The Muse's Touch

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Hands off, Brother

What was she doing here? Davin struggled to keep his expression neutral as he watched Paige make her way to the dance floor. When their eyes had met for that brief instant outside the club, he had nearly faltered in his steps and it took all his years of acting to keep up appearances. But his brother, Dante, had noticed and turned with a glance towards him, one brow lifted in question, just above his sunglasses. In return, Davin had only given back a barely perceptible shrug.

The rest of the night felt forced. Rather than enjoying the company and being sociable to the surrounding women, he gritted his teeth and just managed to not shove the one leaning on him away. For some, these women with their glittering dresses and careful makeup was the epitome of beauty and desire yet his own mind only circled his own Sparrow, now so close within reach. He wanted nothing to do with anyone else, no matter how attractive.

Finn lounged, flashing a charming grin here or whispering in one of the woman’s ear there but Dante had fallen into complete silence. With more women than any of them could pay attention to at once, many of them chatted amongst themselves. It grated on his nerves, like magpies that won’t shut up.

Davin knew that these women could not help themselves. Incubi secreted a kind of pheromone that drew prey to them, heightening attraction and arousal. Over time, their kind had gained the ability to leash the natural phenomena to blend with humanity. For the three of them in particular, it also kept the hunt more interesting.

Still, it took a low level conscious effort, and it was never a hundred percent. It meant that easy prey like the one at their table looking for hookups in the first place lost all their inhibitions such that they had no qualms with throwing themselves, doing whatever it took to vie for attention. A tinge of guilt prickled at Davin’s soul. It made the idea of taking any of these women to bed even less palatable like he was taking advantage of their vulnerability

“I’m heading down. The blond one with her friend there.” Dante spoke in a low voice, leaning in to make himself heard to Finn.

“Those two dancing? Sure, I’ll go with you.” Finn grinned and Davin’s interest piqued. It wasn’t often Dante made a move on his own.

His blood, however, ran cold as he followed their gaze. They were all staring down towards Paige and the woman she was with. Ainsley, or Ains. He remembered Paige talking about her.

No! Davin screamed inwardly but held himself back as he racked his brain for an excuse. Then it was too late. His brothers made their way down and approached the pair, leaving him alone to fend off the women who were now pouting, realizing that they only had one left to fight over. It was part of a wingman’s job - being the sacrificial lamb.

Blood roared in his ears as he watched Finn sidled up to Paige. Mine. Mine. Mine. His brothers will respect his claim. He just had to make it clear. Appearances didn’t matter anymore.

“Excuse me,” he muttered and this time, shoved the woman on him off for real. With preternatural speed, he wove his way through the crowd, only slowing as he approached.

“Hands off Finn.” There was an unmistakable primitive growl in his voice.

Finn pouted but the glint in his eye spoke of a readiness to challenge his claim. Despite his temper, Davin wouldn’t blame him. For all intents and purposes, Finn had first dibs on the prey. And just because Davin had fed on her before, it didn’t mean she wasn’t fair game for others. The only long term claim any of their kind would recognize would-be mate. And Paige was certainly not mate.

Shit, why was he acting like she was his mate?

Before any of them spoke another word, Ainsley stepped up to them and tugged at Paige’s arm to draw her attention. “Come on, let’s take a break and grab another drink.” Her eyes were sparkling as she gestured to Dante standing behind her. “He’s buying.”

They both stood their ground still, now full-on glaring at each other. From the corner of his eye, he saw Paige swallow hard, eyeing Ainsley as if trying to figure out how to get past them to safety. Was she afraid of him? Something in him wilted, but it was Finn that backed off first with a shrug.

His brother turned to the blond and winked. “And if it’d please milady, I’ll buy the round after.” That said, Finn followed Dante and Ainsley, tossing one last look at Davin. Inside, Davin groaned. That expression was one that promised a reckoning later, chances were in the form of a grilling the level of a fifth-degree trial.

“Sorry about my brother,” Davin muttered, a hand rubbing the back of his head as his eyes travelled across the floor. Anything to avoid her gaze though he knew his coloured contacts helped disguise his eyes. But the likelihood of her recognizing him was still high. What would she suspect? What was going through her head?

Did she like what she saw now that he stood before her flesh and blood?

Shit.

“It’s okay. I would have spoken up if he went further.” A quick glance showed that Paige was also avoiding looking at him. Was she being shy? It was not an uncommon reaction for less aggressive women but still, how did they end up like two awkward teenagers at a high school dance? This was unbecoming of an incubus.

“Davin, Davin Murphy.” He stuck his hand out. Best to do away introductions before he forgot and let slipped he knew her name.

“Paige Summers,” she replied, reaching to shake his hand.

She felt warm. Her cheeks flushed wonderfully, reminding him of how he had drawn out that same blush out just earlier this afternoon. Unable to resist, he bowed down a little even as he raised her hand to him, brushing his lips against the back of her hand. Her taste was just like he remembered from their dallies in the twilight of dreams and yet more at the same time. Her sweetness there paled compared to reality.

He needed to go before he lost all control. This was getting dangerous. For both of them.

When he sensed only a stillness from her in return, he looked up at last. Paige was breathless, eyes beginning to glaze over. Davin redoubled his efforts and reined his essence in. Fuck. How could this slip of a girl make it so easy for his control to slip? Even as dream lovers, it’s only been a measly two-and-a-half years.

“Come on, let’s go before your friend starts getting worried.” Davin released her hand and placed it on the small of her back to guide her.

“Okay.” She followed, almost docile in her behaviour. He had planned to leave as soon as he returned her to Ainsley but now he was uncertain. In this state, she was too susceptible to suggestions of any kind. Anybody could take advantage of her.

When they caught up, his brothers glanced at Paige then turned to him in alarm. Rather than shirk away, he moved his body to shield his charge as if it would ward off any unwanted attention from her. They would pepper him with questions anyway, so why bother with pretences?

“Paige?” Davin heard the concern in Ainsley’s words and scolded himself once again. He was too old to be that careless.

“Are you okay?” He kept his hand on her back, rubbing slow circles to ground her.

Paige cleared her throat and nodded. “I think so.” Her eyes stared at the bar, then she rubbed them hard as if trying to focus again. His effects on her should fade soon but not fast enough for him.

“Okay, no.” Paige shook her head. “I’m a little woozy.”

“Maybe we should head home.” Ainsley moved a little closer.

Home! Going home was a capital idea. It would get her away from him and she wouldn’t be so vulnerable. Davin was reluctant to cede territory but recognized that her friend was best for Paige right now.

“Yes, if you aren’t feeling well, head home and get some rest.” Davin softened his voice, putting in just enough power to push the suggestion into both girls’ minds., He disliked using his ability to influence human minds in normal circumstances but right now, he was willing to put to use every tool at his disposal to keep her safe.

“Yeah, okay.”

“Let me help you get a cab.”

“Come on Paige.” Ainsley kept a hand on Paige’s arm.

Davin turned to his brothers. Finn was pouting again but Dante was, as usual, too hard to read. “I’ll get the girls on their way.” Without waiting around to hear any protests, he began to herd the girls towards the door.

“Sorry to be a spoilsport,” Paige muttered as Davin cleared the way for them.

“It’s okay. We can come back another day.”

“Okay.”

As the cab whisked the girls off, Davin remained to watch until he could no longer see the vehicle. Pushing his hair back, he drew air deep into his lungs. Perhaps now would be a good time to head home himself. The hunt couldn’t have gone worse. Thanks to him.

“Davin.”

No such luck.

“We should talk.” Whatever retort Davin had died in his throat. Something moved in Dante’s eyes, something that said he owed them an explanation.

“Fine, but not here.”

And that was how the three of them ended up in Davin’s penthouse apartment, overlooking the city skyline.

“Okay Dav, what the hell was that?”

Finn exploded as soon as they stepped into his home. “I thought you weren’t interested in feeding this way.”

“Finn, calm down.” Dante placed a hand on the shorter incubus’ shoulder and gripped none too lightly. Of the three of them, Dante had the most physical strength and was the better fighter. Combined with his level-headedness, he became the brood’s de facto peacekeeper.

Davin stared out the window towards the network of city lights shining below them, his back towards his brothers for fear of the judgement he was about to see on their faces. Try as he might though, he could still see their reflections on the glass. “Paige Summers. Age 28. Erotic romance novel writer. Quit her lucrative job at a large accounting firm a few years ago take a serious go of her writing. Didn’t hit it big until two years ago.”

Finn paled. “What?”

With another heavy sigh, Davin turned. “I’ve been visiting her dreams for the last two-and-a-half years. She thinks I’m someone she dreamed up to be her muse.” He braced himself.

Both Dante and Finn stared at him, eyes round, mouths hanging open. Great, they were in shock.

“You’ve been feeding on the same human for over two years?” Dante was the first to recover enough to speak.

“It’s different in the twilight of dreams.” It sounded like a feeble explanation even to his own ears. Time to fess up. “There are others. But yes. I’ve been with her for over two years.” He didn’t want to call it feeding. It wasn’t just feeding. She wasn’t prey.

“What is she to you? A pet?”

“Not a pet,” Davin snapped back. “She’s human, with brains and smarts just like us. She’s not some livestock.” He wanted to smack Finn but held back. What was Paige to him?

“Are you…” Dante started.

“No!”

“Dav, it never ends well to bond with a human. Remember Anna?”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT ANNA. PAIGE IS NOTHING LIKE HER.” His eyes glowed despite the contacts and his apartment shook as his powers unfurled.

“Davin.” Dante took a step towards him, raising himself to full height. “Calm. Yourself.”

It took minutes before the glow in his eyes began to fade. The temporary rise to his powers left his breathing shallow.

“You know we’re worried about you. This is what having a family means. We ask each other the hard questions so we can keep each other safe.” Dante’s low voice rolled through him.

“Dav, I’m sorry.” Finn stepped up from behind. Gone was the mischievous boy persona, replaced by genuine concern. Sometimes Davin forgot that he was the youngest of them all. “I just don’t want to see you hurt by another human again.”

“I know.” Davin rubbed his face. “I never expected to see Paige in person. Tonight took me by surprise. I’m sorry.”

Dante patted his back as soon as he closed the distance between them. “I think some space from this Paige may be a good idea until you figure things out. Go feed on some others you visit for a while.”

He hated to admit it, but Dante was right. He did not relish meeting up with Paige soon. What if she started questioning him as Shade?

“Yeah okay,” Davin agreed and gave his brothers a weak smile.

Nonetheless, he would miss her.

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