“I’m looking for a new home,” he said, unable to meet Marque’s eyes. His fist was curled painfully tight in his lap. “And I’m hoping to find one here.”
He flinched as soon as the words were out of his mouth, regretting them instantly. More than a home, he was looking for a sanctuary, a place where he could stop running at last. It had been over two years now since his family had died, but some part of him was still afraid that the nameless men who had murdered them would somehow manage to track him down and finish what they’d started. The thought of being employed at an establishment that was large enough to hide him—to protect him—was enormously appealing.
When he dared to look up again, he expected to be met by a flash of amusement or pity in the other man’s eyes. It was a surprise when he saw neither.
Marque’s expression was serious. “Come here, Vincent.” He held out one hand in invitation.
Tentatively, Vincent pushed himself to his feet. His heart was starting to thunder in his chest, making his palms sweat. He didn’t know why he was so nervous; Marque was just a man, after all... albeit a very intense and disarming one. Vincent had shared his body with scores of strangers during his months on the road as he’d fled his homeland, and he knew very well how the game was played. Men tended to find him alluring, or exotic, or at least amusing, and he didn’t hesitate to take advantage of that.
He couldn’t afford to. Not anymore.
Marque’s fingers were strong around his, pulling him in close as Marque rose to his feet. Vincent stared up at him, fighting a wave of dizziness as the other man’s heat rolled over him. Marque had the most penetrating eyes he had ever seen; they seemed to bore into him, peeling away his skin layer by layer until they focused on the weary heart that quivered beneath.
“It’s going to be okay,” Marque said, tucking Vincent’s hair back behind his ear. Vincent closed his one good eye and shivered. Marque still hadn’t let go of his hand.
It wasn’t a surprise at all when Marque’s fingers brushed the underside of his chin, turning his face upward. The caress was ginger, tentative, as if he were giving Vincent the opportunity to change his mind and pull away. Which was sweet, really, but any choice Vincent might have had about this course of action had already been made before he’d gotten here.
He responded readily when Marque kissed him. The kiss wasn’t particularly demanding, but there was an implacability to it that Vincent found somehow comforting. He sensed that he was being evaluated even in this, that his every reaction was being held up on display for this man to dissect and pass judgment on. He turned his mind away from that knowledge and tried to focus on making the kiss good for Marque... on showing that he could be good for the House of Silence.