Thursday, September 26, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday! The Great Mage (Week 11)

Hey all!  Every week the flash fiction bloggers are allowed 2000 words to continue their story, and every week we are given a prompt to work with.  This week's prompt was:

Borrow a Myth – Put your own spin on an idea, creature, or item found in established mythology (if your story is about shifters, try to utilize something new and different).

Make sure to check out the other bloggers and their interpretation of this week's prompt after you read this week's installment of The Great Mage!  Thanks to Elaina for the prompt this week.  *Hugs*


Flash Fiction Friday Bloggers:

The Great Mage (Week 11)
Aneris sat straight up, gasping for air.  His lungs full of stale oxygen, he immediately let it all out with a scream.  His hands grappled at the bedding underneath him while he stared at the three-headed beast leaning over his bed.  The Mage reached for the rings at his back, only to realize they weren’t there.  Neither was his cape, nor his pants.
The Mage toppled over the edge of the bed to the sound of gravelly chuckles.  Having no idea where he was, where Seth was, or what the hell this creature was, Aneris crawled quickly under another high set bed, and then another.  Maybe he was in Goldilocks’ cottage with all these beds—it was a fairytale Realm after all.  Things that were not supposed to be, existed in this place, that was to say if he was still in The Silver Realm at all.
Either he was or he was seriously tripping on heavy drugs, because the three-headed dog began to thud his way.  Black furred paws the size of Bigfoot’s paralleled Aneris’s trench crawl to the last bed against the far wall.  The Mage tucked his body tight against the smooth rock wall and tried to summon his magic.  Like a lighter out of fluid, his fingertips sparked with gold before the magic fizzled.
“Shit,” he cursed when the bed above him creaked.  Two thick hind legs attached to paws made for bone crunching waited patiently at the side of the bed.
“Give him space, Roan.  He’s only a little thing.”
“No!  Lift the bed, you git, before he strikes.”
“Will you two stop your fighting?  He’s scared and his magic is still recovering.  He only came back to life this morning.”
“Says the twit with the good arm.  I done seen what a Mage can do, Kerby.  Put us out of a job he did.”
“We have a fine job now.  We’re our own boss.”
“Until the Priestesses come back to the water, what then, Gwenny?  It’s this boy’s fault if we’re called to duty.  Don’t wanna go to war again.”
“We guard.  We don’t fight, Roan.”
“I remember quite a few fights.  Still got the bones in my teeth to prove it, see?”
“Ah! Your breath!  Stop that.”
Wide eyed, Aneris watched the two paws fight for balance.  The three voices were separate beings in their heads and whatever they were squabbling over was becoming physical.  Aneris knew he couldn’t make it to the door all the way across the room.  Flattened to the floor now, he spied the entrance if he squinted to focus.
His body hurt everywhere and it was hard to use his muscles to keep his self still.  He didn’t sense a threat from the creature, or creatures, whatever it was.  And with no other escape route and no magic, he was forced to clear his throat.  “Hello?”
“See?  See how scared he is?  Such a sweet little thing, Roan.  Shut your rotten-breathed mouth.”
“Gwenny meant hello, Little Mage.”  The paws backed up and the bed next to Aneris’s groaned with the creature’s weight.  “No harm will come to you if you would care to make an appearance.  No sense in talking to a bed.”
Aneris’s muscles screamed at him as he crawled out from under the bed.  He looked up at the black-furred dog with three heads and thankfully noted the red leather skirt covering its genitals.  Each head possessed the same features of a demonic dog, apart from the eyes.  Their eyes were different from one another’s.  One set a little feminine, turned down at the inner corners and bright blue.  The middle head’s eyes were wide and warm, and a shade of gold that reminded Aneris of petals on a sunflower.  But the last head had narrowed red eyes, the color of Ruby and all things fiery.  Those eyes scared him.
The creature’s left arm smacked its right counterpart.  “Enough out of you, Roan.”  The blue-eyed head turned to Aneris.  “Don’t mind him, he’s the irritating one.  Can’t be changed.”
“Uh huh.”  Aneris nodded dumbly before slipping onto the bed opposite the beast.
The golden-eyed head smiled with razor sharp teeth.  “Yes, he’s a bit of git at times.  But I’m Kerby.  And this here is Gwenny.”  The left arm waved for the blue-eyed head.  “And you’ve met Roan.”
Aneris’s lips tightened in a thin line upon seeing the same wicked look from the red-eyed head.   The Mage tightened his hands over the linen garment holding in his goodies. “Uh huh.”
Kerby continued.  “I’m sure you’re still a bit tired from your… reawakening.  I’m positive you have many questions and they will all be answered.  But the short version: You somehow freed the Black Dragon from Sylvius’s spell and he shifted.  He flew your dead body across the Black lake with your tasty mate aboard and that hissing little horse, and here you are.  Doeoaks’s Crossing Inn!  And we, the Cerberus, are now at your service for getting rid of those foul ghoulies always trying to climb to shore.  One less thing we have to do.”  Its front paws clapped together and the Cerberus’s stomach muscles tightened, reminding Aneris exactly how much physical power he’d be up against should the thing attack him.
Aneris shook his head of thoughts, all except for one.  “Where’s Seth?”
“Ah.  Yes.  Setherum.  He’s in the stables with the hissy-fit horsy.”  Roan rolled his eyes.  “Blasted thing almost bit my arm off for trying to pick you up.  Been whining all day, to see you, I suppose.”
“And the Black Dragon?”  Aneris rubbed his arms and crossed his legs.  A draft from the crooked window to his right gave him the shivers, just like the mention of that possessed Dragon did.
“Nice fellow.   He’s chatting with the King’s Knights.  They’ve just arrived at the Crossings to issue a proclamation of war, nothing to worry your newly reclaimed head about.”  Gwenny choked on what sounded like a disgusting giggle.  She hiccupped and covered her mouth with the left paw.  “Excuse me.”
“Wait.  The Black Dragon shifted… So that means he’s good now?”
“Of course he is, thanks to you!”  Kerby nodded.
Aneris got up to go to the window.  “And did you say war?”
“Aye.  The closest Shifter Tribe compound was set afire last night by the Black King’s men.”
Aneris gasped, but Gwenny hushed him.  “Everyone’s fine, although, Sylvius took a troop of the Black King’s men to the White Kingdom on foot through the woods.  The Trolls told the White Lady and she sent word to the King.  I even heard the Gamemaster will make an appearance on the White King’s behalf, but you can’t really listen to the Sidhe around here.  They’re a bunch of nymphos and drunkards.  They’ll say anything to get their jollies,” she quipped.
Aneris stared out the window.  A sea of silver armor caught light from the torches the King’s Knights carried.  They were everywhere—at the darkened market stands in front of the inn, in private doorways and on horse, patrolling the area.  White plumes on their pointy silver helmets rustled in the wind like birds sitting high atop their heads.  Aneris caught sight of a familiar fiery mane and a more familiar outline shaded red under a caged lantern.  They stood next to a bulky dark figure that looked up at Aneris’s window with burning yellow eyes.
Aneris gasped and turned to the Cerberus.  “Where are my things?  I need to get dressed.”
“Rude.”  Roan clenched his fist.  “I would think a thank you was in order.  What, for putting you up for free.”
Gwenny ignored Roan.  “In the cabinet behind you.  We had to lock your sash away in there.  The red light was driving us mad.”
“Red light?”  Aneris frowned, walking to the cabinet.
“Aye.  The little bottle, Setherum called it a life force.”  Kerby shrugged when Aneris looked back at him.  “Must be an Othersider thing.”
“Right.”  Aneris opened the skinny cabinet to find his cloak hanging up on a hook and his clothing folded neatly on top of a pulsing red light.  “What the hell?”
He picked up his clothes.  It took him some time to focus on the sash and its dizzying red alarm of light.  When Aneris could manage, he picked up the sash to see a vial of red liquid sloshing about, begging him to come closer.  Words floated around the vial, faster and faster until they solidified so Aneris could read.
“Best to be careful with this life.  It is your final one.  Dress and prepare for war,” he read aloud.  His heart thumped in his chest.  A nagging sensation made him dress quickly and buckle the sash back over his banded chest.  He took inventory of all his things, noting the moon in the stone on his sash was a little bigger and little brighter.  He hadn’t forgotten his promise to the White Lady.  If he survived this war, or whatever the Gamemaster intended, then he still was in her debt to bring the woman her true love; whoever that was.
He was about to ask the three-headed Cerberus to take him to Seth when his sash glowed gold and the runes of his magic sparkled in the air.  His body was filled with power.  His lungs were filled with glorious fresh air.  And a fierce wind momentarily sliced around Aneris.  Then all was still and the Cerberus sat staring at him; all three mouths open wide.
“I died,” Aners concluded.
“Aye,” Gwenny answered.
“But I had another life to use.”
“I suppose so,” Kerby said with surprise.
“And I’m back now.”
“Unless you’re a ghost, a very solid ghost at that.”  Roan sniffed in Aneris’s direction just to make sure.  “No.  You’re real.”
“Good to know.”  Aneris smiled and smoothed his cloak down his sides.   “It just hit me.  Sorry about that.”
“No apologies needed.”  Gwinny wriggled her nose.  “I’ve just never seen good magic like that before.  It was…”
“Beautiful,” Kerby finished.  The Cerberus stood, towering over Aneris as it hunched due to the unaccommodating ceiling height.  “You must want to greet your mate. He’ll be thrilled to find you awake.  Come along then.  After a happy reunion we’ll feed that belly of yours.”
“But that’s my stew!”  Roan growled.
“There’s plenty of stew, you insufferable mongrel.  We run an inn.  More than your mouth to feed.”  Gwenny growled back.
While the Cerberus loped around the corner, through the wide entrance of the large common bedroom, Aneris watched it go.  He had to laugh a bit at his situation.  He was reborn, given new life by the Gamemaster no doubt.  He had freed the Black Dragon from Sylvius’s spell.  Seth and Fia were alive and waiting for him.  War was on the horizon and his journey would continue.  And a real life Cerberus, the three-headed dog that was rumored to guard the gates to the underworld was actually running an inn and serving bowls of stew to hungry travelers.  Life couldn’t get crazier than this.
Aneris was nervous as he walked down the stairs behind the arguing Cerberus; all three of their heads barking at one another and snapping their teeth like siblings in a fight.  He wondered how worried Seth had been and if Seth had been by his side the entire time.  As he exited a service entrance door behind the Cerberus, Aneris knew his answer.  Seth took one look at his mate and came running faster than Fia could ever try to.  Arms wrapped around Aneris, nearly stealing the breath from his lungs.
“Aneris,” Seth whimpered. “Aneris…”
His tears wet Aneris’s neck as the Red Knight burrowed his face under the fabric of his hood.  “Seth, it’s okay.  I’m okay.”
“Aneris.” It was all Seth could say, over and over until a crowd gathered around them.  And even still Seth clung to his mate like he was trying to bind them together.  “Never again—you will never leave me again.”
To be continued…

Friday, September 20, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday! The Great Mage (Week 10)

Hey guys!  No prompt this week.  Just a freebie, fly-by-the-seat-of-our pants kind of installment.  I had some technical difficulties this week with my email account.  I wrote about it yesterday, but in case you didn't read it, I basically am unable to get into my nighttempest email and therefore have no communication with my other bloggers.  If all else fails and no one from Google contacts me back I'll have to set up a new email, which will really friggin suck. But I have to do what I have to do, I guess.  *grumbles*

On with the show.  I'm not sure if any of my other bloggers were able to see the message yesterday, but I'm posting their links all the same.  Enjoy and I'm so sorry to my blogger buddies for the inconvenience.  You can virtual-slap me if you want.  :P

 Hugs and stuff,

Flash Fiction Friday Bloggers:


 The Great Mage (Week 10)

Fire ignited within the winged cage trapping them on top of the water temple.  Ghouls sizzled to ashes, unable to withstand the Dragon’s inferno.  Its head dipped, endeavoring to combat Seth’s blood-given protection.  Seth’s sword was incandescent, shielding him and Aneris from the heat.  He thrust the tip of his blade toward the Dragon.  Nevertheless, the beast was willing to chance the sharp point.

The Dragon clawed up the surface of the temple, clicking and scratching across marble.  His winged entrapment tightened 'til there wasn’t enough room to fight back. Fia’s mane turned the color of snowy flames.  Aneris screamed from the power she emanated.  He realized then that her power was tied to Seth’s soul, resembling the rings that were tied to his magic.  She was Seth’s backup strength, molded to his heart, and his last ditch effort at life.

Seth gave everything he had to hold off the pain of the Dragon’s fire.  And Fia fed the Knight what strength she had to give.  If Seth drained them both, Fia would surely die, and Seth in time.  Aneris was the only one who could get them out of this, with his magic and his smarts.  He turned his otherworldly glare to the Dragon and stepped out of Seth’s shielding touch.

“Aneris! No!”

Imagining a bubble of fortification around himself, Aneris used what precious magic he had to defend himself from the flames.  He had no idea how long he had, but he figured not long.  He knew of the magic eating him from the inside, fighting off the dark arts trapped in the Dragon Shifter’s body.  His energy nearly depleted, Aneris held up his rings and closed his eyes.

Viam monstra,” he bellowed.  Show me the way.

His eyes opened to greet the Black Dragon’s red stare.  Golden runes poured from Aneris’s rings, thousands of them.  The runes danced in circles around the Dragon’s body and wings, closing in until they embedded into the smoky magic clinging to his scales.  The Dragon roared his rage.  Thunder clapped in the distance, shaking the temple’s foundation.

The runes squeezed the web of magic clouding the Dragon’s mind.  Aneris wheezed, forced to his knees.  His arms shook under the weight of his powers.  His eyes stung from the smoke.  Dark magic, Sylvius’s spell, attempted to transfer to Aneris and he fought for his life.  Stay awake, he thought.  But his lids were so heavy the task was near impossible.  He screamed through his teeth.  Seth was behind him, still rebelling against the Dragon’s flames to keep them alive while Aneris worked.

The runes grew in size, stealing the darkness from the Dragon’s skin.  Black scales scattered to the flames, revealing dark blue scales that resembled waves of midnight in an infinite ocean.  Aneris crawled forward.  He heard the Dragon’s heart in his mind, still crippled by the spell.  He had to save this innocent creature who didn’t know what he was doing.  The Dragon continued his attempts to fry them to a crisp.

Aneris reached out, dragged into the pool of water that glowed from the pool.  His boots and leathers soaked, with his cloak weighed down by water, Aneris allowed his rings to fall down his arms to touch the Dragon’s chest.  Pain sliced through his body; the magic so dark it hurt.  Aneris’s skin shined, humming with the last of his power—a warning to stop before he took his last breath. 

He couldn’t stop.  He had to take away the Dragon’s pain.  It was part of Aneris’s purpose, to free this fantastic creature from his prison.  Aneris imagined his fist curling around the Dragon’s heart.  He pictured the same ancient runes encircling the organ, squeezing the darkness out for the heart to be pure once more.

The rings on his arms flickered.  He had seconds before his body failed him.  Water overflowed from the pool.  A thin sheet of liquid covered the marble, spilling over the sides where the Ghouls fought to penetrate the Dragon’s rings.  Aneris sensed the Dragon’s torment, the tearing of his wings; teeth sinking into his scales.

The Dragon tipped his head back.  Something akin to a scream filled the air and Aneris cried with him.  They were connected—Aneris’s magic resided in the Dragon now.  He, too, felt every rip and slash.  Their leathery cage trembled and glowed so bright Aneris could hardly stand the light.  The water gushed, soaking all of them to the bone.  It sprayed and splashed.  Aneris chanced a look over his shoulder at Seth and Fia.

Seth kept his blade up, but his stance was defeated. Fia had lowered herself to the marble, slowly wheezing fire as Seth drained her to keep him, his mate alive.  Aneris wanted to cry.  He didn’t know how they would survive this.  That was up until the pearl lifted from the water, casting a prism of colors against the Dragon’s wings.  It spun around, rising higher into the air.  It stopped just shy of the Dragon’s eyes and burst. The Mage’s world became nothing but white.  He was momentarily blinded.

Aneris’s hand burned against the Dragon’s skin, and yet he couldn’t move away.  He focused on the runes engraving themselves into the Dragon’s heart, counteracting the dark magic.  A pure source of magic paved through the creature’s body.  Aneris knew without a doubt the pearl had entered the Dragon’s body, somehow drawn to the beast and its predicament.

The temple shook.  Water continued to burst from the shallow pool at an impossible volume.  And then Aneris fell away from the Dragon.  His back hit wet marble.  Magic snapped back into his body, but it was only dull throb; not enough to restore the loss he’d taken.  The pearl’s light lit up the Dragon when Aneris was able to see again, silhouetting the runes in the beast’s heart.  With his eyes barely open, the temple rising into the sky like a dream, and water trying to drown the Mage, Aneris looked at the Dragon.

“Aneris,” Seth begged, going to his knees.  His hand slapped against Aneris’s fingers, but the Mage couldn’t look away from the Dragon. 

Those blue scales shimmered.  The beast’s eyes flashed a warm gold as if the mind inside had returned to itself.  The Dragon shifted in a split second.  A blue-scaled man of muscular proportions floated in the air.  He tried to speak while reaching for Aneris, but his body fell from the air and tumbled over the edge of the temple, taking the pearl’s magic with him.

Silence scared the Mage.  And then he heard a splash—a splash?

“Aneris, hold on.  Please, my mate.  Don’t leave me here.”  Seth gripped Aneris’s hand, shaking him.

Like his batteries had died, Aneris gave a final shudder.  His breath rolled out of him in traces of golden runes.  His rings went cold against his skin.  The Mage had one last glimpse of the stormy clouds parting to reveal a vast sky full of wondrous stars.  Then his mind went blank and his eyes glossed over.


“Aneris!”  Seth shouted.  “Aneris, wake up…”

Seth went silent, looking down at his mate.  His skin was cold to the touch.  His eyes were filmy; a look of the dead.  Across his banded chest was the leather sash he wore. There was the medallion with the black stone, encircled by the White King’s insignia.  Within the stone, the moon floated as if it were real.  It flashed a reminder of Aneris’s promise he would never fulfill.    Next to the medallion, the vials strapped to the sash were almost empty, thrumming different colors of liquid.  The red vial shimmered brightest.  It was empty now.  What they had thought were potions weren’t potions at all.  Seth understood now.

What happened in the LARPing game had indeed been made real here in The Silver Realm.  He’d always known that, but looking down at his lover and seeing Aneris’s life reduced to a simple vial of health like in some videogame, made him angry.  “This isn’t a game,” he whispered in anguish.  “He is a person.  He is my mate.”

Seth tried to warm Aneris’s cool fingers in his palms.  “Please…”

Fia softly huffed near them.  She drank the water off of the marble rooftop in attempt to regain her energy.  Numb to the core, Seth observed their surroundings.  He hadn’t thought about the silence, or the lack of Ghouls trying to eat their faces off.  He let go of Aneris’s hand to stand in awe.  A vast lake surrounded the temple.  Water lapped at the base of the black marble structure.  Torches dotted the water in a circle around the sacred house, casting fiery images against the dark, still waters.

The Ghouls were gone, lost beneath the water.  The air was pure and clean.  The sky was full of stars, and in the distance, the mountains were now a lush green.  Seth flipped his visor up, where sweat and ash dirtied his face.  He ran a hand through his sopping black hair, turning in circles.  “What have we done?  Aneris, wake up.  You must see this!”

He turned back to his mate and crouched.  “My love, you must hear me.  This is not how you end.  I will not allow it,” he sobbed.  “You pleaded with me, remember?  You said you had a purpose here.  Was this what you intended?  I don’t think so.  You said you wouldn’t leave me.  How will we finish our quest?  How will I ever make you mine?”

Seth was about to lie next to his mate and his loyal horse and give it all up. He would stare at the sky, holding Aneris’s hand until his energy faded and he joined his mate in the stars.  But a wet slap interrupted his plans.  He snatched up his sword when a hand appeared from the opening in the roof.  A head of dripping black hair bobbed up the stairs and then a blue scaled upper body joined it.  Trudging slowly to the roof, a Dragon Shifter turned his yellow eyes on Seth.

Seth pointed his blade at the intruder.  “Stop.  Come no further.”

“I will not harm you,” the Shifter rasped.  “I have done enough harm for one lifetime.”  He walked with unsteady feet to the edge of the temple roof.

“Who are you?”  Seth protected his mate’s body by putting himself between the strange Shifter and Aneris.

“My name was forgotten long ago.  I am only known now as the Black Dragon.  But as you see, I am not black at all.”  Through long dark tendrils, Seth saw yellow eyes look to him.

“It’s you!”

“What other Shifter did you see here this night, Red One?  Of course it is me.  And for my life I took his.  Kill me if you so choose.  I will not fight you, for I deserve this death for my weaknesses.”

Seth gritted his teeth.  Tears spilled over his lashes.  “Why would you do this?  Why side with that… that… I cannot say his name!”

The Shifter turned to face Seth.  Naked and wet, the only thing besides his eyes to stand out was the Water Elemental rune outlined in his chest.  “I would never side with the dark.  The temple was raided by Sylvius and his men.  We stood no chance in that war.  I lost my mother, a powerful Water Priestess.  I tried to protect them all.”

“Water?”  Seth looked from Aneris’s body to the Shifter.


“Shit.  You’re—by the Goddess.”  Seth dropped to his knees.  “Aneris!  Wake.”  He shook his mate.  “It’s him.”

Aneris remained motionless.  The red vial continued to glow.  Words began to swirl in the glass tube.  Seth cocked his head.  “He who captures the Red Knight shall be granted an extra life.  You have stolen his heart.  There is no captivity greater in the universe,” Seth read.

“The Gamemaster.”  Seth bounced with sheer joy.  He looked up to the Shifter, his tears flowing freely.  “Tis a wonderful game we play!”

To be continued…



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Night is having technical difficulties...

For the past week I've been screwed out of my nighttempest gmail and haven't been able to deliver the prompt -which was a freebie week anyway - to the other bloggers.  At first I was just receiving failure to deliver notices in response to my sent emails and now I'm locked out completely.  I've sent Google a message, because this isn't the first time I've had trouble with the account, and I am now waiting anxiously for some news.  So to the FFF bloggers - if you're reading this - I am SO sorry for the inconvenience.  To our readers, I'll be posting links up tomorrow night (Friday evening) with everyone's blogs.

Bloggers: If you do get this message, just continue on with your story as normal, no prompt, or leave up what you already have and we'll try again next week.

Again, I am so sorry about this.  I'm a bit pissed off myself.  :(  *Hugs*  See you tomorrow night with FFF.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shelter Me: Part 5

Hello there!  I just wanted to take a second to let everyone know that I do indeed plan on getting back to Hedgewater, but the schedule has changed.  I'll be pushing back Season 2 until October.  And we'll also be starting the next SCT in a few months.  I had posted a preview of that either last week or the week before.  Can't quite remember at the moment.  :P  Anyway, I miss you guys commenting.  Even if I don't always reply to you, know that I read and love each and every comment.  You guys rock and thanks for coming back time and time again.  Enjoy the playlist (the first song is a must for the first scene) and this chapter.  *Hugs*


Part 5 Playlist:
Get Down, Make Love - Nine Inch Nails
Hearts On Fire - Cut Copy
Shallow Play - The New Division
I Think We're Alone Now - Grooms

Last time...
He held Trey against the door, hoisting his long legs onto his hips and took a long pull of his mate’s blood. A starving man, he ground his cock against Trey’s, drawing blood from his neck.  Fingers twined in his hair, holding on for dear life.  A ragged moan from Trey’s lips lit him up inside and Greg lost the need to be careful.  His beast took over. 
His was thirst too great to be denied this carnal pleasure.  Trey’s thoughts came to him at first like a bundle of whispers and then a deafening roar.  Greg slid them to the floor before he started ripping at Trey’s clothes.
Shelter Me: Part 5
Greg detached from Trey’s neck to get rid of the fabric between them.  Leaving Trey’s blood to well from the twin marks in his neck was one of the hardest things Greg had ever done—Trey could see it in those lusty eyes.

The buttons of Trey’s dress shirt scattered across the floor.  Fabric ripped.  Trey’s mate hissed, studying his bared flesh.  Both of Greg’s hands hovered over Trey’s chest as if he couldn’t decide want he wanted to do first; the look on his face said he wanted to consume every part with a single touch.

Finally Greg’s palm smoothed down his chest, pressed firmly against Trey’s skin, evoking body-encompassing shivers as fingertips sprawled and that hand trailed further down.  Trey arched in Greg’s strong embrace. Only his shoulders and the soles of his feet kept him grounded. The buckle of his belt clanked loudly, flopping back and forth until Greg managed to relieve Trey of the leather burden by ripping it through the loops and flung it behind him.

His dress pants ended up in two pieces.  Greg tore them from seam to seam, right down the fucking middle.  Trey’s breath caught in his throat, not from terror, but from sheer awe at his mate’s power and need to uncover his body.  Trey lifted his ass.   Fabric slithered down his legs, lost to the room after Greg scented the remnants of Trey’s pants with an eerie growl.   

Left in just his underwear, Trey could only remember to breathe.  His mate began to disrobe above him.  The gentle Greg that Trey had become accustomed to wasn’t home in those golden eyes.   A predator had taken up residence inside of Greg, enticing Trey to watch his mate’s prideful striptease as if he was watching the best kind of present being unwrapped.  Greg’s chest was flushed and smattered with barely there freckles; light blonde curls wisped over his expansive pectorals and light brown nipples.  The hair darkened the further the trail descended.

Trey wanted to taste.  His fangs itched to know Greg’s undeniable flavor.  Sharp points crowded Trey’s mouth, nicking the soft tissue of his bottom lip before he licked the metallic droplets away.  Trey groaned.  His lean muscles bunched and burned when he fought to get up, but the spell he was under rendered him practically helpless; that and Greg’s commanding eyes telling him to stay put.  His mate wasn’t done yet.

Unaware of his hands moving, Trey was surprised when his fingers touched the line of hair on Greg’s chest.  He combed through it, unyielding on his quest to memorize his mate’s muscles and the texture of his skin. Those golden eyes narrowed.  Greg quickly pushed his jeans down over his hips, underwear and all to let Trey see what he was packing.  The Royal’s equipment wasn’t lacking and judging by his cocky stare, Greg knew it.

Trey whimpered as his mate backed away to kick off his boots and lose the jeans completely.  His mate stood above him, presenting every inch of his wickedly perfect body to Trey.  The human-turn reached for him.  “Greg,” he exhaled.

Greg fell to his knees again, forcing his way between Trey’s long legs.  “I’m right here,” he rumbled.  He dipped his head to capture his mate’s mouth. The rough plunge of his tongue between his mate’s lips set Trey into overdrive.  Trey tightened his thighs around Greg, captured him in a vice so he couldn’t get away from the sensual grind he wanted.

This kiss was more freeing than their last, now that they were unrestricted by clothing.  They moved against each other, lips meshing and fangs clashing; naked skin gathered sweat between their heated bodies. The bedroom became a boiler room of balmy air so thick it was hard to breathe.  

Trey was mindless save for Greg’s delicious tongue, his taste, his strong hands and the occasional graze of his blunt nails stinging along Trey’s skin.  Fingers molded around Trey’s gyrating ass, lifting him up against his mate’s rock hard cock.  So as not to break their connection, Trey locked his arms around Greg’s neck.  God he never wanted to let go.

Greg stood with Trey still attached.  He walked in front of the floor-to-ceiling, tinted windows overlooking the courtyard and wrenched Trey’s hands from his neck to let him bounce on the bed.  Trey was enamored with his mate’s gloriously nude body, and further aroused by the bunch of Greg’s stomach muscles as he climbed slowly over the bed.

A wild animal paced in Greg’s golden eyes; a penetrating swirl within his irises hinted at his barely restrained control.  Trey’s head hit the pillows; he was forced up the bed to allow his mate room.  Hands slid from his ankles, up his shins, and then over his parted thighs.  Goosebumps prickled along his pale skin.  Trey reached up, grasping Greg’s shoulders in his hands to pull him down. 

Greg wasn’t having it.  He slipped his warm hands under the elastic waistband of Trey’s simple cotton briefs and yanked them down, compelling Trey to lift his hips again.

Trey’s cock lay stiff atop his lower stomach, heavy with arousal and shiny at the head.  The Royal wet his lips, gazing upon his mate with slits for eyes.  Greg growled, putting his face to Trey’s stomach. Greedy hands locked around Trey’s hips to keep him in place.

Greg nuzzled his nose into his mate’s stomach, at first near Trey’s belly button and then down to the juncture where hip met thigh.  The feel was dizzying to Trey.  Greg explored until he could rub day old scruff along his jaw down Trey’s length.  Trey gasped at the sensation—a coarse prickle scraped across his delicate erection.  He writhed.  His hands found home within Greg’s short red hair; a support system to stabilize him during this erotic buildup.

“Fuck that’s… Oh fuck, Greg.”

His body twisted this way and that.  Greg’s iron rule on his thighs denied him escape from the lick of heat tunneling through his veins, straight to Trey’s cock that twitched in time with his erratic heartbeat.  Greg’s erogenous torture—his tongue swirling around the weeping head of Trey’s cock—tugged a moan from Trey’s mouth.  He eased the punishing pull of his fingers, encouraging Greg to seal that luscious mouth fully around his cock with some gentle petting.

Greg flicked his eyes up.  That look drove Trey wild.  He ground his groin into Greg’s face, rumbling between his fangs.  He needed release or friction, an ending he couldn’t describe unless turning inside out was possible.  He knew how much Greg wanted him; the smell of his mate’s arousal hung heavy in the air and not five minutes ago Trey had willingly given his blood with Greg’s need in mind.  Fuck. Trey wanted to know those fangs at his neck again.  He welcomed those mind numbing pulls of blood, the slight pain masked by body thrumming euphoria.

Trey wasn’t shy, but he’d never been loud either.  He’d never demanded of a lover or let on what might arouse him in bed. There had been a few awkward starts back in college, before clothes came off and the standard in-and-out followed with a happy ending for all.   But those prior sexual encounters held no candle to him and his mate.  Here, in this bed with the two of them, it was a very different situation—a situation he hoped happened again and again.

Greg drew things out, not because he was a sadistic fucker.  He did it because he wanted to prolong the passion between them.  Like Trey, Greg wanted to explore the body that would sleep next to him forever.  He wanted to know what made Trey tick, what got his pulse going while he selfishly indulged in hisses and moans and hair pulls from his sexually shocked mate.

All the while Greg held his beast in check, for as long as he could, and with a lot of experience to bring Trey to the brink, without letting him fall over the point of no return.  He squeezed the base of Trey’s cock, and allowing Trey to thrust home into his blazing hot mouth.  Trey slapped the bed.  His eyes rolled back in his head for a second.  He didn’t understand the noise bubbling from his throat.

He slammed his hips up to enter Greg’s gateway to heaven with his cock.  Trey didn’t care about boundaries at this point.  It was his turn to be selfish and the vibe from Greg said he didn’t care in the least.  Trey’s cock turned a dark red, tinged with purple and the pain of Greg’s squeezing around his length only served to amplify his pleasure.  His frantic cadence was awarded with the friction he sought, a means to ease the energy bouncing around his core and the sizzle that churned in his balls with nowhere to go.  Greg’s hand pounded against Trey’s hip, slamming him into the mattress.  He released his grip, only to squeeze again. 

“Not yet you don’t.”  Greg leaned over to lick a drop of fluid from the tip of Trey’s cock. 

His tongue curled back in his mouth.  A satisfied hum vibrated deep in his throat.  He crawled over Trey until his face was level with a hard pink nipple.  Greg’s upper lip stretched over fangs, giving Trey a hint at what he was in for before he struck.

The puncture of Greg’s fangs through his nipple brought Trey off the bed.  Time stilled as those sharp points penetrated deep into his skin and the blood welled to the surface.  Trey’s cock wept, just like he wanted to cry it felt so good.  All of the air in his lungs escaped to be replaced with whatever cosmic narcotic Greg was made of.

Trey held his lover’s head prisoner.  Each draw of blood made his legs spasm.  Gurgling noises that were supposed to be words leaked from his mouth.  He touched Greg’s mind.  He saw the desire to please, to be the man Trey needed.  He saw wicked fantasies and sweet nothings all involving the two of them.

For the first time since he’d become a vampire, Trey felt wanted; he felt like he belonged without a doubt or that nagging twinge of guilt he’d carried with him for fifteen years.  He didn’t have to deal to survive anymore.  Trey didn’t have to do anything but live—live with his mate in blissful harmony while the world continued on without them.

He knew that last thought wasn’t exactly true; there would plenty of hardships in their near future.  But until the world came crashing down around them, he would enjoy what Greg had to give.  In turn, he would give himself to Greg because just like his mate, he sought to pleasure Greg too.  He gave his blood, mutually enjoying the feeding experience.  He gave his soul because it wasn’t worth anything without the other half to make it whole.  Trey opened himself to Greg like he’d never done for anyone before.

He wrapped his legs around Greg, holding him close while his body was thoroughly caressed from the inside out.  Trey allowed Greg to see in his mind.  His past, his family—what used to be—and the uncertainty he’d lived in since he’d been turned.  Trey let Greg see what he saw when he looked at his mate, at his future—the beautiful security and passion, the love building even though Trey thought it was too fast.  The attachment they’d formed under emergency circumstances and how he didn’t regret that they’d been thrown together.  Trey couldn’t imagine his mate as anyone other than Greg.

He dragged his nails up Greg’s spine, earning a shiver from his mate.  The suckling deepened, slowed to a pace that was sensual and careful.  Greg’s tongue eventually lapped at the blood he’d summoned from Trey’s body, closing the tiny wounds.  Trey’s legs slid down to Greg’s.  He relaxed on the bed as his mate pushed up to stare at him.

“I want you.”  Trey reached up.  “All of you.”  He referred to the beast leaking out of Greg and the gentle man still in control.  Trey wanted them both.

Greg responded with a chaste kiss.  He pulled away and left the bed.  In shock, Trey sat up to watch Greg.  “Are you leaving?”

Greg looked over his shoulder and growled.  He returned his attention to the box on his dresser, rummaging through it until he apparently found what he was looking for.  A thick black bottle in his palm, he came back to the bed, soothing Trey’s worries.  The bottle top flicked open under pressure from Greg’s thumb.

“You think I would leave you?”  Greg licked his fangs and drizzled lube on his cock.  He gave it a good stroke under Trey’s watchful eyes.  “My gorgeous, naked mate sprawled in my bed, primed for me?  Now who’s fucking crazy?”

More lube dribbled onto Trey, dripping down his cock and balls.  Greg’s fingers spread the warming liquid until he stopped to massage Trey’s entrance.  Trey bucked at the pressure circling his puckered hole.  The bottle was discarded on the bed.  Greg’s finger pushed inside without warning.

Trey’s body was made for this, made for Greg to be inside of him. He pushed back on the lone finger, thick and long, curling into him with purpose.   “Greg,” he said softly.  Then louder and louder until he was sure all of SoHo could hear his one-worded pleas.

Another finger slid in with the first, two fingers scissoring inside his hot channel.  He clamped down, using his muscles to tighten around Greg’s fingers.  Trey stroked his dick in time with Greg’s rhythm.  When he focused on his mate’s face, Trey saw the pleasure clear as day.

“That’s it, baby.  Touch yourself for me.  Faster.”  Greg put his body into each thrust, growling constantly.  His tongue played with his fangs.  His eyes never left Trey’s.

Trey picked up the pace, slicking his hand up and down his cock for Greg to enjoy.  When he was almost there, a familiar tingle lifting his balls, Trey’s hand was slapped away.  He wasn’t afraid of Greg’s bare cock sliding against his hole, nor was he afraid when his legs were set to either side of Greg’s hips.  STDs couldn’t be contracted by vampires.  There would be no condoms between them like the humans needed.  Mates were meant to go raw, to feel each other au natural as they connected souls and fed on each other’s pleasure.

Sitting back on his heels, knees spreading Trey’s thighs wide, Greg took a deep breath and pushed into Trey.  He pulled Trey into his lap, burrowing deep inside his mate.  Trey’s hands slapped the wall behind him.  He dug his heels into the mattress, and pushed back against Greg’s lap.  His hips in Greg’s hands allowed for a fierce tempo.  Flesh met flesh, Trey arching his back to take Greg deeper.  He was filled, stretched, and slicked from the inside.  The head of Greg’s cock drove delectably deep, rubbing against his tight muscles.

Greg was a sight to behold.  His eyes burned like the glow of a lighthouse in the midst of a storm, begging Trey to come home.  His nails bit into Trey’s ass.  Pain cohered with pleasure.  And Trey began to fuck himself on Greg’s cock, burning up his abdominal muscles to push back against every powerful thrust.

As a human-turn he was always able to smell emotions from another vampire, but now he could make out Greg’s distinct scent; his arousal for his mate had a different aroma to it.  Greg smelled like leather and pine, like the essential oils of hot, masculine sex that beckoned Trey’s body close.

Trey raised his head, reaching for the sides of Greg’s torso to hold on.  His muscles were on fire in this position and he loved the burn.  Able to push his himself into Greg’s lap, Trey turned the tables.  He splayed his hands on Greg’s chest and pushed him onto his back.

Leaning down, Trey kissed his mate for all he worth, pouring every unsaid word into Greg’s mouth for him to drink.  He licked Greg’s lips, sated by the smile he traced with his tongue and then sat up to ride his mate.  He gave his abs a break and worked his thighs.  Greg’s cock at this angle burrowed so deep Trey had to close his eyes to make sense of his heightened pleasure.  He put his hands in his hair, moaning as he let himself fall on his mate’s length, only to rise off of each thick inch.

“Trey.”  Greg slapped Trey’s hip.  “God, you look so… Fuck!”  He bucked under Trey.  “Close. So fucking close,” he grit.

Trey opened his eyes to look down upon his mate.  He brought his hands down, sliding over his swollen nipple and sweaty chest for Greg to watch.  He slammed down on Greg’s cock, losing his breath.  He sucked in air and fisted his cock.  “Come on.  Do it.  Come for me, Greg.  I wanna feel it.” 

He gasped, falling into Greg’s lap only to give a strangled cry to the ceiling.  He was hot, burning up with desire at the dirty words he’d never said before. Prior to this encounter, Trey would have never been so bold as to demand release from a lover.  Shit, he’d never talked in bed at all. 

But with Greg, the sexual aggression was too much to keep bottled up.  He wanted to watch Greg’s face contort with ecstasy as he came deep inside of him. Trey wanted to watch those muscles go rigid and feel those forceful hands bruise his hips.  What should have scared him didn’t anymore.  He wasn’t scared of anything with Greg.

His fangs itched to taste Greg’s blood again, this time while conscious as his mate climaxed, hard.   Trey bit his bottom lip.  His fangs punctured right though his flesh.  He screamed with his mouth closed and rode Greg hard to stoke the fiery friction rubbing his insides.

“Trey!”  Greg barked.  His head thrashed, but Trey only fucked himself harder on Greg’s cock, almost violently.  The bed shook.  Steam clouded the windows from the sexual power filling the room.  Trey threw his head back, a hand going into his hair, yanking on his locks as he screamed for release.

He felt the sizzle shoot from his balls and through his shaft.  Unable to control his instincts any longer, Trey fell forward to claim Greg’s neck as he came.  He spurted between their sandwiched stomachs, hot and warm and tight between their slippery skin.  He shuddered repeatedly. 

Greg’s blood flowed into his mouth while his mate’s seed flooded his ass.  The Royal’s cries were deafening next to Trey’s ear. Greg’s heart thumped in his chest, matching Trey’s.  And he continued to suck his mate’s life force down his throat with not one hint of guilt.  This was his mate, true as the sky was blue.  This was his blood to claim and this body underneath him was his to touch.  Forever. And ever.

Trey slid into a comatose state.  At some point his fangs retracted, but he couldn’t move his face away from the warmth of Greg’s neck.  Strong arms held him.  Greg rolled them to their sides where they fell into a blissful, sated sleep.


Greg awoke in a panic.  Trey was still passed out, huddled into Greg’s side, so his mate wasn’t the issue.  The problem was the sound of multiple heartbeats and the scent of vampire in his home.  Greg soundlessly flung his legs over the side of the bed and slipped away to his nightstand.  He watched the door as he crouched down to feel for the blade sheathed in a custom holster that was attached to the side of the set of drawers.  He pulled it free then tiptoed over to where his flannel pants hung on the back of the bathroom door.

With his manhood covered up, he tried to feel out the penthouse for signs of the children.  Henry would have made noise if the enemy had come for them.  He would do anything to alert Greg that Rascal was in trouble and most likely die to protect the toddler.  What if they were already dead, Greg thought grimly.  He sniffed the air as he opened the bedroom door.  Male vampire.  Two of them, he concurred.  A female was with them.  She was closer.

The scent of non-vampire rushed him as he crept down the hall towards the open living room and kitchen.  When he peeked around the corner, his fears dissipated.  “Mom?”

His mother tucked her light brown hair behind her ears and looked up from where Rascal scribbled in an old spiral notebook.  “Did we wake you?”  Her warm honey toned eyes scanned him from head to toe.  She smiled at the knife.  “Good to see you’re still being careful.  I worried when you didn’t call to say you’d made it home.”

“I tried to call the house, but the maid said you’d gone out with Dad for the night.”  Greg stalked to the front door with the knife, glancing at Henry who was trying to cram a slice of pizza into his mouth all at once in the kitchen.  “You good, Henry?”

“Mm hmm.”  The teen nodded happily.

Greg growled at the front door.  “Did you bring Guards to my house, Mom?”

“I can’t go anywhere without them, your father’s orders.  When he ditched me for another meeting, I promised I’d come to check on you.  They came with me.  I assured them I was fine on my own to go up, but they didn’t listen.  Be thankful they listened when I refused to let them inside.  I know how you get.”

“How I get?  I enjoy my privacy.  Is that a crime, seeing how this is my home?”  Greg rolled his eyes and clicked the other locks into place, preventing the Guards from coming in.

“I think we have more to discuss than Guards, my son.”  She rested her chin in her palm, leaning over to run a hand over Rascal’s white blond hair.  “Like these two beautiful boys you’ve taken in.  And the beau you’ve you been keeping all to yourself back there.  Henry tells me your male is close to you.  Dare I ask if he intends to stay, unlike the others?”

It was then that Greg’s face fell.  He’d woken up to sheer panic, thinking his two foster children were murdered and that the enemy had come for Trey.  Now a more frightening predicament scared him; his mother was in close vicinity to the man his father was looking for.  Trey was in danger with his mother here.

“He’s just a friend.”  Greg stared at her hard.

She sighed.  Disappointment made her seem older than the young, twenty-something she would look forever.  “I see.  And the children?”  She slid to the floor next to Rascal, an unprecedented move for his proper mother who never dared to dirty her pristine slacks or cashmere cardigans.  Rascal allowed her closer, pointing to his drawing with pride.  She smiled, teary eyed, and nodded.  “Very good, Rascal.  Is it a tree?”
Rascal beamed.  His attention span took him back to the page and his chubby hand held the pencil oddly as he scribbled some more.
“He doesn’t let a lot of people touch him.  That’s strange,” Greg commented.  “But that’s not the point.  Why did you come here?  I would have answered the phone.”
Henry brought a soda into the living room area.  “You left your phone on the counter.  She called a million times, so I answered it.  I thought you’d want your mom here.”  He shrugged.  “She’s cool.”
“You don’t answer other people’s phones, Henry!”  Greg followed him.
“I could say there are other things you don’t do… with kids around, but we both seem to make mistakes.”  Henry snorted.  “I couldn’t get any sleep if I wanted to you guys were so loud.  So I called Ari to let her know I was okay.  You said I could.  And then your mom kept buzzing in.  Geez.  Let up, okay?”
Greg blushed.  “Henry!”
“Where is… You know?  Did you kill him?”  Henry laughed at his own joke.  Soda dribbled down his chin.  Greg’s mother offered him a tissue from the coffee table.  “Thanks.”
“I would think this beau of yours is somewhat important to you, Gregory, for you to have such a “visit” while the children are here.”  His mother looked up with a knowing smirk.
Greg plopped down on the couch with a pissed expression for Henry.  “Well, now that he and Rascal are here to stay I don’t exactly have a choice do I?”
“Oh, parents have choices to make.  Harder ones than you would think.  When and where to participate in sexual endeavors are choices that could affect young minds severely.”
“Mom, can we not do this right now?”
She cut him a look, one she’d mastered when he was growing up.  “Gregory, I barely speak to you as it is because you find your life of solitude and privacy so much better than connecting with your own mother.  I’ll bestow whatever advice I choose upon you while I have your attention, thank you very much.  You are still my child.”
Greg went quiet.  He looked over his shoulder at the hallway, hoping Trey would stay asleep throughout his mother’s visit.
“I phoned my assistant after I saw the state of things here.  You can’t very well care for two boys with nothing to provide them.  Petra will have some things delivered shortly.  You would do well to have some reliable help around here yourself.  Taking in two children overnight isn’t going to be easy.”
“Things?”  Greg cringed.  Things meant a lot of stuff in his mother’s book.  She’d always wanted grandchildren and it seemed this was as close as she was going to get.  Henry and Rascal weren’t about to get a few “things”.  They were about to get spoiled rotten.
“And I don’t mean a beanbag.”  She covered her mouth, tittering softly with Henry.  “I believe that was your generation, Gregory.  Times have changed.”
“Yeah, old man.” Henry chuckled.  He stopped when Greg’s mother slapped his arm.  “Sorry.”
“Don’t agitate him.  A tip from me to you, don’t push when you don’t want to be pushed back.  Only mothers are prepared for that kind of whiplash.  You on the other hand are not.  Respect the man who has so graciously agreed to raise you and you will be respected.  Understood?”  She soothed her words by rubbing his knee.  “Everything will be okay.  You’ll see, sweetheart.”  She put her elbow on his knee, checking on Rascal.  “And what have we here.  Are those flowers?  They’re lovely.”
“Mom, how long is this visit?”
“I’ll stay long enough to see the boys’ things arranged and meet your not-important beau.”
Greg sighed into his hands.  “Seriously?”
“Not important?”  Henry set down his soda and turned to Greg.  “How can you say that?  He’s your mate.”
Greg’s eyes widened.  The air had been knocked right out of him. His mother looked up abruptly, just as shocked as he was.
Henry leaned back.  “What?  I thought that was a good thing.  Why are you looking at me like that?”
“I’ll kill you,” Greg snarled.
Rascal growled like a ferocious kitten and jabbed his pencil into Greg’s shin.  “No kill!”
Everyone stared at Rascal, who up until now hadn’t said a single word.  Overwhelmed, Greg rubbed his shin where the thankfully dull pencil left a stinging ache, then got up to pace.
“Did he say mate, Gregory?”  His mother stood, brushing a hand over Rascal to get to her son.  Mate?”
“He doesn’t know what he’s saying.”  Greg backed up.  He held up both hands to fend off his mother.
“Go get him,” she demanded.  “You will not keep this from me like you do everything else.  I am not your father.  You will not punish me for nothing.  I’ll be damned if you push me away from something so wonderful because you’re selfish.”
“You don’t understand the situation, Mom.  He’s… You can’t.  You need to leave.”  He pointed to the door.  “Just go and take your Guards with you.”
“No.” She stomped her foot.  Her eyes swirled.  “Go and fetch your mate or I will go out there and tell those Guards to phone your father, so we might sort this matter out together.  If there is something you’re hiding from him, I will keep your secret safe if it depends on your happiness.  But you won’t hide from me.”
Greg wanted to sob or jump out of a window.  Henry and Rascal were huddled on the couch, staring at them.  His mother was breathing raggedly as she approached.  Now, Gregory.”
Trey emerged from the hallway.  He rubbed his eyes and yawned.  Thankfully he had put on Greg’s robe for all their sakes.  “What’s going on?  Oh.”  He gulped when he saw Greg’s mother.  “I’m sorry.  Did I interrupt something?”
Greg’s mother sighed.  Her features smoothed over.  A choked sob left her lips as she rushed Trey.  She hugged him hard and stayed there, attached to Greg’s mate and rocked them back and forth.  Greg caught Trey’s mystified expression and shook his head, slashing a finger over his throat.
“This is my mom Yvonne.  She stopped by for a visit.”  Greg gritted his teeth.
Trey nodded.  He got the message.  “It’s nice—nice to meet you.”
“It is wonderful to meet you.”  She cupped his face with both hands.  “I never thought I’d see the day where Gregory had found his one.  Tell me everything, sweet boy.  I must know all about you.”
“Mom, cool it.  Don’t smother him.  And… don’t tell Dad about this.  Please, I’m begging you.”
“I don’t understand why you would exclude him from this joyous event, but don’t worry about your father.  Now that they have a picture of that Trey bastard he’s in closed meetings with the Guardians for the rest of the night.  We’ll be lucky to see him before next week.  Knowing your father, he’ll hunt night and day until the traitor is caught.”  She shook her head.  “But enough of that, I’ve heard nothing but that violence for a week.  Tell me about you.  What is your name?”
 Greg grabbed her arm.  “They have his picture?”
Yvonne looked at the clamp on her arm then back up at her son.  “Yes.  Why?”  Her brows furrowed.  “Gregory, why are you shaking?”
“Do you have the picture?”  Greg felt his heart rise in his throat.  He looked at Trey then back to his mother.
“Of course, we all received a text a few hours ago.”  She frowned deeply.  “Gregory, what’s wrong?  Are you frightened by this mess?  I assure you we’re perfectly safe here.”
“Hours?  What time is it?  How long did we sleep?”  Greg let her go and went to his phone on the counter.  “Shit.  It’s past seven.  We slept all day.  Henry, why didn’t you wake us?!”
Yvonne clucked her tongue, gesturing for her son to keep his voice down.  “Calm down, I ordered them pizza.  They’ve been fed and I’ve been here looking after them since four.  Gregory, I demand to know what’s wrong.  What’s wrong with him?”  She looked at Trey.  He clammed up and backed away.  “What is going on?”
Greg flipped through his messages until one from his father caught his eye.  He opened it and almost fell to his knees.  The other half of the Polaroid picture had been scanned and sent to every Royal official in the network.  Trey’s profile was undeniable in the picture he and Jackson had taken however long ago.  Now that Trey’s picture was out there, they were absolutely fucked.
“Trey, get dressed.  Now.  Don’t worry about her,” he whispered.
Yvonne paled.  She slowly turned to her son’s mate.  Trey?”
“Mom, don’t.  Go. Get dressed as fast as you can, baby.  We have to get out of here.  I promised I would do anything to protect you.  If I have to give up my life to go on the run I will.  You are innocent.  I won’t let them kill you for nothing.”
Yvonne put a hand to her chest.  “He is… No.  Gregory…”
“I can explain.  Please,” Trey pleaded, inserting himself between mother and son.  “The Haitians are trying to kill me for something I didn’t do.  I’m not one of them.  I’m innocent.”
“Oh shit.”  Henry gathered Rascal in his arms.  “Shit, shit, shit.”
Gregory pushed his mother down the hall. Everyone followed until they were safely in the boys’ room.  Greg locked the door.  “Mom, I have never lied to you in my life.  I’ve kept things from you because I don’t want them to get to Dad, but I’ve never lied to you.”
Yvonne slowly sat on the bed, motioning for the children to come to her.  Once they were seated behind her, under her protection, she scowled at Gregory.  “I cannot believe you would do this to our family.”
“And there it is.  You want to know why I keep things from you?  Because of that right there, Mom.  I’m Royal, but I don’t let my title or some pompous reputation dictate my life.  I want to be me, a real person with a normal life who does things not to earn credit with people who don’t give two shits about me, but because it gives me a sense of purpose, a sense of normalcy and benefits others and not just myself.”
“This man right here is my mate, the one destined to be mine.  I’ve seen into his mind and what he says is the truth.  He’s a human-turn, not powerful enough to block me, Mom.  And I will protect him with my last breath.  If you love me like you say you do and want to show me that being my mother means more to you than your reputation, then please, accept him.”
Greg reached for Trey’s hand.  Trey’s palm slid over his.  Their fingers twined and Greg felt grounded as his life exploded all around him.  His mother looked Trey over in an attempt to see through him.  It was apparent to Greg how uneasy she was of their mating, when minutes ago she’d been ecstatic. 
He couldn’t blame her.  Guards had died trying to protect them all from the supposed traitor on the loose.  Her mate was gone late into the night to find the man killing his men.  She had to be stressed, however well she hid it behind perfect makeup and well spoken words.  But above all she was his mother.  Now it was time she proved she was above being of the Royal snobbery.
Yvonne cleared her throat.  “Henry, take Rascal into the living room.  Don’t use the phone.  Don’t use the laptop you’ve been eyeing.  And don’t you dare utter a word that could be heard by the Guards in the hall.  Don’t answer the door either.  I want all the blinds and curtains drawn and the terrace door locked tight.  Do you understand?”  She patted his hand behind her.
“Yes, Ma’am.”
“Good boy.  If someone knocks come and get us.”  She fidgeted with buttons of her soft brown cardigan.  “We’ll be out shortly.”
Henry had a hard time getting Rascal to leave Yvonne’s side.  She gave the toddler a kiss on the forehead, assuring him everything was fine before pushing him softly towards Henry.  “Go now.  I want a beautiful picture when I come back.”
Rascal pouted out the door, stumbling in front of Henry’s long legs.  The door shut behind them.  Yvonne stood like a general, pointing to the bed.  “Both of you sit.  Now.  I want to know everything about this and don’t leave a thing out.  Trey, you may not be my child, but I can certainly tell if you’re lying to me.  Don’t try anything funny.”  She narrowed her eyes.
They sat next to each other, facing off with Yvonne.  Trey took a deep breath.  “My name is Trey Ambrose.  I was turned fifteen years ago while I was a college student in the city.”
“How old?”
“I had just turned twenty.  We were out celebrating my birthday.”

“You were still a child.”  Yvonne’s eyes snapped shut.  She pinched the bridge of her nose.  “Go on.”

Trey folded his hands in his lap.  He looked down at his feet.  “Two of my friends thought it’d be fun to go to a bar, an eighteen and up one that had just opened.  I didn’t want to go.  They wanted to sneak drinks from older guys and try to hook me up with some random.  I was so scared.  I didn’t want to do those things.  I’d never…”

“It’s okay.”  Greg kissed Trey’s temple.  “She won’t judge.  I promise.”

“Really?  Look at her, Greg.  She’s ready to snap me in two and she has no idea who I am.  Those deaths are not my fault.   Pierre did this.”  Trey looked away.

“Well, tell us everything so she can understand.”  Greg rubbed Trey’s back.

Trey finally looked up at Yvonne.  “I stepped out into the alley to answer a phone call from my mom.  She sang me the birthday song over the phone.  She did it every year and I didn’t want the guys to hear.  But I loved it.  Always made me smile.”  Trey nodded.

Yvonne relaxed against the wall.  Her eyes filled with compassion, but she said nothing.  Trey sniffed.  “Then this guy comes out of nowhere.  He stares at me for a second and asks if I’ve seen some big dude with blond hair walking around.  But I remember he said it all proper and what not.  I remember that.  I remember thinking it was strange he wore a suit to the club.  He was just different.”

“Is this the man who turned you?”  Yvonne closed the distance and sat next to Trey on the bed.  “This man in the suit?”

“No, but he was there after it happened.  At least I think he was.  I have dreams about his eyes.  Bright blue.  I think he was helping me, but when I woke up he wasn’t there.”  Trey shivered under Greg’s arm.

“Who turned you, sweetheart?  Go on, you can tell us.”

Trey turned his watery eyes to Yvonne.  “He had red eyes. He told me he was going to do things to me.  He wouldn’t let me go.  It hurt so bad… his hands on my arms.  Then he opened his mouth and I saw the fangs.  I thought he was a freak and I tried to scream, but he dragged me into the dark and went for my throat.  I heard others around us.  I heard them calling for… I can’t remember his name.  I can never remember his name!”

Trey put his face in his hands. Greg looked at his mother.  He saw the comfort he was looking for as she slid her hand over his.  “He didn’t have a choice in this, Mom.  Do you really think he could mastermind this whole thing with the Haitians?  Come on.”

“No, but I think there’s more to this than I know.  Why are the Haitians looking for him, Gregory?”  She leaned down.  “Sweetheart, why are they after you?”

“Because I dealt for them. I had nowhere else to go and Jackson took me in.  He was the only one who didn’t turn me away.”  Trey wiped his eyes.

“A dealer?”  Yvonne gasped.  “Oh, Trey.”

“I know!  I think about it all the time.  I think about all the people I probably killed and all those kids I should have just turned away, but it was the only way I could survive.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  I never could, even human.”

Yvonne exhaled a nice long breath.  “Fair enough, I suppose.  But there are many ways to live without dealing.  You could have come to us.”

“Yeah right.  I tried that.  They already looked at me like a criminal and a traitor when I just asked for a blood testing device.  They wanted my entire history, where I came from and my lineage.  Short of a full body work up, they wanted everything.  I couldn’t give them answers and they turned me out on the street.”

“That’s preposterous.  We work as a community to give people like you a life, Trey.”

Greg huffed.  He licked his lips, enraged at the mentality of most Royals.  “No, Mom.  You think you do.  But there are too many things, mostly the Royals, that keep the human-turns in a state of poverty and shame.  Why do you think I run a shelter?  Why do you think the human-turns are so important to me?”

She sighed.  “Because of Sam.  I know all too well the why, Gregory.”

“Trey is exactly like Sam.  There are thousands of Sam’s out there with nowhere to go.  Rascal and Henry are Sam.  They’ve all been put in my path for a reason and I won’t deny them basic needs, Mom.”

Yvonne nodded.  She stared at the diamond on her finger as if it stood for her Royal lifestyle and the man who had made it so.  And like she knew exactly where Greg’s mind wandered, she began. “He’s a good man, Gregory.  He wants the same as you, but he sees things from the opposite end of the spectrum.  Where you are an artist and a bleeding heart of your generation, your father is the brains and the brawn of the old world.  He only wants to protect you like you protect your mate.  Not all Royals care only for money, though it does have its perks.  Some of us only wish to keep our family close as has been instilled us since the dawn of time.”

Greg shook his open hands.  “And some people don’t have families.  That’s why I want them to be a part of mine.  Don’t you see?”

Yvonne stood.  “Are you saying Trey is our family or just yours?  Do you even want to be a part of our family anymore or am I just here to keep your secret?”

Trey put a hand on Greg’s knee.  “He’s saying we would both like to be a part of your family.  Together. If you can see past who you think I am.”

Yvonne sniffled.  Her shoulders drew back as she turned.  “Then tell me the rest, as your mother.  Tell me because you trust me to protect you like your family would and not because I hold Royal status.  That hurts.  That you think of me that way.  I would gladly give it all up to keep you, Gregory.  So would your father.  And if this man is your chosen, I will do the same for him because he is the key to your happiness.  Your happiness means everything to me, my son.”

Greg came to an understanding with his mother, one he never thought he’d see or feel.  Her love stuck deep in his heart, mingling with the love Trey had brought into his life in such a short time.  There was room for more, if he was willing to look past his family’s status and all they stood for to see the relationship they still had with him.

He realized he didn’t have to save the world by himself.  He realized that he couldn’t only rely on himself to change people and the state of things around him.  He had to have help, like families offered.  He had to trust in them to keep Trey alive.  More importantly, Greg knew he would have to involve his father.  Because if he and Trey ran, his father would go to the ends of the earth to find his son.  Flynn loved his boy and Greg… he really did love his dad.

Trey took their silence as his cue to reveal the missing pieces.   “Almost two weeks ago the Haitian Leader was murdered.”

Yvonne shook her head adamantly.  “No. We would have been notified of Gogan’s death.  The Haitians would have come for us in full force.  The Guardians would not keep such a death from us.”

“They would because they weren’t the ones who did the killing.  I don’t think they know Gogan is dead.”  Trey looked up.

Greg stilled.  “Trey, did you kill Gogan?”

Trey shook his head.  “No, Jackson did.  We were called into Gogan’s office one night to see a new batch of Rush, something harder than even the most expensive stuff.  Jackon was the best dealer Gogan had in Midtown and I was just along for the ride.  Gogan wanted us to dress up and go to some party in Midtown with a bunch of socialite junkies—you know, the pill popper, line snorting richies?  He wanted to taint the blood of the wealthy with his experimental juice and wipe out some of the corporate vamps you all keep company with.  Apparently that’s where the single Royals like to feed.”

“What happened?”  Yvonne kept her fingers over her lips.  “Did they take it?”

Again, Trey shook his head.  “No.  The night of the party Jackson texted me.  He said we weren’t going and that I had to meet him at the warehouse where Gogan and his son Pierre kept their stock. He said to come alone.”  Confusion dashed through Trey’s eyes.  “We were never allowed in the warehouse. I had never even been there before and to my knowledge neither had Jackson.  The warehouse was hush-hush in case we had spies.  Only the top of the top knew where it was, but somehow Jackson had an address.

“When I got to the address, I got another text.  Jackson said he would have someone pick me up, that he was getting me out once and for all.  I didn’t know what it meant.  I still don’t.  But then I got the call from Pierre. He was screaming at me.  He accused me of injecting Rush into his father, Gogan.  Gogan went feral and they had to put him down.  Pierre said he was coming for me. Revenge.  That’s when I put two and two together.  Jackson had nixed the party to kill Gogan and he was going to clear out the Haitians’ supply.  I had to warn him. He was my best friend and they had to know where he was by then.”

Yvonne crouched down in front of Trey.  She picked up both of his hands and squeezed.  “They found you at the warehouse, didn’t they?  They killed your friend and you ran.  That’s why they’re looking for you.  They think you’re a spy too.”

Trey nodded.  His barely-there composure crumbled and Yvonne stood to hug him.  “Oh, sweetheart.  None of this is your fault.  You had no choice.  You just didn’t stand a chance.”

Greg encircled his mother and his mate in his arms, vowing to take that Pierre bastard down a notch for all the pain he’d caused his family.  “I have proof he’s redeemable for Dad. If he needs black and white, he can have it.”

“What are you talking about?”  Trey lifted his head.

“Your… Dammit, I have your journal.”

“No.  Please tell me you didn’t read that.  That’s everything.”

“It’s everything we need to save you.  You have more information on the Haitians than any witness we’ve ever had, Trey.  That kind of info will buy your freedom.  You know all the hideouts, the corners they deal on.  You know where the warehouse is.  If you’re not with them anymore and you want to be one of us, what’s the problem with that?”

Trey stood up to pace.  “The problem is there are so many others like me within the Haitian’s grasp.  You can’t just take them all out.  Please, Greg.  Please.”

Yvonne’s phone chimed in her sweater pocket.  She pulled it out and Trey snatched the phone up.  He sputtered for words, staring at a picture of Greg’s father as the caller ID.  “That’s him.  Oh my god!  That’s the man with the blue eyes.  I would know him anywhere.  I see him every night.  Greg!”

The phone stopped ringing, only to start again.  Yvonne exhaled slowly.  She put a finger to her lips, quieting them both and then answered the call on speaker.  “Darling?”

“Are you still at Gregory’s?”


“And, how is he?”

“Holding up the best he can.  And you, darling?  Have you found anything?”



“I can’t speak of it over the phone.  But I was informed by the queen of factors in this case that change everything.  Come to the office, Yvonne, and bring Gregory if he’s willing.  I need you close.”

Greg squeezed Trey’s shoulder.  He didn’t know what he’d do if Trey was away from him while the Haitians were out there hunting them down left and right.  He sympathized with his father right now.

“I’m tying up a few loose ends here, darling.  Then I’ll come to you.  Have you eaten yet?”  She stared at her son.  They both knew whatever Flynn was holding back was a game changer and a half.  He told his mate everything, official and under the table.

“No.  I’m starved.”

“I’ll bring you something.  Sit tight.  I shouldn’t be more than an hour.  Love you.”

“I love you too, my mate.”  The call ended.


Yvonne’s assistant arrived two hours later with boxes and bags of clothes and bedding, groceries and toys.  Greg’s floor space could barely be seen after everything had arrived.  Henry and Rascal were tearing their packages open like Christmas, giggling to each other.  Greg sat back with a cold beer and Trey cuddled into his side now that Yvonne had gone for the night.

“One big happy family,” Greg whispered.

Trey took a swig of his beer.  “Sounds nice, actually.  I mean, don’t expect me be daddy dearest overnight or anything, but I can help.”

“I’ll hold you to that when these two start shit.”  Greg kissed the top of Trey’s head.

Rascal held up a plastic bag of building blocks with joy.  “Block!”

Everyone stared at the toddler.  It was his second time talking in one day.  It would take some getting used to if he kept it up.  Henry took Rascal’s talking in stride.  He patted the toddler’s head.  “Good job, buddy.  What color is that one?”

Rascal shook his head and threw the blocks to the floor in favor of another bag of toys.  Typical toddler, Greg mused.  He set his beer down when his phone went off.  He figured it was his mom, calling to check on things, but when he saw his dad’s picture come up, Greg freaked.

“It’s my dad.”

“Answer it.”  Trey shushed Rascal.  “Henry, take him to the bedroom.”

“Got it.”  Henry took the new bag of toys in one arm and hefted Rascal up with the other.  He sped down the hall and shut the door.

The phone continued to ring.  Greg slid his finger across the screen. “Hey, Dad.”


“Dad?”  Greg leaned forward.

“Have you heard from your mother?  I can’t reach her.  I feel like something… Something’s wrong, Gregory.”

“Call her assistant.  Petra just left here.  She would know where mom was.”

“Petra is on her way here, Gregory.  No one can reach your mother.  No one can contact the Guards she was with either.  The GPS is off on their phones and on the car.  She’s vanished.”

Greg gripped Trey’s thigh for dear life.  In his heart of hearts, he knew his father was right.  Any mate would feel when their chosen was in trouble.  It was part of who they were.  And right now his mother was out there in grave danger.

To be continued…