Enoch kept his face expressionless when Caleb sank his fangs into Samiel’s neck. If he’d wanted to, Caleb could have licked Samiel’s skin and dulled the pain. If he’d licked it long enough and glided his incisors smoothly toward Samiel’s vein, the moment could be almost erotic. Neither had clearly mattered to him.
Samiel winced, but remained stoic as Caleb drank. As a fellow immortal, he couldn’t be drained, but Caleb could gulp from him until he was weak. Enoch locked gazes with his friend and shook his head. Caleb’s lips curled as he drank, and his blue eyes sparkled. He was enjoying himself.
Enoch wanted to return to the casino to check on Bart and his generals, but he stayed where he was, crossing his arms over his chest and raising a dark brow.
Finally, Caleb gave a final slurp, licked Samiel’s punctures to close them, and smirked. “I have to feed from him three times to change him. I’ll be kinder the next two times.”
“Good.” Enoch might not like Samiel, but that didn’t excuse excessive abuse.
Samiel frowned at him. “Do you always try to do the right thing?”
“Always,” Caleb answered for him. “My nanny has high standards.”
“I’m not your nanny.” Enoch started back toward the elevator. “Bart and the others will be wondering about us.”
Caleb fell into step beside him. They walked shoulder to shoulder, filling the passageway. Samiel started after them, and Caleb turned his head. Over his shoulder, he said, “Bart won’t be happy with you. If you’re smart, you’ll stay behind Enoch and me.”
Samiel shrugged, unconcerned. “Bart’s a vampire. He can’t hurt me.”
“Oh, but he can.” Caleb touched his own shoulders, remembering. “When my oldest vampires turned on me, they jumped me in unison and drained most of my strength. If Enoch hadn’t been there, I couldn’t have fought them off.”
Samiel stared. “They couldn’t have killed you.”
“No, but they could have dragged me off somewhere and fed off me to keep me weak, and they could have tortured me for fun.”
Samiel touched a hand to his face. It had returned to its golden tan, smooth and supple, and he looked relieved. “If your generals worked together, they could defeat me?”
Enoch pushed through the heavy, iron doors into the wider corridor. “Easily, especially since I’d side with them if you caused them any grief.” He smiled when overhead lights greeted him. “You vampires like the dark too much.”
“That’s because we can see in it, even when we’re in our mortal form.” Caleb made it sound like bragging.
Enoch was unimpressed. “Unnatural,” he muttered. He set off at a fast stride.
“This isn’t a sprint,” Caleb complained. “Bart won’t send a Saint Bernard if we don’t show up promptly.”
Enoch ignored him. Instead he asked Samiel, “How many rogues did you send to battle them?”
Enoch relaxed and walked more slowly. “Good, not enough.”
Caleb threw back his head and laughed. “Your confidence in my generals always amazes me.”
“That’s because I fight with them. You don’t.”
“I never thought of it that way.”
“Why would you? You’re too happy doing what you do.” They reached the elevator and Enoch stepped inside.
Caleb glanced at Samiel. “Enoch doesn’t approve of my frivolous ways.”
Samiel stepped in beside Caleb and frowned. “What do you do? I meant to ask you.”
“I run the casino and indulge my many appetites.”
Samiel lifted his pale blonde brows. “I knew that, but what else?”
“What else is there?” Caleb grinned.
Enoch huffed his reproach and pushed the button for the ground floor. When the doors slid open, he went in search of his friends. They were standing under the center of the high dome, surrounded by ashes. Enoch shook his head and grinned. “All safe?”
Bart looked surprised. “Did you doubt us?”
Claudia’s lush, dark hair looked disheveled, the only sign that she’d been in a battle. In a salute, Ulrich tipped a bottle of beer he’d gotten from the bar at Enoch. The Viking vampire was happier than usual, but then, Ulrich enjoyed himself when enemies were near. “You missed all the fun, old friend.”
Bart nodded at Enoch’s tattered shirt. “Looks like he had his own good time.”
Enoch glowered at the ruined shirt, and Caleb laughed. “The way female mortals are looking at you, I should pay you to rip your shirts more often. Customers love it.”
“Slip out of yours. They’d enjoy that just as much.”
“For women?” Caleb shivered, scandalized.
More women came to gawk. Seeing three angels together was a rare event. Each epitomized perfection in his own way.
Bart’s good humor vanished when his gaze settled on Samiel. “You attacked our sire.”
Ulrich’s nails grew a few more inches, and he narrowed his eyes, sizing him up. “I think we can take him.”
He started to say more, but Caleb interrupted. “Samiel and I had a misunderstanding. We’ve reached an agreement.”
Bart’s lips pressed into a tight line. He glanced at Enoch. “Do you trust him?”
“No, but Samiel said he’d abide by our rules.”
Ulrich drained his beer, then slowly walked in a circle around Samiel and Caleb. He asked Enoch, “Does he have your Light?”
Ulrich grinned. “In that case, if we work together, we can defeat him. It won’t be pretty, but it can be done.”
Enoch nodded. “You’d all have to drink from him at once to drain his strength. If you call me, I can blast him with the Light.”
Samiel crossed his arms over his chest, irritated. “Did you need to tell them that? I agreed to your terms.”
Enoch locked gazes with him. “As I said, I don’t trust you. They’re my friends. If you change your mind, they’ll know how to deal with you. And Ulrich’s right. They can.”
Bart’s hands balled into fists as he turned to Caleb. “So what now? What do we do with him?”
“You leave him to me. He doesn’t want to go Home. I understand that.”
“And if he attacks you again?”
“You’ll come to my rescue, and then you can have him to do with as you please.”
Samiel stared, but remained silent.
Enoch would rather he didn’t stay on Earth. He’d rather he returned Home. “You know the odds of living here now, the reality. Do you still want to stay?”
Of course, he would. He thought he could bend more rules here, find ways to achieve his own goals. Enoch looked at Caleb and hesitated. Had his friend thought this through? Silly question. That wasn’t Caleb’s style, but once Caleb made a decision, he was too stubborn to change his mind. Enoch frowned at him. “If you need us, call.”
“Quit calling me that.”
“Then quit sounding like one.” Caleb scanned the grand foyer. No statues were smashed, no urns overturned. “Were any mortals hurt during the battle?”
Bart shook his head. “Every rogue zeroed in on us. The fight didn’t take long. The mortals seemed to enjoy watching it.”
That news didn’t thrill Enoch. “We’re not their entertainment. The mortals who come here expect everything to be over-the-top. Caleb caters to their worst instincts.”
“So do you.” Caleb gestured to three women, staring at Enoch’s torn shirt and rippling muscles while they sipped martinis. The generals were almost as delicious, so the women were openly enjoying themselves.
“My point exactly,” Enoch grumbled. “They’re spoiled and self-absorbed.”
Caleb tsk-tsked. “Now you don’t like my mortals, either?”
Caleb grinned. “I have to give you credit, brother. You judge everyone the same—angels, vampires, mortals—on if they’re good or if they’re bad.”
Enoch shrugged. “Too many things are out of our control. The only thing that’s a deciding factor is how we use our free will. And these mortals pay high prices for worthless pleasures.”
“Worthless? Entertainment’s a worthy goal in itself, but I’ll never convince you of that.” Caleb graced them all with a smile. “The danger’s over now. I thank you for coming to my rescue, but I’m ready to return to my rooms. I didn’t enjoy being locked in a dark lair all that much. I’m in the mood for a cocktail.”
His generals bowed their heads slightly and watched him go, Samiel close on his heels. Bart sighed. “We might as well return home, too. We fought well tonight.”
“Not that it accomplished much.” Claudia’s glare followed Samiel until he was out of sight.
Enoch watched, too. “We did more than rescue Caleb. We set boundaries for Samiel. He’s an angel who needs to know his limits. If he’d taken over Caleb’s casino, he’d have more in mind than gaming.”
Ulrich nodded agreement. “That one’s ambitious, isn’t he? I can smell his desire for power.”
“He won’t be happy in Caleb’s shadow long.” Bart cracked his knuckles, looking frustrated. “We’ll meet him again, sooner rather than later. Be ready.”
When they walked to the parking lot, two jets sat at its far end—one for Ulrich and the others, the second for Bart, Claudia, and Enoch. On the airplane ride home, Bart said, “All right, Enoch, tell us your thoughts.”
“I’m worried. Samiel’s smart and devious. The One sends him to do the jobs no one else wants to, and he never makes the same mistakes twice. Pleasures won’t be enough to satisfy him.”
Bart reached for Claudia’s hand. “I wish Caleb would have let us drain him and send him Home. Can you sense Samiel’s moods like you can Caleb’s?”
Enoch shook his head. “No bond, but if he goes rogue, I can sense where he is. That’s a perk the One gave me to track enemies.”
“That’s a start.” Bart didn’t look any happier than Enoch felt, but there was nothing more they could do at the moment.
Claudia reached for Enoch’s hand, too. “All we can do is wait and hope for the best.”
She didn’t sound optimistic, but she was right. All they could do was wait.