Silas opened the doors to Byron’s library and gasped in pleasure. Most of the walls had shelving that went from the floor to the ceiling and every bit of space was filled with books.
Since Silas craved knowledge more than food, he was powerless to resist the temptation they presented. He walked inside the room, his breath hitching as he continued to gaze at the books. So much information. So many things for him to learn. The thought of being surrounded by all that made him a bit lightheaded with excitement. His fingers even trembled a bit as he reached up and lovingly caressed the leather spines.
It had been so long since he’d been able to so much as hold a book, let alone have the pleasure of being able to get lost in one. He’d once had a collection of his own, albeit much smaller. That still hadn’t meant he hadn’t treasured it. Then, during one of his family’s many financial difficulties, he’d been forced to sell every last book he’d owned.
It had been devastating at the time, and even as he thought back to it, he felt an ache in his chest. However, it was a sacrifice he would do again. For while, he could easily put up with hunger, in order to help his mother who had been sick and in desperate need of nourishment.
“I knew you would eventually find your way here,” Byron said as he walked into the room.
As always, just the sight of the other man set Silas’s body on fire. He quickly looked away, knowing he had no right to his feelings. Someday soon, Byron would no doubt marry some rich girl and breed a ton of children. He certainly wouldn’t even deign to give Silas a passing thought.
“It’s a very nice collection,” Silas replied as he deliberately shifted his gaze to the shelf in front of him. “Did it come with the dwelling? I certainly don’t remember you ever being this fond of literature before.”
“I liked it just fine, so long as you were reading it aloud to me.”
“Why? Is it too taxing for you to read for yourself?”
“No, I just liked the sound of your voice. In fact, that is just one of the many things I missed about you.”
Silas’s chest soared with hope, before he gave an internal shake of his head, there wasn’t any way that Bryon could have meant that in a romantic way. He’d just probably yearned for something familiar from his childhood. Forcing a smile on his face, Silas turned and faced Bryon. “I’m surprised you even remember anything about me.”
Byron reached over and smoothed a wrinkle out of Silas’s shirt. The fabric felt thick and smooth against Silas’s skin. It, like the rest of his wardrobe, was borrowed from Byron. Since Silas had run with only the clothes on his back, he hadn’t had anything to change into after he’d bathed. So, it was either take Byron’s charity or run around in the nude.
As he ran a self-conscious hand over his trousers, Silas doubted he’d ever worn anything so fine in his life. Yet this was normal every day clothing for Byron. It was just one more reminder how different their lives were.
“I don’t think I could ever forget anything about you,” Byron replied in a serious voice.
“Come on, now. It’s been months.”
Byron reached out again, but this time it was so he could run the back of his knuckles over Silas’s cheek. Silas froze, desire coiling through his body. He couldn’t even breathe as he gazed up at his friend.
How was it that even after so little sleep, Byron could still be so handsome? He had his blond hair styled almost perfectly, save for one lock that stood up a bit at the back. Silas smiled as he recalled how that same bit of hair had always stood on end when they were small children. It would seem that maybe not all things had changed.
Byron’s blue eyes were the same, too. Maybe because he’d yet to see how cruel the world could be, or perhaps it was just that Byron was innocent. Whatever reason, he didn’t have a haunted or jaded expression that seemed to plague so many others.
Mouth dry, Silas noted that not everything had remained the same with Byron. Once gangly and short, Byron had filled out in all the right places. The outline of his muscles were clearly visible under his clothing and even though Silas knew it was wrong, he wanted to touch every inch of that body.
Damn! He needed to gather himself together before he embarrassed both of them. Nervously clearing his throat, Silas took a few steps back and then let out a weak chuckle.
“Are the rumors true?” he asked, cringing when his voice trembled.
Bryon cocked a brow. “I suppose that would depend on what rumor you are referring to.”
“That you inherited this home from your uncle?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
Always needing to find the logic in situations, Silas pressed on, “Why would he do that? He left for America before you were even born.”
A bitter smile crept over Byron’s face. “I suspect it was for the same reason he also left me his half of the family business. He hated my father and knew that it would be a perfect way to get revenge on him.”
As much as it pained Silas to admit it, there was a ring of truth to those words. Bryon’s father could only be described as a rot bastard and he’d done nothing but make his son’s life miserable. While Silas may have grown up poor, hungry and cold, he fully realized that he’d really been the lucky one.
“You father must have been furious.”
Silas turned and walked over to another wall of books. He fingered some spines, really not bothering to read any of the titles. He waited for Byron to come up with one of his usual witty remarks. Then they could both laugh and things would be back to normal.
How badly did Silas want that, too. He would give anything to go back to the time where his parents were safe. Back to when he…. No, he couldn’t allow himself to even wish for such fanciful desires. What was done was done and nothing could change them.
He brought his hand up to his chest. Almost as if he could feel the thing that now lurked inside him. He could sense it give off a silent growl of disapproval as it surged forward. Silas took a few deep breaths as he willed himself to fight it.
So far he’d been successful in keeping it at bay. While he’d never met it face-to-face so to speak, Silas knew it would be dangerous should it ever get loose. The prospect terrified him more than anything, especially since he felt certain when it happened he would lose his humanity.
He grimly realized it would only be a matter of time before the evil thing won out. Ever since Silas had been infected, he’d felt it growing stronger. He feared that one day soon he would wake up to find the darkness ruling his body and soul. Then there would be no hope left for him or his parents.
He was so lost in his turmoil that he hadn’t realized that Byron was approaching until the other man came up from behind and put his hands on Silas’s shoulders.
“Don’t try to dodge the issues with me. We’ve known each other far too long for those kinds of games. You have to tell me what happed the night you were attacked,” Byron chided.
The heat from Byron’s body called to Silas and it was all he could do not to lean back and get lost in it. But, Silas realized that he couldn’t hide from his problems. At least, not all of them.
“Do you know the motive behind your parents’ kidnapping?” Bryon pressed.
Because I thought I was so brilliant that I didn’t have to follow the rules anymore. I let myself think that I could play God and create things that have no business even being in Hell let alone on the city streets. Now, not only has my own invention turned on me, but I have probably inadvertently caused the deaths of my own parents.
Admitting all that would only put Byron at risk, so Silas knew that he would have to go with some half-truths.
“There could be a few reasons. My father was pretty close to finishing a new design.”
Guilt sliced through Silas. In the past, he’d never hidden anything from Byron.
No, that wasn’t entirely true, for Silas never shared that he only felt an attraction to men, or more specifically to Byron. Silas knew that it would be better if he never spoke that secret aloud, as well. The only thing he had left was his friendship with Byron. As such, Silas refused to do anything to risk it.
Silas spun around and instantly realized what a huge mistake he’d made when he found their faces mere inches apart. Just the sight of Byron’s blue eyes and full lips was enough to make Silas hard and aching for relief. Silas breathed in deep, savoring the spicy, manly scent that came from Byron. A groan filled the air and terror went through Silas as he realized it’d come from him.
Well, fuck. That wasn’t good.
He expected Byron to step away or walk away in disgust. Instead he did something completely unexpected. He tucked his fingers under Silas’s chin and tilted his head up until their lips were so close that they could feel one another’s breath.
“I will find them for you. Even if I have to use every last one of my resources,” Byron promised in a husky whisper.
Silas attempted to reply, but all that could come out was a sound that was dangerously close to a whimper. That must have been sufficient enough, for Byron smiled.
“Nothing is going to hurt you. I’ll protect you,” Byron said.
Even though his mind was a flurry of emotions, Silas couldn’t help but think, Maybe, but who will protect you from me?
Then all rational thought fled Silas as Byron dipped his head down and brought their lips together.