Dimitri leaned toward me, and I gave in. I pressed my lips to his gently, testing the waters and hoping not to scare him off. The warmth of our magic entangling flared hotter. Dimitri kissed me harder. My fingers glided through his hair, and my hand rested on the back of his head. I didn’t want to stop. The burn of our power felt good, but I knocked the blankets off us. The room’s cool air rushed over our skin. Dimitri nipped at my bottom lip. I pulled him closer to me as I returned the favor. He made a pained noise and pulled back.
“Did I hurt you?” I asked.
“No, I jostled the transfusion line,” he answered, drawing my attention to his arm. Thankfully, we hadn’t dislodged the tube. The reminder of it cooled us both off. I knew I wouldn’t have stopped otherwise.
“Sorry,” I said, turning away. I should have had more self-control than that. He still hadn’t fully recovered, and I’d taken advantage.
“I’m not,” he responded, immediately blushing when I looked back at him. He pushed himself to keep talking, though. “I mean, I’ve wanted to do that since I first saw you. Well, maybe not the first time. I was more concerned with following you and Greg because you looked shady. But it definitely started that night.”
I laughed when he called me shady as he sped through his explanation. “I wanted it, too. The only reason I didn’t do it when you took me to the pie shop was because of how much we drank. I wanted to be sure you wanted it too.”
“Oh,” he said. A sad, contemplative expression took his smile away. I wanted it back. “Thank you. That was so considerate.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“The last guy wasn’t as thoughtful as you,” he said.
“Do you want to talk about it? You don’t have to,” I said.
“Everett and I went to the academy together. One night, after we’d had a few drinks, he kissed me. I’d had a crush on him for a long time at that point. So I didn’t hold back. But he acted like it never happened afterward,” he explained.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“It was a long time ago,” he brushed off my concern.
“That doesn’t mean it can’t still hurt.”
“I know. Most days, I don’t even think about him anymore,” he said. It sounded like he’d left something off, but I didn’t press. He’d already admitted more than he owed me.
“We should get some sleep,” I said. Daniel hadn’t lied about my vigil over Dimitri, and the exhaustion eased over me.
“Yeah,” he agreed.
I retrieved the blankets and got them situated around us again. Dimitri laced his fingers through mine and pulled my arm around him. I let him tuck himself into the space in front of me, careful not to tug the line between him and the blood bag. I wrapped myself around his more petite frame, and his curves fit against mine comfortably. Our magic didn’t burn as hot this time. The circles tracing over my skin became whispers of their former selves. I sank into sleep with an ease I’d never felt before.
The knock on my front door woke me. Dimitri slept soundly in my arms, exactly how we’d been when we drifted off. Actually, not exactly. I felt a notable exception straining the fabric of my underwear. My erection pressed against Dimitri’s ass, begging for release. The repeated knocking told me I didn’t have time to give in to those urges. I slipped out of bed, did my best not to wake Dimitri, adjusted myself to ease the tension against my underwear, and grabbed a robe before answering the door.
Daniel and Doctor Mulaki stood on my porch looking much more well-rested than I felt. I stepped aside so they could come in. I relayed Dimitri’s food and beverages from the previous night to the doctor. He walked toward the bedroom without comment. Daniel and I followed him. Doctor Mulaki drew the curtains to let the morning light into the room. I went to Dimitri’s side and gently woke him. He blinked at me with a confused look that quickly resolved into a soft smile.
“How are you feeling?” Doctor Mulaki asked, skipping the nicety of introducing himself.
“Better,” Dimitri said. “The headache I had last night is gone. I’m hungry but otherwise feel normal.”
“Very good,” the doctor said. He pulled out his pocket watch, turned the caster’s hand, and activated a spell scanning Dimitri’s body. He looked over the results quickly before continuing. “I think it is safe to say you won’t need more transfusions. I’m going to disconnect this and heal your arm. Take it easy for the rest of the weekend. Let Jim bring your meals to you in bed today. If you have any concerns, contact me immediately. I don’t expect you’ll have any complications, but it’s better to be cautious.”
“That all sounds good,” Dimitri agreed.
Doctor Mulaki changed the caster’s hand on his watch again before kneeling at Dimitri’s bedside. He carefully removed the needle, pressing a cotton ball over the wound. The doctor handed me the needle. Then he picked up his watch, removed the cotton ball, and activated the spell. The puncture in Dimitri’s arm closed up, leaving no sign of the needle at all. Doctor Mulaki wished Dimitri well. Daniel and I walked him out. They didn’t discuss cost or payment. I assumed Daniel handled that. Anything Dimitri or I owed would be paid to him, not the doctor.
“I’m glad you’re feeling better, Dimitri,” Daniel said when we returned to my bedroom.
“Thank you. Jim told me you made all the arrangements with the doctor and supplies. I’d like to repay you for your trouble,” Dimitri said. I admired him for getting down to business so quickly. Daniel’s expression told me he approved, too.
“Consider it an investment. I’d like to keep a working relationship going between us. I can’t do that if you’re not around, can I?” Daniel joked.
“I insist. It must have cost more than usual to do all of this off any official books,” Dimitri said.
“It was less trouble than you think. The money doesn’t concern me. Truly, staying connected with a talented young man such as yourself is worth so much more,” Daniel insisted. He wanted his hooks in Dimitri. That much I understood. But I’d never heard him talk about money like that. Generally, Daniel didn’t let a single coin go unaccounted for. It didn’t click until I noticed his hand on his vest pocket, tracing the outline of the watch Dimitri had made. Daniel lost a unique talent if Dimitri stopped producing his off-market enchantments once he’d opened a legitimate shop. As far as we knew, no one else even knew where to start in replicating these custom watches.
“If you’re sure,” Dimitri said, not sounding sure himself.
“I am,” Daniel said. “If you don’t mind, I’ve got a busy day ahead of me. I’ll see myself out. Jim, take the next few days off and make sure Dimitri has everything he needs.”
“Yes, sir,” I said. He left us alone in my room. Dimitri looked puzzled. He hadn’t seen how valuable his watches had been already, so of course, he didn’t grasp why Daniel wanted to keep him close. I tried not to imagine all the ways this could go wrong. For now, I’d focus on Dimitri’s recovery.