Master’s Gift

Chris Hanna didn’t expect to provide blood and sex for vampire Hugh Klein when he became his assistant. He also didn’t plan to fall in love with the other man. And he most definitely didn’t think he would end up torn between his new lover and the woman who had captured his heart. He wants both of them, and the magic of Christmas just might make it possible.

Excerpt

Hugh Klein lived in a huge house on the highest hilltop in the small town neighboring the nearest university, where Chris Hanna was a senior. Chris gazed at the outside with wide-eyed awe as he stepped out of the passenger side of the BMW Emory had driven to convey him to the meeting with Mr. Klein. “Dude, this place is awesome.”

Emory nodded, looking distractedly at the brick and wood façade. “Inside’s even better.” He glanced at the gold watch on his wrist. “Hurry up, man. Mr. Klein’s expecting us in two minutes, and he isn’t someone you keep waiting.”

Chris nodded, falling into step with his frat brother and close friend. Emory was off to a coveted position on Wall Street in a few days, and if Mr. Klein approved of him, Chris would be taking over the assistant job his friend was leaving behind. He was nervous, but hopeful that he could meet all of Mr. Klein’s expectations. It would solve all of his problems—an income for his final year of college, along with a place to live. The position even came with a car for his personal use. He cast a glance back at the BMW, imagining how the car might turn the head of Vanessa Shaye. Maybe she would finally notice he was a man and stop treating him with brotherly affection when all he wanted from her was passionate devotion.

Thinking of Ness made him sad. No doubt, she was on a date this Saturday night, while he interviewed for a job. The slightly spoiled daughter of a wealthy man, Ness had never worked, and probably never would. Her pursuit of a degree was merely something to fill her time. She had admitted that herself many times, accompanied by that tinkling laugh that made his insides ache whenever he heard it.

“Chris, c’mon.” Emory elbowed him in the ribs to get him moving.

Chris shook off his melancholy thoughts and proceeded through the entryway. His eyes took in the priceless objet d’art surrounding him as they walked through the house, but he didn’t allow his feet to stop. If things went as planned, he would have ample time to study the pictures, sculptures, and collectibles between assisting Mr. Klein and his college courses.

With a frown, he once again tried to imagine what being the other man’s assistant entailed. Emory had been vague, saying simply that he did, “Whatever Mr. Klein asks.” Chris imagined it would be a job filled with errand running, phone answering, and the requisite bowing and scraping a man like Mr. Klein would expect. He wasn’t looking forward to the duties, but the perks should make up for the sheer boredom he would no doubt endure.

An unexpected rumble of nerves quaked in his stomach as he followed Emory into a somber study. The room smelled of leather and learning, with bookshelves to the ceiling, stacked neatly full of leather-bound volumes. The patina on the teak desk indicated it was an antique, and the surface was free of clutter. Only a blotter, laptop, and trays for paperwork occupied the area.

He turned his attention to his prospective employer when the man’s leather chair squeaked as he leaned forward. Austere was the word that came to mind. Hugh Klein was blond, with fair coloring, and strange gray eyes that seemed to penetrate to Chris’s core, reading the most intimate details about him. Imposing in a black turtleneck, the other man seemed to swallow up all the space behind the desk, though in reality he had an average build, with compact musculature. The light from the presidential-style lamp on the wall behind him illuminated his hair, picking out silvery highlights. His gaze scrutinized Chris from head to toe, making him shiver. To his shock and embarrassment, Chris’s cock swelled with arousal when Mr. Klein met his eyes. In an attempt to cover his reaction, he practically leapt into one of the chairs facing the desk, sliding low and pressing his thighs together.

Somehow, he managed to sound normal when he accepted the hand Mr. Klein extended and said, “Pleased to meet you, sir.”

Emory took the other seat, and Chris was conscious of his friend fidgeting as Mr. Klein asked him some general questions. He answered as thoroughly as possible, and then settled back into the seat when the other man fell quiet. An air of expectancy hung in the room, and he waited with bated breath, sensing something else was going to happen, but not sure what.

The preternatural sense of impending epiphany faded when Mr. Klein turned to Emory. “You trust Mr. Hanna implicitly, Emory?”

Emory nodded his dark head. “Yes, Hugh. I’ve known him since he was in seventh grade, and I was in eighth. We met when he defended me from the class bully, though he was barely bigger than I was at the time. Chris is a good man, and he’ll guard your secrets.”

Chris lifted a brow at the exchange, feeling his curiosity stir to life. He inferred from their conversation that secrets referred to more than financial statements or typical confidentiality.

Mr. Klein made a non-committal sound before focusing on Chris again. “You’re active in some campus clubs, I see. Politics, speech, and the university Chapter of the VCLU.” His eyes narrowed. “How did you become a member of the Vampire Civil Liberties Union?”

Chris shrugged. “My folks are both members. My dad’s always said there’s no reason to discriminate against vampires. They have more laws in place than we do to protect humans. It’s our own fear…” He trailed off, not wanting to launch into a passionate diatribe and risk alienating the man who might be hiring him. He was a proud member of VCLU, and he spoke out regularly for vampires’ rights, but he couldn’t afford to lose the job opportunity because of personal views.

Mr. Klein nodded. “That’s excellent. Tell me, Chris, do you know any vampires?”

Chris tilted his head. “I don’t know, sir. There might be some in the group, and there are probably some at the rallies and fundraisers, but I’ve never had one come out to me.”

A smile of amusement crinkled Mr. Klein’s lips, making him look years younger, and exposing a glimpse of a lighter personality than he had thus far displayed. “’Coming out.’ What a charming way to phrase it. I suppose it can be likened to homosexuality. Both are feared and sometimes hidden. Thankfully, gays and lesbians no longer have to fear criminal persecution for being who they are.”

Chris breathed a sigh of relief. Mr. Klein appeared reasonable and liberally minded, so it was unlikely they would clash over ideals regarding the treatment of vampires. “I hope it will someday be that way for vampires too, Mr. Klein.”

“So do I. You have no idea how much I long for that.” He parted his lips in a wider smile, revealing fangs slowly descending.

Chris gasped, and despite his views, a frisson of fear scrabbled into his gut. He’d never knowingly been so close to a vampire before, and his first thought was to guard his neck. He glanced at Emory from the corner of his eye, finding his friend was unsurprised by Mr. Klein’s revelation. Seeing Emory’s calm demeanor allowed Chris to regain control and keep from making an ass of himself. Well, much of one. “Does it hurt when they come down?”

Mr. Klein shook his head. “No. It’s a natural process.” He steepled his fingers together on the desk. “I’m satisfied you’ll do as Emory’s replacement, if you can work for a vampire.”

Chris hesitated for an instant before nodding. “Yes, sir.”

“I’ll expect complete discretion.”

“Of course, sir.”

“Call me Hugh.” Hugh shared a look with Emory before continuing. “Much of the job is straightforward. I’ll need you to run errands for me throughout the daytime, answer phones, make appointments, and handle some clients or paperwork yourself.”

“What do you do, Hugh?”

“I’m an antiquities expert, and my consulting services are always in demand.”

Chris nodded. “I’ve taken business courses. I’m sure I can handle all that.”

“There’s one more aspect to the job, and it’s better you see it now, so you can decide if you can perform this duty.” Hugh gestured to Emory, who rose to his feet and walked around the desk.

Chris watched with puzzled interest as Emory got to his knees. His confusion cleared up when his friend undid Hugh’s snap and zipper of his pants. A flash of white briefs shielded Hugh’s cock from view for a moment, until Emory freed it from the underwear. It sprang into sight, erect and proud. The shaft was thick, about seven inches long, and straight as an arrow. Scarlet painted the head in its arousal, and a single drop of fluid hovered on the tip of his penis, slowly sliding downward. It almost disappeared from sight, but Emory caught the droplet on his tongue at the last second, before taking the other man’s cock into his mouth.

It was difficult to breathe as Chris watched his friend fellate Hugh Klein. A whirlwind of emotions swarmed through him—discomfort, envy, and longing. It felt wrong to watch the men together, but at the same time, Chris wished he were the one taking the thick shaft inside his mouth. Until that moment, he’d never doubted he was anything except straight, but all he could think about was touching and tasting Hugh’s cock, and then having the other man touch him. His erection jumped at the thought, as if to spring eagerly from Chris’s Dockers. He folded his hands on his lap to hide his reaction. It was strange enough to find the scene arousing in light of his sexual orientation. Having the other two aware of his conflicted emotions would be too embarrassing. Chris couldn’t help feeling somewhat ashamed of his excitement, though he was not the least bit homophobic. Enjoying such an experience just wasn’t part of his accepted self-image.

Hugh watched him with a strange impassivity as Emory sucked his cock. A fine sheen of sweat dotted his brow, and he seemed physically aroused, but his eyes were almost blank, as if Emory couldn’t touch him emotionally. “As you probably know, vampires need blood for sustenance. Sexual pleasure, coupled with blood, reduces the amount we need.”

“What about cloned blood?” How was it possible that he was having a nearly normal conversation while a member of his fraternity sucked the cock of the man about to hire him?

Hugh nodded. “I see you’re up-to-date on science. Yes, I drink cloned blood, but you must be aware of its drawbacks.”

“Only fresh blood has the necessary adrenaline and endorphins to fully replenish a vampire.”

Hugh smiled. “Excellent. So, I drink cloned blood nightly, but I must have a fresh feeding every few days. When coupled with sex, that sustains me quite well. Hunting is dangerous and impractical, so this is my solution.”

“It makes sense.” Chris frowned, trying to think of a delicate way to phrase the question he wanted to ask. Carefully, he picked his words. “Are men your preference?”

Hugh shrugged. “Sex is sex, Chris. I’ve had women assistants in the past, but I find they often want more than I am willing to give. They give in to romantic ideas of love and marriage, forgetting ours is a business arrangement. I’ve yet to have that situation arise with a male assistant, so I tend to pick men. If that makes me gay, so be it. I am beyond labeling sexuality.”

Chris nodded, not sure how to respond. It was all so businesslike and efficient. That suited him for a regular job, but it seemed a cold way to approach the more intimate aspects of the position. Still, it was for the best. He could understand Hugh not wanting emotional entanglements. He wasn’t going to want more than an employer-employee relationship from Hugh. The situation could work out lucratively for both, as long as he could get past his squeamishness at the idea of sex with another man.

A vampire, actually. Sex and blood-drinking. Chris quivered at the thought, not certain if he was repulsed or excited by the prospect. Regardless of his mixed feelings, the opportunity to work for Hugh Klein was too good to pass up. “I will do whatever you ask of me.”

“Excellent.” Hugh broke off, a paroxysm of pleasure crossing his face as he came. His breathing was slightly ragged when he spoke again. “Emory is leaving me on Friday morning. You’ll start then.”

Chris held out his hand to seal the verbal contract. When their fingers touched, electricity seemed to spark between them. He pulled back, clasping his hand into a fist. Was it his imagination, or was Hugh equally unsettled by their brief touch? He cleared his throat, trying to buy time to erase his confusion. “I won’t let you down.” He hoped he spoke the truth, that he could really give Hugh what he needed. The physical reaction of his body told him he was more than up to the task.

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