Disclaimer: I do not own Christine Feehan's dark series. I do own Byzantine, Rachel, their families, and the humans (dead and alive).

Rachel felt safe in Byzantine's arms, but she was pulled out of sleep by her sister's call. Rachel! Isa! The urgency in her sister's voice was irresistible.

Diane? Rachel's thoughts were tentative and tired. Are you okay? Where are you?

I'm coming for you Rachel. Do you know where Isa is?

Rachel felt the pain in Isa's mind as she connected with her sisters. Here…

There was so much control in Diane's mind for her to be able to calm Rachel as she replied to Isa. . You have to tell me where you are. Diane kept her voice level and calm, soothing her younger sister's panic. I'll come and get you, but you have to give me your location first.

Then Rachel was separated from her sisters. Byzantine's mind wrapped around her just as his arms did. You will not leave me Ange, Byzantine growled his thoughts seemed to be torn between fear and anger as he held her tight. I cannot allow it. I need you Rachel. The world would be doomed if I were to lose you.

Rachel felt the pain in him and her heart nearly broke. She wiggled so that she could turn and face him and cradled his head to her. I won't leave you Byzantine…I promise. She gave her love. She gave him her soul. She gave him all of her being.

Byzantine lifted his head and looked deep into her eyes. His eyes were pure gold. They were captivating, beautiful, fathomless. She loved them dearly…just as she loved the man they belonged to. She did not understand it, but she knew that much. His mouth captured hers. It was her first kiss and it was overwhelming. His lips gently teased her own open and his tongue slipped inside her mouth making her jump. His mind soothed her and he deepened the kiss.

When he drew away, Rachel made a small sound of protest, but Byzantine's lips moved to her neck. There was a rush. What was this feeling? She had never felt it before. She clung to him desperately. He drew away and his tongue skimmed the area where his mouth had been. Rachel watched in horror and fascination as one of his nails grew and he cut his chest. His hand moved to the back of Rachel's neck and pressed her head forward until her lips touched the blood that ran down his chest. Drink bichette. Drink for me.

She couldn't deny him. She did drink. Her fear was suppressed and she drank from him. He pulled her head back and she looked into his dark eyes again unconscious of the small trail of blood that slipped from the corner of her mouth. Byzantine saw it though and licked it. Then he kissed her again. It was possessive, branding, consuming, sacred. You are my lifemate. I claim you as my lifemate. I belong to you. I offer my life for you. I give you my protection. I give you my allegiance. I give you my heart. I give you my soul. I give you my body. I take into my keeping the same that is yours. Your life will be cherished by me for all my time. Your life will be placed above my own for all time. You are my lifemate. You are bound to me for all eternity. You are always in my care.

Byzantine bathed a half-awake Rachel as she leaned against him. She was beautiful, sweet, innocent, and totally his. No one could ever take her away now. She was his for all eternity and he would be damned if he let anyone touch her…literally and figuratively for that matter. Byzantine dried her and laid her gently on his bed. She curled into a ball instantly and all Byzantine wanted to do was wrap himself around her. Instead, hunger gnawed at his inside. He would have to feed soon or else face consequences that he didn't want to bring on the members of his household.

His lips brushed her forehead and he sent her deep into sleep so that she wouldn't awake until he called her. Her sisters would not draw her out of sleep and try to take her from him again. Byzantine clothed himself in the manner of his people wearing a dark blue turtleneck and black slacks. He sauntered upstairs to kitchen and took a champagne bottle of blood from his personal cabinet. He kept the supply for when blood was needed in emergencies. This he considered an emergency. He didn't want to leave Rachel yet.

"Oh! Master Byzantine!" Young Philippe, Michele's youngest brother, had walked into the kitchen unaware of the Carpathian's presence. "I didn't know you were awake yet. Though, Madge wanted me to mention to you that she noticed that the girl was not in her chamber as she expected and she wanted to…inquire about the matter."

Byzantine's smile was dangerous. "We both know she said: What the hell has that idiot Carpathian done with our poor young house guest."

Philippe turned red and chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously. "Yes, that is what she said sir. She doesn't mean it that way. You know how Madge is."

Byzantine nodded, his eyes twinkling. "Aye, we all know Madge and her oddities. You may tell Madge that our…poor young house guest…will not be needing the chamber that was so kindly prepared for her. She will be staying with me. Rachel is my lifemate."

A bright, genuine grin lit Philippe's face. "This is wonderful news sir. Everyone will want to celebrate this. If you don't mind my asking…is that why your brothers aren't here."

Byzantine's smile was devilish. "Not at all. They have their own lifemates to look after whilst I rule this house."

Philippe's eyes went wide with surprise. "All three of you found lifemates on one night. I'm impressed."

"Be even more impressed, they're sisters. My little Rachel is the youngest of the three and Diane and Isa are twins. Of what I've learned from Rachel, Isa is with Hadrian and Diane is with Gaul."

"Are they planning on coming back together on the same night or will they be gone for a while?"

"Gaul should be back in a few days, but I do not know about Hadrian…his lifemate was very weak when we saved her. He may even turn her before they return." Byzantine said with a shrug.

"And how long will it be before you turn your own lifemate sir?"

Byzantine stared hard at Philippe. He would turn her soon, he knew that. He had to turn her. The questioning look that Philippe had sent him was offensive. How could he not change his lifemate? He needed to protect her. He could not protect her if she wandered alone in the daylight, he had to keep her with him. And this was the way.