Thursday, July 10, 2014

Whispers in Silence Finale and a Special Preview

Well hey there!

It's been a while.  I missed you guys and I'm sure you've been wondering what the heck I've been up to.  Well, for starters I've been renovating a new place I bought.  I haven't touched my laptop in almost two and a half weeks and I've literally been dying to update you with something.  But unfortunately, I just didn't have the time until now, so here we are.

I bring gifts, though, and this will be the last installment of Whispers in Silence.  Damn, this is it.  The freaking finale.  167, 540 words and 428 pages later and I still don't want to let these two go.  It was a wild ride and I got to do something different, but now I'm ready to turn up the heat.

After you finish this story, I've included a preview into the next piece I'll be working on for the blog.  Many of you may have wondered what the heck happened to the Ghost and Gabe story, and I tried to keep things quiet for a while, but the real reason I didn't post it was because I wasn't sure I wanted it to come next in the series.

I've been thinking a lot about the bigger picture of this series, where I wanted it to go, and my mind went nuts with ideas, but ultimately I think I knew from the beginning of Knox and Isaac where I wanted all these mini wars between the Assassin Leaders and the Guardians and Royals to lead.  The big villain, the granddaddy of evil will be revealed, and I can't tell you who it is or you'll gut me through the computer, but trust me you want to stay tuned.  You want the preview's story to come next because then Gabe and Ghost's story will all make sense after that.

The posts might be shorter, but that will be because this story will be pretty intricate.  Lots of small details that will cast a net for other books in the series and introduce new... Well, I can't tell you that secret!  But you'll like it.  Many of you have wanted it.  I will leave you to guess what my uber super secret is.

For now, just enjoy the Whispers finale, because I absolutely loved writing this story from start to finish.  BTW, don't be sad.  We will see Adrian and Wes again.  Trust me.  :)


The Finale Playlist:
Right Here Right Now - Fatboy Slim
The Day the World Went Away - Nine Inch Nails
I Am Dust - Gary Numan
The Courage or The Fall - Civil Twilight
Surrender (Piano Version) - Digital Daggers
Train - Chris Arena
Whispers in Silence: Finale
Wesley wondered if this kind of silence compared to being deaf.  From someone without hearing problems the association was unfair and selfish to think, but he still thought about it. He heard nothing else.  Not a mouse scurrying through the concrete gateway to hell.  Not the breathing of the overexerted vampires at his back.  Not even a whimper from the human glued to his side.

It was too quiet.

“Something isn’t right.”  Wes held up his fist to halt his team.

His human captive clucked his tongue and rubbed his arms to warm up.  “Took you this long to figure that out?”

Wes glared down at him.  Fierce words at the tip of his tongue melted away at the fear in his prisoner’s eyes.  “Whatever.  Keep your mouth shut.”  He swiftly addressed the German, “Why would Niles head back to the lodge at this point?  That’s where this leads if the signs back there are correct.”

The German’s stare flicked to the darkness ahead.  “He could have come to the earlier conclusion as your mate did about the map.  The lack of a cabin sixteen would be of significance to a trained tracker such as Niles.  And maybe he realized, as we now all have, Halverson bet on our people writing off the lodge as his hiding place.  It would be seem too easy, when really it is.  This has been scripted from the beginning, Detective.  I can say for certain we are walking into a well laid trap.  Niles had to be smart enough or brave enough to know this and still keep going.”

Wes nodded.  “I thought as much, but at this point we’re out of options.  So long as we’re all aware of the risk going in and as long as we’re all on the same page—by that I mean shoot to kill this bastard—then we have no choice but to proceed.”

“This would not be the first time we have gone in blind, Detective.  You grow accustomed to fear of the unknown as a child of our upbringing.”  The German shared a look with his comrades.  They all stared at Wes.

“Right.”  Wes had walked right into that one.  Of course they were more than able to do this.  They’d endured worse in the past, well, without an army of zombies chasing them, but… “Gear up for anything, boys.  We have no idea what we’re walking into.  We don’t know if anyone else can get to us with the shit going on up there.  But right now we’re the only chance of rescue Frederick has if he’s still…”

The human grunted.  “He has to be.  Freddy’s a smooth talker, even when he’s got the shit beat of him.  Still runs his mouth with the right words.  We’d know if he was gone.  Feel it right here.”  He put a hand to his chest and fisted his shirt.  “He’s still out there waiting for us.”

“Then we waste time standing here.”  The German surveyed the hallway around them.  “I smell blood.  Fresh blood.  We are very near our destination.”

Everything in the underground tunnel reeked of death, mildew, chemicals and blood.  The fact the German claimed he smelled something fresh was laughable.  However, those dark eyes were serious and when Wes stopped to smell the roses, he got a whiff of it too.

“Female,” Wes hissed.  He crouched to the ground and inhaled again.  He swiped his gloved finger through a small drop on the floor and brought it to his nose.  “An hour tops.”

“Move out,” the German ordered.

Wes shot to his feet and aimed his scope light into the dark.  He took his post next to the German, secured the human in the middle of their team and then headed onward.  All the while he ached to hear his mate’s voice in his head.  No matter how many times Wes had tried to communicate so far, he’d received nothing but radio silence from Adrian.  Every second became harder to cope, to function, knowing those things were up there with his mate…

 Ever vigilant, Wes had to keep trying.  Adrian, if you can hear me, he’s headed for the lodge.  Please talk to me.  Where are you?

He would have continued if it wasn’t for the pungent smell of gasoline; sliced up his nostrils as if he’d gone for a swim in a fuel tank.  Wes had about two seconds to decipher what that meant before all hell broke loose.

“It’s all over the floor,” the human screamed and began running away from them as they noticed the gas leaking from the ceiling as well.  “Get it off me.”

Their lights bounced around from floor to ceiling until they saw that two large metal barrels had been emptied and splashed on every inch of the place. Flooded the floor around them. Rained from the concrete heavens.  The stuff was everywhere. 

Wes spotlighted Halverson’s face with his light.  The fugitive was covered from head to toe in dirt.  The white of his teeth blared against his muddied face as he flashed a cruel smile.

There was no need for an explanation.  They’d come too close for Halverson’s comfort, which meant they were being watched the entire walk through the tunnel.  Halverson flicked open a shiny gold lighter.  A flame danced near his fingers.  He looked right at Wes when he said, “It’s a present from my stepfather.  Do you like it?”

He’s nuts.  Holy shit.  He’s legit crazy, Wes admitted to himself.  He really and truly has lost his mind.  “Halverson, close the lighter and hand it over.” 

“That’s the problem with you people—always telling me what to do when you have no idea how insignificant you really are.  All you had to do what tell me if you liked it.”  Halverson shook his head.  “It’s a pity you won’t live long enough to even consider it.”

There was no hesitation in Halverson’s vacant eyes.  Whatever humanity he had being born a human—which was saying something to a vampire—was gone.  Halverson was ready to end everything around him, whoever he took with him just a gift to take with him to the grave.

Wes gripped his gun.  In a split second decision, as Halverson flicked the open flame to the ground, Wes shoved the human at his German crew member and demanded they run.  Fire licked at the walls in a flash.   The heat blazed over the floor, rushing at them with no time to spare.

The German hauled the human over his shoulder, spared Wes a quick look and took off.  And as Halverson ran up the stairs leading into the lodge, Wes thought of Adrian’s beautiful blue eyes one last time; their innocence and anger; the love inside them; the devotion that filled them.

Holding tight to his memories, Wes ran into the flames.  The pain took his breath away.


Agony ripped through Adrian’s soul.  Not the torture of a thousand souls channeling his energy but Wes’s pain.  Their bond was fuzzy, sifting in and out in broken fragments.  Adrian roared.  His screams sliced up the war raging before him like a machete clearing his path.  The undead heard his call, mirroring his pain by quickening their pace; taking lives, snapping bones between their spindly fingers like twigs.

Adrian’s minions descended on cabin sixteen with vengeance.  Swarming the structure with the dedication bees had to their hive.  They covered every surface, dug at the foundation.  Nothing would stop them until they had done their master’s bidding: finding and destroying Halverson.

Through a tangle of skeletal limbs and blood spatter, Adrian saw the German’s face.  His hand slapped the glass in a desperate plea.  His wide eyed stare found Adrian and the silent begging grew louder.

High on his talent, Adrian pushed his way through the throng to meet the German through the glass.  “Stop,” he commanded to his army.

All at once, his undead soldiers crumbled into piles of bones around the cabin and the woods were quiet, except for the distant chatter of Sutton’s men rushing the property.  They wouldn’t make it in time for what needed to be done.  It was all up to Adrian now.

It was up to him to swim above the high and do the right thing, which was the hardest thing he’d ever done.  Like telling a heroin addict to put down the drugs and step away.

“Donohue!”  the German screamed from the other side.  He covered his mouth and coughed.

Adrian gasped when he realized the German had been with Wes last time Adrian saw his mate.  His mate was all he thought of.  An anger born of hell rushed through his veins.  From his side, he yanked on the cabin door as someone on the other side worked to free the blockage.  He met the frantic faces of Wes’s team just as smoke began to billow through the tiny room.

The German carried a skinny human male over the threshold and into the fresh air.  He uncovered the male’s face with an old t-shirt and patted him on the back as he coughed.  “Are we safe here, Donohue?”

“Where is Wes?”  Adrian turned in circles, counting each team member and checking over their faces.  “Where is he!”

“He… He went after Halverson when the fire broke out.  He ordered us to go back.  There were too many of us to make it up the stairs in time.”

“Fire?”  Adrian pushed the cabin door wide open.  Flames ate away at the old hatch in the floor, slowly climbing up the walls of the cabin to consume it whole. Just as his heart was trying to crawl up his throat at the very thought of a fire that magnitude.  He didn’t do flames.  Another thing he didn’t do?—his mate burning in flames.  “Wes is down there?”

“He’s in the lodge with Halverson.  We assume, that is.”  The German tightened his arms around his human cargo.  “I am prepared to go back around with the Captain’s team you called in.  I think it would be wise for you to take the rest of our team with you and continue—”

“No,” Adrian barked.  “You take the team and lead Sutton back here.  I can guarantee your safety because anything working for Halverson is long dead by now, I assure you,” he practically screamed.

The German scouted the ground around him with a careful look.  “I can see that.”

“My mate might very well be joining them as we speak, so you got a problem with how I do things?”  The question flew out of Adrian’s mouth before he had a chance to think.  The undead might have obeyed his command to stop, but their whispers still retained a hold on his heart and mind.  It was what Annie had meant by greed; allowing these things to take over; mask who Adrian really was.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to… This is new to me.”

“I would say this is new to all of us.”  The German lifted a brow at a rattling pile of bones near Adrian’s feet.  He quickly looked away from the dismembered body of one of Halverson’s men next to that.   It was staring at him. “Are you certain you can continue this way?”

“I can do whatever I damn well please.”  Adrian narrowed his eyes and took a step forward.  The boney mounds of his soldiers in waiting quivered to be released with a single command.

“That is what troubles me.” 

“You know what troubles me?  My mate is in pain.  I have no idea what Halverson has done to him.  And I’m pretty sure I’m losing my mind.”  Adrian combed his fingers through his hair and paced.  “I’m not trying to be a dick here, but this is about Wes.  This is about so much more.”

The German’s hard stare softened.  “Of all the people you could preach to, we understand exactly what you mean, friend.  So many of us have suffered, yet we don’t seek pity.  We seek change.  We seek a new world in which this never happens again.  We seek safety and love; things we’ve never known.  And for you to have found all of this in your mate, only to face losing him in the next breath—we understand your anger.  I do not claim to understand this…”  The German gestured around him in a wide circle.  “But if becoming a monster helps you to kill the other monsters, none of us will stop you.”

Adrian gritted his teeth and tilted his head down.  One of his eyes twitched with rage; like this man could possibly understand the fear and confusion, the need to save the only thing in his life worth living for.  All he had to do was a catch a glimpse of the terrified human shaking in the German’s arms to be brought back to reality.

Being angry blinded him.

Becoming a monster by letting these souls suck him dry and control him was not going to save anyone.  It would only kill Adrian in the end.  It was his turn to take control.  It was his turn to decide what was right and what was wrong.  Saving people was his goal, not total mass destruction.

Unless he was talking Halverson, and then destruction was totally back on the table.

“I’m sorry,” Adrian muttered.

“Go,” the German murmured in understanding.  “We will be sure to lead the others there.”

“I’m sure you will, Boy Scout.”  Wes lifted his palms and gave the German a hint of a nod.  “But thanks all the same.  German.” 

Adrian cracked his fingers, extended them from a fist and the undead clicked together again.  With Adrian on controls now, he ignored the remaining team to focus his efforts in redirecting his army.  They sensed his ambition, his renewed purpose, and for some strange reason they approved of his mission. Maybe they understood his motive having lived once before.  Or maybe they were bored and wanted to face off with Halverson; the living, breathing Boogie Man while they still got paid with blood.

Wherever the cause, they obeyed.  The first line in Adrian’s defenses scurried through the forest floor like rats.  Soon after, the entire army rushed in a wave around trees and up rocky formations.  Adrian pushed himself to the limit to follow.  He was fast, newborn vampire fast, but he was no match for the speed at which his army operated.

He had no sense of time or direction.  His saving grace the ability to sense the undead from behind, he eventually caught up with no air to spare.  Adrian lifted his head slowly from where he regained his breath with his hands on his knees.  He had to blink a few times and give his ears a few minutes to work out what was happening in front of him.

This lodge—otherwise known as a sprawling, dated, expensive house—was covered in undead bodies.  With a snow storm plaguing the sky, this situation had achieved maximum horror status. Adrian stood there in a clearing that was meant to be the lodge’s front yard and gaped.  His bloody hood blew away from his face.  His curls followed next, tickling his forehead and then stuck to his skin.

He hadn’t realized how much blood was shed until he wiped his face with his glove.  How much more had to be shed to get what he wanted.  And he had no problem admitting there would be more, not when Wes was involved.  They’d come so far—to a place Adrian wasn’t sure existed.  Not exactly bliss, but safe and warm and still his definition of quality care.  Of love.

And fucked as it was, Adrian let the hungry minions sniff out their prey as he walked up to the front door and kicked it open.  Because he was in love.  Adrian fucking Donohue loved that asshole and it wasn’t fair Wes was trying to go on ahead to the afterlife without him.  Yeah, it was like that—even dead Wes was his.  They were partners forever.

“And I’m not getting a fucking necklace or some shit either,” Wesley told a frosty foyer.  He cracked his neck, his eyes twitching again as he lost himself to the Hunter inside.  Once he’d cased his target, gotten comfortable enough do his thing, he moved in and let himself be known.  Adrian wasn’t worried about getting caught, his enemies were always wise enough to at least try and run first, because they knew he wasn’t getting caught either.

Adrian picked up a tacky, cement sculpture from a side table and hurled it at a window opposite the front door.  He splayed his fingers.  His army flooded the foyer before rushing through the house, all with the same destination in mind.  To Wes.

Locked and loaded, Adrian carried his weapon through the staff hallway, slowly aiming it from side to side.  His army decelerated to show him the way, because they had promised him Halverson’s last breath would be his to take.


Wes slowly surfaced from a pain induced haze to find he was standing in the kitchen, huddled over a sink he’d thrown up in.  His skin crackled as it fell off and his wounds began regenerating with fresh, delicate pink tissue.  Every second of it was excruciating, but the fact it was growing back at all was a blessing, a very painful blessing.

Mentally ready to start finding Halverson, Wes forced himself to lift his head.  He looked right into the eyeless sockets of a decaying corpse and whirled around.  Adrian was staring at him.  His mate was surrounded by a horde of zombies and didn’t move a muscle.  Seconds ticked by.  The fire progressed nicely; the stairs to the tunnel, the pantry and the now underneath the kitchen door were engulfed in flames.

“Are you alive?”  Adrian finally asked.  He took a step forward, avoiding the fire at their doorstep, and reached out with one hand.  His pupils were blown, as was his astonished stare.  “Are you real?”

It dawned on Wes how he must look to his mate.  He was burned from head to toe; his wounds mending, ashy and bloody.  Not to mention Adrian hated fire because his father had been lost to it, and now here Wes stood an almost exact replica of Davide Donohue.  “Adrian, it’s me,” Wes rasped.  “I’m real.”

Adrian danced away from the flames as they crawled up the cabinets.  He stopped close to Wes and put his hand near Wes’s cheek but thought better of it.  Ashes fell into his palm.  His eyes were full of involuntary tears.  “You sure you’re not dead?”

“I know what it looks like, but I’m sure.  God I wish I could touch you right now.  Just not… not here.”  Wes backed away from the kitchen.  Adrian followed.  The undead shifted with his mate, somehow slowing the flames from following.  Wes tried to think of anything that might distract his mind from the hungry ghouls clogging the joint and something that might help Adrian as he was finally faced with his fear of fire.

“You have no idea how much I want to touch you back.”  Adrian’s hand hovered near Wes’s, but stopped from making contact.  “I want to touch you as we lie on a beach somewhere unheard of and finally hear what sounds you make when you’re underneath me.”

“That’s good, baby.”  Wes licked his sore, chapped lips.  “Yeah, we’ll go on vacation after we get done here.  First plane out to someplace nice and warm that serves cold beer.”

Adrian backed into a wall near the entrance of the dining room.  “How about a nude beach?  I’ve never been to one of those.”

“You’ve been everywhere.”  Wes risked the pain and took Adrian’s hand.  “And you’ve never been to a nude beach?  Not my idea of sexy, because it’s usually a bunch of old, naked men.  But if that’s what turns you on.”

“You turn me on,” Adrian automatically replied.  He groaned with Wes as their bond strengthened and Adrian was able to finally feel the epic pain Wes was in.

“Good to know.”  Wes kissed Adrian’s gloved fingertips.  “Now I know shit seems rough right now, like you command the dead and I look extra crispy.  Sorry that was a terrible joke.  But baby, we got to get out of here and stop this.”

“You always got a plan, Durren.”  Adrian edged them back down a smoky hall.

“I have a reason to have a plan, Donohue.”

“Good.”  Adrian exhaled through his teeth.  “And I have a reason there are a bunch of corpses on the ceiling.”

“I was hoping we were getting to that part.”  Wes yanked Adrian back from a skeleton getting a little too close.  Pain shot up his arm where his tender wounds ached.

Adrian targeted Wes with a concerned look over his shoulder.  “We’re past getting there.  It’s a thing now.  Just gotta keep going at this point because they’re not done until we catch our mouse.”

“I don’t have a plan for that.  And Halverson’s endgame is to take everyone out who took attention away from him.  That’s a thing now too.”

“So he’s crazy.”

“The worst kind of crazy comes from those who believe what they’re doing serves a purpose—one they can’t be talked out of.”

“Halverson,” a corpse whispered.  Once the rest of them caught wind of the name, they immediately began a chorus in appreciation of the serial killer on the loose.  They wanted to hunt.  Wes didn’t know if he was part of the menu or what.

“You sure you got a tight leash on these things?”  Wes winced as he reached for the gun at his hip.

“Pretty sure.”

“But you’re not one hundred percent sure?”

“No, I got this.  I think I do.” Adrian mustered the courage to look Wes in the eye.  “If you think you can live with this.  Maybe not be repulsed by me tomorrow.”

“Baby, when it comes to you repulsed is not in my vocabulary. This is just a little different, right?  I mean, we don’t have to deal with raising a legion of dead bodies on every case we work.  Right?”  Wes lifted his brows and got in Adrian’s face.  “Am I right, Adrian?”

Adrian looked away.  “Guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

Their tense, comical banter ceased when the first barn wood beam in the dining room crashed to the ground.  “We’ll hold that thought.”  Wes gave Adrian’s hand a squeeze before he let go.  “Do your thing as long as it gets us the hell away from this place.”

Adrian searched out the only other first floor exit.  Because there was no way

 Halverson would have any chance to end things from upstairs.  To confirm his logic, the corpses raced down the hall and smacked into panes of frosted glass enclosing some type of common room.  Windows shattered.  The boney, decaying minions of the earth poured through the open space.

As an outsider to Adrian’s new power, Wes’s skin crawled at the sheer sight of it.  How those things bypassed him and his mate to find the source of Adrian’s command.  How they listened to him, how they were really fucking dead yet not.   He couldn’t wrap his head around it, but he tried to.  Adrian needed him to. 

For Adrian, Wes would try not to throw up.  Again.

They followed the undead through a conference room. Windowed doors opened up to the fierce storm outside.  Flood lights illuminated an icy porch and two sets of stairs leading out into the snow.  As the swarm of hungry ghouls hopped the railing and set their sights on the woods beyond, Wes knew Halverson still intended to escape.  And if he had hostages with him, then he also had backup with him too.

After all, Halverson was human, and lugging around two vampires and a heavy Detective was impossible for him.

“Fuck,” Wes hissed through his teeth as he dropped to the ground from over the railing.  “Everything hurts."

Adrian helped him to his feet.  “You okay to do this?  You could always wait for Sutton.  I don’t want you to get hurt worse than you are.”

“I’m healing, not crippled.  And nice try there, rookie, you’re not leaving me out of this to protect me.  Especially not with these things leeching off you.”  Wes avoided their rotting faces as they crawled through the snow, looking up at him while they went.  One ghoul’s head twisted all the way around to taunt him. “Jesus.  This is like some fucked up zombie marathon I’m living in, Adrian.”

“You think this is a cake walk for me, Wes?  I can feel them in my head.”

“Uh, yeah, bonded to you—remember?” Wes rolled his eyes.  Even his eyelids hurt in punishment.  “But I’m trying to focus on sandy beaches at the moment.”

“And I’m trying to hunt a murderer.”

“We’re trying to hunt a murderer, Adrian.  We—as in you and I.”  Wes frowned at his mate.  He watched Adrian scrunch up his eyes and scratch his head like he was trying to get the hoodoo out of his brain.  “Hey.  Stop that.”

Adrian gasped as Wes took his hand and forced him to focus.  “We’re close.  They sense him.”

Wes searched Adrian’s flitting eyes.  Wide and unseeing, Adrian’s blues appeared to look through him.  “Baby, can you hear me?”

“He’s close.  They smell him now too.  Smells like blood.”  Adrian yanked his hand away.  “I have to go.”

There were times when Wes thought he knew everything, had seen everything, and then there were times like now where the unknown came rapping at his door.  His mate was either in shock or had succumbed to his new role as commander of the dead.  Probably both and neither sat well with Wes.  Adrian had been through so much in his short life, more than most vampires that were hundreds of years old.

He’s lost everything. Turned his brain off for many years to survive.  And when the end seemed near, Wes had come along to make things better.  But Adrian had never faced his demons head on.  He’d never grieved the loss of his family.  He’d never been his own person.  Just when he finally started to see the light, life had thrown him a curveball and piled the shit on him so high, Wes wasn’t sure Adrian would be able to dig himself out.

That was why Adrian was vulnerable to these creatures and what they took from him.  Seeing his mate burned from head to toe did a number on him.  That was why he took off and ran like the wind across the snow, leaving Wes to hightail it after him.

His mate was losing the battle.  He was giving over.  And Wes was ready to take the pain his body gave him to rescue him mate from his past.

“Adrian,” Wes screamed.  “Stop!”

Adrian looked over his shoulder.  His eyes swirled red in the dark.  Wes bared his teeth and ran harder.  He would probably spend a week at the Bureau clinic if they lived through this, but every minute would be worth it.  The undead swam through the snow, climbed trees like squirrels and traveled deep into the woods after Halverson.

Wes knew they were close when gunshots rang into the night.  Halverson’s remaining men covering his ass as he ran to safety.  That didn’t last for long once Adrian’s army rained down upon them.  When Wes caught up to his mate, he found Adrian gutting a man in the chest over and over until his parka was stained red in the moonlight.  All around him, the undead feasted on bodies.

“Adrian, stop!”  Wes grabbed his mate and grappled with him for the knife.  He flattened Adrian onto his back.  The knife inches from his face as they struggled.  Red eyes glared up at him.  “Adrian, listen to me.”

Their bond was there but muted.  The whispers had taken Adrian’s ability to hear him, making him mindless and hungry like the rest of his army.  It had to stop.  Thing was, short of throttling his mate back to sanity, there was only one option left.  Wes sucked in air and said, “Forgive me.”

He punched Adrian right in the face.  Blood spurted from his mate’s nose.  Adrian’s head fell back and he closed his eyes.  Worse than waiting for Adrian to come around pissed as a bull in a cage was the army of zombies that stopped their mission to look at Wes.

“Oh shit,” he cursed under his breath and shook his mate.  “Adrian, wake up.  Adrian!”  Wes dragged his mate into his lap as Adrian’s minions closed in.

Adrian coughed.  He groaned and opened his blue eyes to look up at Wes.  “You punched me.”

“I’ll grovel later.  Right now I think it would be nice if you called off your hellhounds.”

“My what—oh...”  Adrian wiped blood off his chin and looked at his glove.  “It’s the blood they want.  Not you.”

“Is that all?”  Wes shook his head and growled.  “You’re not giving these things anything else, you hear me?  Nearly lost your mind a minute ago because of them, so don’t even think of…Adrian.  Adrian, I mean it.”  Wes took Adrian’s bloodied hand.

“I’m not as strong as I thought I was,” Adrian confessed.  “I have a limit.”

“We all do; doesn’t make you weak.  Makes you smart to know when to stop.”  Wes held Adrian’s hand tightly.  “Now call them off, baby.  We don’t need them anymore.  You did enough for us already.”

“Not part of the deal,” a skeleton hissed, nearly scaring Wes out of his skin.  “Halverson.”

“Yeah? Well, listen up, Bone Brigade.  Your duties have been fulfilled.  The way I see it, his blood doesn’t belong to you.  It belongs to me.  So fuck off to whatever seventh hell you came from.”

“We don’t take orders from you,” the skeleton spat.

“Yes, you do.”  Adrian rubbed his face and hung his head.  “Because I’m a part of him, and he has a part of me I can’t ever take back.  He owns my sanity.”

The army protested.  Their anger mounted.  Wes got to his feet and put up his hands.  The blood on his glove began to glow and he looked down at his palm.  Zombies backed away from him and Adrian.  “This is unfair!  No good.  No good at all.”

“Keep going, Wes.”  Adrian pressed into Wes’s side.  “Make it stop.  You’re doing it.”

“Hooray, we can wield the dead together.  Isn’t that just the most romantic thing you’ve ever seen?”

Adrian elbowed his mate in the side.  Wes rolled his eyes and pushed the army further into the darkness.  “Your mission is over.  I uh… I command you back to your graves.”  Wes leaned down.  “That what I’m supposed to say?”

“I don’t fucking know.”  Adrian shot him a bewildered look.  “Am I supposed to be an expert at vampire necromancy?”

“Looks like you’re one now.”  Wes hugged Adrian to his chest as the bodies and bones of each soldier were swallowed into the snow, into the roots of trees and under icy patches of earth.  “They’re gone.”

“So is Halverson.”  Adrian pulled away.  “Maybe if you wouldn’t have stopped me…”

“If I wouldn’t have stopped you, you’d be gone to me forever and you know it.  That what you want?  You want to keep going it solo and get yourself killed, or worse, kill me?  You can’t do it alone, Adrian, and neither can I.  That’s why we fit together and you know it.”  Wes shouldered past his mate.  “Now you can stand there and pout and lick your wounds, or be my partner and we can capture Halverson together.  Because where I come from we don’t need the second coming to catch a bad guy.  We just need skills and brains.”

“I knew you’d be mad.”  Adrian pulled his knife out of his chest holster and marched ahead of his mate.  “Can’t handle my freaky mess after all.”

“Can’t handle your mess?  Are you shitting me, Adrian?”  Wes harrumphed.  He grabbed a blade from over his shoulder and ran after his mate.  “I didn’t say you having powers or whatever was a bad thing.  I just…”

Adrian whirled around.  “You don’t trust me to do it alone.  Never have.  Not once have you let me do my own thing.”

“Because you don’t have a right to your own thing anymore, you prick.  I’m your goddamn mate!  I trusted you enough to let you go raise the dead and save three quarters of our men from being slaughtered by Halverson’s people.  But excuse the hell out of me for trying to stop you from turning into the king of flesh eating ghouls so we might have a chance at a future.  Yeah.  Just excuse me for that.”

“But you’re mad.”

“Yeah, I am mad.”  Wes stared at his mate with disbelief in his eyes.

“Because I’m a freak.”

Wes dropped his blade hand to his side and blinked rapidly.  “Say what?”

“Because you got shackled with a freak that can raise the dead and doesn’t understand what the fuck it means to be human.  You knew going in I was like this.  And here you are throwing it in my face.”

“Oh Adrian…”  Wes had no idea this was what their fight was even about.  He stormed over to his mate and gathered Adrian in his arms.  Adrian’s blade fell from his hand as he clung to his mate.  “You are not a freak.  You are anything but.”

“Then why are you mad at me?”

“Because I was scared shitless that something was going to happen to you.  Like when you turned off earlier because you saw me all fried and couldn’t process that, to see you lose it like that to those bony leeches terrified me.  I don’t ever want you to look through me like that again.”

Adrian shook in Wes’s arms.  He put his face in Wes’s neck and his entire body sighed.  “I’m so sorry.”

“I was mad, not at you, but because you had no way to protect yourself from them.”

“But you protected me in the end.  It’s clear I have no idea what I’m doing.”  Adrian lifted his head. 

“Neither do I when it comes to raising zombies.”  Wes smiled.  “And that’s why we stick together from here on out.  We can look out for each other.  Ain’t gonna be any sandy beaches if one us is dead.”

“Don’t say that.”  Adrian narrowed his eyes.

“It was a joke.”  Wes lifted his lips to show Adrian his fanged smile.

“You tell horrible jokes.”

“Part of my charm.”  Wes crouched to the ground, retrieved Adrian’s blade and handed it back to him.  “Partners?”

“I think we’re past that.”  Adrian sniffed and wiped his nose with his gloved hand.  “How are we losing to a human, Wes?”

Wes smirked.  “Baby, I’m sure many a vamp asked themselves the same damn thing when you came knocking on their door in the past.”

Adrian cocked his head at Wes, his brows scrunched up.  “I never knocked.”

“No, you’re right; you probably scaled up the side of their house and used a laser beam to silently cut through the window before you hacked them to pieces.”

They trudged through the woods together.  Silent until Adrian shrugged.  “I don’t usually hack. Despite what you may have imagined, I just put a bullet through their head and their heart.  Sever the neck and cock it back so it can’t mend together.  I saved the hacking for those who deserved it.”

“How sweet of you.”  Wes chuckled.

Their banter relaxed Adrian.  Although still on high alert, he had no idea how much he’d needed his mate’s stupid jokes to ease the throb left behind from the undead.  No idea how terrified he’d been until the adrenaline had subsided and he had time to reflect on what he’d done.  Wes’s sister had given him an outlet to cut Halverson down to size, and she’d warned him not to be greedy.  But it was hard to know what greed looked like when Adrian had never experienced it before.

His emotions were amplified as a vampire.  The undead knew it.  They’d latched on to his untrained human reactions and sucked him down like a milkshake until only the cherry in the bottom remained. What’s worse is he’d let them.  He’d known something was wrong, but was too weak by that point to stop them.  Not like he had any instructions going in to his new role as a dead raiser.  Nevertheless he’d finally detected the difference between right and wrong; tapped into his humanity at some point and was scared he’d lose it forever.

“I don’t want to feel like that again.”

“Like what?”  Wes grabbed his hand and hoisted him up a rocky step.

“Like someone else now that I know who I am.”

Wes played listener and kept walking next to his mate.  “And who is that?”

“Someone I want you to be proud of.”

“I’d say,” Wes took Adrian’s hand again and squeezed it, “you’re doing just fine.”


Wes readied his one word reply, but the scent of human carried on the wind.  The stench rendered him speechless except for a growl that bubbled up his throat.  “He’s here.”

“Halverson.” Adrian took an instinctive step forward.

Wes’s hand shot out to stop Adrian.  “No.  This is a game to him and so far we’ve played right into his trap.  We’re separated from our team.  The others are still a few miles out and they have no idea of our exact location.  He has something planned, Adrian.”

“That’s what he wants you to think.”  Adrian bared his fangs.  “He’s outnumbered now and the only thing he has against us is a hostage.  Maybe two if he kept his mother alive but I doubt it.  He’s playing us because he’s scared.  He’s all alone now.”

Anger funneled through their bond.  Adrian’s lust for revenge brought his demons to the surface.  He lifted his hands, only to have them smacked down under Wes’s force.  “We’re gonna have to work on this later, but for now, can you leave the zombies out of this?”

“Shit.”  Adrian shook his head.  “I wasn’t…”

“It’s okay.  Got your back now, remember?”

Adrian nodded.  “Okay, well if I can’t bring out the big guns, and we can’t stand here like sitting ducks, then what do you suggest?”

“We do this the old fashioned way and hope for the best.”  Wes clapped him on the back.  “We run him.  We take him down.  We hope Frederick is still breathing.”

“I can do that.”

Wes gripped Adrian’s shoulder.  He let go and pulled his gun from his holster.  “I’ll let you do the honors.”

“Thanks, dearest.”  Adrian rolled his eyes.  He caught Halverson’s scent again and his gaze snapped to the north.  “This way.”

“I like it when you’re bossy.”

Adrian grinned.  “And I like it when you obey.”

“Kinky.”  Wes wagged his brows and followed Adrian.



Halverson stood in the middle of a snowy clearing.  A five foot drift created a wall behind him.  His short hair was tipped with ice as if his sweaty locks had succumbed to Mother Nature’s unrelenting winter.  As if he didn’t care about the cold or the snow.  As if he cared about nothing.

the wind’s command, but still Halverson was unmoved.  So was the crumpled body at his feet.

“Frederick?” Adrian barked.  He kept his gun level with Halverson’s face.  He took another step into the clearing with Wes a few feet behind him, still in the shadows.  “Frederick, can you hear me?”

“He can hear you just fine.”  Halverson extended his torch to his right.  “But whether he continues to live is up to you.”

“What did you do to him?”  Adrian took another step despite the cold warning in Halverson’s eyes.

“I would think that obvious, Adrian.”  Halverson waved the torch to ward Adrian off.  It was then that Adrian smelled the gasoline everywhere, pungent, burning his nostrils.  He glanced down at Frederick’s prone body, noticed how his eyes were open and flicking around, how his chest rose and fell slightly, but the rest of his body was as lifeless as a rag doll.

Adrian glared at Halverson.  “R190.  You paralyzed all of them.  That’s how you were able to take two mature vampires hostage without a fight.”

“Smart thinking, Detective.”  Halverson’s lips lifted in a feral smile. “I only had use for them to leave the city.  Your dearest Frederick here is all I need now.”

“And how did you smuggle R190 out of the academy?”  Wes crunched through the snow behind Adrian.

Halverson lowered his torch near the snow.  His brows clenched together.  “I would think twice about coming closer, Detective Durren.  This is between me and Adrian.”

“And what are you gonna do to me, human, hurt me?”  Wes flashed his fangs.

“No.  Well, maybe break your heart a little.”  Halverson tossed the torch in the snow next to him.  Flames jumped to life and spread like the speed of light in a circle of gasoline, enclosing Adrian, Frederick, and Halverson inside.

“Adrian!”  Wes reached for his stunned mate.

All around Adrian, fire crackled in the snowy storm, unable to be stopped by Winter herself.  The gasoline burned heavy where it had been doused on the ground.  Adrian was trapped inside the circle with the devil.  So many demons and yet he couldn’t stop to face a single one. 

Adrian listened to Wes’s roar, but it was a distant echo against the pound of his heart. It wasn’t close enough to do damage against the psychopath who loomed closer every second.  Halverson smiled in the face of Adrian’s greatest fear.  He was good.  Too good for a human.

He was Adrian’s reflection, like his evil twin if he’d chosen the darker path. And even though Adrian was a vampire, Halverson had found his greatest weakness, the fire that consumed him when the lights went out.  He’d tapped into his past and taunted him for pure entertainment.

“It has been a long time, Hunter.  I have waited for this moment for years.”  Halverson stroked the barrel of his gun like a precious pet.  It was no ordinary gun; a tranquilizer to be more precise, and probably filled with R190.

Seconds seemed like years.  Adrian tried to find his voice, some reason, but all that came out was a strained, “Why?”

“Because my mother asked me to do a job and I failed.  I never fail and my botched mission disappointed her.”  Halverson cocked his head and blinked once.  He might have been human, but the life in his eyes wasn’t there.  He wasn’t there.

“You took your mother hostage.  You killed her mate. You’re a sick fuck,” Adrian hissed.

“That woman who gave birth to me threw me away, so I did the same to her and that man she called her mate.  She didn’t want me.  She didn’t want my father either after she learned how talented he was.  Mother told me the truth not long ago, and she didn’t want to because she knew it would hurt me.  But I’m strong enough to take it now.  Mother tells me I’ll be the strongest of them all after I turn.”  A tear ran down Halverson’s cheek.  “I can still hear her voice, even though you took her from me.”

Adrian realized he’d dropped his knife when the flames burst to life.  He reached for his gun, while keeping his gaze locked on Halverson’s.  “You mean Camille?  She’s not your mother, Sasha.  She used you.”

“Don’t call me that!”  Halverson took a hard step toward Adrian and waved his gun.  “Don’t talk about my mother that way.  And don’t even think about reaching for your gun.  Get on your knees, Hunter!”

Through the flames, Adrian saw Wes preparing to jump through.  He closed his eyes for a split second.  Don’t do it.  Trust me.  Let me… Let me handle this. Adrian opened his eyes.  Wes hesitated through the fiery barrier.  Adrian thought he saw Wes grab his phone instead and start to pace the ring of fire.

He could do this.  Adrian focused on Halverson instead of the flames.  On the hostage who was part of his team, paralyzed and vulnerable inches away from the fire.  He had too much to lose to give up now.  Adrian looked at Halverson and took a deep breath.  “I don’t get on my knees for anyone except my mate.”

“You will if you want your mate to live.”

“And who is going to hurt him, Sasha, you?  I don’t think so.  The way I see it, you’re just as fucked in here as I am.  No one is coming to save you.  I took away all of your protection.  The Bureau is about to come storming down on your parade in a few minutes.  And all you have left is a grand finale so you can go out as the famous freak, which finally finished his job for some twisted bitch that used you.  I guess I can’t blame you on the twisted part.  You did grow up with a boy butcher as a father and a mother who was blackmailed into leaving her son with him. No wonder you killed them both.”

Adrian came closer to his human prey.  “That’s why you did all of this, took their hearts out, because that’s how your father used to do it.  And you want to put me down to take my heart out too, because I took your heart from you when I sent your mother to hell.  Well, you took my heart from me first when you killed my father, but unfortunately for you, taking my heart won’t make us even.  But me taking your life will.”

Halverson screamed his rage.  He leveled the tranquilizer gun at Adrian’s chest and time slowed down.  Out of the corner of Adrian’s eye, he saw the spirit in the flannel cap run into the circle of flames.  The spirit collided with Halverson’s body, invaded him long enough to drop the gun before the spirit was forced out again.  Adrian rushed Halverson.  His hands connected with Halverson’s coat and pushed him to the ground.

Adrian didn’t know the exact moment they hit the ground or when his fist hit Halverson’s jaw.  He lost all sense of time and his surroundings.  He didn’t feel Halverson’s nails slice down his face or the crack of Halverson’s arm as it snapped under his punishing grip.  Didn’t notice his blood as it splattered to the ground and summoned every demon he’d been trying to keep away.

He blacked out, zoned in to Halverson’s utter destruction.  The human flailed beneath him, actually begged with incoherent words for his useless life.  Boney fingers played with Adrian’s hair.  They touched Halverson’s terrified face.  The undead crawled to their master and soaked up his rage, his craving for death and darkness.

“Adrian!”  It came as a small voice in his head.  “Adrian, stop!”

Adrian delivered blow after blow.  He used his nails to dig into Halverson’s chest until he ripped skin from muscle.

“Adrian!”  Hands pulled at him.  He fought back until strong arms locked his head and shoulders in a strong embrace.  He was pulled away from the object of his utmost hatred.  Halverson was still alive, but barely.  Adrian struggled to finish what he’d started. He howled like a wounded animal.  He deserved this revenge.  His father deserved it too.

“No,” Wes bellowed from behind.  “This isn’t you!  Stop and look.  Listen.”

The whir of a chopper breeched the storm around them.  Floodlights swirled over the snow from above.  Guards in full tactical gear swarmed the clearing, but stopped around the circle of undead figures piled around Halverson.  In the distance, sirens headed for them.  Thick black smoke sliced up the moonlight from the lodge fire a few miles away.

Adrian started to remember.  The red drained from his eyes and his fight emptied into Wes’s embrace.  He dragged in air.  He looked around at the sheer number of Guards who had come to their aid.  Found Niles with a medic, both of them hovering over Frederick and tending to his wounds.  Saw Feist storming over the snow towards them.  The rest of their team hot on his heels.

But the major focus of tonight’s entertainment centered around the undead army still waiting for their master’s command.  The Guards were pulling up their helmet shields in shock.  Some were snapping pictures.  Others were backing away, clutching their rifles close.

“Let them go, baby.  It’s over now,” Wes whispered in Adrian’s hair.  “He’ll get his for what he did to your family, to you, to his victims.  This isn’t the way.  If you let those things take him, you’ll be no better than the monster he is.  Do the right thing.  Make me proud, huh?”

“He can’t just…”  Adrian keened through his fangs and gripped Wes’s hand to stay upright.

“He won’t.  He never will again and that’s all you need to worry about. It’s done, Adrian.  He’s done.  They can all rest in peace now.” Wes’s kissed Adrian’s temple and lowered them to their knees.  “Tell them to rest now too.  Tell them you’re not their master any longer.”

Adrian struggled with letting go.  Releasing the rage and vengeance he’d carried like a sack of bricks on his back for ten years was harder than he’d thought.  He’d imagined a victorious moment, the minute he could breathe again and start something new.  Now all he wanted was to kill Halverson over and over, but that wouldn’t bring his parents back.  That wouldn’t supply him with closure.

The only one who could bring him his happily ever after was the man at his back, and that was only if he was willing to accept Wes’s instruction and call off his army.

Through tears, Adrian gazed upon the undead and lifted his hands.  “You’re free.  Rest now,” he whispered.  Like his voice was the wind and his command was the greatest force of winter, the undead crawled away from Halverson.  Into the dirt they burrowed, swallowed by snow and soil.  Into the trees they slithered, twining into roots and under rocks.  And some simply disappeared.

Guards rained down upon Halverson once the coast was clear.  Their voices carried, shouted, and commanded as the Bureau sorted out the mess Halverson had created.  And all the while, Adrian buried his face in Wes’s neck and sobbed.  Surrounded by his team, by the safety they offered with their very lives, they gave Adrian the family he never thought he’d have again.


Three months later, on a crisp February night, Adrian hung his coat on the hook by the front door and took off his formal service cap.  He put it on the trunk in front of the couch and sat down.  The night’s festivities left his body buzzing with alcohol and warmth swept over his tired limbs.  He toed off his shiny dress shoes, wiggled his toes, and then propped his feet up on the trunk to wait for his mate.

So much had happened between that night and this one.  Lots of good things.  Things Adrian hadn’t had time to reflect on because they’d been so busy.

Feist had been promoted to Senior Detective for his work on the Sinclair case.  Every one of his team members had been given medals of Honor for their efforts to bring down those involved.  Niles had been given a job on their team, because after they were separated, he’d played an integral part in helping Sutton locate them in the clearing.  He was now in charge of the His Children Refugee Operation and was climbing the social ladder, but in a good way, a position he actually deserved because of his passion to help and care for the boys.  The German, whose real name was Jack, had been promoted to Task Force Leader on some dealer case that was blowing up.  Turns out he was a real son-of-a-bitch that the dealers became afraid of, and most ended up coughing up names and locations like vomit in his presence. He became Frederick’s new partner, and from what Adrian heard, the two of them were having a grand old time busting chops and taking names.

Adrian had kept his promise to the spirit in the woods.  After they’d cleaned up the mess at the lodge with the local PD and made sure that night was silenced and swiped from all human memory, Adrian had located the body and placed an anonymous call to the local sheriff’s office.  The spirit had been a man named Samuel Miller.  He’d been a father to three girls and a grandfather to two boys.  He’d been a husband, a loved one, and a simple accident had left him out there alone.  But the minute he knew his family could move on, and they learned he hadn’t left them after all these years, Samuel Miller stepped over to the other side and never came back.

Halverson had been taken into the Queen’s custody.  It was more than likely he’d ended up in the same prison as his so called mother after an intense and forceful round of questioning.  But thankfully, Nina had spared Adrian the details.  He didn’t want to know any more than he already did.  It was part of Adrian’s self-imposed therapy—let it go when there was nothing more to be done.  No good would come of it, and these days he was trying to focus on the positive side of things, and be thankful for what he had.  Be thankful for all the progress he’d made to become the man he was now and make his mate proud.

Speaking of his mate, Wes had become a little softer around the edges, but mostly for his team and especially for Adrian behind closed doors.  His aggressive side only came out once or twice within the past few months and it was usually provoked by some rookie who didn’t know how to make coffee the way he liked it.  Or when Adrian got a little too wicked for his own good and deserved to be punished, something they both enjoyed.  Wes didn’t push, Adrian didn’t shove.  They cohabited, as they called it, but once in a while they both admitted their sappy, romantic feelings for each other.  Adrian had never been more secretly elated than when Wes flat out told him he loved him.

Every now and then, the emotions built up and needed an outlet.  And like Wes had taught him, they were still human on the inside, and that meant expressing themselves.  Adrian would spend a lifetime learning how to feel if it meant sharing every shred of his findings with Wes.

And it seemed they were all finding something…

Maloy had met a female, his mated match, who happened to be Feist’s little sister and only time would tell if Maloy would keep his balls after the mating ceremony.  Sutton and Wes were back to being BFFs, getting drinks here and there, catching a pick-up basketball game when they could.  Adrian’s Aunt Tina found a way to push Adrian into the fold.  She had started family meals on Sunday afternoon, cases permitting, and things were becoming less awkward with every passing week.  Adrian had cleared out his shoebox of a bedroom.  He had upgraded to Wes’s bed upstairs, their bed, and the nightmares hadn’t touched his sleep since.

Nothing was missing.  It was such a strange feeling to be complete, or as whole as one could be.  And that left Adrian smiling a lot these days.

But his smile was always bigger when Wes was around.  For instance, the moment Wes stumbled through the front door with a drunken grin of his own, Adrian felt his jaw almost pop with the smile he returned to his mate.  Wes’s hat fell to the floor, but he didn’t care.  He held up a fifth of rum and lifted a brow.

“I’ll give you a treat if you meet me upstairs in nothing but your hat and that medal around your neck.”

Adrian traced his fangs with his tongue.  “What kind of treat are we talkin?”

Wes looked at the bottle and then back at Adrian.  “The kind that involves a Captain flavored blowjob.”

Adrian snorted, but got up from the couch.  “I’ll take it.”  He took the bottle from Wes and opened it up.  He poured a good amount in his mouth and took it down like a champ.  “But only if I get to return the favor.”

“Game on, baby.”  Wes pecked Adrian on the lips and disappeared around the corner.

Adrian drunkenly ran his hand over the wall, taking his sweet time and gave Wes a head start.  His gaze landed on the shadow box hanging next to the flat screen television.  His two ivory handled daggers were mounted together, and underneath them it read:

We are two of a kind.

 And never will we part.

 If one us is lost,

the other lost his heart.

“We are so fucked,” Adrian whispered with a smile.  He shook his head and laughed to himself before he grabbed his hat off the trunk and trotted off to the staircase.

An hour later the Captain had been long forgotten.  Adrian collapsed on top of Wes, his mate still buried inside of him.  Their kisses were slower now, not as hungry as when they’d first come upstairs, but Adrian enjoyed the moments after almost more than the sex itself.  He knew he didn’t have to get up and put his clothes on, sneak out in the middle of the night and go back to a lonely hotel room somewhere in the dark.

These kisses were real.  This bed was theirs.  This was their home and together they shared it with respect, love, intimacy, and sometimes anger.  This was his life now.   Sometimes it took a minute to accept the realization all over again.

Wes stroked his cheek.  His broad chest rose and fell, and a rumble vibrated in his throat as he got comfortable with his mate sprawled out on top of him.  It was easy to fall asleep now, easy to feel safe, and for Adrian to let his guard down.  And to him, that was his happily ever after.

At least he always thought that until their phones went off in the middle of the night.  Wes snatched his off the nightstand and groaned a hello to Sutton on the other end.  “What do you got for us, boss man?”

Adrian smiled into Wes’s neck.  He nipped his way down Wes’s chest and flashed his swirling eyes up at his mate. Wes glared back, but his lips couldn’t lie as they turned up with a sexy grin.

“Yeah.  We’ll be there in a bit. Wait.  Make that an hour.  Gotta get some coffee to kill this buzz.”  Wes dumped his phone on the nightstand and flipped Adrian over with a growl.  The coffee could wait.  It could all wait for another minute of this.


It was well after midnight as they waited at the corner to cross the street from where the taxi dropped them off.  Bureau headquarters looked dark on the outside, but it was definitely alive behind closed doors if you had a badge to get in.  The city was still a hub of activity on the street, not as strong during the day, but populated all the same.

Adrian stood close to Wes, his coffee in his hand, and listened to his mate talk about the case details they’d been emailed on the way over.  Wes’s attention strayed to a siren in the distance.  “I’m not sure I’m up for going out to the boonies.  Hell, leaving the city is pretty foreign after being here for so long.  But this case does sound interesting.  Vampire street racing, redneck Rush dealers, twin go-go dancers, and a murder suicide?—that’s like movie crazy.”

Adrian sipped his coffee and watched the bus pull up to the corner across the street. “I’d have to agree.  Fontine texted me and said he’s pretty excited to go undercover on this one.  I mean, we’re only doing this to keep an eye on the queen’s kid, but this is like celebrity body guarding. I could use a change of pace.”

Wes looked over at him, amusement arching his brows higher.  “I could get down with you in some flannel, maybe some of those tight, ripped up jeans.”

“You could get down with me in garbage and still be happy.”

Wes knocked shoulders with him and winked.  “Well sure, but this is different.  We could get into this.  I…”

Wes kept talking but Adrian didn’t hear what he said.  Across the street, a little girl with windblown dark hair looked back at him.  She held hands with a man who stood out of the light.  Annie smiled at him, waved her hand like any excited little girl would do, and then dragged the man toward the bus.  Adrian caught a glimpse of his father’s approving smile one last time before the bus doors closed them in.    When the public transport had passed them by, gone were the last of Adrian’s doubts that he was on the right path.

He had his closure.  He had everything he had ever needed and more. 

“Adrian?  You hear what I said?”  Wes looked at him with warm charcoal eyes.  His dark brows knitted together as he waited for an answer.

“Flannel.”  Adrian took Wes’s hand in his.  “I heard you loud and clear.”

Wes leaned in, the smell of coffee on his breath, and whispered his version of I love you.  “Good.”

The End
An Unedited Preview for Our Next Story:
His older brother sat across from him, fingering the hole-ridden arm of Blaze’s favorite thrift store chair.  Gage wasn’t usually one to crack a smile, but he fought not to now.  Rowe had come all the way to Queens to sit in his and Blaze’s two bedroom apartment and try to get him to come home.  Unfortunately, Rowe had suddenly found himself speechless over the disarray of the place, the mismatching furniture and the realization in his eyes that his little brother was slumming it on purpose.
Gage brought a cigarette to his lips, waiting for Rowe to come back to himself.  His golden eyes, courtesy of his father, watched his brother’s violet irises slant at him.  And Gage was very much amused.  He exhaled a steady line of smoke and flicked the ash into a glass tray.  “As much as I want to stare into your eyes all night, I got shit to do.”
“Oh fuck off, you little punk.”  Rowe fiddled with the knees of his slacks, leaning forward.  “Mother is worried about you.”
“It’s mom, Rowe.  When you sandy “mother “ it freaks me out, like you command a band or rats and make voodoo dolls out of hair in your spare time.”  Gage rested his elbows on his knees.  “And I’m not going back to that house.  This is home.  Make sure you get her the message.”
“You could tell her yourself, you know.  You left, Gage, without a bloody word.  You packed your shit on a whim and moved in with Blaze… in Queens, might I add.”
“I’m glad you can add, Rowe.”  Gage crushed the end of his cigarette in the dish on the coffee table and got to his feet.  “That’s not my home anymore.  In fact, it never felt like home.  It’s stuffy.  It’s suffocating.  It’s everything I’m not.  I’m not a kid anymore.  I’m not some child prodigy ass kisser like Axel.  I’m not a lot of things and it’s better for everyone, myself included, that I’m here and not there.  Besides, I’m getting more hands on training in the city than I’d probably ever see back at the compound.  The Queen’s kid?  Yeah fucking right they’d put me on the field, even when I turn.  They barely let you out of the cage and you lead them.”
Rowe rested his head against the chair and sighed at the ceiling.  “I don’t lead our warriors, Gage, Cadence does.  I might fight with the best of them, but our people count on me to be much more than that these days.”
“Yeah, well, Cade doesn’t really like me all that much anymore.  Now that I’m not hip to hip with Isaac he could give a shit about me or my Guardian training.  Hell, we don’t even know if I’m going to be one, but I gotta do something.  Cade turned Em and Hannah, and they’re nothing but wild cards.   Isaac already bit the bullet and now he’s wasting his new existence being tied to things and spanked like a little girl, and fucking Nanette is off feeding the homeless with Jaska, yet another waste.  Me and Axel are the only chance you guys got at a new generation of Guardians because I don’t count on Hannah and Em to take orders, and I’m pretty sure they’d rather be mated to each other than continue the bloodline like other females.  And if Ax is gonna spend his life holed up in a library or frequenting tea shops, I gotta pick up the slack.  So this is my life.  Get the fuck over it, Rowe.”
“You want me to go home and tell our mother to get the fuck over it, in those exact words?”  Gage noticed Rowe’s jaw tick.  His older brother straightened in his chair and narrowed his eyes.
“I won’t be your little messenger, Gage.  You can tell her yourself.  You can ring her and tell her you’ve chosen to distance yourself from her during the most turbulent time of your life, so she might worry herself to death.  You can also tell your father he’s done nothing wrong, because right now he thinks he’s the reason you left.  He thinks you hate him because he reprimanded you, and so he should have.  Had I not been busy that day, I would have possibly kicked your head square off your shoulders for laying hands on Isaac.”
“What the fuck does everyone see in him?  Isaac this, Isaac that, while everyone ignores me!”  Gage chucked the glass dish across the room, reveling in the crash and explosion of glittering shards.   “None of you give a shit about my problems.  All you want to do is keep me under your goddamn thumb.  Do you realize not once did you ask me why I did it?  Why I left, Rowe?   No one did.  They just wrote me off.  Oh well, he probably deserves what’s coming to him.”  Gage threw his hands up.  “Get out, Rowe.  I pay half the rent.  My name is on the lease now.  So I’m pretty sure I have every right to tell you to get the fuck out if you want to argue about it.”
Rowe lifted himself out of the chair and shook his head.  “Gage, I’m not blind.  I never asked you what this was about because I already knew.  I’ve watched over you since you were born.  You might not think I care about you, but I’ll have you know, you and Axel are very special to me.”  Rowe turned away.  “And as the only one you talk to anymore, I figured you come to me when you wanted to share.”
“You have no idea what my problem is.”  Gage rounded the coffee table, getting in Rowe’s face.  “Not a fucking clue.”
“Really?  Then you’re not upset over Isaac finding his mate?  You’re not upset because the man you found yourself attracted to now belongs to another?”  Rowe relaxed his body, attempting to look as approachable as possible for a man of his towering stature.
Gage’s face fell.  “It’s not like that, Rowe.”
“Isn’t it?  This all started the first time Isaac made his intentions clear.  He wanted Knox.  You wanted Isaac.  You pushed him away because in the back of your head you knew Knox loved him back, however fucked he may have shown it.  Now that everything is said and done, we all should have known and done something about it.”  Rowe reached out, frowning as Gage moved away.  “No one can fault you for loving Isaac.  The two of you were very close for a long time.  You shared everything until Isaac decided to take a different path, and you’ve never been any good with change.  Which is why I’m so worried about you, Gage.  This,” he gestured around, “is a very big change.”
“I’m not in love with him.”  Gage shook his head.
“You’re going to have to elaborate, Gage, because I know what love looks like and I’m sorry, little brother, but it’s written all over you.”
Backing away, Gage put his hand up.  “You wouldn’t understand.”
“Try me.”  Rowe continued to corner him.
“Don’t do this to me, Rowe.  I’m trying to forget all of it.  I need to move on.”
“From us?  Is that it, Gage?  Do you want to forget your family and be the lone ranger?”  Rowe’s anger manifested in his eyes.  “You would forget us and the life we all worked hard to provide for you?”
“No,” Gage murmured.  “I want to forget how fucked up I am.”
Rowe groaned, shoulders slumping.  “You’re not fucked up.  You’re young and confused, and pushing away any means of help you have.   Why not get it out, Gage?  Tell me what it is and I’ll guard your secret with my last breath.  Please, talk to me.”
Gage was numb from head to toe, not really, but his emotions and words seemed locked in the stronghold he’d built in his head and he couldn’t make sense of what he felt.  What Rowe was asking of him was nearly impossible.  He’d never told a soul, except for Knox, and even then it had been in broken words and out of fear.  Knox hadn’t appeared to understand what he was saying.  He’d been in another zone, trying to protect his mate, scaring the literal piss out of Gage.
“I can’t.”
“Sure you can. One word at a time, Gage.”
Gage shook his head.  “No,” he hissed.
“Tell me.”
“I don’t love him!”
“Then who do you love?  What is this?  What has my baby brother in such a bloody panic he would push me away?  What happened to make you hate us?”  Rowe smacked his fist onto the back of the chair.  “What is it?!”
“You what!”
Gage purged himself of air.  He trudged to the other side of the room and collapsed into Blaze’s chair.  “I got off,” he breathed.
“Off of what?”  Rowe queried, slipping into the opposite chair.  “You got off of what?  Is this about drugs?”
No.  I got off.”
The light went on in Rowe’s eyes.  “You, er, came then?”  He raised a brow, not truly following.  “That’s normal I suppose, but what does that have to do with—”
“To him!  I’d just fucked that chick from … I don’t remember where, came back to get Isaac for movie night and saw him playing with his lacey shit and got off!  I like women, Rowe,” Gage persisted.  “I like them so much I now try to find ones that look like him, because…it’s the idea of him.  Not him that gets me off.  He was so… He was just… I couldn’t stop.”
Rowe nodded carefully.  “I see.”
“You see what?  Tell me what’s wrong with me.”
“There’s nothing wrong with you except for you, Gage.  Denial is a tortuous prison.”
“I’m not gay.  I will have children with a woman.  And I will carry on my father’s blood.  I’m not some pansy-ass flame boy.  I like women,” he repeated.  “I’ll mate with a woman.”
“Unless Fate is preparing you for a man, Gage—you can’t argue with Fate.  And I’m going to refrain from taking the flame boy comment personally.”
“Fuck Fate and fuck you.  Get out.  I’m not gay.  I don’t love Isaac and I don’t want to go back to that place.  Leave!”
“Gage, I love you so much.”
“I hate you.”
Rowe’s face paled.  He gripped the armrests of his chair.  He closed his eyes, breathed it out, and then locked eyes with Gage once more.  “I love you more than you could ever know.  I hope this hatred you carry for yourself will fade.  I hope you can see that your words affect me and my mate, and my brothers, and my friends.  I hope you snap out of this.  I hope you find the one that settles this upset in your heart.  But don’t you ever say you hate me.  I’ll kill before you utter the words again, because I love you that much.”
“You’d kill me because you love me?”  Gage sneered, lighting up another cig.
“Your death would be a far better end at my hand than the death you’ll bring down upon yourself if you continue this way.  You’ll wither and turn into a speck of the man you once were, undistinguishable to anyone who cares for you.  I refuse to watch you do so.  I love you too much to let you go.”
“Whatever, go back to Princess Dan and baby Mercy.  Maybe they’ll actually give a shit.”  Gage was stunned to the spot in mere seconds.  His cigarette burned a hole in the carpet.  His hand was still stretched out, fingers clenched where the tobacco stick had been.  His cheek burned from the slap of Rowe’s hand hard against his flesh.
“Wake the fuck up.  When you do, ring me.”  Rowe snatched up his coat and left, slamming the door so hard it cracked down the middle.
Cage crumpled in Blaze’s chair, admitting failure as a bad ass when he started to cry like a little girl.


  1. argh! Lost my comment *sulks* anyway, just know that I was shamelessly flattering you, bemoaning the last chapter of Whispers and squealing like a little girl at a Bieber concert over new stuff. :)

  2. Blaze doesn't have a mate? Why do I feel like I remember Blaze finding a mate?

    1. Night did a short of Blaze finding that office guy in the bar, but it wasn't finished.

  3. Welcome back Night!!

    Ohhhh My God!I loved the ending of Wispers!! And am looking forward to Gage's story. Even though you teased us all with Ghost and Gabriel's :-(

    You had us worried being MIA for the last two weeks, but I for one am glad your back and I'm looking forward to the new story!

  4. Loved the new snippet. Can't wait for more. Really looking forward to the Friday story more right now though. Any news about that?

    And not to be a buzz kill... cause I really liked the end of Whispers, but there were some name mistakes that threw me off a little and then when Halverson is standing over Frederick one of the paragraphs started weird.

    "the wind’s command, but still Halverson was unmoved. So was the crumpled body at his feet."

    Good Luck with the renovations and future works!!

  5. The end of Whispers was so good; I really love this couple.

    Gage's story sounds good. That poor kid is so messed up. It will be interesting watching him find his way and coming to terms with himself,

  6. Loved the finish of Wes and Adrian.

    Can't wait for Gage's story........hmmm me thinks he protest to much!!!

  7. I love these guys so much. Glad Adrian and Wes got their twisted hea. Hope your new place is working out for ya.
    When I read that a teaser was included my first thought was Gage. *happy dance* For once I guessed right. Can't wait for the next journey.

  8. i sqee'd like a fan girl when i saw the new stuff up. cant wait to see whats up with gage and if he ever gets his head out of you know where. good luck with the renovations!

  9. Awesome finally Night! I loved it. I love the preview too. I'm 99.9% sure Gage's mate is Joseph the "pottery teacher"... Only time will tell.

  10. I cant wait for more. Ms.Night you are spectacular you blew me away with Dan & Rowe an again with Issac and Knox and every story after and it just Keep getting better with each one. Amazing!!!!!