldo," Rayne exhaled, his voice trembling a little now. He looked at Xavier again, his expression indecipherable.
Xavier didn't say anything though, he wouldn't even look up. That look of sorrow and shame on his lovely face was more than enough of an answer for Rayne. He pulled free and laid into Palo furiously again. Xav finally spoke up before he could do more damage. It wasn't any pity for Palo that helped him find his voice, but a sense that he needed to protect Rayne. His vampire lover could kill Palo easily, accidentally even, and they did not need that kind of trouble.
"No Ray, let him go," Xav said softly.
The vampire uttered a small huff of incredulity that was almost his old self re-emerging from the shadows. He turned to look down at Palo with unspeakable disgust in his eyes.
"Get up and get out!" he snarled. "I'm doing this for him, not you. I won't give you another chance."
Palo had let go of his face to clutch his knee as he floundered on the tiled floor. There was no way he could get up, and even if he could he didn't think he could drive like this but those thoughts were only a distant fog. The pain and the fear were much more real as he tried to crawl away.
The commotion had drawn other members of the house toward the sound of fighting and there were sudden exclamations and demands to know what was happening from all sides at once.
"He's fuckin' crazy!" Palo yelled through hysterical sobs. His broken nose had produced an amazing amount of blood. It had run down his face and stained his shirt and smeared across the floor and wall where he had been struggling to rise.
It was PJ who took wordless pity on the young man and pulled him firmly but gently to his feet, though Palo was unable to lower his injured leg to the ground for the pain. Dominic pulled a handkerchief from the pocket of his shorts and overcame all of Palo's feeble resistance to press it lightly to the model's bleeding, ruined nose.
"Come on now, you're in a mess," the older man soothed as Aldo quietly muttered; "Marco will hear about this, and he will not be the only one. You will not work in this country again, Palo. I might not make movies any more but I know people here. I can end your career tonight with a word in the right ear."
PJ blinked at his handsome former star, perplexed by this tirade though he guessed that it must be something pretty serious just from Palo's condition. His friends were generally impulsive but not naturally vicious.
Xavier's stomach was still turning and he could feel the bile trying to crawl up the back of his throat. He swallowed quickly, refusing to look at anyone or say anything. Palo was sputtering indignantly at Aldo's words, but he was also trying to make his way toward the door.
"It's my word against his!" he raged, impotently. "You're the one that will pay for this!" Palo threatened, puffing up again now that he'd regained his feet, or at least one of them.
"Not his word alone." A voice with a soft, clear French accent interrupted his tirade. The unfamiliar voice drifted in through the open patio doors that looked out over the twilit terrace and all heads turned in that direction at once. A young man with dark, tousled chestnut hair and even darker eyes was standing almost hesitantly just outside the doorway in the glow of the security lights. Rayne hissed through his teeth, his fangs still extended and Dominic's moss-green eyes widened, instantly recognising the newcomer as a vampire from his strange, colourless aura. Xavier, of course, already knew Nicolas well but the surprise of seeing him here on Aldo's terrace left him lost for words.
"Bright Lady!" Dominic breathed, drawing a curious look from young vampire before his attention returned to Palo.
"I would be 'appy to tell the polizia about seeing you fight with Xavier, and push him down that alley, and what you did to him there. He did not want your attentions, Palo, and no one observing your actions and his would have believed otherwise," the timid French vampire continued. He spoke calmly and appeared to be talking directly to Palo, but in reality he was extremely nervous and his eyes were actually fixed on Rayne Wylde. It was never good to come into another vampire's territory, especially unannounced and uninvited, but he could not let this Italian cretin get away with maligning Xavier or hurting him again. Although the young man's friends seemed to have the latter covered.
Rayne stopped in his tracks, bristling like a little black tomcat at the shivers of recognition coming up through every pore as he glared at the strange vampire. A defensive snarl crackled through his extended fangs, even though the logic modules in his brain were telling him that the stranger was actually speaking up for Xavier. Somehow he had defended Xav from Palo before. Aldo put a hand on his shoulder and kept it there, a warm, human, steadying presence that calmed him and helped him to focus again.
"Palo is just leaving," Aldo said softly, but in a tone that even their protesting visitor did not seek to argue with. "My driver will take you to the hospital, Palo. Once they have checked you over I suggest that you think long and hard about what you've done. If the police come here looking for any of us in retaliation for this afternoon, I will kill you myself. Do you understand?"
Even Palo was not so stupid he couldn't see his defeat. His reputation would be in tatters if the accusations were made public. He left as quickly as he could manage, with his tail between his legs and no intention at all of drawing the police into things. Xavier did not look at him once and only lifted his head after Palo had gone. The tension in the room was still thick enough to cut into slices and all eyes now seemed to rest with varying degrees of curiosity or (in Rayne's case) open hostility, on the young man still lingering just outside the doorway.