“Matthieu?” Diana called, when she heard a faint rustle in the solar. It got quiet afterward like it did when a vampire moved too fast for human eyes, and Diana only relaxed when she saw her husband in the doorway, strong and broad as ever.
“Matthieu!” She smiled out, she rose, came to him. “I know it wasn’t really, but you were gone too long! I missed you!” And she moved to put her hands around his neck.
Matthieu seized her wrists before she could manage, tighter than usual, tighter than she would prefer, but she saw that gold-gleam of vampyre in his eyes, and settled, still smiling softly. It was her trust in moments like this that gave him the power not to do whatever that monster part of him was thinking, and she pretended not to notice. She watched him inhale, slow and deep.
“You’re my wife,” he rumbled out, low and intense, and really, this part of him only usually came out in bed, or when he was hungry, so she didn’t know quite what to do.
“Yes,” she said. “I am your wife,” because something told her he needed it. She patted his chest as an excuse to free her hands and smiled up at him.
He leaned forward, slow, slow, but his eyes were still gleaming, and his nose came to rest above her neck, right over the scar of that first ill-fated bite. His inhale was strong enough that she felt it whisper against her skin. “You’ve let me bleed you.”
Well, that was new, and not altogether desirable. Sex was something altogether different in Matthieu’s vampire brain, but usually he was better at editing the bits that she knew about but didn’t need to see. She tried to slow this down. She threaded her fingers into his hair. “Well, yes. I like to share my memories with you.”
Matthieu’s hands shifted in a blur, and now he was clutching her biceps and she was off the floor, damn that would bruise, and he was lifting her until his face was buried in between her breasts, right over the thrum of her heartblood, his fangs were down, his eyes were gleaming, and his hair had shifted out from under her hands. He inhaled deep. Diana couldn’t help the spike of fear. She wriggled a little bit in his grasp, hopefully enough to convey her discomfort and not enough to look like prey. She knew she failed when his pupils shot through with black.
“Who are you, magnificent creature?” He rasped out at her, in wonderment. “Who are you to creep into my home and smell of my wife and already bear my bite? You smell wondrous.”
“Matthieu?” she squeaked, because she was quite certain this was Matthieu, but the suspicion came that this wasn’t Matthieu, and her arms were beginning to hurt and he was holding her in just the wrong way that her spine felt logjammed down to her leg and the toes of her right foot were beginning to tingle.
“I could eat you up.” He rumbled at her, and then she was back on her feet and the fabric of her dress was down around her elbows and her corset was ripped at the seams and her chemise was in tatters, her neck and breasts exposed to his gaze and his cold (too cold—when had this Matthieu last fed) fingers. He touched a peaked nipple with the corresponding mark of fang with wonderment before he looked up to stare with her with awestruck eyes. “I have.” She reached up one semi-pinned hand to slap his fingers, but didn’t get very far when he plucked the flesh, delighted, and pulled her close by the waist.
“Release my wife.” Matthieu snarled, her Matthieu, from over in the corner, and his eyes were just as vicious as the Matthieu that held her but his voice was completely out of the aroused register and into the intimidation. Matthieu in front of her jerked his head up and his face hardened.
“You are me,” he growled, and he used one broad arm to tuck Diana behind him. Really, this was getting ridiculous, all the lifting and the manhandling. Diana tried to pull up her dress, but Matthieu really had done a number on it, and she could only clutch the fabric over her exposed breast.
“Indeed,” Her Matthieu clipped, full of rage. “I am you, but near four hundred years your senior. Consider what power and skill you yourself might have gained in that span, and what you could do to the vampire pup four hundred years your junior. Consider also that Diana’s flesh is soft and her life yet human. Would you deprive us our mate when we kill her in our struggle? We will have but one, as you know, and how long and how dear have been the years we have but waited.”
The Matthieu in front of her froze. He dropped the arm that was guarding her. “I am not dreaming.” He reported. “She is my wife, not a phantasm of my loneliness to mock me from the future.”
“She is mine.” Her Matthieu hissed. “Four hundred more years of wait have yielded her to me and I have claimed her. She but will be yours, when you have aged to me.” His voice was incendiary, and probably not helping, because the Matthieu in front of her seemed to be stiffening.
“I could but kill you and save myself four hundred years of wait!” He hissed in return, and this was going badly. Diana placed her hand on new!Matthieu’s back, or perhaps it was old!Matthieu, and pushed herself up to his ear, pouring her words directly in.
“Please do not harm my husband, mon coeur, I love you dearly and your death would cause me such pain.”
“Diana,” her Matthieu barked, clearly displeased, and she could see the struggle of this stranger!Matthieu in the set her shoulders beneath her palms. Finally, the Matthieu beneath her hands dropped his gaze to the floor and nodded, once, slowly.
He let her step around him, but his hand flew up when she went to stand next to her Matthieu, and she paused.
“It burns to see your wife in the hands of another, does it not?” her Matthieu asked, wryly. “Diana, please, for the moment stand between us in distance but keep your body to the side. Whatever happens, do not intercede.”
Diana glared at him. “I think I know to keep from between two brawling vampires, my dear.”
New!Matthieu chuffed at her, his eyes near filled with stars. “Diana,” he repeated, enthralled.
His gaze turned to himself. “When do we meet her?” He whispered. “How long have you had her?” A beat, and then a breathy: “How can you bear her existence?”
Diana moved her scowl to him, offended. “I’m right here. And he bears me just fine, thank you.”
“Yes, I will,” he breathed out, and her frown deepened.
Her Matthieu shuffled his feet, drew that unnerving attention back. “She smells exquisite, yes?” Diana moved her glare back to him.
Matthieu-to-be finally dragged his eyes from her. “Yes. Yes, she does.”
For a moment the only sound was her own breathing, her husbands too still to make sound. She rocked on her feet, nervous but bored. “Would it be best if I left?” She offered, after another five minutes in which her two men appeared not to even blink.
“No,” came two identical orders in the same tone. It was like one voice but louder. She huffed.
“Well, I’d be obliged if I could change my clothes and cover my breasts.”
Two identical stiffenings. They were going to be here all day. She waited, rocked a little on her feet.
Her stomach saved her with its little growl. Two head whips, and then a:
“You haven’t fed her!”
And then she was being ushered by two identical sets of hands into the kitchen. They both stared as she ate, which really, only meant it was twice as unnerving as usual.