Even the cheerful view of guests enjoying the hotel's pool surrounded by lush vegetation and exquisite flowers couldn't penetrate Ricky's sadness. Gazing out the window near his table in one of the hotel restaurants, he thought he should have cancelled this trip. Yet he and Simon had planned it for months and as a tribute to his late beloved, Ricky had decided to go.
Though Tavoro Sands Resort catered to singles, Ricky and Simon had decided to spend their anniversary here. Three years ago today they had met at this hotel.
A faint, sad smile touched Ricky's mouth. Meeting Simon had been the most memorable moment of his life, and the years that followed were happier than he'd ever imagined. He still couldn't believe Simon was gone. When he'd fallen in love with a nine hundred year old vampire, he'd foolishly thought they'd have a long life together.
Simon had warned him about the dangers surrounding him, not only from those who hunted his kind but from other vampires -- one in particular whose twisted obsession had destroyed the partners' happiness.
A shudder coursed through Ricky and he closed his eyes, as if trying to shut out the memory of Simon's murder. Even now he could feel Simon's blood on his hands. He could smell it. In the past the scent of his lover's blood had aroused him and stirred his hunger, but on that horrible night the fatal wound had released a crimson torrent that had overpowered Ricky, turning euphoria to horror. He'd seen the spark of life disappear in Simon's eyes, replaced by the emptiness of death.
So many times he'd looked into those beautiful blue eyes and felt joy, amusement, sometimes anger but always love. Always.
Now Simon was dead.
Curling his lip in anger, Ricky repressed an animalistic growl of pain and rage. The last thing he wanted was to call attention to himself. He finished his glass of wine in a single gulp, then left the restaurant, trying to ignore the sight of couples flirting at tables or pressed close on the dance floor.
On the night he and Simon had met, they'd eaten here and danced. Then Ricky had invited Simon to his room. At the time it had been the best damn sex of his life, and Simon hadn't even bitten him yet. He recalled the touch of his lover's long-fingered hands on his body and the way Simon's calloused palms had felt cupping his balls and stroking his cock.
Ricky's heartbeat quickened at the memory of making love with Simon. He could almost feel his lover's warm, wet mouth engulfing his cock head and his skilled tongue teasing the underside with feathery licks. His cock swelled uncomfortably in his snug jeans. Torn between arousal and utter sadness at his loss, Ricky walked faster toward the elevator. He brushed past a man and a woman who were too busy gazing at each other to realize they blocked the corridor.
"Hey, watch it," snapped the man.
Ignoring him, Ricky stepped into the elevator. As the door slid shut, he heard the guy mutter, "Asshole."
What did they or anyone else care about Ricky's grief? His family had never really bothered to get to know Simon; and his friends, though well meaning, didn't fully comprehend the depth of his loss. He realized they were trying to be supportive when they said he needed to get out and live his life, but that wasn't easy when he'd planned that life with a partner. He wondered how quickly they'd recover if it was their mate who'd been murdered. Only Brenda, his closest friend since college, seemed to understand his feelings. She had even encouraged him to follow through with the trip to Fiji.
"Maybe you need to do it," she'd said. "Everybody handles death in their own way. Do what you feel in your heart and don't let anyone tell you how you should feel or what you should do."
Well, he'd done what he'd felt in his heart. Now he regretted it.
The elevator stopped, but the door didn't open. For the first time since he'd stepped inside, Ricky glanced up from his shoes, and took a step back. He'd been in the elevator before and knew the mirror was there, but this time instead of his own reflection in the glass, he saw the image of a field at sunset. Trees scattered over the grass and a river ran toward a castle in the distance.
"What the hell?" he murmured and reached out. His hand touched hard glass and he would have sighed with relief if the picture hadn't started moving. Or at least a horse and rider started moving. The handsome brown stud carried an even more magnificent stud astride him. His muscular legs hugged the saddle and his long brown hair whipped in the wind. They galloped from the castle toward the river and as they neared, Ricky nearly stopped breathing.
He'd know that ruggedly handsome face anywhere.
"Simon," he whispered and instinctively stepped toward the mirror... and tumbled to the grass.
The object of his passion had already dismounted by the river. His head snapped toward Ricky and his brow furrowed in surprise.
"Simon?" he repeated, his voice scarcely a whisper.