Val sighed, grateful for Lauren's presence; for her support and her compassion and her understanding; for just being her. "What we need to do is give Tobias a reason for living, beyond his research," he remarked, though he wasn't sure what that reason might be.
"We could expand his horizons a little?" she suggested, swallowing the last of her sandwich and chasing it with a mouthful of water. "Take him back to the places he's visited around the world, take him to visit old friends maybe? Anabelle and Julian offered to put us all up if we visited them in England."
"That visit is long overdue," Val said, in reference to a visit to England. They'd been talking about it a long time, but had yet to cross the large pond that separated them from their friends. He took another long swallow of his breakfast, before his hands started to shake.
Lauren eyed the vague suggestion of a tremble in his hands. "I knew you should have fed last night," she sighed, rubbing a hand through her hair. "We'll stop at the club on our way to see Toby and get you some fresh blood."
"I'm all right," he assured her, though he clearly wasn't. He smiled a little at her concern. "I do appreciate your concern though. You're adorable when you worry about me." And with that said, he drained what remained of his breakfast. It was enough for now, but fresh blood wouldn't hurt.
"You're not all right," she countered, though she was smiling back at him, drawing her fingers over his cheek. "You're too pale. I'm driving tonight."
"Any excuse to drive my car," Val murmured, with an amused smile on his face. He touched a kiss to her lips, now that they were no longer ice cold. "Shall I get dressed then, or do you have other plans?" he asked, clad only in a pair of silk pajama bottoms and a silk robe, open at the front.
She smiled into his kiss, rising from her seat to collect his mug and her plate. "I promise I'll send you to sleep with a smile," she told him, kissing the tip of his nose. "Get dressed, I want to see you fed properly."
"Yes, dear," he replied, smirking devilishly back at her. "Are you sure you don't want a little preview?" he teased. He might be considered undead, but there was nothing wrong with his libido.
Lauren laughed, visibly having to force herself to turn away to the sink. "I'm trying to be the responsible adult here, you know," she pointed out, glancing over her shoulder to meet his gaze with loving eyes.
"Suit yourself," he said, shrugging out of the robe as he turned to start back toward the bedroom, wiggling his rear as he went, just for her benefit, as if he knew she was watching.
She tore her eyes away, giggling under her breath. He knew exactly what he did to her, even after a few years together, and he definitely enjoyed testing her self-control. But she was more stubborn than he was about making sure he looked after himself, and that meant fresh, warm blood straight from the source at least once a week.
He didn't really need a shower as he wasn't mortal and didn't sweat and stink like one, though sometimes he took one just for fun. But he did have to get dressed and that alone took some time, as vain as he was about his appearance. He hummed an old tune to himself as he picked out an impeccably tailored suit, shirt, and tie that probably cost more than most people's paychecks.
Indeed, his dressing took long enough for Lauren to wash up the dishes and put them away, and change her own clothes so she wouldn't stand out too badly in the nightclub. She was a fan of swishy short dresses, and she couldn't wear them on the motorbike. People got weird about seeing her panties at times.
Valerian didn't. He enjoyed the peek at her panties, but he preferred keeping that view to himself. When he finally emerged from his bedroom, he was clad in a crisp black suit, crimson shirt, and purple tie. Black Berluti leather shoes completed the ensemble, shiny and new; dark hair perfectly coiffed, not a hair out of place. "Shall we, love?" he asked, twirling his keys around a forefinger.
Whether it was conscious or not, they matched - Lauren's chosen dress was deep purple that complimented his shirt and tie. She straightened from adjusting her heels, flicking her loose hair back over her shoulder, and moved to join him, gently smoothing his lapels. "Mmm, you always look good enough to eat."
"As do you," he said, playfully tapping a finger against her nose as she smoothed his lapels. "You are almost as delicious as breakfast," he said. That was saying something considering most everything tasted like ashes to him, ever since he'd lost his humanity.
She held his gaze, her lips curving into a softer, wider smile. "Aw, screw it," she muttered, reaching to take his hand and draw him back into the bedroom. "You can drive if you feed first."
"Darling, I just got dressed!" he said, making a weak attempt at protesting. "Besides, you know you want to drive," he said, dangling the keys from his finger to tempt her, even as she reached to yank him back into the bedroom. "Then again, who am I to argue?"
"I can drive another time," she murmured, turning back to pull him into her arms. Her hand curled to his neck, drawing his mouth and nose to the line of her own throat, to the beating pulse there. "You know you're hungry, baby. Just give me a little bit of yours when you're done, and we're good to go."
"And here I thought you wanted me to stay away from your jugular," he said, remembering her earlier warning, though that had been before he'd taken the edge off his hunger. Though he was a vampire, his breath was warm against her neck, his pulse quickening to match her own as his teeth grazed her throat. A moment more, and it would be too late to stop him.
Yet all she did was tilt her head further, giving him unfettered access. She trusted him, and she knew he valued that trust. No one else knew what a dhampir tasted like, but Lauren knew her lover cherished her.
Had he really said she tasted almost as good as his breakfast? That had definitely been a lie. He brushed his lips against the throbbing beat of her pulse for a moment, warming her flesh with his breath, his arms going around her to hold her close, before incisors too sharp to be human pierced her flesh. Pressing his mouth to the wound, he almost tenderly drank of her, careful he didn't take too much, just enough to come alive with awareness. Just a small taste of her blood felt more invigorating than if he'd drained several mortals of all they had.