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A C💥cky Protest To A D🍆ckish Injustice

Hey babes,

Today I’ll be talking about #cockygate and what can be done in protest. I was hoping to have a book out—the next Demon Bonded is nearly done—but it just didn’t happen. My face hurts. =_= That burning mouth syndrome bullshit connected to dopamine levels is back and it’s extremely hard to focus, blah. But that doesn’t mean I can’t fucking rant about shit!

Before I jump in, just a heads up that there are new wallpapers on the website. Trying some mobile wallpapers too. Also, prettied up the front of the site and I’m looking at making some animated images. I don’t know what they’re called… they’re like these little short movies of moving images and text for books. We’ll see if I can conquer this damn software. I’ve had it forever (adobe after effects) but it’s like relearning photoshop. Fun, but probably time consuming. @[email protected]

Also, if you’re at Boston Fantasy Fest right now, I’m fucking jealous!!! I live like an hour and a half away, but yeah, not driving like this. Have fun, you lucky bitches. <3

Okay, so most of you have probably heard about cockygate in passing. I want to give you some steps that can be taken to not only fight back against what’s happening, but also create a market that will punish anyone else who tries this bullshit in the future. That’s the key to a proper protest. It’s not about making your voice heard while people continue to trample on you; it’s about making shit expensive and annoying and counter productive for the person infringing on your rights. Leverage is key.

But first, a summary of events, aka, wtf am I talking about.

Cocky. A word no longer for everyone.

So, for the non authors out there, there is a process when it comes to writing a book and publishing it on Amazon. Part of it is coming up with the title, handing that title over to a cover artist, and asking them to put it on your new book. This, depending on your author, can be arduous as fuck. Titles are damn hard, and neurotic minds abound in those who write for a living (or worse, edit!) But it’s cool because once you have that title and pay for a cover (which can be up to thousands if you get a professional artists,) everything is fine.

Sure, it might be the same title as someone else’s book, but that doesn’t matter. The author’s name is different as is the damn story inside. The cover might look similar to another cover out there, but that doesn’t matter because there aren’t a shit ton of cover artists out there, and they repeat certain styles to fit into the genres. This is basic practice in the self publishing industry. If you think you’re being super amazingly unique on your cover, you’re probably not going to sell a book because readers won’t have a clue what they’re looking at.

So, you smack your shiny new book up on Amazon after throwing down cash to get it ready (unless you’re a do-it-yourselfer like me) and you go off to write a new book. Done. A few months back you never had to worry about someone coming along with a DMCA notice and taking your book and livelihood from you because you used the ‘wrong word’ in your title. That’s no longer the case. No, not because of a new law, but because of one territorial, uncreative author.

Who’s the bitch?

I want to be clear that I’m not going to name the romance author who has done this. Not to protect her, not to ‘be nice,’ but because I don’t want to give her any free publicity. I will not be linking to her for the same exact reason because I don’t want to push her SEO up (which we’ll get into later.) She knows what she’s doing with this bullshit and I’m not feeding it. She’s making about $40,000 a month on a series she claims she needs to protect from sniping competition who use the word ‘cocky.’

And let me just say, you made it girl. You are at the top of the fucking dragon horde right now. You’re looking at nearly 1/2 a million a year on passive income. You don’t need to fight to be there; you made it on merit. So maybe chill and realize you don’t have to take a word away from everyone else to try to get any higher. The word ‘cocky’ didn’t make you that cash. You’re just scorching the playing field for everyone else in your clinging fear that you will drop to the bottom of that cash pile, and you’re looking like a total asshat while you’re doing it.

Seriously, you look like an asshat right now.

Anywho, I will mention the series in question in the hopes readers won’t support the books being used to justify infringing on free speech within the free market—but that’s a choice on your part, not a request or demand. I’ll be blunt; I don’t care if you read her books or not. We’re all grown ups here, and I get it, you shouldn’t have to feel like shit for liking what you like. It’s not the books’ fault an author is human and flawed (like all humans.)

It’s the Cocky series, and yeah, I know, hardly a unique, inspiring series title that stands out on its own. Just how the fuck would you even know if you’re looking at one of the books in this poorly named series? Well, for starters it has a ® right next to the word cocky. This is the only distinguishing way to know based on title alone if a book is in this series.

You know who has trademarks on their intellectual property and don’t feel the need to smack an ® on their books? Harry Potter. Star Wars. Star Trek. You know who didn’t feel the need to steal a common word from public use and call it their series’ title and prevent other authors from using it? Every other fucking author out there.

This woman fucked up. She wrote a bad series title—I mean, seriously bad. One word series, unless you crafted that word out of other words such as hey, Hellcat (and there are many out there with this name,) are not good names for a series. Maybe she didn’t know it would get big and make her money, I dunno, but this is when you suck it up and rename your series like a professional artist. You fucking change instead of trying to make all the other books with the word cocky disappear.

The cocky series title is not unique, it’s not inspiring, and it doesn’t stand out as memorable. Well, except for the bullshit of it being used to suppress creativity all around the web with this cockygate fiasco. Maybe not the thing you want your series to be associated with. Just saying.

A free market ideally is an equal playing field made for all, not one.

You might notice parallels to this if you’ve heard my rants about censorship on Amazon. How erotic and romance books are banned and disappear with no reason. A silencing shame-based culture is still being perpetuated in this modern world around sex, as free thought is attacked and hidden away because some repressed assholes have the power to legally discriminate because they’re at the top of the food chain. In this case, cockygate is about owning words. It’s about one author saying I own this word and no one else can use it, and the trademark laws backing her up. The results—books being removed and disappearing—are the same even if the intention is different. This is censorship of our books to suit the needs of one stubborn person.

This suppresses creativity, it suppresses free thought, and all and all, it creates a hostile market. When someone ‘owns’ a word and aggressively goes after all other individuals to have them remove that word from their title with the threat of a lawsuit and their books removed, the marketplace changes. It becomes defensive or aggressive in response. Authors start looking for ways to protect themselves, like trademarking all their titles (because we really want to add on another fucking fee to publish a book. Motherfuck!) or they start trademarking words to mimic this shitty behavior so they can prey on the hard work of others.

It pits us against each other and tears down the community of authors we could be. Because—a reminder to those who think they ‘own’ readers—readers love all kinds of books and no, they are not required to just read yours. They are more than happy to read a ton of great authors than just one, and trying to crush other authors out of the game doesn’t benefit those readers at all. When authors are too scared to write for fear of their books being taken down and a lawsuit coming at them, readers suffer.

This author took a word away. She went through the dictionary and chose a word and said no other romance author is allowed to use that word in a title. She stole a word from everyday speech and said we can’t use it just so she could sell her books. Not only that, she got the law involved to force compliance to her irrational demands. This author sent out legal DMCA notices to take down books with the word cocky in the title, including books copyrighted before her trademark. (Or so the Internet has told me. Let’s be clear, the Internet makes up a lot of shit, so check your sources before you start burning your pitchforks.) This behavior is aggressive, exploitative, and totally dickish.

You don’t get to own language. Take it from a writer of many words and a damn horde of the same in the romance genre, or just everyone you know who has a name the same as you do; you don’t get to own a fucking word! You gotta share that shit. This isn’t something she came up with all by herself. Some time in our past some person came up with the word cocky, and then other people started using that word, and all of a sudden, hey, it’s part of our language—because if other people aren’t using that word, it’s not language; it’s just nonsense mouth sounds. Words only exist because of a collective acceptance that the concept behind that word is real—aka, we have multiple languages made up of many mouth sounds. You need multiple people for that. One mind isn’t enough. So fuck the one mind who says they can own our words.

This is basic branding 101. Don’t suck at it this much and then defend like a fucktard. Create an actual series title like ‘My Little Pony,’ or an actual unique word like ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,’ or just any fucking thing but one everyday word. This is easy shit, but she got lazy, and then she got territorial. Cocky belongs to everyone, as does language, and we don’t have to give it away because of a bully.

But the law says…

Now you may say, but Sadie, you do get to own the words. The law says so. If the law says so, then we have to listen and obey because laws are good.

Fuck the law. Yeah, you heard me. With a 12-inch dildo studded in rhinestones (I rewatched Deadpool last night in anticipation of seeing the sequel, so you know that dildo is attached to a unicorn. XD And hey, Deadpool–there’s fucking branding.) Let me tell you about some upstanding, society building laws that America has had to deal with over the years—some we’re still holding onto like fucktards.

Jim Crow laws were not moralistic inspired poems of equality and social justice, they were racist, oppressive bullshit used to suppress an entire race of individuals, but, you know, not before the fucking slavery laws where people were stolen from their homes and bred like cattle for manual labor, or the laws that supported the genocide of the Native Americans who lived here first, and then forced them onto small pockets of shitty land like it fixed anything. Laws are not made (in majority) for the people, but for the people with money. Rich people aren’t being forced out of their homes and onto the streets because of our laws (no matter the atrocious crimes and treason the White House is seeing since Trump moved in.) Do you think Puerto Rico would still be waiting for the right to vote if they were brimming with diamonds? Fuck no.

As the middle class is swallowed into the higher levels of poverty and renamed the working poor, more and more people are going to see just what it’s like to be fucked over by the legal system because the laws are not there for them. When a prisoner’s or ex-prisoner’s right to vote is stripped from them, and people end up in prison still because of bigotry, a system of poverty that leads to crime, and the simple fact they can’t afford the huge money it takes to get a lawyer who can actually help them, you’re not looking at justice. You’re looking at the ruling class suppressing the population so they can stand on their backs.

Society fucks things up all the damn time. There is no higher power managing all these fuck ups; people just fuck up. Businesses have laws made to suppress people, not raise them up. Big Pharma can hand out highly addictive opiates like candy, while marijuana can still land a person in jail. The Supreme Court just ruled to allow the contractual prevention of class action lawsuits, because, hey, corporations are more people than real people, and how dare real people band together to get enough money to fight back against a corporation. Laws, just like the fucked up humans who write them, are full of flaws, some more outrageous than others.

A law doesn’t automatically mean something is right or good or even remotely justified. It merely means you face consequences where the ruling class will punish you for your actions while ignoring ideas of equality, morality, and social justice because those concepts don’t line their pockets. In some states you can still rape your wife and the law supports it. We’re currently facing a disgusting, soul crushing epidemic where human beings are being rounded up and detained against their will in privately built prisons without legal process or humane conditions because their country of origin is different from the country they’re found in. Oh, and hey, if you’re born here or a DACA dreamer recipient but you’re still too ‘ethnic’ to pass for bleached white bread, the law doesn’t protect you from the racist, sick fucks who think being born outside of America means you’re not a human being.

Laws are not agreements of society, but agreements among the top of society, and no one else is included in those decisions. Unless you’re rich and part of the majority race/religion/creed of wherever the hell you live, you’re not going to have laws support you. And if you’re a woman, you’ll still get thrown under the bus while men remain free—Martha Stewart made some nice jail crafts, I’m sure. For those who bitch about affirmative action making life hard; every fucking law out there in America is basically affirmative action for rich, straight, white males. Don’t talk to me about laws being ‘good.’ Wake the fuck up and grow a fucking brain.

Whoo. Rant mode disengaging. XD

Laws are only as powerful as the people who obey them. It is your choice to agree to an injustice or not. That’s what a protest is, to say no, this law, this injustice, this repeated bullshit again and again where everyone else looks the other way isn’t going to fly this time. Fuck you and the unicorn you rode in on.

So, how do you protest this bullshit effectively? Surprisingly enough, with keywords.

How To Get Cocky—An Action Plan

As of now it is trademark infringement to have a romance ebook with the word ‘cocky’ in the title—which is just painfully retarded. I’ve actually been avoiding this entire thing because, my fuck, what the hell is wrong with some people? Why, once again, must some authors crush others in their pursuit of the same damn thing; to have their book read? Why be that douchebag? What a fucking stupid, stupid thing I have to focus on.

Yeah, I said it. This is so fucking stupid that we have to fight for the right to use the word ‘cocky.’ But if we don’t, then we’ll be fighting for the right to use the word ‘paranormal’ or ‘vampire’ or ‘werewolf’ or ‘lover’ or ‘bride’ or ‘MM,’ or ‘forever’ (this one is already happening,) or whatever big keyword catches the eye of some selfish fuck. This is not idle rebellion/anarchy; this is the prevention of more bullshit down the line. Trademarking is not highly expensive and anyone can do it. Without some push back to this kind of bullshit, it just takes one person to snatch it all up and ‘own’ our words.

So, since I perceive this to originate as a blatant move to eliminate competition when someone searches for the word ‘cocky’ while in the romance category on Amazon, there is a simple solution. If you’re an author and you want to fuck this shit up because you believe no one has a right to own a word, all you have to do is add Cocky to the title, subtitle, or series title of your romance book. Hey, add it to all three. That’s it.

If you want to make an impact and not even shout it out, just add cocky to one of your keywords—or all seven of them (not sure if that helps or not.) You can go through every romance book you have and change one of your keywords on each to ‘cocky.’ If you have advertising on any of your romance books, just add cocky as one of the keywords to relate to your title.

Make that search engine work overtime counting a million cocky titles and let that trademark series get lost in the tide (or at least have to swim like everyone else.) Competition is good for the soul, and hey, it’s funny as fuck to think this is all it takes to ruin a mean spirited plan to steal a word from everyone else. (I mean, for real, what a grinch.)

Authors, use your keywords to fight back!

This is pretty simple if you understand a little about SEO (search engine optimization.) Amazon, at the end of the day, works because it’s a search engine combined with algorithms that reward popularity, newness, KU enrollment, and sales. If you want to overshadow a cocky series of books, then you need to get enough people pushing the keyword ‘cocky’ on Amazon to draw eyes that way instead. I’m literally calling for beating this with the tools used that are available to every author out there. Use keywords to fight back.

This is the same with the Internet. Don’t mention this woman’s name. Don’t attach her name to the word cocky on webpages, but instead attach other authors’ names. If the Internet perceives that this woman ‘owns’ this word because of a high association, then we could be contributing to the justification for her later on to legally keep this word. So separate cocky from this author every time you bring it up.

This is strategy. I know some people want to bash the fuck out of this person, but on a long term level, when you add her name combined with cocky, you’re giving her more power, and every other person a reason to trademark words to get the same results.

People like drama, they like a fucking scandal. Ask yourself how many people will be looking up this author just because they read this newsletter? What better way for some ambitious, scrupulous free author to make a buck, than by trademarking the word ‘Potter’ and making a big fuss with JK Rowling in the news? It’s important not to feed these cocky asshats because they’ll just grow stronger.

Only one person in this situation should be changing the title of their book, and it’s this author who can’t sell hers without needing to trademark the word cocky. If you’re that desperate, change your fucking title. You’ve already failed in naming that series and the world won’t bend for you.

What can readers do to help in this cocky fiasco?

A lot. Seriously, you guys are the force behind this because it’s all about numbers. Here are simple things you can do.

  • Buy a non trademarked cocky book to push it higher on the popularity scale. Many of them are priced $0.99 to help this very thing.
  • Share cocky books and the word of this annoyingly stupid injustice—so stupid! Sharing cocky books will boost the SEO and make those books look more legit and therefore valuable to search engines like google. The more people are sharing links that go to non trademarked cocky books, the more those books will be pushed to the top of search results when someone searches for ‘cocky’ on the web.
  • Post your favorite cocky book in the comments below (trademarked books not welcome and will be deleted.) Create a space where others can quickly find cocky books so they can share them easily.
  • Write a cocky book—or fanfic, or blog post, make a video, what have you—and share it. Share it in the comments too; I want to know who’s cocky! The more people get SEO points away from this author’s books, the harder it is for her to own what isn’t hers to begin with. That’s the beauty of the Internet. Make those search engines work for free speech. #cockyfreespeech

Just Sayin

To be clear, this is not a malicious intent to bring someone down and destroy her life. If she’s the amazing, popular author that her stats say she is, then she shouldn’t even have to worry about something like the word cocky being the reason she got her books sold. This is a fun, easy way to protest the infringement of free speech while raising your middle finger high and proud to a person so focused on only one thing, she would steal a word from use from all other authors and set a precedent for others to follow.

Let her chase around some cocky prankster authors who don’t give a flying fuck how many words she trademarks. Make her have to pay her lawyers to deal with all the people she’s crossing by pulling this bullshit. Yeah, make this shit annoying, expensive, and counter productive to getting books sold so that everyone who sees will think twice before following in her footsteps of trademarking our words. Keywords are 100% legal and everyone can use them.

I gotta say, there is a lot of shit that pisses me off currently happening in the world I can’t do anything about. I mean every damn day it’s something new, something atrocious and shitty and rage inducing. And the old stuff hasn’t stopped at all; it’s just under the pile of outrage and bullshit that keeps building up. I spend a lot of time finding my ‘happy place’ just so I can write and live my life and not turn into a raving crazy person—it would be so easy to be a crazy person these days. =_= At least for this one fucked up thing I can show solidarity to all the romance authors out there getting hit with take down notices by slapping a big cocky on my next Demon Bonded book and sharing a blog post about it. #cockyfun <3

Even if you can’t write a book, share those non trademarked cocky books all around so they get more play than the bully who thinks she alone has a #righttobecocky. Post your favorite cocky books in the comments and all around the Internet so other people can find more cocky books that support free speech instead of the ones who try to limit. This is a MM newsletter, so I’ll only be sharing gay cocky books in the main text, but all cocky books are welcome here unless they’re a #cockyblockoffreespeech —Oh, everyone will regret my discovery of the hashtag by the time I’m done. XD

I urge anyone interested to post their favorite cocky books in the comment section be it gay, straight, 4th wall breaking, whatever, as they come out and are published. I want to see this page filled with cocks… *cough* Let me rephrase that; filled with your favorite cocky books. And yes, this can include #cockybeforeitwascool and #cockybeforeitwasillegal Because even books made before this trademark are being hit with take down notices.

Some more information for those still wondering what the hell I’m talking about:

I don’t know this woman, but I love her! XD Brace for the abundant use of the word cunt.

A more calm, detached explanation

And the text and law explored of everything behind #cockygate

Cocky MM Books

Wendy just came out with a cocky book (and I have to say, I adore this sexy premise!) and Cole McCade has one out this month and the reviews are spectacular. Some have done variations of the word cocky to get the point across while also avoiding lawsuits—because yeah, every non trademarked book has to fear a lawsuit right now or have their book removed because of the companies who comply with injustice. Fucking bullshit.

#getyourcockyon peeps and lets #cockyprotest

Cocky Virgin Prince (of Android City) – $0.99

His Cocky Valet (Undue Arrogance Book 1)

The C*cky Alpha of Rooster Hills

Noncocky books, but full of cock, cuz hey, it’s a MM newsletter. XD

The Alpha’s Omega Mate – $0.99

Lover’s Journey Omnibus Edition

Only Time Will Tell – $0.99

The Reaper’s Blessing – $0.99



rewrite 2



The autumn night air outside was considerably cooler than when they left the city. Wylie lingered at the open back of the van as he got used to the new smells and sounds of the area and peered through the dark at the surrounding houses on the other side of the gate. They parked close to the side door nestled between the garage and main house. It was the entry point into the downstairs lounge and bar and was sheltered from view. The outside lights were shining, along with a few internal ones, and none of the crew were wearing masks. Wylie wasn’t sweating it. Adam had taken all the cameras down before cracking the gate, and there was little fear of being spotted with the house pushed so far from the street.

The neighborhood was silent, but that was the rich for you. They went to bed on time, didn’t look out windows, didn’t think anything could touch them. They were the kind of people who kept all the lights on and thought that was enough to make thieves think you were home. Wylie scoffed under his breath. When you had enough money to keep the monsters out, anyone could sleep at night.

Wylie braced himself as he started walking toward the front of the van where the others were milling. This was money, real money. A future. He was an eighteen year old freak who was never going to have a shot at a job with his fucked up arms. He needed to get this initiation right and prove to Roth he was useful, even if it meant stealing and thugging for a living.

Shit, he had to be good for something.

“How’s it look?” Beck asked as he came up next to him.

“It’s all quiet.” His gaze drifted to Beck and the flush to his cheeks. Wylie gripped his shoulder and leaned down to whisper, “Don’t forget what I said. If things go wrong, you run.”

Beck’s smile was guarded when he pulled away. Wylie could tell from the sparkle in his eyes he was loving every moment of the heist so far. Beck wasn’t fearless but he got off on adrenaline, and it made him reckless. Wylie had his own ass to worry about, and he took a slow breath as he eyed the door he was there to break through. Diego was done ordering Adam around and was waiting impatiently for things to start.

“You can do this, yeah?” Beck took his black sweatshirt when Wylie shrugged out of it. “I mean, it’s just metal. You can cut that.”

Wylie smiled grimly. “Yeah. Easy.” Out of all the uncertainties the night presented, his abilities didn’t factor in.

Wylie raised his muscular arms and focused on his hands. As he watched, his pale pigment began to darken. His skin hardened and black scales erupted from his flesh in a bloodless rush that started from fingers and flowed up his forearms. Wylie hissed sharply and took a step from Beck who was edging over to watch. His scales grew longer and pointed out from his arms at jagged angles. They might have been beautiful, like a dark ruffled bird, but each oil slick blade had a razor sharp edge that ruthlessly sliced fabric to flesh when touched.

Wylie had no clue what the hell he was. A shifter, probably, but his demon arms didn’t look like any animal out there. Most days he felt like a monster. Tonight, he might actually be useful.

He held his arms up over his head and let Beck tie his sweatshirt around his waist so it wouldn’t be shredded. “For good luck,” Beck whispered and leaned close to peck a kiss to his lips. Wylie kept still, too aware how easy it would be for his scales to slice Beck up to be able to relax.

Adam threw himself backward when he approached the door. His eyes were wide as he stared at Wylie’s scaled arms like he was some bloodthirsty demon there to murder everyone. Wylie kept his gaze focused on Diego, whose expression was full of undisguised hate. Diego growled and pointed to the door just in case he was too retarded to figure out the reason he was there.

Wylie glared as he watched Diego chew his gum. The no smoking policy was totally bullshit. If they could grab DNA off a cigarette, the cops could do the same for a piece of gum. “Alarm dead?”

“Of course it’s fucking dead. Open the shit up and shut your freak mouth,” Diego snapped.

Wylie ran his tongue along the edges of his teeth. His fangs itched to bite the aggressive fucker on the face. Wylie forced himself to turn from Diego and focus on the door. It was misleading, made to look like every other pretty door on the rich houses in the area. Just on this house, the wooden mahogany finish varnished to perfection was hiding a solid steel security door beneath. Wylie reached across and drew a long, black talon down between the seam of the door and the reinforced metal molding. He found the bolts, four in all, and scratched the paint to mark their placement.

“Stand back.” Wylie shot Diego a glare when he found him peering over his shoulder. “Unless you’re looking to eat metal.”

Diego grunted defiantly, but moved a few steps away. Wylie really didn’t care if the guy ended up with his elbow in his face, but he needed the space to work. He ran his right palm along where the door met the molding over the alignment of bolts, and braced his other hand to help muffle what he was about to do.

His first slam was experimental to give him an idea of what force was really needed. The door yielded beneath his palm and the solid bolts were a soft bulge in the covering wood. Wylie abruptly clawed down the surface and scraped the glued on wood away to give him a better look.

He was definitely over-thinking it, Wylie realized when he saw how close together the bolts were and how they couldn’t be more than three inches into the reinforced molding. He sank his claws into the door with his braced hand, pulled his right back, and punched forward with an open palm. The metal buckled from the blow and there was a shearing sound under the loud slam. Wylie kept pushing forward, and the door bent and warped from the molding around his hand. With a final slam, the mechanism holding the bolts tore through the other side of the door and clattered to the floor.

“Fuck, yeah.” Wylie smiled smugly as he turned the now broken handle and the metal protested loudly when he wrenched the door. Wylie pushed it open wide with a flourish and waved the scowling Diego in. His gaze fell to Adam, whose chest was heaving and face pale as he stared at Wylie’s impossibly strong arms.

“Hurry the fuck up, you little bitch,” Diego snapped when he saw Adam frozen in shock.

Adam jolted and his eyes flew to Wylie’s face. Without a word, the kid scurried past and quickly darted inside the dark room after Diego.

Wylie shook his head. He had only met Adam once before, and he reeked of so much fear it was hard to understand what the hell he was doing running with Roth. Maybe Adam was one of those types who didn’t want to be afraid anymore. Wylie sure as fuck didn’t have that problem. He stopped being afraid years ago once he realized no matter how many foster families treated him like shit, he could still survive on his own. Even if he didn’t get into the gang tonight, Wylie knew he’d be fine.

“Baby, you got this,” Beck whispered excitedly as he carefully stepped up beside him while avoiding his scales. “Fuck college; you could be robbing banks. You’re made for this.”

Wylie pasted on a smile he didn’t feel. “Yeah, sure.” His boyfriend thought he was destined to be a career criminal. Great.

Wylie eyed the gaping door the other two disappeared through as lights flickered on inside. Adam’s fear scent made the hair stand up on the back of his neck, and Wylie suppressed an annoyed sigh. Adam was too waif-limbed to carry shit and too skittish to trust not to bolt if things got tough. Beck was at least a sweet talker. If some nosy biddy stuck her head over the fence, Beck could come up with a lie and a smile on his pretty face in a second flat. Still, neither of them had the judgment or nerves suited to rob the place, and Wylie was questioning again why they brought four people for this job.

He was in it now. Breaking and entering, trespassing, burglary, and damage to private property. Damn, Beck might have a point about this being a career.

Wylie squared his shoulders and stalked toward the door. “Watch your ass, B.”

“Yours and mine both, babe,” Beck said with a wink as he whirled back to the van.

Wylie paused as he stepped inside. He was expecting a great room, something relaxed with a television and couch. What he found was a space clinical and cold in both style and temperature, one with a purpose he couldn’t quite place. The floor was a hard tile, and the walls were stripped of any personal touches or embellishments. It was a flat, white empty room all around, and Wylie’s ice blue eyes narrowed as he took in the strange, bulky machinery made of shining chrome and sleek plastic that dotted the large space in an obvious grid pattern. It could have been storage, or maybe some weird, artistic installation. Whatever it was, Wylie immediately didn’t like it.

“Start grabbing anything that looks worthwhile,” Diego ordered the trembling Adam.

The air was stale and practically void of natural scents, which only made Adam’s fear scent all the more intense. Wylie eyed the short teen after taking in the wall of electronics and a dividing curtain of plastic to the right. He didn’t know shit about computers and tech, but there was a lot of big equipment. If he were to go by Adam’s expression, none of this was the run of the mill stuff you’d find in some normal rich fuck’s house.

“This is military grade,” Adam whispered as he hovered next to a machine that looked heavy enough to crush him.

“Figure out what’s important, and we’ll be down to move what you can’t lift.” Diego jerked his head impatiently at Wylie. “Come on, freak. The safe is upstairs.”

Wylie followed, but his eyes were locked to where Adam was flicking on something that looked disturbingly like a laser. His scales puffed up as a chill zapped down his spine. The sooner they got out of there, the better.

Diego stalked through the long maze of hallways with absolute confidence. It made Wylie wonder if they had gotten the house plans in advance or if Diego had been there before. Had the coarse, crude gangster convinced some unassuming maid or arrogant executive to let him see the place? Diego moved like he knew exactly where he was going and didn’t turn a light on even in the dark hallways. Wylie admitted a mild appreciation the gangster wasn’t bumbling around like an idiot. He could put up with the asshole just so long as Diego didn’t get them thrown in jail.

Wylie slowed his steps when the corridor they were traveling down opened up into a large entryway connected to a sweeping flight of dazzling stairs that could have fit an orchestra and still have room to walk. It was such a different feel from the sterile environment they just left, and Wylie felt lost as he climbed the huge, wide expanse of steps. The front door was on the marble tile landing that split the two levels, and Wylie could see just with a glance how the security was even more beefed on this door. His echoing footsteps were muffled by the runner as he climbed the second flight and took in the art and luxury that was the top floor of the mansion. It felt like stepping into a completely different world, and Wylie couldn’t help but drink it all in like a starstruck tourist.

Diego snapped his fingers and Wylie blinked and stared impassive in the face of the scowl directed at him. If the fucker whistled at him like a dog, he wasn’t sure what he’d do, but he doubted anyone would blame him. Wylie continued walking and expanded his senses to take it all in. He could hear Diego’s breathing now, and the very distinct muttering of being ‘saddled with a bunch of snot nosed, piss for brain, fucktard kids.’ In the living room—one of many—a grandfather clock ticked, housed in a tall, cherry wood stained case. It all felt larger than life and completely surreal to think people lived in a place like this.

Something prickled through him, and Wylie stopped short. It took him a moment as he tried to figure out what was wrong. He breathed in deep and turned his head when he caught the scent of flowers sitting in a vase on a sleek, mahogany table down a connecting hall. Wylie’s scales ruffled again and without a word, he turned and walked to the scent to investigate.

They were daffodils mixed with small, white daisies in a classic, ornate vase. The flowers were fresh with no drooping or touch of brown on any petal and Wylie’s stomach churned.

Diego snarled when he discovered he wasn’t behind him. He stomped over to where Wylie was glaring at the flowers. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“Fresh flowers,” Wylie said tightly. He rolled his eyes when Diego looked ready to flip out for wasting time. “They’re not even wilted,” Wylie stressed and plucked one of the petals free. “Who puts flowers out in an empty house?”

Diego’s eyes narrowed and he stepped forward to briefly sniff the flowers. He straightened and with a shrug, waved at the elegant hallway. “Look at the fucking place. Do you really think someone this rich does normal shit? Maybe the fucking maid put them out just in case they got robbed and wanted to make things look nice for us. Stop thinking and hurry the fuck up.”

Wylie’s nostrils flared as Diego stalked back to the main hall. The downstairs was full of military tech, the gate had a code they barely got through; who the fuck knew what else they missed? It was midnight and whoever was there—maid, butler, guest—would likely be in bed in one of the many rooms in the giant place. Wylie had no issue with stealing shit from someone who had more than enough, but he drew the line at terrorizing people.

Diego turned and waved his hand in an exaggerated movement to get Wylie the fuck over there. Damn it. Fucking damn it. His scales were twitching so much, it felt like a bug was digging beneath his skin as Wylie followed after the gangster.

Fuck, for all he knew, the fucking rich put flowers out ever damn day even when no one was home. Rich people were fucking crazy. Money lifted them so far from reality the same way drugs did for a strung out crackwhore. Whoever lived there had rooms for their stuff, not for people. Who the hell was he to say what went on in the minds of the ultra-rich?

Diego led them surefooted down a branching corridor, and Wylie kept close this time. He wanted this over with so he could get the fuck out. Wylie’s stress grew with every tap of tattooed fingers to doors they passed by. Diego finally stopped in front of a dark wooden door where dim light greeted through a narrow gap.

“The office. There are jewels and bonds in here and some cash.” Diego pulled a black rectangle from inside his leather coat and unfolded a large canvas duffel bag. “The safe’s on the wall past the windows and desk. A bunch of books open up like a door.” He glared into Wylie’s eyes as he placed the strap of the bag into his clawed hand. “Just empty the shit and meet me down the hall. No fucking around, no touching anything that’s not in that safe, and no running off. Empty it and meet me five doors that way, left side.”

Wylie couldn’t help but wonder what Diego was going for alone. If he was stealing shit without Roth knowing, Wylie sure as hell didn’t want to be the guy to blab. He was there for one purpose; to do what needed to be done to get in with Roth. If Diego wanted to screw himself with the boss, that was his business.

Wylie kept his mouth shut and waited for Diego to start down the hall before he pushed the door open. He paused on the threshold and his gaze darted around the lush, sophisticated study. Unlike the clinical looking basement, this room was brimming with ancient sculptures and artwork collected from all over the world. A single table lamp shone a warm glow from the walnut desk on the far side of the large room, and illuminated the warm brown tones of leather furniture, deep red walls, and the dark oriental rugs. It was overwhelming compared to the the kinds of places Wylie usually spent time in, and he took a steadying breath before he slipped inside.

It still felt strange being in someone else’s house when he knew he didn’t belong. Wylie spent his teenage years living in houses where he wasn’t welcome, taking what was lent until he was sent somewhere else. This time, he was in a house to steal, not borrow. As much as Wylie tried to brush it off, his chest was tight as he walked the length of the room. He did his best to ignore the signs of recent life around him. He picked up the stale scent of human flesh. An older male… cigar smoker…

The butler, Wylie told himself briskly as he moved toward the bookcase on the far wall. Whoever left those flowers probably checked the rooms during the day to dust or some shit. He wasn’t sure exactly what it took to keep a mansion nice, but it probably meant staff came by daily.

The false wall of books was easy to find. The hinges hadn’t been hidden, and although the books were real, they were placed as if an afterthought over the swinging door. Wylie raised a pierced eyebrow at the ridiculousness of it all. The house screamed money, and anyone looking would know there would be cash to find inside. The owner must have thought no one would ever get through the front door.

Wylie clicked a claw into the wooden groove and nudged the false door open. It swung wide and he eyed the matte black safe critically. It was more a vault than what he was expecting. The safe was encased completely in cement and nearly as tall as he was. In the center was a dial waiting for a combination, and beneath that a handle meant to be turned. Wylie considered the metal contraption in silence.

The door downstairs had taught him a lot for his first break in, and Wylie didn’t bother trying to finesse this time. He punched his fist into the door and ground his knuckles in hard until he felt the metal rip. Wylie slammed his other hand in just as hard, and slipped his claws into the torn opening beneath jagged edges of metal. He gripped tight and grinned as he slowly curled and bent the heavy door down. Even though it was made of steel, it twisted like a thin tin of spam beneath his palms. Shit, he really was made for this.

The darkness within the safe hid nothing from Wylie’s piercing gaze. He couldn’t say what bonds were exactly, but he knew the large, colorful pieces of paper kept in neat piles up high were them. There were flat boxes he figured must hold the jewelry Diego mentioned, while all the other shelves held cash separated into bundles and kept in tidy piles. It was the most money he’d ever seen, and Wylie didn’t have to count it to know it was a fortune.

Wylie wrenched the door down to his knees and reached to sweep the lowest shelf into the duffel. The scales on his wrist caught and tore right through the metal shelf and shredded half a bundle of money. “Fuck.” Wylie froze as ripped hundred dollar bills fluttered down to his sneakers. Any sudden motion could end with all the money shredded. On the best of days, his palms were the only safe part of Wylie’s hands when his scales were out. When he was shaking—not that he would admit to the adrenaline coursing through him—his demon arms became even more of a hazard.

Wylie took a steadying breath and glared down at his hands. His scales ruffled but refused to retract. “Come on, you fuckers,” he whispered harshly. Everything about his arms pissed him off, including how temperamental they were. He was pretty sure the demonic things hated him just as much, seeing as they made his life hell. “Just the claws, then,” Wylie pleaded while wiggling his fingers. “I just need a damn hand.” His scales refused to relent, and Wylie growled in frustration. He peered into the paper treasure pile waiting in the safe while his mind raced. He didn’t have time for this. There was no fucking time.

“Fuck it.” Giving up on his hands, Wylie’s eyes lit on a thick, hardcover novel on the wall shelves. It didn’t matter if his claws shredded the book just so long as they didn’t touch the money. He pulled it down and with a sweeping motion, used the book to clear the first shelf into the duffel bag, which he held gingerly by the strap with a knee raised to brace the bottom.

Things went faster after that, and it was difficult to truly understand the stacks of money sailing into the bag. Seriously, fucking rich people. If they put their money in a bank, no one would be walking into their house to steal their shit. But what the fuck did he know? Maybe the hundreds of thousands flipping past his view was the equivalent to spare change in the couch for normal people. It was a giant mansion with crazy tech and huge amounts of dough; the rich were just too fucking large to comprehend.

Wylie was glad Beck was stuck in the driveway playing lookout. He would have been swimming in this vault like it was a damn orgy. Beck had big dreams he was looking to buy if he could only get enough cash. Wylie didn’t really understand it, but then, he stopped dreaming a long time ago. Freaks didn’t get to reach their dreams. No, they got stuck doing the grunt work behind the scenes while ambitious crooks like Roth made a fortune.

The bag was nearly bursting at the seams by the time the safe was empty. Wylie tossed the now shredded hardcover book aside and flexed his shoulders as he tried to coax his damn scales to push up his arms. His demon arms were limited in ways he still didn’t quite get. His muscles and bones changed to something beyond human, but only up to where the scales reached. Wylie was built, but a bag full of hundreds and twenties wasn’t the lightest fucking thing. Wylie held still when he felt his biceps bulge and more scales erupted through his flesh. Sight, sound, and scent flooded him all at once as his senses responded as well.

A vibrant rush of information greeted him with his next breath. Yeah, there had been a man in there recently. Really recent. Wylie could smell the sweat now. He carried the bag one handed and wandered to a stand of glittering bottles where a discarded glass of brandy rested. He sniffed, picking up the sour hint of clinging saliva and bacteria off the rim. If it was the butler, he sure as fuck wasn’t afraid to leave his booze stealing ways out for all to see.

Wylie didn’t need his scales to twitch this time; his heart was racing in understanding. He could smell someone. He had slammed through the downstairs door, and the sound of shearing metal when he tore through that safe wasn’t quiet. Fuck. They could have already called the cops. Fucking whore, they could already be on their way. Maybe sneaking up the driveway even now…

Wylie didn’t bother counting doors as he booked it from the room. He followed Diego’s scent down the hallway while trying to keep his cool. There was no watch his scales wouldn’t destroy, but they couldn’t have been there more than ten minutes. He winced when he thought of how long it took to get through the downstairs. Fuck, maybe fifteen. Maybe twenty—the hallways were so damn long in the place. Shit, they needed to fucking fly.

“Diego.” Wylie palmed the door handle and used his knee to push into the room the gangster had disappeared into. He stopped short with a sharp inhale when scent and sight revealed an absolute shit storm of trouble.




Chris confronts Raven at school. Deon’s not there and he’s thinking about him. Was he avoiding him? Had he come on too strong?

Chris is furious. What the fuck is he doing? The Avery guy came to practice reeking of him! Are you seriously fucking some nobody while they need to find him a mate!

First of all, it’s none of his fucking business who he’s seeing—

Oh, this is his fucking business! Do you understand what kind of position you’re putting me in with the packs? With the elders. Tommy is—

Fuck Tommy!

Raven, I don’t care if you don’t like him, there is no one else! Making an ass of himself with the new guy is not going to get him any good attention.

I’m not making an ass—I like him.

You’re playing with him.


Then he knows you’re the Sentry? You’ve shown him? You’ve explained how this town works, how you’re never going to be able to leave?

Raven looks away, hissing. Just leave it alone, Chris. Just let me have this.

You’re fooling yourself, Raven. He’s never going to accept you.

He does. He likes—

You’re a sorcerer. You are the most important person in this entire town, Raven. Even if he had the power to protect you, which he doesn’t, he still can’t support you. He has no pack, he has no wealth, and he has no power. He’s nothing, Raven, and if you waste your heart on him, you’re going to doom yourself to a life of struggle and pain. You’re going to doom Sasha and Bryce and Cedric.

You could take them in, Chris. You could stand the fuck up and tell the packs that things can change if they want them to.

I can’t, Raven. You don’t get to be leader because you bring change, you get to be leader because you uphold all that the packs represent. I might be able to do a little good, a little leeway in the future, but that’s only after years of giving them what they need. The packs need security. They need to know that they can roam the wildwoods and not be destroyed by the __ or hunted down by the neighboring towns.

If they would compromise! No one made them choose to be fucking wolves their entire life! I am a slave because they don’t want to be responsible for themselves!

At least they let us live! Chris covers his mouth with his hand, glaring into his eyes. Raven, mom and dad tried to bring change and you know damn well what happened because of it. Don’t do this. Don’t throw your life away like they did. They will kill you and then the town will have no one to protect them.


Do you think it’s just the __ the town has to fear without you? What do you think the humans will do, kind Rebecca Avery, __, the babysitter, __, the families? Your human boyfriend there that has never spent a day outside of the city? What the fuck do you think will happen if there isn’t a Sentry to keep the packs from deciding they don’t need humans anymore? They talk about it, Raven. They talk about how little the humans provide, what a waste it is to educate, to give up land, to give them food and resources. The water they consume. The water, Rave. They don’t see humans as equal. Most barely see sorcerers as anything other than something to fear. Even the twins and Cedric—They’re not wolves so they’re not important. Dad warned me, Rave, I just had no fucking idea what he meant. They talk like they’re meat. Meat that needs too much water to keep raise. Please, don’t do this.

Raven feels sick to his stomach, dizzy as he clutches the wall. Was that the sickness he had been feeling in the werewolves? Was it the indifference towards human life? Hatred. Was his townspeople to become cattle to the packs as their unrest and the drought grew? Could he stop them and the __ too? His mother hadn’t been able to. His parents, the Averys, and Pitts hadn’t been able to stop the packs when the darkness came. He had no one to back him, no one to support him, no one with power besides himself. Even Chris…

I can’t save you, Raven. Mr. __ contacted me yesterday. He wants another meeting. He’s a fair man…

He was a wolf. He would spend his days running around like a fucking wolf, dragging carcasses through the door to some shitty cabin and then running off again, as if his obligations as a husband were met with a slab of meat. There would be no conversations, no companionship, maybe a quick fuck if the shifter felt an urge towards him and who was even to say it would be enjoyable? Raven’s parents had been different. His father was pack but he had chosen to live with his mother as a human most of the times. He raised a family, spoke to them, showed them how to be more than feral animals. He had pushed for education—had wanted all the pack children to be educated. And they had for a while, they had, until the fire and the packs had decided the old ways were the only way to be. He had pushed as long as he could, had made sure Chris continued in school, had made his brother turn it into a pack event. But not all had gone for it. Meat. They were calling his humans meat.

When? he finally asked, trying to ignore the hollowness in his chest.

Sometime next week. He’s not like Tommy. He’s controlled. He would never harm you—

I know. Just tell me when and I’ll meet with him.




(Do we want to add any indication that Raven and tech might have problems mixing? He’s all over his phone… I want something about his magic needing to be hidden when he’s around normals and outsiders. Raven is very resistant to being perceived or pretending to be anything but who he is, so if he has to pretend, he hates it.)

Follow Raven. Out the front door as he decides he’s going home, his temper flaring. Why he bothers with school when so much is weighing on him, why he plays this fucking part of being so goddamn perfect at every turn. For them. For this entire fucking town. To keep them safe, keep them hidden, protected, and allowed to be whatever kind of freak they wanted. But they couldn’t do the same for him. They couldn’t let him be him, they kept demanding of him. Kept asking him to fit into something he was never going to be. He had given enough! Had played parents to his siblings, had done everything to prepare Chris for his pack life while also doing what was required of him. When was it his turn to have a fucking life! Snarling, he slams through the school gate only to nearly trip over a backpack, stumbling and gasping as his heel suddenly snaps and he goes tumbling towards the ground.

Shit, you okay? Hands grabbed him roughly around the shoulder, Raven stopping his spell when he realized why he hadn’t sensed there was someone there. The new kid. The human. The one under his fucking radar but was apparently a fucking Avery, something Chris had intentionally left out even though the teacher had looked him in the eye when saying his name because Mr.__ knew this was shit he needed to know. The kid was old blood even if he was just a human. One of them if the town accepted him. He lets himself be lifted, sucking his breath in when he meets Deon’s surprised eyes. Trouble. Outsiders were trouble. Outsiders that made his heart skip and mouth dry were probably the most dangerous.

Are you okay—

Fine. Reaching down, Raven snapped the heel off of both his shoes, knowing he could repair them in an instant once away from the boy. His ankle stung a little—something harder to heal but it wasn’t the end of the world. Goes to walk home, ignoring the boy.

Deon waits a beat, then follows after. I have a car—my aunt’s. I can drive you to whereever it is your heading.

I’m fine.

You’re limping. Glaring, Raven bit back his retort of how that wouldn’t be an issue if the kid would fuck off and let him do magic in peace. I’m in a really pissy mood and I want to be alone, he snapped instead.

Oh. Waiting a beat, Deon holds his hand up, an mp3 player in his grasp. I wouldn’t say anything if you don’t want. You could just listen to music. No offense but you guys have shit for radio out here.

Raven sighs, turning back and slowly walking to the boy. Yeah, it sucks. Having to listen to __ all day bitching about his cattle or the early frost is a total snooze. Deon looks at him curiously, Raven finally answering. If you don’t mind driving me just to my house.

Your house? Not a date?

Raven glances over his shoulder, fighting a smirk when he realizes he caught the boy checking him out. Deon coughs, blushing and looking away.

You uh, you look dressed like you’re going out. Must be a lucky guy.

No guy, I just like dressing like this.

True to his word, Deon didn’t talk much, just plugged the mp3 player in and handed it over to Raven, only speaking up once and a while to ask where he was going. Raven couldn’t help but appreciate it, sinking back into the seat while flipping through the kid’s music selection. It was a magic all its own, new sounds and melodies he hadn’t ever heard.

Raven remembers again what he’s pissed about as he sees an image on the player of a hot girl, his anger flaring. He puts the mp3 player down, growling softly. Deon glances his way and suddenly R hates the silence. He’s in a car with a hot guy and everything is way too fucking quiet. Starts asking Deon questions about himself. How he got all his music. What does he think about the way the musicians in some of the bands dress. Do you think they’re unprofessional for looking like that?

Deon has a slow, rather intelligent answer basically saying for a musician it would be unprofessional for them to dress like normal people. They need to stand out. They need the world to see them and know that they have something beautiful and creative inside, otherwise it’s just going to go unnoticed and that’s a fucking crime. Some people need to be loud, it’s just who they are.

Are you a loud guy? Nah. He… Fuck, he doesn’t even know the sound of his voice most days, he says, darkness shadowing his eyes for a moment.

Raven is suddenly really curious about him, turning from the window to look him up and down. Maybe you need to start shouting more.

Deon glances his way, biting at his lower lip. I really don’t have anything to say. I’m just… just trying to figure out who I am. Not like you.

Like me?

Yeah. You know who you are and you’re not afraid about it. Hell, you have no problem changing your clothes in the middle of the day just to show it. That’s cool shit.

Realizes he had changed, remembers he had made himself look as trashy as possible just to piss off his brother. Suddenly feels self conscious about it not wanting Deon to think of him like that. You don’t think it’s too slutty? He asks, hating the insecure edge to his voice.

Slutty? Deon raises a brow, frowning slightly. Slutty is more a way a person acts, not the clothes they wear. And really, that’s usually immature people saying shit that can’t handle someone else’s sexuality.

What, so you don’t believe in sluts?

Back where I’m from, girls could wear damn near anything and depending on how they acted was really how you knew them. Some girls, they threw themselves at guys like that was the only way they were important. You might call them slutty… more desperate. Sad, although to be clear, my friends didn’t agree with me. Those kinds of girls wouldn’t care if a guy hurt them, they just wanted to feel needed too much to care. Other girls, they could walk around damn near naked and it didn’t matter what a guy said or did, she knew herself and he wasn’t getting near her without her word. She didn’t need a guy to make her know she was beautiful or important. Glances at R again then back at the road. Like you.

Feeling ridiculously warm, Raven pointed his house out, butterflies dancing in his stomach. You date a lot back home?

I have a fucked up mom, Deon said abruptly, stopping in front of Raven’s house. Not really a situation I wanted to bring anyone home to.

But now you’re living with your aunt.

Yeah. For now. Deon had gotten tight lipped but Raven really wasn’t ready to leave. He liked talking to the kid.

You planning on staying a while?

Long enough for school, at least. I really want to get some college. Figure out what I want. But I don’t know how long I’ll be here.

So a girl could walk around near naked and you wouldn’t think any less of her for it? He asked quietly.

Not my place to judge someone on how they look. If she’s happy with how she’s dressed then I imagine it must be a good thing.

What about a guy? Do you think guys are total sluts when they go walking around in short skirts and high heels?

Blinking, Deon tilted his head, grinning slightly. Don’t really have much of an opinion on that either, to be honest. I don’t do it myself but if that’s what a guy wants to do, that’s his business. If he’s happy, it must be a good thing.

The kid was both brilliant and fucking oblivious in the same breath and Raven was suddenly really annoyed by it. Why he gave a fuck what this total stranger thought of him dressing like a chick was beyond him but here he was, dropping hints like a motherfucker. And for whatever reason, Deon couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t like he looked super girly. Well, not usually. He wasn’t super thin, he had some muscle on his arms and he never pretended to have breasts. His ass was as flat as his chest and he was taller than most chicks. It wasn’t that he was ashamed of being a guy, he loved his fucking dick, he loved his body but suddenly he was holding back on telling this kid when normally he wouldn’t even consider hiding it. He realized with a start it was because he was afraid Deon would stop looking at him the way he had that day. The secret glances, the sweet blushes, the damn near hungry look in his eye on more than one occasion. The fact that the kid was sitting stiffly, full of tension like he might break if Raven so much as brushed up against him. It made him feel powerful in a way he wasn’t used to, desired, beautiful and important to this young man and he didn’t want to lose that feeling.

How old are you? Raven asked, wondering if he’d be able to pull up the kid’s birthday and do a reading on him once alone.

Hesitating, Deon finally answers. 24. I’m starting college late.

Raven nods, offering after a moment, I started late too. It’s my last year and I’m 25.

Looking over at him again, Deon nods slowly. Fucked up parents?

Dead. I took time off to make sure my younger siblings were adjusting. But a lot of the students end up working on the farms with their parents so you’ll find all ages at the college.


Suddenly feeling uncomfortable again, Raven undoes his seatbelt. He didn’t want to talk about his parents. It only reminded him of the shit he was now stuck in. Thanks for the drive.

No problem. Stares straight ahead when Raven gets out of the car, the kid looking like he was deep in thought. Raven pauses, leaning on the seat until Deon turned his way.

And for listening. You’re a cool guy, Deon, even if you’re not loud. It doesn’t mean there isn’t something inside you worth sharing with the world.

He slipped away before the boy could respond, Deon’s eyes filled with something that made his heart ache. Fuck, he probably shouldn’t be looking into the kid’s eyes. Probably shouldn’t be talking sweet shit and not telling him he was a dude in a fucking dress.

Watching as the car pulled away, Raven made a promise that he’d do it the next time he saw the kid. It was wrong to fuck around with his heart. It wasn’t like they could be anything. He was being a selfish ass and it would be best to just deal with it sooner rather than later. Sighs heavily, turning to his house.




(Ha, still love this scene. We get threads of expected marriage, alphas, lineage. Again, the question is do we want to spell it out or leave people guessing as they watch the story unfold? I’m so used to info dumps and finding a balance is still a dilemma. How much do we need to know and when to keep the story interesting?)

Raven’s pov:

Pissed off, stomping through the school fresh from lunch. Tommy’s been bugging the fuck out of him, along with a few of the kid’s immediate pack and his stomach is swirling. Fucking werewolves. Fucking adolescent werewolves that think that they can muscle into a fucking heart instead of dealing with things properly. Runs into Chris, chasing his brother down when they see each other. He needs to deal with this fucking Tommy situation or he’s going to and he’s not going to be nice about it. Chill, the kid is just crushing. He’ll get over it.

He hit a fucking Sentry, Chris. He’s lucky he didn’t go to the Elders and get the kid exiled or killed. Tommy knows the fucking consequences. He’s crossing a line and this pursuit is only going to make it worse.

Chris makes a comment about maybe Raven could stop dressing in a way that’s making Tommy fucking crazy.

What, he’s asking for it?

He didn’t say that… just, he looks like a fucking slut and he’s not making this shit easier on himself. Even the new fucking kid is looking at him.

He is? Small smile to himself. Who is he?

No one and don’t even think of messing with the damn ignorant thing. The kid’s so dense he thinks he’s a chick. Just imagine if he finds out he’s a sorcerer and the fucking brother of the next packleader.

Raven scowls to realize Deon thinks he’s a chick.

Seriously, Raven, change your fucking clothes. They’re never going to find the boy a mate if every gay guy in the area thinks he’s got a fucking vag.

Why? Why the fuck should he change how he looks for someone that’s supposed to fucking love him, huh?

Yeah, well why can’t he just look like a normal fucking guy?

Fuck you, this is my normal. This is who I am.

Yeah, well everyone else that’s normal like that is a girl. Why don’t you just—

What? Pretend I’m a fucking girl? I have to hate my dick just because I love how I look in these clothes? Who the fuck are you to tell me what clothes belong on what fucking gender? They’re just pieces of fucking material. Why the fuck should I define my goddamn gender and orientation just because how I look tends to look like a chick?

Because you’re choosing to look like that. You’re choosing to look like a woman—

No, I’m choosing to look fucking amazing. Too fucking bad if it’s the same goddamn ‘uniform’ that’s referred to as ‘female.’ This is who I fucking am, Chris. Stop asking me to be something else!

Just tone it down. The only reason Tommy is on his ass with no competition is because the older, controlled wolves don’t want to be around someone that looks like trouble like him. Just play is cool for a bit and then he can dress how he wants. I got a prospective mate for you Wednesday, Mr__. You know, maybe a year after the wedding.

His glower growing, Raven spells up a mirror on the wall. Staring at his reflection, he points at his hair, hot cotton candy pink highlights streaking through his sleek black locks. He pulls them up into two pigtails on top of his head, then spells on a matching color lipstick with high gloss. With a shake of his skirt, he goes from a long sleek skirt to a leather mini, his tights patterned with pink skulls to end in thigh high leather boots with a stiletto heel. This man enough for him?

Goddamn it, Rave, stop being such a selfish bitch and think of the fucking pack for a change.

If the pack can’t accept him for who he is then why the fuck should he do a goddamn fucking thing for them? No one made their mom change her fucking clothes or ever talked down about her hair or looking too fucking girly or butch or whatever the fuck.

Mom didn’t look like a fucking stripper slash pornstar!

It shouldn’t fucking matter! Let them protect themselves for a fucking change. Oh wait, they can’t because none of them have even an ounce of the magic he does! If they don’t like it, they can go fuck themselves.

Raven, just for a little while—

No, he’s done with this bullshit. He should have made a stand with Tommy. He’s done being a fucking pawn. With three inch hot pink nails, Raven flips his brother off while walking away.