Search Results for: "nerd"

hc 17

DRAFT SCENE SEVENTEEN

Eddy did indeed know where the Mystic Highrise building was. At six feet seven and 255 pounds of solid muscle, he had just gotten off work and was rushing home so he could meet his girlfriend in time for their date later that evening.

In less than fifteen minutes, Eddy offered Sean his dress shirt, wrote down directions to Mystic Highrise, and even spelled up a charm to keep the gargoyles from hassling him. Sean was stunned and more than a little cowed to have thought the worst of the man by appearance alone. He was intimidating, certainly. The muscles bulging from every angle were just as overwhelming as the strange tentacle hair and colorless eyes with double pupils. But the more Sean spoke with Eddy, the more he realized how foolish it was to be afraid of him. He was normal. Terribly normal. In a lot of ways, his weirdness was part of how normal he truly was.

Eddy stared at numbers all day and let the computer do the calculations while he dreamed of a future where he could do his job out in fresh air. He was lucky enough to work in an office with magic buffering over in Noct district. His power wasn’t strong enough to send unbuffered tech into a shower of sparks and melted metal but he could warp a television worse than a magnet on an old CRT TV if he was feeling emotional enough. Which was why he worked out a lot; to help him find positive channels for his energy. Eddy was also a bit of a gym rat and a nerd when it came to scrabble.

Sean left Eddy with a grin on his face and the promise if he survived the night, he’d return his shirt and buy him a beer. He felt nearly himself as he stepped down the streets which only grew more sparse of occupants once he stepped into Noct District. The shirt was a little large but when tucked in, he no longer looked like he just escaped a psych ward or was about to go rescue maidens from monsters. Even if that was his goal. Magnolia verse a dragon hadn’t turned out the way he would have assumed the powerful witch would deal with things. It would likely be far worse when he showed up without her wand.

He tried not to think of Soot, not the handsome human, the fluff of a cat, or the demonic version. Every time Sean’s mind slipped, he felt his chest clench and then anger swiftly rise. The bastard. The freaking bastard.

Really, how dare he do this? How dare he come in here and heal him and be adorable and sexy and the strangest, most fascinating and utterly silent person he’d ever met? How dare he hurt him like that? Like none of it meant anything? Like his heart wasn’t breaking?

Damn it, what had he done to fuck it all up?

The city landscape went by in a suspiciously damp blur as Sean failed not to think about the damn little sootball. He hated cats, he hated men, and a combination of both was the epitome of cruelty. It wasn’t until he was a building away from the towering, corporate, gargoyle laden Mystic Highrise that Sean could pull from his emotions enough to realize where he was. That was also when he noticed the sky.

It was dark. Holy shit, it was nearly night.

Sean hunched forward and tried to pull what little warmth he could from the over-sized dress shirt Eddy loaned him as he hurried forward across the concrete expanse of manicured bushes and brick formations. There was a giant fountain in the circular courtyard in front of the building and in the dim light it was easy to make out the magical display. Shapes of elegant people formed from water danced atop the pool surface, spiraling and twining as mystical lights shimmered and bounced off in dazzling reflection. Sean’s feet paused and he couldn’t help but stare a moment. It was beautiful. The dancers would twist and morph in and out of reality before his eyes, and soon his stomach was churning just as awkwardly.

He should have eaten. He should have grabbed the wand from Soot before he ran off. Fuck, he should have just left the second Magnolia offered him that job.

He was going to die. This was going to kill him.

Sean forced his feet to move past the fountain and he walked stiff-legged up the many wide stairs that led to the front entrance of the building. He furtively watched the gargoyles hanging on the side of the tall building as he hurried along. They twisted and breathed, not as wildly as the dancing fountain, but certain enough to remind him they were alive and capable of violence. Most were shaped like exotic serpentine dragons, tongues and tails constantly undulating but never knotting.

He flinched as he approached the four sets of gold trimmed glass doors and the closest gargoyle’s claws bit into the top of the door frame where it was clutching for purchase. Sean gripped the charm hanging from his neck and held it up even as he refused to meet the gargoyles dead eyes. The magic must have been enough because the gargoyle didn’t move otherwise besides the warning slash of its tail as Sean paused beneath it.

The glass of the door was tinted black but he could make out the interior a little to get the impression of an open space lined in tile. Sean shivered as he glanced up to a shower of granite from deadly talons. He couldn’t help but imagine those deadly claws tearing into his back. He was certain if he actually tried to step inside, the gargoyle would pounce in a heartbeat.

It was already dark, or damn near so. Magnolia was probably dead. Why was he doing this? Was it worth his life?

Damn it, he really didn’t want to die.

With a quick breath for courage, Sean snatched the door handle, pulled, and scurried into the building. He exhaled heavily when the door shut behind him and he remained still alive.

Crazy, this was crazy. Somewhere in the building was a dragon and the witch who controlled it. He was going to die.

Sean looked up and turned his head as he tried to get his bearings. It was like the majority of office buildings he’d been into, except this one felt more like the lobby of an expensive hotel. The floor was made of black, shiny tile with gold grout. There was a bank of golden elevators to the left and a reception desk surrounded by elegant, black and purple roses. Sean bit his lip when he saw the three receptionists at said desk. It would be impossible to get past them without being seen. Not that he knew wherever the fuck he was going. Without Jamie to call, he was absolutely out of his depths.

His steps echoed uncomfortably loud as he stepped toward the desk. He needed a plan. He needed a brilliant lie. His brain remained blank. The harder he tried to think of something the more his brain refused to work.

He was shit under stress. This always happened to him. He was dressed like some vagabond, covered in wounds and dirt, and was going to get thrown out by security. That or shot. Spelled? Witch security probably spelled—it probably hurt more too.

Dear fuck, what the hell was he going to do? If he couldn’t save Magnolia, he was screwed. No rent money, no apartment, no business, no boyfriend—damn it, Soot, why? Why did he bail on him like that? How could…?

“Can I help you?”

“Uh… what?” Sean started and blinked rapidly. At some point he had walked up to the receptionist desk. The scent of roses was a noxious perfume to his nervous senses as his eyes fixed on a young, impeccably groomed man behind the desk. His age might have set him at ease except he was standing stiff as a board while wearing a suit. There was a headset attached to his ear and Sean had a moment to wonder if security would be called as the receptionist’s expression soured to impatience the longer he floundered for words. His critical stare of Sean’s state of being wasn’t helping.

“State your business,” the receptionist snapped impatiently. “Hurry up, now.”

“Uh, I’m Sean Slater,” he finally managed to blurt out. Sean’s eyes widened immediately after and he clicked his mouth shut. He hadn’t wanted to tell anyone that. He was there to rescue Magnolia; giving his name was totally going to put him in danger if the police became involved.

Would the police be involved? There was a dragon. The police should be involved, but then, hadn’t Jamie said something about a body needing to be found first? Oh, hell, would it be his body?

“And what do you do, Sean Slater?” The receptionist sighed when he stared back blankly. “State your business. Are you looking for a mage, a sage, a necromancer? What do you want?” he practically growled. “You do have an appointment, correct?”

Death. This was totally going to lead to death. “IT.” Sean coughed awkwardly, his voice a rasp of nerves. “I’m with IT.”

“Oh.” The young man blinked and raised his hand to touch a finger to the headset attached to his ear. He fixed sharp eyes on Sean as he listened to whoever was talking on the other end. Sean’s mind raced uselessly as he tried to think of something to follow up with. I’m here to save Magnolia seemed a little too on the nose. He wasn’t sure who was the enemy just yet. If he gave away…

“Mr. Slater, we’ve been expecting you.”

“What?” Sean took an involuntary step back. He looked to the other two, a young woman and one who was clearly a witch, to see if they were already calling for backup to capture him. His pulse slowed a little when he saw they weren’t paying him any attention, but staring at screens as they typed away.

“We’ve been waiting on IT for over two hours now. Becky, ring her up.” The receptionist’s voice turned clipped as he addressed his colleague and moved out from behind the desk. “With me, Mr. Slater. Hurry up. Time is of the essence. It does not do to keep her waiting.”

“Her?” Sean parroted as he got his wobbly knees to work enough to follow after. The receptionist moved briskly to the set of elevators. When he stopped, he pulled a key from his pocket and inserted it a slot above the elevator buttons.

“She’s in a foul mood, so don’t get too chatty. The tech has been iffy all day and no one can get a signal in the building. It’s thrown off schedule of everything.” Dark eyes pierced Sean’s, accusing as if he first destroyed all their tech just to come in and fix it now. Sean would have taken it personally, but it was not the first time he’d gotten such looks. People got really pissed when they couldn’t get Internet.

The elevator chimed open and Sean stared into the small, golden room. “Uh…”

“She’s expecting you.” The receptionist glared when he refused to move. “It took you two hours to get here. The least you can do is actually get the job done,” he muttered under his breath as he shoved Sean by the shoulder.

Sean grabbed the elevator wall before he could slam his nose into it and whirled, his eyes wide. The condescending look of the receptionist didn’t alleviate his fears of having just entered the gaudiest coffin ever. He watched as the young man reached in and pushed a button and withdrew his hand. The doors began to close and Sean fought a whimper.

“Wait. Where am I going?” he asked desperately before the doors could close.

The hand returned as did the scathing glare of the receptionist as he held the elevator open. “Are you insane or just stupid?”

“Uh…” Sean wasn’t sure how he wanted to answer such a question. “I’m new?”

“Of course you are. Fucking cowards.” He continued before Sean could ask what he meant. “Mr. Slater, the union will protect you from being killed by someone like me. It doesn’t mean Divia will put up with any nonsense. Do your job and get out.”

“Divia?” Sean bit his lip. “Do you mean…?”

“There is only one Divia and I have no interest in being at the wand end of her bitch rant because you want to blather. Go. Now.” He released the elevator door. Sean lunged to stop the door from closing and ask if he was being sent to see Divia, but he was too slow. The elevator lurched and he grabbed the wall as he began to ascend. His stomach twisted in sympathy.

Crap. Crap, he was so screwed.

New Freebies Of The Month! 💋

It’s my anniversary!

8 years now—and let me say what a fucking achievement that is. I started dating Brian 8 years ago during a time when my PTSD was out of control, my parents were recently dead, and I was just a few months out of pulling myself free of homelessness, a psych ward, and an ex girlfriend/borderline drug addict. I was quite clearly not looking for love. Love didn’t give a fuck; it never does.

Through our long term relationship, we both learned about a year in (once the honeymoon phase was over) that living for another person was going to kill us both. XD Seriously, don’t do this. I know it is so easy; we were young and everything around said to be a ‘couple was to compromise who you are.’ No. Fucking no. That’s a compromise on the ego, not a compromise about taking care of yourself and ignoring who you are, and too few people understand that. Your partner does not exist to complete you, complement you, share your interests, or hold your hand through life. They exist, you exist, and where you meet in the middle is fucking awesome but if you force the two of you to stay there 24-7, the rest of you will atrophy and die until that relationship is an ugly wound of bitterness and hate. Relationships are non-entities; don’t turn them into something bigger than the beings meeting and loving.

It took us a few years to figure that all out, and then I got sick. Four years of sick. Four years, to the point that I try not to call Brian my boyfriend lately because I still have it in my head that any kind of attachment to me while I was a sliver of my former self is just going to drag him into misery and illness. The last year of me regaining health has also been a very tentative year of renaming how we see each other. And it’s going to continue to be a slow process because some shit just doesn’t change over night. I watched 4 vibrant beings be consumed by illness and eventually die, and I am well aware from the outside it was what I looked like. Until I got that mold toxicity diagnosis and actually started to treat my severe allergies, we had no idea why all my other treatments weren’t working and it was just waiting to see when it was going to end. That is a lot of weight to put on the people who love me. Four years of that weight.

There are a lot of things in life we don’t get to choose, but we’re still around to experience. I have had the opportunity to watch an amazing man struggle, grow stronger, and find himself while the world shakes around us. His resilient spirit and easy laugh has made the overwhelming bearable, even though I fear he sacrificed too much of himself in his need to save me. It’s that thing we do where we live through others and ignore our own needs. I still have the greatest joy when I see the ones I love succeed and find peace with their inner demons. Even though I’m dedicated to growing and being the best person I can be, a part of that is so the people around me won’t suffer by being around the not so great me who shows up once in a while.

Puerto Rico

It’s going to be months before Puerto Rico has their electric grid up. Since Fema has been removing data of what’s happening from their own website, I thought I’d share the Puerto Rico website where you can get the stats on their situation and a way to donate. It’s actually pretty interesting to see their goals, priority being clean water. It’s really easy to take that tap water for granted until you lose it and you’re dehydrating.

I feel like I’ve spent the last 6 months watching and growing used to Trump being a toddler. Every time he acts out, the consequences never seem to follow the way we fear. Puerto Rico isn’t the same, and I think it’s important to remind us all of that. Trump refusing to even look the German Chancellor in the eye like some petulant child even though she’s been called the leader of the free world won’t result in the possible devastation that can happen on one small island if they don’t get the help they need. It’s really easy to put our energy into our anger and outrage instead of into being constructive. It’s human nature, like mob mentality. It’s easy to feed the reaction to the outrageous instead of doing something about it. We’re better than that, but it takes waking up to realize it. If I donated a nickel for every time I said something bad about Trump, well, I’d be broke, that’s for sure. XD

So, if you’re wondering how to channel your rage after seeing Trump go down to Puerto Rico, have himself a self-congratulatory circle jerk, and then leave four hours later, I suggest donating. You’ll feel like you’re doing something instead of stewing in bitterness and misery.

Website stuff

Freebie of the Month is The Autumn Prince! I’ve added Liem’s story from Demon Bonded #9 in there too (which reminds me I haven’t updated the ARC site yet. @[email protected] So much stuff to remember. I need to start writing things down.) Hellcat has started. Subscribers can read as I write it up on the website. My goals are to get Intangible and Hellcat finished this month and hopefully republish City Howls so I can write the next episode.

Oh, Demencious Saga is published, so for those who don’t want to shell out for the first 4 episodes of Demon Bonded, you can get the bundle for cheap, basically 1/2 the price. I want to keep my focus on Hellcat and get that fic out by Halloween, so I don’t expect to have Apprentice Saga republished (it’s all about making a cover) until the beginning of September. Sorry for the delay, just, I can only juggle so much.

Don’t miss the books below. I hope you all have an amazing weekend. I’m going to be spending mine with Brian being a total nerd and loving it. <3

Demencious Saga by Sadie Sins

This book contains episodes #1-4 from Demon Bonded, titled ‘Something Waiting In The Dark,’ ‘Breathing Under The Bed,’ ‘The Killer Wardrobe,’ and ‘Magnificent Night,’ and includes the bonus episode, ‘Far From Home.’ Previously published from 2015-1016, these episodes have been reedited and republished.

Demencious Saga is the first saga in the mm erotic world of Demon Bonded. This serial is a fun, suspenseful play on monster collecting and male harems. Expect demon bonding, master/slave relationships of mild and abusive nature, multiple partners, magical powers, learning how to be a sorcerer, and conflict with crueler demon masters.

 

College Omega’s Secret Baby by Dex Bass

Alpha professor Alan Archer is king of his world, until a winsome nineteen-year-old omega freshman upends his confidence. Nobody talked to Professor Archer like that before. And Professor Archer never thought he could be attracted to a student. But freshman omega Os is so different from all the other students.

Os came to college to get away from the stigma of being an omega. Nobody knows how unsure of himself he used to be. Nowadays, he’s owning being an omega. Just barely, if his insecurities don’t eat him up.

Alan and Os’s professor-student love brings a pregnancy that has to be kept out of sight. Alan and Os manage college, busybodies, and all the travails of pregnancy, on their journey together to fatherhood and forever love.

College Omega’s Secret Baby is a non-shifter male pregnancy romance with a sweet college student, an arrogant professor, endless cuddling, a secret pregnancy, pink-nosed bunny slippers, an adorable baby girl, and a feel-good HEA.

Enemies With Benefits by Joanna Chambers and Annika Martin– Free

They’re dangerous men. Absolute enemies. And totally hot for each other.

Two years ago, the men in Will’s unit were killed in an ambush because they were betrayed. Now Will has a chance to go after the corrupt billionaire who sold them out.
One problem: the billionaire’s bodyguard. Nobody knows what he looks like; they only know him by the trail of bodies he leaves behind.

Will their passion destroy them both?

Kit’s a hardened assassin who’ll do what it takes to protect his boss. But when Will moves on the billionaire at an elite party, things with Will and Kit take an unexpected—steamy—twist.
Now Kit has to convince Will to walk away–from his quest for justice, and from the red-hot passion that’s spinning out of control.

Super Big News!!! 🐙

Blackthorne is being featured on Instafreebie Sept. 25th!

Hey peeps,

I received a surprising email this Monday right when I was in the middle of setting up the edit for Demon Bonded #7. Blackthorne, front page of the Instafreebie blog, Monday Sept 25th. Free for all (Monday, Monday, Monday!) and I damn near fell out of my chair. Wow. Super wow. I knew what I had to do immediately, which was drop everything, make a new cover, and edit the fuck out of Blackthorne.

Check out the new cover. Bet you get a better idea what the story is about, and hey, Mason! <3

I started with a superficial edit, which is me going through with the search and replace function and finding all the stylized ‘boys,’ ‘blonds,’ ‘brunettes,’ ‘thats,’ etc, etc and cleaning up the language. Then I actually slowed down, cracked Blackthorne open and started a line edit from the beginning. I realized around Wednesday I was rewriting the story.

Babes, the mold fucked my head. Hardcore. You know how sometimes you want to say something but the words that come out of your mouth are a garble? You know what you want to say, it’s clear in your head, but for whatever reason, your ability to express is lacking. But, let’s say that happens and you don’t realize you’re not expressing yourself properly because you have mold poisoning? Yeah, hi, that would be me. I keep thinking about Monet who painted while he had cataracts, and once they were removed, he flipped out because his paintings didn’t look remotely like he intended. All the strokes were there but the colors, light and shadow came from a skewed perspective.

Apparently the place I was when I wrote Demon Bonded was far better than the place I was when I wrote Blackthorne and I didn’t know until I really looked at it. The story structure, conflict, ideas, and intentions are all there, I just didn’t realize how lacking my ability to express them were at the time. For real, I’m kinda glad I wasn’t aware how degraded my mental functioning was when living it, because I might not have bothered, I might not have tried to write and express and get my stories out there because I’d be too busy thinking I was ‘broken.’ So yeah, it’s been a huge wakeup call this week, but at the same time, a strong message of what you can do when you are far from perfect. There’s no point waiting for everything to align, for you to know all you can stuff in your head and think then things are going to just click. You gotta start now, imperfect, untried and struggle. You might not be here tomorrow, you might never start at all if you keep waiting for ‘the right time.’

Once I realized the amount of work required to get Blackthore where I wanted it couldn’t be completed in time of the giveaway, and with some wonderful advice from the amazing nerd who fixed my laptop—love you, babe <3, I decided on a unique solution. I’d include the extensively edited chapters I started on the first quarter of Blackthorne and keep the lightly edited text up until the end, and add a link so readers can download through Instafreebie the fully edited version once I complete it. (Aiming for the end of Oct, but it depends on how quick I can write HellCat.) That way I get my current work completed, Blackthorne isn’t rushed, people still get a completed novel with the promise of a higher quality just a little later, and I don’t break myself. I’m so sick of breaking.

Expect a special reminder Newsletter on Monday to get the new Blackthorne. Instafreebie really encourages authors to self-promote; it’s a symbiotic relationship, and let’s face it, I’m super fucking excited about this! I still feel amazing, btw; the L-Glutamine seems to be holding steady and I’m just getting stronger and sharper as I go. My allergy symptoms are turning into what normal people experience; stuffy nose and ouchy sinuses instead of collapsing and falling asleep. And I’m relaxed; I feel so content with my life lately. Cool beans.

Cat Trouble

It has been a tough week on my cats. One has gone super skinny and after a trip to the vet we discovered Lucy (Lucifur) has broken a tooth and is reaching an age where she needs more food, exercise and calories. I guess older cats require kitten attention to maintain weight. I’m not too concerned cuz her behavior is still the same, but we had a moment of fear about parasites or hyperthyroidism (common as cats age.)

My cat Warlock, the wonderful lug has been, uh, kinda disgusting, poor thing. It’s all coming out both ends XD and it’s a toss up between cuddling him until he’s better and wiping him down. I don’t know what the hell he got into but he is fighting some sort of bug. He seemed more energetic today, so I think things are looking up.

Oh, and my chromebook has been fixed! I guess plugging it into the damaged front yard outlet where it sparked like a mofo killed both the plug and the port. But since the port isn’t connected permanently to the motherboard, it was replaceable. It’s such a relief. I can write on the PC but it’s just not the same ease. I like to curl up and relax while the words flow. I already feel more like myself.

Grab Those Goodies!

Don’t miss the $0.99 books and freebie below. They look super cute this week.

Also, I never think to add this, but if you’re an mm author, be it brand new or established, and you have a book you’re promoting, please feel free to contact me. This newsletter is all about getting gay, affordable books into the hands of readers. This is a niche market, and sometimes the only thing that keeps writers afloat is when other authors pitch in and help new books be seen. <3

Would it Be Okay to Love You?

A robot fanboy. An erotic voice actor. When love comes calling, will they shed their armor?

Sato’s only long-term relationship is the one he shares with his Gundam collectibles. He dreams about the kind of unconditional love his parents enjoy. If only he could break out of his shell, he might find his special someone…

Outgoing playboy Aoi has sworn off relationships. He knows they only distract him from his budding voice acting career. He’s earned a few loyal fans, and if he keeps at it, he may even earn enough to never worry about being evicted again…

When Sato meets Aoi at the local anime store, there’s definitely a spark. But even as they tread carefully, their commitment issues and Aoi’s troubled past soon muck things up before they can start. In order for Sato and Aoi to have their happily-ever-after, they’ll both have to take a leap of faith… and hope to be caught.

Jagged Edge: Jason and Raine – M/M romance

I don’t want Jason Vega.
Not at all.
It’s the worst idea ever.
Ah hell…

Jason is handsome. Smart. Dangerous. Hot.
He’s goddamn gorgeous—but he’s also sleeping on the street, hanging out with the local biker gang and selling his body for a living.
Our lives, our paths couldn’t be further apart. I’m crawling toward the light, while he’s falling into the dark.
But it doesn’t matter how different we are, or what logic dictates.
I really shouldn’t want Jason Vega—but I just can’t stop.
He’s under my skin, and sinking deeper…

Trigger Warning: violence and sexual abuse
This is a M/M (gay) romance and it tells the story of Jason and Raine whom you may have met in JESSE (Damage Control 2) and OCEAN (Damage Control 5). It is super hot, and angsty, and violent, but with a guaranteed Happy Ever After.

2015 Top Ten Gay Romance

2015 Top Ten Gay Romance brings together the most popular short stories (based on sales) published by JMS Books that year.

From first love to true love, from submission to sensual, from heat to sweet and everything in between, the couples in these stories are sure to keep you turning the pages as you fall in love with them.

With stories by J.M. Snyder, J.L. Merrow, Edward Kendrick, Hunter Frost, Drew Hunt, Lisa Gray, A.R. Moler, Rebecca James, Jeff Adams, and J.D. Walker, this head-over-heels collection goes beyond bedtime reading. Whether happily ever after or happy for now, there’s an ending for everyone in here!

Demon Arms 20

CHAPTER TWENTY

In the darkness, Wylie found his dragon. The creature was longer here, with pure sinew muscle and sharp, deadly edges coated in a black rainbow of scales. Its eyes glowed an icy blue with teeth long and sharp as it glared back at him from beneath heavy horns.

It was Wylie’s first glimpse of the beast inside. He could taste blood. Somewhere metal liquid dripped from his lips. He wondered blearily if he was dying.

Do you accept me?

He stared into the glowing eyes. It took long moments for him to understand the creature’s words. “Accept?”

The dragon uncoiled and rose up. It was sleek, shimmery and far larger than Wylie had ever conceived. Its talons were out, scales puffed and dangerous, with limbs tight with restrained force. It towered above. He could see its wings now; they were thin black membrane stretched over hollow bones that the beast flexed.

I asked you once before, human. When I awoke from the darkness, I asked for you to join me. You refused.

Wylie could vaguely remember ten years ago. He fainted moments before attacking the revolting man who hurt his sister. There was something in the darkness behind his eyes. Something with glowing white glare and frightening teeth.

Had he not accepted? Was that his problem all along? Was it why other shifters were taken over by their beasts while he couldn’t fully transform? He didn’t remember refusing the dragon, but still, he remembered his fear.

The dragon was still terrifying even now so many years later, but Wylie was no longer afraid. He had met other shifters who lived with their beasts. Theodore, who housed just as dangerous a dragon inside, helped people every day. He met Dorian, who fought a magic inside him so powerful, it would make him a killer if he ever let it loose.

If he was going to die, Wylie wanted to be whole for the first time.

He reached his hand out to brush razor sharp scales. They smoothed at his touch. “I accept you.”

Wylie awoke to a terrible pain, not in his chest but his head. Black bone pierced through his skin, twisted up and wrapped back. He could feel the dragon claw through him and reform his body from the inside out. His back gave a terrible crack. Wings slick with blood tore free while he screamed. His tail swiftly followed. The new limb thrashed on the ground as Wylie twitched in pain. The darkness loomed and threatened to drag him back down.

“Fuck.” His back twitched again. Fluffy, pure white hair itched as it grew down his spine from his head all the way to the tip of his tail. He stared blankly at his hand; his talons looked more deadly than before and covered in his own blood. Surely now his demon arms were complete and the rest of him was just as terrifying to match.

Warmth slowly teased through him. The pain abated with each stronger breath he took. He raised heavily to his hands and knees, with head bowed to watch the holes in his chest change. Two small, bloodied slugs pushed free from his flesh and scales and glinted as they clattered to the ground.

What the fuck? Wylie tried to remember what Theodore told him about dragons. He must be a self-healer. He wasn’t just capable of healing others with his saliva but could regenerate his own flesh.

He groaned as he pushed himself to his feet. Wylie stumbled sideways for a moment until he found his balance. His tail kept sweeping behind him, determined to distract him with the fact he had a fucking tail. God, that couldn’t be good.

He took a few steadying breaths only to break into coughs as thick smoke filled his lungs. “Holy fuck,” he whispered as he took in his surroundings. The wharf was on fire.

“Dorian!” Every other thought pushed to the back of his mind. Wylie searched frantically for Dorian, terrified of what he might find. The smoke was so thick and everywhere was an orange glow. It would be so easy to get confused and lost. Dorian, for all his power, was still just a human.

Wylie stepped through a wall of fire and barely felt the heat. Through the smoke, he could see a figure. It was the right height and shape, but he was standing there, not looking to run, not looking to escape.

“Dorian?” Wylie whispered. His presence pulled Dorian around the moment he recognized Wylie’s energy.

Dorian looked up and tears welled in his dark eyes. “You… You’re alive?”

“I’m fine!” Wylie shouted to be heard over the roar of the flames. “Dorian, you need to stop. The place is going to burn down.”

“I…” Dorian looked around with strangely blank eyes. “I can’t. I can’t control it. I let out too much and it’s only growing.” He turned back to Wylie and slammed both hands on his chest. “Run. Fucking run before I kill you too!”

Tears flowed freely down Dorian’s face and something inside Wylie wrenched. His dragon responded to his mate’s need. He held the hands trying to push him away, and pulled Dorian hard against his chest. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“You idiot! It’s not safe. Fuck.” Wylie cut him off, surged forward and dragged him into a deep kiss. Dorian tried to struggle, tried to explain he wouldn’t be harmed by his own magic. Wylie’s mouth was hotter than the flames around them and far more destructive to his senses.

“I’ve got you.” Wylie curled talon-free fingers into Dorian’s hair and pulled him closer. “I’m going to help.” His dragon wanted to eat his energy and it wasn’t going to hurt Dorian to do it. No, the damn beast had known all along how to help his mate. Wylie was just too disconnected from the dragon to listen.

He wrapped an arm around Dorian’s waist and walked them to the nearest firm surface. It was a wall of metal crates Dorian was quick to spell cool to the touch. He sealed their lips together again and crushed Dorian back against the wall. He drank as much of his energy as he could. Dorian held him tightly around the neck and kissed back just as hard.

His dragon roared inside. Dorian’s energy burned like an electrical current; wild, destructive and full of power. It was all Wylie could do to hold back. Each new spark grew his dragon until he was full of the beast’s demand.

Mate. His dragon wanted to claim his mate. As much as Wylie tried to hold back, the beast was just too strong.

“Aw, hell.” Wylie ran rough hands down Dorian’s sides. His hissing compelled while he nipped down his neck. The dragon was thundering in his ear and Dorian tasted so good, so perfect. His. Dorian was his and he had every fucking right to have him.

Dorian groaned. He tilted his head back and observed Wylie through half closed lashes. He took in his new horns, wings, and rippling muscles. Ice blue eyes pierced his and Dorian’s breath caught. Wylie looked like he was about to eat him alive.

“You need to run.” Dorian gasped when Wylie found the waistband of his burnt jeans and tore claws through them. Wylie pulled the material off with a sharp tug, and the flat of his palm cupped Dorian’s erection immediately after. “Oh… hell.” His knees went weak and Dorian clutched his broad, scaled shoulders. He cried out when Wylie began to stroke him.

With a hungry growl, Wylie released him. He spun Dorian around and pushed him chest first against the wall. “Spread, beautiful.”

“Fuck! Here?” Wylie had to be out of his mind!

“Yeah, baby, right fucking here.” Wylie fumbled with his jeans. He wrapped around Dorian’s bare back, probed claw free fingers down and pushed demandingly into his entrance.

“Wylie… God… It’s not safe…” Dorian couldn’t find the right words, not with Wylie’s fingers thick and long and stretching into him without restraint. It was all he could do not to fall, and Wylie was the reason he hadn’t yet, his strong arm wrapped around his waist.

“A dragon never abandons his mate.” Wylie groaned and thrust his dick against the smooth flesh of Dorian’s ass. “You’re mine. Beautiful, powerful, smart with a wicked sense of humor… Going to make you mine.”

“Wylie,” Dorian whimpered. A third finger pressed into his hole and his passage clenched before he opened to the long digits. His legs were trembling and all he seemed capable of was pressing his face against the metal wall and gasping. “Don’t… don’t want you to die.”

Wylie slid his fangs slowly over Dorian’s neck. “Baby, you’re not sparking anymore.”

“I’m not?” Dorian attempted to catch his breath, and focused on his magic for the first time. He was distracted by the thick fingers pumping into his entrance in a tormenting rhythm. He wailed as Wylie’s fingers withdrew suddenly, and his hot, blunt cock head pushed against his hole. “Fuck, oh fuck.”

“Relax,” Wylie hissed. The sound made Dorian shudder. “Need to claim you… Can’t stop. Need to be inside you.”

Dorian moaned lowly. He reached behind him and held onto Wylie’s hip when he pushed forward. He closed his eyes and exhaled shakily as Wylie began to breach him, his aching flesh opening to his large length. Wylie’s dick felt slick, sleek and so wet, and was already coated in precum. Dorian remembered just how big he was when he had covered him in cum. Right now, he was sure Wylie was even bigger; the dragon had more height, more muscle, more everything.

Wylie held his mate’s hips in a steel grip, and hissed from the heat of his entrance. “Tight… Fuck, you’re tight,” he groaned. He did everything he could to not surge forward. Dorian was gasping wildly. His perfect body was sweaty and shook as small, choked sobs escaped him. “Hold on, beautiful. Going to go slow.”

“Can’t… Fuck, it’s so much,” Dorian gasped out. “Please… please, Wylie… Need it…but it’s so big,” he babbled uncontrollably. Dorian reached his arms up and back and clawed at Wylie’s hair as he arched. So big inside. It was so big and it was making him crazy. He gasped when another thick inch sank into him. Dorian’s nails bit into Wylie’s neck and held.

“Fuck.” Heat flooded his entire body from the feel of Dorian scratching him. Wylie surged forward and buried himself with one hard thrust.

Dorian sobbed loudly from being filled so completely. His passage was stretched unbearably wide with Wylie deep inside. He came seconds later, with his muscles so tight and face flushed as he struggled with the overwhelming sensations.

“Oh god… Oh, fuck, Wylie,” Dorian mumbled weakly. Cum dripped down the wall in front of him. The fire inside wasn’t subsiding, not with Wylie so thick in his already sore passage. He groaned as Wylie slowly pulled back, and clenched around the hot cock rubbing his inner walls. Wylie wasn’t close to done with him, and he thrust deep once more. Dorian cried out as he was filled again.

“God, you sound good like this,” Wylie whispered hoarsely. He held Dorian with an arm around his chest. His other hand gripped his hip. “You’re so fucking tight, baby. So tight and mine.” He pressed his lips to Dorian’s cheek, and tried to keep his thrusts slow. But his dragon was crazed by all the energy it siphoned from the sorcerer and it would only find release in filling his beautiful mate.

His dragon knew even though Wylie had done his damnedest to ignore it. Dorian needed release. A release of all the magic inside him, a release of all his many worries and guilt, a release of the need he showed every time he looked his way. Wylie was more than happy to give Dorian all the release he needed.

“Oh fuck! Fuck!” Dorian wailed as his prostate was rubbed. He clutched Wylie’s arm harder. It was so much. His nerves felt frayed and each sensation was amplified with every slick, hard thrust. He couldn’t understand how he was hard again but it felt like a fire had taken his body, and was growing hotter every second. Wylie kept hissing in his ear. He sounded more dragon than man as he tormented him with his unceasing thrusts.

“W-Wylie… I don’t think I can… God, it’s so much,” Dorian moaned out. He arched as his prostate was hit again.

“You can take it,” Wylie hissed, and tightened his arms around him. “You’re the mate of a dragon. You can fucking take it.”

He moaned weakly to realize Wylie was actually claiming him as his mate, not just fucking the sanity out of him. Dorian curled his fingers and dug his short nails into the dragon’s scales. “Do it, Wy… Fucking claim me. Show me I’m yours… God, please… Fill me.”

“Mine,” Wylie snarled. His thrusts grew more erratic as he got close. “Never going to let you go. You’re mine.” His hand moved over the slick of Dorian’s sweat and Wylie found his mate’s hard cock and stroked it heatedly.

“Oh… Oh, wait,” Dorian gasped. Wylie’s dick swelled inside him. Fuck, he was getting bigger. Dorian sobbed from the sensation. He held himself impossibly still when Wylie slammed into him a final time and buried as deep as he could get. The base of Wylie’s cock still grew, and stretched Dorian’s hole even wider as he felt the scales flex and lock Wylie deep inside him.

Dorian had a moment with Wylie breathing heavily on his neck to understand what was about to happen. Mate. The dragon was actually trying to breed him.

“Oh hell.” Dorian gasped loudly at the first splash of cum. He wasn’t surprised when more hot, wet fluid followed. Wylie held his hips and humped forward shallowly as he filled him with spurt after spurt of his seed.

A cry caught in his throat and Dorian came again. His hips bucked with his release as he clenched around the spasming flesh filling him with cum.

Wylie kept pumping into his tight channel. He supported Dorian when he swayed. “That’s it, Ri. God, you’re mine. My mate.”

Dorian couldn’t stop moaning. His passage was stretched so wide. His hole ached and limbs shook and dripped sweat. “God… Just, god.” He closed his eyes and his head hung down heavily while Wylie continued to pump shallowly into him. He was making sure to fill him with everything he had.

“My mate,” Wylie murmured in his ear then nuzzled against his neck. “My beautiful mate.”

The darkness spun around him. Dorian’s heart hurt too much to comprehend. “Yeah, babe. Yours,” he rasped out.

Wylie groaned at the confirmation and pushed them forward. Dorian ended up flat against the wall with Wylie around his back as he unloaded the last of his seed inside him. He could feel it dripping out as Wylie’s dick began to return to normal proportions. His thighs itched as the thick fluid trickled down and he couldn’t suppress his aching whimpers.

His. Wylie was his.

“Err… sorry to interrupt and all, but we seriously need to get out of here.”

Dorian started at the sound of Beck’s voice. Beck stepped up hesitantly with his shredded and burnt jeans.

Wylie growled half-heartedly. His mouth was on Dorian’s shoulder, and body was still pressed up tight against his. He didn’t want to move. He didn’t want to do anything that involved not being flesh to flesh with his mate at the moment.

“Come on, Wylie,” Beck snapped when he saw he wasn’t going to move. “You know Roth will be back with bigger guns if the fucking cops don’t get here first. We need to leave now.”

Wylie glared. He slowly pulled himself from Dorian’s hot flesh. His eyes were drawn down to where his mate was still wet and dripping with his seed. He couldn’t stop from sliding his hands up Dorian’s inner thigh where his fingers sought out and probed into his slick entrance.

“Wylie,” Dorian groaned. “No more.”

Wylie turned Dorian to face him and was unable to stop staring once he was in full sight. Dorian was flushed. His golden skin nearly glowed and his lips were swollen and parted with each heavy breath he took.

“Get lost, B,” Wylie said distractedly. He stroked down the back of Dorian’s thigh and went to pull the toned limb up around his waist. His mate was beautiful and deserved another proper fuck.

“For fuck sake!” It was Adam, who ran up to them angrily. “Move your fucking ass. We have five dead bodies and I don’t want to be added to them.”

That got Wylie’s attention. Dorian’s eyes widened when he looked behind him. Wylie turned, and took in his surroundings for the first time since his dragon tasted Dorian’s wild energy.

The fire was out. Blue-gray smoke and black char was all that remained. There was a glitter of bullet casings on the ground and as Wylie searched, he found the bodies Adam mentioned. Five armed men were grouped around the magical barrier that had locked Dante and Beck in the crate. Dante was sitting on the ground a few feet away from them. He looked tired but not injured.

“What happened?” Wylie turned to Beck questioningly. “How did you get out of the barrier?”

“Put your damn pants back on and I’ll be happy to tell you,” Beck said with a small scowl. Wylie had never lost it like that over him, had never wanted him so much he’d fuck him out in the open, and he couldn’t help but feel a little jealous. “The fire went out when you two were, well, you know. Most of the gang was gone by then. I tried to keep him with me, but the kid just stepped forward and walked through the barrier.”

“There wasn’t a lot of air in there.” Wylie gruffly zipped his fly. His jeans were ruined but Dorian just waved his hand at him and the material repaired and was clean again. Wylie looked over at him, and regretted it immediately when he caught sight of Dorian’s swollen lips and shirtless form.

“Yeah, well, Diego saw the kid, realized he was what was in the crate, and he told who was left to grab him,” Beck continued, his voice pitched lower. “Cept, it didn’t quite go that way.”

How it went Wylie didn’t get a chance to hear. Dorian caught sight of Adam and glared at him warningly.

Adam took a stumbling step back, with his hands held up. “I’m sorry. I never wanted anyone to get hurt.”

Beck snorted and pulled a crushed cigarette from his back pocket. “Like fuck. You were the one who told Roth about the crate.”

“Yeah, but it was, like, right there! It was just sitting there, giving off huge amounts of magic,” Adam said defensively.

“You were also the asshole that called me down into this,” Wylie pointed out.

“Only because you’re a dragon! You were the only one I knew who’d be able to get through the barrier!”

“Yeah, but did you also know they were going to fucking kill me!” Beck shouted. His anger was free to rage now there wasn’t a gun pointed at his head. “They were going to kill Wylie too. Why? Did you tell them to kill us!”

“Shit, chill. Of course not!” Adam yelped and stepped away from Beck’s angry form. “I found out about Wylie being a dragon when I went online to see if they arrested him. I was just trying to figure out if he gave my name to the cops. I swear, I didn’t know they were going to kill you after,” he promised Wylie. “You saved all our asses. If that guy had died back at the house, we would’ve been picked up for murder.”

Wylie looked at Adam calculatingly. He had no idea if he was being truthful or not. “What about the crate? How did you find out about it?”

“Like I said, I sensed the crate, that’s all. Last Thursday, Roth had us all come down for a shipment and I sensed the magical barrier. It was so strong, I couldn’t not. I didn’t know what was in it. I told Roth about it and he went digging. He called me all excited and wanted me to open the thing.” Adam sighed heavily. “But I wasn’t strong enough. I read about dragons and thought maybe Wylie could get in. Seriously, I didn’t think it would go wrong. Roth said that we were all going to make a fortune on what was inside. I still don’t know what was in the stupid thing.”

“A kid,” Beck growled. “A fucking kid. Some freaks stole him from his home and were trying to sell him to some fucked-up sorcerer who would probably drain him for his power. So, for real, Adam, are you like that too? Do I have to worry about you trying to hunt kids down to drain them of magic? Are you going to go after Wylie?”

“Geez, no. I’m not fucked-up.” He huffed at the suspicious glare Beck was shooting and glared right back. “I was just hanging with the gang cuz I’m tired of being walked on. I can only do a little magic. I’m not some damn monster! I came back to help!”

Wylie didn’t really give a fuck at the moment. He walked around the arguing two and went to Dante. They needed to get the hell out. Dante looked so small and weak where he was hunched on the ground.

“I don’t feel good,” Dante whispered once Wylie reached him.

“Don’t worry about it. I know a guy who’s going to patch you up and get you back to feeling good.” He held out his hand and the small boy clung to it readily. Wylie scooped Dante up and straightened. He tried to dismiss just how frail and light he was. Dr. Rob would know what to do. He really hoped.

“You’re really strong.” With a sigh, Dante rested his head on Wylie’s scaled shoulder. “I wish you had been there when they took me away.”

His heart wrenched. Wylie combed fingers through Dante’s hair. “I’m here now. You’re not going to be alone. I won’t let anything bad happen to you.”

He carried him back to the group. Wylie caught Dorian staring at him with a funny look in his eye. “What?”

When he found Wylie staring right back, Dorian glanced away with a blush. “Fucking cute,” he muttered under his breath. Wylie raised his brow when he heard.

“I want to take Dante to the Academy. McPherson will know how to find his parents.”

“Good thing I’m here then, huh?” Dorian said flippantly. “I only came so you could portal back to the Academy. I didn’t want you walking; you know how dangerous that can be.” He kicked a bullet casing aside and winced when it hit the leg of a corpse only a dozen feet away. “Can we get the fuck out of here already?”

It was Diego. Wylie stared silent at the gangster’s slack features. He wasn’t even scorched. He’d hated Diego from the moment he met him but Wylie took no pleasure in seeing him dead. Instead, all he saw was a path he could’ve easily taken if he hadn’t turned back to try and save McPherson’s life.

Beck saw where Wylie was staring and stepped into his line of sight. “He took them out in under five seconds.”

“What?” Wylie looked at him in confusion.

“The small fry.” Beck tilted his head at the sleepy Dante in his arms. “Diego told him they were going to take him away and they raised their guns at him. The kid’s eyes turned black the same way your boy’s did. All five guys dropped dead. Just like that.”

A shiver ran down his spine. Wylie peered into Dante’s perfectly blank cherub face. He was breathing shallowly even though they were out of the thin air of the crate. Wylie had demon arms but he never hurt anyone he didn’t intend to. He was pretty sure Dante was the same way. All the more reason to bring him to the Academy where he’d be safe from the things that made kill.

Wylie patted Dante’s head and followed Dorian, who had a waiting portal in the auto shop. The walking was precarious. The entire wharf was seared from the fire even though Dorian had only sparked among the metal crates. Wylie stepped carefully around smoking debris and questionable spots in the wood. Dante slept on his shoulder; his breathing was too quiet to be reassuring.

The auto shop was empty. All the occupants had fled when the fire started. Beck and Adam hovered in the doorway while Dorian summoned the mirror to him. The piece of glass floated in midair.

“You wanna come, B?” Wylie asked. “Just to get the heat off of you for a while with Roth and the gang.”

Beck shook his head and grinned. “Seriously? Except for them threatening to kill me, I had things pretty good with Roth.”

“Beck! Are you fucking crazy?” Wylie gaped at him in shock. “You can’t seriously be considering going back to those asses? They were going to kill the fucking both of us!”

“Relax.” Beck rolled his eyes. “I’m just going back home, idiot. You really think Roth is going to give a fuck about me when he has five dead guys and way more wounded? He knows what’ll happen if he fucks with you now.” He shot a smirk Dorian’s way. “It’s sweet to have badass friends.”

Wylie shook his head and sighed in exasperation. “Be careful, B. Email me if you find yourself in trouble.”

“Yeah, yeah…” His expression turned soft and a sad smile twisted Beck’s lips. “At least we can say goodbye properly this time.”

Wylie nodded as he thought back to their last goodbye. Diego had been alive and everything so uncertain. Wylie went to hug Beck but paused when he realized Dante was definitely in the way. He glanced over to a very tightlipped Dorian, who held his arms out so Wylie could pass the sleeping kid over. Given Dorian’s expression, he had a feeling if his hands went anywhere below the belt on Beck he was going to be hexed into next Tuesday.

This time when Beck went to hug him, he stopped and stared worriedly at Wylie’s scales. It was his first time seeing them when Wylie could control the dangerous blades and he was rightfully wary. Wylie pulled his scales back and slowly shifted to his smooth, human form. Beck beamed up at him but Wylie only felt more awkward.

He wasn’t good at goodbyes. Not since the Andersons and trying to say goodbye to Sarah. She cried so much and he did everything to look big and brave even at eight so she wouldn’t worry. Wylie had moved through plenty of foster homes since then but hadn’t bothered to get to know anyone well enough to want to say goodbye. Beck was different and he didn’t know what to do.

“Thanks for saving my life, Wy.” Beck threw his arms around his shoulders. “You came back for me even though it turned out to be a trap. I know you’re happy where you are, I can tell, but that still means a lot to me.”

Wylie hugged him tentatively and pat Beck’s back. “You sure you’re going to be okay?”

Beck snickered and pulled away. He quickly wiped a tear from the corner of his eye. “I may not be as street smart as you but I know enough not to get myself into this kind of gang shit again.” He glanced over at Adam, who looked small and bedraggled in the cold autumn air. “Hell, I might play bodyguard for the nerd. Who knows?”

“You can always email me, you know,” Wylie reminded when Beck’s eyes turned watery.

“Yeah.”

Beck wouldn’t though; Wylie could tell. Maybe it hurt too much. Wylie turned and scooped Dante from Dorian’s arms. He didn’t have time to interpret the return of the funny look Dorian was shooting him.

“Uh, before you go.” Adam waved his hand briefly. “I really am sorry about the email and about dragging you into this, Wylie. And I wanted to thank you for saving that old guy. And, well, the kid. You’re an upstanding guy, and I’m sorry I was so scared of you before.”

“It’s cool, Adam.” Wylie meant it. He didn’t have any anger left for the tech wiz or Beck or even Diego. He had a home to go back to at the Academy and he was just starting to understand the truth of it.

Dorian grabbed his arm and tugged Wylie towards the now glowing mirror. “The kid is wiped. We need to get him to Dr. Rob.”

“You guys better run before the cops show.” Wylie gave a last look to Beck, who was having a terrible time fighting back tears. Fuck. He couldn’t seem to do anything right by anyone.

At Dorian’s insistent pull, he turned back and met his hazel eyes. “You ready?”

“Yeah. Let’s go.” He wasn’t going to miss it. Going back to his old life only pointed out to Wylie just how little he was truly alive back then. When the portal showed the arrival chamber at the Academy, Wylie stepped through with Dante in his arms. He didn’t look back.

Demon Arms 1

CHAPTER ONE

It was Wylie’s first burglary and he already wondered how bad it would go down. It was off to a shit start and his expectations weren’t rising as time ticked by.

They’d been sitting outside the huge gates for a good ten minutes now. The engine of the black van rumbled while the group waited for the little tech-wiz to hack them in. It was a small crew and they were all new to the game except their asshole leader for the night, Diego. He was the driver, his job to point out shit to steal and all around bark orders like an angry motherfucker. Adam was the kid genius who kept humming nervously as he typed on his mini keyboard up front. Wylie was the freak in the back of the van. Muscle would be the preferred term, but Diego had insisted on calling him a freak since meeting an hour ago. Wylie chose to embrace it for the night instead of getting pissed off. The lookout with his hand in Wylie’s pocket and lips wet on his neck was his recent boyfriend, Beck.

Wylie was ready to smash Diego’s face in. The gangster was as mean as a junkyard dog and just as foul. He was surprised the vicious bastard didn’t turn into a wolf or even a badass mangy dog. But Diego smelled all human, just like the rest of the crew, which left Wylie as the only guy who could transform into something else.

What that something might be, he had no freaking idea. It wasn’t a full transformation, just his arms. Wylie’s black scales didn’t look like any shifter animal he knew of. Even so, the shift allowed the blond eighteen-year-old to break through locked doors, metal gates and even safes with a strength no human possessed. Not knowing what he was didn’t make it any less impressive, and Wylie’s demon arms were enough to get him into the initiation with Roth’s gang that night.

He hadn’t actually set out to join a gang when he started hanging with Beck a few months back. Beck was a tight piece of ass who liked to get into trouble to piss his religious nut-job parents off. He was the first person to not freak when Wylie’s arms transformed into scaled, demonically powerful weapons. Actually, it kind of got Beck off. Wylie never thought he’d find someone that fucked. But then again, he had demon arms and liked dick, so he supposed they were even on the freak level.

Diego’s irritated growl from the front of the van made Wylie again think of a mutt. Their timetable was going out the fucking window. Adam’s hands kept shaking and they had no damn clue if the kid was getting the job done. Wylie knew nothing about computers. Still, better to fuck it up while no crime was committed, than fuck it up shit deep in the mansion they were planning on emptying.

Wylie had only met Adam once before. The kid reeked of so much fear, he couldn’t understand what the hell he was doing running with Roth. But maybe Adam was one of those types who didn’t want to be afraid anymore. Wylie sure as fuck didn’t know. He stopped being afraid years ago when he realized no matter how many foster families told him he was no good, he could still survive on his own. Even if he didn’t get into the gang, Wylie knew he’d be fucking fine.

Beck’s hand drifted lower and Wylie grabbed his wrist. He gave him a look his boyfriend couldn’t see in the dark. “Quit being a pervy kink. Focus.”

“Don’t be that way.” Beck pressed his lips to Wylie’s jaw and smirked against his skin. “You’re going to fuck me tonight. We’re going to ace this shit, and you’re going to come over to my place and fuck me with those studly arms of yours out while my parents sleep.”

Beck was fucked and Wylie really had no complaints about it. Well, except the screwing with his scales out. He was always worried he might accidentally hurt him. When you could tear through metal, human flesh was fucking butter in comparison.

Wylie didn’t get a chance to answer. The gate gave a sudden shudder and the wrought iron blocking the driveway opened smoothly on motorized tracks. Hallelujah. Diego muttered a long line of relief-filled curses—apparently he was shit with computers, too—and pulled the van up the long drive. They parked close to the side door, their entry point into the downstairs lounge and bar.

Diego glared at the group as he killed the engine. “Remember, the house will be empty. It’s almost winter and the owner flies south to some fucking island. Beck, you’re lookout, at the door, ear on the scanner for signs of cops. No matter what we’re carrying, you don’t leave that post until it’s time to go. Adam, get your ass out. I want you tagging stuff that needs to be moved.”

All the outside lights were on along with a few internal ones, but that was to be expected with the place empty for months at a time. Looking full of people was as much a deterrent as actually being full of people. They didn’t bother wearing masks. Adam had taken the cameras down along with all the other security, and there was no fear of being spotted.

Wylie left Beck with the van. He gripped his boyfriend’s shoulder in farewell, which earned him a smile. Beck wasn’t fearless but he got off on adrenaline and that was good enough.

Adam practically threw himself backward when Wylie approached. He stared up at his heavily scaled arms like he was some hellspawn demon there to kill him and his entire family. It was a look Wylie had grown used to since the age of eight and was sometimes more comforting than Beck’s unique response.

Diego growled at him and pointed to the door just in case Wylie was too retarded to figure out the reason he was there.

“Alarm dead?”

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

Wylie licked his teeth; his fangs itched to bite the aggressive fucker on the face. He reached across and drew a long, black talon down between the seam of the door and molding. He found the metal bolts, three in all, and with precise slams of his palm, knocked each one through the reinforced door and into the room behind. Satisfied, he wrenched the handle, opened the door with a flourish and waved the scowling Diego in. Adam took longer to enter; he was very busy trembling like a hyperventilating rabbit. Diego snapped at him and he finally scurried past.

Adam’s fear scent was getting to Wylie and made the hair stand up on the back of his neck. Sure, the kid could get past security but he was useless in the house. He was too waif-limbed to carry shit and skittish to trust as a lookout. Beck was a sweet talker and if some nosy neighbor came sneaking her head over the fence, Beck could come up with a lie and a smile on his pretty face in a second flat. Not so much Adam, who managed to trip twice just walking through the empty room.

“Start grabbing anything that looks worthwhile,” Diego ordered the shaking Adam. He pointed to the wall of electronics in the downstairs room to the right. Wylie followed with his eyes, brows furrowed. He really didn’t know shit about computers and tech and stuff, but there was a lot of shiny metal and plastic shit there. If he went by Adam’s expression, it wasn’t the run of the mill stuff you usually found in some rich bitch’s house.

“This is military grade,” Adam whispered. His eyes widened as he reached for something that looked to be solid steel and more than twice his weight.

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

His eyes strayed to where Adam was flicking something on that looked disturbingly like a laser. Wylie followed the muttering gangster through the long hallways. They must’ve gotten the plans to the place in advance or Diego had been there before. He seemed to know exactly where to go and didn’t bother to turn on lights even in the darker hallways. Wylie admitted to a mild appreciation of his skill, glad he wasn’t some bumbling idiot who didn’t know what he was doing. He could put up with the asshole if Diego managed to get them through the night alive and out of jail.

The stairs were a huge, wide expanse, easily able to fit a damn concert on the steps alone. Wylie kept his senses alert. He heard Diego’s breathing as the man muttered under his breath. There was a ticking as they passed a large echoing room housing a tall grandfather clock, along with…

Wylie turned his head as he caught a whiff of the flowers sitting in a vase on a table down the hall. Worry prickled in the back of his mind and without a word, he turned and walked toward the scent.

They were fresh, daffodils and small white daisies. Diego gave a low grunt when he realized Wylie was no longer behind him, and stomped over to his new location. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“Fresh flowers,” Wylie said tightly. He glared when the gangster looked ready to go off on him. “They’re not even wilted. Who puts flowers out in an empty house?”

His eyes narrowed. Diego stepped forward and smelled the flowers briefly to see if they were real. He shrugged. “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. Now hurry the fuck up.”

Not even remotely convinced, Wylie considered getting the fuck out. It was midnight and whoever was there—maid, butler, guest, or owner—would likely be in bed in one of the many rooms in the maze of a place. It was one thing to steal shit; it was another to terrorize people while stealing shit.

Diego turned and waved his hand in an exaggerated movement to tell him to get the fuck over there already. Wylie bit his tongue and followed. Fuck, for all he knew the fucking rich put flowers out every day even when no one was home. Rich people were fucking crazy where money lifted them as far from reality as drugs ever could for a strung out crack whore. Shit, whoever lived there had rooms for their stuff, not for their people. Who was he to say for certain what went on in the minds of the ultra-rich?

Diego led him surefooted down a long corridor. He touched doors and counted as they went. He stopped where dim light greeted through a narrow band of an open door. “The office. Jewels and bonds are in here, some cash.” He pulled something from the inside of his black leather coat, and unfolded a canvas duffle bag. “Safe’s on the far side wall past the windows and desk. Bunch of books opens up like a door. Empty the entire thing and then meet me in the bedroom, five doors that way, left side.” He pointed down the hall.

Wylie took the bag while wondering what the fuck was in the bedroom Diego wanted to go alone for. He kept his mouth shut. He was there for one purpose; to do what he was told so that he could get in with Roth. Wylie stepped into the study and paused on the threshold. He looked around carefully but the dim table lamp revealed no sign of life. Still, he was pretty sure he smelled the distinct scent of human flesh, only mildly stale. Older, male… Cigar smoker…

The butler, he told himself briskly as he walked the length of the room. Whoever left flowers probably checked the rooms on occasion during the day, and did dusting or some shit. He didn’t know; it wasn’t like he’d ever be in a situation where he’d need to keep a mansion looking nice. He found the false wall of books easy enough, and raised a brow at the ridiculousness of it all. The house alone screamed money. Clearly anyone who looked would know money was also inside.

The safe was large and bolted to the floor. A dial and handle revealed the need for a combination. He considered the metal contraption in silence. Wylie punched his hand forward, then his other, and slowly curled and bent the metal door down. He twisted it like a thin tin of spam. He really was just made for this shit.

He swept each shelf into the black duffle and paused as the stacks of money flipped past his view. Fucking rich people. If they put their money in a bank, people wouldn’t walk into their house to steal their shit. But hell, maybe the tens of thousands swiftly sailing into the bag was equivalent to spare change in the couch for normal people? Giant mansion, giant tech, giant amounts of dough; the rich were just too fucking large to comprehend.

The jewelry was harder to ignore, harder to resist the strange urge to grab, touch, hold the gems and stare at them for hours. He wasn’t a materialistic person, not really, but sometimes Wylie had issues, strange ones that came up when his scales were out.

The crazy wealth brimming in the mansion would have been a total orgy for Beck. Probably for the best they left him in the driveway. Thoughts of Beck got Wylie hustling faster; he didn’t want to linger and leave him exposed outside for too long.

The bag was bursting by the time the safe was empty, but he just pushed his scales further up his arms to reinforce his shoulders. Wylie’s demon arms were limited. Where the scales reached, his muscles and bones beneath changed to something beyond human, but only there. The shift also imbued his senses with the creature he couldn’t fully turn into. The scents in the room were vibrant with information when he breathed in again.

Yeah, there was a man in there recently. He could smell the sweat now and found a glass by the stand of alcohol that held the slightest sour hint of clinging saliva and bacteria. 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 bother counting the doors. Instead he followed Diego’s scent down the hallway. The door was closed and he pushed it open only to inhale sharply as scent and sight revealed a shit storm.

“Don’t fucking do it, man.” Wylie stepped into the room.

Diego glanced his way and waved him off with the hand not holding a gun. “I’ll meet you downstairs. Help the twerp with the—” He fell silent when Wylie threw the heavy duffle on the ground defiantly.

“Pick it up and get the fuck downstairs, freak!” Diego yelled. He now pointed the gun at Wylie instead of the bleeding man crumpled on the floor of the bedroom. There was a safe built into the wall, door currently wide open with cash spread out on the hardwood like a paper waterfall.

“Why? So you can kill this guy?” Anger filled Wylie’s voice. “We’re here to rob, not fucking kill. You think Roth is going to pat you on the back for murdering some poor slob in his fucking bed? He’s going to fucking kill you for fucking things up so royally.”

“You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.” Diego sounded tough but doubt crept into his beady eyes.

“We’ve got the money. I cleared out the fucking safe, and the little shit downstairs is rolling in enough tech to give him a woody. Just walk the fuck away, man.”

“I can’t!” Diego shifted from one foot to the other and pointed his gun with two hands back to the man on the floor. The stranger’s eyes were open, hazy from the head-wound. Blood that looked black in the dark room flowed down his forehead and cheek. “The rich fuck saw my face. I’m not going back to prison. I am fucking done with prison!”

Wylie began to feel the first signs of fear trickle past his strong defenses. Diego was going to waste this guy. It didn’t matter what the fuck he said, no matter how much money was at hand; Diego was more afraid of being caged again than of taking a life. Wylie hadn’t realized he still had something left to be afraid of, but apparently seeing an innocent man get shot to death was it.

“Listen to me, really closely here.” Wylie took another step into the room. He was about seven feet from Diego. It definitely wasn’t close enough to do a flying leap faster than a bullet. But if he could just inch a bit closer…

“Let’s say he manages to describe you even though the lighting is total shit in here and he’s got an egg on the side of his head the size of my fist. Let’s just say he doesn’t have brain damage or memory loss and he can describe you.” He stole another step closer. Diego was still staring at the old dude and not at him.

“What’s he going to say? It’s just a face. There are a fucking million people who look like you. You’re not pretty, you’re not ugly. It’s just a damn face, man.”

“I’m not going back!” Diego snarled and snapped his gaze back to Wylie. “You don’t fucking understand what it’s like in there, freak. What they fucking do to you! Hands like yours, they might leave you the fuck alone. But me? You think they care if I’m pretty or not? You think they care if I run with anyone? They—”

“Stop. Chill the fuck out.” Wylie could just pick up the sounds of Adam calling softly down the hall; he was probably wondering what was taking them so long. “If it all goes to shit, you’re either in for robbery—which is a fucking cakewalk—or it’s murder. They’ll never let you out if you kill this guy. You fucking hearing me? They will lock you away with the animals forever!”

“Shit… shit!” Diego shook with indecision and his expression twisted in fear. “I have priors… It’s not robbery, it’s fucking armed robbery.”

Wylie’s patience was done. “This isn’t just about you, you selfish fuck!”

“What, I’m supposed to give a fuck about the rich asshole who wasn’t supposed to be here!” Diego shouted back, his face red.

“The lookout, you dick! The fucking nerd! Me! You’re setting us all up for life if you—”

Adam pushed into the bedroom and Wylie felt the trigger squeeze before it happened. His muscles screamed as he lunged forward and knocked into Diego’s tall form.

The gunshot was an explosion of sound in his ear. Wylie’s hypersensitive senses reeled from the sudden light and noise. Diego went down heavily. He fired off another shot before Wylie wrestled the gun from his hands.

Wylie lurched to his feet, and he hauled the whimpering gangster up. Diego’s flesh was torn and bloodied from where Wylie’s inhuman claws and sharp scales had sliced and scraped. He turned to the door. Adam smelled of piss and fear. His eyes were wide and fixed unblinking on the man huddled on the floor. Wylie didn’t dare look; he could scent the blood quickly pooling and heard the man’s shattered breaths gasping for air.

“Get to the van, kid.”

“What about… W-What about the stuff?” Adam choked out. Tears began to stream down his small face and with an effort, Adam turned from the view of the dying man. He looked green. Wylie really hoped he wasn’t going to hurl.

“Now!” Wylie shouted.

Adam quickly backpedaled away when Wylie stormed to the door. He dragged the now-screaming Diego, who couldn’t escape the clawed hand that gripped his arm and carelessly sliced deep into the muscle of his bicep. Wylie followed the scent of their trail and strode through the mansion. They left far faster and much less cautiously than when they arrived. Wylie held Diego’s slumped form under one of his monstrous arms as they descended the wide staircase. Each step of pain wrenched more blood and weaker sounds from the flailing gangster. Adam scurried behind and bit his fingernails. He was silent as he watched Diego’s clothes and flesh shred in Wylie’s merciless hold.

They found Beck at the outer door. His dark eyes revealed he heard the gunshots.

“You’re driving, B.” Wylie moved to the back of the van and threw Diego’s barely conscious form in with the pile of electronics Adam had salvaged. As an afterthought, he reached in and grabbed Diego’s cell, then slammed the door.

“What, are you getting in front—Wylie!” Beck chased after him when he headed back to the house. “What the fuck are you doing, man?”

“Making sure that guy doesn’t fucking die!” Wylie turned and jerked away when Beck reached for him, his scaled arms too dangerous to touch. “Get them the hell out of here, B. Diego might need a hospital. I fucked him up bad trying to get the gun from him.”

“Don’t! Just come with us—baby, fuck, don’t do this!” Beck pleaded frantically with tears glowing in his eyes. “No one will know it was us. No one will fucking know and we can just… just…”

“Hurry up, B. That asshole is going to need you to help him after his huge fuck up.” Wylie’s smile was grim when he leaned down and pressed a swift kiss to Beck’s cheek. “Don’t let him pin this on you with Roth. I gotta call an ambulance so I need you safe and out of here first, okay?”

“Shit… Shit, you’re such a fucking idiot,” Beck whispered. His eyes still pleaded for him to come with. Hesitantly, he stepped backward. His gaze never left Wylie until he reached the open driver’s door. He disappeared in the van and the headlights glared to life. Beck’s voice was rough when he snapped something at the hysterical Adam and turned the van around in the driveway.

Yeah, definitely. He was as fucking stupid as they came.