Hello my readers!! Just wanted to say thank you for all the wonderful comments on the last chapter and I'm enjoying all the guessing going on with the future pairings. Lol. I hope you guys have a bit of patience because as promised, I have to work on the final Yes, Master post and a little bit of My Telija. :) The next Knox and Izzy fix will be out in October. Look forward to a few more fun things in between while you wait though. *grins*
Okay, enough chitter chatter. Here it is!!!
XOXO NIGHT TEMPEST
P.S. Rockin playlist coming out next month. Stay tuned! And I apologize if the formatting is weird with this post. I was having C/P issues. Sorry. :)
KNOX AND ISAAC: THE PRESENT: CHAPTER 3
Over the next few years, Knox was completely right. Cade had practically written him off, but Micah still tried to maintain a relationship with him. The small kindness on Micah’s part sparked an entirely new slew of problems between him and his mate, but Knox had heard on more than one occasion that Cade had been thoroughly punished for his mouthy comments. The compound staff was more than happy to whisper the gossip about the Original and his loud begging for Micah’s mercy. Knox found his self a little smug in that department.
Rowe had been acting strange, both he and Dan asking all sorts of vague questions regarding his love life or lack thereof. One time, Dan had even asked him what his type was. Knox called it fishing and he wasn’t in like with where there stupid questions were headed. At one point, he stopped talking to them for a month, fearful he would end up on a dating website somewhere. Eventually he had to talk to them again—Rowe was the prince for crying out loud. Even though they agreed to tone down the questions, merely curious they said, the two had not stopped watching him like a hawk ever since.
King had been trying to buddy up with him for training classes, saying he should take more time off, enjoy life a little. That conversation always earned the Guardian a dirty look along with a few choice words. King’s teasing, a rather obnoxious habit to Knox, knew no bounds. His small digs and jabs at Knox’s life made the vampire want to stab King in the face, but he had enough problems on his hands. A dead Guardian would only bury him further into his early grave.
He’d even been summoned by Nina and Hill to discuss his plans for the future. It was eerie, like everyone knew, but they didn’t. Hill thought maybe a few training sessions with the other territories might do him some good. Nina had gone off the deep end and suggested maybe taking an interest in the youth’s activities, possibly getting to know them better. Wasn’t that the problem! He had sat there and ground his fangs against his tongue in anger. He didn’t want to get to know them better, or one male in particular, he wanted to keep them away!
Knox was always on the edge. His stress level had flown somewhere past through the roof and was currently barreling towards the next galaxy. But the hardest part of it all for Knox was Isaac and the damn brat entourage.
Boy, did they give it to Knox in a way that he had never even thought possible. Cage had grown into his own, surpassing Hill in size and skill while still human. He could throw Knox across the gym floor and not even blink. Truthfully, he did it on purpose, because if there was one thing Cage hated, it was Knox for the way he treated his best friend. The way he never returned Isaac’s love or lust, whatever, set Cage on scowl level ten every time he saw Knox. But it was obvious that out of respect for Isaac, he never voiced his opinions. Nope, Knox rolled his eyes, Cage spoke with his kicks and punches instead.
Axel barely said a word to him, ignoring him when spoken to, but he was always watching Knox’s every move—whispering to the others like they were always planning and plotting against him. He was smart, freshly graduated from NYU—the mad psychologist of the bunch. Interning with Dan and going out to the city a few times a week to do some work at the shelters with the younger males, Knox had to give it to Axel—he was a very special male. That said, it still pissed Knox off that he knew he was being surveyed.
Nan took every opportunity she could to call him an asshole, pissed Knox off so bad, that at times, murder had crossed his mind once or twice. If it hadn’t been for the fact her father was standing right there most of the time, he probably would have by now. King would just laugh it off, say oh they’re just being kids, and act like it was no big deal. Yeah, Knox knew just how kids were—they were all little shits that deserved to be locked in a padded room. Though Nan’s verbal abuse was top notch, Knox had to admit, where she had learned half her vocabulary was beyond him.
Probably the scariest of all though, were Hannah and Emma. Turned by Cade himself on their twenty-third birthday, a time when natural born vampires usually went through the change, the twins were a force to be reckoned with. All they wanted to do was fight. On the field, in the gym, with each other—they were not to be fucked with. They acted like the personal bodyguards for the younger generation. You messed with those kids and you got a face full of Hannah and Emma. Although they would never tell you that if you asked them. They kept their feelings to themselves.
Isaac, well he had definitely grown into himself. He had become Jacob’s second hand in all ways. He practically could run the damn compound if he wanted, but he hated the spotlight. Busy five days out of the week, he had little time to go out or show his ass to Knox, but when he did, Knox had to fight not to drop to his knees. It had become a game for Isaac. Tease Knox until he bled for want of his mate. Not that Isaac knew about the mating thing, but he acted like he was Knox’s already—laying his claim in the form of glossy lips, a narrowed cut of his eyes, and the beckoning swish of his hips as he pranced by.
One night in particular, Knox was on the prowl for something sweet—his one true downfall besides his mate. Like a pregnant woman on a mission, Knox went into the main level kitchen when everyone was asleep. He threw open one of the commercial size freezers and took inventory of the goods. A pint of brownie batter ice cream caught his eye. Pulling it out, he flipped off the lid and licked the untouched surface with a growl.
Slamming the door shut, he went in search of a spoon. What he didn’t expect, and was surprised he hadn’t felt him near, was Isaac standing there with a sly grin.
The spitfire held up a shiny spoon. “Need some help?”
Knox looked Isaac up and down—the skin tight leather pants, the lack of a shirt, his bare chest screaming to be licked. “No.”
He went to the drawer and got a spoon, ignoring Isaac—or as much as he could. That scent, fuck, Knox groaned. Isaac’s arousal was plain as day, not even being touched and the kid was already sprung for him.
“Don’t you have errands to run or something?” Knox stuffed a bite of cold ice-cream in his mouth to soothe the heat of his body.
“Nope, I’m all yours,” Isaac purred, brushing past him slowly.
Chuckling with a shake of his head, Knox cut his eyes to Isaac. “I think I’ve made it clear enough. You aren’t my anything. I do not belong to you and you…I don’t want you.”
“So you keep saying.” Isaac shut the freezer and peeled the wrapper off of an orange popcicle. He shrugged, watching Knox’s eyes widen. “Thought I would cool off, it’s getting kind of hot in here.”
He had to lean against the counter to stay on his feet—the vampire being reduced to staring openly as Isaac licked the popcicle from top to bottom slowly. Isaac flicked his eyes to Knox, his tongue curling back into his mouth to swallow.
“Mm, I just love orange,” Isaac purred.
He opened his mouth wider, pushing the icy treat into his mouth a few inches—sucking it at the pace of poured molasses. He popped off the popcicle with an evil twinkle to his eye. Yeah, Isaac thought, he had Knox right where he wanted him. Licking his lips for Knox to see, Isaac straddled the stool in front of him with a bite to his lip.
He made sure Knox saw how he rubbed against the seat, licking his sticky fingers. “I think this is hitting the spot. How is yours?”
“Fine,” Knox spat. Out of this world was more like it. He wanted to take that popcicle and shove it right where it belonged. Right up Isaac’s…
“Let me try some.”
“Get your own. You stay away from me.”
Isaac pouted. “Didn’t anyone teach you to share? You can try some of mine.”
“I don’t want any of yours.”
“Mm, I bet you do.” Isaac dragged the popcicle down his chest, leaving a sticky line in its wake. “I love to share.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Knox slammed his ice cream down. “Who have you been sharing with?”
He picked Isaac up, much to the his mate’s delight and put him on the island.
“No one, I just like to piss you off.” Isaac grabbed onto Knox’s neck, bringing him close. “I like it when you’re angry,” he whispered.
His tongue flicked out, licking away a bit of ice cream at the corner of Knox’s mouth. “That’s called sharing. Wasn’t so hard, was it, Knox?”
“Why do you do this!” Knox pulled on Isaac’s hair, not expecting the moan from his mate.
“Because it turns you on.” Isaac rubbed against the bulge in the vampire’s pants. “Because it makes you so hard you can’t think. Because when you get angry, I win.”
“I won’t beg for this. You can’t make me. You’re just a kid with a libido that won’t quit.”
Isaac sat up, eye level with Knox he smiled. “ That’s where you’re wrong, Knox. I’m not a kid anymore. I can make you and I will, Knoxtian. You’ll beg for my body when I’m done with you.”
“I don’t beg and you need to learn respect, boundaries. Who the fuck are you? What is wrong with you!”
Sliding down the island, brushing his entire body against Knox, Isaac laughed. His hand shot out and gripped Knox’s fabric covered cock so hard, the vampire gasped. “You’re the one with a big problem.”
Knowing it was better to leave Knox hanging. Isaac let go, grabbing his popcicle from the counter—a puddle of orange left behind. He bent down and licked the counter clean—his eyes on Knox with a smile.
“Enjoy your ice-cream Knox. It was rather tasty.” One final suck on his popcicle before Isaac waved and left.
Knox stood there stunned. Whoever the fuck that was had just blown his mind.
Things went on like this for a long time. Isaac would just happen to be in the gym locker room, bending over—showing off everything God had given him as Knox walked by. A pair of handcuffs would find their way on his bedroom doorknob with a note scribbled with the most explicit smut Knox had ever read. He had to avoid the kitchen after the last Isaac stunt. Not the popcicle time, the chocolate syrup sucked off Isaac’s little fingers time.
Knox hadn’t masturbated this much since he was a teenager and he could barely remember that. Never had he been affected by another man this way or a woman for that matter. He was always the one causing the pleasure, the pain. Not this time. This time, Isaac was running the show and if it wasn’t for his mate’s parents and the fear of finally admitting to his years-worth of lying, Knox would have taken Isaac down—hard, over and over until his mate couldn’t move, let alone think. He was a liar and a coward.
Isaac on the other hand was having the time of his life. He loved work. He loved his social life and he loved getting Knox off. He knew for a fact what the vampire did when Isaac was finished screwing with him. He loved that he could cause such tension between them. What he didn’t love, was having to finish himself off later—going back to his lonely room with only his hand to comfort him. He wanted Knox and the time was coming when he would stop taking no for an answer.
Another thing he hated? Blaze. Anytime Blaze came around Knox, Isaac was there with a scowl, ready to kill—it was in his eyes. When the jealousy became too much, he would put his all into his training. Knox? He threw his boy around the gym—because his mate insisted on keeping up with the others, but sometimes he wondered if it wasn’t another reason to be near—Isaac said nothing, acted like he knew it was going to happen anyways. He took each blow, each throw, each verbal slur—drinking them down like a nice glass of iced tea— and afterwards? He quietly packed his things and slipped out of the gym with a heated look at Knox.
The only reprieve Knox received from Isaac and the gang was a few days earlier in the spring. Nan had been driving Isaac home from ceramics and had started to complain of cramps. By the time they had reached the compound, Isaac was the one to pull into the courtyard with a screech. Having switched places halfway, he scared half the compound with his screams for help. Nan was out of her mind with pain when had been brought to Theo. Isaac was barely breathing with torture.
As was now custom, the doctor had given Nan a sedative and they waited. Waited and waited some more until Nan woke the next day to a swiped human donor and a room full of anxious family members. No one had wanted to leave her sight, especially not Isaac, who had held her hand through the entire process. Knox was the only one to not attend. He stayed in his room, trying to get Isaac’s terrified face out of his mind for the next two days.
After Nan’s turn, Knox had also noticed that Isaac always wanted to stay at the compound. Never going out to the clubs with the others, except on a special occasion, Isaac always wanted to stay near Knox—much to the hatred of Cade who had still not given up his vendetta with the blue haired vamp. In truth, Isaac just wanted to keep his eyes peeled for that red haired fucker scoping out his prey, Blaze. He wasn’t blind. He knew what Blaze and Knox did. Or at least it seemed that way. He wasn’t having any of it. Touch his man’s body? Oh hell no.
The tension had become full blown in the compound, to the point that Knox had nowhere to hide. Not even Nova was a safe outlet anymore. His brother was finally at the stage where he urged Knox to claim Isaac, it was time to fulfill his destiny or some shit. Maggie was having the time of her life watching Knox being tortured. She still loved him, she told him all the time, but said it was karma watching Isaac tease him mercilessly. She said soon the time would come where he wouldn’t be able to resist. And even Knox knew she was right.
What was he waiting for? He had his own business, had for many years now. He had a home, a family that pestered the shit out of him, but he couldn’t give up no matter how many thoughts he’d had of leaving. He had a mate that was so sexy and smart it made him want to spontaneously combust. He had everything, so why couldn’t he just say the three little words that meant the most to the one he loved above all others.
Answer, the Original who was walking towards him at the moment.
“Micah and I are taking the next few weeks off. You’re on duty starting Monday.” Cade put his phone in his pocket.
“What? No, Knox could you please take next week for us? Micah and I have decided to take an unscheduled vacation that will throw everyone else’s schedules off. Please bend over and take this up the ass.” Knox snorted. “You think I’m your bitch or something?”
“Yes, you are. You piss me off and you deserve to be treated like the asshole you are,” Cade said calmly with a smile. “Frank is covering the bar with Hannah. Emma will take over training with King. It will be good for you to get the fuck out of my son’s way for once, give him something else to torture himself over. Enjoy the city a little.”
Knox growled. “You trying to pick a fight with me, Cade?”
“Nope, I’m telling you what you’re going to do. And you’ll do it, or I will start a fight. Got it?”
“I am not your little boy fetch. You can be civil to me once in a while or is that not in your schedule?”
“Civil is for people that I respect. You are not one of those people. So why don’t you run along and go play with your whips or something before you have to leave?”
“Why don’t you go and pull your head out of your ass before I fuck you up?” Knox smiled.
“Don’t you fuck with me.” Cade slammed Knox into the wall. “I have no patience for you!”
“Cade!” Micah was there in a flash. “Let him go.”
Cade showcased his angry silver eyes before letting go of Knox. “You’re lucky this time, Knox, so fucking lucky.”
“I’m honored, Lady Luck.” Knox waved his hand sarcastically, righting his shirt again.
Cade screamed through his teeth, shot a look to his mate. He walked off without Micah by his side.
“You really do know how to piss him off, don’t you?” Micah grinned. “That’s okay. I like it when he gets angry. If you know what I mean.”
Knox cringed. “I like it when you get angry…” Isaac’s words repeated in his head. “That makes one of us.”
Laughter broke the tension, Micah ending on a sigh. “One day, you’ll understand what I mean.”
The look Micah gave Knox brought the paranoia back—that I know your secret look. “Yeah, whatever, I got to go.”
“Of course you do. Say hi to Oliver and Tate for me when you get there.” Micah waved, going after his mate.
He knew Cade was pissed, but Micah had long ago realized his mate wasn’t going to stop hating Knox unless the guy told Isaac flat out that he didn’t want him around or moved. So, this was what he was stuck with. Not that Micah hadn’t grown into his own Alpha britches and stepped up his authority a level, or two, maybe three. He wore the pants now and he wore them well.
Knox stood there, watching Micah go. He wasn’t going to the damn city this week. Cade could kiss his ass.
Cade was furious. Knowing how to boil his blood, he once again let Knox get under his skin. He stopped, counted to ten, and waited for Micah down the hall. He would not let that asshole ruin his impending vacation or the balance he and Micah had recovered over the last few years. Sandy beaches, the warm sun, a private cabana where clothes were optional—he
couldn’t wait to spend time with his mate. His anger simmered to a slow burn when his son rounded the corner, busy on his tablet, and ignorant to his surroundings.
“Oh good, Isaac.” Cade stepped in his way.
“Oh. Hey, da.” Isaac touched the pad to move around a few appointments. “What’s up?”
“Are you coming to dinner tonight? We have less than a week left before your pop and I leave and I thought it would be nice to talk about that new business program in Harris I had mentioned.” Cade bent down to get Isaac’s attention. “And to just see you of course—I don’t mean to be pushy, but you’ve been so busy. We miss you.”
“No can do, da. I have my ceramics class tonight and I’ve already told you.” Isaac looked up. “I don’t want to go to the community college. I’ve got all the training I need and if I do decide to change jobs, Jacob and Oliver will write me all the recommendation letters I could ever dream of. At the moment, I’m happy where I am.”
Cade sighed. “Yeah I know, but wouldn’t it be nice to get a little continued education, have a degree under your belt?”
“No, it wouldn’t. Da…” Isaac looked down at the ground, trying to go through the motions of what Dan had taught him. “I understand what you want for me, but it’s not what I want. I like what I do here at the compound. I like my ceramics class, an outlet for myself, and I like being around my friends and family. If that doesn’t make you happy, I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m an adult, I’m twenty three, and I make my own living. I have my own rooms now. I have my own social life and I wish you could understand that.”
“Yes, but you’ll never meet other males if you stay here all the time. If your mate were here, you would have known about it already.”
“God, da, you don’t know that. It’s different for everyone. Is that all you ever think about?” Isaac shook his head, a vision of Knox running through his thoughts. He wished like hell Knox wanted him back.
“Is he all you ever think about?” Cade crossed his arms, knowing that look on Isaac’s face all too well.
“You know what, da? I have things to do. Maybe we can have dinner later this week before you leave. I’ll see you later.” Isaac didn’t even look at Cade. He waved at his pop in passing. “Later pop.”
“Isaac?” Micah frowned. He sighed, looking to his mate. “I thought we talked about this, Cade. I meant what I said. I know you’ve been working on not being so aggressive with him, but you need to cool it. He doesn’t want to go to school and he’s not going to. Drop it.”
“I wasn’t trying to upset him. I was just making a suggestion.” Cade let Micah wrap him in a firm hug that he knew was more than just being close—it was to cement his mate’s stance, let him know how he felt about his pushing.
Micah kissed his neck with a nip. “Don’t think I didn’t hear that last part about mates. He’ll figure it out. Why don’t you focus on your own mate and our vacation. We can pretend for a few days that we don’t even remember this place, just you and me for a change.”
“I know and I can’t help it. He just doesn’t get it. He’s throwing away his life, pining after that son of a bitch when there’s someone out there just for him.”
“Give it time, baby. He’s got an eternity to figure it out. We aren’t part of his decision making process anymore. Our job is to love him and go on vacation. I can’t wait to get you on that beach, naked, begging.” Micah hissed into Cade’s ear.
Micah looked over his mate’s shoulder, watching Knox make his way up the stairs. He smiled. Someone else has an eternity to figure their shit out as well, Micah mused. He just hoped it was sooner rather than later, for all their sakes.
Later that week, Nan was driving Isaac back from Harris. Isaac had been quiet ever since leaving dinner with his parents earlier in the night. It wasn’t unusual to enjoy silence between them, but after class, Isaac always talked—was excited.
“I can’t believe you still tell them you go to ceramics class. I mean, don’t they notice you never bring home vases or stupid animal sculptures?” Nan teased, hoping to get Isaac to talk.
“I don’t live with them anymore, Nan, and really? What do you want me to tell them? Hey da, pop, I’ve been going to pole dancing classes for over a year now. I’m really good at it and I think I might want to do it on the side because it’s empowering and makes me feel sexy. Don’t worry, I won’t take it all off.”
Nan giggled, eyes swirling a little. “Well, it would be a start, and since when did you grow balls big enough to actually go live on stage? The last time I mentioned it, you blushed for the next three days. I mean, I know you’re all about teasing Knox, wearing the leather pants to accentuate your ass and all, but these are strangers we’re talking about. Not your little dance for Knox fantasy. Could you really be someone’s wet dream on stage, take off your clothes for men and women to drool over? Could you rub your body against a complete no one for a few bucks?”
“I said nothing about lap dances and yeah, Nan. I think I could.”
“You think, or you know? It’s a little muddy from my side.”
“Shut up. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. It’s bad enough I get Cage on my back, asking me when I’m going to go out with them. Why don’t I date anyone? What my problem is and that I have to hide what I love because they just don’t understand. I don’t need you on my case, grilling me on my future choices as well. You sound like my parents.”
“Whoa.” Nan cut him a look. “Who the heck said anything about me grilling you? I was just asking, like I always do. Cool your jets. Psh, I am so not your parents.”
“Well, I know how these conversations start, Nan. I’ve had a lot of experience with them.”
“Did you get in a fight at dinner with the rents? Is that where this is coming from?” Nan softened her tone. She knew the pressure Cade, and sometimes Micah, put on Isaac. They only wanted what was best for him, but it didn’t always come out that way.
“Oh, no, we didn’t fight.” He rolled his eyes. “We had a civil discussion about how to run my life. Because I’m not an adult or anything, I still need a strict schedule. Plans,” he mocked. “Why can’t I just live how I wanna fucking live and leave it alone? I’m getting so tired of it!”
Nan exhaled. This was what they had all been waiting for, Isaac to finally lose his shit. It was bound to happen—between Cade, Micah, his counseling sessions with Dan, Maggie always cooing over him, his rigorous work schedule, his obsession with Knox and the bastard not returning his love. Isaac was gonna crack hard and Nan had a feeling it was going to be soon. Hell, it was almost time for his turn also. It put her on edge, knowing she was his only real defense should it happen at any second.
“Okay, we don’t have to talk about it. I’m sorry to bring it up.”
“God, now I have you apologizing. I’m such an ass.” Isaac groaned. “It’s not your fault. I know you didn’t mean it that way.”
“It’s cool, get it out. You know I’m the only one that will take it.” Nan grinned. “So, how is our hunky Joseph?”
Isaac shot her a glare that quickly turned into a smile. He couldn’t help it. Nan was just that good at changing the subject. She’d always been smooth like that.
“While I find him attractive, he isn’t my type. He’s just a friend.” Isaac leaned back. “And he’s good, been acting a little weird, but good.”
His ceramics class instructor, or rather his pole dancing teacher, Joseph, had become a pretty good friend to him. Always there with this stoic grace and the perfect words to cool his attitude. Isaac looked forward to his one on one class. It was like a breath of fresh air amidst the boiler room that was his home. Lately though, Joseph had been acting strange. Always leaving right after Isaac was done for the night, instead of doing a cool down together. He had also declined their weekly coffee break after class—he had other things to do—but he always said it in the most polite way and Isaac knew he wasn’t the problem, for once.
“Probably going through some stuff, it happens, Izzy.” Nan shrugged.
“Yeah, I know. I just worry about him sometimes. He seems so lonely.”
“Aw how sweet. Are you sure you’re not boning him on the side?” Nan laughed as she was smacked on the thigh.
“You know what I mean. Okay, done talking about everything!” He joined her laughter. “I’m exhausted.”
“We still have group tonight.”
“Fuck that, I’m going to bed.”
“Iz, do you really want your rents to have another excuse to jump down your throat? Missing group equals another around the world conversation until your blue in the face. Oh you were tired? Are you sick? Are you going through the turn? Are you doing drugs? Is this job too much for you? Maybe you should stop doing ceramics.”
“Ugh,” he groaned. “You’re right. See? This is what I’m talking about. I’m not the only one that sees it. They’re nuts. It’s like I’m twelve or something.”
“They’re not nuts, they love you. Now, you want to talk about smothering? Try my mom.”
Isaac chuckled, using his best high voice. “Oh Nanette, I’ve got this lovely young man who is just dying to meet you. He’s a Harvard senior and he’s even a rower! Swoon.”
“Gag,” she replied. “Shut up. At least she doesn’t threaten to kill my heart throb. Speaking of, when are you gonna talk to him like you said?”
“Knox?” He sighed. “Yeah right, I can bend over in front of him. I can lick chocolate syrup off my fingers to tease him all I want, but that man is a mountain. He will not be moved.”
“Wait, are you giving up on Knox?”
“Hell no, I didn’t say that. I just meant I have to up my game. Take that mountain down from the inside.”
Nan felt the need to beat her head against the steering wheel. “Oh for the love of Madonna, when are you gonna see that he is fucking with you? I don’t mean to piss you off, but that man wants a slave toy, not a relationship.”
“Then I think it’s time we showed him what I’ve got. Because I am not, nor will I ever be, some other man’s bitch. Cuff me, slap me, whatever you want to me, but at the end of the day…he’s going to admit he loves me.”
“What does that mean?”
Isaac crossed his arms. “You’ll see.”
“Great,” she muttered. “Just great.”
Two hours later and Maggie was in the middle of her sermon on mating. Everyone was trying not to listen. No one cared. No one wanted to get their hopes up. Finding your other half could take centuries and Mags acted like it could happen tomorrow.
“Everyone is different when it comes to finding their mate. Over the years, we’ve seen it all. Mates have touched, talked, grew up together and not known they were meant for each other until one of them turned. Something in our DNA, our body just calls to our other half. We can feel them flowing through us. Sometimes there are rare occurrences where a human can feel the pull with an intensity that rocks them.
Take Dan for example. He was able to feel his mate, connect with his mind, before he and Rowe had fully mated. Extraordinary? Yes. But common? Not really. Like I said, everyone’s story is different. But when it happens, you won’t know what hit you. A love that consumes you whole, your mate will become your everything. It could happen in the next ten minutes or the next year. You never know.”
“Those are delusions of grandeur, gran.” Axel stood up, grabbing a drink from the bar. “We all know it could be more than a few days or years.”
Maggie was always patient. “I love your optimism, Axel. Thank you for that.”
“He’s right. It sucks, every second of it. Knowing there is this perfect person out there for you, but you might fall in love with someone else in the meantime—someone that isn’t your one and only. It’s bullshit! It’s like, aren’t we already miserable enough, why not make it worse?” Cage threw his hands up. “I’ll tell you, gran. I’ve been with plenty of ladies and I don’t get the vibe from any of them. I’m about to start with a different country.”
“Have you tried men?” Maggie shrugged. “Everyone is different. It does happen.”
“What! I am not gay and I won’t be poking dudes anytime soon.” Cage grabbed his jacket.
“Thanks so much, Cage, for the support and all.” Isaac steamed.
He’d heard enough of Cage’s gay comments to last him a lifetime. When they were younger, it wasn’t such a big deal. But now, Cage had very loud opinions on the matter. Not that he hated gays, just that he had to make it clear every chance he got that he wasn’t one. It felt the same to Isaac. But within the past week, Cage had been such an asshole to him. Isaac had no idea what was going on, but it was starting to eat at him.
“What does that mean?” Cage turned to his friend. “I’m not gay.”
“I didn’t say you were. I’m just sick of hearing that you’re not.” Isaac looked away.
“Why? You upset that I’m not your type or some shit? Excuse me for not being all tatted up and a walking talking asshole,” Cage spat.
Isaac growled, standing up. He knew where this was going and he had heard enough. “I wouldn’t let you fuck me if you were the last piece of shit on earth. What the hell is your problem lately?”
“My problem is you—your lack of fun, cutting yourself off from everything around you. Just so you can stalk him.”
“Who are we talking about?” Maggie sat down, trying to gage the situation. She was intrigued, wanted to see if Isaac really knew about Knox.
“No one,” Nan intervened. “Cage is just riled up. Aren’t you, Cage?”
Cage gave Nan the finger. “Fuck off, Nan. This is between me and him, stop getting in between.”
“What is between us exactly? I’m sick of this, Cage. If you have something to say, say it!” Isaac narrowed his eyes.
“You’re different, Isaac. You barely hang out with us anymore. You are such a loner now, it’s pathetic. If you aren’t running around like a lap dog for Jacob, you’re in your room, doing God knows what and there are other things.” Cage flicked his eyes to Maggie. Things he wasn’t about to say out loud.
“I’m pathetic? I’m such a loser because I’m gay and won’t go around fucking everything in sight like you? Because that’s what gay men do apparently? I don’t want to go get wasted and slime ball with a bunch of club rats? Because I have a job and you don’t? Take your pick or is it all of the above!” Isaac’s fists shook.
“I think that’s enough for tonight. Why don’t we all just…”
“Answer me!” Isaac pushed his palms into Cage’s chest with a hard shove. “What the fuck is your problem?”
“You.” Cage narrowed his eyes and Isaac screamed his rage. He hauled back and slugged Cage right in the face.
Cage in turn screamed back his fury and took Isaac to the ground. He was about to hit his best friend back when Maggie rushed him from the side. Her fangs were bared, eyes swirling with anger.
“Touch him and you are finished. Do you hear me!” The vampire hissed through her fangs to Cage.
Stunned that his own gran was pinning him to the ground, Cage simply nodded. His face throbbed, but he would not cry.
“Group is over! Go upstairs and stay away from each other. Isaac, if you come near Cage, I will report you both to Rowe. Same goes for you. You want to act like children? Then I will treat you as such.”
With a foreboding feeling, and a little shocked herself, Nan grabbed Isaac off the ground and pushed him out the door. Axel stayed behind to help his brother even though he knew Cage was going to storm off anyway. They may be different, as different as twins could be, but Cage was still his blood. He would do anything to help him.
After group, Isaac and Cage avoided each other like the plague. It wasn’t until the next day during training that Cage approached Isaac with his hands in his pockets.
“What do you want?” Isaac didn’t even look up. He did however catch the strange look from Knox and Blaze. Oh great, Iz thought, got them watching me too. He didn’t so much mind Knox, but he did mind Blaze. In fact, he hated Blaze. Those hands on his man, that fucker better watch himself when I turn. Isaac had a second to think.
“You can’t even look at me or talk to me without thinking about him, can you?”
“You’re the one in my space and I asked you what you wanted. I didn’t ask for your commentary on my thoughts.” Isaac pulled his bag over his sore shoulder and stood. “Got something you want to say, go ahead. But don’t start shit with me, Cage. Not in the mood.”
“Come out with us tonight.”
“You’re kidding right?” Isaac glared at Cage. “After the shit you put me through this week, last night, and you want me to be all besties with you? The answer is not just no, but hell to the fuck no.”
In the corner Blaze leaned against the wall with Knox. “What is that all about?”
“Dunno.” Knox narrowed his eyes. “But I don’t like that body language. Cage is all up in his shit.”
“Then why don’t you go over there and stop it. You’re the teacher right?”
Knox pushed off the wall. “They’re adults. Let them deal with it. Looks like Isaac is doing most of the talking anyway.”
“Yeah, I’m so sure that’s what you want to them to do. I bet you’re itching to go over there and get in Cage’s face. What, with him putting his hands on your mate and all.”
Knox noticed Cage’s hand trying to grip Isaac’s arm. “Watch it, Blaze. You might just cross the line.”
Blaze snorted. “Your threats mean nothing to me anymore. You keep saying that. Keep it up, B and I’ll fuck your face up. You haven’t done it because you know I’m one of the only friends you have left. And you also know I’m right. You know, Cade and Micah are about to leave for two weeks. You should think about what you’ll do when they aren’t around. Possibly put that kid out of his misery for once.”
“Whatever, B. I’m out.”
He turned to leave, only to hear Isaac scream. “Fuck off! I don’t want to go and I don’t want you up in my face. Go to your little whore gathering and get drunk. I don’t care what you do, just leave me alone!”
Stunned, Knox watched Isaac storm out of the gym. It was the first time in years that Isaac had left his presence without even a look or a sly smile—a promise to tease him mercilessly later. Looking back to Cage and the look of fury the kid was wearing, Knox knew something bad was going down. His suspicions started to creep out of the dark and his mind was never a good place to go--Cage and Isaac? Nina’s son better hope to hell that wasn’t the case, Knox growled.
It was the night before Cade and Micah were set to leave on their vacation. Knox had switched shifts with Blaze because he just had a bad feeling about being away from Isaac right now. Even if it was just to watch, he knew he had to stay. Cade had been pissed beyond belief when Rowe had approved the switch, but what the hell could he do about it? Nothing, Knox smiled, absolutely nothing.
Knox clicked open his window, turning off his personal security alarm before slipping outside. He needed the fresh air to clear his mind, to stop his heart from racing even though he hadn’t been doing anything, but sitting in his room but thinking of Isaac. Everyone was downstairs, so going out the usual way was not an option. Lately avoidance was his middle name. He’d join up with society once the Original was out on his man booty vacay.
Fingers hooked into the bar above him, Knox pulled his body up to the roof and settled in. His legs dangled over the edge, his head felt like it was going a mile a minute, and the stars shined above. Hands planted to his sides, he let out a deep breath.
Paranoia had turned him into a ball of stress. He was always watching everyone’s expressions and body language to see if they knew his secret. The only ones that actually knew were Blaze, Nova, and damn it, Maggie. Smart as a tack, never letting anything slide, the mama bear of a grandmother always knew before you did. She wouldn’t stop smiling at him or doing that stupid fucking wink thing after she threatened his life a few times over her gran-cub Isaac. If he didn’t already like her, Knox would’ve punched her by now. You couldn’t punch your mate’s grandmother though, that was all sorts of karmic wrongness.
So there it was, his mate becoming his mind’s obsession once again. An obsession that refused to quit—something he had no control over. Well, he tried to control it, but these days? It ended with his hand on his cock, his fangs deep in his balled up fist to keep the growling down. He was pathetic, but it was all he could do to keep the craving away.
After a few decades of waiting, Knox had grown cautious of his mate, lustful, in love—but really, really cautious. He’d grown hard as steel, thrown up a wall, become angry to counteract his heart. He was a mean son-of-a-bitch to Isaac. Always throwing him around during training, telling him how worthless he was, anything he could think of to draw the attention away from his real feelings. He knew it was wrong. Fuck, it killed him every time he saw Isaac’s face—even the sexy face with the pouty lips, Isaac’s favorite teasing look.
Isaac would walk away and Knox would stay put. He couldn’t take Isaac as a mate, no matter what kind of secret cosmic crush the little fuck had on him. He was still very human, he was sensitive, a freak in disguise, and the most important of all…Isaac was Cade and Micah’s son, the mother fucking Original’s kid. Uh yeah—hell no, fuck you very much. Not even going there, Knox rubbed his thighs with a shudder.
Being strong didn’t equal anything when going against the killing machine Cade had become. Yeah he was still hearts and stars and horseshoes when it came to his family, but he was lethal on the field. Knives, guns, a freaking Swiss army knife, Cade could work a blade or bullet like he was dancing to Swan Lake. Knox didn’t want to dance with him outside the gym, ever. So telling daddy dearest that one of his former best friends wanted to bend his precious son over and give it to him while he was tied up and gagged was not an option.
Gah, but those jeans with those boots, that smoky liner he wore around his eyes, that long hair that he could wrap around his fist; it was all too much to look at. Isaac was the walking definition of sex, all grown up. Fuck my life, Knox groaned, lying back onto the roof.
A buzzing against his thigh made him roll his eyes. Knox held the phone up—the flat screen filled with Frank’s face and information. On a sigh, he answered.
“Call accepted,” he said softly to his smart phone. Another buzz then Frank was on video from the bar. Loud music with a harsh bass drifted in from the background, yelling, glass clinking.
Frank started walking, holding his phone up. “Hey, hold on.”
“You call me to tell me to hold on? Fucker.” Knox sat up. “What are you, a telemarketer? Do I get Muzak too?”
“Yeah, yeah, hold up.” A door closed, the music died. The ugly sage green of the office loomed in the background. Frank’s mug appeared on the screen again. “So you know how we were talking about hiring a few dancers to take over for uh, Luca and Eddie?”
Knox remembered the conversation well. He’d just punched one of his best dancers in the gut, flipped him over with a knee to the back, and taken three syringes in a tiny pouch from him. Luca was so high on Rush he had writhed, his cock strained in his barely there leather shorts—not giving two shits that he was about to break a rib or two. He wanted Knox to touch him, any way he could get it.
Shit had gone from bad to worse when the other dancer, Eddie, pulled a gun on Knox, demanding he hand over the drugs and some cash. Eddie was dealing that shit in his club and by orders from the queen and prince themselves, all Rush dealers were to be eradicated. Done away with, killed. Their homes cleaned for drugs. Their friends and family—if any—questioned for more info then swiped of the memory.
Yeah, he remembered the look on Eddie’s face as he kicked his leg out, pulled his own gun from its holster at his back and shot one of his favorite employees in the face. He also remembered having to swipe Luca, send him away in a car to his mother’s house in Pennsylvania, and know he’d never see his friend again. Memories sucked sometimes.
“Yeah,” Knox grunted. “What of it?”
Frank went over to the computer and sat down. “I posted on the site and…”
“You what? Ah Frank, what the hell did you do?” Knox growled.
He didn’t need this right now. They were not doing a karaoke night, no matter how much Frank liked to sing off key. They were about strippers, liquor, dirty blowjobs in the back hall. They did not do karaoke.
“Hold your balls there, big guy. I didn’t do anything major without you. God, you get so cranked sometimes. You need to relax.”
“Yeah.” Knox barked a laugh. “What the fuck ever, Frank. Tell me what you did.”
Frank eyed him for a second before giving up. “Okay, I posted an amateur night for next Friday. We didn’t have anything scheduled other than the usual song and dance. Thought it would be a good idea. Get some fresh meat up there to do their thing, maybe one of em will shine. You know?”
Knox had to admit it wasn’t a bad idea, better than scouring the streets or letting the other dancers bring in some jacked up junkie looking to make a twenty for the night then bounce. This way, they might bring the bad out of a normal person—the sexier the better—instead of bringing the worse out of the bad. The two were mutually exclusive and Knox wanted to keep it that way. Clean seemed to go over better with their patrons, who were mostly vamps—Rush in the system of a dancer a very dangerous situation for everyone involved.
“Sounds good, Frank.”
“Really?” Frank looked suspicious of that answer. Normally they went at it for a good minute or two before taking back a shot of Jack and parting ways. They got each other just fine.
“Yes. Just make sure that Joey and Miles scan ids this time. No hot young things get a free pass. They need to cut that shit out before trouble blows down the door. I’m not dealing with angry daddies or cops. You know what I’m saying?”
Frank smiled. “Daddies?”
“Fuck off, you get the point.” Knox kept his eyes steady. Yeah, speaking of daddies, he had his own shit to deal with. “Look, put it together, make it happen. Make sure Chrissy is working that night. We’ll be packed with new toys on stage. She can work the bar quicker than any of them. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Got it, will you keep an eye on the girls for me tonight? I’m gonna be here late and you know how they are.” Frank got a serious look in his eye. “Jess is all zen these days and thinks we ought to let their activities roll off our backs, but I say lay the smack down on occasion. They might be adults, vampires, but that don’t mean I don’t know what they do. You know?”
Oh, did he ever. Those two had grown into quite the little pair. She-bitch and she-devil, both hot as fuck, both took shit from no one. Never were they apart and no one except the younger vamps knew what they did in their spare time. Knox wasn’t even sure that the twins had friends with the other vamps now that he thought about it. They didn’t exactly exude friendship.
“Good,” Frank replied. “Catch you later. It’s a mess out there.”
“Keep it clean, Frank. Later.”
“Yeah.” Frank ended the video chat, Knox’s screen timing out to save battery.
Looking down onto the back grounds, Knox leaned forward. Two males exited from the patio off the main floor kitchen. One was walking pretty fast, the other lightly jogging to catch up. Flood lights burst to life. Isaac’s form spun around and crossed his arms. Knox growled softly. Was he in trouble? He looked angry, really, really pissed. Who the fuck was that with him?
Stepping into the lights, Cage threw up his hands and Knox tuned in. He calmed the beat of his heart to listen to what their mouths were saying.
“Why? So you can say we clubbed together and look like my social savior to my parents? Got me out of some funk that doesn’t exist, Cage? This is me! All of this is me. I’m not depressed. I’m not going through a phase. I’m not out for attention. This is me.” Isaac made a sound of frustration.
Cage shook his head. “No it’s not. You’re different now. You didn’t used to be this way, Izzy. Wearing women’s underwear and locking yourself in your room all the time. That isn’t you…”
“Did you just say women’s underwear? I don’t wear women’s…what!” Isaac gawked.
“Don’t lie! I saw the stuff in your room. It may not be for women, but it might as well be. The Isaac I know is happy, carefree, loves boating and soccer in his spare time and having fun with his friends. What the fuck happened to you? Where did you go? Who did this to you?”
Women’s underwear? Knox hissed at the thought of Isaac on his bed, black thigh highs wrapped around his pale legs, a silky black string running up his ass, mascara running down his cheeks. Oh God, he licked his lips. His boy was a freak.
“The day I boat, play soccer, or become a poster child for Ralph Lauren put a bullet in my head, Cage. I’m not a head case, you asshole. I like what I like, I do what I do, and if you don’t get it or can’t be my friend because of it, then fuck you. I don’t need you if that’s the case. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s how you feel. So why don’t you go out to the club, cram your cock up every hole that’s willing, and have yourself a grand old time. Just know that when you come back, we aren’t friends anymore.”
That’s my boy, Knox growled softly from the roof. His eyes swirled as Isaac told that stupid little playboy to fuck off. Cage was good in the gym, but he sure was cocky, needed to be put in his place. Wait, his boy? Ah, fuck Knox groaned. There he went again.
The other part of Knox watched with an actual ache in his chest as Cage made the biggest mistake he ever had, and that kid had made a lot of mistakes. He couldn’t believe Cage would talk to Isaac like that, after all the years they had been attached at the hip. This would crush Isaac in the end. Even though his words were strong, acting like he could take it, Isaac would fall and he would fall hard.
“Yeah? Well I don’t care anymore. I thought I could take you out, show you a good time. Show you what you were missing, but it’s clear that you just gave up somewhere down the road to be his little slave. We all know who you’re holding out for, Izzy. Get it through your fucking head that he doesn’t want you. He never has, never will, and whatever this is that you think you’re doing to try and snag him, it’s not going to work.
Knox hates you. I hope this was all worth it to you, Isaac, because when I come back from fucking every hole I can find, I don’t want you around either. Since you seem to hate it here so much anyway, why don’t you find yourself somewhere else to live while you’re practicing this self-loathing, I’m his little slut bullshit. Then we don’t have to watch.”
Knox held his breath. Cage turned around and went into the house, the door smacking shut so loudly, it echoed through the trees. Isaac stood there for a minute, then another. After ten minutes of staring at the closed door, he turned towards the security wall that protected them from the woods and started walking. This was not good. Oh fuck, Knox slid down the small terrace attached to his window. Where was he going? After what that stupid ass Cage had just let fly, he was pretty sure Isaac wasn’t about to just take a stroll.
Hated him? No way, even if he was an asshole, Knox could never hate Isaac. This wasn’t Isaac’s fault. Even if he didn’t know that they were mates, he felt the pull disguised as a crush in his head. Damn, why couldn’t love just be simple? Why were their always glitches in the system? Fate, you fucking suck, Knox dropped down from his terrace to the earth below. His boots slammed into the grass before he rose to his full height.
The guards let Isaac through the back gate and into the woods. They didn’t get involved and just as well. The back door opened and Nanette ran out into the yard.
“Izzy!” She yelled. Her long locks blowing around her face, hiding her dark eyes momentarily, but Isaac slipped past the wall and out of sight.
She swept her hair out of her eyes, looking right at Knox. Fangs—only a few months old—dropped a little, her eyes swirling in anger. “If I were you, I’d get the fuck out my way.”
“And if I were you, I’d watch that mouth little girl.” Knox took a step forward.
“Or what, Knox?” She smiled, her eyes cold like a killer, but her face so much like her mother’s it was scary. Yeah, this was King’s daughter alright.
His reply was an equally sinister smile. “Better go after him before his mascara starts running.”
Nan’s eyes narrowed. “I’ll go and take care of him. Put my hands on him to make the pain go away, wipe up that pretty make-up from his big blue eyes, hold him til he stops crying. Because that’s not your job, is it?”
Knox’s heart stopped for a minute. “What are you getting at, Nan?”
“Oh nothing, but if you’ll excuse me…” She swiped his arm hard as she passed. “I’ll be going now.”
“Nan!” Knox growled.
She held up her middle finger for him before getting past security to follow Isaac.
Shit, shit, shit, shit. Oh fuck! Knox practiced breathing in and out before he trusted himself to go inside. Did she know too? His heart yearned to go after Isaac. To hold him, to lick away the tears, to make him moan instead of cry, but he couldn’t do it. So instead of staking his claim, Knox headed inside to raid his candy drawer. He needed a fix. An I.V. full of milk chocolate would hit the spot right about now.
He’d walked for what seemed like forever. Golden brown foliage sprinkled with oranges and browns covered the ground, crunching under his feet until he reached the log. It had been here years. Rotting at one end, moss covering the other side, but no matter how ugly, it was still his log. He ran a hand over the bark before he sat down slowly. He stared at the hollow end.
His Da had found him there when Thomas had attacked the compound a little over twenty three years ago. These were the very woods where their enemies had died, his vampire birth mother had been murdered, some of their own people among the bloodshed—his biological father’s grave somewhere back in France. This place only added to his depression, but he had to get away, even if it was to sit with the ghosts of his past. He couldn’t do it anymore. He hated Cage’s temper, his quick discrimination. He hated this place, the way they made him feel. For all his confidence and sexual bravado, he was quickly falling apart.
Cage had always been his best friend next to Nan. How could he do that? Say that shit to me, Isaac felt the first tear roll down his cheek. He knew why, because they had grown to be two very different people. Cage tall, big like Hill, sexy as fuck, and him? He was thin with softer angles along his body. No hard muscle graced his chest and arms like the others, no matter how hard he tried. He was weak, couldn’t lift weights to save his life; couldn’t hit other people with his fists because it scared him. No one wanted him as a mate because he was the runt. Maybe that’s why Knox wasn’t interested.
He was nothing more than a pussy who loved one man who—Cage was right—would always hate him. He’d wasted so many years, so much energy. No matter what he did, Isaac was going to have to get over Knox. The guy was poison to him, nothing more than a fantasy to touch himself for at night. That was it. So then why did he feel like giving up on Knox was like giving up his own life? It was kind of like a pain in his gut or a pounding in his head. Then again, he was already feeling like shit. Maybe that was it.
No, Isaac shook his head, wiping some tears. He would not give up on Knox. Something was going to happen between them, he just knew it. An all too quick, gust of leaves made him jump, but Isaac relaxed once he saw who was standing there.
“Care to talk?” Nan put her hands on her hips and stared at him.
“No. I don’t.”
“You mean you don’t want to scream right now? You don’t want to tell me how much you want to beat the shit out of Cage right now? Cry and get it out? He hurt you, Izzy. We all heard what he said.”
“What do you mean you all heard, Nan?” Isaac stood. “Were you guys fucking listening?”
She sighed. “Look, we were just worried about you guys. You’ve been so close for like…well, forever. It’s like you and me. I couldn’t imagine saying those things to you, Izzy. What he did was wrong and he deserves some hell for it.”
“Just don’t, Nan. God, you guys just can’t stop, can you? I feel like I’m under a magnifying glass all the fucking time! My dads are always up in my shit about what I’m doing with my life. Why don’t I want to go to college? Is there anyone I’m interested in? How about I go to work at Hightower? You could really be something, Isaac and all that shit.
Then there’s you guys. I love you, Nan. I mean it, but between all of you, I feel like some little bitch mascot. Your real dads are all Guardians, you’re all strong, even the ones that haven’t turned. I’m this wimpy little nothing. I can’t gain muscle to save my life. I can’t wield a blade or shoot a gun. He says I’m worthless and that he can’t believe I’m going to be a vampire.
That I’ll never fight with the others so I best find myself a hobby, like cat sitting or no bake cookies. Fuck him. I can’t believe…why do I feel this way!” He dropped to his knees and screamed through his teeth. But I am good at something! I just can’t let the world know I want to swing on a pole. Why can’t I just want something else in life? Why can’t I be like everyone else?” Isaac felt his whole body shudder with his cry.
Nan’s heart broke for the guy that was like her little brother. She knew who he was, Knoxtian, I’m an asshole, Montesgo.
Identical footsteps crunched together until all Isaac saw were a pair of platform Mary Janes with striped thigh highs and a pair of knee length black military boots.
“Get, up,” they said together.
It still freaked him out when they did that. With no other choice though, he wiped his eyes and stood. Hannah and Emma stood there hip to hip with their arms crossed over their chests. Hannah’s short bangs and femme fatale black bob made her looker more lethal, but it was actually Emma with her long black curls that you had to watch out for. Quieter than her sister she might be, but that didn’t fool Isaac. Inside those thigh highs were blades, guns were strapped in custom holsters under her skirt, at her back, under her arm. Hannah was more old fashioned, fists and knives. All in all, you didn’t mess with these girls who were now full-fledged Guardians.
“What are you guys doing out here?” Isaac took a step back, tucking his long hair under his jacket collar.
They looked at each other before turning back to him slowly. “After we slashed Cage’s tires…” Emma started.
“As is our signature, go fuck yourself, we thought we would take a walk and will you just look where we ended up?” Hannah grinned.
Emma’s brilliant green eyes narrowed. “Cut the shit, Hannah. We have info you might want, Iz.”
“Yeah? What’s that?” Nan moved next to Isaac. The girls shot her a look like they had forgot she was there, but they most definitely had not.
With a fang filled smile, Hannah looked at him. “What do you say to a real live show tiny dancer?”
“Gonna need more info than that ladies.” Nan snorted.
“FYI, Nanette you’re not the leader of the pack. Besides, we’re older. If anyone here is a leader, it’s us,” Hannah spat.
“Oh bite me bitch,” Nan growled.
Hannah was in her face in the blink of an eye. “Gladly.” It was a threat laced with something that made Nan shudder. Licking her lips, Hannah backed up when Emma grabbed her.
“Hannah, enough.” Emma looked up from under her long bangs. “Isaac, get to class. We know that’s one of the reasons why you didn’t want to go out with Cage tonight.”
“It’s just ceramics.” Isaac kicked the ground, his white docs sending dirt everywhere.
“Yeah, and I’m the Lion Princess of Zimbabwe. We know your code, dumbass, pole dancing?” Hannah grinned. “Hot.”
“How do you know about that?” Isaac squeaked. “Nan!”
“Don’t look at me.” Nan held her hands up.
The twins caught Isaac’s attention with identical smirks. “We know all,” they replied together.
“No shit,” Nan agreed.
The only person Isaac had told about his dance class was her and damn if she’d rat him out. It was the one thing he loved to do. The one thing he was confident about and he really was amazing to watch. Sexy, sensual, graceful—Isaac had a gift. Not that his parents would appreciate the way in which he was interested in using it, but hey, that’s why her lips were sealed.
Emma blew her bangs out of her face, her skull earrings peeking out for a second. “You can be very certain that we don’t bullshit. If we say we know, we do. Leave it at that, Nan.” She laid eyes on Isaac. “How about we drive you to class? We’ll explain on the way.”
“I’m coming then.” Nan narrowed her eyes.
Hannah smiled like the demon she was. “Of course you are.”
Fingering the unraveling fringe of his tank top, Isaac sighed. “I’m already going to be late.”
“Then get moving,” Nan suggested. The twins looked at her with the barest hints of approval. Turning, they began to walk back through the trees—disappearing as silently as they had come. Fucking creepy bitches, Nan shivered.
“You good now? Or do you need a Band-Aid for your boo-boos?” She chuckled.
Cutting his eyes to Nan with a small smile, Isaac shoved an elbow into her side. “Fuck off.”
“You first, bitch,” she countered. “Come on.” Grabbing his hand, she marched off towards the wall. Leaving that depressing hunk of wood where it belonged, behind them.
“Give me a run-down. No bull-shit, Maggie.” Rowe sat back in his chair. Dan rubbed his thigh under the table, leaning into his side.
As the head of education, group they called it, Maggie was in charge of reviewing all her pupil’s work to the board—or the family members gathered. If there seemed to be problems, which with young vampires or children about ready for the turn there were many, then it was her job to report to Rowe and the others so that they might resolve it quickly. Most of them knew why they were here tonight though, the reason unsettling and nerve wracking especially with both sets of parents sitting across from each other.
Rolling his eyes, Rowe drummed his fingers against the table. “Spit it out, Mags. I’m sorry, but we had plans and I do believe Cade and Micah have a plane to catch.”
“Right, sorry. Uh, there were a few incidents this week that concerned me. I knew the situation was only going to escalate, so here we are to nip it in the bud.” She took a deep breath. “Cage and Isaac are becoming disruptive during group. They’re going at each other like enemies and I can’t take it anymore. I’m at my limit. Isaac pushed him. Cage got him to the ground. Nan threw Cage into a wall earlier today. It’s getting violent.”
“Maggie, come on. That’s not funny. They’re best friends. Who is it really?” Cade smiled.
Micah grew very serious. He leaned forward. “Just this week or has this been going on for longer?”
“What, Micah. You can’t be serious. They wouldn’t be fighting.” Cade shook his head.
Knox finally cleared his throat. “Yeah, Cade, they are. I heard them tonight. They called it quits between them. Cage said some nasty shit, and Isaac gave it back to him. It’s pretty bad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Isaac like that.” He sat back, staring at the table. He could feel all their eyes on him, because he never said anything about Isaac except how worthless he was in the gym.
“You watching my kid?” Cade hissed.
“Yes, because despite your attitude problem, it is my job to watch out for them.” Knox crossed his arms.
“I won’t tolerate that shit.” Hill growled. “Cage knows Isaac is smaller, shouldn’t be pushing him around like that. Get them in here now.”
“Darling, we can’t just put them on the spot. That will make it worse.” She pulled her curls up into a bun. “Maybe we should call Nan in…”
“No. You are not dragging my daughter into this. She will help Isaac however she wants to, but she isn’t going to rat him out. That’s not how this works. If they have a problem, they can work it out. I think this whole board system is ridiculous. This is between your children and you. Not our children and all of yours.” Chloe stood up and King groaned.
“Baby, what she means is…”
“I know damn well what she means! I won’t have it Valjana! That is my baby.” Chloe gripped the back of her chair, her free hand running over the large swell of her stomach. “Things need to change soon. These kids are becoming nocturnal, going to the dark side it feels like. They don’t go out during the day. They only hang out with each other and not with the kids from the other territories anymore. This place feels like a prison. If we can’t start to turn this around, we’re moving out.”
“Okay, I think someone’s tired. We aren’t moving out.” King laughed nervously to Nina. He stood, pulling Chloe under his arm. “It’s been a long day huh, sugar?”
All the sudden Chloe burst into tears. “That’s my baby. She’s all grown up and…and...”
King started to walk his hysterical Chloe from the room. “We’re calling it a night. Sorry.” He picked up his mate, carrying her out the door while she cried.
“I didn’t mean to upset you, Chloe,” Nina called after her. “God damn it, Cage. Why?”
Hill growled. He knew his son had been wired lately, always going on about what the hell was wrong with Isaac. “Because you coddle him too much my sweet.” Hill picked up Nina’s hand and kissed it to assure her he wasn’t upset. He turned to Cage. “There’s nothing wrong with Isaac. He just shouldn’t have pushed Cage.”
“Of course there isn’t,” Cade slammed his fist down on the table. “My son is just fine.”
Micah grabbed both of Cade’s arms and pulled him back into his chest. “Relax. We’re just talking, baby. Just breathe. No one here is accusing Isaac of anything, are they?” He looked around. A lot of quick shakes of the head or huh uh.
“Then what are we here for?” Cade hissed.
His son would not be dragged through the mud because Cage had been acting a fool lately. The kid was a cocky little pistol that ran his mouth, had half the Royal harem following him around, and thought he was already a Guardian or some such. Cade was about ready to whoop his ass. Touch his kid? I don’t fucking think so. He growled louder, Micah’s hands tightening on his arms.
“No.” Micah voice was deep, commanding. Resigning to think about killing Cage later, Cade settled back into Micah’s chest with narrowed eyes.
“That’s it! I’m talking with both of them separately. When I think I’ve found the problem, I’ll talk to them together and you can be present while they verbally thrash each other until we’ve reached a solution. They’re young, they’re stupid. That’s part of growing up. Let them work this out without all this extra stress on your end,” Dan said.
“Yeah, because you’ve had kids before, let’s listen to you.” Cade snarled. His mate slapped his arm, leaving a sting.
Micah dug his fingers into Cade’s arms. “You’re acting like a whiny little bitch. That is your best friend. The fuck is wrong with you?”
“Sorry,” Cade muttered. “I just…”
Rising to his feet, Dan stared at Cade, his green eyes swirling. He kept his anger in check, offering Rowe his hand. “You’re right Cade, I wasn’t lucky enough to find a child in the woods. But then there’s a benefit to not having any also. I can sit back and watch all your little hellions make mistakes with clear eyes. They aren’t all cute and oh that’s my baby so they do no wrong. The fuck they don’t. I could tell you hours-worth of trouble your kids have gotten into without you knowing about it, but I won’t…because they aren’t my kids. Right, Cade? So it’s not my problem to watch out for them.”
“Dan, he’s just wrecked that Isaac is having a hard time. Don’t take it seriously,” Knox added.
All eyes were on him once more. Dan snorted. “And you, what is it with you all the sudden? Who are you? Spouting out rose scented sweet nothings for a kid that you hate, give me a break.” Take the bait, Dan squinted. He knew the reason just fine, but he wanted to hear it from Knox.
Knox pushed his chair back, rising with a growl. “I never hated Isaac! Don’t you dare give me that shit!”
“Knoxtian, are you alright?” Rowe got out of his chair. Everyone else scooted away from the table, watching Knox with complete shock. “Knox?”
“I’m out of here. Don’t bother me unless one of you ends up dead or the compound is falling down. You feel me?” Knox grabbed his jacket, shouldering by Rowe.
“What’s wrong, Knox? Hit a nerve?” Dan smirked.
Knox stopped, looking level with the wall ahead so he didn’t kill Dan with his eyes. “If you weren’t my prince’s mate, I’d punch a hole in your throat right now.”
“Mm hm, I’m so sure.” Dan yawned for dramatic emphasis. “Go, avoid us some more. You have more important things to do than discuss the future of the next generation right?”
“Fuck off, all of you.” Pulling on his jacket, Knox cleared out. He wasn’t going to sit around, listen to this shit any longer. What he was going to do was follow that little fucker Cage. See what the son of the queen was really up to. Maybe have a chat.
“Why do you do that?” Rowe sighed to Dan.
Dan rolled his eyes. “Me? Please, tell me honestly that Knox isn’t acting weird lately and I’ll go apologize.”
He crossed his arms, challenging his mate with a knowing smile. He didn’t miss the eyes staring into the back of his head from Cade. He could feel the heat of the Original’s stare.
Rowe looked at the empty chair that still spun in Knox’s wake. “Okay, he has, but what he hasn’t said anything…out loud.”
“And he won’t because he’s Knox. How else do you get him to talk? Provocation, my dear Watson.” Dan winked.
“We aren’t here to talk about Knox!” Cade stood and Maggie shifted in her seat. “I wanna know what’s going to be done about Cage and his mightier than thou attitude. Isaac isn’t like the others and you damn well know it. He’s…he’s…”
“He’s got a big heart,” Nina finished for him. “Isaac may not be the strongest or the biggest, but he brings more to those kids than he thinks. He’s got Hannah and Emma wrapped around his finger even though they think their badder than hell itself. He’s only got Cage riled up because he’s not taking an interest in fighting and his libido like Cage thinks he should. He is Nan’s other half, those two rely on each other like air and water. He’s the only one that Axel will open up to.
I’ve seen them chatting away for hours on end in the library. He’s helpful around the compound, always there to offer a hand or help out new families settling in. He’d different and he’s going to continue to be different than the rest of the children. That said, whether they want to believe it or not, Isaac Hightower is the glue that holds the children in a bond so tight, no words or actions will break it.
As much as I want to blame one or the other for being young, we can’t do that. What if our parents had intervened in every one of our relationships, where would we be now? How would we have ever formed our own ideals, our own lives? Now the fighting, I too won’t stand for it. Violence outside the gym or other than against the enemy is forbidden. We will address that tomorrow, but the other things they are just going to have to work out for themselves. That doesn’t mean if one of them were to ask for help that we won’t assist, but we can’t tell them what to do. They may still be children in our eyes, but to the world, their adults.”
Cade stared at Nina in surprise. Sometimes she could be so quiet that you’d think she didn’t care, even though he knew she did. But other times she had these moments of profound wisdom. Like now for instance, the way she spoke about his son tightened his chest. She loved Isaac as if he was her own and for that, Cade loved his queen with all his heart.
“Thank you, Nina. I appreciate that.” He looked at the table, Micah still rubbing his shoulders. “I’m sorry for yelling and for what I said about Cage.”
His mate was the strong one in their relationship. Always level headed, always with the right touches and words. He on the other hand was the one to jump the gun, hot headed if poked at. Thank God he had Micah. Otherwise he wouldn’t be where he was now—with a family, a child, a purpose.
“Everyone at this table cares about Isaac and Cage, Cade. Don’t doubt that for even a second and as far as Knox is concerned. I think you all give him less credit than he deserves. I would put the life of my child, a grown man, in his hands any day of the week and trust him with all my heart.” She cut her eyes to Dan.
“He knew I wasn’t serious.” Dan huffed.
“Did he?” She put her chin in her hand. Her eyes watching him frown.
Maggie stood up—her knowledge of all things Knox hitting a little too close than she was comfortable with. “Yes well, I just wanted to make you all aware of the situation in case you had no idea. Now if you’ll excuse me, George and I have plans of our own.”
“Night, Mags.” Micah winked.
Cade waved tiredly. “Goodnight, Mags.”
“Night everyone,” she replied quickly. Her stride out of the room left everyone looking at each other. After everyone had left, Rowe pulled Dan against him.
“Something is going on.” Dan tapped his chin.
Rowe smirked. “Oh yeah?”
“Yep. My drama radar is buzzing.”
That earned him a laugh. “Come on my little diva, maybe your drama radar will enjoy a night out.”
Cage’s anger was bubbling over. He looked at his Aston Martin and his fists shook. All four tires were slashed. The hub caps level with the ground. Whoever the fuck did this, he growled, was in for a world of hurt. Just as he was about to turn around to head for the house, Hannah’s blue headlights blinded him for a second.
The sleek black Range Rover rolled up next to him. The windows buzzed down. “Oh will you look at that,” Hannah cooed from the driver’s side. “Guess the pussy mobile is out of service for the night.”
“You did this, didn’t you! You fucking cunt, I’m going to…” He walked to the SUV, spotting Isaac trying to hide in the backseat. “Can’t go out with me, but you can go out with them? Fuck you dude! I’m serious, you and me are done. You’re such a fag…”
A fist connected to his jaw and he hit the pavement hard. Tires screeched off into the night, the girls and his former best friend leaving him to his assailant. Isaac was pushed back into his seat—Nan not about to let him see who had thrown that punch.
“I know you weren’t about to say faggot.” Knox picked Cage up by the shoulders until he was standing. Grabbing a fist full of hair, Knox jerked his face up. “You got a problem with gay people? You got a problem with your uncles or me being into men? I’ll tell you one thing boy, you say yes and I’ll pop you so hard, your balls will be in your throat.”
“No! I didn’t mean it like that.” Cage jerked, but the hold on his hair was so strong he fought not to cry.
“How did you mean it? Tell me what you meant by calling your best friend a fag?” Knox growled.
“He’s not my best friend anymore.” How childish did that sound, Cage cringed. “We, he and I...”
“You and he did what?”
Knox didn’t like the sound of that at all. Looking Cage up and down, his mind started to conjure images of the two together, doing God knows what. That had to be why Cage was so pissed. Did they share a night together and Cage couldn’t accept what happened. Did this little shit touch his mate?
“I was uh while he was doing…shit.”
It was two weeks ago. A Friday night that had Cage questioning everything he knew. What was supposed to be a night that he and Isaac watched horror movies and did their thing into the early hours of the morning turned into something else entirely. Unannounced, Cage had gone to Isaac’s room instead of waiting downstairs for Isaac to show. The door had been cracked a bit, the hallway at the end of the compound dark. No one else was around.
The blue glow of Isaac’s computer monitor was on, subtle screams and moans reached his ears. He knew what those noises were. Only they weren’t the kind of videos he’d ever watched. Watching Isaac through the crack in the door, Cage stopped breathing. Isaac was naked except for, well…his hand moving slowly over his body while the other tugged on his…fuck.
Thigh highs in a deep blue covered his legs. Isaac’s eyes hazy, his supple mouth opened, breathing hard. His cock was slick in his palm. Two large, warrior sized men took up the screen—one bound with rope, the other cracking a whip down over the male’s ass. Cage’s own cock responding to the scene before him with horror, but he couldn’t move. He was glued to Isaac and the video like a car crash that you just couldn’t look away from.
Before he knew what he was doing, his own hand was in his jeans—fumbling to grasp his hard on. He was already leaking, stroking in time with Isaac’s rhythm. He just…
In the real world, Knox watched Cage. The little fucker’s arousal filled the air. Cage’s golden eyes were clamped shut. Oh fuck no. Dear God, Cage and Isaac? Is that what this fight was all about? What had Cage done to his beautiful Isaac?
Cage awoke from his daydream when his back slammed into the pavement—all the air leaving his body with a whoosh. Panic, terror, everything in between filled him as he took in Knox in beast mode. He was going to die.
“What have you done to him!” Knox roared from above. Dark eyes filled with golden swirls narrowed, fangs sharp as razors descended. “Tell me!”
The smell of urine filled Knox’s nose. Tears fell from Cage’s terrified eyes—the large younger man, who would one day fight beside him, was actually weeping. Knox’s beast was in overdrive, the need to claim Isaac as his unbearable—to avenge the touch of another on the body he claimed as his. He was slowly falling apart and the proof was underneath him. He had let go so far that the queen’s strong warrior son was pissing himself below. Cage probably thinking he was dead on his back. Truth was, it was a damn close call on Knox’s part.
“Please, I didn’t touch him. I swear! I only saw what he did. I couldn’t help it!” Cage shook from head to toe. “I’m not into him like that!”
He could feel his own piss soaking through his jeans in humiliation. Why did Knox care about Isaac? He hated everyone except Rowe and his fellow warriors. Cage had tried so hard to get his teacher’s praises, Knox’s acceptance everything to him. Yet here he was on his back, crying like a baby, over what?
“You aren’t fucking Isaac?” Knox growled, his hands releasing Cage in shock.
“What! No, he made me. He made me like this! This is all his fault.” Cage rolled away onto his side and cried. What had he just admitted? What was he even saying?
Knox stood, his surroundings coming back to him. He took in Cage on his side, crying his heart out. He looked down at the puddle at his feet. Fear flooded him. What had he done? What was Cage saying? Oh fuck to the tenth degree. His heart pounded.
“I’m sorry, Cage. I am so sorry.” Knox knelt next to the young man who scattered away in fear. “I won’t hurt you. God, I’m really sorry.”
“Forget it. Just forget this…” Cage grabbed his keys from the ground and took off for the side door of the mansion—leaving Knox to stare after him.
Knox shut his eyes tight. What had he just done?
The dance studio was located in Harris. It was only about twenty minutes from the compound and an easy way for the kids to escape a troop of guards tagging along because they were so close to home. That and Isaac could go anywhere with the twins and Nan, all three of them trained to kill, all three of them smart. Hell, two of them were Guardians now. The queen and their parents trusted them to stay safe. Sometimes you just had to let go, even of your children—your adult children.
Grabbing a quick coffee from the place in the same complex, Isaac rushed into the studio out of breath. His instructor looked at him with a smile. Joseph wasn’t much older than him, a dance school drop-out that made his living running this place for his mother who Isaac had yet to meet. Easy on the eyes, Isaac blushed at the blonde. His bag dropped to the floor.
“Sorry I’m late. My ride had to stop somewhere first.” He lied, slipping off his jacket, his tight tank top revealed to Joseph’s eyes. Not that Joseph had ever made any advances on him, but Isaac was hard not to notice period. His coffee placed on the side table, catching his breath, Isaac smiled.
Walking across the glossy floor, Joseph winked. “It’s all good. I don’t have to be anywhere, but here.”
“I find that hard to believe. I’m sure you had plenty of offers on a Friday night.” Isaac averted his eyes. His long sweats slipping off to show the small shorts underneath.
“Nah, why would I want to go anywhere when I have you to keep me company?” Joseph tapped the bar on the wall. “Warm up?”
“Yeah, I didn’t stretch yet.” Isaac walked to bar and put a hand on it, facing Joseph.
They were so at ease with each other. A student teacher and added friend relationship for over a year, they could enjoy the part where they didn’t make small talk, but he knew Joseph liked to hear about his life. Guess it was more exciting or something. Not that Joseph knew about his real life, but it was nice to talk to someone on the outside as if he was normal.
“You weren’t going to come tonight were you?” Joseph bent his knees, dipping into a plié with Isaac.
“Why do you say that?”
“You look stressed, tired. You could’ve just called this off for the night. That’s okay to do, you know?”
“Thanks for the compliment, I guess.” Isaac looked down, his arm curved in as he dipped a second time. His legs bent slowly, a nice stretch in his lean muscles. A few minutes of silence filled the room before he put his foot on the bar and reached forward.
“I didn’t mean it like that. I know you well enough that I can read you fairly well. Most dancers speak with their bodies. You seemed tense, was what I guess I should have said.”
“Yeah, home is stressing me out lately. I got into a huge fight with my best friend and…” Isaac sighed. “I just need to dance. Get it out.”
“What did you fight about, if you don’t mind?” Joseph didn’t miss a beat. He cracked his back casually and went to plug in Isaac’s phone, throwing his hair up in a tie from his wrist.
His warm-up done, Isaac stepped onto the floor. A nice slow beat flowed from the ceiling seconds later before Isaac’s fingers wrapped around the shiny steel pole in the center of the room, the cool touch electric to his skin.
“We don’t get each other anymore. I thought I knew who he was, always would, but people change. Sometimes overnight I guess.” His words were sad as he took a slow spin on the pole, his foot still dragging along the ground.
“It’s alright to be different than other people. What fun would it be if we were all the same?” That was that. Joseph didn’t push. Isaac said what he wanted to and somehow he felt better with just letting that small bit out. Joseph had this way about him.
A jazz singer had a band, a mic to relieve their soul. The Guardians had their bodies and skills to relieve the world of evil. Isaac had dance, the pole that never moved, that would always be there no matter what. He was the one that changed things around it, he controlled this part of his life, and he was really good at it. Whatever was going on at home, the secret pain he held every time Knox refused to give in, all his petty worries, Cage—they melted away when he danced.
“Do your thing. I’m gonna let you freestyle for a while. I think you need it.” Joseph dimmed the lights until the pole was spotlighted—a way for the dancer to focus on their craft and tune out the rest. Isaac slipped down to the ground to stare at him.
“Show me how you feel,” his instructor said. Those very words lit Isaac up inside.
Isaac’s personal playlist flipped to Low Place Like Home by SneakerPimps and he rose to his knees. His hands sliding up the pole like a lover. His darkness called to it, his toes pushed up until he was standing with his knee around the metal rod. With a slow spin Isaac grabbed on with both hands and lifted his lower body into the air. He couldn’t use his muscles to fight, but he wasn’t weak. On the pole, he was his own god—lithe, lean muscles stretched and flexed in a way that seemingly defied reality.
Legs extended with his toes in line, he suspended his whole body with a spin. His cock rubbed against the pole as he rolled his hips. His mind in another place as the music represented his thoughts, his body. He climbed up further, his thighs gripping the pole as he sat mid pole. He let his upper body fall backwards. Back arched into the cool air of space, he closed his eyes.
He couldn’t help, but imagine Knox’s body between his legs, those thick muscles standing tall as Isaac rubbed against the vampire. A hand trailed down his body, his own fingers playing out his fantasies. Losing himself to the music, he caressed the pole until his feet hit the ground softly. Up and down he pressed against his imaginary lover. Hands, legs, tendrils of hair—Isaac was the music.
On stage, if he could go through with the plan, would be different. It wouldn’t be only Joseph watching him. Isaac wanted to captivate them all. He wanted his body to bring pleasure just from looking, finally eyes on him with a craving made clear—the center of the world if only for a few minutes. He wanted them to feel the pent up need he’d lived with for so long. Though the real purpose of putting himself in front of that particular crowd was to excite one person, he still wanted the crowd to feel his passion. As he lifted his body away from the ground, Isaac let his hair fall back imagining Knox watching him.
Like a fantasy, Knox would be sitting in a lone chair. A smoky venue that smelled that stale tobacco and sweat. The vampire would watch Isaac under a spotlight—confident, sexy, scantily clad as he danced slow and with a purpose for his man. Piece by piece, he’d take off his clothes until Knox got up from his chair unable to resist the temptation Isaac offered.
The thought made Isaac hard in his skin tight shorts, his mind unaware of anything else, but Knox. That is until a hand smoothed up the arch of his back, another one following over his stomach—stretched him into a tighter line from the side, forcing him to rely on his lower stomach muscles to hold him perfectly still. He knew it was Joseph guiding him. Though high on his own train of thought, Isaac played into his fantasy.
They were Knox’s fingers on his skin, finally joining him on the stage to complete what they had started long ago. Lower they went until his dream lover held a warm palm below his navel, one on his ass as he extended a leg in a perfect line. It was a complicated pose, but Isaac was a fast learner. At this angle, his ass gripped the pole hard, he could feel the cool steel through his shorts. God, he was so hard.
It was his last thought as he felt the glossy studio floor under his knees, his dream washing away instantly.
“Wow,” Joseph remarked when he opened Isaac opened his eyes. “That was just wow.”
From the dumbfounded look in his instructor’s eyes, Isaac knew the guy wasn’t messing around. If he didn’t know any better, he would think Joseph was just as turned on as he was. But he had enough self-control to not check out his teacher’s package for evidence.
“Where did you learn that? I certainly didn’t teach you.”
“Sorry, sometimes I get pretty into it, and I…” Isaac flushed with heat, looking down.
A hand went to his knee. “Isaac, that was incredible. Don’t downplay a move like that. That took strength and an organic creativity that I don’t even possess. I’m sorry if I ruined your finish, but I wasn’t sure if you knew how to come down from that.”
“No, it um…helped. I might have fallen on my ass without you.” He smirked.
Joseph chuckled. “Doubtful, but it was more for my own piece of mind. Don’t want a lawsuit.”
“I would never do that.” Isaac’s eyes widened.
“Isaac, I was kidding.” Joseph helped him onto his feet. “Now, I think you better tell me where else you’re taking classes, because that move was pro.”
Isaac bit his lip with a smile. “It felt right, so I did it. No other pole classes, I swear.”
“You felt it?” Joseph blew out a slow breath. “Maybe you should be teaching me.”
“I don’t know about that, but I was wondering if we could switch our classes to another night during the week.” Isaac looked up shyly.
“Another night, did your mysterious he-man crush finally ask you out?” Joseph nudged him jokingly.
“No.” Isaac’s smile fell. “But if I do this right, he might.”
“Do what right?” That got Joseph’s attention.
“I need you to show me a dance so hot, no one can resist. Not even the most stubborn, bitter, of assholes. Something that will make every head in that club crave me.”
“Whoa, why don’t you start by telling me what club? What people? And for heaven’s sake, who is this guy that you’re willing to finally go on stage for? I’ve been trying to get you to go for months, for some fun, and you’ve refused. I need details, Isaac.” Joseph brought him his coffee in hopes of an answer.
“Next Friday, Sated, there’s an amateur night. They’re looking to find a new dancer or least that’s what I heard.” He sipped his coffee nervously.
“Sated? Of all the places you could pick to debut, you go there? Sated is pretty hardcore, Isaac. I don’t mean to put a damper on your plans, but the owners are kind of, well. They’re kind of scary from what I’ve been told—never met them or anything, but you know, dancers talk.”
“Scary owners, tell me about it,” Isaac muttered. When Joseph gave him a look, he turned around. “I mean I’ve been there before...once.” Liar, Isaac thought. “I just figured go big or go home right?”
“You sure some guy is worth putting yourself up on that stage? The clientele expect a lot, Isaac. They pay those dancers a lot of money. Rough crowd from what I’ve been told.”
Putting his coffee back down, Isaac peeled off his tank top, and faced Joseph. “Then let’s give them their money’s worth.” He put his hands on the pole. His eyes determined when inside he was so nervous that Joseph would say no.
With a shake of his head, Joseph laughed. “I don’t know who this guy is, Isaac. But yeah okay, let’s give him a show he’ll never forget.”
Hands went around his to guide his movements and Isaac smiled at himself in the mirror. This time, you will beg, Knoxtian Montesego.
More than an hour later, his body burned, literally. Red marks lined the inside of his thighs, bruises would probably make an appearance from the one too many times he’d thwacked his leg on the pole, and his joints killed from all the strenuous activity. He was ready to pass out on his feet.
“Thanks for doing this.” Isaac hissed a little when he bent to grab his bag.
“No problem, but think this is bad, wait until tomorrow.” Joseph grabbed the bag for him. “Here.” he held up a small brown bag he had pulled from the cabinet.
“What is that?”
“Epsom salt, aloe vera, and a mentholated gel. Consider it a starter kit.” Joseph shoved the paper bag in Isaac’s duffle with a laugh. “Take a bath and soak some of the pain away. Aloe Vera is for the bruising and that pole burn on the inside of your legs. The mentholated gel will ease some of the tension in your bigger muscles. Calves, thighs, biceps, got it?”
“You’re a doctor now?” Isaac shouldered his duffle with a wince.
Damn this was going to be bad. He had six days starting tomorrow to make this routine sizzle, but after tonight he wasn’t sure his body was ready for it. Not even being thrown around the gym hurt like this.
Joseph opened the door for him. “No, I’m just teaching. That is my job, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I guess. So, Sunday at three, right?” He yawned.
“It’s a date. Go home Isaac. Get some sleep.” Joseph gave a little wave to the not so subtle audience who scattered away from the small window at the door.
Hannah, Emma, and Nan acted like they had been sitting on the bench outside the whole time as Isaac walked into the hall, but neither of the boys were fooled.
“Well? What did you think?” Isaac grinned, waving goodbye to Joseph.
“Later!” Joseph called, shutting the studio door. Hannah and Emma grinned at each other.
Nan offered him her arm. “What do we think?” She asked as if she thought the answer obvious.
“We think,” Hannah began.
“As much as we hate him and hate even more to admit this, Knoxtian Montesego is going to eat his own fist when he see you dance,” Emma finished.
Isaac blushed. Sometimes those two surprised him. Right now their words made him feel like he was walking on air.
In the city, Rowe pulled a chair out for Dan. They had enjoyed a night of clubbing, a bit of dive hopping, but now it was time for their late night appointment. Dan was nervous. Rowe could feel it loud and clear.
“Our compliments, Mr. Gerard.” Their private waiter put a chilled bucket on the table. A freshly opened bottle of champagne was poured expertly into two flutes.
“Thank you. You don’t happen to know if our other guest has called do you, maybe running a bit late?” The prince put an arm around his husband, letting the eyeing waiter get a look at his ring.
The waiter smiled with a nod that meant he understood. “No sir, but if I hear anything, I will let you know right away.”
A nod from Rowe and the waiter took off. “Stop fidgeting, love. You look like a five year old in timeout.”
“I can’t help it.” Dan groaned into Rowe’s neck. “It’s like I’m waiting to be shut down. I can feel it.”
“My mother said this was our girl, pet. She said she interviewed her personally and although it took some time for her to come around, she is fully committed. Rather secretive about the whole matter though, couldn’t get a peep out my own mother, not even a first initial. ”
“That’s what they all said, Rowe, they’re our girl—they promise. Then one went off and found her mate, refused to have someone else’s child. Another one was already mated and her mate had her pregnant before we could. One’s mate knew nothing about our arrangement and tried to kill me.”
“Don’t remind me of that.” Rowe growled. “He’s lucky I didn’t kill him.”
“You see though? I don’t know why we’re here. It’s depressing, waiting to be told no.”
“May I remind you, my sweet?” Rowe kissed Dan’s neck slowly. “You are the one who refused adoption.”
“Not this again. I am not going to fight with you, Rowe. Those kids don’t know any better and I’m not going to take their futures away from them. If they end up in our world, so be it. But, I will not willingly plop an innocent human in the middle of all our problems. A vampire child is different.”
The prince nuzzled Dan’s hair. “Then we wait.”
“Fine.” Dan chugged half his flute down. He almost spit his champagne out, spotting someone familiar arriving across the room. Catching his breath, Dan raised a brow. “Is that?”
“Why, I do believe it is.” Rowe smiled, almost moved to tears at the women striding forward.
Her chair was pulled back by the maître de, Dan sat there with his mouth hanging open. “What are you doing here?”
Dan’s sister, Jessica, gave the staff her jacket. “Well, I think we had an appointment.”
“This can’t be right.” Dan shook his head, completely unbelieving of what this meant.
“What isn’t right is you two keeping your little problem a secret from me for oh, let’s see, almost five years?” Jess clicked her nails on the stem of her flute. “Nina came to me by the way. Not you or you.” She pointed at Rowe too. “Thought it was time I knew about all of this.”
“Jessica, do you realize why you’re here?” Rowe held Dan’s hand tightly under the table. She had to be confused, maybe ambushed with vague details by his mother. She couldn’t possibly know everything.
Jess rolled her eyes. “You need an oven for your bun, right? Who better to provide than someone with your mate’s DNA. You can have your cake and eat it too. Actually wait, don’t eat the baby.” She chuckled.
“What about Frank?” Dan breathed, ignoring her casual demeanor. He was about to start weeping. His sister would do this for them? After all she had gone through, she would do this. His heart hammered in his chest with the love he had for her.
Jess waved him off. “Frank is on board. He loved it when I was pregnant. Apparently I got…well, very…you know what? Never mind, but he’s cool with it. You’re our family, Danny, and he wants to see you happy just as much as I do. When he heard you wanted a kid, he wanted to go out and buy you one for heaven’s sake. He would have come with me, but he’s swamped down at the bar. He sends his love though.” She snorted. “Such a sap sometimes it scares me.”
“So this is for real then?” Rowe’s hands were sweating, cutting off Dan’s circulation. “You would carry a child for us?”
“Is that so hard to believe?” She stared back.
“This is just so…” Rowe exhaled with heavy emotion, tears in his eyes.
“We have to be sure, Jess. You have to be very sure you’re serious, that Frank is okay with this. I can’t go through that again, being promised something only to be let down. It’s heartbreaking.” Dan’s lip trembled.
She reached across the table and grabbed their free hands. “I have never been more sure about anything in my entire life. Let me do this for you. The one thing I can give you—the one thing that you desperately need. Let me give you your happily ever after, Danny, the whole kit and caboodle.”
Rowe smiled, looking at Dan. “Pet?”
Thinking of the child Jess could give them—a child that looked like them both—Dan’s heart soared. His sister would never betray him and pull back when they were committed. “Okay. Yeah, let’s do it.”
“Good.” Jess pulled her hands back, laying her napkin in her lap. “Now that that’s settled, I’m starving. What’s for dinner?”
Dan chuckled through his tears. “Anything you want.”
The next day, Dan sat behind the desk in his office. Being a guidance counselor was trying at times, especially in these circumstances. After all he had been through in his life and with a lot of help from his friends and his mate. Dan felt he had it in himself to help others. He could relate with these kids, or sometimes adults who acted like kids. It helped help him to help them. His work was good for everyone.
As hard as this situation was, Dan was determined to get through to these boys. Whatever the problem, they would work it out—here and now this was going to be settled. He had wanted to wait until Cade and Micah got back from vacation, but the Guardians had pushed back their flight to deal with this head on. Cade being the worrier that he was couldn’t leave without knowing his kid was okay. Micah had agreed with him for once.
Now eyeing Cage, Dan felt the need to roll his eyes, but he held back. Nina and Hill’s son was slumped in the high back chair across from him. His flavor of the week hair dye was a deep shade of fuchsia, his golden eyes hidden behind the bangs of his limp Mohawk.
On the other side of the ring, Isaac had his arms crossed. His delicate nose turned up in the air. Great, Dan thought, at least they’re in the same room.
“Who wants to go first?” Dan broke the thick silence.
Cage blew his bangs out of his face. “I’m only here because my dad made me. I don’t have to say anything.”
“Oh yes you do. Your father has nothing to do with this. You’re a grown man, start acting like it.” Dan tapped his pen against the desk. “You aren’t leaving this room until we get to the bottom of this. Violence is not tolerated against your family. Both of you are guilty. Both of you are going to make this right. I would do this with any of the others, so don’t act like a child.”
Isaac scoffed, unfolding his arms—his eyes narrowed. “I didn’t start this! I have no idea what his problem is. So why don’t you point that finger in the right direction, Dan.”
“That would be Uncle Dan to you and you did shove Cage. Did you not?”
“Whatever. He started it, flipped his damn switch in group.” Isaac cut Cage a look to kill, noting the bruise his ex-best friend was trying to hide behind his hair. He’d told the others it was from fighting with one of the guards last night, but they all knew it was a lie.
Cage looked back. There was not one hint of friendship in his eyes. “No, you started this you little bitch, fucking prancing around in thigh highs like some woman and wearing lip gloss, ignoring me like your better or something. You think that’s what he wants? I am so sick and tired of hearing you swoon over him! You must be blind, you asshole. No matter how much you try and tempt Knox, he doesn’t fucking want you. Get it through your skull!”
Isaac was mortified. Cage had just put it all out there for Dan to hear, his two biggest secrets now in the hands of his parent’s best friend. Knox knowing was one thing, they kept their game pretty down low, but Dan? Really? He couldn’t look his uncle in the eye. His eyes were burning with rage for his former best friend.
“I’m going to kill you,” Isaac hissed. He stood from his chair. “What have I ever done to you? Why would you do that to me!”
Dan didn’t have words for Cage’s revelation. Thigh highs? Tempting Knox? Whoa. He stood with his hands up. “Okay, Isaac, please sit down and take a deep breath.”
“No!” Isaac screamed. “What is your problem, Cage!” His palm flew out, slapping the pink haired male across the face hard.
Cage felt the heat, the sting across his cheek. He stood with his teeth bared. “My problem is you. What you do in your spare time, the fucking shit you wear, the shit you watch on your computer. You disgust me.”
Isaac let out a cry of rage, slamming Cage to the ground. His fist connected with Cage’s jaw.
“Stop this right now!” Dan flew around the desk, trying his best to pull Isaac off Cage gently, but even as a vampire, he had a hard time controlling his strength. He still didn’t fight, never had developed a taste for it.
He was shoved none too gently into the chair by Cage, who flipped Isaac over and raised his fist.
“Enough!” Hill’s roar filled the room. The door slammed into the wall like a boom of thunder. “Cage, if you don’t get off Isaac right this second, I will beat you into oblivion!”
The Guardian closed the distance. Ripped his son off Isaac then slapped him across the face. “How dare you hit your brother? How dare you shame me like this! You are done. No training, no leaving the compound, no funds. Get the fuck in the hall and wait for me. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Cage breathed. He was still pissed at Isaac, but his father was not to be messed with. Even as strong a fighter as Cage could be, he was no match for his dad.
Hill growled, leaning in close enough for Cage to feel his breath. “Yes what?”
The Guardian growled low in his throat. “Get outside.”
Hill watched his son walk into the hall with his head hanging. That kid was in for it when they were done here. It was his fault too, Hill had let his son’s arrogant behavior go on for far too long—Nina always being starry eyed over her boys kept him from being too aggressive, but apparently Cage needed a little discipline, even if he was grown.
“Isaac, get up.” Hill hauled him up by the shoulder. “Don’t think for one second that you’re off the hook either. You started that and you know it, I heard the first move from the hall. Stay here and wait for your parents.”
“He said I disgusted him! Would you stand there and take that?” Isaac steamed where he stood.
Hill’s eyes swirled, his anger about to bleed out of his skin at his own son in the hall plus Cade and Micah’s son mouthing off before him. “Yes, I would have. A real friend would have sensed something deeper is going on, that Cage calling you disgusting all of the sudden was a defense for something else. You pushed him, you’re guilty too, end of conversation. You will wait for your parents. If you say another word, I will tie you to that chair. Do you understand?”
Isaac said nothing. He crossed his arms with a scowl.
“Great idea, Dan, thanks for all of this.” Hill growled and walked out of the room. He grabbed his son by the elbow, pulling him down the hall—the long way around.
Not even worried about Hill’s smart ass comment, Dan righted himself. “My God, Isaac. What is going on? Where is all this aggression coming from? You’re the nice one, the sweet one. Talk to me.”
Dan was flabbergasted. He crossed the space between them. He had an idea about the whole Knox thing, but what Cage had blurted minutes ago put him into new territory.
“I don’t have anything to say, because I don’t know what the fuck his problem is. Now you know everything I know.”
Dan leaned back on his heels, trying to think of how to word his next question. “Are you having trouble with uh…other things, maybe someone in particular?”
“Oh there we go, wonderful. Why don’t you just go and tell my parents that I just love to wear lingerie, even though it’s not what you’re picturing. That it gets me off. That I want to be someone’s little bitch, someone in particular, have him fuck me so hard I can’t think for the next two weeks. I would just love to see their faces.” Isaac was about to explode. He couldn’t have stopped the word vomit if he wanted to.
“Well.” Dan looked to the door, a little mortified himself. “Here’s your chance.”
Isaac glanced up. “What?”
“Isaac?” Micah stood stunned to the spot. Cade next to him with his mouth opened in shock.
“Oh fuck, oh no, no, no. You planned this, didn’t you?” Isaac screamed through his teeth. He didn’t need to turn around to know who was standing there, but he did anyway. “Great, just fucking great!”
He pushed past his parents. His boots stomped and squeaked on his way down the hall.
“Isaac!” Cade growled, going after his son. “We are going to talk about this.”
“Like hell we are.” He shot over his shoulder, power walking until he reached the stairwell. His feet carried him up, his parents hot on his heels.
“Isaac, we can talk about this. It’s not a big deal. We’re just a little…worried.” Micah tried, but got nothing from his son.
Knox was walking around the corner. He heard the shouting, curious what was going on. Then he saw Isaac coming down the hall like a bat out of hell. He’d never seen him this angry. Last night Isaac had been pissed at Cage, but not like this. He stepped in the way, trying to help Micah and Cade get a leg up, even though he knew Cade would probably throw him into a wall.
“Get the fuck out my way, you piece of shit!” Isaac pushed Knox aside.
“Isaac Hightower!” Cade was losing his cool. For Isaac to push Knox was the last straw. Only he could do that.
Knox was equally surprised at the move. The kid had used force with him for once. The scent of Issac’s anger permeated the air, his narrowed eyes the sexiest blue Knox had ever seen. The urge to grab onto his hair and shove Isaac against a wall so strong that…
“Knox?” Micah stopped dead in his tracks. Something smelled funny, something he wasn’t sure that he needed to worry about at the moment.
Things only got worse as Hill pulled Cage past them. Like Isaac, the other youth was fuming mad. His eyes fell on Knox and he grinned darkly.
“What’s wrong, Knox? Izzy got you all hot and bothered? I bet you like him angry, huh?”
“Cage!” Hill slammed his son into a wall. “You say another word and I will skin you alive! I don’t care what your mother has to say about it, you will respect your family.”
“What the hell is going on?” Micah threw his hands up as Isaac’s bedroom door slammed shut. “What is he talking about Knox?”
“I don’t know! They’re your kids,” he said defensively. He had to get out of here.
“Explain,” Hill growled to Cage.
Cage’s twin brother Axel gently shut his door and walked to the group gathered. The noise factor was getting to him and he was trying to read. “Let me clear this all up. It’s pretty simple.”
Everyone stopped and looked at Axel. He was as big as Cage, but that’s where the likeness ended. Where Cage wore ripped up jeans and leather jackets, Axel wore black shades and tailored designer fashions. Where Cage was loud, arrogant, Axel was quiet, artistic, and reserved.
“Cage is upset that Isaac is different than he is and he feels that they are no longer compatible. As friends, I mean. As Isaac develops into his own, Cage is obsessed with trying to keep him the same, because Cage is afraid of change. Not only that, but he is afraid that Isaac being gay is rubbing off on him.”
Cage growled, but his brother put up a hand. “It’s true. I’ve seen how you avoid him recently, but more importantly I see the way you look at him before you walk the other way. You’re angry because Isaac has deep feelings for Knox who treats him like the dirt he walks on. That Isaac should be with someone he cares about, a mutual partnership. It’s not the fact that Isaac has a love for silk and lace, which is actually more common than you think among men. It’s not that he doesn’t boat or play soccer any longer. It’s that you’re scared that he won’t be happy, and furthermore, you can’t be happy because you think you’re gay.
You know as well as I do that homosexuality is also very common amongst our race. Liberal sex, free love, same sex partners, we embrace all of that. So, I don’t see why you’re getting so angry and pushing away your best friend. It’s obnoxious, Cage. With that, I ask that you all please keep it down. I’m trying to read.”
Axel turned around and opened his door as softly as he had come, disappearing before their eyes. Everyone gathered looked to Cage.
Hill looked between his son against the wall and the door that had just closed after his other kid. “What the hell?”
Hannah adjusted her headphones while Emma pulled up a different angle on the screen. Their room was painted a stark white. Black curtains covered every window. Perfectly placed pictures of the world’s most dangerous killers hung between their beds. The end of the room they currently occupied was floor to ceiling with shelves and their equipment. Jewel cases lined the shelves—videos of the last twenty years at the compound and of their travels in the city. They kept it old school with CDs simply for the hard copies. USBs and SIM cards were too traceable these days and their room was a fortress of security.
Hannah turned to Emma. “You think that’s true, Cage wanting Isaac?”
“No. I think Cage gets turned on at the idea of Isaac or a man like him, not Isaac himself.”
“Hmm, that’s deep. It would explain his need to mole hole every woman within walking distance, cover up his love for men.” Hannah watched as Hill pulled Cage down the hall, away from the others for a private chat.
“I think that’s the case. I think Axel is right, Cage is only upset that delicate little Isaac wants Knox. You know what else I think?”
Hannah smiled at her sister. “You think Knox has wanted him all along.”
“You owe me a coke,” Emma said, pumping her sister’s fist, watching the group of angry parents retreat with their kids. “Cue up Knox’s room. I hope he doesn’t throw away the camera this time or find it I mean.”
“It was your idea to put it on the vodka.” Hannah rolled her eyes.
“Some people keep those things for decoration.”
“Yeah, like frat boys.” Hannah flicked her finger across the monitor, switching to Knox’s room.
The newly installed camera had been hard to manage. Getting through Knox’s personal security system was tough. Picking the lock, deciphering where the alarm would trip, finding somewhere that Knox wouldn’t find the tiny camera—a lot of work.
Now they had a perfect view, a camera no bigger than Emma’s pinky nail was set up above the doorway—facing inside the room. Their efforts were victorious as minutes later, Knox threw open his door, punched in his security code and flopped onto his bed. Wriggling out of his shirt, he pulled it to his nose and inhaled.
“What the hell is he doing?” Hannah leaned closer.
Emma shrugged. “Smelling his shirt.”
“That’s normal to you?”
Emma laughed. “No, but for Knox it seems to be. He’s the one person we haven’t been able to survey until now. The last bit where he watched Golden Girls, ate a bowl full of Reese’s Pieces then drank the entire bottle of vodka with our camera attached, was not very interesting.”
Both girls became glued to the screen as Knox unbuckled his boots, throwing them to the floor. Followed by his pants with no…
“Whoa,” Hannah declared. “Now that is a nice…”
“Hannah!” Emma turned beat red. “That’s Knox your perving on.”
“What? Aren’t you seeing what I’m seeing? I’m surprised he can still get it up. After all he is an old man. Then again I’ve never heard of a geezer hung like that.” Hannah grinned at her sister. Emma couldn’t help, but laugh at that one.
“You’re such a skeez.” Emma shook her head.
Hannah shrugged. “Skeez I may be, but blind I am not.”
“Whatever, Yoda.” Emma blushed as Knox reached down and grabbed his monster of a cock.
Isaac’s scent lingered on his shirt, like candy only sweeter. Where the male’s palm had shoved him out of the way, the scent permeated the fabric—tingling Knox’s nose until he couldn’t think anymore. Naked on his bed, his hand found his cock, a groan filling the room.
A squeeze to his hard length, a deep inhale of the fabric grasped between his fingers and Knox was in another world. He couldn’t stop. Writhing, toes curling, his fangs puncturing his plump bottom lip. Growls vibrated around his mouth that he refused to open. His mate’s essence, a small piece of Isaac made him lose his mind quickly.
A few dry strokes. One last pull with his circled fist on his cock and warm jets of sticky fluid hit his chest, his chin, a bit on his bottom lip. Knox couldn’t enjoy his release. His beast—like always—battled inside of him. Go to him. Take what’s yours, the stupid voice called. Get off your ass and fuck Isaac like he should be fucked!
“I can’t!” He almost screamed to himself.
With a groan, Knox rolled onto his stomach, throwing the shirt away from the bed in the process. Sheets sticking to his chest, he bit into the bedding in thought. His eyes drifted to the wall of chains, spreaders, cuffs. Isaac belonged there, begging for him. He knew that with all his being, but he couldn’t bring himself to admit it out loud—to the other male for fear of his pride. More importantly, Knox knew that if anyone found out that he covered such a big secret for all of these years, Isaac would hate him forever.
Cade and Micah would hate him for putting their son through hell, probably end his life. Rowe and Dan would hate him for lying to them, for not confiding in his friends when they had done it to him so many times. His queen would hate him for being weak, for acting like a child, not a warrior. His brother, even though he knew, would eventually hate him for denying someone the kind of love that Nova so wished to have himself. How backwards was that? Shit, Knox groaned, he was so fucked up.
When Isaac was younger, the secret had been about biding his time—keeping his self from going crazy while he waited. Now Knox had waited so long that his secret had turned into a lie, a wall he had built slowly over the past few decades. What could he do? Suddenly break down the wall and take Isaac as his mate, everything just swell when all was said and done? No. Now if he told Isaac, it would be his downfall, his end, his destruction.
“What the fuck do I do? I need my mate.” Knox reached once more for the shirt on the floor and pulled it to his face. “You have no idea how much I want you, Isaac,” he said to the empty room, turning onto his side and closing his eyes.
Knox fell asleep not long after. He had no idea that the secret he had kept for so long had just been revealed to the tiny camera above the door.
A little while later, and after some deep thinking, Knox slid his naked body into the hot tub in the corner of his room. Watching the blue lights waver from the water below over his skin, he looked up with narrowed eyes. Fuck it, he thought. Friday night after amateur hour, he grabbed his cock and leaned back, he was going to claim Isaac. They would have all weekend after he finished at the bar—a full forty eight hours, possibly more, of undisturbed time together. He was done hiding, done masturbating. He would claim his mate. Original and his mate aside, no one was going to stop him.
A metal topped crate smacked down in front of Gabe’s feet and he grunted, picking it up and bringing it to the restaurant’s back door.
“How many more?” He turned to Henri.
Another crate met the ground. “Ten.”
“Thought this was a thirty count job?”
Henri shrugged, tapping the electronic screen inside the back of the truck. “Invoice says twenty, got twenty here. Why, you really want to lug around some more?”
“Cute.” Gabe grinned.
Henri hopped down from the truck with another crate. “I thought so. When were done with this want to grab a drink? I have a bit of fun money left from last week’s job. It shouldn’t go to waste.”
“Holding out on me?” Gabe turned his dark eyes on Henri.
The two had been good friends since the minute he had left New York City that dark night some twenty three years ago. Fate really had a hand in his life since meeting Henri. Gabe had been running from the last train of the night. Nowhere to go and the Cartel flashing his picture around, he only had one choice. He’d seen the ads online and the flyers down at the shelters for shipping hands needed at the docks and he booked it to the water as fast as he could.
Henri had been the first person he’d encountered. Person would be a bland title, because as luck would have it. Henri was a vampire. He could smell another vamp on Gabe at the time, no matter how much he tried to clean himself of Ghost that night.
The minute Henri had gone to capture his gaze. Gabe had pulled the gun Grant had given him. That sure got the vampire’s attention. So much so that had Henri laughed out loud.
“I take it you know of me then?”
Gabe held the gun steady like Grant had taught him. “I don’t know shit except for the fact that you aren’t going to mind fuck me. You want a taste of this, you ask. Just know that the answer is hell no.”
“I thought you might be a surprise from someone else. I’ll admit that would have been surprising. He hasn’t been on my case in a while, but…you never know.” Henri simply winked and threw an armful of rope onto the platform in front of him. “But it’s clear that you are not one of his. They know to at least take the safety off of their gun.”
“What?” Gabe fumbled for the small safety with embarrassment. “Whatever. I’ll still shoot.”
Henri laughed again. “Relax little one. I won’t mind fuck you.” He laughed at the crude imagery. “Or harm you. I sense you’re on some kind of mission though. The determination in your eyes is pretty clear, and I smell your fear, along with the scent of one of mine. Who is rather powerful I might add.”
“Yeah, well, that powerful fucker is after me and I don’t trust you.” Gabe followed Henri with his gun—safety now unlocked—as the vampire casually went about his business.
“I guess if I told you I needed help on my next trip out, you would refuse the opportunity to escape this problem of yours? Seeing as how you don’t trust little old me.” Henri didn’t look up. He was busy securing ties around several waterproof bags.
Thinking about the offer, Gabe watched Henri’s body language for any sign of something he didn’t like. The guy seemed normal enough, for a vampire that is. “Help or work? I need money and a bed, nothing else if you’re some sort of perv. I want to make that clear.” Gabe nervously looked around. The offer was like cake to his inner fat kid. Open water as a safety net, another vampire to help him through the stuff Grant had abandoned him to, and maybe a paycheck? Not even the most paranoid of the bunch could turn that down if in his situation.
“Pervert, me? No, little one. I would not dream of touching you that way. Do not flatter yourself so. I’ve a bunk below. I sleep on bottom of course. And as for pay, it’s according to each trip we make. More cargo, more money, faster delivery, more money—just because I am…one of us, doesn’t mean I don’t work hard. I’m not sure what kind of lavish lifestyle your mind fucker was used to, but it’s not exactly five-star around here, as you can see for yourself.”
Gabe lowered the gun. “You own that boat then?”
“The only certain asset I have.” Henri rose and turned to him. “I need someone to cook and clean the bunks. Occasionally help on deck when we unload.”
“Are any of the crew…you know, like you?”
Gabe took a step closer. “What if I was?”
“Ah, I see now. Running away from home little one, big bad vampire daddy out for blood?”
Gabe took a step back and shook his head. His gun was still clenched in his lowered hand. The thought of Ghost coming for him, to kill or not, made him tremble uncontrollably.
“Did he do something to you little one?” Henri came closer, his voice now concerned.
“No. I just need to get away from here before he does.” Gabe tried to muster his best blank face when in reality he wanted to sink to the wooden planks below and bawl his eyes out. He was tired, hungry, and still very emotional.
“How old are you?”
Gabe looked up to find Henri standing right in front of him. Dirty copper hair tied up in a messy ponytail, ripped up jeans and yellow rain boots. He didn’t look lethal, he looked normal to Gabe, young even.
“Good. You still have a few years before we will have to deal with that.” Henri sighed. “I will mentor you, provide for you, and care for your well-being on three conditions. Don’t lie to me. Don’t steal from me and never ever betray me.”
Gabe felt the keys to freedom in his hands. He felt safe somehow. “Deal.”
Now he was all grown up, but to the humans Gabe looked twenty-two. His turn had come a little early, while in the middle of the ocean with a full crew. That was a story for another day though, Gabe smiled at his mentor. Hell, he could write a book on the things he had seen and done up until this point.
“Ah yeah, drink sounds good. It’s been a while since I’ve been into the city.”
Henri looked both ways and picked up the three largest crates—his inhuman strength not something he fancied displaying to the humans.
“Great. Let’s get this done and we can get out of here, wouldn’t want your love stalker showing up.” Henri rolled his eyes, but his smile was wide.
“Shut the hell up,” Gabe hissed, arousal blooming at the thought of Ghost. He finished the last few crates in a flurry.
The mention of his stalker always put him on memory overload and Henri knew it. The laugh from his companion made him pause. Ghost couldn’t possibly know he was in town or what he looked like this time around. He’d always been so careful to mask his scent with his own special mixture of body spray—tweaking the scent when Ghost became too accustomed to it. He changed his hair color or cut as often as possible. It was forever growing, fast and long. One time he’d even gone as far as using colored contacts. It was part of their game—a long, naughty little game that they both thrived on just as much as the future endgame of sex between them.
Being the first time he’d set foot on land in a few months, his hair was longer now, back to its espresso coloring.
“I was kidding. Let’s get out of here before the Rushies hit this area. I’m not in the mood for that tonight.”
“Did you get a new knick? To replace the one you lost in a game of dice.” Gabe snorted, hit a button on the key ring—the back door to the truck rolling down and locking.
“Yes, mother.” Henri hopped into the driver’s seat, Gabe shutting his door. “The newer model is faster. I tried it last night while you were sleeping.”
He pulled the small device from inside his coat. The size of box of matches, black, sleek—the knick booted up with the press of a button.
“Without me?” Gabe frowned.
“I could not pass her up. She was divine, Gabriel. Legs like alabaster cream, a head full of strawberry waves. And her hazy eyes that sparkled like emeralds while she prayed to the lord over and over.” Henri smiled dreamily out the window, handing the device to Gabe.
“You are such a hopeless romantic.” Gabe shook his head.
Henri flicked his hand like a composer, lost in his dream woman. “Ah yes, but she was just so…mmm.”
He pressed the button again. A small disposable needle flicked out the top—a quarter inch of metal that pricked the human’s finger for testing. The screen lit up red for traces of Rush, blue for traces of Heroine, Cocaine, or herb. Green was what a vampire wanted to see. Green meant they were clean for feeding.
“Where did you get this one? It looks expensive.”
Henri smiled at Gabe. “I went into the clinic and was just given one. One of the operators informed me, that as of this year, Knicks and refills are covered under the Second City Insurance for all vampires.”
“Insurance? We haven’t even been in the city three days, how do we have insurance?”
Out of his coat pocket, Henri produced his wallet. Inside were two cards. “Apparently we have been out of the loop for far too long. Insurance…” Henri chuckled. “I never thought I’d see the day, but here’s one for you Mr. Fidel Cortez and one for me. Mr. Haans Browrick.”
Gabe took the card with a grin. “Fake Ids? You’re getting way too good at this.”
“An old dog can learn new tricks, little one.” Henri started up the truck with a laugh.
“I wish you didn’t have to. It’s my fault we have to jump ship every few months.”
“Oh, don’t mistake me for a minute, I love our adventures.” Henri chuckled. “Your dream boat keeps this old man on his toes.”
Gabriel sighed. “This time, we’re not going anywhere. It’s been too many years and I’m tired. I want a house to stay in. Not a bunk or a truck bed or God forbid another pile of hay.”
“I rather enjoyed that hay. It reminded me of when I was a boy and…”
“Oh shut up. I am not listening to another of your, I had to walk three miles in the snow to get to school, stories.” Gabe laughed, putting the Knick in his pocket. “I want to know what the plan is for tomorrow.”
Henri slid his eyes over to Gabe. “You know you’re making it so easy for him to find you, little one. My contacts outside the Royals only go so far. This job was hard enough to get, let alone keeping our cover under wraps for much longer. But, when you are so insistent, how can I refuse?”
“It’s the only way we can get any information without going directly to the Cartel or any of the other families. The Jing weren’t so welcoming last time we came around and ever since that new ass hat took over the Italians, and the Haitians are back to war, that avenue is no longer available.”
“Gabriel, this is much deeper than the two of us. I beg you to reconsider. Send a message to J.J. again. If Ghost is back in the states and you are ready to settle, he could help you. Or are you still scared of giving over to him, your love for him perhaps?” Henri grinned.
“Stop calling me scared! I’ve spent how many years with you and you call me scared!”
“Then why do you run still with your words? Did you not just admit in a roundabout way, you want to be with him now?”
“I don’t want him in the middle of this, Henri. Not until we know who this guy following us is.”
Henri sighed and pulled out of the alley way. “When you live forever, little one, the one thing you beg for is a mate. Don’t make both of you miserable forever. Even if we have other problems, don’t draw this out. Just be with him.”
“Think what you want, but I won’t go to him willingly. I won’t get him hurt, conversation over.” Gabe stared out the window, watching their truck emblem reflect off the narrow storefronts. Ripple after ripple over the panes of glass were the words Hightower Shipping.
Sweat ran down his body and Isaac wanted nothing more than to dunk himself in a bath full of cold water. Ending his last practice run with Joseph before tomorrow’s debut at Sated, he was a mess of nerves. His body hurt, his mind wouldn’t quit, and he had yet to finish his outfit.
Joseph cut the music and threw him a towel. “You’re going to kick ass tomorrow, Isaac. I mean that. I’ve never had a student like you before. You pick up moves like they’re nothing. It’s incredible.”
Isaac leaned against the wall, wiping his face. “Thanks.”
“That’s all I get? I give you that kind of ego boost and a simple thanks is what you give me?” Joseph laughed. “I’m kidding. I’m trying to get you thinking about something besides the jitters you have going on over there.”
“I’m not nervous,” he lied.
“And I’m a Buddhist monk.” Joseph snorted.
“Okay, maybe I’m a little nervous.” Isaac pushed off the wall. “But I can’t help it. After I yelled at him the other day, the shit going on at home, what if he freaks out? What if he calls my parents and tells them what I’m doing? What if he doesn’t want me after I went out there for him? I should call this off.”
“Slow down. Calls your parents? What are you five?”
“He’s a family friend. The guy I mean, he’s a close family friend,” Isaac admitted.
His teacher shrugged. “So? How stupid would that make him look if he—a grown man—went and ratted you out like that. After he sees you dance, he’ll know that it’s not something you want to do for the money. You like to dance, Isaac. You love to dance in fact. It shows and if he blows up about it, it’s his loss and he’s not worth your time. Don’t give up the one thing that you love for some guy. Someone will come along that likes you for you—dancing and all.”
“It’s not just dancing, Joseph. It’s stripping. I’m going to go up there and take my clothes off while I dance in front of a lot of strangers, more importantly, in front of him.”
Joseph looked away. “People do it all the time, Isaac,” he replied quietly.
“No, you don’t because this is just for fun to you, isn’t it?” Joseph’s demeanor changed in front of Isaac. His confidence was lost a little. He wouldn’t look Isaac in the eye and his voice was almost a whisper.
Joseph took a deep breath and faked a smile before turning around. “Just do it, Isaac. You shouldn’t hide a talent like yours.”
Searching his teacher’s eyes, Isaac sighed. “Okay, but I still haven’t figured out my outfit.”
“Oh, but I have.” Joseph laughed. His phone began to ring in the corner as he put a bag in front of Isaac’s feet. He frowned at the caller ID, but answered it anyway.
“Hey mom.” Joseph listened to the loud cursing from the other end, the slurred speech, the incoherent sentences that he had come to understand anyways.
“Joseph?” Isaac held up the bag and the blond covered the phone with his hand.
“I’m going to be a minute. Why don’t you take that home and have the girls help you out. I’ll see you tomorrow night, okay?”
“Oh, I thought we could…”
“It’s an emergency, sorry,” Joseph cut him off gently.
“Right, uh, thanks and I’ll see you tomorrow night?”
“I’ll be there.” Joseph waved and turned. “Mom, calm down,” he whispered into the phone.
“Yes, I deposited all the checks and they should post at midnight. I’m sorry. I don’t have anything on me.” He wanted to cry, but he could feel Isaac still lingering in the doorway. “No, I don’t want to do that. I’m sorry, mom. I can’t go back there for you. Don’t you remember what they did to me?”
“Joseph, are you okay?” Isaac stepped back onto the floor. He didn’t like the way his teacher was hiding in the corner on the phone or the shake of Joseph’s hands. Something was wrong.
“Mom, I’ll call you back. Okay?” Joseph listened to her scream of frustration before ending the call. He whipped around to Isaac with a practiced face. “Everything is just fine. Bad break up, she’s just upset. Uh, why don’t you get going and I’ll close up here. I don’t want to keep her waiting. It sucks to be alone when you’re sad like that.”
Isaac didn’t believe Joseph for a second. The line he was fed was practiced, routine, as if Joseph had said that a million times. But there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. He didn’t want to make a scene or ruin his relationship with Joseph by pissing him off. With a steady gaze, Isaac picked up his bags again, and nodded.
“Sure, you have my number though right, in case that break up turns out to be worse than it seems?” There would be no mistaking that he wasn’t eating the bullshit Joseph was serving, but Isaac would be damned if he didn’t offer help. Joseph had been too good to him to not return the kindness in this situation.
Joseph stiffened for a second. “Yes. I have your number. Thanks for the offer, but we’ll be just fine.”
“But if you’re not, you would call me, right?” Isaac took a step forward.
“Yes. Isaac, I really need to get going. Go get something to eat and get some sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
That was that, Isaac’s shoulders slumped. Joseph wasn’t going to budge, the promise to see him tomorrow something at least.
“Sure, see you tomorrow, Joseph.”
“Uh huh, later.” Joseph waved him off as he gathered up his own belongings quickly.
The ride home was straight forward. Nan was on auto-pilot, lost in her own thoughts, as Isaac stared out the window.
“We’re going out tonight. Be dressed and ready in twenty.”
“What?” Isaac looked at her in surprise.
“You heard me. Don’t argue, just do it.”
“Doesn’t matter, you need to let loose a little or you might explode with tension. If you’re going to get up there tomorrow night, you need to relax.”
“Clubbing?” Isaac asked, thinking the idea wasn’t so bad.
Nan grinned. “Possibly.”
“Cool.” He sat back as the guards to the compound opened the gates to let their vehicle through. His smile was short lived as he spotted Blaze’s vehicle parked in the courtyard.
“Just great.” Nan parked the car and got out. “Listen, Izzy. Don’t let him get to you. He only pokes you to get a reaction.”
“I’ll fucking poke him.” Isaac growled softly, eyeing the cherry red muscle car like he could light it on fire with his pupils.
The courtyard was buzzing with incoming and outgoing vampires. It didn’t matter what night of the week it was, they all loved to be entertained by the lights of the city. With the new bypass that had been erected a few years ago, the trip to the city half the time of what it used to take—less if you stepped on it. Isaac was ready to get out of here after seeing Blaze was on the premises. Even though the bastard technically lived here, Blaze usually spent most of his time in the city.
Every chance the vamp got as of late, he provoked Isaac because he thought it was funny, cute even. Isaac was about ready to take a candlestick to his temple in the library. Blaze wouldn’t find that cute at all. What Isaac didn’t know, was that Blaze was trying to make Isaac jealous in order to provoke some sort of connection between the kid and Knox. He had tried the nice approach with no results. Someone had to light a fire under Isaac’s ass because Knox was trying his hardest not to. Enter Blaze to the rescue, well, sort of.
Not even a few paces inside the great room Isaac spotted Blaze talking to a few of the guards. Their eyes locked and the red haired vamp smiled widely.
“Welcome back baby Hightower. Is it bedtime already?” Blaze broke away from the group of guards to taunt him.
“Fuck off, fire crotch,” Nan shot back. “No one was talking to you.”
Blaze put a hand over his heart. “Aw come on now, Nan. That wasn’t very nice.”
“I’m not very nice.” Nan flicked him off as they walked up the stairs.
“Hey Isaac,” Blaze called after them. “Knox wanted me to tell you that we re-padded the training room. So next time you get thrown into the wall, it won’t hurt as much. It was a good time—me, him, lots of sweaty labor.”
Isaac turned around with a look to kill. Nan grabbed him around the waist and hauled him up the stairs—his legs kicking each stair along the way.
“I’m gonna fucking kill him!”
“You’re going to kill everyone.” Nan rolled her eyes. “Why don’t you start giving it back to him? Brush up on your comebacks, be ready for him?”
“What do I even say to someone like that? Nothing I ever do is good enough for that prick. Now he talks about me with Knox and throws their relationship in my face?”
“They talk about everything, Izzy. Blaze is his bestie when Ghost is gone looking for his runaway bride. Even the biggest and baddest boys coffee talk. Truthfully, I think he makes up half the shit that Knox supposedly says. Knox doesn’t talk a lot, you know that.”
“No, I know that when he does talk, it’s to spout off shit to me in the gym. Both of them can go die for all I care.” Isaac didn’t mean it, but when they pushed him too far, it wasn’t good. “You know what I mean.”
“Don’t worry about either of them right now. We’re going out. We’ll have fun and you can forget about all the mean little vampires.”
Isaac elbowed her a little with a smile. “Shut up.”
“Never,” she challenged. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Left standing in front of his bedroom door, Issac watched Nan go. For as dramatic as his life may be, he thought, at least he had her. Always quick to catch him when he was going down, Nan was the closest thing he had left—the last person he trusted in this place.
After applying a slow swirl of tinted balm around his lips, Isaac leaned forward and set the tube down—rubbing his lips together and letting go with a pop. No neon pink or anything too much, just a little color to bring out his natural shade. Pushing his long hair out his face, he picked up the stick of eyeliner and expertly outlined his eyes. Nan lounged on the side of the dressing table and finished painting her nails with a deep blue.
She flicked her dark eyes to Isaac and sighed dramatically. “Did your guardents leave finally or are they going to flip if you go out tonight?”
“They left, thank God.” He flicked a bit of mascara over his lashes.
“Good, now we can go to the dark side.” She wiggled her drying fingers with a laugh.
Eyeing King and Chloe’s daughter with narrowed eyes, Isaac walked to stand between her legs. “I like the dark and so do you.” He leaned in and put his hands to either side of her head—splaying his black lacquered fingers. “That’s why we get along so well, Nan. So don’t be a bitch. Fuck them, tonight I’m not the weakling son of the Original and his mate. Tonight, I’m Izzy and I just want to dance.”
Nan grinned. “That’s my boy. And are sure dancing is all you want to do tonight?” She grabbed the black leather thong peeking out of Isaac’s Ziploc tight pants, pulling it until he gasped. “Then what’s this pretty boy?”
“Now you’re being a bitch again,” Isaac said and slapped her hand away. She knew he wore the thongs and such for a reason and he was already strung high on the stress scale. He didn’t really care for her teasing him about something so personal.
“What if that isn’t all I plan on doing? Are you gonna run and call daddy one and daddy two, tell them that their good for nothing son plans on getting some tonight?” Not that he was or anything. He just had to spout something back, like a fifteen year old girl. It was called defense and Isaac had a lot of it.
“Whoa, what? Izzy I was just joking…” Nanette pushed Isaac back, gaging his expression between her hands. “Look at me. I’m being serious now, Isaac. Don’t just go to some club and give that away. What about Knox?”
He was about to lose his cool completely. Blaze’s earlier words leaving a web of conclusions in his head. His parents hold on him upsetting, even though they were long gone. Everyone always thinking he was nothing. His confidence had taken the back door, leaving him nervous, scared—hopeless yet again. Knox wanted him, he knew that, but Isaac also knew he would never touch him again. No matter how hard he tried, no matter what he wore or said, Knox wasn’t going to take him like he wanted.
Averting his eyes from Nan’s, Isaac pulled out of her grasp and went to his closet. “I’m done waiting around for something that isn’t going to happen. I’m twenty three and I’m the only virgin in this fucking hell hole. Even you, you’ve had more sex more times than I can count.”
A little scorned at the comment, Nan shook out her hair in frustration. She stormed his closet, grabbed his arm tight. “This isn’t some teenage romantic comedy, Isaac! This is your life and just because everyone around you does it, doesn’t mean that it was all flowers and sunshine. I wish like hell I would have waited it out the one. That would have meant something. You only get the once, Isaac, and everything after that is just…after that.”
“What’s with you? You sleep with half the boys around here and you’re preaching to me about staying sacred?” Isaac threw up his defenses with a nasty comeback. Knowing it was wrong, regretting having said it already. He pulled the black tank over his slim torso and marched past her.
“Did you just call me a slut? Nanette went still trying to decide what hurt worse. The fact that he had called her such or the fact that she knew he meant it. “I’m trying to be your friend, help you through, and you could say something like that to me?”
She was tough, sure, but the one person she relied on and trusted the most had just walked past her line. Tears in her eyes, she slipped out the door while he had his back turned. Fuck this, she thought.
Regret killed him. Isaac looked at his sharp blue eyes in the mirror. He turned to apologize, only to discover his room empty, the door wide open. Fuck, he stomped his foot, angry at himself. His white Docs still untied, he stepped into the hall.
“Nan!” There was no answer.
Her dark perfume lingered in the hall. Isaac knew Nan was still close by. “Come on, Nan, I didn’t mean it.”
“If you’re going to try that excuse with me, you better think harder you lazy little brat. Where the hell have you been?” Knox licked his lips. He wanted Izzy to react, to get angry—to fight back. It drove him crazy!
Isaac stiffened momentarily. He turned around to see the man that drove him out of his mind. No, he thought, not right now please. Knox stood there with his arms crossed over his massive chest, a look that could probably send Isaac straight to hell with just a blink. Fuck, Isaac groaned inside. He’d skipped sparring today because he just couldn’t take Knox for one more damn day. Everyone knew now how he felt about Knox and he needed time away to relax for tomorrow—the one true test of whatever was between them.
It had been one thing for just him and his friends, Knox as well, to know about their little game. Now the whole fucking world knew and he couldn’t handle it. Now every time he looked at Knox, Isaac thought about his debut tomorrow night. His nerves had shifted to anger, millions of problems on his back all at once. The giant asshole seemed to grind on his last nerve at the moment. Not put a rise in his cock like usual.
“Uh, hello? I’m talking to you here! Look at me damn it.” Knox growled. That’s it baby, the vampire growled, show me those eyes.
Isaac looked up. “Look, I have other stuff to deal with. Sorry for wasting your precious time, but I need to go.”
His arm was grabbed, his back pressed into Knox’s chest before he could escape. “Did you ask me to leave?”
A shudder ran down Isaac’s body. “No, do I need to?”
He was torn in two. Isaac wanted to run to Nan, apologize for the things he said. Maybe they could still salvage their night out, get away from here for a while. On the other hand, he yearned to rub against the hard cock pressing further into his back. He yearned to melt against the bonds of Knox’s strong hands around his wrists. Everything about Knox made him want to submit, to beg, to moan away his troubles.
Knox looked both ways. Coast clear, he pushed Isaac into the wall—face flat against the expensive wainscoting. “You used to crave my approval, beg for it. Now you don’t. Don’t you want to beg me, Isaac?” He tightened his grip on his mate’s hands, trapping them behind his back.
“Do you like the pain? The way I hold you, knowing you have nowhere to go?” He pushed his knee roughly between Isaac’s legs, rubbing with vigor against the goodies trapped within Isaac’s leather pants. Hell yeah you do, Knox inhaled the arousal from his mate.
“Knox, please. Stop this.” Isaac panted. “Please.” He knew he had to go to Nan. God, did he want to stay, see where this went, but he knew in his heart that Knox would come back for more. This little stunt proved that.
“You’ve teased me for so long, Isaac. I know what you want,” he breathed. “But do you have any idea what I want, what I would do to you if I said yes?”
Isaac bit his lip before letting it go with a moan. “Yes.”
“Pain turns me on, Isaac. Making you writhe, tortured and vulnerable—controlling you completely to my satisfaction. You want that? You want me that bad?”
Knox couldn’t believe he was letting go this far. He had planned on waiting until tomorrow night, but fuck, Isaac was really playing the part tonight. This is exactly what they both wanted.
He had to get to his friend, but Isaac couldn’t stop himself. His cock was now hard as diamond, slick, leaking against the silk and leather encasing him. This was real—Knox finally giving back to him was real.
“You know I want you,” Isaac whispered then hissed as his arms were shoved up his back painfully.
“Then get on your knees and beg me to let you go.” Knox took a step back. “Now,” he commanded with swirling eyes.
Trembling, aroused, wanting more than anything to please the vampire behind him, Isaac slipped down the wall to his knees. He didn’t even look to see if anyone was watching. Frankly, he didn’t care. Turning on his knees, Isaac looked up at the vampire that consumed his entire life.
“Please, let me…”
“I said beg.” Knox grabbed Isaac’s hair in his fist. His fangs descended at the look in those wide blue eyes. His mate let out a sharp cry, not too loud, but it was loud enough to speak to Knox’s body.
“Knox, I beg you to…”
“Well, this is interesting.” Hannah smiled, coming from around the corner.
Emma followed. “Never thought I’d see the day.”
Horrified that the twins were witnessing something so intimate, Knox hissed. “Get the fuck out of here. This is private.”
“Clearly.” Hannah snorted. “Submission in the hallway? Where anyone could just happen by?”
“Very private,” Emma confirmed.
Jumping to his feet, Isaac turned a deep shade of red. “We were just…”
“Getting your freak on? Yeah, we got that.” Hannah walked by. “But Isaac? Weren’t you supposed to be going out with us?”
“I, uh…” Isaac, now with a clear mind, remembered Nan. “Yeah, give me a minute.”
“No.” Knox snatched his wrist up. “You’re coming with me.”
Emma chuckled. “Better listen to…your vampire.”
Pulling his wrist free, Isaac sighed. “I have to go, Knox. I promised. I’ll uh…be back later though.”
The vamp took a step back. Knox couldn’t believe this shit. He had just…and Isaac had finally…fuck! “Whatever, don’t bother. I have better things to do.”
“Later.” Knox took his leave.
Once again he was pissed off, left high and dry by his own mate. The other times had been his fault, but the one time he had finally been ready to do this, his mate had plans? No, Knox thought, Isaac had freaked out on him. Probably couldn’t handle what he wanted in a lover. Hell, he was the freak. Knox couldn’t blame Isaac for not really wanting him when shit came down to the real thing, but it hurt all the same. He, Knoxtian Montesego, the resident hard ass, had his feelings hurt.
“Come on, Isaac.” Hannah pulled his shirt back down.
Emma ran a hand over his hair to lay it back into place. “Let’s go get Nan and get out of here. Trust us, he’ll be sitting by the door waiting for hours if need be.”
“How can you be so sure about that? I feel like I just hurt him somehow. He was so…and I just…” Isaac ran a hand over his face. “I want him so bad you guys. It’s ridiculous.”
“Not ridiculous.” Hannah shook her head, knowing the truth that Isaac didn’t. She smiled at Emma. “It’s mutual.”
Isaac shot her a look, confused at the way she said it. It was unlike them to be so attentive, touching him, being so nice.
“What are you guys up to?” Isaac squinted.
“Nothing,” they chorused sweetly.
“Come on! I need a drink,” Hannah declared.
Each twin took an arm, leading him to Nan’s room. He spent the next twenty minutes apologizing to his best friend. She of course forgave him, but kept the details of how upset she was to herself. She knew Isaac was stressed, but what he didn’t know was how much the slut comment had hurt, even if it had been a slip of the tongue.
She wasn’t lying when she had told him she wished she had waited for her first time. One person in particular had been on her mind for a long time. Even if her secret crush was younger, she missed him like crazy, even filled her empty nights with guys that were only to get rid of her loneliness for him. Going out to the club proved to be just what they all needed, her especially. It was the first time she had missed her crush’s birthday and for once, he was finally of age. She thought about texting him like they always did, but…
Instead of dwelling on the issue, the need to see him, Nan danced the night away. When they got back to the compound, she crawled in bed with Isaac, passed out snuggling to late night television—both of their man woes forgotten for another night.
Knox, however, did not sleep a wink. Until the sun came up, he stared at the ceiling from his bed. His heart never stopped racing.
The private tarmac was slick with the late night rain. Small lights flashed from the jet, the runway, as Jaska descended the stairs. He grinned, spotting his parents and two guards waiting for him away from the car. He lifted a hand at his mother who had a hand over her mouth in disbelief.
She hadn’t seen him a year and a half. He’d been in Russia with extended family, learning more about his heritage and finishing school abroad. It had been a good adventure, meeting cousins he hadn’t known he’d had. Seeing where his dad grew up, where his ancestors hailed from—seeing the sights in general. But one thing he had focused on was his training.
All the hard work boded well for his maturing body. He had grown a lot. Standing right over six feet, his shoulders big like his father’s, Jaska was not the same person who had left the states. The excited shock on his mother’s face proved that.
“Hi baby!” Katrina threw her arms around him. “I’ve missed you so much,” she cried.
“Hey mama.” He bent and pressed a kiss to her head, eyeing his dad off to the side.
Yuri’s eyes shown with pride, dark like his son’s, they held nothing but love. Forcing aside his strong warrior attitude, Yuri wrapped his arms around his family, kissing his son on the cheek.
“Welcome home, my son. You have been greatly missed.” Yuri rubbed his back. “So, you hungry? Or you want to go straight home? Either way, we want to hear all about the trip.”
What I want to do is see her. Jaska shook his head to clear his head of the beautiful girl he would love forever. He could always text her later or sooner, whatever, he grinned. He knew she’d avoided sending him a birthday text all day.
“I am dying for Chinese food. Birthday Mongolian beef.” Jaska groaned, his mouth watering already.
“Late night Chinese it is.” Yuri slung an arm around his mate and his son, walking to the car. “Glad to have you back, birthday boy. Eighteen,” Yuri grunted. “I feel old.”
“You are old dad.” Jaska laughed.
“And here we go.” Katrina smiled.
The little family got into the car headed back into the heart of the city. Unbeknownst to everyone, tomorrow, things were going to change forever.
TO BE CONTINUED…