In Seville, Spain, during the beginning of Spain's Golden Years, a visitor by the name of Keith D'Ameron arrives at the city. His midnight eyes are filled with secrets he has shared with almost no one - over the long course of his vampire's existence, he has never found anyone with whom he wishes to share them.
Until, that is, swords clash in a tree-lined square and he meets one Javier Estas, a young man whose flashing verdant eyes and fiery temper change the vampire's life forever even as he steals Keith's heart for his own.
People were glancing in their direction, their inner barbarian stirred to life by the thought of a fight, but if one were to occur inside, there would almost certainly be fatalities. He gauged Javier's reaction to his words and decided a little more needling would be in order so as to get him outside, where it would be safer to engage in such fisticuffs.
He had to tread carefully, however; the boy wore his anger as openly as though it was merely another part of his toilette, and Keith could see him fighting the urge to disregard all common sense and simply leap across the table at his opponent. Javier’s hands were bunching into fists, and he spat a sudden volley of insults at his accuser in his native language that left some of the serving-girls gasping and blushing in consternation.
Unruffled, Keith examined his fingernails, studying the sheen that the smoky candlelight afforded them. "It's a wonder that you keep as many friends as you've got here tonight. You insult their intelligence as well as their purses when you press your sore lack of skill upon them. Not to mention such gross usage of your native tongue. One would almost think you were a poor, uneducated sailor instead of a fine, well-heeled young man. If, that is,” he added with insulting calm, “you are educated at all, and have not simply done well for yourself in trade by using the same tactics in your commerce as you have in your gaming tonight."
Pausing a moment, Keith glanced at the other men around the table, several of whom were staring at him in shock. Obviously, no one here had ever dared tell the proud young man of his shortcomings, though Keith saw that a couple of the men nearby were smiling slyly at each other and murmuring between themselves. They knew as well as Keith did about the signals of Javier's ire, and, doubtless having seen what that anger had done on previous occasions, probably believed that their compatriot would make short work of the outsider.
With a steely whistle, Javier drew his thin-bladed rapier. It was a noble's weapon, and in fine repair. He balanced it lightly between his fingers, his grip practiced and deadly. "Take your smart mouth outside, and I will show you how little I am lacking, Frenchman. I call you out." By the hard set to his eyes and the sneering smile on his lips, it was apparent that Javier believed he had the advantage over the older man, though by appearances alone, there could be no more than five years between the two of them. He believed this would be a swift victory for him.
Looking up from the golden Spaniard into the glinting point of the rapier which gleamed inches away from his face, Keith smiled. "You call me out, do you?” He asked quietly. “Surely not in defense of your own honour, for it is most difficult to defend what one does not possess, do you not agree? I would have been content with a simple apology and the return of my monies, but if you believe that the price of cheating is the loss of your pretty face as well as your standing, then so be it. After you, Javier Estas - the French don't trust anyone to walk behind them with a weapon.”
“Only because they perfected the art of stabbing people in the back," Javier snapped.