Anders glanced back at Galen a moment and kept the phone pressed to his ear. He’d never been this worried about anyone during his life or now his undeadness. But Galen wasn’t anyone. Galen listened to him when he complained about being without a partner and when he didn’t want to deal with the people he dated. Galen was there. But now? Vampires didn’t get sick—at least not according to what he’d read. He tried to think of any ways someone could destroy a vampire. Garlic? He didn’t think so. He and Galen had pizza from time to time and always with the extra garlic sauce. They were fine. Right? The holes didn’t appear to be from a gun or even a knife, so that busted the silver bullet theory.
“Do you have any injuries to your chest? Like your heart?” Goddess, he felt so stupid. “Galen?”
“No.” Galen fumbled to open his shirt. The garment parted, revealing Galen’s pale but muscled chest.
He gritted his teeth. Part of him wanted to run his fingers over Galen’s smooth skin. The rest of him held back. Galen was his friend. If they slept together, they’d make things weird. Then why did he have the overwhelming desire to fuck his friend? Because he was afraid of losing Galen. That had to be it.
He checked the phone. The call had connected, but Vita hadn’t answered. Where was she? Galen’s adopted aunt-slash-mother always knew what to do. Well, most of the time she knew.
Anders waited seven rings but got no answer. Shit. He disconnected the call. She’d gotten them out of jams so many times before. He tried again and waited three rings. Her voice mail hadn’t picked up. What the hell?
“Hello, Anders. What’s wrong?” Vita asked. “Who bit who and who wants to fuck the other?”
He frowned. Only she would be that direct. “Galen was bitten. A guy he picked up at the club dug his fangs into him. He’s turning green.” He turned his attention back to Galen. The poor vampire’s pallor deepened. Anders wasn’t sure how Vita could help since she was only a seer, but he’d do whatever it took to help Galen.
“What’d the guy look like?” she asked. “I’m assuming a vampire. Well, no. Maybe a wolf. They enjoy chomping things.”
He sank onto the arm of the couch. He wasn’t good at being the responsible part of the friendship. Galen got him out of trouble—but he always had Galen’s back. Now he wished he’d gone to Galen faster, even if only to keep an eye on him. Maybe he’d have been able to prevent Galen’s problem. He touched Galen’s foot. Instead of rousing his friend, Galen didn’t move. Fuck.
“Anders? Well?” Vita asked. “Are you there?”
“I don’t know what the guy looked like, and I can’t ask Galen.”
“He passed out.” His heart sank. Come on, Galen. Don’t do this.
He rustled Galen’s foot again. Come out of this. Don’t leave me.
“Passed out?” she said, repeating him. “How in the name of the Goddess did he do that? You two can’t get drunk or stoned. Has he fed lately? I told him not to go so long between feedings.”
“I don’t know,” Anders grumbled. “He said he didn’t drink anything and he’s not high.” He turned his back on Galen and lowered his voice. “He’s been mopey.”
“Imagine that. Another certain vampire wouldn’t have anything to do with that, would he?”
What was she playing at? He hadn’t teased Galen. They were friends. Galen knew where he stood, and he knew where he was with Galen. Right? He massaged his forehead. “Yes.” He didn’t mean that. “No.” Fuck. Wrong word again. “Probably.” He had no idea what went through Galen’s head.
“You’ve always been so committed. Which is it?”
“Can you please come over and check on him?” He hoped the desperation wasn’t thick in his voice, but he knew better. “I’m worried.” Try scared, panicked… He couldn’t lose the one vampire who grounded him.
“I’ll be over, but I don’t know what you want. I don’t know enough magic to fix him if he ingested bad blood or got into something pharmaceutical. In the meantime, get someone to feed him. He’s probably hungry and too proud to admit it.” Vita hung up before he could answer.
Anders held the phone on his lap. Feed Galen. He’d never offered himself up to Galen. Even in their lowest times… Galen offered his vein plenty of times, but Anders didn’t reciprocate. Why? He’d been scared. What if they were supposed to be together and he didn’t feel the same way for Galen? He’d be giving blood to a man he didn’t love. But was that the truth? Now that someone had done something horrible to Galen, the feelings he’d kept down for so long welled to the surface. Love was possible, but he loved Bethany and Johnson, too. He cared about them all even more because he saw life could be so precious. But who did he want?
He shifted his position on the arm of the couch and watched Galen. Some supers were real assholes. Only a dick would drain someone, but only a dick would refuse his best friend too. He nudged Galen’s foot. The vampire still didn’t move.
He scooted off the couch and knelt beside Galen. “Hey.” He patted Galen’s face. “Gale. Hon.” He swatted Galen’s unbitten thigh, but the vampire didn’t move. “Stop dicking with me. If this is a joke, I’m leaving your ass for a younger, prettier model.” More panic set in. “Galen, I’m going to fuck you.”
“Stop shouting,” Galen mumbled. “You can’t leave me. I paid the rent this month.” The muscle in his jaw tensed. “You won’t fuck me, so don’t tease.”
He’d gotten an answer and snark from Galen. The man wasn’t completely dead. He held Galen’s hand and rested his forehead on Galen’s fingers. “I called Vita. She’ll be here soon. Until then, you need to eat.” He bared his fangs and ripped into his own wrist. “Come on. Take mine.” He rubbed his forearm against Galen’s mouth. “Take it.”
“No.” Galen didn’t open his eyes, but he did shake his head. “Whatever this is—it’s bad. I don’t want you to get it.”
“What?” He smeared his blood onto Galen’s lips. “The poison or whatever it is probably isn’t all of the way through your system.” Well, he hoped not.
“I’m dying.” Galen licked his mouth and moaned.
“Hon, you’re a vampire.” He dribbled more blood onto Galen’s lips. “You already died. You can’t do it again.” Technically, he could die a final death and would end up in a pile of ash, but Anders refused to let that happen. “Stop joking.”
“I’m not.” Galen managed to open his eyes. Instead of the dark luster and shimmer, the sparkle in his brown eyes dulled. The middle reminded him of coffee with a little cream—not a black pupil. “I’m dying.”