I found Ant and Ryan sitting around the kitchen island with a man I didn’t know and several I did, Alec was among them and he promptly stood up and waved for me to sit.

I shook my head, “I can stand.” I moved to the side and Seraph followed me closely behind.

Ryan was quick to introduce, “Nox, this is Jae Pak. Coincidentally, one of your dragons.”

I nodded, “Alex hired you?” I offered him my hand which he did not take but gave me an appraising look.

“A little scrawny.” He said with a dead pan voice.

“Pardon me?”

Ant and Ryan were on their feet ready to intercept whatever fallout there was.

“Benji said that you were a little scrawny. I agree.” His green dragon eyes rose to meet mine and then he dropped to one knee, “But there is no denying the pull, or the power.”

I scoffed, “Get up. Why does everyone keep bowing?” I didn’t expect an answer – or at least one I liked so I kept going, “You are a friend of Benji’s? Does that mean you knew Alex before?”

He stood up and shook his head. “No, I have not met Alex. Only came because I was asked to. The pay is nice, but not necessary to protect my Dragon.”

“I’m not your Dragon. I fell into the position because I killed your last Dragon.”

“Honorably, and within the rights of the clan.” He bowed. “My Dragon.”

Alec laughed, “He really hates titles, so call him Nox.”

“As if you should talk.” Ant laughed.

“I’m learning.” Alec grinned, “And I’m also learning that he wants to get this over with.”

Ant nodded and looked to me first, “The five of us are coming with you. Alec refuses to stay behind, and Ryan and I have one more thing to discuss with you in private before we leave. The others will take what we need. This is recon only, Nox. We aren’t going after anyone tonight. Just finding them.”

I nodded. I’d try not to go all hero mode on them if and when we found them. Jae, Alec and Seraph headed out of the kitchen while Ryan came around towards me.

“Cari has an offer.” Ryan said.

“What offer?” I asked.

“She offers me my indefinite servitude to the third ascendant.”

“Is that for you to decide?” I asked.

“No.” Ryan laughed, “I’m her human servant, I have to do what she commands.”

“Does she command you often?”

Ryan looked away but shook his head, “That’s a yes.”

Ant intervened, “It’s complicated Nox. But their bond is strained these days.”

“Why?” I asked.

Ryan laughed and put his arm around my shoulders, “Because of you, actually. And Ant.”

“Me? I’m not doing anything to you.”

“You aren’t, but your magic has weakened the bond. We don’t know if your magic senses my desire to be something else, or if it’s something degrading about it.” Ant said. “Mother believes that with the weakening we can transfer the bond. And break the Chevalier bond from her without killing either of them.”

“She’s willing to let you go?”

“She’s the one who suggested it. It wasn’t in anger or even contempt. She understands the need to be free. And she’d grant it if it were possible.”

“So who’s getting the transfered bond? I’m not a vampire.”

“I would.” Ant said, “Ryan is one of the best men to have at my side. And he wants to help you.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

Ryan smiled, “Because we want your blessing, and if Ant can hold my bond, he can hold others.”

“Tying them to me.”

Ryan chuckled, “Or offer them immortality.”

Alec interrupted our conversation, “Bernstein, called we have a go. If we don’t move now he’ll go without us.”

Ant nodded, “We are done here.”

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