While at a kennel purchasing guard dogs, Valor discovers a shifter who pleads for release. Intrigued, the master vampire pays to free the werehound, unaware his moment of compassion will change his life.
Caden's goal is to get as far away from the area as possible. His brother's pack beat him and left him for dead, and he needs to put distance between them before Jameson realizes he's still alive and comes after him again. Little does he realize the vampire who freed him has other intentions.
Valor walked through the kennel, amused by the sudden silence. The animals knew a dangerous predator moved into their midst and were careful not to draw his attention.
Beside him, the keeper of the animals kept giving him fearful sideways glances. It was rare for a master vampire to pick out his own protector dogs, but Valor wanted to ensure he could bond with the creatures that guarded him while he slept. If the dogs felt connected to him, they were more likely to protect him with their lives.
He hadn't lived over two thousand years by being careless. The increased paranormal hunter activity necessitated additional security. These new hunters didn't care what they caught as long as it was non-human, and the stories told by the few who escaped capture were enough to make everyone in the paranormal community bump up protection and pull their families closer.
No one was going to capture a vampire under Valor's watch.
He protected his own.
A pair of steely-eyed Dobermans caught his attention. "What about those two?"
The keeper gave a nod. "They're good security animals; they're here because the company they were trained for went out of business."
"Ahh. Their loss, my gain. Stephan, add them to the total."
The dark-haired vamp trailing behind him made a quiet sound of assent. Stephan wasn't the most vocal of companions, but he was loyal. The vamp had been at Valor's side for over three hundred years. He trusted Stephan to guard his back and oversee the security detail while Valor concentrated on ruling the vampire tribe under his control. After another walk through, four more dogs were added: two Rottweilers and two mixes.
Valor was pleased.
"Good selection," he told the trembling human beside him.
"Th-thank you, sir." The keeper kept his eyes averted from the vampire's gaze. Valor didn't bother hiding his amusement. The idea that a vampire needed to meet the eyes of his prey was a myth. Valor could've controlled the guy from across the state if he wanted. Fool.
He had almost left the kennel area when he heard a low whimper.
The sound tugged at him, the noise soft and needy, impossible to ignore. Valor turned, scanning the area, but even with his excellent night vision, he couldn't make out the far cages.
"What's back there?"
"Nothing, sir," the keeper said with suspicious speed, "just a mutt we caught a few weeks ago. He was half starved and something had ripped him apart badly. He sets off the other dogs so we keep him separated from them so there's no fighting. He's a sweet pup, not the type you're looking for."
The keeper was eager to convince Valor that he didn't need to look at the animal.
Another whimper called to Valor. "Let me be the judge of that."
Following the sound, he reached a large cage with a golden brown dog inside. Well-muscled, the creature had a shiny coat that glowed even in the darkness. Its large amber eyes looked up at him imploringly.
"Help me," the words whispered into his mind.
Valor's head snapped back, instinctively trying to repel the mental invasion. It took him a moment to realize what it meant.
He looked into the dog's eyes and saw the intelligence shining out of them. There was something more in the creature's gaze than in the other animals' he'd chosen that night.
"I'll take this one."
"But, sir, he wouldn't make a very good guard dog. He doesn't have a mean bone in him," the keeper protested. Valor turned and found the man had dredged up the courage to meet his eyes in order to protect the beautiful animal.
Valor gave him a smile he knew humans found irresistibly appealing. "I won't use him as a guard; I want him for a pet." He pushed some persuasion into his voice.
Relief crossed the human's face. "In that case, I'd be happy to let you have him. He needs a good home. I'd adopt him myself but the missus said if I brought home another animal she'd put me in the dog house."
"We can't have that now, can we?" he agreed amiably. Valor nodded towards the dog. "What's his name?"
"I call him Prince." Valor could see the human blush even in the dim lighting. "I know it's a common name for dogs, but for some reason it really suits him."
"Hmmm." Valor looked at the creature for a moment. "Let's get Prince out of there so I can take him to his new home."
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