This wasn’t the homecoming Bastian Evanko had hoped for after two hundred years in exile. Getting berated by his brother served as a reminder of how strained their relationship had always been. Apparently the time apart had done nothing to mend old wounds.
So much for a starting over.
Donovan paced behind his mahogany desk, blond hair falling perfectly down the back of his expensive suit. “You shouldn’t be here. You know better. This city is no good for you, not with your past.”
Bastian gripped the wooden armrests of the pretentious-looking chair where Donovan had commanded him to sit. “My sentence is over. I will come and go as I please now. Spending the last two centuries in isolation was almost more than I could take.” He loosened his hold when the wood cracked. If he turned the chair into kindling, he’d never hear the end of it.
A point Donovan confirmed when he stopped and glared. “You’d better not destroy my office, little brother. The last thing we need is a repeat of what happened—”
“Oh, please. How long are you going to keep bringing that up?” Bastian clenched his fists and stood, nearly knocking the fucking chair backward. “And stop calling me little brother. Two years makes no difference after nearly a millennia.”
In an instant, Donovan moved to face Bastian. His eyes turned silver and his fangs extended. “Do not think to challenge me, little brother. As long as I have to keep cleaning up your messes, I’ll call you whatever I damn well please.” He waved a dismissive hand and returned to his desk, eyes reverting to their usual pale blue as his fangs receded. The monster within was hidden behind his baby face once more. No one would ever suspect a murderous creature lurked beneath that innocent façade.
With a deep breath, Bastian sucked in the amped-up vampiric testosterone saturating the air. The tension between them was suffocating, and the next move rested on his shoulders. He could take the all-too-familiar road of trying to prove himself with a physical display and allow the powder keg to explode, or…
“You’re right. I have made many mistakes, but you also know I’ve done nothing wrong since you stood up for me with the Elders and convinced them to spare my life.” Hand extended, Bastian crossed the room and stopped a respectable distance away. “Please, Donovan, let’s put the past behind us and move forward. How can I make amends if you won’t give me the opportunity?”
There was silence except for the ticking of the large antique clock on the bookcase. Soundproof walls allowed in nothing from the nightclub beyond the office door, or from the bustling city outside.
Donovan glanced at the proffered hand then locked gazes with Bastian, his expression unreadable.
For a moment, Bastian wished vampires weren’t able to shield their thoughts from each other. His shoulders stiffened. A few more seconds of being ignored and he’d lose the tenuous grasp he had on his temper.
In the past, he would have blown by now—verbally and physically—without regard for the consequences. His poor impulse control had created a rift between him and Donovan long ago. He never did anything right in his brother’s eyes, resulting in far too many years of Donovan’s condescending attitude. But he wanted his brother to see he was different now, and the only way for that to happen was to fight the anger.
Pressure built under his gums. His fangs ached to descend. Swallowing hard, he licked his teeth.
Still normal, but not for long.
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