Soulbound ‡ pact

by Wes Leigh

Chapter 9

"My only love sprung from my only hate!"

-- Juliet, from Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

Wolfie tried to ignore the visitors sitting at the back of the auditorium, but it wasn't easy. They were all dressed in black, blending with the shadows, simply sitting there, unmoving, saying nothing, watching. It made the hair on his neck stand on end, and he had to resist the urge to look around for someone creeping up from behind.

He tried to ignore them, telling himself there was nothing wrong with them being here. They were business people, the movers and shakers in Agony, and without them, there would be no community theater. They were the ones sponsoring the production, and apparently, they were here to check on how it was going.

The young actors on the stage didn't seem to be bothered by the unexpected audience. They worked through their scenes, practicing their lines and struggling to deliver Shakespeare's archaic wording, while ignoring the shadowy figures seated in the darkest rows of the auditorium.

Sebastian, as Romeo, was purchasing poison from Xavier, who warned him that the potion was strong enough to kill twenty men.

One of the dark figures rose from her seat. A woman in a severe, deep gray business suit, walked toward the stage. Sebastian and Xavier stopped rehearsing and watched her approach. Leaning down, she addressed Wolfie. "I thought Xavier was playing the role of Mercutio?" she asked, her voice cold and demanding.

"He is," Wolfie replied nervously, adding, "We don't have enough actors for all the roles, so some of the players are doubling up. Xavier also plays a town guard in the final scene."

The woman scoffed. "Why don't you have enough actors? Weren't you provided with sufficient funds to advertise the tryouts thoroughly?"

Wolfie nodded. "I took out ads in the town paper and posted flyers at the high school. I also talked to the students taking drama. I believe they all tried out, and they all have roles. But Romeo and Juliet requires many, many minor roles as well as the major speaking parts. It's not uncommon to have actors doubling up in a community production like this."

The woman shook her head. "It's unacceptable. There are more students at the high school who could volunteer. This is an important event, and I expect it to be properly supported."

She turned and walked out, with all the other visitors following her like a flock of ravens swirling around their queen.

Xavier squinted, asking himself, 'What is Minerva going to do?' He didn't trust his adopted mother. Never had, never would.

Minerva served herself from the steaming platter of rare roast beef slices, then passed the plate to Edward Finton.

As he took the food from her, he asked, "What have you decided to do about the lack of actors in the play?"

Xavier and the rest of the vampire youth looked up from their meal, listening attentively to Minerva's answer, since it would affect all of them.

"I haven't decided yet," Minerva replied. "Our family is well represented among the cast." She nodded at Xavier, Sebastion, Regina, and Gregor. "The other members of the Covenant are also participating. Several human students have volunteered; however, a certain segment of the Agony population is notoriously absent."

Edward chuckled. "You refer to a hairy segment, I presume."

Minerva nodded slightly. "Although perhaps it is for the best. Lycans seem to perform better on the football field than on the stage."

"No doubt. It's questionable whether they would be able to remember their lines," Edward added with a sneer.

"It's still galling that they consider themselves a part of this community but do nothing to support the more important functions." Minerva carved off a bite of beef and chewed on it thoughtfully. "The only question I have is … do I force them to participate to make it clear that they are allowed in this town at our indulgence?" Her voice trailed off as she picked at her plate.

Edward laughed wickedly. "It would be entertaining to see that director fellow trying to merge grimy lycans into the cast."

Gregor chortled. "But appropriate. Montagues fighting Capulets. Silvermanes versus the Covenant. Life imitating art."

Minerva sneered at Gregor's comment. "You would put our race in the same context with those beasts? They are nothing like us. At least the Montagues and Capulets were both noble houses in Verona. The Silvermanes are mutts at best, disgusting flea-infested dogs. Have I not emphasized this often enough, Gregor?"

Gregor grinned and shrugged. "They can play minor roles. Town guards. Family members without lines. Then we won't have to worry about them forgetting the words."

"I suppose," Minerva replied, grimacing. "You must endure their presence in your classes at school, so I assume it won't be so bad having them in the play as well."

Regina giggled. "Some of us have to do more than endure them."

"What do you mean by that?" Minerva asked, raising an eyebrow.

Regina glanced coyly at Xavier. "Some of us have to work side by side with them on history projects. Xavier was assigned to work with the new wolfboy, Connor Finnigan."

Minerva and Edward stared at Xavier until he glanced up from his plate and shrugged. "It's nothing. Simply a school project."

"What's it like to work side by side with one of them?" Edward asked. "How do you keep from retching every time you smell their stench?"

"It hasn't been an issue so far," Xavier replied, unwilling to continue the conversation any longer and irritated at Regina for bringing it up in the first place. Connor didn't stink. Quite the opposite. He had a warm, musky scent that gave Xavier a boner every time they sat together, but Xavier wasn't going to share that fact with his family.

Minerva sighed. "Well, if Xavier can put up with one lycan on a history project, I suppose the community theater can find a way to use a few mongrels as well."

Xavier studied his food carefully, as if the bloody meat might offer him an answer to his dilemma. He had no reason to defend the lycans, but when he thought back to his last conversation with Connor, he couldn't help but disagree with Minerva's assessment. Connor was no mongrel, no dog. Connor had actually listened to Xavier and been sympathetic about Xavier's past, showing more compassion for Xavier's broken heart over the loss of Jack than Minerva ever had.

Minerva hadn't seemed to care when Jack died. She had been there when it happened. In fact, it was Minerva who had created the chaotic situation that led to Jack teleporting around her estate, franctically trying to avoid capture, and failing to judge his jump accurately. She had seen the young vampire materialize halfway inside a wall, ending his life painfully. She had watched as Xavier took Jack in his arms, holding him until he died, weeping for the loss of his young lover.

And what had she said?

'I never intended anything of that sort to happen … accidents like this need never happen, not if you're trained properly by one of us.'

For Minerva, Jack's death had been merely an inconvenience that could have been avoided. She had never acknowledged what it meant to Xavier to lose Jack, his first love, his soulmate.

But Connor seemed to understand. Connor actually had a heart, even if it was a wolf's heart.

Xavier pushed his plate away and glanced at Minerva. "May I be excused? I've lost my appetite."

Minerva blinked slowly, studying Xavier, searching his words for a clue on his thoughts. He was getting better at hiding his emotions. She had to give him that, but she could see that he was upset about something they'd just discussed. Interesting.

She nodded. "You are excused."

Xavier stood up and tossed his napkin on his plate, walking slowly out of the dining room.

Regina grinned. It was always a bonus when she was able to get under Xavier's skin. The skinny fool deserved a bit of teasing, especially since he had refused her advances. Served him right.

Gregor watched his cousin go. Unlike Minerva, Gregor was almost certain he knew the reason for Xavier's sudden loss of appetite. After all, who among the vampires knew his cousin as well as he did?

Xavier stood with his back to the shower nozzle, allowing the hot water to spray on his neck and back. After a hundred years, he still found it odd that heat couldn't penetrate his cold-as-the-grave body. There were so many things you had to give up as a vampire, such as a restful night's sleep, the ability to see yourself clearly in a mirror, and walking on a sunny day without sunglasses to shield your eyes. Immortality was a poor replacement for the simple pleasures of his old life.

Such as sex. Sure, he could now taste the emotions of another man as he experienced the aching pleasure of an orgasm. But when was the last time Xavier had actually enjoyed his own orgasms? Honestly, he couldn't recall.

He turned in the shower and faced the steamy spray, backing away enough so that it struck his groin. The stinging streams of hot water struck his cock and balls, but like his back, the heat could not penetrate.

He lifted his cock in one hand and studied it.

Why are you so cold? So bloodless?

He moved his cock from side to side beneath the spray. He saw the water striking, but it was as if he held someone else's penis. He felt nothing.

Closing his eyes, he pictured Jack standing next to him, up in the hay loft of old man McCoy's stables back in Whitechapel, England. Jack would be smiling as he slipped his hand inside Xavier's trousers and fondled Xavier's cock. Jack would always smile with a crooked, happy grin when he had his fingers wrapped around Xavier's member, squeezing until it responded and stood up hard and throbbing. Jack knew he could always get Xavier to bone up, and he loved doing it, but he was no tease. He always tugged Xavier's pants down and gave him a quick suck. Jack loved giving Xavier a bagpipe, as they called it, enjoying bobbing up and down until Xavier couldn't hold back the gushing flow of juices. Jack said he loved that part the best. Xavier's cum was sweet and delicious, he insisted, always catching it in his mouth so he could taste it before swallowing it down, then looking up at Xavier with a satisfied grin.

Does Caleb look at Connor the same way when he gives him a blowjob?

Xavier stroked his cock, now hard and pulsing slightly beneath the pounding shower spray. Each time his hand passed over the purple cap, a faint tingle shot down to his balls. At least vampires still had this much of their old life. Turning around again, he poured shampoo in his hand and smeared a slippery layer all over his cock, stroking slowly, biting his lip as he pictured Caleb transforming into a wolf and Connor mounting him from behind.

A hand pounded on the shower door, startling him.

The door opened and Gregor peeked in, glancing down at Xavier's slippery cock still held in one hand.

"Nice, cousin. Lost your appetite for the meal, but I see you found desert."

Xavier tried to pull the shower door closed. "Get the fuck out, Gregor!"

Gregor laughed and held onto the door. "Come on, cousin. Give us a show!"

"Damn it, Gregor. Let go of the fucking door!"

Gregor released the door and allowed Xavier to close it, but he leaned against the wall next to the shower. "So who's the lucky boy?"

Xavier turned to face the spraying water, allowing it to wash off his deflating cock. "What are you talking about?"

"Who were you picturing while you stroked one out? Was it Jack again? Sucking you in an alley or letting you bugger him late at night?"

"Shut up, Gregor."

"Okay, so if it wasn't Jack, maybe it was the ever-willing Brian, held in a hypnotic gaze as you sucked his cock and his emotions?"

Xavier pressed his face into the water, ignoring Gregor's taunts.

Getting no reply, Gregor grinned and said, "Wait. No. Maybe it one of the wereboys. You're as kinky as me. Could it be that kid Caleb? I hear he sucks dick. Perhaps as good as Jack did. Is that your newest fantasy, cousin?"

Xavier shut off the shower and pushed open the door, glaring at Gregor, but refusing to respond to Gregor's heckling. Xavier pulled a towel from the rack and started drying his body.

"Come on, Xavier. You know I'm just teasing. Trying to get you out of this slump you're in."

Xavier paused and stared at Gregor. "Since when do you care about my slumps?"

Gregor stopped smiling. "I've always cared. You're my cousin, Thomas Xavier Gibbs. A brother to me, and I do love you and care about you. I may be a shit from time to time. Running off my mouth and getting us in hot water with the stupid crap I pull. But it doesn't change how I feel about you."

Studying Gregor carefully, Xavier saw only sincerity in the other lad's words. Would Gregor be so understanding if he knew who Xavier was thinking about during his fantasies now? Doubtful. Gregor might enjoy a blowjob from a werewolf—after all, Gregor was often popping off his mouth about humping a werebitch in the woods—but would he be as accepting of his cousin if he knew Xavier wanted to be friends with Connor, perhaps even more than friends? Very unlikely.

"If you want to help me …" Xavier left the statement hanging in the air between them.

"I said I did," Gregor replied, a bit miffed that Xavier would question that.

"Then give me space. I need time to think some things through. It will help if I don't have you demanding answers, like Minerva's assistant in the Inquisition."

Gregor chuckled. "She does know how to torment you."

"Not just me. All of us. Can you imagine how much it will fuck up the play to force werewolves to join the cast? Wolfie will have a fit!"

"Maybe …" Gregor smiled wickedly. "… but then again, you might be able to get Caleb alone in the dressing room!" He slapped Xavier on the ass and ran out of the bathroom, laughing.

Xavier shook his head at his cousin's antics, then continued drying himself. Odd how his cock plumped up a bit at the thought of getting a blowjob from a werewolf.

The next evening, the Smyth "family" gathered in the study at Minerva's request. She had important news to share and required everyone to attend. Minerva and Edward sat in their oversized leather chairs on each side of the fireplace, the dignified matriarch and patriarch of the clan, drinking brandy. Xavier and Gregor stood side by side in front of the fireplace, their backs to its flickering glow. Regina and Sebastian sat together on a plush couch.

Turning to Xavier, Minerva seemed to take great pleasure in delivering her news of the day. "I believe I found a solution to the poor turnout for the community play."

Xavier wasn't certain why Minerva was staring at him, but she apparently expected a reply. "What solution is that?" he asked.

Minerva smiled slighty, knowing this message would perturb Xavier, which served her purpose well. "Several new students will be volunteering to join the cast," she explained. "Of course, they'll have to take minor roles this late in the production. But you won't be forced to play multiple parts now."

Xavier blinked slowly. It still didn't make sense. Why was Minerva staring at him? Why did it matter if he played one role or twenty?

Minerva turned to look at Edward. "I spoke with Coach Allen. Six of the football players will join the cast. Isn't that wonderful?"

Gregor choked on his drink. "What? Those Neanderthals? They can't act!"

Minerva shrugged. "That really isn't the point, is it, Gregor? After all, it's only a community production. We don't expect great things from it."

"But … but those clods will ruin it. They're complete idiots!"

"Now, Gregor. Give them a chance. After all, they're hairy beasts who've been pretending to be human their entire lives. They might be natural actors."

Silence fell around the room. Xavier asked, softly, "So the volunteers are all lycans?"

"Oh. Did I forget to mention that?" Minerva chuckled. "Yes. I believe they are."

Sebastian was afraid to challenge Minerva, but Regina had heard enough. She'd been dreaming of playing Juliet for years and didn't want to see it ruined by a bunch of moronic wereboys. She turned to Minerva, but carefully kept her eyes lowered. "Is it possible to change that decision, Executor?"

"Why would I do that?" Minerva asked with a sneer.

Regina swallowed nervously. "I agree with Gregor. They'll ruin it. It's bad enough forcing stupid jocks to be in a play, but werewolves … they'll destroy everything."

"No doubt," Minerva replied, sipping her brandy.

"Then why do this?" Regina asked, confused and frustrated.

"Dearest child, there is always a silver lining to every storm cloud." Minerva studied each of the young vampires in turn, then added. "Having lycans in the play will reveal their true nature. We'll get to see them at their worst. As they truly are. Oh, and Xavier, I'm sure you'll be thrilled to know that Connor Finnigan is one of those who volunteered. Now you can work with him in history and drama both. Isn't that exciting?"

Xavier felt panic clutching his heart. She knew. Somehow she had learned his secret, and now she was going to use it against him. He couldn't help himself. He glared at Minerva, clinched his jaw, and walked out of the room, slamming the study door behind him.

"Well, yes, Xavier. You may be excused," Minerva said with a malicious laugh.

Xavier didn't care where his feet took him, as long as it was away from Minerva, the manipulative bitch! He walked down the street. Down another street. Down another. Eventually he found himself on the outskirts of town, walking on the side of an empty highway, alone with his thoughts.

The sun had set. A cool wind was blowing. But Xavier didn't notice. His shoulders were slumped and his hands were shoved deep in his pockets. It wouldn't be so difficult to accept Minerva's decisions, he decided, if she didn't seem to find such delight in fucking with other people. She was an expert at that, and she seemed to know exactly how to push every one of Xavier's hot buttons.

Lights illuminated the road next to Xavier. A pickup slowed down next to him and stopped. He turned and saw the passenger window down and Connor Finnigan sitting behind the wheel.

"Need a ride?" Connor asked.

"No. Just going for a walk," Xavier replied.

Connor looked back along the empty road and nodded. "That's a hell of a walk."

Xavier laughed softly. "I guess I have a lot to think about. What are you doing out so late?"

"Had to take a friend home. Now I'm headed back to the Lodge. Saw you out here walkin' on the side of road. Thought you might want a ride."

Xavier considered Connor's offer. He didn't need a ride, not when he could teleport back home in the blink of an eye. And it would certainly throw the Smyth Covenant into an uproar if they found out he was spending time, voluntarily, with this particular werewolf. Xavier studied Connor's face in the dim glow of the instrument panel. He was handsome. Rugged. And smiling.

Xavier looked back at the town of Agony. 'Who is she to tell me who I have to hate and who I get to like?' he asked himself.

Turning back to Connor, he said, "Fine. Let's do this." Xavier tugged on the door handle, but it wouldn't open.

Embarrassed, Connor leaned over and quickly unlocked the door. "Sorry about that."

"Are you afraid someone will jump in your truck and attack you?" Xavier asked with a teasing grin.

Connor grinned back. "Nah. Just forgot I locked it after letting Caleb out."


"Yeah. We were hanging out after school. Had to take him home."

Xavier nodded. Hanging out probably wasn't all they had done.

Connor shoved the truck into gear and pulled onto the road. "Where do you want me to take you?"

Xavier sighed and grimaced. "It really doesn't matter."

Nodding, Connor shifted gears and accelerated down the road. "Anywhere, as long it's away from Agony?"

Laughing bitterly, Xavier asked, "How did you guess?"

Connor glanced sideways and smiled. "You do a good job hiding how you feel, and you may be fooling most people, but I can tell."

Xavier raised both eyebrows in surprise. "Oh? And why is that?"

"I recognize the signs. Biting back the words you wanna say. Doin' what everyone tells you, what everyone expects, even when it makes you wanna punch a wall. I know what that's like."

Xavier shook his head and laughed. "Oh, so you're telling me that your situation is akin to my own."

Grinning, Connor replied, "Not sure I'd say it using such fancy words, but yeah. That's what I'm saying."

Xavier noticed that Connor had a cute dimple when he smiled like this. A dimple right in the corner of his mouth, next to some of the most kissable lips Xavier had ever seen. Connor took his eyes off the road for a second and glanced at Xavier, who looked away, embarrassed to have been caught staring.

Connor grinned more and asked, "Am I right? We both have families that drive us crazy. They both expect too much, demand too much, and tell us what to do every second of the day. No room to breathe."

Xavier sighed. "Yes, you're right about that." He paused and thought for a moment about the hateful gleam in Minerva's eyes as she delivered her pronouncement, then he added, "Our situations may be similar, but somehow I doubt your family is as conniving and malicious as mine."

"Maybe not. You live with vampires."

Their eyes met, and they both snorted and laughed.

"Good point," Xavier admitted.

Connor looked back at the road. "You know, my family hurts me too. They don't mean to, but they do. They try to keep me in line for this future destiny I have as the pack alpha. If I ever veer off the path they've chosen for me, they snap in my face until I get back in line. You only have one person tormenting you—Minerva. I have an entire pack, watching my every move, forcing me to live up to the Pack's traditions."

Xavier carefully studied Connor. "I don't understand that. Can't you simply turn into a wolf and run off."

Connor nodded as he drove. "Tried it once. Didn't work. Had to come back and be what I am. The future alpha of the pack."

"So it was your choice then?"

Connor shook his head. "Not really. It was more like the Pack chose me. All the young wolves. They seemed to know instinctively that I was their future leader. They picked me, and I couldn't turn them down. Not even if it makes me miserable to live this way."

Xavier had to laugh when he heard that. "Seems like a horrible existence. Wouldn't you rather die than live this way?"

Connor chuckled. "The lad uses my own words against me. Very, very clever."

"Well? It was a good question a week ago when you asked me that very thing. As I recall, you were pointing out that my life as a vampire sucks, and that some people might rather be dead than live this way. I agreed. I hate what I have to do to survive. But there might me some people who say it's just as bad to have the power to transform into a wild beast and run away from a life you hate, but refuse to do so."

Connor nodded slowly. "Yeah, I suppose people might say that. They might not understand that even a wide-open forest can be a prison cell." Connor stared straight ahead, his jaw clinching as he struggled to control the emotions welling up inside.

Xavier slowly reached across and rested his hand on Connor's shoulder, squeezing gently.

Connor turned his head and looked down at Xavier's hand. His frown turned into a smile as he looked up and caught Xavier's eyes.

Xavier nodded and said, "I get it, Connor. We may come from totally different worlds, but we carry the same staggering burden. I doubt there's anyone else in this world who knows what it's like to be you."

Connor grinned. The dimple was back. "I think there's one person who understands." He pointed at Xavier.

Chuckling, Xavier nodded. Connor was right. And damned cute. Too bad Connor was a werewolf, the one creature Xavier was required to hate with a passion, because Xavier's heart was trembling now. It reminded him of one of the lines from the play: my only love sprung from my only hate. Wouldn't it be ironic if found himself falling in love with this muscular werewolf, a vampire's only hate? He knew he had to guard his heart very carefully, because he found himself beginning to like Connor as a friend, and that could be just as dangerous as falling in love, considering how much their families hated each other.

"Can we drive a bit more? And talk?" Xavier asked.

Connor dimpled again. "I'd like that."

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